New York Giants: Patriots OC Josh McDaniels Joins Coaching Candidates

It’s safe to say that most of the NFL would like to imitate the New England Patriots – that’s because the Patriots have been one of the most successful teams over the past couple of decades, and there’s plenty of New York Giants fans who would be willing to take talent from their rival in Boston if it meant the Giants could have a bit of the same.

This isn’t an article about Bill Belichick coming to the Giants, however. It’s about two members of his staff, Josh McDaniels and Joe Judge. McDaniels, as the offensive coordinator behind much of the Patriots’ success, is of course the more notable of the two when compared to Judge, the Patriots’ wide receivers and special teams coach.

According to the Boston Globe, the Patriots have approved requests for the Giants to speak to both coaches.

According to a league source, the Giants have been granted permission to speak with McDaniels, the Patriots offensive coordinator, and Judge, the club’s special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, about their head coaching vacancy.

That doesn’t mean that McDaniels to the Patriots is the most likely outcome, however. McDaniels was announced last year as the coach of the Indianapolis Colts but ended up showing more commitment to the Patriots and making the decision to stay instead of leaving. Presumably, there was something enticing McDaniels to make that choice, such as the prospect of taking over when Belichick eventually retires.

It would likely take a lot from the Giants to convince McDaniels to give his current position in New England up, which is why it seems like one of the more unlikely moves, but with some unrest in New England right now it doesn’t seem impossible that McDaniels might finally leave for the second time.

At the least, it’s a positive for the Giants that such options are being investigated – going into a coaching search with not enough good candidates on the market resulted in the Giants ending up with Pat Shurmur last time, after all.

New York Mets: Which Stroman version is the real one, the Mets’ or the Blue Jays’?

yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

Prior to the 2019 trade deadline, the Toronto Blue Jays traded Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets. For the season as a whole, he had a 3.22 ERA with a 3.72 FIP in 184.1 frames. He fanned 7.76 hitters per nine innings and had a 2.83 BB/9. His 53.7 GB% was among the highest for starting pitchers in MLB.

However, his line with the Blue Jays and his performance with the Mets had a few differences.

Mets’ Stroman vs. Jays’ Stroman

In the American League, he had a 6-11 record with a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts. He pitched 124.2 frames with 35 walks and 99 strikeouts. His WHIP was 1.23. That WHIP usually correlates more with ERAs in the 3.20-3.50 range, although it isn’t an exact science.

His groundball-heavy ways and the Mets’ suspect infield defense caused his final numbers to suffer somewhat.

In Queens, Stro had a 4-2 record with a 3.77 in 11 starts and 59.2 innings. He allowed 65 hits, walked 23 and punched out 60 hitters. His WHIP was 1.47 with the Mets.

As it often happens, the truth is somewhere in between. The most likely scenario is that Stroman isn’t a true-talent sub-3.00 ERA pitcher, at least not with a sub-8.00 K/9 and without a very good infield defense behind him. However, it is also true that he is way better than the 1.47-WHIP hurler he was in the second half with the Mets.

Marked improvements

In fact, we can divide his tenure with the Mets in two stages. In a seven-start span from August 3rd to September 7th, Stroman had a 5.05 ERA with a 4.87 FIP. His K/9 rose to 9.34, but he allowed 48 hits in 35.2 innings. He was bad.

However, in his last four starts, Stroman rebounded. He put up a 1.88 ERA with a 3.09 FIP and 8.63 K/9. He allowed 17 hits in 24 frames.

The 2020 will be a huge season for Stroman. He is a talented, competitive pitcher in the prime of his career, but he needs to offer consistency and stability to the Mets’ rotation.

Over his career, Stroman’s ERA has heavily fluctuated year by year: 3.65 in 2014, 4.37 in 2016, 3.09 in 2017, 5.54 in 2018 and 3.22 in 2019.

Getting out of the AL East and in the National League for a full season will help, as well. All things considered, Stroman is likely to finish with a sub-4.00 ERA and with plenty of quality starts for the New York Mets.

New York Mets: Wilmer Font Year in Review

The New York Mets cycled through multiple pitchers through the first half of the season, and Wilmer Font was one of the few who made an impact. Font started and relieved for the Mets during his two months in Queens.

