New York Giants Won’t Tank For Second Pick, Claims Shepard

New York Giants, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants still have two games left in the season, but unsurprisingly, more of the focus right now is on the future Draft and on their position – right now, they hold the second overall pick and would likely be in a position to take Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young, but that might not remain the case. The Giants are in a tough spot where anything but losing out could result in their position dropping and the Miami Dolphins or the Washington Redskins moving up to seize their pick.

It’s not a situation that anyone wants to be in, but much of the fanbase will be hoping to varying degrees that the rival Redskins pick up the win on Sunday – not out of any love for the Redskins but because a win for the Giants means their draft hopes will end up dashed, and Young likely won’t end up on the team when everything is said and done.

But according to the players themselves, the Giants aren’t going to tank for Young.

“If you were here to see how we have to prepare, and some of the stress we put our bodies through throughout the week, mentally and physically, then I’m sure your mind will quickly change on going out and playing a game to lose,”  wide receiver Sterling Shepard said in the New York Post. “We’re never gonna play to lose.”

“My goal is to win this game, and I’m 100 percent sure everybody in this locker room feels the same,” added center Jon Halapio.

Of course, players themselves are known to not play to lose – tanking tends to come from the top of the organization, meaning we may have to wait and see what approach the Giants take as an organization to this game. Teams generally want to win whenever possible, but when the number two pick is on the line and the future of the team could change with the result of this game, things may be a little different.

The New York Yankees Sign A Catcher

New York Yankees

Rumors have reported that the New York Yankees signed catcher Erik Kratz to a minor league deal on Friday.

Kratz, 39, has had several stints with the Yankees over the last few years. He made four appearances with the team in 2017, and spent time in Scranton in both 2018 and 2019.

Because of his age, he’s on the last leg of his career and just happy to being playing baseball. He’s played pro ball since 2002 and made MLB appearances in every season since 2010.

The signing of Kratz actually makes the catcher depth chart clearer. By the looks of it, the Yankees will be out on Martin Maldonado and will use Kratz as the third catcher. He will eventually be put on the 40 man roster with Kyle Higashioka and Gary Sanchez.

With that being said, it appears that Higashioka will be the backup catcher. Brian Cashman and ownership spoke about Higgy during the Gerrit Cole signing day ceremonies, and all stated that they feel very comfortable with him as the backup.

When Sanchez or Higashioka gets hurt, it’s likely that Kratz would come up. But, once he comes up, he can’t go back down without clearing waivers. I think that the team would look to pursue another catcher if/when Kratz gets called up.

Obviously, Kratz will get a spring training invite and will probably be with the team almost until it’s time to break camp and head north.

Overall, I like this move from the Yankees. They have another catcher waiting for whenever called upon, and it didn’t cost much money.

New York Giants: Can We Rely On Ryan Connelly In 2020?

New York Giants, Giants, NYG, Ryan Connelly

The New York Giants seem to have struck gold in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The Gmen had two picks in the fifth round, and so far, it looks like they hit on both of them. Their first fifth-round pick, Darius Slayton, has been the team’s most dependable and electric receiver this season, leading all rookies with 8 touchdown receptions.

The Giants’ second pick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft was linebacker Ryan Connelly. Connelly had an excellent start to the season before having his rookie campaign cut short due to a gruesome knee injury. The Giants’ weak linebacker corps will be excitedly anticipating the return of Ryan Connelly in 2020.

Ryan Connelly’s Impressive Start to the 2019 Season

Before going down with a knee injury in Week 4, Ryan Connelly was an impact player on defense. Connelly had a combined total of 20 tackles through 4 games with 2 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. He was making plays against the run and the pass. Quarterbacks had a quarterback rating of only 22.6 when targeting Connelly’s man in coverage.

Ryan Connelly’s Week 4 performance was exceptional. In that game, Connelly had 5 combined tackles, including 1 tackle for loss. He was also getting after the quarterback with 1 quarterback hit and 1 sack. On top of that, Ryan Connelly had an interception. This was meant to be Ryan’s breakout performance, but, unfortunately, he suffered a torn ACL later in the game that caused him to miss the rest of the season.

The Giants’ rookie linebacker flashed his potential through the first quarter of the season. But heading into his second season coming off of a severe knee injury, is Connelly someone the Giants can rely on? It seems like he has enough talent to lead the Giants’ linebacker corps, but who could be a suitable linebacker to play alongside Ryan Connelly?

