The New York Mets sign Eduardo Nunez to Minor League deal

New York Mets

The New York Mets keep working hard to shape up the roster with the 2020 season in mind. The team signed infielder Eduardo Nunez to a minor league contract on Saturday, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. The deal includes an invitation for Spring Training, where Nunez will have the opportunity to earn a place on the active roster.

Perez, who is 32 years old, had a very poor 2019 season with the Boston Red Sox. In fact, he was so bad that the team opted to release him in July.

In 2019, the versatile infielder had a .228/.243/.305 line with two home runs and 20 RBI in 174 plate appearances. He was worth a negative WAR: -1.0, per Fangraphs.

Versatility at the Mets’ service

Perez can cover several positions in the diamond. Over his career, he has played second base, third base, shortstop, left field and right field. If he can show that he has something left in his bat, he could make an interesting flier for the Mets. The utility role could be his if he impresses.

Perez has some power and speed, and since he will come in a Minor League deal, the acquisition cost is not high.

The 2017 season was the last time Perez was good. That year, he batted .313 with an OBP of .341  and a .460 slugging percentage. He was an above-average offensive performance, registering a 112 wRC+ and a 2.2 fWAR. He slugged 12 home runs and stole 24 bases back then.

A year before, in 2016, he was even better. Perez put up a 2.9 fWAR season, the best of his career. He knocked 16 balls out of the park and had 40 thefts.

For his career, Nunez has a .276/.310/.404 line with a 90 wRC+ and 4.1 fWAR in 856 games.

The chances are that Nunez is already past his prime, but it doesn’t hurt the New York Mets to find out under the conditions of the deal.

Yankees’ Brian Cashman speaks out on sign-stealing, rightfully throws Astros under the bus

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

As if the Houston Astros haven’t already been thrown under the bus, backed up over, and then re-run over, the New York Yankees are here to enjoy the view. General manager Brian Cashman did not hold back to defend the sanctity of the game and protect the Yankees from any allegations and potentially harmful attention.

In an interview with YES Network, Cashman stated that he had been suspicious of the Astros’ cheating scandal for quite some time:

“We’ve done our due diligence and tried to do everything we could, and have done everything we can to try to protect our signs as much as possible,” said the Yankees GM. “We’ve continued to evolve over the course of time because of you know, concerns.”

“I think for a long time teams, we’ve all been kind of guarded against the unknown of what exactly is going on out there, especially with the explosion of technology,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “Hopefully we’ve put an end to this and cut it off finally.”

With Houston being a target for months and multiple reports surfacing of their involvement in illegal activities, it was only a matter of time before the mighty hammer of Robert Manfred came crashing down on an organization that had reached two consecutive World Series, winning one of them.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone was taken aback by Manfred’s nine-page report detailing the Astros’ scheme:

“It’s disappointing. Frustrating. Frankly, I spent a couple days trying to get my head wrapped around the emotions that I was feeling about it,” said Boone.

However, some would say that the cheating scandal might be a good thing for the evolvement of baseball, but Cashman is just happy someone was willing to speak out.

“Baseball is now determined — with the strongest instance of Mike Fiers coming forward and being a whistleblower — to really shed light on some of the things that were occurring down in Houston,” said Cashman.

 

Baseball is a historic sport with delicate intricacies, and finding minor advantages is part of winning. Every sport has loopholes in the system, but abusing them with secret cameras and televisions breaks the nature of the game. What the Astros participated in and subsequently the Boston Red Sox as well, deserves punishing, and to be quite frank, they’re lucky the consequences weren’t more severe.

 

 

New York Mets rumors: Fan Fest day, Luis Rojas and more!

Simeon Woods-Richardson

Today is the New York Mets’ first fan fest, and many stars will be attending! That and a couple of very interesting Luis Rojas-related articles are today’s hottest links.

