New York Mets: Zack Wheeler Year in Review

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

Zack Wheeler has moved on from the New York Mets and on to the rival Philadelphia Phillies. He had another productive 2019 season which earned him the lucrative contract from the Phillies. Wheeler was one of four Mets starters to make over 30 starts and helped get them back in the playoff race in the second half of the season.

Much like the 2018 season, Wheeler started slow out of the gate. Through the All-Star break he pitched 119 innings and had an ERA of 4.69 and was on his way to the IL. Much like Noah Syndergaard, Wheeler could not find consistency, he would string together a couple solid starts then put together a start where he allowed five or six runs.

Second Half Push

As the Mets were falling out of the race, rumors swirled around the idea of trading Wheeler to a contender. The idea made sense for the Mets but the longer they kept Wheeler the longer the rumors hung over him like a dark rain cloud. His value had also dipped because he was on the IL and only made one start before the trade deadline.

The one start was a good one as he went 5.1 innings allowing three runs and striking out seven, in what might have been his last start as Citi Field. The Mets decided to keep Wheeler and it seemed to relax him as he had the same second half resurgence as he had the year prior.

In his final 12 starts he had a 2.83 ERA, only allowed six home runs and only walked 16 batters. Wheeler went six innings or more in the 12 starts and finished the season going at least seven innings in his last five starts. Safe to say at that point he was not only pitching for the Mets playoff hopes, but a paycheck as well.

On to Philly

Unfortunately for the Mets, Wheeler declined the Mets qualifying offer to stay in New York then signed a five-year/$118 million deal with the Phillies. The price tag was much more than the Mets wanted to go and it was a good move for the Mets to avoid overpaying for him.

Grades:

Pitching Repitoire: A, One of the best on the staff

Control: B+, Ran into some issues early on in the year but got himself together in August and September

Composure: A, Very hard to break him, much like deGrom

Durability: A-, Despite making an IL stint, still made 31 starts

Intangibles: A+, Bulldog on the mound and a great clubhouse guy, especially through the trade rumors

Overall: A-, Very solid year for Wheeler and he should fit in nicely in Philadelphia

The New York Yankees May Not Be Done Shopping For Pitchers

New York Mets pursuing Dellin Betances.

A lot of what I’ve been saying in my writing “The New York Yankees should do this”, is starting to come true. I told them they need to forget about the luxury tax and buy a starting pitcher, they did just that and got Cole. I told them they should try shopping JA Happ, they’re doing that now. I told them they need to sign Brett Gardner, they do that. So when I saw this rumor on Twitter, and it was corroborated by our own Alexander Wilson, I thought “Let’s see if they keep listening”.

This Would Be THE BEST Rotation In Baseball

Through the grapevine, the New York Yankees are looking to acquire one more arm, who would automatically move Sevy, Paxton, and Tanka to the 3, 4, and 5 spots in the rotation respectively. That arm is a three-time World Series champion this decade. And that is the left arm of Madison Bumgarner.

Now I know a lot of you are saying “He’s too old,” “he’s on the decline”, so just hold up. The guy is turning 30 next season, pitched over 200 innings, had a sub 4 ERA on a TERRIBLE Giants team, struck out over 200, and is on the comeback from back to back injury-shortened years by making all 34 starts he was scheduled to make for the Giants.

Yes, he gave up 30 home runs. And I already talked about how Cole will have to adjust to bring his fly-ball rate and home run totals down as well. But how could you not salivate at the prospect of your front 5 being Cole, MadBum, Sevy, Big Maple, and Masahiro Tanaka?! This would be baseball’s best starting rotation.

Why It Won’t Happen

It seems to be common knowledge that MadBum has no intention of leaving the national league. We all know the dude loves to hit, and that would be taken away from him pitching in the Bronx. And considering the success he has seen on the west coast, it seems more than likely that he’ll sign with the Dodgers.

