New York Giants: Shurmur Has Defenders, But So Did McAdoo

New York Giants, Pat Shurmur

The decision for the New York Giants to fire Pat Shurmur, if the team owners decide to go that route, won’t be completely without controversy.

Sure, most of the fans are over Shurmur after lackluster coaching has taken the Giants out of a number of games and caused blown leads in others, and little improvement between seasons for a roster which was supposed to get better with new additions being brought on in the offseason, but the players haven’t quite turned on Shurmur.

Not yet, anyway. Neither Daniel Jones or Saquon Barkley want to see Shurmur shown the door just yet, at least – two of the most notable voices for the Giants right now thanks to their status as the team’s top offensive players.

“I think he’s a great coach. How he’s coached me has been very important for my development, so I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with him,” Jones told reporters. “I’ve really enjoyed working with coach Shurmur and I think he’s done a whole lot for my development and my growth. He’s been great for me.”

But for anyone thinking that this might play into whether or not the Giants should keep Shurmur or not, it’s worth looking into the circumstances around the Giants firing their last coach, also.

Having players come out and defend a coach says more about the coach’s locker room popularity than it does about their actual skill on the field. Because while Shurmur’s predecessor, Ben McAdoo, also had defenders in the locker room when there was plenty of negativity around him, his actual coaching was just as bad as what we’re seeing right now, or worse.

And yet, when there were anonymous complaints, the locker room stood up and defended their coach.

McAdoo still ended up losing the locker room that very season and was fired, bringing about the Shurmur era. Is that to say that the Giants should disregard their players and not take their wishes into account when making a decision on whether or not to fire Shurmur after the season?

No, but the difference between coaching skill and coach popularity has to be recognized.

Sure, Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones don’t want to see Shurmur fired. But that’s one of the main reasons why players are paid to play and executives are paid to make decisions from the top – sometimes, the right decisions are tough ones, and need to be made even when they aren’t popular with every star.

Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley want Pat Shurmur to Stay

New York Giants, Pat Shurmur

With all the talk of a coaching change circling around the New York Giants as they get ready to close out the 2019 season against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday, two of the team’s brightest young stars aren’t exactly in favor of change.

Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones and second year running back Saquon Barkley told reporters on Thursday they’d like to see head coach Pat Shurmur return in 2020.

“I think obviously that’s a little above my pay grade, but I’ve really enjoyed working with Coach Shurmur and I think he’s done a whole lot for my development and my growth. Yeah, he’s been great for me,” said Jones.

Jones has developed into a pro right before our eyes, tossing 23 touchdowns this season, including five last week in Washington, and leads all NFL rookies in the category. He credits Shurmur for his rapid development and seamless transition to the NFL.

“It’s been huge for me since I’ve gotten here. I think he’s a great coach. I think, particularly for a young quarterback, an opportunity to work with him, as he’s kind of installed his offense and how he sees it and how he’s coached me has been very important to my development, as well as Coach Shula. I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to work with him.”

Barkley, who also had a career-defining game last week, said he has no doubt the team has the right person to lead them forward.

“I do believe,” he said. ” I don’t only believe in Pat Shurmur, but I do believe in all the coaches, I believe in everyone here. It’s easy to point the blame at one person, and that’s what we kind of do. I know this business is a results business, but at the end of the day, it’s not only on one person why we haven’t been successful these last few years. For me, I’m not willing to just give up on somebody. I believe that if we all just continue to fight and continue to fight, have that right mindset, which I do believe and I know that we have, things are going to turn around.”

Barkley also spoke about the notion that the team was playing for Shurmur’s job this week.

“No, that’s not the mindset that we have,’ he said. “That’s not, I guess you could say not only for myself but for this team, we’re just going out—Coach (Shurmur) made it a point, we all made it a point that we want to finish the season off strong. The way we do that is by winning the last game, the last three games of the season. So, we have the opportunity to do that, and that’s the goal.”

