New York Mets: Starling Marte talks are “intensifying”

New York Mets interested in trading for Starling Marte.

The New York Mets aren’t giving up in their efforts to acquire Starling Marte. The star center fielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates has been a target ever since the offseason started. However, the two teams weren’t able to swing a deal in 2019.

Now, according to Jon Heyman, the talks between the two teams are intensifying once again. It seems like this saga has been on and off since the 2019 season ended.

The Mets want to upgrade in center field and see Marte, 31, as a fit. He is a well-above average offensive contributor, finishing the 2019 season with a .295/.342/.503 line, 23 home runs, 97 runs scored, 82 runs batted in and 25 steals.

Marte has one year left on the team-friendly contract he signed a few years ago, plus a club option for 2021. He put pen to paper on a 7-year, $40 million pact. He is good and affordable.

He wants to play for the Mets

More importantly, Marte expressed a desire to go to the Mets back over the winter. He said to the media that he would love to be a part of the team, in an effort to get traded to a contender.

Of course, Marte wouldn’t come cheap. He’s the Pirates’ best trade chip, and they are rebuilding. They will surely want prospects and young, controllable pieces, and there aren’t too many of the former on the Mets.

The Mets invested a considerable part of their prospect capital in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz deal. The two teams were said to dangle Brandon Nimmo’s name when they were talking a few weeks ago, but Brodie Van Wagenen and his crew are “disinclined” to include him in any trade.

After all, Nimmo has three seasons left of team control, is younger than Marte (26 years old) and can play a capable center field, even if it is not his best position. Nimmo is very solid with the bat too, so adding him wouldn’t make much sense for the Mets.

For now, Nimmo and the recently-acquired Jake Marisnick will share center field duties for the New York Mets. Could the two teams swing a deal for Marte once and for all?

New York Jets: Why the Jets Should Keep Jamal Adams

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams has been the heart and soul of the New York Jets ever since he stepped up to the podium on draft night. Adams has become a fan favorite and arguably the best safety in the entire NFL due to his ability to wreak havoc against opposing offenses. What Adams brings to the Jets on and off the field is irreplaceable, so the question is what should the Jets pay him?

Production

Based off production Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties of the past decade. Since 2010 only 10 defensive backs have more tackles for loss than Adams, only five have more QB hits than Adams and only one has more sacks than Adams. Jamal Adams is a game-changer and a two time all-pro safety. When Adams steps on the field you can expect nothing less than 110 percent throughout all four quarters.

Leadership

Jamal Adams has been the biggest leader on this team since the day he got drafted. Anyone at One Jets Drive can recognize his boisterous voice as he is always yelling about something. Whether he is calling out an offensive play or giving his teammates words of encouragement he makes sure his presence in the locker room is known. Jamal actively converses with players on social media to recruit them over to the Jets and to continue expanding his outreach in the NFL community.

Contract

It’s hard to gauge how much the New York Jets would be willing to pay Jamal Adams because there is no one to compare him to. Jamal is easily the most productive safety in the league, and he is extremely versatile. A fair deal for Jamal Adams would be a 6 year 93-million-dollar deal with 45 million dollars guaranteed. This deal would make him the highest-paid defensive back in the league, and it would be a bargain considering that other DB’s like Minkah Fitzpatrick will set the market potentially higher.

Yankee News/Rumors: Cash to Happ you’re #5, Ripped Bombers, and Yankees expect more from never aging Brett Gardner!

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

A Daily look at a summary of News and Rumors of interest for New York Yankees fans!

J.A. Happ: The New York Yankees answered a long postseason question yesterday, who will hold the number 5 spot in the starting rotation.  Most sources and many fans were sure it was going to be Jordan Montgomery, but it looks as though that might not be the case.  In a reported conversation, New York Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman had with the YES Network’s Meredith Marakovitz, Cashman indicated that they were going to make the best of their failure to move J.A. Happ off the payroll.

