New York Mets: Edwin Diaz Year in Review

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

Edwin Diaz was the big splash New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen made in the 2019 offseason. Unfortunately, Diaz pitched nowhere near the level he did during the 2018 season. Things ended up getting so bad that Diaz lost his job.

Diaz was masterful through his first 12 appearances, only allowing one run and striking out 20 batters. It looked like the Mets finally had their closer for the future, and Diaz looked better than he did in the entire 2018 season. The trade would have been Van Wagenen’s first grand move with the Mets.

In Comes Jesse Winker

April 29 was the day things started to come crashing down for Diaz. Mickey Callaway decided to bring him in for the third straight day in a tie game against the Cincinnati Reds, and Jesse Winker took him deep to give them a victory. It ended his April on a sour note, and he never quite rebounded at any point in the season.

For the rest of the season, he never had a month where his ERA was lower than five. In May, Callaway decided it was a good idea to overuse his struggling reliever, pitching Diaz seven times in ten days. It all blew up in his face when Diaz blew a heartbreaking save, allowing four runs in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Blown Save, After Blown Save

The blown saves took a toll not only on Diaz, but the Mets season itself. The Mets finished three games out of the second wild-card spot, and Diaz had seven blown saves. Just converting half of those puts the Mets in the postseason. From the blown save against the Philadelphia Phillies, which drove Mike Francesa off the cliff to the ninth inning debacle against the Washington Nationals, it was a horrible season from start to finish for Diaz.

Diaz eventually lost a majority of the save opportunities to Seth Lugo, who shined in the role. Going into 2020, Diaz will have to earn his position back. The potential and talent is there, but he did not adjust to pitching in New York very well. His biggest concern should move towards moving away from trying to throw every pitch at max effort and master his control. Diaz was burned for 11 home runs this season, which is far too many for any pitcher, let alone a closer.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: A, When it is on, his stuff is unhittable.

Control: F, Never seemed like he could find his slider at any point this season. His fastball command was also bad as well, and he became a life-threatening at-bat during some points of the season.

Composure: D, Could not keep it together once April ended.

Intangibles: B, Handled the struggles and media with class, but it was a huge distraction late in the season.

Overall: F, Just an overall horrible year for a guy coming off a 57 save, 1.96 ERA season.

 

 

 

The New York Giants Need To Extend Markus Golden

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants‘ defense has been one of the NFL’s worst this season, once again. Overall, the team has not had a high sack total, ranking in the bottom half of the league with 32 team sacks on the season. But the team’s defense is not without a few strong individual performances.

Rookie defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence has been impressive. Dalvin Tomlinson has also performed well this season, too. But the biggest surprise on the Giants’ defense in 2019 has been edge rusher Markus Golden.

Markus Golden Has Exceeded Expectations in 2019

This past offseason, the New York Giants signed Markus Golden to a one-year deal worth $3,750,000. This was an inexpensive contract for a player the Giants did not necessarily expect to be an impact player. But Markus Golden has exceeded all expectations in 2019 and should be extended by New York long-term this offseason.

Markus Golden leads the Giants in sacks this season with 9 total through 14 games. The sack total might not be astronomical, but the advanced stats indicate that Golden has been in the opponents’ backfields very often. Markus has generated 39 quarterback pressures, and 14 quarterback hurries with 24 knockdowns.

The former Arizona Cardinal has been generating massive amounts of pressure for the New York Giants’ defense. He might not be a game-wrecking pass-rusher, and the Giants should still look to upgrade the position (I’m looking at you, Chase Young). But as all Giants fans should know, you can never have enough pass-rushers (see the 2007-2008 Super Bowl champion New York Giants), and Markus Golden can, at the very least, be New York’s second pass-rusher.

Markus Golden Wants To Be Back

Markus Golden has been an impactful player for the New York Giants this season. He has given them every reason to want him back in 2020 and beyond. And that’s precisely what Markus Golden wants.