Why It Could Happen

Bringing Andy Pettitte to talk to Cole did a lot to help persuade him to sign. MadBum is from North Carolina, recently retained Brett Gardner is from South Carolina. I think you all see where I’m going with this.

Giants’ Wayne Gallman has been relegated to third string

New York Giants, Wayne Gallman

The New York Giants’ running game is thought by many to be dead on arrival this year. The injury to star back Saquon Barkley has slowed them somewhat but the numbers aren’t too much off from last year when Barkley rushed for 1,307 yards. The Giants are currently ranked 26th in the NFL, averaging 93.8 yards per game. That’s quite a bit lower than they were last season when they were 24th and averaging 103.1 yards per but it seems like it should be more.

The backfield has taken on a new dynamic this season. Barkley missed three games with a high ankle sprain and hasn’t been able to crack the century mark since retuning to the lineup in Week 7.

His primary backup, Wayne Gallman, has been eclipsed on the depth chart by Javorius “Buck” Allen, who the Giants signed as a free agent in mid-October. Last week, Gallman was a healthy scratch against the Eagles.

“I know it’s a very tough situation for him I’m sure,” Giants running back coach Craig Johnson told reporters about Gallman on Friday. “As I told him, and I tell all my guys in my room, you’ll cheer for your teammate. I know that’s hard for him to do but we’re giving him a look, you just have to be ready to play. Any time you are not a starter you have to prepare yourself mentally and physically like you are a starter. When your opportunity comes get ready to play. You have to battle through that adversity.”

Allen, meanwhile, only touched the football once on Monday night in Philadelphia for a gain of four yards. Johnson explained why he jumped Gallman on the depth chart.

“He’s really done a good job on the practice field. I think he’s shown some good physical running, he’s very good in pass protection and he’s caught the ball well. Since he’s shown so much, we just want to give him a look, give him an opportunity to get out there and play and see what he can do. He’s done well with what he’s had so far. Obviously, the more chances he gets to touch the ball, he’ll get even more comfortable.”

So, what does Gallman have to do to get his spot back?

“I don’t know if he necessarily needs to do anything better,” said Johnson. ” I just think it’s more of Buck has been on our roster for a long time, he’s done a lot of good things and we are rewarding him with some playing time.”

 

New York Yankees: Didi Gregorius says farewell in heartfelt message

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees were lucky to have a player like shortstop Didi Gregorius feature on the team for several years, and not only for his consistent production, but also his likeness and positive attitude.

When injuries were piling up, and the goings got tough, Gregorius was always there to crack a smile or post one of his illustrious post-win tweets. However, the Yankees rejected his qualifying offer this offseason and elected to take the infield in a different direction, likely plugging Gleyber Torres into shortstop while DJ LeMahieu takes over at second base.

Where’s Gregorius off to now?

The 29-year-old veteran signed a one-year, $14 million deal with the Phillies, departing from the Bronx and hoping for a bounce-back year, following a season where he returned at the mid-way point due to Tommy John surgery. He still managed to hit 16 homers and 61 RBIs in that time frame.

At full health, Gregorius is a quality defender with a consistent bat. It will be interesting to see if he maintains his power considering the Yankees’ home-run centric mentality.

Didi’s goodbye:

I want to thank the New York Yankees organization for the awesome 5 season i had there and for letting me grow into myself and be around great group of guys … and to the fans thanks for the boo’s and the cheers and push me to be better Much love

With manager Aaron Boone committing to Torres at SS, it opens up an interesting dialogue. Should we be worried about his defense? Comparably to Gregorius’ .979 fielding percentage and six errors over 80 games, Torres logged a .961 fielding percentage and 11 errors over 77 games.

Trusting young Gleyber to take over in a full-capacity role with his defensive inconsistencies might be overly optimistic. I wouldn’t be surprised if GM Brian Cashman brought in a veteran to smooth over the transition.

New York Jets: Linebacker Brandon Copeland Beyond Basic

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Linebacker Brandon Copeland has been with the New York Jets for over a year and has shone on defense.  Copeland has contributed so much to the New York Jets defense and the community in general.