Cashman believes/hopes that Happ can return to the pitcher they saw when they traded for him late in the 2018 season from the Toronto Blue Jays.  Happ went 7-0 in 11 starts for the Yankees, and they handed him a two-year $34MM contract.  Enter 2018, Happ was inconsistent and struggled to a 12-8 record.  With the Yankees spending big for Gerrit Cole and their hopes dashed on Happ, they tried to trade him.  With $17MM owed for 2020, clubs didn’t want to take on that burden, which is probably more why they have hope more than a belief that Happ can return to his previous form.  After a few games, if things don’t work out, Jordon Montgomery is standing in the wings with ball and glove in hand.

Ripped Yankees:   What’s going on?  The Internet seems to be abuzz with photos of “Baby Bombers” coming out of the woodwork looking unbelievably ripped and fit.  Third baseman Andujar and shortstop Gleyber Torres have appeared in photos at the gym together looking very ready to perform in spring training that is only weeks away.  In another photo, an almost unrecognizable Gary Sanchez looks slimmed and prepared to be a Marvel superhero.  Late yesterday I saw a very muscular Giancarlo Stanton lifting weights. Oh, wait, those aren’t weights that’s supermodel Adriana Lima being bench pressed by the Yankee outfielder. It looks likes many Yankees haven’t been sitting around during the break but instead getting in the best possible shape for the 2020 season.

Brett Gardner:  Everyone knows Brett Gardner has never been a long ball guy, well that is until his break-out performance in the 2019 season that got him a new $12.5MM one year contract.   Next week “Gardy” will receive a $2MM signing bonus and will earn $8.5MM for the season.  The agreement also has a Yankee $10MM option for 2021 and a $2.5MM buy out.  Gardner, the 36-year-old, never seems to age.

Last year he was one of only two Yankees not to be on the IL.  He is just as fast and performs just as well as he ever has.  The big plus for the Yankees is his power.  Never the long ball hitter he has hit more home runs in the last three years than he did in the previous nine years topping it out at 28 last year.   The Yankees have no reason to believe he will hit less than 20 this season.  Last year Brett lost his leadoff spot to superstar DJ LeMahieu and was anywhere between 3rd and 9th in the lineup.  With the “Fearsome Foursome” in the 2-5 spot in the lineup and Gardner late in the lineup, it makes the Yankee’s lineup one of the scariest in baseball.

New York Yankees: JA Happ Won’t Be Traded, Will Be Fifth Starter

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

In a sit-down interview with the YES Network, New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman stated that JA Happ will not be traded and that he will likely be the fifth starter in 2020.

Rumors were previously circulating that Happ had a strong possibility of being traded and in talks of being a part of a trade to get Brewers reliever, Josh Hader. This means that Jordan Montgomery will be a long reliever in 2020.

Happ, 38, is signed through 2020 with a vesting option for 2021. He was 12-8 with a 4.91 ERA in 2019. The lefty struck out 140 batters in 161.1 innings in his first full season with the Yankees. He was acquired in a 2018 trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Everyone is hoping that Happ can bounce back and return to his usual self. He had sub-four ERA’s from 2015-2018, and that’s all they need from him.

Happ will have to develop some more off-speed pitches to pitch well in 2020. His velocity dipped a bit in 2019, which was expected with his age. When he does throw his fastballs, he needs to locate them a bit better. A career-high 34 home runs were hit off him, in part being the new age of baseball, but also just not pitching how he should be.

However, if he is struggling in Spring Training and Jordan Montgomery is pitching well, it’s still possible that Montgomery could be the fifth starter. Things can change very quickly, and the team will make the switch if they see fit.

Happ will need to make his presence felt in Spring Training to hold onto the fifth spot. Nothing will be handed to him.

The New York Yankees and a history of Great Backstops

New York Yankees, Yogi Berra

The New York Yankees have a tradition and history of having iconic players, some great and some Hall of Famers. None is more real than the many catchers that have crouched behind home plate at Yankee Stadium.  The catcher not only catches the ball thrown by pitchers but directs the whole game from his position at the backstop and acts as a wall to keep the ball on the playing field.  Another task charged to the backstop is keeping players and spectators alike safe from errant balls and bats.