The Giants have not begun discussing an extension with Markus Golden yet, but when asked by Newsday, Markus made it clear that he would “love” to return. Here’s more of what Markus had to say about his time and future with Big Blue:

“It’s been great being here competing,” he said. “Of course it’s been a down year, but at the end of the day, everybody here has been great people. Everybody is trying to do whatever they can do to win. I know everybody here wants to win. That’s a good sign because I want to make sure I’m able to win.” -Markus Golden via Newsday.com

Giants fans also received confirmation from Markus Golden’s father that he wants to return via Twitter:

The New York Giants will have to make a decision on Markus Golden next month. The edge rusher has exceeded all expectations this season and played some solid football. Golden and his family are interested in wearing blue again next year, and the Giants should be interested in bringing him back, too.

The New York Yankees have a decision to make: Panik, Hernandez, Lindor or Nobody?

New York Yankees, Mets, Francisco Lindor

I have said before that with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, the Yankees might be done with any significant changes to the team. They already have their back up catcher in Kyle Higashioka and have gotten a reserve in Scranton Wilkes/Barre, by signing Erik Katz.

Considering this, you could say that they are all set. This is especially true due to comments made by Yankee Manager Aaron Boone and General Manager Brian Cashman, having both said they are satisfied with their bullpen and satisfied as well, with Gleyber Torres in the shortstop position. After all, it’s difficult to improve a team that has won 100 games in the past two years, with the lineup and defense they already have in place. But at the same time, there are all kinds of suggestions and rumors that they are still looking to improve the team by strengthening the bullpen and adding a left-hand bat to the lineup.

The New York Yankees are looking into lefty hitters:

There are reports that the Yankees may be looking at adding the likes of Joe Panik, a lefty to the lineup. Panik spent the season last year with the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. The 29-year-old is a former Gold Glover at second base and an All-Star. There are also reports that the Yankees may be looking at Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez comes from the Phillies, where he was non-tendered after the season. Hernandez, like Panik, is also 29 years old. One of the things that make Hernandez attractive is that he is a very similar player as last year’s acquisition of D.J. LaMahieu, although not of the same caliber. He hit .279 with the Phillies last year and drove in 71 runs while hitting 14 home runs. In 2016 and 2017, he was one of the most dynamic second basemen in the game. He is a switch hitter, so that may also factor into his worth to the Yankees, adding another player that can break up the Yankee’s heavy right-handed lineup.
The big prize out there is Francisco Lindor of the Indians. If the Yankees are interested in Lindor, it will probably involve money and giving up some critical assets. If they are genuinely intrigued by Lindor, they will have to make their best offer for him this weekend, as the Indians have made it clear that they want any team interested in him, to submit their best offer this weekend, so that they can evaluate if they will move Lindor at all. Lindor is 26, has been an All-Star and an MVP candidate in all of the past four years, and has hit 30 homers in each of the last three years. Lindor batted .284 with 74 RBI’s. Lindor is also a switch hitter.

Cashman may decide to further strengthen the infield with any of these players, as all of them would add a lefty bat to the lineup. Cashman is probably on a timeline to act since multiple teams are interested in the three players, which may force his hand. My guess, in the case of Lindor, is that the Indians will reject all the offers they receive this weekend and wait until just before spring training when Lindor’s value will be even higher. As far as Cashman is concerned, he may act soon or demonstrate his narrative and do nothing at all. With Voit or Ford at first, stars D.J. LeMahieu at second Gleyber Torres at short, and Gio Urshela at third, they remain with an extra infielder with Miguel Andujar. It is unlikely that the Yankees will trade Andujar, in favor of trying him out at different positions during spring training, as they don’t want to lose his hot bat.

 

Who has the best starting pitcher in New York, the Mets or the Yankees?

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Gerrit Cole, the Yankees’ most recent high-profile signing, is taking all the headlines. It shouldn’t be a surprise, as he put pen to paper to a nine-year, $324 million contract. But who’s the true king of New York, he or the Mets’ Jacob deGrom?

The case for DeGrom, the New York Mets’ undisputed ace

When it comes to run prevention, Jacob deGrom has virtually no peers in the Major Leagues. He had a mind-boggling 1.70 ERA in 2018 and a 2.43 mark in 2019, when fly balls were leaving parks at alarming rates.