Copeland often regales audiences with his story of perseverance and overcoming obstacles during speaking engagements, encouraging others that they have the power to do the same if they just put their minds to it.  Adept in the subject of economics and business, Copeland also teaches students the importance of financial literacy.

Just recently, Copeland honored his foundation on his cleats as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative.  A role model and an example of how when adversity stares us in the face, we must work to combat it, Copeland is an inspiration to all.  He makes it his mission to give back.  Beyond the Basics, Copeland’s football camp teaches young athletes how to hone and enhance their skills on the gridiron and equips them with advice and lessons they can carry with them in football and life in general.  Copeland also holds events such as “Growth through Golf” to raise money

When the holidays roll around, Copeland knows this season is all about spreading joy and brightening one’s season and Copeland does just that.  Copeland takes kids on a day filled with a spectacular Christmas shopping spree to get presents for themselves and their loved ones, complete with a pizza party.

Copeland is a loving husband, son, and brother as well as a supportive teammate, and a true game-changer in every sense of the word!

New York Giants: Former Giant Pugh Gives Kids a “Reel” Good Day

Former New York Giants offensive lineman Justin Pugh may have a new team but what has not changed is Pugh’s giving attitude.

Pugh hosts an annual football camp for kids ages 8-14 at Council Rock High School North, every Summer where kids can glean the essential skills young athletes should be armed with to master the game of football, but also lessons and advice to carry them in life.  Pugh also gave out special prizes and gifts to the participants.

This past Sunday, Pugh also wore cleats adorned with the Fuel Up to Play 60 logo as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative.  This cause is near and dear to his heart as he wants to bring awareness to the importance of health, wellness and an active lifestyle for our nation’s youth.

With the upcoming holiday season looming upon us, Pugh wanted to do a little something to spread joy and cheer so this past Tuesday, December 10th, he took a group of kids from Heart for the City, an organization dedicated to helping inner-city kids giving love and hope to all,  to see a special advanced screening at the Studio Movie Grill, of the upcoming animated film “Spies in Disguise” starring Will Smith and Tom Holland in Phoenix, Arizona.  The movie comes out in theaters on Christmas /day, but these kids got an early Christmas present, getting to see it first while munching on goodies.  After the movie was finished, Pugh along with a little help from the jolly guy himself, Santa, surprised the kids with 200 gifts!  The kids were absolutely elated and smiles adorned the faces of everyone involved.  Everyone had a REEL good time!

These are just some of the awesome things Pugh has contributed to the community.  He has done and continues to do great work both on and off the field, making it easy to support him no matter what color he wears!

New York Knicks: Fizdale Fired or JD and the Straight Shot Play The Hits

New York Knicks, James Dolan

So David Fizdale is no more and Steve Mills has found his scapegoat. Business as usual in New York, another failed coach taking the fall for a garbage front office. Whoever comes in next has almost no chance to be successful as well. The team obviously has no idea what it’s doing.

Was Fizdale a great coach? No. Was he to blame for the atrocity that is this year’s Knickerbockers? Also a resounding no. It’s hard to tell who’s at fault when your delusional front office thinks you’re a playoff contender, and your coach signed on with dreams of an engaged Porzingis and a superstar to be named later. What they didn’t realize is at The Garden, all champagne dreams turn to urine.

Fizdale was not a brilliant tactician, but even Red Auerbach would struggle to build a ten-man rotation with five power forwards and three-point guards. Fizdale did not sign ball stopping forwards Marcus Morris and Julius Randle, and then expect them to coexist. He also didn’t draft Frank Ntikilina,  trade for Dennis Smith and then sign Elfrid Payton. I’m also fairly certain he wasn’t pleading for Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis to round out their five 4’s line-up. Typically positionless basketball is when players can fill multiple roles, not just ignoring the other 4 positions.