The Yankees present catcher is Gary Sanchez, who has been the Yankees primary catcher for the last few years. He is a young man with little experience compared to the catchers I will reference but can join these greats. Sanchez has the stuff; he has proven he can hit for power as he has 105 homers in only 372 games, that’s a homer in less than every four games.  Last year he significantly improved the defense of his position.   The only thing that can keep him from greatness is his inability to stay healthy.

Bill Dickey:   Bill Dickey was a Yankee catcher from 1928 to 1946.  He was an excellent game caller and defender as the backstop. He was also a great clutch hitter for the Yankees. In fact, he was so good that after he retired manager Casey Stengel asked him to coach the great hitting Yogi Berra, as Berra didn’t have a handle on the catcher’s position. He did and propelled Berra to be a Hall of Fame catcher, which Berra would acknowledge during his Hall acceptance speech. Dickey had his best hitting year in 1936 when he hit .362 with 107 RBI’s. Between 1944 and 1945, Dickey would serve during World War II. Upon his return to the Yankees, he would play in only 54 games but still be an All-Star. At the end of the season, at the age of 39 and the beating a catcher takes, he retired from baseball.

During his career, he was an All-Star eleven times and would be a candidate for the MVP nine times. He ended his career with a .313 batting average and nearly 2000 hits. He played in eight World Series, winning seven of them. Besides all of that, maybe his most fantastic stat was that he struck out only an average of 17 times during each season. Compare that to Aaron Judge’s average of 137 Strikeouts per season. Bill Dickey was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1954. His Yankee number 8 was retired by the Yankees, and a plaque hung in Monument Park in his honor in 1988. Yogi Berra would say of the honor that Bill Dickey was the most excellent catcher of all time.

Yogi Berra:  Lawrence Peter Yogi Berra was one of the most popular Yankees of all time. He was a long-time catcher, coach, and manager for the Yankees.  He caught for the Yankees between 1946 and 1965.  Yogi was a small man yet had tremendous endurance. He once caught a 22 inning game.  He caught in more than 100 games a year for the next fourteen years. During that time, the Yankees went to the World series fourteen times, winning the Fall Classic ten of those times. During that period, Berra established records for the most at-bats, 259 hits, 71 doubles, ten singles, and 457 put outs in World Series play.  He won more World Series rings than any player in baseball.  Yogi, in addition to being an excellent backstop he was also a character that was adored by Yankee fans.  Yogi, until his death, was nationally known to fans everywhere.   His “Yojiisms” have become spoken in baseball circles and daily life.

Sayings like: “It ain’t over till it’s over,” “Baseball is 90% mental.  The other half is physical”,  “You can observe a lot by just watching,” and so many more.   Yogi is featured in one of the most iconic baseball photos of all time.  Upon Don Larsen’s perfect World Series game in 1956, Yogi would jump into the arms of Larsen as he left the field.  Berra was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.  Sixty-nine years to the day after Yogi’s MLB debut, he passed away in his sleep at the age of 90. All of New York mourned.

Elston Howard:  It wasn’t until 1955 that the Yankees had a black player. That player was Elston Howard. The Yankees waited for one to come along, who was The Yankee type. Kind, quiet, and a gentleman. It gained him complete acceptance from every Yankee. Elston Howard might have been the greatest defensive catcher the New York Yankees ever had.  In 1964, he set American League records for putouts and total chances in a season. “Ellie’s” .993 fielding percentage stood as a major league record until1973.  He was the American League MVP in 1963, becoming the first black MVP in American League history. Howard helped the Yankees win ten pennants and six World Championships.  The very popular Howard was an All-Star 12 times, a Gold Glove Award winner twice, an MVP nominee five times winning the MVP award once.  Many believe that being in the shadow Berra during most of his career may have kept him from the Baseball Hall of Fame. Howard has a plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium.

Thurman Munson:  The story of Thurmon Munson is a story of greatness and sadness.  Munson was the catcher for the Yankees from 1970 to 1979.  He was a great defensive catcher with a putout rate better than most MLB catchers with his accurate and powerful arm.   He was Rookie of the Year in 1970 and was the American League MVP in 1976.  He was a seven-time All-Star, a seven-time MVP candidate, and a three-time Gold Glove Award winner.  Munson’s .292 lifetime batting average is higher than eight of the 13 Hall of Fame catchers.  He was known as a warrior for his ability to play through injuries.  He helped the 1977 and 1978 Yankees become World Champions.  In 1976 he was made Yankee Captain, the first Yankee Captain since Lou Gehrig retired.  The same year he scored three runs in the ALCS and batted .529 in the World Series that was lost to the Reds.  At the young age of 32 in a tragic plane crash of his own plane during August of 1979, Munson died.   Munson certainly belongs in the Hall of Fame, but many believe the reason he isn’t was due to his shortened career.