The Giants’ Second Linebacker

The New York Giants are almost certainly going to move on from Alec Ogletree this offseason. The veteran linebacker has been extremely inconsistent during his time in New York. On top of that, Alec is being paid as one of the NFL’s best as his position.

If the Giants are feeling confident in Ryan Connelly’s recovery in 2020, they could easily cut ties with Ogletree. But in a 3-4 defense, the Giants will need a second inside linebacker to play alongside Ryan. This player could already be on the roster.

Giants linebacker David Mayo has shown that he is a keeper. Mayo has not been great in coverage, but he has been stout against the run. Pro Football Focus has given David Mayo an overall grade of 73.7 with an elite run defense grade of 90.0. The Giants’ 2020 inside linebackers could already be on the roster.

New York Mets: Marcus Stroman Year in Review

yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The Long Island born, Marcus Stroman, was a surprising candidate for the New York Mets to land at the trade deadline. His charismatic energy and swagger helped ignite the late season rise in the wild card standings.

Stroman was the ace of the bottom dwelling Blue Jays before the Mets acquired him in exchange for Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. The trade gave the Mets a rotation that could match up with anyone in baseball and upgraded them from Jason Vargas to Stroman.

The Return Home

While Stroman did not pitch as well as he did in Toronto, he still was solid during this short time with the Mets. He had a 4.91 ERA during his August starts with the Mets, which ended up being more Vargas-like. Stroman did not get past the sixth inning in any of those starts, but it included the electrifying nine strikeout performance in his home debut.

September delivered the Stroman that Mets fans expected. He pitched to a 2.91 ERA and struck out 35 batters in 34 innings. Every time he went out to pitch the energy in the ballpark would kick up a notch. Stroman is a crowd pleaser and the fans rallied around him from the second he arrived in Queens.

2020 is the last year the Mets have control of Stroman before he becomes a free agent. The expectation is that the Mets will sign him on a long-term deal, but they will wait to see him consistently pitch well before any offer is made. He will play a vital role in the rotation, replacing Zack Wheeler. Stroman becomes the branch between Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in the middle of the Mets rotation.

Stroman should have another strong year in 2020 and the Mets will potentially have three pitchers to count on in a win or go home game.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: A, Hard biting sinker induces plenty of ground balls and his off speed complements it very well.

Control: B, Walked a few more guys than expected, but has confidence in throwing all of his pitches in any count.

Composure: A+, HDMH, handles pressure as good as anyone in the game.

Intangibles: A+, Immediately came in and embraced his teammates. High energy guy and was evident how much he loves being back at home.

Overall: A-, Pitched very well in the short period of time, but I think he would tell you there is another level he can reach.

 

Which of the remaining free agents could fit in the New York Mets’ roster?

New York Yankees, Dellin Betances

Free agency is moving at a substantially faster pace this year, at least when compared to 2018. Most of the big guns have new teams by now, including Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) Anthony Rendon (Los Angeles Angels) and Stephen Strasburg (Washington Nationals.) The New York Mets re-signed Brad Brach and brought in starting pitchers Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.

Even though most of the best players already committed their future, there are a few unsigned stars. Josh Donaldson is expected to sign in the next few days, and lefties Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel are still unemployed.

Here is a list of notable free agents (with 2020 age and 2019 WAR)

Catchers

  • Robinson Chirinos (36, 2.3)
  • Jason Castro (33, 1.6)
  • Russell Martin (37, 1.2)
  • Martín Maldonado (33, 0.8)

First Basemen

  • Eric Thames (33, 1.9)
  • Mitch Moreland (34, 0.7)
  • Neil Walker (34, 0.4)
  • C.J. Cron (30, 0.3)
  • Ryan Zimmerman (35, 0.1)
  • Matt Adams (31, -0.1)
  • Greg Bird (27, -0.1)

Second Basemen

  • Brian Dozier (33, 1.7)
  • César Hernández (30, 1.7)
  • Jonathan Schoop (28, 1.3)
  • Starlin Castro (30, 1.3)
  • Brock Holt (32, 1.3)
  • Brad Miller (30, 1.2)
  • Jason Kipnis (33, 1.1)
  • Wilmer Flores (28, 1.1)
  • Yolmer Sánchez (28, 1.0)
  • Scooter Gennett (30, -0.5)
  • Ryosuke Kikuchi (29, N/A) — posted by NPB team (12/3)