You could take issue with R.J. Barrett’s workload….but you would be an idiot. He’s a rookie with no miles or injuries who needs in-game experience. An actual concern is the DNP’s of Kevin Knox, you know since he also needs reps and you spent a lottery pick on him one year ago. However if your job is on the line, and your boss holds a press conference saying the team needs to win more….well it’s hard to let the young guys take their lumps.

Frank has looked like a serviceable rotation player, and I’d give Fizdale credit for that but it took an injury and bereavement leave to get him off the bench. The best I can say about Fizdale is that there were no truck parties, yacht incidents, or players openly assaulting each other. Even noted pugilist Bobby Portis has kept his hands to himself. He was a C- coach for an F- franchise.

Mills and Perry are a bigger part of the problem but they’re also not the true heart of it. It’s all about Jimmy Dolan at the end of the day. I’ve heard some say “well at least he doesn’t meddle and he spends money”. These things are true and would be great if he hired intelligent people to run the franchise. The part Dolan apologists leave out is he handed blank checks and total authority to Isiah Thomas and Bubba Ho-Tep Phil Jackson.

The less said about the Thomas regime the better, and as for the Zen, Master….he stopped following the NBA in like 2008. Jackson had one good idea, and that was seeing the writing on the wall and wanting to move Porzingis at peak value. Of course, that’s the one time Dolan stepped in and meddled. Instead of Jayson Tatum the Knicks got DSJ….cool.

Originally this was supposed to be the final installment of my “Good Help Is Hard To Find” and I thought the Knicks should leave Fizdale in place and deal 2 of their power forwards and see if he could make a real rotation. Instead, Mills and Dolan decided “You can fool some of the people some of the time and that’s good enough for me.” and let him go. Don’t be fooled, this fish rots from the head on down.

A look at the New York Mets’ outfield: will Cespedes contribute in 2020?

Yes, the New York Mets are reportedly interested in bringing Starling Marte to play center field. However, it is not imperative that they upgrade the position.

A trade is growing increasingly unlikely, anyway, since the San Diego Padres also want the Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielder. Also, while the Mets were initially considering the inclusion of Brandon Nimmo in a potential deal, now they are “disinclined” to do so.

The Mets recently acquired Jake Marisnick (86 wRC+), a slick-fielding center fielder with a suspect bat against righties, but a passable one versus lefties. Nimmo (114 wRC+) is also capable of playing the position, although he is best suited in a corner.

The battle for playing time in the Mets‘ outfield

While those two split center field duties, the Mets can’t afford to take Michael Conforto’s bat (126 wRC) from the lineup. He will be starting most nights, as will Nimmo.

The Mets have two other very capable outfielders with the bat. One of them is J.D. Davis, who broke out last season (136 wRC+), and the other is Dominic Smith, who (guess what?) also had a breakthrough year in 2019, with a 133 wRC+.

There is a logjam in the outfield as things stand today. Davis can play third base, but that’s where Jeff McNeil (a Mets-leading 143 wRC+) plays. Smith is a first baseman by trade, but the team has someone named Pete Alonso there.

The Mets could potentially explore a trade for a star reliever or a young catcher with Davis and Smith as bait.

The wild card

The wild card here is Yoenis Cespedes. The 34-year-old outfielder is currently rehabbing from surgery on both of his heels in 2018 and several fractures in his right ankle in May, when he fell into a hole on his ranch. The Mets restructured Cespedes deal and will save, according to reports, nearly $10 million.

It is unclear if Cespedes will play in 2020, but he is trending in the right direction. He is already taking batting practice and he recently began a running program.

He will have to prove he is healthy when the time is due, whether it is in Spring Training, or minor league games. But one thing is certain: the New York Mets could use his potent bat.

When healthy, Cespedes is one of the most feared sluggers in the game, with consistent 30-homer power. He would fit in nicely in the middle of any lineup.

If Cespedes plays at any point of 2020, the Mets‘ outfield depth chart would have him plus Conforto, Nimmo, Marisnick, Davis, and Smith. Something would have to give, but the Mets will worry about it when they absolutely have to. For now, the extra depth is nice, and they still have time to pursue a trade.