Jorge Posada:  Jorge, because he only recently retired, is known by most Yankee fans.  Posada was the backup catcher during the 1996 and 1997 seasons.  He became the Yankees primary catcher in 1998 and served in the backstop position until 2011 when Russell Martin replaced him.  Posada was a homegrown member of the “Core Four” consisting of he, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera.  The reason he is included with these great Yankee catchers is mostly because he was a double threat from both sides of the plate.  Defensively he may not stack up to the others featured, but he had an excellent put out rate and was known for his offense.  He helped the Yankees to four World Championships. In his career, he hit 275 home runs while having a .273 career batting average.  Posada was a five-time All-Star and Silver Slugger.  He was also a two-time MVP candidate.  The Yankees retired Posada’s jersey number 20 on August 22, 2015.  For the time being, Posada will not be elected to the Hall of Fame as in 2017, he fell below the 5% votes needed to remain on the ballot.  His only chance of induction is to be considered by the ERAS Committee, who decide on players no longer eligible for election by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

There have been many other great Yankees catchers that on their own don’t match up to these featured catchers but would have been stars on other teams.

EmpireSportsMedia.com columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

 

New York Rangers Chris Kreider listed at Number One on TSN’s Trade Bait List, Georgiev Fifth

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

During this lengthy All-Star break/bye week period, many trade rumors still swirl around the New York Rangers. According to TSN, Chris Kreider is at the top of the list for teams willing to make a deal for his services. TSN also listed Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev fifth, citing multiple teams that might be willing to trade for him as a backup for a contending team, or as a future top goaltender for a non-playoff bound team.

Many Teams Interested in the New York Rangers Chris Kreider

Kreider has a reported 11-team no-trade clause in his contract but would seem to be willing to go to a Stanley Cup contending team. Contenders would value Kreider due to his 77 games of playoff experience and the physicality he brings to the lineup. Recently, the Boston Bruins have been reported to have an interest in the Rangers forward.  The Bruins have the first-round draft pick that the Rangers reportedly want as well as some younger wingers, such as Anders Bjork, who could grow into the role Kreider may leave behind.  The Bruins also like the fact that Kreider grew up in Boxford, Mass., and played collegiately at Boston College.

Recently Sportsnet.ca has mentioned the Vancouver Canucks as a possible trade partner.  The surprising Canucks find themselves in first place in the Pacific Division and would love Kreider for the rest of the season and the playoffs. The only issue for them is that with so many teams bidding for him, they may not want to pay the hefty price of a first-rounder and a prospect, especially if it means giving up future all-star from Sweden Nils Hoglander.

Rumors still swirl that the New York Rangers may keep Kreider

NBC Sports Boston cited anonymous hockey sources in their report that it remains possible that the Blueshirts could hold on to Kreider for the rest of the season. After the all-star break, the Rangers have back-to-back games against the lowly Detroit Red Wings, which could help jump-start a run towards the playoffs. At that point, general manager Jeff Gorton may decide to keep Kreider for that run. Arriving in Stl. Louis for the All-Star game, Kreider is saying all the right things. He told reporters that “I’ve only ever pictured myself in a Rangers jersey. So until I’m not a Ranger, I’m a Ranger.”

 

New York Yankees Great Ended Relief Pitcher’s Career

New York Yankees, Yankees, Derek Jeter

The New York Yankees saw ANOTHER member of their historic franchise enter Cooperstown with Derek Jeter’s inauguration. With storybook moment followed by storybook moment, Jeter’s life seemed absolutely charmed. Even his last game at Yankee Stadium featured an incredible end to the captain’s amazing career. But, that iconic hit was also the last we saw one major league pitcher.