Third Basemen

  • Josh Donaldson (34, 4.9)
  • Asdrúbal Cabrera (34, 1.9)
  • Todd Frazier (34, 1.9)
  • Pablo Sandoval (33, 1.0)
  • Matt Duffy (29, -0.3)

Shortstops

  • José Iglesias (30 years old, 1.6 WAR)
  • Adeiny Hechavarría (31, 0.7)
  • Jordy Mercer (33, 0.6)
  • Addison Russell (26, 0.5)
  • Tim Beckham (30, 0.4)

Left fielders

  • Marcell Ozuna (29 years old, 2.6 WAR)
  • Alex Gordon (36, 1.3)
  • Corey Dickerson (31, 1.0)
  • Charlie Culberson (31, 0.3)
  • Rajai Davis (39, 0.0)
  • Domingo Santana (27, 0.0)

Center fielders

  • Kevin Pillar (31, 1.5)
  • Jarrod Dyson (35, 1.3)
  • Billy Hamilton (29, 0.4)
  • Guillermo Heredia (29, 0.3)

Right fielders

  • Nicholas Castellanos (28 years old, 2.8 WAR)
  • Kole Calhoun (32, 2.5)
  • Cameron Maybin (33, 1.6)
  • Yasiel Puig (29, 1.2)
  • Matt Joyce (35, 1.2)
  • Steven Souza Jr. (31, N/A)

Starting pitchers

  • Hyun-Jin Ryu (33, 4.8)
  • Homer Bailey (34, 2.9)
  • Iván Nova (33, 2.0)
  • Andrew Cashner (33, 1.8)
  • Jason Vargas (37, 1.8)
  • Rich Hill (40, 0.9)
  • Aaron Sanchez (27, 0.8)
  • Dallas Keuchel (32, 0.8)
  • Alex Wood (29, -0.2)

Relief pitchers

  • Will Harris (35, 1.1)
  • Daniel Hudson (33, 0.9)
  • Sam Dyson (32, 0.9)
  • Brandon Kintzler (35, 0.9)
  • Yoshihisa Hirano (36, 0.5)
  • Robbie Erlin (29, 0.5)
  • Collin McHugh (33, 0.5)
  • Juan Nicasio (33, 0.5)
  • Javy Guerra (34, 0.4)
  • Craig Stammen (36, 0.4)
  • Fernando Rodney (43, 0.4)
  • Francisco Liriano (36, 0.3)
  • Jeremy Jeffress (32, 0.3)
  • Dellin Betances (32, 0.1)
  • David Phelps (33, 0.1)
  • Luke Gregerson (36, 0.1)
  • Aaron Loup (32, 0.1)
  • Tommy Milone (33, 0.1)
  • Taijuan Walker (27, 0.0)
  • Jerry Blevins (36, 0.0)
  • Pedro Strop (35, 0.0)
  • JC Ramírez (31, 0.0)
  • Jimmy Nelson (31, -0.1)
  • Tyler Lyons (32, -0.1)

Could the Mets be interested in any one of them?

The New York Mets are actually pretty much set for the 2020 season. It is unlikely that they make major additions. If anything, they could bring a solid, glove-first middle infielder, a backup catcher, and relief pitching help.

Even the middle infielder isn’t a pressing need. Luis Guillorme can play good defense, and Jed Lowrie is still with the team. An upgrade over Tomas Nido and his -0.5 fWAR would be nice. Martin Maldonado would make a lot of sense.

The Mets have a good bullpen, but it could be much better if they brought Dellin Betances and his 2.22 ERA from 2014-2018. He would provide a true strikeout weapon for the late innings.

A tweener that can start and relieve can be a welcome addition, too. Collin McHugh fits the bill and shouldn’t cost a fortune, but he needs to show he is over the elbow discomfort that ended his season in December.

If the New York Mets don’t want to spend too many resources, banking on Tyler Lyons and his slider would be a good idea. They could explore Jimmy Nelson and Taijuan Walker as low-risk, high-reward options for rotation depth.

One slugger the Yankees can trade for to replace Edwin Encarnacion

New York Yankees, Kyle Schwarber, Chicago Cubs

The New York Yankees decided to trade for Edwin Encarnacion before the trade deadline during the 2019 regular season, and he produced nicely for the team until the postseason rolled around. He finished with 13 homers and 33 RBIs over 44 games with the Bombers, helping them seal clutch victories on numerous occasions.

