New York Giants: PFF Not Confident In Daniel Jones

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has a lot of supporters after a first season where he took the starting position from franchise legend Eli Manning and flashed potential in many games during a losing year, but that doesn’t mean Jones is without doubters – or problems in his game.

Pro Football Focus has some controversial opinions from time to time but one of their more recent controversial decisions is ranking Daniel Jones with the lower echelon of quarterbacks in the league. Jones was placed at 24th, and while it doesn’t sound like that’s the worst spot in the world, it’s below some quarterbacks who are likely to be replaced by their teams, including Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco.

What did they have to say about Jones and the reasoning for having him further down on the list?

There was plenty to like from Daniel Jones’ rookie season… The big question is the turnover-worthy plays, as he put the ball in harm’s way at a high rate, both as a passer and in the pocket with too many poor fumbles. Jones is fearless under pressure, which leads to big-time throws, but he also had numerous forced throws and a league-high 10 fumbles that were deemed turnover-worthy…

PFF does say, however, that Jones can have some very good or bad seasons depending on the talent around him and how his risk taking play style pays off any given year, which is a fairly realistic assumption based on what we’ve seen so far. This season was, of course, a mix of both outcomes.

It still remains to be seen how Jones will do in year two – some quarterbacks take a big step forward then while others end up taking a large step back and it’s unknown whether Jones will have the sophomore slump or not. Still, having a sophomore quarterback considered the 24th best int the league isn’t the worst position that the Giants could land themselves in.

Plenty of other teams have had it much worse when it comes to moving on from their franchise quarterback to a different name, and the Giants seem to have landed at an alright at the end of that process.

New York Knicks: RJ Barrett Pays Homage to Kobe Bryant

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

New York Knicks rookie RJ Barrett is trying to get rid of his nickname due to his deep respect for Kobe Bryant. A horrible and unfortunate situation unfolded Sunday, January 26th, in Calabasas, California. A helicopter containing Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and the pilot Ara Zobayan crashed. Kobe Bryant has transitioned onward, and Knicks rookie RJ Barrett felt it was only right to pay homage by shedding the ” Maple Mamba” nickname.

RJ Barrett is currently missing game action due to a sprained ankle. The 19-year-old can’t wait to get on the basketball court. Therefore, during practice shoot around, RJ Barrett kept reminding himself to take it step by step no matter how great the ankle feels.

The Knicks are missing RJ Barrett’s play. Barrett’s toughness on both ends, along with the ability to see over defenses for gorgeous passes to his fellow teammates, is priceless.

Barrett is a respectful, humble teammate and human being. RJ Barrett’s homage to Kobe Bryant shows maturity, and many people lack that kind of consideration, especially in a 19-year old.

Taking the ball to the basket is Barrett’s kind of game. Jump shot will come down the road for the rookie. He’ll improve drastically if he continues his similar “Mamba Style” work ethic on his craft.

The Knicks are continuing their rough season with Sell The Team” chants engulfing Madison Squared Garden January 29th, 2020, after a Knicks-Grizzlies scuffle. Chances of being in the draft lottery are high. Knicks are due for a first overall pick to pair with RJ Barrett.

New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers And Julian Love Form An Impressive Safety Tandem

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers, Julian Love

The New York Giants‘ secondary has been a weakness for the team in recent years. New York has been investing heavily in its secondary to turn this weakness to a strength. New York spent three of their draft picks on defensive backs in the draft (four if counting Sam Beal).

The Giants’ pass defense ranked fifth-worst in the NFL this season, allowing 264.1 passing yards per game. The team clearly needs to continue upgrading their secondary. However, there is reason to believe the Giants are set on the back end.

Julian Love and Jabrill Peppers form an impressive safety tandem that should make fans hopeful for the Giants’ defense heading into 2020. If the Giants can get a couple more pieces to put around Love and Peppers, they could surprise many people next season with an underrated defense.

Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love Stats and Highlights

Not to mention that this might be the coolest last-name duo in the NFL, but Love and Peppers are both highly-talented, young players. Julian Love is 21-years-old and heading into his second professional season. Jabrill Peppers is 24-years-old and just finished his third season in the NFL.

Jabrill’s third season was full of ups and downs. He had some impressive performances and big, flashy plays. Unfortunately, those were mixed in with some disappointing games and a few missed tackles. Ultimately, Peppers’s season ended after only 11 games due to an injury. But when JP was on the field, there was a lot to like.

In the 11 games he played in, Jabrill Peppers totaled 76 combined tackles with 5 tackles for loss. He also added 3 forced fumbles, 1 interception, and 1 pass deflection. Jabrill allowed a quarterback rating of only 71.5 and gave up 0 touchdowns in coverage. But, as previously mentioned, Jabrill missed 11 tackles in 2019- a number he will need to cut down in 2020.

Julian Love quietly had an impressive rookie season. The Notre Dame alum displayed true versatility on the Giants’ defense. Love started in 5 games this season. He totaled 35 combined tackles to go along with 5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 3 passes defended, and 1 interception. The rookie played 405 snaps down the stretch and performed well in the run game and in coverage (PFF).

The Giants’ rookie lined up all over the defense. He played in the box, over the slot, and at free safety. Pro Football Focus listed Julian Love as a player who can “provide optimism” for the Giants heading into 2020. Giants fans should agree with that statement.

Julian Love’s prior experience as a slot cornerback in college gives him advanced coverage abilities. This makes Love a reliable option at free safety for the Giants while they can rely on Peppers’s stout run-support at strong safety. These two dynamic safeties will have the opportunity to start alongside each other in 2020 and could emerge as one of the best young safety tandems in the league.

New York Mets: Seth Lugo, the heart and soul of the bullpen

It is completely understandable that a major league hurler wants to pitch the most possible innings. He would be in games for longer, and his future earnings would be more as a starter than as a reliever. However, who can blame the New York Mets for wanting to leave Seth Lugo in the bullpen?

He is such a dominant reliever that it is fair to question whether Lugo is among the top five in MLB. He is that good, and he is that important to what the New York Mets are trying to achieve.

After Zack Wheeler departed to the Philadelphia Phillies via free agency (and even before that) Lugo expressed his desire to be a starter and compete for a spot in the Mets’ rotation. However, shortly after that, the Mets inked starters Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello, and his dreams vanished.

But Lugo is far more valuable to the Mets coming in from the bullpen and fighting any fires that need to be put out.
During his career, he has been an adequate starter. In 168.1 innings, he has allowed 175 hits with 45 walks and 138 strikeouts. His ERA is 4.06, his WHIP is 1.307 and he registers a 7.4 K/9 mark.

Those aren’t bad numbers. However, look at his performance as a reliever: in 178.1, he has conceded 125 hits and 45 walks, with 199 strikeouts, a 2.52 ERA, 0.953 WHIP and 10.0 K/9.

Lugo has a very diverse stuff for a reliever. That’s probably why he thinks he can make it as a starter. And maybe he is right.
He relies on a four-seamer (34.6%) curve (23.7%) sinker (22.2%) slider (13%) and changeup (6.5%) to retire hitters. The fastball was actually the Mets’ best pitch in 2019, and he can get outs with nearly all of his repertoire.

The Mets’ bullpen ace

In 2019, a season in which several relievers combined to ruin the Mets’ season, Lugo stood out. He had a 2.70 ERA with a 2.70 FIP in 80.0 innings. His K/9 was an excellent 11.70 and his BB/9 a minuscule 1.80. He had 2.2 fWAR as a reliever, more than most starters.

The Mets’ bullpen figures to improve in 2020. There is almost no way that Edwin Diaz (5.59 ERA) can be that bad again, as he had very bad luck on HR/FB. His poor performance wasn’t all terrible fortune, though, and he had more than his share of command issues, but he should be better. Dellin Betances is now a member of the Mets, so that helps matters, too.