Who Was This Pitcher?

At the bottom of the 9th, Buck Showalter brought in relief pitcher Evan Meek. Meek was a former All-Star reliever in Pittsburgh. But a few injuries resulted in him bouncing around. But September 25th, 2014, on an RBI single to right field, he would never pitch in Major League Baseball again.

He would spend the next season pitching in the minor leagues for Syracuse and in Korea. By 2016, he was throwing in independent leagues. By 2017, he hung up his spikes for good.

He’s At Least Good Natured About It

In a phone interview with the New York Post, Meek was asked about his final Major League appearance as a pitcher. His response was:

“I could tell you I didn’t really want to be remembered that way, but baseball’s bigger than all of us, it was a really cool moment to be a part of.”

“It was a pretty damn incredible moment in sports.”

He may never get to the Hall of Fame, but he’ll forever be an interesting part of Major League Baseball trivia. And that’s better than nothing.

New York Yankee Andy Pettitte’s Hall Of Fame Case

With the Hall of Fame results released on Tuesday, January 21st, the New York Yankees have an icon inducted into the Hall of Famer for the second year in a row. The buzz in New York seems to be surrounding Jeter however, is he the only Yankee that should’ve gone in? Fellow Core Four member, 3x All-Star, and 5x World Series Champion Andy Pettitte have a very strong case for Cooperstown.

Getting Over The PEDs

When Andy Pettitte is mentioned, the first thing that shoots his case down is the use of Growth Hormones for an elbow injury in 2002. This can deter voters from putting Pettitte on their ballot, however, the context of how it was used is important. Pettitte using the growth hormone is very different from Mark McGwire or Jose Canseco who used PEDs while playing throughout their career. Pettitte’s use was in the hopes of recovering faster, there is no report of him using it to improve his on-field performance. His growth hormone use shouldn’t dampen his Hall of Fame case, especially with how rampant PED use was. The MLB let this problem happen, and if voters could cast votes for Andy Pettitte in Cy Young races and All-Star games, then they would be hypocritical to not vote for him into the Hall of Fame.

Well Above HOFer Standard

When looking at player value, fWAR (Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement), can show how valuable a player was in their era. When you think Hall of Famer you think of greatness, and Andy Pettitte’s fWAR shows that. With a 68.2 fWAR, he ranks 32nd amongst all pitchers in MLB history. Right now in the Hall of Fame are 83 pitchers, meaning Pettitte is above a lot of Hall of Fame arms right now. He’s ahead of HOFers such as Tom Glavine, Jim Palmer, and Roy Halladay, all of whom are deserving candidates. With WAR being a major factor in a player’s value and greatness, it’s hard to believe he could be ahead of so many HOFers, yet not be in the Cooperstown.

Postseason Hero

With 276.2 postseason innings and an MLB best 19 wins, Pettite is one of the best postseason arms of all time. Despite most of his outings coming in the Steroid Era, he still was able to post a 3.81 ERA. He was a stellar postseason arm and with 5 World Series Championships he was a hero in October. Andy Pettitte’s postseason dominance has to play a factor in his case for the Hall of Fame. The Yankees’ rotation was anchored by their longtime ace for years and was instrumental for those championship squads.

No Awards, No Induction?

really despise this argument about the number of awards a player gets. Nolan Ryan, Mike Mussina, and Juan Marichal: What do they have in common? 0 Cy Youngs, yet they are still Hall of Famers and some of the game’s best arms ever. You don’t need Cy Youngs to be a Hall of Famer. What about his mere 3 All-Star appearances? Ferguson Jenkins, Robin Yount, and Bert Blyleven are all Hall of Famers with 3 or fewer All-Star appearances. Care to tell me how suddenly it’s an issue for Pettitte? Awards can’t tell the whole story of a player as no matter how many they have, it’s overrated.

Will He Get In? A Message to the BBWAA

Most likely no, the MLB voters still refuse to vote arguably all-time greats Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds in. This means Andy Pettitte being merely tied to growth hormones will keep him out. They need to move past the PEDs, as the MLB not only took a blind eye to it but these same voters cast votes for these players to win awards and praises even as it was clear as day that they were on PEDs. There were no drug tests for these substances, and therefore no accountability. When everyone is doing it, the only way to compete and provide for a family is to do the same. Let Pettitte in and allow him to join Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter in the Hall of Fame. Not only is he one of the greatest LHP in MLB history, but he was a generational talent.