New York Mets: Why Noah Syndergaard will be better in 2020

New York Mets, Noah Syndergaard

New York Mets fans would tell you that Noah Syndergaard had a down-ish season by his lofty standards. It wasn’t bad at all: lots of hurlers would love to finish with a 4.28 ERA in 197.2 innings, and they would surely want to register a 4.4 fWAR.

However, as his ERA indicates, Thor didn’t quite dominate the way he can. Reports that he didn’t like the starting catcher’s game-calling skills and seemingly endless trade rumors surel didn’t help, either. It was a weird season, to say the least.

He is more than capable of cutting a full run of that ERA in 2020, though.

If we look closer, that earned run average came with a much more palatable 3.60 FIP, a fair indication of his talent given that he often had to suffer the Mets‘ lousy infield defense in 2019.

The “juiced” ball may have had a role in a couple more home runs allowed here or there. His 1.09 HR/9 was his highest mark since 2015, when he conceded 1.14. His 24 round-trippers allowed were a career-high. While we aren’t sure about which ball will be used in 2020, chances are that it won’t be the same as this year.

A great K:BB ratio is a good omen for Thor and the Mets

The odds are high that Syndergaard will finish with much better numbers in 2020. One of the best indicators of future success is the K:BB ratio, and Thor had a shiny 202:50. He had 4.04 strikeouts for each base on balls, an elite mark.

According to Fangraphs’ pitch value chart, Syndergaard had four different offerings with positive ratings: his fastball (1.5) slider (1.7) curveball (2.5) and changeup (6.8.) He also kept missing bats: while he didn’t quite post his 2016’s career high of 14.2 SwStrk%, he had 12.5. The Mets will surely enjoy a better statistical season from Thor.

Syndergaard’s average fastball velocity in 2019 was 98.1 mph, the same number as last year. His profile is full of promising indicators and stats.

A promising second half

In fact, his second half (3.82 ERA, .291 wOBA, 3.15 FIP, 5.05 K/BB) was much better than his first (4.68 ERA, .311 wOBA, 4.26 FIP, 3.37 K/BB.) That’s another good sign right there.

In a stint between July 13 and August 22 covering eight starts, he showed just how dominant he can be. He had 9.11 K/9 and a minuscule 1.99 BB/9. He was in full command of his arsenal, accumulating a 1.82 ERA with a 2.11 FIP. More than half of his batted balls were on the ground over that span (54.5 GB%.) and he only allowed one home run in 54.1 frames.

While he is not expected to be the New York Mets‘ ace, the team needs him to be better. And he has the potential to post ace-like numbers.

New York Giants: Giants’ Hearts This Week

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Pat Shurmur

As the holiday season approaches good cheer is being spread by New York Giants players and the New York Giants organization as a whole.

Here are some of the heartwarming stories from this week:

New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate does amazing work to honor the nation’s veterans.  With this cause being so near and dear to his heart, Tate depicted his Golden Future Foundation, his charity dedicated to honoring our country’s heroes, on his cleats as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative.  The cleats will be auctioned off and proceeds will go to benefit the Golden Future Foundation, helping veterans and their families in various ways.

New York Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder was chosen as a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.  Solder along with his wife do great work for underprivileged kids in the United States of America and beyond.  Solder is dedicated to helping others and his charitable endeavors helps numerous people.

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram, along with the Hospital for Special Surgery and USA Football, presented the Heart of A Giant Award to Duane Coleman II of John F. Kennedy/ Weequahic High School football, for his outstanding sportsmanship and exemplary dedication to the game.  Coleman not only excels on the field, but also off of it as well!  He most certainly has a bright future ahead of him!

It is wonderful to see the magnitude of the impact the New York Giants are making in the community!

These are just some of the good things that happened this week in the Giants community, stay tuned for next week’s edition!