New York Giants: Joe Judge Earns Surprising Praise From Cowherd

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The decision for the New York Giants to hire Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge as their next head coach has been met with mixed reactions, and one of the big challenges for Judge will be winning over doubters who don’t believe he has the right credentials to take the job – one of those doubters early on was talk show host Colin Cowherd, who was among the first to criticize the move.

Like many, however, Cowherd has seemingly reconsidered after taking a look at the resume that Judge brings to the team, which while it doesn’t include time as an offensive or defensive coordinator, has seen him work under two of the greatest head coaches in the sport – Bill Belichick at the pro level and Nick Saban at the college level.

The Patriots haven’t always produced good head coaches from their staff but praise from both Belichick and Saban is hard to ignore and others in the league have started to reverse the Patriots curse in recent years, such as Mike Vrabel, who recently beat his former head coach Belichick in the playoffs.

It seems Judge’s time under Belichick has helped change the mind of Cowherd, who had some different things to say more recently about Judge.

“There are some late bloomers, but most exceptional people separate very early and you can spot them very early. Judge is in his 30s and it’s very possible that Dave Gettleman saw what Bill Belichick and Nick Saban did,” said Cowherd.

He continued by listing other examples of young head coaches who have been spotted quickly and went on to succeed. “Belichick kept giving him more assignments, and Saban kept elevating him. Sean McVay, like Judge, was also a quarterback in high school and got a job at 30 years old in Los Angeles. Kyle Shanahan was 37, Mike Tomlin and Bill Cowher were not even 35 yet…”

Those sentiments are largely why the fanbase is willing to give Judge a chance despite the Giants making a risky move after a few seasons that have already put the fans through enough losing. Yes, the team is taking a risk… But after that losing period, few can complain about the Giants drawing from the recommendations of some of the best minds in the game when looking for their next head coach.

New York Yankees: Should Kyle Higashioka Be Worried?

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees signed veteran catcher Chris Iannetta to a minor league deal on Thursday, throwing a fourth catcher into the mix.

Should Higgy Be Worried?

Gary Sanchez is without question the starting catcher, but the team now has three other catchers that could play as the backup.

I believe that Kyle Higashioka is still the favorite to win the spot, and it’s his to lose. Iannetta and other catching veteran Erik Kratz have been around forever, and both are such smart catchers.

Kratz is 39, a few years older than Iannetta (36). There is no way in my mind that Kratz sees the major league level in 2020, as he bat just .102 in 2019. He’s last in the depth chart.

Iannetta is third for right now, but that could change. He bat .222 as the Rockies backup last season, but still may have a little left in the tank. He could steal the backup position, but that would be if Higgy has a disaster of a spring and Iannetta has a flawless spring.

Overall, I think that Higgy should be a little concerned about his chances, but not code red concerned. Iannetta is on minor league deal, meaning that he would have to be added to the 40-man roster and the team would have to clear a spot for him. But, if they Yankees think that he’s undoubtedly the guy, then they would of course clear the spot for him.

Every time that Higgy is called up, he looks better and better. It’s just a matter of if the can sustain consistent offense and show that he belongs in the spring. I think that the spot is still his, he just needs to show it.

 

Judge aims to bring discipline, structure and a winning culture to the Giants

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The 2019 New York Giants lacked leadership, direction and structure. They played with little discipline, got outmaneuvered, outscored and outcoached almost weekly.

The 2020 New York Giants are going to be a far cry from that according to incoming head coach Joe Judge.

Speaking at his introductory press conference at MetLife Stadium on Thursday, Judge stood tall and confident at the podium, confident in his words and tone as he outlined what he expects to accomplish here with the Giants, a franchise that has posted losing records in six of the past seven seasons.

For those wondering who he is and what he stands for, Judge made it clear in his opening statement.

“Now, there is a question out there that I’m sure a lot of people are asking, and that’s number one – who am I? Well, maybe I can explain that a little bit better, but instead of saying, ‘Who am I,’ by telling you what’s relevant in this conversation with being the coach of the New York Giants— what I’m about.