The Giants can only finish 5-11 this season with a victory Sunday, the same record they logged in last season. Two seasons of such futility usually earns the coaching staff s pick slip, but should the Giants finish the regular season on a three-game win streak where the offense continues to thrive, it could sway ownership to stay the course just a bit longer.

Doug Pederson: The Sky is the Limit for Giants’ Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

When the Philadelphia Eagles drafted quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, they felt they were getting their franchise quarterback for the next decade and beyond. Even though they’ve won a Super Bowl with Wentz laid up on the sidelines, they still feel as confident with him under center as the day they drafted him.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, speaking to the Giants’ beat pool via a conference call on Wednesday confirmed that the team, which is poised to win the NFC East this Sunday with a win over the New York Giants, made the right choice in Wentz.

“I think back to 2017, his second year, and just the difference he had from year one to year two, from his rookie season into his second full year there, just from the standpoint of running and just executing our offense. He had a full offseason with our guys that year, went in with a lot of high expectations, a lot of high hopes, and there’s really not one particular play or a game, I think it’s just how efficient he was playing the quarterback position for us that just showed his maturity in our offense. And listen, he’s still learning and still growing, but I think from year one to year two and the jump he made, for me, was sort of a moment that led us to believe that the guy we drafted was Carson and he was going to be the leader of our team for a long time.”

Pederson was asked if he felt Daniel Jones was that same player for the Giants.

“I do, and I think the Giants feel the same way, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken him when they did,” he said. “I’ve always liked Daniel. Coming out of college, I really liked him, and I think he’s a type of guy that will make big strides going into year two—having a full offseason to work with his players and work with the guys around him, and then having the chance to be possibly the day one starter. So, I think the sky’s the limit with him, and something that the Giants are looking forward to, I think, moving forward.”

The two young guns will face off for the first time this Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Jones was injured three weeks ago for the Giants’ first matchup with Philly this season, a 23-17 overtime loss at Lincoln Financial Field. Eli Manning starter that game.

Pederson was asked the difference in preparing for rookie Jones instead of the veteran Manning.

“I really think the only difference with Daniel over Eli is Daniel probably moves around a little bit better,’ said Pederson. “The other thing is, like I said earlier, he’s definitely getting the ball out of his hand. I think they’ve kind of reconfigured the offense to be more conducive that way, obviously using the backs in some of the shorter screen passes, things of that nature. But it really doesn’t change our planning at all from that. We’ve still got to get ready for a good football team.”

New York Yankees: Three Free Agent Outfielders To Consider

New York Yankees, Cameron Maybin

The New York Yankees will need another outfielder on their 26 man roster in 2020. They have in house options like Mike Tauchman and Clint Frazier, or they could choose to sign a free agent. Here are three free agent options that the team could consider signing on for the 2020 season and beyond.

Kevin Pillar

Kevin Pillar spent most of the 2019 season with the San Francisco Giants after an early trade from the Toronto Blue Jays. He hit .259 with 21 home runs and 88 runs batted in overall. He’s a slightly above average batter, but a gold glove outfielder and can steal bags.

If the Yankees signed him, he would play centerfield as Brett Gardner would play left with Giancarlo Stanton as the DH.

Steven Souza Jr.

Steven Souza Jr. missed the entire 2019 season after a freak injury in a pre-season exhibition. He hit .220 in 2018, missing half the season due to injuries.

He would be used as a backup in New York, as his bat isn’t good enough to play every day. But, he’s shown how dominant he can be at times and he could finally break out if the Yankees signed him.

Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin had a very successful season with the Yankees in 2019, and should be considered again for the 2020 season. He hit .285 with a career high 11 home runs with the team after starting the season in AAA for the Cleveland Indians.

The only thing holding the Yankees back is his interest. He is likely looking for an everyday job somewhere, and New York might not be that place.

New York Mets: is J.D. Davis’ 2019 offensive breakout for real?

