New York Giants: Does Golden Tate’s Contract Makes Him A Potential Cut Candidate?

The 2020 NFL free agency period will begin in March. The New York Giants can be big spenders this year if they want to be. They are estimated by Spotrac to have over $69 million in cap space before they start trimming the fat and cutting veteran contracts.

One of those veterans that could be cut is their slot receiver, Golden Tate. The Giants signed Golden Tate to a four-year contract last offseason. After one season with the team, the Giants could look to move on from the 31-year-old receiver and get younger at the position.

Voided Guarantees

When the Giants signed Golden Tate in 2019, they gave him $22,950,000 guaranteed and an average annual salary of $9,375,000 (according to Spotrac). However, this guaranteed money has recently come into question.

Golden Tate missed the first four games of the 2019 NFL season as he was serving a suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Because of this, the Giants have the option to void all guarantees in Tate’s contract. They could cut him and suffer no salary cap penalties if they choose to.

Cutting Golden Tate would take his $10.5 million 2020 cap hit off the books. An additional ten million dollars to spend in free agency could be enticing enough for the Giants to make this move. Despite the salary cap savings, the Giants would pay approximately $7.5 million in amortized signing bonus, which would essentially be dead cap if cut. 

Golden Tate’s 2019 Season

The Giants received stable production from Golden Tate in 2019. He played in 11 games and caught 49 passes for 676 yards and 6 touchdowns. But are these numbers good enough to keep him around?

It could be argued that 676 yards and 6 touchdowns do not warrant $10.5 million, but averaged out over a 16 game season the value seems to be present. Alternatively, the Giants could take that money and invest it into more significant positions of need, like cornerback or offensive tackle. However, the savings wouldn’t be significant after the $7.5 million in dead cap. Additionally, the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft features one of the strongest wide receiver classes in recent memory, so finding Tate’s replacement might not be too difficult.

Nonetheless, Golden Tate did form a reliable connection with rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. With Jones entering his second professional season, keeping familiar faces around him will be necessary. Jones will need some continuity heading into a new season with a new coaching staff. Keeping Golden Tate could provide the continuity and dependability that Daniel Jones needs.

Empire State Players React to the Death of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant’s sudden death has reverberated across the sports landscape, including here in New York. While his play for the Los Angeles Lakers befuddled and baffled our New York Knicks and New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets, every athlete everywhere is reeling in the news of Bryant’s passing via a helicopter crash in California. What makes the event even more tragic is that his teenage daughter, a travel basketball player, and that player’s parent, were also involved in the crash that took the NBA legend’s life.

New York Athlete’s Respond to Bryant’s Passing

Marcus Stroman, of the New York Met’s, tweeted this out:

“This is extremely tragic to society. One of the most influential individuals/athletes to ever live. His legacy in 41 years is insurmountable. I’m beyond sad. Cherish every single second of life man. Every second you’re breathing, be thankful!”

Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams of the New York Jets had this to say via Twitter.

Bell:

“I don’t believe it actually….it’s unbelievable, no way”

Adams:

“Life’s way too short.
My favorite athlete of all time is gone…”

Former Yankee and current Met reliever Dellin Betances via Twitter:

“I’m sick I can’t believe this my idol Kobe gone too soon”

Bryant was just passed by LeBron James on the all-time scoring list in the NBA on Saturday, January 25th.

While, admittedly, not the biggest basketball fan, the impact Kobe Bryant had on the sports landscape was inescapable, even for me. A former college professor of mine, and drummer for the New York-based avant-garde group, Bright Dog Red, summed it up brilliantly. The only apt comparison to the shock and disbelief at Maba’s passing was the sudden death of former Yankees captain, Thurman Munson.

On behalf of all the writers at EmpireSportsMedia.com, I express our deepest condolences to Bryant’s family, his fans, and the Los Angels Lakers organization. This was far too early for me to type this, but Rest In Peace, Kobe and Gianna Bryant.