However, it will be Seth Lugo, once again, the one who will be tasked with anchoring the New York Mets’ bullpen.

Three New York Yankees players in the line of fire in 2020

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The upcoming season is a lot more important than some may think, starting with the $324 million New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner invested into Gerrit Cole. The league’s best pitcher, arguably, will feature as the ace of the Yankees’ starting pitching rotation, and considering the Bombers have exited the playoffs in the ALCS for two consecutive seasons, his efforts should push them beyond the dreaded series.

A lot lies on the 2020 campaign, as reaching the World Series would break a decade long drought of failing to reach the finale of the postseason. While ownership is betting massive on their chances, individual players are also fighting for their future in Pinstripes:

Here are three players the New York Yankees could move on from after 2020:

1.) Miguel Andujar

Andujar is low hanging fruit in the trade rumor category, especially after missing all of 2019 with a torn Labrum. His 2018 numbers have made him an attractive target for teams looking to cash in on a talented player with lowered value. The Yankees would be smart to hold onto him and help him develop into a full-time defender, but as of now, he’s purely a designated hitter. If his offense doesn’t prove to be effective, he could be in the line of the fire at the trade deadline. Some would say selling low would be a colossal mistake for Andujar, but if the Yanks have other needs, he could be a bargaining piece.

2.) Clint Frazier

Frazier will slot into the 5th outfield spot this season, at least until Aaron Hicks returns in August from Tommy John surgery. The offensive talent is another interesting specimen. After being assigned to minor league duties last season due to a tough defensive outing and a lack of respect for pesty reporters, optimism regarding Frazier took a nose-dive. “Red Thunder” has elite bat speed and secretive power, but his defense remains an issue, and the Yankees could look to him to add some bullpen support if they feel as though it’s a necessity.

3.) Gary Sanchez

Some will disagree with me here, but Gary Sanchez could become a liability very quickly if he fails to remain healthy in 2020. With the hiring of strength and conditioning coach, Eric Cressey, I’m hopeful Sanchez won’t succumb to any significant injuries, however, his history hasn’t provided us with much evidence of that scenario.

Having missed 129 total games over the past two years, Sanchez is dangerously close to a full season of inactivity. Factor in his lack of productivity during the postseason, and there’s an argument to be made that he didn’t deserve the $5 million contract he earned this offseason. However, he did launch 34-homers last season, and if new catching instructor, Tanner Swanson, can help refine his abilities behind the plate, Sanchez can save himself some unwanted negative publicity.

New York Yankees: Why This Spring Is Huge for Yankees Prospect

The New York Yankees are set to report to Spring Training next month, and all of Yankee universe was in a tizzy over Jasson Dominguez’s signing. While not expected to be “major league ready” until 2024 (which would make him a 21-year-old), people are heralding him as the next Mike Trout. Which makes this a crucial Spring Training for the Yankees another highly regarded outfield prospect. No, not Clint Frazier (although he needs to RAKE this spring if he wants his 4th outfielder spot back from Mike Tauchman). I’m talking about Estevan Florial.

Florial Still Shows Promise

Consistently regarded as a 5 tool player, Florial’s statistics show that he’s a more than capable ballplayer. It’s hard to take seriously the reports about Dominguez’s prowess because a highlight reel of him bashing dingers is just that. A highlight reel meant to make him look good. 

Meanwhile, Florial’s track record indicates he is inching his way closer to cracking AA, and even AAA. Depending on his performance this spring, it could mean he finally plays above advanced A ball for the first time in his career, a step in the right direction for a team with fragility in all three outfield positions on the major league level.

But Florial is Also Injury Prone

Part of what has hindered Florial’s development in the minors is he’s just as injury prone as Hicks, Judge, and Stanton. In 5 seasons of minor league play, he’s played in less than 400 games, his highest total coming in 2017. Now, yes, he was shot in a mugging attempt in his home country, which isn’t his fault. But in 2018, he missed time due to surgery, and last season suffered a wrist fracture during Spring Training, sidelining him till June. 