The most telling stat about deGrom, who has been New York’s undisputed ace the last two seasons, is WAR. In the last two years, he has a fantastic 16.0 fWAR, the highest mark among starting pitchers. It isn’t particularly close, as Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole, the second and third-ranked hurlers, have 14.0 and 13.4, respectively.

Mets’ fans have the pleasure to enjoy arguably the best pitcher of the league. He won the Cy Young award in 2018 and 2019. This season, he had a healthy 11.25 K/9 and 1.94 BB/9. His 2.67 FIP was slightly worse than last year’s insane 1.99 mark. He is a beast.

The case for Cole, the New York Yankees’ newest workhorse

Whereas deGrom is known for his run prevention skill, Cole makes his living with the strikeout. It’s not like the Mets’ ace doesn’t strike people out, or that the new Yankee workhorse has high eras. It’s just that each pitcher has something that defines them.

The New York Yankees’ recent free agent acquisition had a 13.82 K/9. Yes, you read that correctly, and no, the number isn’t associated with a high-powered reliever. Cole can miss bats with his heater, changeup, curveball, and slider.

The Mets‘ deGrom won the WAR battle in 2018 9.0 to 6.0, but Cole took it back in 2019, 7.4 to 7.0 thanks to a season for the ages with the Houston Astros. He was unbeaten for months, he had a 2.50 ERA in the American League, and he pitched 212.1 innings. Cole issued few walks (2.03 BB/9) and won 20 games. His 326 strikeouts and 0.895 WHIP are impressive marks.

He was an absolute monster in the postseason. The Tampa Bay Rays could only muster a meager run in 15.2 innings, with three walks and 25 punchouts. He had a scoreless seven-inning performance against the Yankees, and a 3.86 ERA in the World Series.

Verdict

While Gerrit Cole has more than enough merits to be the king of New York, he will have to earn that on the mound. For now, Jacob deGrom wins this hypothetical race with the slightest of margins, thanks to his otherworldly run prevention skills and his WAR advantage.

New York is in for an exciting 2020 season, and both the Mets and the Yankees’ rotations will be anchored by these two phenomenal hurlers.

Are the New York Yankees in trouble at the catcher position?

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

As New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman focused all his efforts on signing Gerrit Cole to a massive nine-year, $324 million deal, he let a few quality backups escape in free agency. One of those players is Austine Romine, who was a serviceable replacement for Gary Sanchez last season when he spent time on the injured list with a groin injury.

Romine wasn’t only a reliable defensive catcher, but he hit adequately too, posting a .281 batting average with eight homers over 228 at-bats. Letting him walk was more Romine’s choice than the Yankees’, as he was in search of a starting job, an offer Cashman didn’t have available with Gary Sanchez healthy.

Therefore, the Bombers will stick with Kyle Higashioka, who has seen praise from Cashman recently:

“Like a lot of aspects of our roster, we feel we have the personnel that can do the job that we have high confidence in,’’ Cashman said last month.

Can the New York Yankees trust Kyle Higashioka in 2020?

Over 56 at-bats in 2019, Higgy hit an abysmal .214 with three homers. His statistical output doesn’t scream efficiency or productivity, which could be worrisome considering Romine’s quality at the plate last season.

Aside from Higashioka, the Yankees re-signed 40-year-old Erik Kratz on Friday to add depth to the position. Kratz is undoubtedly a depth piece and is more of a competitive factor alongside Kyle than anything else. Injuries to Sanchez are a matter of when and having two options offers more value.

While Higashioka and Kratz will compete for the No. 2 spot behind two-time All-Star Gary Sanchez this upcoming spring, Cashman may bring in a third catcher, especially if both are to produce minimal offensive support. Gerrit Cole’s preferred catcher, Martin Maldonado, could be a serviceable catcher for the Yankees, who are also looking to maximize their record-breaking signing by any means possible.

New York Yankees Extensions: Tanaka vs. Paxton

New York Yankees, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka

With Gerrit Cole leading the rotation, you might be able to say that the Yankees have the best starting unit in all of baseball. The top two spots, assuming everyone is healthy, are set in stone, but the third spot in the rotation has caused a little debate.