New York Mets, J.D. Davis

After a couple of unsuccessful stints in the Majors in 2017 and 2018, the Houston Astros traded third baseman J.D. Davis and SS Cody Bohanek to New York Mets for SS Luis Santana, OF Ross Adolph and C Scott Manea.

Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets noticed the .342/.406/.583 line with the 156 wRC+ he put in Triple-A in 2018. He also considered Davis’ prospect pedigree, and that with at-bats, he could develop into a productive hitter. And boy, he did it.

In 2019 with the Mets, he hit for a line of .307/.369/.527 with 22 home runs in 453 plate appearances. He had a 136 wRC+, the third-best mark in the team. Davis broke out offensively last season.

The question remains: can he do it again? Yes, he appears capable of having a strong career with the bat. As we often say: good things happen when a batter hits the ball hard with consistency.

Davis’ Statcast numbers in 2019 with the New York Mets

Average exit velocity: 91.4 mph (90th percentile)

Hard-hit rate: 47.7 (91st percentile)

xwOBA: .383 (92nd percentile)

xBA: .308 (97th percentile)

xSLG: 91st percentile

Talk about murdering the ball. His BABIP is a tad high at .355, but given how hard he hits the ball and his healthy 22.9 line-drive rate, it seems somewhat sustainable even with his below-average speed (37th percentile.) The semi-regular at-bats that the Mets gave him certainly worked.

It remains to be seen, however, whether he can be a 30 or 35-home run threat with a meager 30.2 fly ball percentage. He ranked 264th in average distance (ft.) with 171 in 2019.

As things stand, he can have 25-HR pop with .300+ average, which is an awfully useful player at the dish. If he can hit more liners and flies, he can reach new heights in the power department for the Mets or any other team.

For now, his path towards playing time with the Mets seems somewhat blocked. The team brough Jake Marisnick to share center with Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes will play if they are healthy. Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso are atop the depth chart at the infield corners. Dominic Smith is also on the roster.

Davis would be better off in an American League’s team, so he could DH. He had a very bad -9.0 fielding runs this year and is clearly a lousy defender.

For now, he can be an impact hitter for as long as he is with the New York Mets. But if you were asking yourself whether his breakout performance in 2019 was sustainable, it most likely is.

The Yankees really have more than one question mark at backstop

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The Yankees lost one of the most reliable backstops in the business.  For the last several years, the Yankees have had their ace in the hole, Austin Romine available to back up the injury-prone Gary Sanchez.  As a free agent, Romine tested the waters and ended up with the Detroit Tigers, where he will compete during spring training for the starting catchers spot.  Unfortunately for Romine, he will be playing for arguably the worst performing team in the league, having lost 114 games this past season.  Baltimore was the worst team in the East, but the Tigers were the worst in baseball, breaking the record for losses previously held by the 1904 Washington Senators.  Unfortunately for the Yankees, Romine’s departure leaves us with an injury-prone Sanchez and, for the most part, a backup catcher in the relatively untested Kyle Higashioka.  I’ll explain what I mean by that later.

In my opinion, Gary Sanchez is a huge question mark for several reasons.  One is his injury record.  In 2018 he was either day to day or on the IL four times during the season.  Once in May, twice in June and once in July for a total of 64 days.  In 2019 that total didn’t improve much, being away from the game 54 times, including rest days.  The reason this is a critical question mark is that this record is likely to continue.  In the past two years, although we may have lost a few homers here or there, we had a reliable, proven catcher in Romine. This year not so.  If Sanchez is out 50-70 games, it will put Kyle Higashioka behind the plate. Higgy did fine last year but has never been tested at the Stadium and on the road for long periods.

Also, we have the untested 40-year-old Eric Kratz that the Yankee recently acquired and is sitting at Scranton Wilkes/Barre.  The other question mark may have been answered during this past season.  In 2018 he had more passed balls than any primary league catcher, but this improved significantly during the 2019 season. He is young and is likely to continue to grow, and he already has a cannon for an arm.