With the center field being his strongest position, and Hicks being almost as fragile as Jacoby was, there is a path for Florial by the end of this year, beginning of 2021 to make it to the bigs. But his defense is truly only a marginal improvement over Frazier’s. I do believe Frazier (like Andujar) can make a radical enough improvement to his defense to make them both Gold Glove caliber players either this OR next season. But if you can’t stay healthy, you don’t get to play, because someone else has your job. And if Florial can’t get out of spring healthy, he may never get a chance to get past Tampa.

He’s feeling the pressure right now. I just hope it doesn’t force him to blow it once the exhibition games start this spring.

New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu was arguably the New York Yankees best player last season, and is hungry for more. The 31 year-old from Visalia, California was an all-star, silver slugger winner, and fourth place finisher in the MVP vote in 2019.

For the season, LeMahieu hit .327 with 102 RBIs while hitting 26 home runs. His slugging was .518 and his OPS was close to .900.

2019 was undoubtedly the best season of his career in terms of overall success. His average was the highest since he won the 2016 NL batting title with an impressive .348 average. LeMahieu finished second in the 2019 AL batting title.

2020 will be the final year of a two year deal for LeMahieu. He will be paid $12 million for the season, and was paid $12 for the last. It’s seemingly likely that LeMahieu will eventually be extended sooner or later.

2020 Expectations

With his outstanding 2019 season, LeMahieu set the bar pretty high for 2020.

Since Didi Gregorius is now off the team, Gleyber Torres is now the starting shortstop and that makes LeMahieu the everyday second baseman. He played a variety of first base, second base, and third base throughout 2019 but never found a permanent home. However, he did play first base all postseason with Luke Voit struggling.

The Yankees just need him to hit around .300 this season. It’s great if his power numbers are as good as last year, but he by no means has to hit 26 home runs and drive in 102 runs again. He just needs to continue to get on base and set up power hitters. LeMahieu also needs to continue playing solid defense and anchor the infield in that category.

DJ LeMahieu is expected to have another big season and lead the Yankees once again in 2020.

New York Yankees: New Top Pitching Prospect

A few weeks ago, I came under a little fire from New York Yankees fans when I wrote an article about Deivi Garcia being a little overrated. The New York Yankees hype machine has made some folks believe that the impressive 20-year-old is on his way to being the next Pedro Martinez. However, using the eye test and talking to a few scouts, I just didn’t see it from him. I personally think his future is in the bullpen, but that is another topic for a different day. One of the scouts that I spoke with told me that he really liked Clarke Schmidt a lot more than he liked Garcia. Schmidt was the Yankees first-round pick back in 2017, and the Yankees were fortunate to grab him with the sixteenth pick. Many around the industry felt that Schmidt had top ten pick stuff, but due to his Tommy John surgery, he fell down to the Yankees. The pick was seen as risky by some, but the Yankees took a chance on Schmidt, and it’s looking like that chance might just pay off.

Schmidt’s Impressive 2019

Clarke Schmidt jumped in the recent prospect rankings after a very impressive 2019 season in the minors. Rising all the way to AA, Schmidt posted a 6-5 record with a 3.47 ERA and striking out 102 batters in 90.2 innings across all levels in 2019. Schmidt was extremely impressive in his three starts at AA going 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 19 batters in 19 innings. Schmidt jumped all the way into the top 100 baseball prospects for MLB.com coming in at 88th overall. Deivi Garcia dropped in these rankings to 92nd overall making Schmidt the top-ranked pitching prospect in the Yankees farm system according to MLB.com. However, it wasn’t just the MLB pipeline that ranked Schmidt ahead of Garcia. Baseball America also released its top prospects for the Yankees, and they also ranked Schmidt ahead of Garcia. Schmidt flashes a mid-90s fastball, and projects to have two above-average off-speed pitches in his changeup and slider. Garcia has electric stuff but mainly features a two-pitch mix and is tiny in stature while Schmidt stands 6’1 coming in at 200 lbs.