Here are the New York Mets’ news and rumors of the day:

Anthony DiComo: The New York Mets are hosting their Fan Fest today! It’s actually the inaugural edition, so expectations from the fan base are high. It figures to be a good way to spend Saturday if you love the team.

According to MLB.com’s beat writer Anthony DiComo, there is a “pretty stacked lineup at the inaugural Mets Fan Fest: Pete Alonso, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Amed Rosario, Robinson Canó, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling, Mookie Wilson, Ed Kranepool, Turk Wendell, Todd Zeile, Al Leiter and others” will be there.

MLB.com: Former MLB player and New York Mets member Moises Alou is very happy about the team’s latest decision. As it turns out, their new manager Luis Rojas is his half-brother.

“It was a matter of time,” Alou said via telephone to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. “To me, he is a manager. That’s all you ask.”

“My dad would bring him for the summer and he would be talking baseball. He knew every player,” Moises said about Rojas.

Alou, when he was the general manager of Dominican team Leones del Escogido, appointed Rojas as the manager. The team advanced several times to the playoffs and won a championship in 2016.

“He worked for this for so long. He has made it to the big leagues,” Moises said. “This kid has passion, knowledge. He loves talking about the game. … I knew he would be an asset to the team. He became my manager after being a coach for two or three years. I was very proud of him.”

NY Post: Ken Davidoff wrote that Luis Rojas and his hiring as the Mets’ skipper is the first positive thing to come out from the sign-stealing scandal of 2017 that revolutionized baseball this winter.

Rojas was named the manager because the Mets and Beltran parted ways. The former player was involved in the Astros’ scheme back in 2017.

New York Jets: 3 Defensive Free Agents the Jets Should Target

New York Jets

The New York Jets are entering this offseason with a lot of promise on the defensive side of the ball. However, there are still some massive holes they need to patch up if they want to be elite. The Jets don’t seem likely to use their first round pick this year on defense so who do they look at in free agency to strengthen up their unit.

Yannick Ngakoue

Yannick Ngakoue is a tremendously talented edge rusher who was the 69th overall pick back in 2016 by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Ngakoue is just 24 years old and is long overdue for a big payday after racking up 37.5 sacks over his first four years in the league. A member of the 2016 all-rookie team and 2017 pro bowl he is well accomplished. If the Jets were to go after Ngakoue expect a massive contract averaging from 19-22 million dollars per year. New York may not be the most ideal place to go especially with a problematic head coach, but if the money is right, he might be persuaded.

Byron Jones

Now some people might be reluctant to sign another 27-year-old cornerback after the Trumaine Johnson fiasco, but beggars can’t be a chooser. The Jets need him badly. Over the past two seasons, Byron Jones has been a shutdown number 1 corner and has only missed one game in his entire career. The danger in signing Jones is the fear that he might revert to his early years where he was wildly inconsistent and routinely got burned. Jones is one hell of an athlete setting a world record for broad jump in the 2015 NFL combine. If the Jets were to sign Jones, they’d likely have to pay him anywhere between 12-15 million dollars per year.

Jadeveon Clowney

Jadeveon Clowney has been sort of a bust ever since he came into the league. Early in his career, he was dealing with injuries but now fully healthy he just can’t seem to live up to expectations. Clowney was regarded as a can’t miss prospect and generational talent by many experts and while he may not be the insanely good edge rusher everyone thought he’d be he certainly isn’t terrible. Jadeveon Clowney is the edge rusher equivalent of Leonard Williams, good on his own but needs help to be great. If Clowney were paired up with Gregg Williams in this blitz heavy aggressive defense surrounded by the front seven talent the Jets have accumulated over the past couple years he might just reach his potential. Clowney’s market is anywhere between 13-17 million dollars, a price worth paying if he’s the Jets long lost sack master.

How Going Against the Book Helped Keep Joe DiMaggio’s Hit Streak Alive

New York Yankees, Babe Ruth

The 24,000 fans who went to Yankee Stadium on Thursday, June 26, 1941, were hoping to see Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak get extended to 38 games. Taking the field against the lowly St. Louis Browns, the Yankees would take their swings against right-hander Elden Auker.