 

What I’m about is an old school physical mentality. We’re going to put a product on the field that the people of this city and region are going to be proud of because this team will represent this area. We will play fast, we will play downhill, we will play aggressive. We will punch you in the nose for 60 minutes, we will play every play like it has a history and a life of its own, with a relentless, competitive attitude.

 

We will play fundamentally sound, we will not beat ourselves. That is our mission right here.”

Judge swept Giant fans off their feet on social media. This was the anti-Pat Shurmur and the opposite of Ben McAdoo. And he was believable. Judge said the team would resemble the fan base, a hard-working bunch with a blue collar mentality. He stressed that every player would be coached and every coach will teach. This will finally be a team and hard work and dedication to the task at hand will be the mantra.

“You cannot get by with some kind of magic scheme or new gimmick or think you’ve reinvented the wheel,” he said. “The same things win football games that have always won football games. It’s fundamentals.”

With the young team general manager Dave Gettleman has assembled, that is just what the fans wanted. to hear. Under Shurmur the Giants seemed lethargic at times with no sense of direction or urgency. That all changed on Thursday.

“We’re going to start by showing up on time, by having a plan, for executing that plan,” he said with poise and assurance. “It’s going to be fundamentals. I’ll tell you this right now, and I’m sure it’s going to come up somewhere along the line—I’m not going to be the offensive coordinator, the defensive coordinator, or the special teams coordinator. I’ll work with all three sides of the ball. But, the primary focus I’m going to have as the head coach is I’m going to make sure we are fundamentally sound, we are situationally aware, and that we play with a relentless effort.”

 

New York Giants: Three Offensive Coordinator Candidates For Joe Judge’s Staff

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants introduced Joe Judge today as the franchise’s nineteenth head coach. Judge was a darkhorse candidate that ended up blowing the Giants away during his interview and securing the coveted job. Since then, Joe Judge has been working on assembling his coaching staff behind the scenes.

A few names have come up in the rumor mill for Judge’s offensive coordinator position. In this article, I will break down the top three offensive coordinator candidates that have come up in association with Joe Judge.

Freddie Kitchens

News broke Thursday morning that Joe Judge is expected to reach out to former Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens to discuss a job within the Giants’ coaching staff (via Jordan Raanan of ESPN). The two worked together at Mississippi State in 2005 when Kitchens served as the program’s running backs coach.

A brief anecdotal story from Joe Judge regarding a swing set the new Giants head coach built for Freddie’s children led some to connect the dots on a potential reunion in New Jersey. Since then, the speculators have been proven right as reports have indicated that Kitchens is being considered for a job on Joe Judge’s staff.

It has not been confirmed what job Kitchens is being considered for, but the offensive coordinator job is a possible fit. Freddie Kitchens was fired this offseason after serving as head coach of the Cleveland Browns for one season. The browns underperformed at 6-10, leading to the rookie head coach’s firing after one season. Before his promotion as head coach, Kitchens was the Browns’ offensive coordinator in 2018.

Freddie Kitchens received much credit for the quick development of quarterback Baker Mayfield in his rookie season. In 2018, Mayfield was the runner up for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award after breaking the rookie touchdown pass record with 27 total.

Jay Gruden

Another former head coach, Jay Gruden was fired this past season by the Washington Redskins. Gruden is one of the NFL’s brightest offensive minds, and Joe Judge could benefit from Gruden’s experience. Gruden was head coach of the Redskins from 2014 to 2019.

Jay Gruden has an interesting connection to the New York Giants. It was reported in October that Gruden never wanted the Redskins to draft quarterback Dwayne Haskins (via Bleacher Report). Instead, Gruden wanted Daniel Jones, the Giants’ first-round quarterback. Judge could use Daniel Jones to lure Gruden onto his coaching staff.

Jay Gruden is a former quarterback who got into coaching. He has worked as an offensive coordinator and as a head coach. Gruden is an experienced coach that has overseen the development of numerous young quarterbacks. He helped turn Robert Griffin III into an electric dual-threat during his rookie season in 2012. He also developed Andy Dalton into the Bengals’ starter as they went to the playoffs three straight years together.

Jason Garrett

The Dallas Cowboys, like the Redskins and Giants, fired their head coach this season. Jason Garrett had served as Dallas’s head coach from 2011 to 2019. The Giants expressed interest in Garrett as head coach before striking a deal with Joe Judge. But if they like what they see from Garret schematically, he could receive consideration as the team’s offensive coordinator. 