How much power to the New York Yankees have in their batting order?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The amount of power the New York Yankees have harnessed in their batting order is beyond measure. However, the return of Giancarlo Stanton and 2020 and Miguel Andujar approaching full health should give us an idea of what the team’s numbers might look like.

First, let’s dive into the top sluggers on the New York Yankees and the skill-set the bring to the table:

1.) DJ LeMahieu

Some would say that LeMahieu is more of a contact hitter, and they would be 100% right, but the reality is, he smashed 26 homers in 2019, reaching a career-high and nearly doubling his second-place total (15). If DJ can offer similar numbers in 2020, the Yankees will have arguably the best leadoff hitter in baseball.

2.) Aaron Judge

We all know Judge’s famous trait is his power, and despite only playing in 102 games last year, he posted 27 homers on the season. When fully healthy, Judge is one of the most intimidating batters in the league, and he’s primed for a massive 2020 campaign. If he can flash back to his 2017 form, he could post upwards of 50 homers, which would put the Yankees in the 70-80 homer range with their first two hitters. To put that into perspective, the Miami Marlins earned only 146 homers last season, meaning LeMahieu and Judge would account for nearly half of their overall totals, in this theoretical scenario.

3.) Gleyber Torres

Seeing Torres in the batter’s box might not convince the regular viewer that he holds too much power, but his stance allows him to plant and drive force through his strong legs to generate power. His 38 homers last year was a career-high, and if he continues to build on those numbers, well, the Yankees will be in quite a good spot.

 4.) Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton only enjoyed 72 at-bats last year, meaning his 2019 season was a dud. However, in 2017 and ’18, he posted 59 and 38 homers, respectively. In healthy seasons, the four hitters that have already been mentioned average over 30 homers per season together. Manager Aaron Boone will likely use this exact order in 2020, and we are only listing power-hitters, so you can begin to imagine how strong the Yankees’ lineup really is.

5.) Gary Sanchez

If you were looking for MORE power, you found it. Sanchez set a career-high last season with 34 homers, becoming the third Yankee mentioned in this article with over 25 homers on the year. Again, health is a significant factor to his success, and bringing in new strength and conditioning coach Eric Cressey will undoubtedly help him avoid any soft-tissue injuries.

6.) Luke Voit

Ahh, the man who can bench-press 135-pounds with one arm. Voit only posted 21 homers last season, but he only played in 112 games. A sports hernia suffered later on in the season hurt his productivity. The Yankees have found a way to increase elevation to a point where home runs are only a matter of when. While the hitters are striking out more, they can guarantee run production, which contact hitting can’t do all the time.

7.) Brett Gardner

Hold on, Brett Gardner, what are you doing on a power list? Oh right, you smacked 28 homers in 2019. Old man Brett didn’t hold back from posting his best HR totals in 2019, and at the age of 36, nobody saw this one coming.

Honorable mentions:

  • Gio Urshela (21)
  • Miguel Andujar from 2018 (27)
  • Aaron Hicks 12
  • Mike Tauchman (13)

The New York Yankees 2020 minor league pipeline is alive and well

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

Over the past several seasons, the Yankee minor league pipeline has produced such Yankee stars as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino, Miguel Andujar, Domingo German, among others. Looking ahead, the pipeline has not dried up.  The Yankees have plenty of pitchers, infielders, and outfielder progressing their way through the minors, and even one in the Dominican Republic that is presently named the Yankees number one Yankee prospect by Baseball America.  His name is Jasson Dominguez.

We will start with the ones we may see on the major stage at Yankee Stadium:  Clarke Schmidt: Schmidt was selected by the Yankees in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft but did not play until 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.  He advanced to Double-A Trenton.  The  2019 season is the first full season that the Yankees got an extended look at Schmidt, and it looks promising.  He has a fantastic fastball, curveball, and change.  Last season he owned a 3.84 ERA in 12 games with High-A Tampa, which included 69 strikeouts over 63.1 innings. Later in the year, he was promoted to Double-A Trenton, Schmidt was even better with a 2.37 ERA over three starts (19 innings). He allowed only five earned runs and one homer while striking out 19 and walking one.  Should there be pitching staff injuries, Yankee fans could see Schmidt as well as Jonathan Loaisiga at the Stadium to fill in.

