The New York Giants Are Out Of The 2019 Playoff Hunt (Officially, Now)

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

It’s not surprising to anyone at all, but the New York Giants are officially eliminated from contention from the playoffs with their loss on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers.

It was a fairly typical performance for the Giants with the offense moving slowly and the secondary allowing Aaron Rodgers to pass freely on it for four touchdowns, and quarterback Daniel Jones having three interceptions despite also having almost as many passing yards as Rodgers himself did. It just goes to show how important turnovers are for the result of the game and how much more competitive the game could have been if those raw yards were converted into actual touchdowns.

The important thing wasn’t the game itself, however, but the implications for what it means going forwards. The Giants are no longer in the hunt for the playoffs, and even though they were already out of the race in the minds of most, making it ‘official’ helps to shift the focus from this season to next year, and the changes that will inevitably be made.

The degree of those changes isn’t known just yet, and the Giants have chosen not to make changes to their staff mid season – while firing Pat Shurmur right now might provide a temporary spark to the locker room, it’s ultimately been proven to be too late for such a thing to matter. The team is out of the playoffs now, and they haven’t been considered contenders since the first weeks of the season.

Will John Mara make the decision that everyone is expecting and fire Shurmur and Dave Gettleman? Who would take over the head coaching position in such a scenario? How will the 2020 Draft be affected for the Giants? We’ll have to wait and see to find out the answers to those questions – but with the team out of the playoff hunt, they’ll likely be the most pressing thing on the mind of most fans during the final games of the year.

Should The New York Yankees Trade Gio Urshela?

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

Gio Urshela was an enormous part of the New York Yankees run into the ALCS in 2019. He came out of nowhere with an improved bat with his already proven defense. However, Miguel Andujar will be healthy by the spring of 2020 and that leads to the question of whether the team should trade Urshela.

They Should Hold Off, At Least For Now

I think that the Yankees should definitely consider trading Urshela, but should hold off until the regular season to make a deal. You just don’t know how both him and Andujar will look come spring.

In 2019, Urshela bat .314 over 442 at-bats, hitting 21 home runs and driving in 74 runs. He had an OPS of almost .900 and a slugging over .500.

Urshela rose to the occasion after Andujar tore his labrum on a slide into third during the team’s opening series against the Baltimore Orioles. He rested for a while, and came back and struggled mightily. Andujar was just 6-for-47 all year, finally shutting it down for the season as he underwent surgery.

Urshela was overall much better in 2019 than Andujar was in 2018. I think that Andujar has more offensive potential, but Urshela has such a good glove.

The drawback about Urshela’s offense last season was that he was really streaky. There were times where he was completely unstoppable, but also had two really bad slumps.

For now, Urshela needs to stay put. They can’t trade him now and regret it later. The team needs to gauge their performances in the spring and the early part of the 2020 season before deciding to pull the trigger on a trade.

Former New York Mets’ manager Bobby V has Advise for Carlos Beltran

Former New York Mets‘ manager Bobby Valentine believes that the bullpen is the key to Carlos Beltran‘s success.

Bobby Valentine is one of the most successful Mets managers ever. He managed the team from 1996-2002 and left the team with a record of 536-467. He made the playoffs twice and led the team to the World Series in 2000 where they lost to the New York Yankees. It’s safe to say that Valentine knows what it takes to win in New York.

In an interview with TMZ at a charity event hosted by former Yankees’ closer Marion Rivera Valentine had a few pieces of advice for Beltran and the Mets.

“I hope he can get the end of the bullpen together and maybe even get (Yoenis) Cespedes to play a little, and put that group together offensively, so they can be consistent to go with that pitching.

Valentine states the obvious here. The New York Mets need to figure out their bullpen issues. The team was dragged down by the poor performances of Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. Their poor performances cost the Mets multiple games in 2019. Considering they only missed the playoffs by three games that means a lot.

Valentine also notes that the team needs to get Yoenis Cespedes back on the field to help the offense. When healthy Cespedes is a game-changing middle of the order bat. In his time with the Mets Cespedes has slashed .284/.346/.543, and has been worth over 3 FWAR per 600 PAs every single season. He’s an All-Star player who can change the look of this team.