Is Eli Manning One of the Top 5 Giants of All Time? Yes

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will announce his retirement on Friday as one of the franchise’s greatest players in their nine-and-a-half decade history.

Let’s not forget that Eli owns nearly all of the Giants’ all-time passing records and played more seasons (16) and games (236) in Giant Blue than any other player.

That being said, is he one of the five greatest players in Giants’ history? My friend Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv believes he is. I agree.

Ralph’s top three are, in order: Lawrence Taylor, Frank Gifford and Emlen Tunnell followed by Eli and Michael Strahan. Can’t really argue with that. Here’s what Ralph wrote about Eli, player he also penned a book with.

4. Eli Manning, quarterback, 2004-2019

I grew up in the Phil Simms era, so it’s not easy for me to push him aside for anyone. But it’s impossible not to when compiling the list of greatest Giants quarterbacks considering all that Eli Manning has done. Yes, their eras were vastly different, and passing statistics have exploded since Simms’ day. But this is about more than Manning’s numbers. He’s always been about more than that.

 

This is about Manning being the hero of two of the greatest Super Bowl upsets of all time. It’s about playing 210 consecutive games, and never missing a single one because of an injury. It’s about being the absolute perfect spokesman and representative of the franchise and rarely stumbling in that role at all. It’s about how he rose from the ashes of fans literally burning his jersey in the parking lot four years into his career, and becoming an icon of one of the most iconic franchises in sports.

 

Maybe I would feel differently if Simms had stayed healthy and won that second Super Bowl in 1990. But every time I wonder that, I’m reminded that Manning could have, should have won a third Super Bowl if Plaxico Burress hadn’t shot himself in the leg in 2008.

 

The bottom line is you can skip over a lot of players — a lot of great players — when writing the history of the Giants. But Manning’s part of this has to be written on the very first page. Some will argue this is too high, but how could the greatest quarterback in franchise history, with two rings on his fingers, be any lower than this?

No question. What do people look at when they rate a players’ career? Success and longevity and Eli had both. Not to mention he was a class act all the way, on and off the field.

I expect Manning to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot. If not, then in year two. He should not have to wait long to receive his just desserts.

New York Mets Are Hopeful in Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie’s 2019 season for the New York Mets fell into the “typical Mets” column when it comes to free-agent signings. The 36-year old utility infielder only played in nine games during September and did not play a single out in the field. As he heads into the second and final year of his deal, the Mets hope to milk plenty of baseball out of him.

Lowrie is progressing nicely from his lower body ailments, which cost him a majority of his season. If you can think of a lower-body injury, chances are Lowrie had it at some point during 2019. Brodie Van Wagenen is confident Lowrie will make his way back to the field to contribute during Spring Training. Despite his vote of confidence, the praise for Lowrie could be a ploy to draw in teams to trade for him.

Will He Stay or Will He Go?

The Mets aired out their desire to move the switch-hitting fielder before opening day. Lowrie came off an All-Star campaign during the 2018 season. He hit .267/.353./.448 with a career-high 23 home runs and 99 RBIs. Lowrie 4.8 WAR would have been the fourth-highest on the 2019 Mets roster, trailing Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, and Pete Alonso.

Lowrie’s revamped swing in 2018 allowed him to reach levels he never peaked at during his career. A significant concern for Lowrie is his age. He is going into his age-36 season and virtually spent a whole season on the sidelines. Lowrie’s swinging strike percentage had steadily increased from 6.3 in 2014 to 8.5 in 2018. During his short stint in 2019, it was at 13.9 percent.

Lowrie had plenty of rust on him, which leads to that number likely being an anomaly. Much like Yoenis Cespedes, whichever team has Lowrie will ease him back into action with plenty of care. The Mets offense will be dynamic enough without him where he will not have the pressure to contribute at an All-Star level again. Should Lowrie stay healthy, he will give the Mets a very deep bench which they have lacked for years.