Deivi Garcia: The Yankees signed Garcia in 2015.  Garcia, at one time, was the Yankees number one pitching prospect.  Garcia has a devasting curveball and an about average fastball.  On the downside, he seems to tire as the game progresses and loses some of the velocity of his fastball.  This is not overly unusual for a small framed young starter.  Garcia is just 20 years old and is 5′ 9″ and weighs only 163 pounds wet.  Many in baseball thought that we would see him in the majors last year.  He, like Schmidt, may debut during the 2020 season.

Albert Abreu:  Abreu is 24 and has been in the Yankee farm system since 2017, coming from the Houston Astros system.  In his career, the 6′ 2″ righty has an average 3.77 ERA, but that figure is elevated because of  3 games bad starts where he averaged an ERA of 21.00.  On September 30, 2019, the Yankees recalled Abreu from the double-A Trenton Thunder to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.  Unfortunately, due to injuries, he has slipped on some other lists, and his development has been stunted. Many feel that although he is a starter,  his injury history coupled with his high walk rate that he may be better coming from the bullpen.  That being said, Abreu’s velocity, power breaking ball, and nasty change-up make for an intriguing arm that could make his way to the majors down the stretch.

Estevan Florial:  Once heavily touted  Yankee prospect Estevan Florial has somewhat fallen from grace as he had a quite poor season at the Tampa Tarpons in 2019.  Baseball America has dropped him off the top 10 Yankee prospects list.  He had played in nearly 400 games since the Dominican has played in the minors for the Yankees.  He finished last year with a .237 batting average at Tampa.  his below-average contact skills and plate discipline have limited his in-game power, and Florial is still very raw as a base stealer.  He has a powerful arm and would do well at the stadium due to his left hitting power and the Yankee stadium short right-field porch.

Jasson Dominguez:  Although his major league debut is some years away, Jasson Dominguez is one of the most exciting Yankee prospects in years.  The young Dominican has been compared to a young Mickey Mantle and a Mike Trout.  I’ve seen videos of him batting in the Dominican Republic, and he seems to be a monster.  The kid is just 16 years old but has the body of a much older player in his prime.  He is an all-around, highly developed athlete.    His switch-hitting, power, and speed on the bases make him a big-time upcoming asset for the Yankees.  He will continue to play and develop while at the Boca Chica facility in the Dominican Republic.  The Yankees this past July gave him a $5MM signing bonus.  Baseball America says he has the skills of players in the AA  stage of advancement.  Fantrax calls him a generational talent that could develop very quickly.  If this is true and everything looks as though it is, the Yankees could see their youngest outfield superstar in many years, since the 21-year-old Joe DiMaggio.

Others in the pipeline are pitchers Luis Gil, Luis Medina, and Yoendrys Gomez.  Outfielders Kevin Alcantara, Antonio Cabello, Canaan Smith, and Everson Pereira.  Shortstops Alexander Vargas, Anthony Volpe, and Josh Smith.  Infielders Maikol Escotto who plays SS, 2nd, and 3rd base and Oswald Peraza, who plays SS and 2nd base.  The Yankees also catcher Anthony Seigler in the pipeline in addition to various lesser prospects at differing positions.

Is Scott Perry the Only Glimmer of Hope Within New York Knicks Front Office?

The New York Knicks are having a season of disaster. Uncharted territories with a roster mixed with incompatible pieces is upon the New York Knicks. Thoughts of where the Knicks could pick during the next draft lottery are upon Knick fans already. The real question right now is whether or not Knicks General Manager, Scott Perry, is really the only glimmer of hope within the New York Knicks front office. Or is his future so murky, there’s no reason even discussing any possibility of Perry being a general manager past 2020.