The issue is that Cespedes is 34 years old now, and he hasn’t played since the beginning of the 2018 season. That’s nearly two full years. He’s coming off double heel surgery, something not many players recover from. Troy Tulowitzki is the latest player to undergo the surgery that Cespedes just went through and he was never fully healthy again. He retired shortly after the surgery because of it.

Thank you, Bobby Valentine, for pointing out the Mets’ two biggest weaknesses. The lack of a bullpen and missing one of their star players. Having those issues resolved would certainly help make Beltran’s job easier

New York Jets Embarrassed by the Cincinnati Bengals 22-6

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets played one of their worst games of the season against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The New York Jets should be embarrassed. The performance in this game was abysmal and pathetic. They put up just six points on one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Sam Darnold was 28/48 for just 239 yards. The only good thing to say about the passing game today was that they didn’t turn the ball over. Darnold was under constant pressure and was sacked four times. Carlos Dunlap came into the day with just 2.5 sacks on the season, he had three in this game.

The Jets receivers had an awful day. They dropped pass after pass. None of them helped their QB today. Robby Anderson did have a big day though, with 7 receptions for 101 yards. Even Robby had two major drops, one in the End Zone and one on a fourth down.

The Jets offensive line continued to beat themselves all day. The Jets were called for 10 penalties today, nine of them were either holding or illegal block in the bock. That’s unacceptable in any game, but it’s even worse against the team with the second-worst pass rush in the NFL. One of those holding penalties was in the End Zone, which caused a safety.

The Jets defense came to play today. They gave up just 20 points, 17 in the first half. They kept the team in the game. Had the Jets offense been able to put together just three scoring drives in the second half they would have won the game, but they didn’t.

Even more embarrassing is the fact that the Jets set a record today. They became the first team in NFL history to give  two teams who came into the game 0-7 or worse their first win. That’s embarrassing, and they should be ashamed.

Adam Gase’s Jets have lost by eight or more to teams who currently have records under .500 five times this season. That’s the most in team history. If that doesn’t get a head coach fired then nothing does.

The Jets are set to host the Miami Dolphins next Sunday. Hopefully, they can shake this embarrassment off and come to play.

Could the Yankees pursue Jonathan Villar in a potential trade with the Orioles?

Could the Yankees be interested in trading for Jonathan Villar?

The Baltimore Orioles are far from being a winning team in the MLB, which is why shopping their best players makes the most sense, right? Wong. The New York Yankees have the opportunity to pluck one of their only productive players right from their infield.

Jonathan Villar, a solid infielder who was shopped last season before the trade deadline expired, is now being dangled as a potential option in free agency. While Villar primarily plays at second base, he has experience at shortstop, playing in 108 games back in 2016, logging 17 errors, and a .965 fielding percentage.

Compare those numbers to Didi Gregorius’ 2018 season (full campaign), and the differential favors Didi exponentially. Over 132 games, Gregorius logged only six errors and earned a .987 fielding percentage. Overall, he’s by far the better defenseman. Now, offensively, Villar is far more productive, finishing 2019 with a slash line of .274/.339/.453 with 24 home runs (107 wRC+).

Villar’s increase in home runs relative to past seasons makes him an enticing option for general manager Brian Cashman, especially if the Orioles are desperate to trade him. Factor in that he’s a switch hitter, and the value keeps getting better.

Does this deal make sense for the Yankees?

Realistically, the natural attrition of the shortstop position for the Yankees should include Gleyber Torres, considering they have DJ LeMahieu, who is a preferred second-baseman, on the roster. Torres has played better at second base defensively, but he did play 77 games at short last year, finishing with 11 errors and a .961 fielding percentage. Villar is a tad better defensively, and both are quality offensive players, which could open up an interesting idea for Cashman.

Theoretically, he could trade for Villar given the Orioles aren’t asking too much, and slot him in at shortstop, where he’s a bit better than Torres defensively. This would allow Torres to remain at second base and move LeMahieu into the first base position, pushing Luke Voit into a DH/reserve spot.

While this sequence of events is unlikely, Villar is an appropriate replacement for Didi, and his sudden increase in power-hitting would fit the Yankees mold. He is scheduled to earn $10.4 million in arbitration next season, which is a big reason Baltimore is trying to unload him, but for his quality, that price-tag isn’t overly expensive.