Some people believe building off the second-half success, that the third spot belongs to James Paxton. Others think it should belong to last year’s Opening Day starter, Masahiro Tanaka. What first world Yankee problems having to debate which one of those two should be their third starter in the rotation.

However, another debate needs to be had featuring these two pitchers. Which pitcher should the Yankees try to extend before they hit free agency next year? With many players coming up that will be receiving big raises like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Gleyber Torres, etc. there very well might not be room on the books for both pitchers. Let’s breakdown each choice and see what we come up with.

The case for Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka is the been there, done that Yankees pitcher. Tanaka has been in New York for six seasons, which has seen him go 75-43 with a 3.75 ERA (Baseball-Reference). Tanaka has also anchored the Yankees in the postseason where he has a remarkable 1.76 ERA in eight postseason starts. Going into next offseason, Tanaka will be 32 years old. Tanaka is not going to cost as much money as it would be to extend a guy like James Paxton.

The two-time all-star has been pitching the last several seasons with a partial tear in his UCL, and he just had surgery on his elbow to remove bone spurs in October. Because of these factors, you’re likely to see him on the less expensive end for a starter after next season. Could see him get a deal similar to the one that Madison Bumgarner just received from the Diamondbacks at five years with a salary of around $85 million. Of course, a significant benefit for Tanaka is the fact that he’s not a fastball pitcher, which bodes well for him as his career progresses. Nobody should be upset if the Yankees bring back Masahiro Tanaka after next season to be their third starter moving forward.

The Case for James Paxton

After a bit of a rough start with the Yankees, you could make the argument that James Paxton was one of the best pitchers in the American League during the second half of last season. Overall, Paxton pitched to a 15-6 record with a 3.82 ERA in his first year with the Yankees (Baseball-Reference). Like Tanaka, James Paxton will be turning 32 years old going into next offseason. When he is on his game, the guy is lights out. Last year he had his second consecutive year where his strikeouts per nine were over 11.

On top of that, he’s a left-handed starter, and we all know how much the Yankees loved lefty starters. Now Paxton, who is represented by Scott Boras, is likely to command more money than Masahiro Tanaka. Like Tanaka, Paxton will probably be looking for a five or six-year deal. However, the total salary number is probably going to be north of $100 million. Paxton has ace stuff pitching from the left side and, because of his injury issues in the past, has 300 fewer innings on his arm. While Tanaka is more proven on the big stage, James Paxton very well might have a higher ceiling for the Yankees.

The Verdict

In the end, I would throw the money towards James Paxton. Like I said above, I think he has the higher ceiling, and I think it would help balance the rotation out with Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, both being right-handed. A 1-2-3 or Cole, Severino, and Paxton for the foreseeable future is one that gets me excited as a Yankee fan.

Now, in an ideal world, maybe they could bring both of them back, although unlikely. I know Yankee fans would love to see the four-man rotation they will see next year more over the next few years, but the Yankees will be watching their payroll closely. We all know that guys like Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres are going to get considerable paydays to be lifelong Yankees. I don’t think in this debate there’s a wrong choice which makes the discussion fun. I’d go with James Paxton, but it’ll be interesting to see how GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees play this over the next 12 months.

New York Rangers: “Rest” Doesn’t Help End Losing Streak

New York Rangers, Brad Skjei

The New York Rangers had a theory: That a three-day break after a long West Coast trip may rejuvenate their team. In 1985, The Coca-Cola Company decided to replace its traditional product with “New Coke.”  Neither theory worked. New Coke was widely criticized and was eventually dumped. On Friday night, the Rangers were trounced 6-3 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

A Tiring West Coast Trip didn’t end well for the New York Rangers

In reality, the Rangers did need a bit of a break.  The Rangers started December having played eight games in 11 days.  After a 4-1 loss to the visiting Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 2. They then had a back-to-back, in Columbus and at home against the Canadiens, before leaving on the weeklong four-game trip out west. That trip went from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, then north to San Jose, and back south to Anaheim for a Saturday afternoon game.  After flying back home, they played the Nashville  Predators in the Garden on Monday, losing 5-2.  I am tired just writing about it. Following a day off Tuesday, the team returned to the ice for a light practice Wednesday with five players taking maintenance days: defensemen Marc Staal and Tony DeAngelo, and forwards Ryan Strome, Artemi Panarin, and Pavel Buchnevich.  Seeing how this week played out, one would think that the Blueshirts would be ready to go on Friday night against the Leafs. That did not happen.

