New York Giants: Darius Slayton On Catching Eli Manning’s Last Touchdown

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

There’s been a lot of iconic touchdown passes from New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, but only one has the title of being Manning’s last touchdown. That’s the one that he threw against the Miami Dolphins, and the name of the receiver that caught it isn’t anyone that would have been predicted to do so at the start of the year – not Sterling Shepard, or Golden Tate, or even Cody Latimer, but the rookie Darius Slayton.

Slayton, of course, came to the Giants in the fifth round when the team took a risk on him after he slid in the draft despite analysts saying he had some promise – the 171st pick was where he was drafted, in fact. That’s not the most prestigious spot to be drafted. But Slayton’s proved a lot of people wrong this year and his 8 receiving touchdowns were one of the bright spots during a dark year for the Giants.

It culminated in the play that will go down as Manning’s last touchdown, against Miami in a game that the Giants won. The result also prevents Manning from going out with a losing record – a bright spot in a result that, at the end of the day, helped cost the Giants their good draft position and their shot at Chase Young.

“It’s huge. He’s a legend of the game. A New York legend, somebody I have a tremendous amount of respect for,” Slayton said to the Daily Gazette. “I’m young right now and just a rookie. Right now, it’s just another [touchdown] ball. I’m sure, when I look back on my career, it will be something that is really special to me, because not everybody has the opportunity to play with someone of that caliber. It’s an honor.”

Slayton also spoke on the quarterback that’s replacing Eli Manning and started most of the year following Manning’s benching: Daniel Jones. According to Slayton, there’s a bright future ahead of Jones. His assessment makes sense. After all, he found himself becoming one of Jones’ biggest targets this year.

“I think he did really well as a rookie. The hard part is you come to find out that every single week, you’re learning something new with each new opponent. He’s got a year under his belt. I think he’s going to take off next year.”

There will definitely be big expectations on Slayton based on the Giants’ need for a consistent star at receiver, someone to fill the role that Odell Beckham Jr. once did. That player could be Slayton, potentially, or it could be a healthy Sterling Shepard. If Shepard doesn’t end up struggling with concussions again this year, the position battles at receiver should be quite interesting going forward.

How The Philip Rivers News Helps The New York Giants

The NFL is going through significant changes this offseason. Multiple franchises are parting ways with their veteran quarterbacks. Eli Manning’s recent retirement came as no surprise, but Drew Brees is mulling retirement as well. Additionally, Philip Rivers and the Chargers are reportedly moving on from each other ahead of 2020’s free agency period.

Philip Rivers will be a free agent this March, leading many fans to speculate as to where the veteran signal-caller might end up playing next season. But, for fans of the New York Giants, the speculation will not surround Philip Rivers as much as it will encompass the Chargers’ next quarterback. The question is, whom will the Chargers’ next quarterback be?

Many assume that Los Angeles will get younger at the sport’s most important position. Like the Giants did last year with Daniel Jones, the Chargers are likely to draft their next franchise quarterback in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft. This could be good news for the Giants as they hold a highly coveted draft pick.

Could The Chargers and Giants Strike A Draft-Day Deal Again?

The 2004 NFL Draft saw the Giants and Chargers both draft and subsequently trade rookie quarterbacks. Eli Manning was drafted first overall by the then-San Diego Chargers. The Giants drafted Philip Rivers. The two swapped quarterbacks in a draft-day trade that worked to the benefit of both teams (but more to the benefit of the Giants who saw their quarterback win two Super Bowls in his sixteen-year career).

Once again, the Giants and Chargers both possess top-ten draft picks in a year featuring a rich quarterback class. Unlike 2004, however, the Giants do not need to draft a quarterback with their first-round draft pick. This is where another draft-day trade could come to fruition.

Assuming Joe Burrow and Chase Young get drafted first, and second overall, the Giants and Lions will be in peculiar positions with their third and fourth overall draft picks. Teams will be looking to trade up for the next best quarterbacks in the class. Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert both have the potential to be top-five picks in April.

Regardless of whether or not the Lions stay put or trade their pick away, the Chargers just made the Giants’ draft pick more valuable. If they want one of these top quarterbacks, they will need to trade up from their sixth overall pick.

Trading down with the Chargers could be a win-win situation for both teams. The Giants would move back only two spots while adding an extra draft pick, possibly an additional second-rounder. The Giants would still have the chance to land one of the big-names they would be considering at fourth overall, and the Chargers would get their future franchise quarterback.

New York Giants: Freddie Kitchens officially joins staff as tight ends coach

New York Giants, Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns

The New York Giants have worked diligently to build out their coaching staff after hiring Joe Judge to replace Pat Shurmur as their head coach. The latest official word is that former Cleveland Browns’ HC Freddie Kitchens will join the Giants as their tight end coach.