Down the line

Despite it sounding like it, I’m really not trying to downplay Deivi Garcia. Yes, I understand he’s 20, but I just don’t see top of the rotation talent with him. I do see him developing into a very dominant reliever where he can focus on accenting his fastball with his high level curve. Schmidt on the other hand, could very well join fellow South Carolina Gamecock Jordan Montgomery in the Yankees rotation down the line. Schmidt has the stuff, the stature, and all the makeups to be a solid middle of the rotation kind of arm that can slide right in behind Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino. If neither are used as trade chips, I really do think Schmidt and Garcia will be impactful Yankees for years to come. However, in my opinion only one of them will be impacting the Yankees from a spot in the starting rotation and that one is the Yankees new top pitching prospect, Clarke Schmidt.

New York Yankees: Why Giancarlo Stanton is more than a DH

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

In 2018, Giancarlo Stanton came to the New York Yankees from Miami. Stanton, in his previous season, led both leagues in home runs and was named the NL MVP.

But he didn’t exactly get off to a great start, struggling a bit in his first season in the Bronx.

Dealing with some injuries, Stanton has also spent a decent amount of games in the DH spot trying to get some time off in the field.  So that brings up the question, is Stanton better as a DH only?

I would say no. I feel like with our line up, the DH spot is more reserved to give players a day off in the field, but still being able to use their bat.  I believe Stanton is valuable in the field, and moving him to the DH only role would be wasting his defensive talent.  I mean, he didn’t win the MVP for anything.

Back in 2017, when his defensive numbers were compared to Judge, they were pretty much in the same ballpark (no pun intended).

What has Stanton meant to the Yankees?

Due to Injuries Stanton played less than 20 games during the 2019 regular season. Since we don’t have much to base off of from last season, let’s look at his 2018 numbers. His Defensive runs saved were five above average (10 in his prior MVP season), his fielding percentage was .992, which was also above the league average, total zone total fielding runs were four runs above average, and only made one error. Those are some pretty good numbers. 

You’re talking about a guy who’s only 30 and played an MVP season just two seasons prior. So I don’t see why you would take a guy like that off the field and stick him on the bench to only use him for his bat.  To me, that’s just wasted talent.

Can the New York Giants rely on DeAndre Baker in 2020?

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

When the New York Giants moved up in the 2019 NFL draft to grab cornerback, DeAndre Baker, they expected him to develop quickly into their top option. His rookie season was a bit more tumultuous than most would have hoped, and after the departure of Janoris Jenkins due to ethical concerns, Baker did step up considerably.

The Giants’ secondary has completely turned over since the 2018 season when they traded Eli Apple to the New Orleans Saints. With Jenkins heading a similar route, Baker has been thrust into the number one corner position. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Dave Gettleman went out and signed a premium talent at the spot.

The New York Giants are extremely thin in the defensive backfield:

Big Blue also has supplemental draft pick, Sam Beal, who remains a mystery after limited action in 2019. Early reports don’t view him as a starting option for the Giants moving forward, but there is plenty of time for him to continue progressing and refining his abilities. The Giants will enter the 2020 off-season with at least $70 million in cap space, opening up the door for a potential free-agent signing that would put Baker in the number two slot, where he is better off in his sophomore season.

Interestingly, Baker only allowed one touchdown in his 4-year career at Georgia, which amassEd 1019 coverage snaps.

During his senior season, Baker was arguably the best corner in the country, recording two interceptions, nine pass breakups, and a 29.3 forced incompletion percentage while allowing a minimal 40.2 pass a rating to opposing quarterbacks.

While DeAndre did struggle last season, cornerbacks often take more time to adapt to the NFL level. The physicality and speed of the game trump the collegiate level by a large margin, which ultimately puts Baker at a disadvantage right out of the gate. The experience you gain from his rookie season should benefit him ten times over in year two, and we should expect to see him take a significant jump after grading out as one of the worst corners in the league.