Font came to the Mets in early May from a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. It was during a time in the year where the Mets desperately needed another arm on their roster. He was thrown straight into the starting rotation but struggled as a starter. Font allowed nine runs in 10.1 innings and went to the bullpen when Steven Matz came off the Injured List.

Bullpen Success

Font’s new role a middle relief/long relief helped get the Mets shorthanded bullpen through the rough May/June. During his 12 outings out of the bullpen, he had a 3.48 ERA and hitters batted .218 against him in 20.2 innings. His best pitch was his high looping curveball, which he threw 19.2% of the time, the highest of his career.

The Mets shipped Font up north to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for cash on July 17. He went on to finish the season strong with the Blue Jays. Chris Mazza replaced Font on the roster, and in hindsight, the Mets would have been better off keeping Font longer.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: B-, His fastball speed varied from 92-98, but his curveball has Seth Lugo-ish qualities.

Control: B+, When he moved to the bullpen, his walk numbers went down from his time in the rotation.

Composure: C+, Solid in clutch situations, and his long relief role.

Intangibles: B

Overall: C+, He was not anything special as a starter, but put together good outings in the bullpen.

New York Mets: Drew Gagnon Year in Review

Drew Gagnon was a frequent member of the shuttle ride between Syracuse and the New York Mets during the 2019 season. His season started on a good track but quickly fell off the rails as his ERA ballooned towards double digits.

Gagnon’s first appearance of the season came in mop-up fashion during a 14-3 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies. He threw 5.1 innings to save the Mets from wasting arms after Steven Matz failed to get out of the first inning. After he returned to a usual bullpen role, but his past as a starting pitcher allowed the Mets to extend him during some outings.

Bullpen Success and Failure

With his excellent change-up, Gagnon seemed to settle into a role pitching out of the bullpen. In his next 11 outings, he had a 3.09 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched. Gagnon went five days without being used and could not find the same success he had prior. His next three outings resulted in allowing eight runs and a demotion to Syracuse on June 18.

One of the memorable parts of his season was clearing the benches when he drilled Ian Desmond in June after allowing two home runs to the Rockies. No one traded punches, but the intent of the beaning was clear.

The rest of Gagnon’s season ended with two appearances in August and one in September. One of the August outings resulted in the Atlanta Braves obliterating him for four home runs. He finished the year with an 8.37 ERA and leaving the Mets to play for the KIA Tigers in the Korean Baseball Association.

Grades:

Pitching Repertoire: C-, His fastball sat in the low 90s, but his change-up was his best pitch.

Control: A-, Walks were never something to worry about with Gagnon. 2.7 BB/9.

Composure: F, Hitters teed off on him in clutch situations and fell victim to multiple homer outings.

Intangibles: D

Overall: F, An abysmal season for Gagnon, it started with a lot of potential then ended in failure. Hopefully, the trip to Korea will revitalize his career.

BREAKING: New York Yankees starter Domingo German gets lengthy suspension

New York Yankees, Domingo German

The New York Yankees will be without one of their top starting pitchers, Domingo German, for a lengthy 81 games in 2020. After domestic abuse allegations were imposed on the pitcher, he was awaiting his suspension, but it was expected to land somewhere in the 30-40 game range.

It’s becoming clear that Major League Baseball is looking to make examples out of offenders of the law, and German will surely pay for his mistake. After serving as one of the Yankees’ top pitchers in 2019, he will return closer to the half-way point, which will still benefit the Bombers and their playoffs aspirations.

The suspension is retroactive to 2019, meaning he will miss 63 games in 2020.

Before the incident took place, German enjoyed an 18-4 record with a 4.03 ERA n 27 games (24 starts). Upon his return, he will likely slide into the middle of the rotation.

New York Yankees: 3 low-key players that could have a productive 2020 season

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

The New York Yankees always manage to scrape the bottom of the barrel when it comes to value. In 2019, they saw several reserves emerge as starting players and contribute towards their 103-win season. The injuries that plagued the team made it incredibly difficult to drag out victories regularly. However, they still managed to finish with one of the best records in all of baseball, thanks largely in part to the resurrection of Brett Gardner’s power.