Jason Garrett has had a top ten offense seven times in the past thirteen years, and only three seasons with an offense ranked worse than the fifteenth. The Giants could see Garrett as a potential upgrade on offense. He has an excellent track record with quarterbacks, turning to unknowns into competent starters.

Dak Prescott was a fourth-round pick in 2016. Garrett developed Dak into a Pro Bowl talent. Before Prescott, the Cowboys’ quarterback was Tony RomoTony Romo was an undrafted free agent that was expected to be- at best- a career backup. Romo’s career began in 2003, long before Jason Garrett was with the Cowboys. But it was not until Garrett became the Cowboys’ offensive coordinator that Romo made himself a household name.

In 2007, the Cowboys hired Jason Garrett as their offensive coordinator. Dallas went 13-3 that season as Romo threw a career-best 36 touchdown passes. This was a significant improvement over the 19 touchdowns Romo recorded in 2006. From then on, Garrett continued to have consistent success on offense as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Jason Garrett’s offensive success and head coaching experience make him the top candidate for the Giants’ offensive coordinator job. He also has an excellent track record developing young quarterbacks, which would be hugely beneficial for Daniel Jones and the Giants.

Giants CEO John Mara ‘Excited’ About What Joe Judge Brings to Big Blue

New York Giants, John Mara

The New York Giants had a number of qualified candidates apply for their head coaching vacancy these past two weeks, but it was obvious today that New England Patriots assistant Joe Judge was the man for the job.

The Giants’ brass is smitten with Judge and can’t stop heaping praise upon him. We got our first taste of Judge today at his introductory press conference and were nearly as impressed as one could be, considering this is his first head coaching job on any level.

Giants CEO John Mara was very candid about his feelings for Judge and what he can bring to the dormant Giants.

“I’m just excited about what he brings to the table here. He has a certain poise and presence about him. You guys have pointed out the last couple of years that I’ve had a lot of experience interviewing coach candidates. I’m just telling you, that’s the best interview I’ve ever been a part of right now for a lot of different reasons. When you train under Nick Saban and then you end up on Bill Belichick’s staff, that’s something you take notice of. He’s obviously had great training, a great background. He’s used to winning, he knows what winning looks like, and we’re excited to have him here.”

Mara was asked what moment during Judge’s interview on Monday sold him on the 38 year-old Pennsylvania native.

“I would say it was a little more than halfway through. To be honest with you, I went into the interview not really expecting all that much, just because I didn’t really know him. I certainly knew of him. But the more we went on, the more impressive he became. When we finished, I looked at Dave and Kevin, and we were ecstatic. We said, ‘This is our guy. This has got to be our guy.’ He just had a certain poise. He didn’t have any notes with him. He just was so confident and poised, and had such great knowledge about how to build a winning program. What they did in New England, what they’ve done at Alabama, the people he’s been around, his beliefs, his philosophies. He checked all of the boxes for us.”

Judge has a daunting task in front of him. The Giants are mired in another “wilderness” period and have to learn how to win as a team again.  Judge outlined his vision for the Giants in emphatic fashion. He’s a take-charge guy who will instill discipline and order to a team that has lacked precision and focus under their prior two head coaches, Pat Shurmur and Ben McAdoo.

“He has a big task. He’s 38 years old and he’s never been a head coach, so yeah, it is going to be a daunting task,” added Mars. “But everything we know about him and everything he showed in our interview with him tells us that he’s ready for it.”

Mara also said that he felt Judge was “somebody that could be a leader” and “someone who had poise and a presence about him, somebody who was a teacher, and somebody who knows what a winning program is supposed to look like.”

Many of these Giants don’t know what that looks like. Hopefully they will find out soon.

Rick Porcello and the New York Mets: A match made in dreams

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

In a very entertaining interview with the New York Mets’ official Youtube channel, right-handed hurler Rick Porcello explained what it’s like to play for his childhood team.

Yes, Porcello grew up as a Mets fan. It’s not often that a player gets to defend the colors of his favorite team. As it turns out, this simple, seemingly uncomplicated Jersey guy will get to do just that.