New York Mets: Ruben Tejada Year in Review

The last time Ruben Tejada was in a New York Mets uniform, he was relegated to the bench after Chase Utley broke his leg in the 2015 NLDS. Tejada bounced the big leagues for the last couple of seasons but had his homecoming with the Mets when they signed him to a minor-league deal at the end of spring training.

Before arriving to the Mets, Tejada spent 75 games in the minor leagues and was very impressive. He slashed .333/.409/.481 with six home runs and 43 RBIs. Tejada still could play every infield position outside of first base and took advantage of the juice baseballs in Triple-A.

Waiting to Return

Since Tejada had no options, once he came up, he had to stay. This was why it took a while for the Mets to finally bring him up. It was a fun for fans to have him back, but the fun ended as quickly as it started. He went 0-for-9 in his six games with the Mets and was DFA’d just eight days later.

Grades:

Hitting for Average: F,

Hitting for Power: F

Fielding: B+, No errors in his minimal opportunities, his glove was never a question.

Speed/Baserunning: N/A

Intangibles: B

Overall: F, Unfortunately like most reunions this year, it did not work out well.

New York Yankees: Is Zach Wheeler a More Suitable Option over Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg

Will the New York Yankees land Zack Wheeler in free agency?

The New York Yankees are in moderate desperation for a top free-agent starting pitcher. The top pitchers in the 2019-2020 free-agent market are Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. However, Cole may be looking to head back home and play for either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Los Angeles Angels, who are both willing to pay a hefty price. As for Strasburg, the Washington Nationals may only be able to sign one superstar, Anthony Rendon, so that will leave Strasburg up for grabs. Both of these rising superstars will most likely cost almost $200 million to sign.

With those rumors out, the Yankees may look to explore other options, such as cross-town righty, Zack Wheeler. Wheeler went 11-8, posted a 3.97 ERA, and had 195 strikeouts in 31 games pitched (Baseball-Reference). He was a nice surprise for the New York Mets rotation last season, now, at 30 years old, is at the peak of his potential. With the Yankees lineup, he will get more run support and earn more wins throughout the year. If the Yankees choose to pursue him, they will most likely agree to a five-year,$100 million deal (MLB.com).

Why could Wheeler be the Better Option?

If the Yankees go after Wheeler, they save money for taking on other possible big names. With Didi Gregorius most likely leaving New York, there are rumors of the Yankees trading for the Cleveland Indians star shortstop, Fransisco Lindor. He is a very needed all-around lefty bat and plays stellar defense as well. Another option for the Yankees is to boost the bullpen even more because Dellin Betances is most likely on the way out. There is increasing interest for the Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. This would mean about twice a series, a Yankees starting pitcher would only need to go five innings.

The Yankees rotation will definitely be improved with Wheeler in the mix. Paxton’s second half of last season proved he could be the Yankees’ rotation ace. A healthy Severino can be right behind as second in the rotation. Wheeler would fit in as the third pitcher, Tanaka as the fourth, and Happ or Montgomery as the fifth rousing out a better rotation.

The Yankees would be a more improved team in all positions of the game depending on how aggressive they are in the strong free agency market this offseason. One more piece could make the difference in making it to the World Series next season or losing in the ALCS for the second year in a row. All of the burdens fall on Cashman and the front office, let’s see what moves they make to improve this team even more.

The New York Yankees Need to Keep Giancarlo Stanton

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton’s acquisition by the New York Yankees was largely viewed by everyone, including me, as confusing. The Yankees did not need to get Giancarlo Stanton after the 2017 season. But, you know what? The Yankees are a better team with Giancarlo in the lineup.