Coming to bat in the second, DiMaggio flew out to the left-field; in the fourth, he reached on an error by shortstop Johnny Berardino, who, after retiring from baseball became an actor, becoming best known for playing Dr. Steve Hardy on the long-running soap opera “General Hospital”. In his third time up in the sixth, DiMaggio bounced out to third.

Meanwhile, Yankee starter Marius Russo was trying to steal the show as he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning with the Yankees leading 3-0. But his dreams would be dashed to bits when first baseman George McQuinn-who would help the Yankees win a World Series six years later-belted a one-out home run to put the Browns on the board. It would be the only hit Russo would surrender.

The game went to the bottom of the eighth, with the Yankees up 3-1. DiMaggio was scheduled to bat fourth, which meant someone needed to reach base to give “The Yankee Clipper” one more chance. With one out, third baseman Red Rolfe drew a walk, bringing Tommy Henrich to the plate.

Before getting into the box, Henrich went back to the dugout to ask manager Joe McCarthy to let him put down a sacrifice bunt. A by the book manager, McCarthy at first said no. Henrich explained that he feared that hitting into a double play would end DiMaggio’s streak in all likelihood since the Browns would have needed to score at least two runs to tie the game in the game.

After hearing Henrich’s reasoning, McCarthy gave his blessing, and Henrich put down a perfect sacrifice bunt to advance Rolfe to second. This set the stage for DiMaggio to extend his hitting streak in his last at-bat. Auker delivered a pitch to DiMaggio’s liking, and Joe ripped a line drive that almost took third baseman, Harlond Clift, into left field.

Rolfe scampered home from second as DiMaggio raced into second with an RBI double to extend his hitting streak to 38 straight games as the Yankees went on to beat the Browns 4-1. All made possible because a by the book manager went against it.

New York Mets: Van Wagenen “doesn’t see a deal” with the Pirates for Starling Marte

When the New York Mets’ universe woke up on Friday, it did so with the news that talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates for center fielder Starling Marte were “intensifying” and that a deal could be struck before spring training.

That, according to GM Brodie Van Wagenen, is apparently no longer the case now. The executive put water to the rumors. It is evident that negotiations with the Pirates are not going anywhere despite constant communications.

“We don’t want to disrupt what we have, the chemistry that I spoke of. We have a culture where people buy into one another and they believe they can pick each other up. I don’t see a deal that’s going to disrupt that environment. If there’s an opportunity to continue to improve our roster, we’ll explore it, but our aggressiveness right now is focused on getting ready for Spring Training with the players we have,” he said on Friday.

Marte, 31, is a talented outfielder, and there is no doubt about that. The Mets want to upgrade in center field and he is coming from a strong 2019, in which he hit .295/.342/.503 with 23 home runs, 97 runs scored, 82 runs batted in and 25 steals.

Defensive metrics say that his 2019 in center wasn’t very good, but he has played the position adequately in the past. He is a two-time Gold Glover in left, as well.

Marte is also relatively cheap. The Pirates will pay him $11.5 million in 2020 and he has a club option for $12.5 million in 2021.

The Mets will likely stay put

However, the New York Mets don’t seem to have the ammo needed to pull off a trade. They don’t want to trade Brandon Nimmo and they don’t have a lot of top prospects.

“At this point, we feel very confident in the group we have,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re excited about the guys we’ve invited to camp. We’re excited about the returning players that we’ll have back on the roster and we think we’ve added some key pieces from the outside that will help us this year.”

New York Giants: Plaxico Burress shuts Eli Manning haters up over Hall of Fame debate

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Plaxico Burress

With Eli Manning finally reaching the end of the road after a lengthy 16-year-career with the New York Giants, the old Hall of Fame debate bubbled to the surface.