The New York Knicks front office seems to be misunderstood for good reason most times. If Scott Perry doesn’t have the green light from Steve Mills in the decision making, then the Knicks may be at risk of another setback. However, if Mills and Perry are actually on the same page, Scott Perry will relish the opportunity to murder the 2020 NBA Draft in a good way just like he did during the 2018 draft.

If Perry makes a solid trade or two before the deadline and the Knicks begin playing their younger players, then there’ll actually be a direction the franchise is moving toward. The veteran movement is leading toward a dead-end direction and fans are extremely unhappy and unenthusiastic about it. By the way, what good is a Scott Perry’s draft selection if only the veterans play significant minutes? Knicks have never been known to develop from within, however, with the lack of free-agent interest and the plethora of super young players the Knicks possess, player development is crucial. Player development must become a strong suit for the Knicks and its younger players in order for the franchise to catapult its journey into a positive direction.

Igor Shesterkin Solid in Hartford, How Long Will the New York Rangers Keep Three Goalies?

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin

In order to keep him sharp, the New York Rangers decided to send goaltender Igor Shesterkin down to their AHL affiliate in Hartford. After playing solid in net for the Wolf Pack in back to back games, the big question is will the Blueshirts continue to carry three goalies when the All-Star break concludes?

Shesterkin Solid in Hartford

Shesterkin continued his domination of AHL competition when he stopped 31 of 32 Bridgeport Sound Tigers Friday night in leading the Wolf Pack to a 4-1 victory. This helped him continue his AHL league-leading goals-against average at 1.89 as well as his .923 save percentage. On Saturday night, Shesterkin had a shaky first period against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, giving up two first period goals but then was a stone wall after that, allowing Hartford to pull out a 4-2 win. He made 28 saves in this win. Hartford was very happy to get Shesterkin back, even if it was just for a weekend, as Friday’s victory stopped a four-game winless streak for the Eastern Conference-leading Wolf Pack.

The New York Rangers are being patient with their goalies

Shesterkin’s weekend in Hartford just reconfirms that the young goaltender has outgrown the AHL and is fully ready for a long-term look in the NHL. What appears to be in the way of this is Alexandar Georgiev, who has proven to be a reliable NHL netminder. Shesterkin’s weekend also allows the Rangers to be patient with the goaltending situation. In theory, Shesterkin playing this weekend could allow Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist to play in the back-to-back games and keep all of them sharp. This will buy some time for the Rangers and not force them in panic mode when considering offers. Georgiev appears to be the one who will be traded, and many reports have surfaced that a handful of teams are interested in his services. A less likely scenario would be to keep Shesterkin in Hartford for a while if at least to keep him sharp and continue to tell the rest of the league that they will not just give Georgiev away.

New York Yankees Look to Improve Andujar’s Availability

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

New York Yankee fans are quick to forget that Miguel Andujar’s bat in the lineup is too good to pass up. They just worry about his defensive capabilities at third base. Why on earth would you not try to find a spot that Andujar could potentially excel at, providing necessary depth in case we see more of the injuries that the Yankees were plagued by last year.

Aaron Boone Heads to the Dominican Republic to Tell Andujar

Aaron Boone recently flew down to the Dominican Republic, Andujar’s home, to tell him to his face that he’ll be learning two new positions this spring. And Andujar appears to be open to the idea. Jack Curry of YES Network reported about Boone’s encounter with Andujar:

“Aaron Boone told us off camera that Andujar’s eyes lit up when he was told that versatility could be his ticket to more at-bats.”

The added depth at first base and left field could prove to be very useful. Look at Stanton’s injury history, as well as the injuries that hampered Luke Voit’s 2019. After looking at Stanton’s past seasons, next season will prove to be average for someone of his skill set, with an explosive 2021 and a very solid 2022. Should Aaron Judge be given a day off in the field, Tauchman playing right and Andujar playing left sounds pretty good. And with DJ being our everyday second baseman in 2020, you won’t have him as readily available to play first.