Both Judge and Kitchens have experience with one another at Mississippi State, a place where Judge considered going as their head coach before signing on with Big Blue.

Kitchens has a sharp offensive mind and will bring a unique skill-set to the Giants, and his head coaching experience should help Judge adapt to the new role. Paired with Jason Garrett on offense, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants have a strong offensive presence behind second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones.

 

New York Giants: Eli Manning Looks Back To Super Bowl Wins

New York Giants quarterback, Eli Manning.

It’s been a long time since the New York Giants were in contention for a Super Bowl let alone actively participating in one and winning one, but at one point during the last decade the Giants did win two Super Bowls – and both of them were victories that can, among other things, be directly attributed to Eli Manning as quarterback. With Manning retiring, a lot of fans are looking back to those moments, and Manning himself has recently reflected on the two games against the Patriots where the Giants shocked the world.

However, Manning didn’t take all the credit for himself, continuing the trend of classy responses that lasted throughout his career. He had a list of other players to name that had a big impact on the result.

“I think everybody wants to make it me versus Tom Brady. It was the Giants versus Patriots. Our defenses played outstanding. Guys made plays. David Tyree, Mario Manningham, Plaxico Burress, in the corner of the end zone,” Manning said. “Like I said, you just cherish those moments and you cherish those relationships that you have with those teammates and coaches when you win those games, and you know, those are — that’s obviously why you play for. You play for the opportunity to win a championship.”

“You realize how hard it is and how difficult and all the breaks that have to go your way and that you got to overcome to get to those scenarios. Those are special ones that fortunately you get to kind of relive those moments through your friends,” Manning continued.

It’s of course, been a long time since the Giants were in contention for the Super Bowl – their only year making the playoffs since their last victory in it was 2016, which was the first and only shot that they had of winning one with the connection between Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants ended up losing to the Packers and Ben McAdoo was fired after a significant drop in the team’s performance the following year. Pat Shurmur wasn’t any better for the 2018 or 2019 seasons.

The Giants are going into their third coaching regime since Tom Coughlin was dismissed, and as the coaching staff continues to form up and takes its final shape, we’re beginning to move into the time of year when the draft and free agency are the most important things. How long will it take to get back to the Super Bowl? We’ll see, but after a number of bad seasons since their last win, the fans will be more desperate than ever to have a glimpse of success again.

Two Yankees prospects that could find themselves in the majors in 2020

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial

The 2020 season for the New York Yankees will require a bit of creativity from the coaching staff, specifically manager Aaron Boone and pitching coach, Matt Blake.

With the departure of both Dellin Betances and Nestor Cortes Jr., the bullpen will be a tad thin, meaning a prospect could be pulled up to compensate on the back end. The signing of Gerrit Cole and return of Jordan Montgomery should supplement any bullpen deficiencies, and that’s likely what Boone is thinking after using his relief arms heavily in 2019.

Having Severino, Montgomery, Cole to add as starters will take the pressure off the bullpen, but the group will still need to have plenty of talent in case they’re called into action in an expanded way.

That’s where Michael King enters the mix. At 24-years-old, King finished last season in the minors with a 3-2 record, 5.48 ERA, 46 innings, 11 games, eight starts, 44 K, 10 BB, and 47 hits. Spring training will give us an idea of whether King or Deivi Garcia deserves the nod, but I imagine the older of the two (King) will feature in a small role in the big leagues moving forward (he’s a projected back-end starter). The Yankees’ prospect isn’t a hard-throwing pitcher, but he has excellent accuracy.

The other prospect who could play a reserve role is Estevan Florial, who has suffered through injuries the past few years. During spring training of last year, Florial broke his wrist, which forced him out after a promising start to the season.

The Dominican Republic-born center fielder has it all — strength, speed, defensive prowess, power, mental awareness, etc. At 22-years-old, Florial has plenty of time left to reach his potential and begin to tap into the natural talent he contains. However, it comes down to remaining healthy.

If Estevan can survive the spring without picking up any injuries, the Yankees could consider him as a reserve option in the outfield during the 2020 season. Allowing him to prove himself at the top level has been a long time coming, but if he requires more time in the minors, he has the time to burn.

With Aaron Hicks set to miss a significant chunk of the 2020 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Yanks have Mike Tauchman, Tyler Wade, and Clint Frazier as reserves. Don’t be surprised to see Florial make a jump into that backup unit if he shows out this spring.

Who will be the New York Mets’ backup middle infielder?

The New York Mets signed veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez over the weekend. It was a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Standard procedure by this time of the year in which players with little to no market have to settle for a chance to win a rotation spot or a place in the major league roster.