Stanton Represents Power and Consistency Ellsbury Never Had

Excluding Ellsbury’s injuries, which I’ve documented, Ellsbury was never that great of an offensive presence, even in Boston. He averaged 14 home runs per season, with 67 RBI’s, and a .284/.342/.417 slash line. Stanton’s career batting average is lower, but his OBP, slugging and OPS are higher than Ellsbury (which isn’t great for when we’re talking about a career leadoff hitter in Ellsbury). And of course, he averages more home runs and RBI’s per season (42 and 109). He also gets more walks than Ellsbury does, meaning he has a great eye for a power hitter. (baseball-reference.com 

His Biggest Problem is the Same Problem Facing Baseball

Stanton, like most power hitters today, strikes out a lot. But it’s no worse than others already on the team. Stanton averages 192 strikeouts per season in his 10-year career. In Gary Sanchez’s 5 year career, he averages 173 strikeouts per season, and we know how hurt he’s been. In Aaron Judge’s 4 year career, Judge averages over 200 K’s per season. He even lead the league in strikeouts during his Rookie of the Year campaign. And with his injury-shortened 2018/2019, he’s still averaging 222 K’s a season. And the league average for strikeouts per batter seems to be sitting between 140 and 160 K’s per batter. So this is a widespread problem that’s holding all of baseball back. Not just Stanton. (mlb.com

The Yankees Have a Murderers Row You Can’t Quit On

Aaron Judge has averaged 42 home runs a season over his 4 years. Sanchez is averaging 46, and Stanton is over 40 as well. The biggest problem with all three is keeping them healthy for an entire season. Judge was shut down in 2016 over a lat injury, we know of his broke wrist in 2018, and saw how long it took him to come back from his April lat injury. Sanchez has trouble staying on the field too. And we saw just how hard it is for someone with the physiology of  Stanton to come back from soft muscle injuries this year.

But these are 3 hitters who will strike fear in the heart of any and all pitchers across both leagues. One full season with all three playing a full season, and cutting the number of strikeouts they average in half? Good lord, it would be the most formidable lineup in baseball. The added benefit in keeping Stanton is the fact that he’s a better fielder than people give him credit. And that’s excluding a lineup including DJ, Andujar, Urshela, and Torres.

He’s More Than Just a Hitter

The man has a career fielding percentage of .980, compared to Aaron Judge (considered a much better fielder) career .987. By every metric, he’s more your average outfielder, giving credence to putting him out there. He’s saved 55 runs in his career as an outfielder, so this isn’t the sign of a slouch outfielder. Relatively, Clint Frazier, someone Yankees fans want to see start over Stanton, has given up 18 runs in his brief tenure with the team. That’s not the vote of confidence you want for a young outfielder.

The caveat for every great player is how healthy can they stay season to season. Even with some of his injury-shortened seasons, Stanton is a player you don’t quit on. He’s still in his prime as a hitter, so I think it’s safe to say this is the cornerstone of our DH spot for the next 9 seasons.

A Ten Part Breakdown of the New York Yankees Depth: Part 4, Second Base

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The way the New York Yankees seem to be positioning themselves quite clearly at second base for 2020. The way things look, they’re planning to move Gleyber Torres over to shortstop, from second base, to make room for DJ LeMahieu getting more playing time at second.

This is a mistake.

Why is it a mistake?

Let’s start with the obvious. DJ is turning 31 next year. His ability to play the field will be starting to decline sooner rather than later. Gleyber Torres will be 23 next year. Gleyber’s prime as a fielder is approaching, making Gleyber the more viable fielder for the longer term than DJ.  All of this is barring horrible injuries that force these guys to retire, but I would be bending myself over backward to ensure that the younger guy is going to be with my team longer than the older guy. And this is no disrespect to DJ, just stating that he’s far more susceptible to Father Time now than Gleyber.

Now let’s look at the defensive capabilities. 

As I wrote before, DJ LeMahieu is a multiple Gold Glove winning second baseman. And everyone talks about how the New York Yankees moved Gleyber over to second form short to accommodate Didi Gregorius on the team. But Gleyber, on a major league level anyway, is a better defensive second baseman than he is a defensive shortstop.

What are Gleyber’s Splits Compared to LeMahieu’s?

Gleyber is still a baby by major league standards. He’s only 22 now and has only been playing for 2 years. But his splits are decidedly there.

He has a career fielding percentage at second of .969, and a career fielding percentage at short of .954. The league average at second is .982, and the league average at shortstop is .970. Now, LeMahieu has a career fielding percentage of .991 at second base and a career fielding percentage of… 0 at shortstop. So, yea, it would make sense to have Gleyber moved back to shortstop.

Except Tyler Wade has a perfect fielding percentage at shortstop in his major league career. And Didi Gregorius has a .979 fielding percentage for his career, which is about as long as DJ’s career. 