When questioned about why he chose to join the Mets, he praised the team’s highly competitive nature. He said that one of the reasons he signed was “watching from afar the group of guys that they had and the resiliency they showed. They had a great year and a good foundation, a core. They were on the cusp of getting to the playoffs.”

“The most important thing for me is winning and this is one of the best opportunities for me to do that,” he explained.

A die-hard Mets fan

It is not a secret that Porcello, born 31 years ago in Morristown, New Jersey, loves the team. “I grew up a Mets fan, only an hour away from the stadium. I still live an hour away in New Jersey. It’s great to be here. To be able to come home and be a part of the organization I dreamed about my entire life feels a little surreal to me,” he said.

Porcello explained that when he was a teenager, he collected happy memories from the 2000 season, the one of the “Subway Series.”

“I remember the 2000 season, some of those games were too late for me. I used to knock at my parents’ door at 5 am to see what the score was.”

He idolized Mike Piazza and Al Leiter growing up. “Piazza is a legend, I got to see him hit a home run at Shea Stadium when I was 12. Leiter was another Jersey guy, I loved watching him compete, his fire,” he stated. He also liked John Franco.

Porcello also had a soft spot for sports. He loved the New York Knicks, the New York Mets, and the New York Jets.

Now, he will get to play in one of them. He will try to make the rotation and improve on the 5.52 ERA he had last year with the Boston Red Sox. The righty will share the rotation with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and whoever wins a spot between Michael Wacha and Steven Matz.

“I am very excited to pitch alongside these guys. I am sure I can learn a lot from them. We can feed off each other and get better.” Porcello is saying all the right things. His marriage with the Mets is about to a great start. It is, truly, a match made in his dreams.

Yankees sign second veteran catcher for backup catcher depth

New York Yankees, Chris Iannetta

John Heyman of MLB.com has reported that the New York Yankees have signed catcher Chris Iannetta to a minor league deal. This is the second catcher that the Yankees have signed to minor league deals to further backup the Yankees designated backup catcher Kyle Higashioka.

The first they signed was Erik Kratz.  The signing of Iannetta brings the former Colorado Rockie to the Yankee minor league system. While with the Rockies, he hit .222/.311/.417 with six home runs through 164 plate appearances. Those figures, although low, are not that bad for a backup catcher.

Iannetta, in his career, was also a  starter with the Rockies and Angels before being cut by the Rockies in August of 2019.  Due to Gary Sanchez’s injury history, particularly his groin injuries, the Yankees, although they say that they are happy with Kyle Higashioka as the backup to Sanchez, they are showing some concern by adding this second signing.

For the past several years, the Yankees have had the luxury of having one of the best backup catchers in the business, who went to the Detroit Tigers this offseason. Both Katz and Iannetta will be non-roster invitees to Spring Training in Tampa and will hope to compete with Higashioka for the backup catcher job. As it stands now, Higashioka is the definite favorite.

New York Giants: Joe Judge oozes confidence in first press conference, check out some quotes

New York Giants, Joe Judge

The New York Giants seems to be in good hands with new head coach, Joe Judge, who learned under Bill Belichick and Nick Saban during his career in New England and Alabama.

Not only is Judge bringing extreme knowledge to the Giants, but he’s bringing his own sense of style and value.

Joe Judge: “What I learned from Coach Belichick is real simple: Be flexible with your personnel. Don’t try to shove square pegs in a round hole. Figure out what you have.”

“What I’m about is an old school, physical mentality. We’ll punch you in the nose for 60 minutes, we’ll play every play like its a history in the life of its own”

“We will punch you in the nose for 60 minutes, we will play every play like it has a history and a life of its own.” – Joe Judge is ready to lead the Giants to the promised land

It seems as if Judge and GM Dave Gettleman connected on their old school mentality, which features stopping the run and being tough. Judge’s attention to detail has been well noted in recent reports, but his focus on building out fundamentals is essential to his plan.

One of the more inspiring quotes from the initial presser was his pledge to bring the fans back into the team and the proud tradition the Giants’ organization has always had.