Some feel as if the longevity of Manning’s career and consistent health contributed towards his mammoth-like numbers, and that winning two improbable Super Bowls isn’t enough to justify being inducted into Canton.

I believe Manning is a shoo-in to make the Hall of Fame. Manning’s numbers are skewed by a variety of factors, primarily at the expense of Jerry Reese’s poor drafting and inability to piece together a serviceable offensive line. During Manning’s second Super Bowl run, his defense ranked poorly across the board, but his postseason heroics willed them to a victory over the New England Patriots.

His defense ranked 27th in the league during the regular season, as he posted insane numbers in the playoffs (1219 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT, 65.0 completion percentage.

While some might feel this isn’t worthy of the Hall of Fame, his former teammates, Plaxico Burress, undoubtedly does:

Per Kimberley A. Martin of Yahoo! Sports:

“He will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history of all time,” said Plaxico Burress, who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII victory over the previously unbeaten Patriots. “He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my book. To be able to come to this city and this market, and go through the criticisms and all of the things he had to fight through on a week-to-week basis. … Nobody got it worst than he did when things weren’t going well, and he never wavered.”

The New York Giants isn’t an easy team to play with, mainly due to the attention:

Playing in New York is not an easy task, but Eli did it was class and respect. The criticism he suffered through is something to consider in this argument, but at the end of the day, never missing a game due to injury and walking away with two Super Bowl wins should be enough to join the league of legends.

Luis Cessa, The New York Yankees Wild Card Reliever

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

The New York Yankees have been known for their elite bullpen for a while. They have superstar closer Aroldis Chapman, flamethrowers Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle, the filthy Adam Ottavino, and the sinker specialist Zack Britton. In the mix are young arms Jonathon Loasiga who throws heat and the crafty swingman Jordan Montgomery. It’s safe to say that the Yankees bullpen is loaded and that they are ready to be lights out next year. The interesting thing is that Yankees RHP Luis Cessa often finds himself left out, however, he’s more than just an expendable arm.

Overshadowed

When the Yankees acquired Luis Cessa back in 2015, it was alongside another RHP, Chad Green. In 2016 they both came up for the Yankees later in the season as both starters and relievers. At first, it seemed that Cessa would be the more promising pitcher, he had pitched more innings and to the tune of a lower ERA and WHIP in 2016. This all changed come 2017, as Chad Green broke out and Cessa hadn’t done much at all. Since 2017 it’s been clear who was the better arm:

Chad Green (2017-2019):
2.82 ERA
1.006 WHIP
12.4 K/9
156 ERA+

Luis Cessa (2017-2019)
4.56 ERA
1.379 WHIP
8.0 K/9
97 ERA+

Cessa’s been overshadowed by Chad Green ever since he got to New York, but it shouldn’t take away from his potential.

A Premier Slider

Luis Cessa has one of the most underrated sliders in baseball, a pitch that he needs to utilize as much as he can. His slider is the key to his success, as in 2019, his slider had hitters only hitting .204 against it with a .402 SLG against. His expected stats were even better, with a .189 xBA and .308 xSLG. He used his slider 49.9% of the time in 2019, the most he’s ever used his slider in a season. The result? A 4.11 ERA, the lowest of his career and a career-high 8.3 K/9 in 2019. His slider is a fantastic pitch, however, the issue is that he doesn’t have much other than that.

Crushing His Fastball

While he does throw a 94.6 MPH fastball on average, opponents crush it. In 2019 opponents hit .318 with a .506 SLG against, which isn’t at all good. The issue seems to be that he’s always relied on pitching to contact, and that means his fastball is being thrown with the goal of making contact. Cessa’s fastball may seem hopeless, however, it has an above-average spin rate that put him at the 58th percentile in 2019. It also breaks pretty well, with a 0.2-inch vertical movement above average and 1.3-inch horizontal movement above average. With new hire Matt Blake as the pitching coach, we could see Cessa’s fastball be used as a strikeout pitch. Creating a more modern approach to the game, we could see Matt Blake turn a fastball that was unusable into a reliable pitch to complement a devastating slider.