Now back to why our backup catcher will be so important this year.  Gary will almost inevitably have more injuries, more specifically, groin injuries.  Groin injuries are quite common in baseball, but often severe in catchers because of the demands on their groin muscles playing in their position.  Catchers that have groin problems tend to continue to have them. Gary, in 2019 had seven injuries, five of them groin injuries.  According to the severity of groin injuries, you can be out a few days or in a severe case for weeks at a time. So with his history, we undoubtedly will see backup catchers more than we wish too.

As EmpireSportsMedia’s Alexander Wilson reported. There are two free agent catchers out there that the Yankees should look at.  Jason Castro of the Twins is probably the best catcher available and could even contend with Sanchez during spring training, for starting catcher.  He is a good defender and has some pop, he hit 13 home runs last year and drove in 30 in only 79 games and 275 at-bats. Castro is 32, so he probably has a few more good years in him.  The second option is Kevin Plawecki. He is only 28. He is a good defender with only two errors in 57 games. Hitting, he is not much of an improvement from Higashioka.

There are a few other options available, one is Russel Martin the one time Yankee, that we know can handle catching at the stadium.  At his age (36), his career behind the plate is pretty much over, but still has an occasional pop to his bat.  The downside to Martin is that he can’t throw out base stealers.  Another possibility is Baltimore’s backup catcher, Caleb Joseph, who is defensively similar to Sanchez.  A plus for him is that he catches runners at a 33% rate.  My personal choice to back up Sanchez is Martin Maldonado, who was Gerrit Cole’s choice of a catcher at the Houston Astros. Unfortunately, although not official, reports seem to indicate he will stay with the Astros.

The question over Higashioka could go either way; he might break down if used to frequently or may surprise us and have a break out season like Gio Urshela did this year. I may be putting more importance on Gary Sanchez’s injury history than is due. Still, at the same time, it’s believable that Sanchez could again be out for prolonged periods, placing Kyle Higashioka in a territory he is not familiar with, thus suggesting the need for another catcher in our system.

Yankees rumors continue to indicate Josh Hader is coming to the Bronx

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

The Yankees haven’t hibernated this offseason like some of the bigger clubs in baseball. Instead, they have insisted on pursuing every big name with availability. They locked up the best pitcher in baseball, Gerrit Cole, for nearly a decade, and now they’re keen on securing one of the best relief pitchers.

After letting Dellin Betances walk in free agency to the Mets, the Bombers are curious about Brewers’ Josh Hader, who’s only 25-years-old and under four years of team control spanning until 2024. Hader recorded a 2.62 ERA last season, earning his second consecutive All-Star nod in just three years as a professional.

The Yankees would love to add a talent like Hader to their bullpen, but his services aren’t a necessity, more of a want. The team managed to log 103 wins last season without Dellin Betances featuring in any significant role, which would imply the Bombers don’t need to part with prospects and starting-caliber players for a player like Hader. Still, GM Brian Cashman is doing whatever it takes to win a World Series in 2020.

Rumors are continuing between the Yankees and Josh Hader:

Dan Federico: For what it’s worth, the same source that told me the Mets we’re pushing hard for Betances a couple of weeks ago told me on Friday that he still believed Josh Hader would end up a Yankee. An opinion, of course, but an informed one

MLB Marathon: As previously reported, the #Yankees and #Brewers are talking Josh Hader trade. Increasingly likely Hader ends up in the Bronx. #MLB

Consider these sources at your discretion, but with more and more people chiming in regarding Hader, the Yankees may be closing in on the elite closer. A decade of no World Series appearances has finally gotten to the psychic of owner Hal Steinbrenner, considering his lavish spending this offseason.

We will continue to update you on any progress made between the two sides and all of the relevant news out in the media. Enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season!