In the Mets’ case, they have three candidates for backup infield duties. To be more specific, they need a backup middle infielder. After all, Dominic Smith can play first base in the event that Pete Alonso suffers an injury, and Jeff McNeil, Jed Lowrie and J.D. Davis are prepared to defend the hot corner, although the latter is not very good at it.

Take into account the fact that Lowrie hasn’t played shortstop since 2016 and is a health risk. He might be better suited to play second or third, but his role is unclear at this point. He is, also, a strong trade candidate.

Someone who can spell the Mets’ starting middle infield duo

Amed Rosario and Robinson Cano, the starting middle infielders, need someone who can play both second base and shortstop. The three candidates on the Mets’ roster are homegrown talent Luis Guillorme and recent signees Max Moroff and Nunez.

Guillorme, 25, is a slick-fielding shortstop that earned a 70-grade glove from Fangraphs’ prospect evaluators. That’s in a scale from 20 to 80. He has experience at short, second base and third.

His bat is not his strongest tool, but his Minor League track record suggests that he can be average at the plate. He hit .307/.412/.452 with 7 home runs in 278 plate appearances in Triple-A last season. In the bigs, he had a .246/.324/.361 line.

He can be a perfectly adequate backup, and if he takes a step forward with the bat, the Mets would have another everyday player at short.

Moroff, 26, was signed back on December 5. His deal is of the minor league variety and includes an invitation for Spring Training.

Moroff had a putrid .125/.176/.250 line with one home run and one stolen base in 20 games for the Cleveland Indians in 2019. Like Guillorme, he offers the ability to play shortstop, second base, and third base.

His chances of making the Opening Day roster are slim because of Guillorme’s presence and the signing of Nunez. However, he shouldn’t be dismissed just yet. He lacks Guillorme’s potential in the hit tool, though.

Nunez, meanwhile, is a veteran infielder that the Mets are hoping has something left in the tank. He is a career .276/.310/.404 hitter with lots of speed and some occasional power. He is 32 and wasn’t effective in 2019, though (.228/.243/.305.)

Who will earn the right to serve as major league depth for the Mets while covering some innings in shortstop and second base, with some at third? Everything may depend on what the team does with Jed Lowrie. However, Guillorme seems primed to earn some reps.

So What Exactly Did Beltran do on the Yankees Last season?

The New York Yankees employed Carlos Beltran as a special advisor to the team in 2019. Some people think it’s fair to heap some of the criticism the Astros and Red Sox got on the Yankees, unjustifiably.

What Beltran Did for the Yankees

What role he had was well within the confines of the rules for the game. He broke down the video for the Yankees, analyzing pitchers, and what the pitchers were giving away, and how the hitters could exploit that. It also worked for our starting pitchers. He analyzed their pitching performances to see if they were tipping their pitches to opponents.

For instance, after a rough outing James Paxton had in May (against Houston at Minute Maid Park), Paxton said this about an encounter he had with Beltran:

“I was talking to Carlos Beltran a little bit, he was in here, and he showed me some video and he said, ‘Look at these takes, look at this swing. They wouldn’t be making these swings or these takes if they didn’t know what was coming.’”

It seems like a weird thing to tell Paxton when the Astros would’ve known what was coming even if Paxton wasn’t tipping his pitches.

What Beltran DIDN’T Do for the Yankees

In the ALCS, the Yankees felt the Astros were cheating through whistling. Beltran, however, remained mum about the sign-stealing system he helped implement in Houston. Beltran probably stayed quiet for fear of what would happen to his future career if word got out he spilled the beans on the Astros to the Yankees. Maybe he didn’t want to implement the Yankees, should word about the cheating become public (which it inevitably did)?

Remember that inside the park home run he gave up while playing right field for the Yankees? Because I do. Knowing he sat on this information, rather than helping us out, it makes me wonder if he actually ever wanted to be a Yankee at all.

New York Yankees 2020 Preview: Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

Over the next several weeks, you will be seeing player previews for all players on the New York Yankees. They will be released five or six days a week leading up into about mid-March.

The first player that we will be previewing is the longest tenured starting pitcher, Masahiro Tanaka.

In 2019, Tanaka was an all-star for the second time in his career. He was 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA but did fade a little bit later in the season. The righty from Itami, Japan struck out 149 batters in 182 innings with a 1.24 WHIP. He was 2-1 this past postseason and has gained a reputation for postseason success.

Tanaka is currently 31 years old and expected to be a free agent following the 2021 season.

2020 Expectations:

Masahiro Tanaka will be somewhere in the middle of the Yankees rotation. Gerrit Cole will be the obvious ace, and JA Happ will be the fifth starter. It’s a toss-up between Tanaka, Severino, and Paxton for the second, third, and fourth starter roles. All three could succeed in all three spots.

Tanaka will be going into his seventh major league season, which is hard to believe. It seems like he made his debut just a few years ago.