Here are three low-key players that could have big seasons for the New York Yankees in 2020:

1.) Tyler Wade

Wade emerged from his disastrous 2018 season with a bit of a bounce-back year in 2019. Across 43 games, he posted a 10.2% BB Rate, seven stolen bases, and a 0.3 fWAR. The agile utility player will never be a big-time slugger, but he’s a great base runner and reliable defender. Increasing his plate discipline and contact rate will be a priority for him next season, and he’s preparing to make the jump to regular playing time finally.

If Wade can impress during spring training, there’s little evidence that suggests he can’t have a big year (for a reserve) in 2020, similar to Cameron Maybin for the Yankees in 2019. After being assigned to Scranton/Wilkes Barre last season in place of Mike Tauchman, Wade was vocally upset, expressing his concern to the media.

For more information on Tyler Wade and what to expect from him in 2020, read the article linked here by ESM’s Nick Nielsen.

2.) Mike Ford

The New York Yankees need a quality left-handed hitter in the absence of Aaron Hicks. Having just Brett Gardner, Tyler Wade, and Mike Tauchman available, it places more value on Mike Ford. At 27-years-old, Ford earned his first playing time in the MLB in 2019, posting a .259 batting average with 12 homers. He fits perfectly into the Yankees’ home-run centric mentality, which could earn him an expanded role next season.

I wouldn’t expect Ford to blow the roof off, but he’s capable of improving incrementally and providing value on offense. Defensively, he’s a decent first baseman, but hopefully, Luke Voit can remain healthy and active throughout the year.

3.) Clint Frazier

Frazier has been tormented by his arrogance in recent years, snapping back at the media in 2019 after a defensive dud against the Boston Red Sox. Frazier was quickly reassigned to Triple-A ball and would not see the top-level for a majority of the 2019 season.

Red Thunder is a capable offensive player but lacks the consistency on defense to remain a starter. After logging a .267 batting average with 12 homers and 38 RBIs, Frazier’s value crept up into the tradeable range. The Yankees have explored the idea of trading him in a package deal for a quality relief pitcher, but nothing has materialized. I imagine he will remain with the team next season in a limited role. Still, if he shows improvement on defense, he could quickly earn significant playing time, especially if injuries arise again.

New York Yankees Podcast Review: Dani’s Dugout

New York Yankees, Tyler Wade

There’s still a month and a half before pitchers and catchers report, so New York Yankees fans may need a fix to help them deal till Spring Training begins in earnest. There are plenty of Yankees fans who turned their passion into something constructive, more so than just ranting on social media. One such Yankees fan is Dani Cipolla, the mastermind of the podcast Dani’s Dugout.

A Podcast for Yankees Fans, by a Yankee Fan

Ms. Cipolla has made no secret about disdain for modern, analytics-based baseball in several episodes. And, you know what? She’s got a point. The Yankees have been an analytics-based team for the better part of the last 15 years, and it’s starting to pay off… during the REGULAR season. The team has won about 300 games in the last 3 years, (17-19), but the best they got was game 7 of the 2017 ALCS. And let’s also look at the Los Angeles Dodgers. They’re also heavily analytics-based, and they lost the World Series in back to back seasons.

How many professionals in the sports reporting community is talking about how analytics are great for a long haul regular season, but are a detriment to short postseason series? Little IF ANY!

So, much of her takes are based on what many would call “Old school baseball.” As a result, she’s made many calls that I disagree with. She’s in love with and celebrates Gio Urshela as the future third baseman of the Yankees for the next 10 years. I’ve documented how the old school metrics, AND new school metrics show that Urshela (both offensively and defensively) wasn’t that much of an improvement in 2019 compared to Miguel Andujar’s 2018. She even thought, and voiced her opinion, that the Yankees should have traded Gleyber Torres during the 2019 season because Torres is a better hitter against bad pitching (citing specifically the Orioles) than he is against good pitching. The best pitching comes in October, and it was Torres and DJ carrying the team in the ALDS/ALCS this season. But, it’s her podcast, her opinion, and I still enjoy the product she turns out. So, I cope. No one is going to agree with you 100% of the time, so don’t try to make them.