However, the Yankees let him walk in free agency after his .056 batting average in the ALCS against the Houston Astros. The sole purpose of bringing him to the Bronx was to maximize his home runs totals, which the Yankees prefer for their hitters considering their home-run centric mentality. He fit the mold perfectly as a designated hitter and first base supplement. Injuries did hurt his consistency.

Who can the Yankees pursue to replace him?

Finding a capable slugger to help the DH position should be a priority beyond signing star pitcher Gerrit Cole, who inked a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yanks.

One exciting option is Kyle Schwarber, who clocked 38 homers in 2019. Last week, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Yankees and Chicago Cubs had discussed the possibility of Schwarzer coming to the Bronx. The 26-year-old left fielder serves a specific purpose, and while his defense isn’t noteworthy, his offensive production is exactly with GM Brian Cashman is looking for.

With six outfielders already on the roster, though, trading for him would require an additional move — possibly the trading of Clint Frazier.

Schwarber slashed .250/.339/.531 in 2019 with a .817 OPS and 120 wRC+. The Yankees have had success extracting quality from average hitters, and with Kyle’s power, there’s plenty of room to improve, especially in the contact department.

The reality is, Schwarber would fit perfectly with the Bombers’ lineup, as he ranked among the league’s best in barrel percentage, expected slugging percentage, and exit velocity. He also finished in the top 1% in hard-hit rate. His influence in an already power-packed lineup would be intimidating for opposing pitchers.

New York Mets rumors: Lugo is “disappointed,” Cespedes is a trade chip and more!

The New York Mets’ universe keeps generating news and rumors. After the signing of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, one of the bullpen aces that were gunning for the fifth rotation spot expressed his disappointment.

Meanwhile, the reduction of Yoenis Cespedes’ salary generated trade interest around the league.

Here are the Mets’ news and rumors of the day:

SI.com: The New York Mets invested significant resources to bring Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello to start. Seth Lugo, however, had other plans. According to SI.com, he is “disappointed” because he was “under the impression” that the fifth spot in the rotation was his to lose.

“I’m going to come in and show them that I somehow prepared over the offseason for what my goals for spring were and hopefully I can stretch out a little bit, but I understand what’s going on. I’m going to keep working at what I want and that’s the way I’m going to approach it,” he said.

In 2017, he went 7-5 with a 4.71 ERA as a starter for the Mets. He has been much more dominant in the bullpen.

MLB Network Radio: According to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Yoenis Cespedes told baseball analyst Eduardo Perez that he could hit 52 home runs next season. “Cespedes told me ‘I’m going out with a bang this year. I’m not just going to hit forty home runs, I’ll be out there for 140+ games’.”

Cespedes is currently working to come back from multiple heel surgeries and an ankle fracture. He is already running, throwing, and taking batting practice. The Mets, for now, remain cautious, but it seems Cespedes wants to shine in 2020.

Would he be open to a trade?

Anthony DiComo: Speaking of Cespedes, Anthony DiComo explored the trade rumors that appeared yesterday and that the Mets are allegedly considering. The report states that multiple teams asked about the outfielder’s availability.

DiComo writes that while the 34-year-old “insisted on a full no-trade clause when he signed his four-year, $110 million contract before the 2017 season,” he has incentives to waive it.

He notes that for starters, he would be playing against a team that successfully filed a grievance and took away almost two thirds of his guaranteed deal. And two, since he now has to earn his money on the field through incentives, he needs to play.

Cespedes went from having $29.5 million guaranteed in 2020 to less than $10 million. He can approach the former number through on-field incentives. That’s why he can benefit from playing as a DH in the American League. The impression around the league is that the Mets would be open to a trade.

New York Mets Fans Better Show Love To Rick Porcello

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

If you ask New York Met‘s fans what is the best way to describe the team, it would probably be “disappointing”. The team has been mismanaged by the Wilpon’s, and the Wilpon’s can’t pay anyone good to come to the team, and, simply, they’re the New York Mets. They tend to always find themselves in sticky situations.

This is why it was interesting to see that former Cy Young winner and former World Series Champion, Rick Porcello, actually WANTED to become a Met this offseason.

Wait… Seriously?!

Yes!

In a recent report from SNY, Rick Porcello said his eyes were set on the NY Mets pretty early in the offseason. For a very simple reason:

“The Mets were the first one that called, even (as) kind of a small gesture because you get so many calls that day from different teams checking in,” Porcello said in an interview earlier this week.