“I’m going to do everything in my power every day to make sure the people of this city and this area turn on the TV or sit in the stadium seats and are proud to say we’re their New York Giants”

WATCH: Yankees’ Miguel Andujar shows up to workout ripped and ready to go

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

When the New York Yankees initially lost third baseman, Miguel Andujar, to a torn Labrum in 2019, the consensus was that inconsistencies and struggles would plague the position. However, the opposite happened, when Gio Urshela emerged from the ashes and put together an All-Star caliber campaign, highlighted by a .314 BA and 21 homers.

The New York Yankees will give Miguel Andujar is fair share at reclaiming his role:

Despite Urshela’s stellar season, Andujar is vying for a starting position on the Yankees, and he’s not giving up on the hot corner being his place of residence. In a workout video posted on Twitter, Andujar showed up not only sporting a non-double-clutch technique but biceps that could resemble small mountains. It looks like Saquon Barkley has a little competition in New York for the biggest arms.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone recently stated that Andujar is making significant progress in his rehabilitation:

“We’re just wanting him to get fully healthy and he’s doing really well,” Boone said Tuesday morning, while on SiriusXM’s MLB Network.

“We believe he’s going to be totally healthy as he enters spring training and good to go.”

Boone and Co. plan on taking a trip down to the Dominican Republic to visit Miggy, who’s entering his third season as an infielder in the Bronx. The youngster has a tough task ahead of him, but one that spurs competition and will ultimately bring out the best in both Andujar and Urshela.

If Andujar isn’t traded before spring training, which I don’t believe will happen, expect him to show up with newfound confidence regarding his defense and a live bat. He’s ready to reclaim his spot on the starting team. In his rookie year, he posted a .297 batting average with 27 homers and 47 RBIs, landing himself in the top two in Rookie of the Year voting. Replicating those numbers would put him in a great position moving forward with the organization.

How the New York Yankees will maximize Gerrit Cole’s abilities in 2020

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Gerrit Cole

Aside from the two bottles of wine that sold Gerrit Cole on the New York Yankees and their illustrious franchise, new pitching coach Matt Blake played an integral part in luring arguably the game’s best pitcher to the Big Apple. Cole, who earned a nine-year, $324 million deal, will slide in as the Yankees’ top pitcher in front of Luis Severino and James Paxton.

Cole’s numbers are earth-shattering, as he ranked in the top five among MLB starters in total innings, K/0, LOB%, ERA, xFIP, and WAR (2019). Part of the reason he chose the Bronx was because of Blake, who received fantastic reviews from other players, including Trevor Bauer, who stated via Twitter:

For all the @Yankees fans coming to my page to ask me about @Blake_Matt, he’s awesome. One of the smarter guys I know. Knows a lot about pitching. A lot about development. Good communicator. Etc. Really excited for him getting this opportunity and pumped to see the results.

The principal negative Cole has is a 17% fly-ball rate, which could be problematic in Yankee stadium. Domingo German faced a similar challenge last season but managed to overcome it, for the most part, seeing a decrease of .62 HR per inning in 2018 to .44 HR per inning in 2019.

Firing Larry Rothschild, who spent years as the Yankees’ pitching coach, was an unfortunate reality of modern-day analytics and progression, something that Blake factors into his game-plan.

Matt Blake on joining the New York Yankees:

“Watching it from across the field in Cleveland, there’s a bevy of really talented pitchers — I think it’ll be interesting to get to know where they are in terms of the things they’re thinking about and the things they’re wanting to work on and improve upon.”

As per Nick Nielsen of Empire Sports Media:

Nothing more reassuring than hearing a new pitching coach praise the talents and look toward the future and improvements down the road. Blake prides himself on his relationships with his players, as well as using analytics and different techniques to get the most out of them, seeing as to how talented the New York Yankees farm system is flooded with young, prosperous arms — Garcia, Gil, Medina, Abreu, Schmidt, Acevedo, etc. — and how the starting rotation has all the pieces and talent to be elite, Blake should be able to make an immediate impact.

The Yankees have numerous pitchers returning from significant injuries last season, which bodes well for Blake, who will have a fresh start with guys like Severino and Jordan Montgomery. However, helping Cole continue to develop and add new tools to his arsenal will be the priority in 2020.