Then, you’d still have him as an option at third in case Gio gets hurt. Andujar can prove to be the next Eduardo Nunez. Someone who does improve defensively switching positions. He may not become a Gold Glover, but any improvement is a good one.

 

New York Giants: Eli Manning gives Daniel Jones glowing review before sendoff

New York Giants, Eli Manning, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants officially retired quarterback Eli Manning on Friday morning, and with the departure of Manning goes the #10, which co-owner John Mara explicitly said would never be worn again.

Eli’s sendoff was emotional and heartbreaking, but the reality is, the Giants were ready to turn the page on his period and begin the Daniel Jones era. In 2019, Jones was forced into a starting role, and while he did suffer through some problematic situations, like racking up double-digit fumbles, he also threw the ball very well and showed what he could do with his legs.

The New York Giants are convinced they have their quarterback for the future, and Manning would agree:

“I think there’s a bright future,” Manning said. “I have a lot of fond memories of being in the meeting rooms and being with the coaches and being around Daniel and Alex Tanney in the quarterback room. We had lots of laughs and great work that we did.

“I know Daniel. I appreciate a lot of things about him, and the fact that he loves the game of football. He’s passionate about it and he works extremely hard, so you appreciate those things. If that weren’t the case, it might have been harder to go through this situation, but you see the way he conducts himself, and I think, you know, he’s got a bright, bright future ahead of him and so do the Giants.”

Jones was under essential mentorship last season, learning from the two time Super Bowl winning passer. Manning further instilled the idea of work-ethic and discipline in Jones’ professional career, which will only benefit the Giants moving forward. Being the first one in the building and the last one to leave is a characteristic trait, and Jones has the right mentality going into his second-season with Big Blue.

Yankees News/Rumors: Nolan Arenado to the Yankees? Did Pettitte make it happen? And what to the Yankees do with an abundance of pitchers?

New York Yankees, Nolan Arenado

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

Nolan Arenado:  There is not much going on in the New York Yankees rumor mills, so idle minds have come up with Nolan Arenado’s displeasure with the Colorado Rockies and how the Yankees need the third baseman, and that the Yankees should come up with a trade package that would send Arenado to the Yankees.  Those that suggest this must be unaware that the Yankees already have a logjam at the hot corner.  Would Nolan be an upgrade, yes, of course, he is one of the best players in the game.  The question is, do we need him, and is it worthwhile and responsible to add a $35MM a year player that would skyrocket the Yankee payroll far beyond the highest luxury tax threshold?  The simple answer is no. The trade would most likely send Yankee star Miguel Andujar to the Rockies and reduce break out player Gio Urshela to a utility backup role.

Another reason to forgo the thought of an Arenado trade is that his contract extension last year will allow him to opt-out of his massive contract at the end of 2021 when he is 31.  As a free agent, he will undoubtedly look for an even bigger payday with a deal similar to Manny Machado.  Where would that leave the Yankees?  It would leave them without a 3rd baseman that they had paid so much to get, and they would have lost a future superstar in Miguel Andujar that they traded away to the Rockies.  The whole trade discussion doesn’t make sense for the Yankees.

Andy Pettitte:  On December 3rd  of last year, the Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman, Manager Aaron Boone, and new pitching coach Matt Blake made the trip to California to try to convince the best pitcher in baseball to become a Yankee.  Cashman also had in tow special advisor Andy Pettitte who was a childhood idol of Gerrit Cole.  Yes, they gave him and his wife gifts, and Cole the largest in baseball contract for a pitcher in the amount of $324MM over nine years.  But was Andy Pettitte the real tipping point bringing Cole to the Bronx?  According to reports, Cole had a gaggle of questions for Pettitte as to what it was like to pitch at Yankee Stadium.  The two had a private 20-minute conversation when the formal talks were over. Pettitte told him that if he wanted one or more World Championship rings, New York was the place to be.   Cole was signed, and when he was introduced to the New York media a few days later, he made it clear that Pettitte had a lot to do with his decision.