I’m sure also being a native of Morristown, NJ, helped a little bit.

Home Town Beats Better Deals

In the same SNY article from Danny Abriano, Porcello flew in the face of convention for offseason talent of his caliber. Yes, he had a down year. But if you see the back of his baseball card, every bad year results in a bounce back year of fantastic proportions. He was dreadful in 2015 and 2017, but sandwiched in between was his Cy Young campaign. So other teams were willing to take a chance with bigger and better contracts.

The Toronto Blue Jays offered him a one year deal, with a chance for a one-year extension. One year was worth $10 million. Another team offered $14 million for one year. On the merits of an early phone call and a verbal promise of letting him start, and he accepts a $10 million one year deal.

When you look at the deal that Gerrit Cole just signed with the Yankees, it begs to question “What was he thinking?!”

Be kind to him Mets fans. How often do you get a guy who’s willing to turn down bigger and longer contracts to become a Met? Considering the luck the Mets have had, it’s not a very common occurrence these days.

New York Knicks players already praising Miller’s coaching ability

New York Knicks, Mike Miller

The New York Knicks have been playing substantially better under the helm of interim coach Mike Miller.  As exciting as it may be, fans need to remind themselves that there’s still a lot of work to be done.

The Knicks are only 3-3 in the first 6 games under Miller but the team has been playing way better than a .500 record.  However, the Knicks are 3-1 in their last 4 games.  They went from last-to-first in the offensive efficiency over that stretch and has fans buzzing.

And it’s all because of Miller.  The player are responding and giving credit to Miller.

Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris and Dennis Smith Jr. have all complimented Miller’s ability to let the guys play while also holding them accountable.  Smith Jr. might have said it the best, “He just wants us to hoop.”  That is something that may have been lacking in the David Fizdale era.  It seemed more pick-up ball and Fizdale wasn’t holding players accountable, only benching them.

“He definitely wants us to have game-plan discipline as well but he wants us to have fun and leave it all out on the floor.  I love it”, Smith continued.  Smith had his best game of the season last game against the Hawks.  He recorded 8 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds with the most hop in his game all season.

Miller is doing things to the Knicks that fans would have thought Fizdale should’ve corrected.  Julius Randle isn’t bringing the ball up and not falling back into more isolation basketball.  Miller is finally starting to use Randle the proper way.

The New York Knicks are onto something with Miller.  While all of this is still a small sample size for the team, fans still need to be patient.  Miller is not the savior but the team could be on the right path under Miller.

New York Rangers: Has The Bread Man Delivered so far in 2019?

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

Quick Question: When is the last time the New York Rangers had a 100 point scorer in a season? You have to go back to the 2005-06 season when some guy named Jagr scored 123. The Rangers have a player that is on pace to duplicate that feat in their significant free-agent acquisition Artemi Panarin.

So far, Panarin has been everything the Rangers had hoped for when team President John Davidson signed the forward in the offseason. It probably helped that Davidson had been President for Columbus, where Panarin lead that team in scoring the past two seasons. Panarin was brought in help anchor a young rebuilding team and is now on pace to score 110 points over 82 games.

How Great Has Panarin Been for the Rangers in 2019?

Early on, Panarin started paying dividends as he put up a 12 point streak from Mid-October to Mid-November, providing the Rangers with the scoring consistency a young team needs. Panarin has been vital in helping frequent linemates Jesper Fast and Ryan Strome, who has also seen a bit of revival since being acquired from Edmonton last year. Strome has been so impressed with Panarin and skill set that he has frequently referred to him as a “game-breaker.”

Even though some may consider 33 games too small a sample size, Panarin scoring 20 goals and 23 assists for 43 points is not out of character for him. He did lead Columbus in scoring last season with 87 points. He also scored 77 and 74 points in his first two years with the Chicago Blackhawks while sharing ice time with prolific scorers Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews.

Panarin has also been a positive force in the locker room. Up and down the roster, players have pointed to his commitment to playing an all-around game as one of his standout qualities. Teammates also describe him as a guy who is dynamic offensively but is willing to play that whole 200-foot game, which lets everyone know that, if he can do it, everyone has to buy into that defensive responsibility as well.

Free agency can be hit-or-miss in any league, but it’s safe to say that the New York Rangers’ decision to pursue Artemi Panarin has been a very good one.