Looking at the advanced metrics, Gleyber has saved 8 runs as a second baseman, while allowing 1 run as a shortstop. He has a greater range at second compared to shortstop, even looking at the fact he played more games at short last year than second, 

When talking about the development of a young stud, you have to do what allows him to succeed. And he’s more likely to succeed at second than short. (baseball-reference.com

What About Thairo Estrada?

Thairo isn’t going to get much in the way of regular playing time at second base. It seems more likely than no that Estrada will be used as trade bait by the trade deadline, along with possibly Tyler Wade. 

The only thing that benefits the New York Yankees is for Didi to be brought back, and DJ being spread around the field. You have to keep Gleyber Torres at second base. What’s good for Gleyber is good for the team. 

What are the priorities for the New York Giants heading into December?

New York Giants, Dexter Lawrence

With the New York Giants sitting at 2-9 on the season and having lost their last nine games, December doesn’t mean much in terms of a playoff push or competitive finish. As players continue to pick up injuries and miss games, Big Blue will be forced to utilize the remainder of the season to develop their young players, similar to what they’ve been doing since the beginning of the 2019 campaign.

Head coach Pat Shurmur needs to focus on his youthful players that are progressing into potential starters. Making the shift from Antoine Bethea at free safety to Julian Love was the beginning of that transition. Love enjoyed a positive first game with the Giants, finishing with an overall grade of 80.1, per PFF. He recorded an interception and zero coverage receptions in the defensive backfield, far better than Bethea has shown this season.

The veteran free safety has been a liability in coverage but solid against the run. When defensive coordinator James Bettcher features Bethea in a strong-safety style, closer to the line of scrimmage, he has been effective. The secondary for the Giants will be a priority moving forward in December, with a focus on cornerback and free safety.

Corners DeAndre Baker and Sam Beal are two players who Shurmur will want to gain more film on. Baker has had an up-and-down season, showing promise at times but vulnerability at others. Last week against the Chicago Bears, Baker played 46 snaps compared to Beal’s 27. The latter has worked his way back from numerous injuries, the latest being a hamstring that kept him sidelined for a majority of the season.

When asked about his style compared to Beal’s, Baker stated (NY Post):

“Beal’s style is different than mine, and we’ve got two different skill sets,” Baker said. “You always stay prepared for when your number is called. I was watching everything as if I was in the game, still making the calls.”

The Giants will continue to rotate Baker and Beal in coverage, with the eventual idea to split reps 50/50. This will give Shurmur plenty of tape on Beal, who the Giants will need to factor into their plans next offseason.

The New York Giants must also iron out the defensive line:

One of the most significant moves for the Giants this season was the trade for Leonard Williams. The former Jet has the physical traits to be a great interior lineman, but his lack of consistency has plagued his career up to this point. Williams logged just one combined tackle in week 12, highlighting a disappointing performance for the former first-round pick.

GM Dave Gettleman giving up ample draft capital for the defender is looking like a wrong move and considering he’s a free agent after this season, the Giants have minimal leverage in contract talks. I estimate he will earn somewhere in the $12-14 million range.

Dexter Lawrence is another defender that will be prioritized in December. Allowing him to mesh with Williams and develop a chemistry with the former Jet is essential. Lawrence, who is ranked as one of the best interior defenders this season, has shown significant growth in his rookie campaign.

PFF wrote …

Lawrence once again put forth a very commendable performance from the middle of the Giants’ defensive front, and he ended the game with the seventh 70.0-plus overall game grade of his young career. His best work came in the run game, where he didn’t manage to record a run stop on the day, but he was a constant menace at the point of attack. He also added a hit and hurry from his 36 snaps as a pass-rusher. Through 12 weeks of action, Lawrence ranks 11th among 128 qualifying interior defensive linemen in overall grade, while his 88.8 run-defense grade ranks fifth among that same group of players.

The Giants have a great building block in Lawrence, who’s quickly becoming a dominant force in the trenches. Another solid contributor has been Oshane Ximines. The third-round selection has logged two sacks, and four QB hits in his rookie year, so far. While those numbers don’t jump off the screen, he has been a rotational piece behind Markus Golden. He has averaged less than 50% of defensive snaps this season, but he has been more prominent on special teams.