A clunker of a game

The thought was that goaltender Alexandar Georgiev would be the perfect man in the net against the Leafs, as when he stopped 99 out of their 101 shots last season. Unfortunately, Georgiev allowed a season-high six goals in last night’s debacle. This, of course, comes after I referred to him as “red hot” in a recent article.  But there is plenty of blame to go around.  The Rangers were outshot 40-22 and gave the puck away 23 times. They went 0-for-3 on the power play, extending their streak to nine man-advantage opportunities without a goal. Toronto nabbed 12 takeaways.  In his post-game press conference, Head Coach David Quinn stressed “a need to pay more attention to detail” for his young team.

The schedule ahead is also difficult

Friday’s loss is followed by a back-to-back, starting with a  Sunday matinee at home against the Ducks and then heading to  Philadelphia Monday night. The Rangers will get another break with the league-wide three-day dark period for Christmas. They come out of that with another back-to-back, Friday at home against the Hurricanes then in Toronto on Saturday, which leads right into their New Year’s trip, this time going through western Canada starting in Edmonton.  Coach Quinn and the young Rangers will be challenged more than ever as they try to end this three-game losing streak.

New York Yankees news, rumors: Martin Maldonado makes too much sense, Francisco Lindor, and more!

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole, Martin Maldonado

Some say New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is a magician with his ways, waiting patiently at times to strike in free agency, but also acing quickly to secure premium talent like Gerrit Cole. The 2020 offseason has already produced bounds of reinforcement and expertise for the Bombers, but there’s always the possibility that they pursue other targets.

This leads us into our Yankees rumors/news of the day:

Francisco Lindor: 

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal stated that the Indians are looking for final offers in the coming days:

The Indians are telling clubs interested in trading for Lindor that they want each team’s best and final offers so they can make an assessment over the weekend. The request by the Indians does not mean a trade of Lindor is certain. … “I do think (the Indians) are trying to bring things to a rapid conclusion,” said one executive involved in the talks. “I’m not sure why they want to impose an artificial deadline when they may get a much better deal in January once teams have a clearer picture of what options they have.”

The Yankees, though, feel that they have a solid foundation at shortstop with Gleyber Torres, who has been preparing to replace Didi Gregorius for two seasons. Trading for Lindor would require the Cashman to part with significant talent, and it would also force Torres back into his second-base role, meaning DJ LeMahieu might slide into first base for the foreseeable future. This is far from a done deal if there’s any interest at all, but the Yankees could be quietly making an offer for the star shortstop.

Yankees fire their strength and conditioning coach:

The New York Yankees fired their strength and conditioning coach on Friday after 30 Yankee players made a combined 39 appearances on the injured list in 2019. Matt Krause, who has been at the forefront of the plague, was destined for a life on the road, and the Bombers won’t be tagging along.

Martin Maldonado: With the signing of Erik Kratz last week, the Yankees now have tow reserve catchers behind Gary Sanchez. Both are serious question marks and can not be relied on if Sanchez goes down. This is where Martin Maldonado comes into the picture. He’s Gerrit Cole’s favored catcher and has plenty of experience in the big leagues. He’s no much of an offensive threat, but he’s been a bit better than Kyle Higashioka over a more extended period. His defensive qualities, though, are fantastic, making him a decent option if the Yankees are looking to add more competition.

New York Mets rumors: Cohen “only had eyes for the Mets,” roster moves and more

Simeon Woods-Richardson

The daily dose of New York Mets’ rumors, links, and news is here. Steve Cohen was “dead stuck” on the  Mets according to Reggie Jackson, MLB.com ran a list of the best players of the decade, and the team made some roster moves.