Projections For 2020

I believe Luis Cessa will have a career season in 2020, and while he may not be a superstar reliever, he’ll be a reliable arm the Yankees would love to have. If he has a career year in 2020, his stats could look like this:

3.50 ERA
1.234 WHIP
65 IP
70 SO
1.3 fWAR

Do you disagree with these predictions? How will Cessa’s 2020 go? Spring Training is coming ever closer, and we’ll be able to see how Cessa will perform in 2020.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Is giving Happ the 5th starter role a good idea?

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

The New York Yankees and Brian Cashman made it clear on Thursday that J.A. Happ would be in the rotation as the 5th starter for this season. After the Yankees landed Cole, there was the belief that Happ might be on his way out to free up some money for Cole’s record-setting contract. Cashman dismissed those rumors this week and made it clear that Happ will be in the rotation again for the last year of his contract.

“I’m extremely confident (in the rotation), especially the top four,” said Cashman. “Obviously, I do think Happ is gonna be better for us than he was in the first half last year.”

Cashman seems to have all the confidence in his lefty starter, but his numbers last season weren’t great. Happ posted a 12-8 record with a 4.91 ERA in 30 games started. He fanned 140 batters over 161.1 innings pitched and finished with a 1.30 WHIP. Because of his struggles, Happ was not in the rotation for the postseason and worked out of the bullpen for the Yankees.

I was one of those people that believed Happ was on his way out, but I am comfortable with him as the fifth starter in the rotation. There’s definitely going to be an injury during the season and Jordan Montgomery will find his way into the rotation, and having those two in the back end of the rotation gives the New York Yankees a lot of confidence.

Even though Happ didn’t have his best year last season, he’s shown he can get outs and be a quality starter. He’s perfect for the back end of the rotation to close out a long series.

New York Rangers Goalie Coach Keeping Three Goalie Rotation Workable

New York Rangers

Despite the New York Rangers‘ tough loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, they can take solace in the fact that their young goaltender Igor Shesterkin played quite well. The significance in this is that Shesterkin is one of three goaltenders that the Rangers are keeping on their active roster, which is not an ideal situation for NHL teams. The fact that it is working as well as it has been due to the influence and coaching of Benoit Allaire.

What Allaire brings to the New York Rangers

Allaire will need to use his vast skill and expertise to help his young goaltenders, starting with Shesterkin, who was not too happy with himself after giving up a late tiebreaking goal to Columbus. Allaire will point out that Shesterkin played well, and the leading cause of that last goal was an unfortunate shift change that allowed the Blue Jackets to skate in with a three on two advantage.

This is the same kind of message that Allaire would also give to a young Henrik Lundqvist when he became the goalie coach in 2004. Under Allaire, Lundqvist has had a stellar career, including being one of three goaltenders in NHL history who have earned 30 or more wins in at least 11 different seasons, along with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy.

Allaire is also no stranger to the three goalie situation, having dealt with this issue while being the goaltender coach for the Phoenix Coyotes before coming to New York. Situations like this did not seem to affect Sean Burke, who made significant progress under Allaire.

Burke appeared in 536 NHL games and posted a 3.21 goals-against average,  with a .895 save percentage before teaming up with Allaire. Under his teaching, Burke showed noticeable improvement, appearing in 211 games with the Coyotes and recording a 2.39 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. Throughout his coaching career with the Rangers, almost all of the goalies that have donned the blue jersey have seen improvement or have had issues corrected that allowed them the play at their optimal level.

Allaire has also benefited from the knowledge of his older brother Francois, who became the first goaltending coach for the Montreal Canadiens and is given credit for the development of legendary goaltender Patrick Roy. Benoit Allaire will be relied on to develop the two young goaltenders that Rangers have, as well as keeping the veteran Lundqvist happy and engaged in whatever role he ends up playing for as long as this system is in place.