So if you’re a numbers/analytics wonk, her podcast isn’t for you. But it doesn’t mean she doesn’t know her stuff. At the end of the day, while analytics is a great way to evaluate talent, we are still talking about human beings playing a game. Part of what made the 2018 Red Sox season so remarkable was manager, Alex Cora, trusting that his HUMAN players were going to excel at the moment he saw unfolding, not what the paper from the analytics department tells him.

This is a knowledgable person, who knows and gets the game better than most who report on the game in the more traditional professional settings (ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the like).

Her Fandom is Her Biggest Weakness

She is a prototypical diehard New York Yankees fan. If you heard the expression “Fan is short for fanatic”, this is Ms. Cipolla to a T. While I tend to agree with her takes more often than not, her rationale behind her opinions is still viewed through the rose-tinted glasses of total fandom. That aspect of her broadcast style is what I find the most frustrating about her show.

Baseball has the distinct advantage of being the longest regular season in professional sports. It almost doubles the typical NBA season. If she got what she wanted 100% of the time, we’d be back in the Bronx Zoo era of the franchise, where we went from 1982 to 1993 without even a Wild Card berth (94 was the strike year). Remember, the Yankees more than any other team are vocal about “World Series or bust”. If you want to make the World Series, it’s going to mean sticking with players you would want to see benched or traded. It’ll mean letting go of guys who brought a level of magic no one expected to the position. And in today’s baseball, it’ll mean LISTENING to the analytics department from time to time.

It’s Still a Great Listen

Dani’s Dugout can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, and YouTube. You can find Dani’s Dugout on social media, or through the podcast’s main site. You can also get custom Yankees merchandise through Dani’s Dugout on Etsy. We are within 6 weeks till pitchers and catchers report. Get your New York Yankees to fix by listening to Dani’s Dugout.

Disclaimer

Some of her episodes feature profane language. So, if you’re turned off by profanity, be warned. She’s the Yankee podcaster who’d follow John Oliver on HBO.

New York Mets: five burning questions for the 2020 season

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

The New York Mets are shaping up as candidates to advance to the postseason in 2020. They have a talented roster and a desire to win.

However, there are still remaining questions that need to be answered.

Five unanswered questions for the Mets

Will the infield defense improve?

The New York Mets were among the worst teams in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) in 2019 with -93. As John Fennelly pointed out, the infield defense will be crucial given that the rotation is full of groundball-heavy hurlers.

Robinson Cano needs to improve his range but at this point in his career, it is far from a given. If possible, J.D Davis (-6.1 UZR/150, -1.6 UZR, -9 DRS) should stay away from third base. Jeff McNeil did well out there in limited reps. Amed Rosario needs to keep improving in shortstop, as he has.

What Will Pete Alonso do in his sophomore season?

Pete Alonso hit 53 home runs in 2019, with a 143 wRC+. He was an offensive force and the most dangerous hitter in a formidable lineup. But is he capable of doing it again?

The Mets have Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Brandon Nimmo, Wilson Ramos, and other good performers with the bat. But make no mistake: this offense will go as far as Alonso carries it.

Who will emerge in the back of the rotation?

The Mets‘ top of the rotation is set with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. The Mets have Steven Matz, and signed Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello.

The first three names are already set in stone. But who will occupy the last two spots of the rotation? Matz, Wacha and Porcello will battle it out in Spring Training but despite their talents, one of them will be left out.

What will the team do with J.D. Davis and Dominic Smith?

Davis had a .307/.369/.527 line with 22 home runs and a 136 wRC+. Dominic Smith hit .282/.355/.525 with a 133 wRC+. Both are talented at the dish but limited with the glove. Because of that, it is more difficult to find a spot for them day in and day out.

Davis could be “hidden” in left field and Smith is adequate at first base, his natural position. One of the two, however, is likely to switch teams at some point. There is simply no room for every player in the Mets’ roster. The team has Nimmo, Cespedes, Conforto, and Jake Marisnick in the outfield, plus McNeil and Alonso in the infield corners.

Will Edwin Diaz improve?