New York Mets’ rumors and links:

NY Post: Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson told the NY Post that Steve Cohen, his friend, only had eyes for the Mets. Over the years, they talked several times about forming a group to own an MLB team.

“He was just dead stuck on the Mets. I have tried to talk to him about the Dodgers and the A’s and a couple of other teams and he said, ‘Reggie, I might be interested in the Dodgers, my daughter goes to college in that area, but I live [in Connecticut] and I’m a Mets fan and that is kind of where my focus is. If there is ever an opportunity, that is where it would be,’” Jackson said.

MLB.com: The official New York Mets page made a list of the top 10 players of the decade. Several familiar faces are in it, including four active members of the roster. Here is the list:

Top 10 players of the 2010s

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. David Wright
  3. Noah Syndergaard
  4. R.A. Dickey
  5. Matt Harvey
  6. Daniel Murphy
  7. Michael Conforto
  8. Curtis Granderson
  9. Yoenis Céspedes
  10. Zack Wheeler

Marc Carig: Ricky Meinhold will join the Mets as minor league pitching coordinator, according to Carig’s sources. His last job was a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Mark Feinsand: Catcher Martin Maldonado agreed to a two-year, $7M deal with the Houston Astros, according to Feinsand’s sources. The defensive specialist would have made a lot of sense for the Mets.

Anthony DiComo: Right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza did not clear waivers, but Stephen Nogosek did. The Mets outrighted the latter to Triple-A Syracuse. The Boston Red Sox claimed the former from waivers, according to Feinsand.

The New York Rangers Have a Quandary in Net, One Aging Star and One Red Hot Backup

New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist

Many in the sports world feel competition among players for a position is a good thing. This may or may not hold true for the New York Rangers and their goaltender situation this season.

For years the Rangers have relied on Henrik Lundqvist to man the nets for the Blueshirts. However, this year, the 37-year-old has been struggling a bit as he deals with minor back issues and a backup goaltender who has been very good in relief.  Lundqvist has struggled of late and has not won a game since November 27.  He will not have the immediate opportunity to change that as Alexandar Georgiev is scheduled to get the start in the net Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The New York Rangers have a quandary in goal:

Red Hot Backup

Georgiev, who also has the distinction of being the first Bulgarian born player to suit up in the NHL, has gone 6-3-0 with a .925 save percentage and 2.61 GAA since the 10th of November. He has an excellent track record against Toronto, On February 10th of 2019, Georgiev made a career-high 55 saves in a 4–1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the goaltender with second-most saves in a game in Rangers’ history, while also setting a record for most saves in regulation. Proving that was not a one time fluke, Georgiev followed that up with a solid 44-save outing on March 23, which resulted in a 2-1 overtime victory.

Lundqvist Struggles

Since November 10, Lundqvist has gone 3-4-3 with a .903 save percentage and 3.19 GAA. He played well last Saturday in Anaheim, but a crucial mistake at the end of the game led to the tying goal, a game in which the Rangers eventually lost in a shootout. While the 37-year-old may need rest on occasion, he is not correctly used to a lot of time on the bench. Excluding the 2012-13 lockout and 2014-15 when he missed significant time with an injury, Lundqvist averaged 67.25 starts per season over a 10-year period, which equates to more than 80% of the Rangers’ games. He started 52 games last year and has been the starter for 18 of the 33 games so far this season. For someone who has thrived on a heavy workload, Lundqvist may have to get used to reduced time in the net.

Waiting in the Wings

At their AHL affiliate in New Hartford, Igor Shesterkin is playing like he is worthy of manning the nets in the NHL. So far this season, Shesterkind has posted a 2.14 GAA with a .926 Save Percentage. Concerns about the transition from Europe to NHL style play and rinks have been put to rest.

All in all, it is not exactly a bad situation to have. Together, Lundqvist and Georgiev rate as the fourth-best goalie tandem in the NHL. But it is always challenging to deal with an aging star who has been the face of the franchise for so many years. So far, Coach David Quinn has been handling it well, and Ranger fans can only hope that this continues for the foreseeable future.