Andy speaking to the YES Network’s Hot Stove, said “It’s crazy for me to realize that I had that kind of impact, I’m glad that I could help him. I’m glad that I was able to be there, and the Yankees wanted me to be there to have, kind of a player’s perspective on it.” Pettitte told him, “If you want to win championships now, I feel like this is the spot for you.” Pettitte also revealed that “he had a lot of good questions. I was glad to be able to be there and answer the questions that he had about New York, playing there as a player, also raising a family there. There was a lot of stuff that he fired at us … every question you could imagine.”  Andy also when talking about Cole said,  “he’s a guy that doesn’t look like he’s fazed by October, which is a very important thing, especially playing in New York. And what we’re planning on and wanting to do over the next decade … hopefully, he gets us a few championships by then.”

Gerrit Cole, when speaking about Andy, said: “When Andy pitches anything, whether it be coming to the Yankees (for a meeting with a free agent) or a game in the postseason, he usually gets the W, and he did again this time.”

Yankees abundance of pitchers:  The Yankees certainly has no shortage of starting pitchers.  Last year the Yankees had the opposite problem with Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery on the IL.  This year both of them are back and healthy.  Add to that, the Yankees went out and got arguably the best starter in baseball with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole to lead the rotation.  Having an abundance of pitchers is most certainly a good problem to have.  But it also creates a logistical challenge.  As it stands now, Cole will lead off, followed by Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and as reported by General Manager Brian Cashman J.A. Happ at the bottom of the rotation.  That leaves Jordan Montgomery, Jonathan Loaisiga, and a returning Domingo German in June out in the cold.

Some are suggesting that the Yankees go to a six-man rotation.  That has pros and cons.  It would give all pitchers more rest and allow them to go into the postseason fresher.  It would be particularly helpful to a tiring Tanaka that pitched once a week for much of his career.  Some pitchers would like that, and some not.  One massive con to the equation is that the six-man would minimize the Cole effect, giving him fewer starts for the season.  The five-man rotation leaves Jordan Montgomery available should Happ not perform well.  Once German returns, after his 18-4 season, the Yankees will surely want to insert him in place of any pitcher that is struggling or possibly go to a six-man rotation after the All-Star break.  Whatever the case, if the extra starters are sent to the pen, the roster will surely be bulging, which will result in the availability of bench players due to the 26 man roster.  Some players we expect to be at the Stadium will find themselves at Scranton Wilkes/Barre.

New York Yankees: Urshela expected to start at third, Andujar has to find new position

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

As the New York Yankees are just a month away from Spring Training, positions are being called into question and there’s a ton of possible lineup options. This is a good and bad thing for the New York Yankees, as the team is just so stacked that they don’t know who’s going to play where.

It was reported by NJ.com’s Randy Miller that Aaron Boone told Miguel Andujar that he’ll have to learn how to play first base and left field in Spring Training because the Yankees expect Gio Urshela to be the primary third basemen.

After showing off a highlight reel of defensive plays last season, Urshela also showed he can do damage at the plate. He batted .314 with 21 home runs and 74 runs batted in.

There have also been talks that if Andujar can’t find a position, he’ll find himself back in Triple-A with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders. Luke Voit is expected to be the main first basemen so anywhere that Andujar is looking to play, he’s going to have competition for a spot.

Personally, I think the Yankees should keep him on the roster as a great bat off the bench and he’s a strong hitter to fill a DH role. He’s never going to be a gold glove fielder and Urshela will always have that over him, but if he’s swinging it well, there’s no reason to not have him in the lineup on a consistent basis.

Andujar missed all of last season after deciding to get season-ending surgery which allowed Urshela to show off at third. in 2018, Andujar finished second in Rookie of the Year voting where he batted .297 with 27 home runs.