The Puerto Rican closer had a 5.59 ERA (4.51 FIP) and blew save after save in 2018. The Mets invested lots of resources in him, so they are hoping for a turnaround.

After all, Diaz still struck out lots of batters (15.36 K/9) and had an historic 2018 (1.96 ERA.)

The New York Ranger’s Mika Zibanejad Deserves to Play in the NHL All-Star Game

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

The NHL announced on Monday that the New York Ranger’s forward Artemi Panarin has been selected to the All-Star Game. Fans will get a chance to vote for another deserving Ranger in Mika Zibanejad.  The NHL announced the candidates for the Last Men In selection.  Fans can go and vote for one more player to be selected for the contest, and Zibanejed has been placed on the ballot. Voting for the Last Men In opens Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 12 p.m. ET and closes Friday, Jan. 10, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans can vote at NHL.com/Vote or on a mobile interactive ballot on the NHL app.

Zibanajed has an All-Star Resume

We know Tony DeAngelo is not a huge fan of analytics, especially when it deals with Ryan Strome. But with all due respect to the Ranger defenseman, we need to dig into the numbers to make a case for Zibanejad. First, let’s take a look at his recent play.  Since Dec. 12, Zibanejad has seven goals in eight games, along with 13 points and five multi-point affairs. Just last Friday, he posted two power-play goals and an assist at even strength in a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes.  For the season, he has 14 goals and 30 points with a plus-4 rating in 25 games.  Taking a look at 2018-19, Zibanejad scored 30 goals, 44 assists for 74 points in the 82 games played.  He is also considered one of the better two-way players in the NHL, as he is only one of 11 forwards this season who is averaging 2 minutes of power-play time and 2 minutes of shorthanded time.  Finally, let’s consider this stat: If we take a look at his most recent 82 games, Zibanejad has 37 goals with 47 assists for a total of 84 points. That makes him one of only 24 players who have averaged more than 1 point per game over that time period.

Of course, New York Ranger fans are very much aware of his skill set. This is to help you persuade friends and family to vote for one of our favorite Blueshirts. Even if he does not get voted in, there is a chance that he could also be selected to replace Alex Ovechkin, who has decided to skip the proceedings in order to rest his 34-year-old body. If so inclined, vote early, vote often and let’s place our well deserved forward into the NHL All-Star classic.

 

Why the New York Jets Should go After Joe Flacco

The New York Jets may have been gifted a golden opportunity with Joe Flacco’s most recent headline. It would provide stable depth at the QB position for the next 2 years while saving more draft capital to build an O-line through the draft.

Flacco Would Consider Being a Backup

We all know that Joe Flacco isn’t having the easiest time in the league. Injury paved the way for Lamar Jackson to usurp his position in Baltimore, before being traded to Denver. Moreover, injury this season allowed Drew Locke to step up and show that “I’m here now, and it’s my job to keep.” Flacco could very easily be back for the 2020 season by training camp, but a herniated disk in his neck is no laughing matter. Which is why, in an interview on Monday, Flacco was quoted as saying:

“If that’s what it has to be — (a backup) whether here or wherever — I want to play football. If that’s what it has to take for me to get back in and start playing again, then yeah, I’d go that route.”

What We Stand to Gain

We stand to gain a veteran QB presence who can give guidance to a still developing, Sam Darnold. He has a career 84.1 QB rate, according to Pro-Football.Reference.com, with over 200 touchdowns, a Super Bowl championship to boot. Because we’d be potentially alleviating salary against Denver’s cap, we could also stand to pick up a draft pick or two.

What We Stand to Lose

Adam Gase has made no bones about his dissatisfaction with Le’Veon Bell on the team. His end of the season press conference was… well, telling. So trading Bell seems like the logical move that Gase will be pushing. A player of Bell’s caliber could give us the leverage to pick up those extra picks.

As would Jamal Adams. Adams would be an excellent complement to Denver’s already potent defense. And with Von Miller not getting any younger, the Bronco’s maybe looking for his heir apparent.

But Sam’s health problems (mono and an injury that sidelined him for more than a few games in 2018), coupled with our lackluster backups… yea, Flacco makes more sense than no for the Jets to pursue this offseason.