He will look to best his 2014 rookie season where he 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA. Tanaka has made it very clear that he is a perfectionist and has been working hard all winter.

It would be great if he could have a season like his rookie season, but the Yankees don’t need him to do that. If he can have an ERA under 3.50 and give the Yankees consistent quality starts, then that’s all the team needs. He could be a guy that the Yankees rely on to keep the bullpen rested, as he often keeps a low pitch count.

 

New York Rangers Prospect Watch: Matthew Robertson

New York Rangers

While many are pleased with the New York Rangers’ Blueliners’ offensive prowess this year, there are those that feel that they should be a little more physical in their own end.  One of the young players coming through the prospect pipeline that could help that situation without sacrificing offense is their 2019 second-round draft pick, Matthew Robertson.

New York Rangers draft pick is described as “old school”

The first thing that jumps out at you is that the 18-year-old is listed at about 6’4″ and 200 pounds. He should grow a little more as he matures which will help provide a big presence in front of the net. The fact that he is big and smart, almost always in the right position and very composed has led to the “old school” label.  However, he will not hurt the Rangers offensively. Robertson is described as a two-way player with a team-first attitude and has the experience and confidence handling both big minutes and situations. He has played internationally in the past, competing in the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup Tournament, where he recorded two goals and two assists in five games. He can also handle the puck well. Futureconsiderations.ca has stated that he is nearly impossible to strip the puck from once he has it due to his ability to skate with it and protect it.

Robertson continues to play well in the WHL

The Rangers’ second-round pick continues to play well for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. Through 45 games played, Robertson has tallied 10 goals and 20 assists. This seems to go along with his promised skill set that includes his reputation as an excellent passer, efficiently moving the puck in transition. He can make smart plays from the point while still possessing a rocket of a shot. He seems to be on pace to match or exceed last year’s point total of 33.  He has been an integral part of the Oil Kings as they currently sit in first place in the Central Division. This means that Robertson will see at least one more round of playoff hockey.  Last season, he had 4 goals and 4 assists as Edmonton reached the final four of the WHL playoffs. Playoff experience at any level is valuable in a player’s growth process that hopefully will help Rangers teams in the future.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge, Captain or defector? What is #99’s future?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Many New York Yankee fans look at Aaron Judge and see the future Yankee Captain.  They see a future emulating that of Derek Jeter, spending his whole career as a New York Yankee.  But will that happen?  Could the ripple effect of the acquisition of Gerrit Cole have a negative effect on the career of Aaron Judge?  The ripple effect I am speaking of is the impact that the high dollar amount of the Cole contract will have on future negotiations with other Yankee players and more specifically on Aaron Judge.

Avoiding arbitration the Yankees and Aaron Judge settled on an $8.5MM one year deal which was reasonable considering Judge’s injury history the last two years.  (If Judge has an injury-free season and hits 50 home runs that deal will seem minuscule.)  Many thought that in the first year of arbitration for Judge the Yankees would have used the opportunity to lock up Judge with an extended contract.  That did not happen.  A question to ask is why that didn’t happen?  Could it be that the Yankees are concerned with Judge’s injury history, or could it be that they know that when he becomes a free agent in 2023 he will be demanding Bryce Harper type bucks?  At the same time, other star players like Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, and Gary Sanchez are going to be demanding more money as well.

The Yankees are locked into the $36MM that Cole will be getting every year for the next nine years assuming he doesn’t opt-out after five years.  It is reasonable to wonder if the Yankees will be willing to spend the big bucks necessary to keep Aaron Judge in the right field of Yankee Stadium.   The Yankees financial strain of paying Cole and Judge just may not make sense for the Yankees and Aaron Judge could hit the free-agent market.  We all remember the Yankees’ refusal to pay the big contracts necessary to obtain a Manny Machado or a Bryce Harper.  Make no mistake unless Judge is hindered by injuries, he will become that type of high priced player.  Upon his free agency, he will be just short of  31 and in the prime of his career.

MLB.com has projected that Aaron Judge will be with another team after the 2023 season.  They cite that the Yankees will be hesitant to play three players more than $90MM, Cole $36MM, Judge 30MM and Stanton $25MM.  Derek Jeter was willing to take a salary less than he was worth so that he could play his entire career with the Yankees.  There is no question he could have made more money in free agency.  Will Aaron Judge be that amenable to accepting less in a baseball environment that demands that star players get huge long term contracts?  It’s doubtful.

The Yankees just might be able to avoid this whole scenario if they offer Judge a long term contract of 8-10 years with a guaranteed income in the area of $20MM per year.  That guaranteed income in light of his injury history might make him more amenable to stay in New York and become the Yankee Captain.  In this writer’s opinion, the Yankees should get down to business and lock up Judge while they can, and sooner than later.