New York Yankees: Things To Do At Yankee Stadium

New York Yankees

We all love going to New York Yankees games at Yankee Stadium. But, for a Yankee game, it’s a sizable investment for many people just to go to one. So, here are some other ways to get your Yankee Stadium fix, while still saving a little bit of money.

NYCFC Matches

America is transfixed every 2 years with soccer. There’s the World Cup, and the CONCAFCA Gold Cup. But how many of you soccer fans know that you can catch a quality soccer match at Yankee Stadium? Home to NYCFC, you can get some of the best seats in the house for a fraction of the cost.

Through the NY Yankees website, field-level seating ranges between $85-280 for Yankee games. Through resale markets like Vivid Seats, those same prices are starting around $250, going high that triple the value for Yankee games. Through the NYCFC website, and those same resale market sites, the same field level seats start at $45-50. And with the length of games starting at 3 hours or more, taking the family to a 90-minute soccer match is a no brainer.

Concerts

Garth Brooks, Megadeth, Slayer, and other music acts that have performed at Yankee Stadium. Of course, venues are going to set up a stage to maximize total attendance without violating occupancy laws, so seats will be more affordable than for a normal game.

The Pinstripe Bowl

Held during Bowl Season, the Pinstripe Bowl returns football to Yankee Stadium. Dugout seats for the 2019 Pinstripe Bowl start at $42 for section 120A. Do you know where section 120A is? Right behind home plate! Tickets are still available for the 2019 game between Wake Forrest and Michigan State. Act now college football fans!

Charity Events

CC Sabathia’s softball game is a way to get into Yankee Stadium, the Runyon 5K is happening in August, Yankee Stadium offers up a plethora of charity events for you to attend.

This is just a small list of events you can attend at Yankee Stadium if you just need your fix in-between Yankee games.

New York Rangers Keeping Tabs on Five Prospects During World Juniors

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers brass will have a little extra duty during the holiday season as they monitor the process of five Rangers prospects as they participate in the current U20 World Championships. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, is taking place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2020. Here is a look at the five prospects that are on rosters:

Nils Lundkvist

The Swedish defenseman was selected in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers. Lundkvist has had a nice season with his Swedish Junior team. As he left his club team for the World Juniors camp, he was third in scoring among defensemen in the SHL. In 24 games, he has totaled 17 points.  Many feel that he could be playing over here as soon as next season.

K’Andre Miller

Here is a little quick fact about Miller: He was a child model appearing in Target ads and was even cast in a Honda commercial that featured former Rangers Mike Richter and Pat LaFontaine. This, of course, was before the Rangers took Miller with their second of three first-round picks in the 2018 NHL draft, at No. 22 overall. He had only been playing defense full time for the previous two seasons when he was drafted. Being converted from forward, he has the size, athleticism and tremendous skating ability to be a top defenseman. He was recently named as an alternate captain for the United States team.

Karl Henriksson

The Swedish center plays for Frölunda HC J20 in the J20 SuperElit league and will suit up for the Swedes in the World Juniors. The New York Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2019 Draft.  Hockeyprospect.com has stated that his hands are soft and he can stickhandle well in tight situations and move the puck an inch to make a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Henriksson tallied a goal in Sweden’s pre-tournament game Monday against the United States.

Zachary Jones

The UMass/Amherst defenseman was born in the small town of Glenn Allen, Virginia to a minor pro hockey equipment manager who had his son in skates at an early age.  The USHL 2018-19 Rookie of the Year was drafted by the Rangers in the third round, 68th overall. The scouting report on Jones says that he has excellent vision and hockey IQ that makes him such a versatile player that can be used in all situations. It does not appear that Jones will be paired much with fellow future Blueshirt K’Andre Miller, but Rangers fans would love to see what this pairing could do together.

Nico Gross

The New York Rangers fourth-round pick in 2018 is entering into his third U20 WJC for Switzerland and has served as captain at other international tournaments.  The defenseman currently plays for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. One of his highlights this year was scoring a hat trick on Oct 4 against New Brunswick.  Gross is generally described as a mobile, physical and intelligent player.

Ranger fans who do not wait until Friday to see some hockey can watch the United States playing Canada on Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. ET, which is the first day of the tournament.  The NHL Network will carry that game as well as all of the US preliminary games.

Why Should New York Yankees Fans Treat A-Rod Better?

There’s a growing trend among New York Yankees fans. The trend is Alex Rodriguez deserves better treatment after the “years of mistreatment” from fans when he was a player.

I’m sorry, are we forgetting just HOW his last few years as a Yankee unfolded?

Remember how he sued the Yankees?

After getting caught in the Biogenesis scandal, A-Rod was facing a 162-211 game suspension for his involvement. During the appeal of MLB’s initial ruling, A-Rod sued the New York Yankees team doctor, and team hospital (New York Presbyterian) for misdiagnosing the hip injury that resulted in him missing most of the 2013 season. Part of the suit alleges:

Defendants, after performing, understanding and analyzing the MRI, had diagnosed Plantiff as suffering from a superior labral tear at the left hip; and without informing the plaintiff of the diagnosis, knowingly cleared the Plaintiff to resume playing as a third baseman for the New York Yankees during the [2012] season playoffs, thus allowing the Plaintiff to further injure himself and the necessity for additional surgeries.

Now, while the Yankees as an organization weren’t specifically named, A-Rod is trying to throw someone who looks after the ENTIRE TEAM under the bus. I mean, this is the guy who ultimately brought Mariano Rivera AND Derek Jeter back for their final seasons. Why would the Yankees keep someone around who didn’t have the best interest of every member of the team in their best interest, including Alex Rodriguez?

A-Rod was like Gerrit Cole

A-Rod wasn’t brought to New York to win more MVP’s than championship’s, he was brought them to bring more championships to the 96-00 totals. And he only brought in 1 extra championship. He was touted as someone who would win the team multiple championships. But when it came down to winning those championship’s, A-Rod was nowhere to be found. As a Mariner, A-Rod was 18-53, good for a .339 postseason average.

As a Yankee, A-Rod had only 3 series out of 14 playoff appearances with a batting average of .270 and lower. The man finished with a career postseason batting average of .259, and 41 RBI’s, over the span of 19 postseasons series/appearances (his last postseason appearance was the 2015 Wild Card game going 0-4). Specifically as a Yankee, though, he went 54-205, good for a .263 batting average as a Yankee. This isn’t the stuff that brings home the gold.

Is Gerrit Cole doomed to A-Rod’s fate?

If Cole win’s a couple Cy Young’s, and an MVP, it’s not why he was brought to the Yankees. He’s bringing brought to New York to win multiple World Series championships. So, unless Cole decides “The pressure is too much, I need to take steroids,” like Alex did multiple times, Cole is doomed to be treated just as harshly as A-Rod was. But can you really blame Yankee fans? We were promised something from A-Rod, and he failed to deliver. We’re promised the same thing from Gerrit.

And before you start with “Oh, baseball’s a team sport! It’s about the contributions from all 9 (in the American League it’s 10 with the DH) guys on the field!” stop and think about this:

A-Rod has a career 117.8 WAR, with a .295 career batting average in the regular season, as well as over 3,000 hits, at over 660 home runs. Derek Jeter had a WAR of 72.4, with a career .310 regular-season batting average, with 260 career home runs, and finishing in the top 10 of hits for his career. I’ve posted A-Rod’s postseason stats. Jeter’s were .308 with more home runs and more RBI’s in the postseason than A-Rod’s. By EVERY metric, Jeter shouldn’t be outperforming A-Rod in the postseason. They were both paid to slow the game down and win when it mattered most. But A-Rod, when the lights shone brightest, couldn’t do it, and Jeter could. Why should we treat A-Rod better than we treat Jeter when Jeter actually got the job done?