New York Giants: Linebacker On The Mind At No. 4 Overall

The popular narrative in the rumor mill now is that the New York Giants are going to trade back with the fourth overall pick in the NFL Draft instead of using it to get a player, but that’s not the only narrative – there’s also talks of the Giants keeping the pick, and their rumored top prospects at that spot tend to be from either the linebacker or the offensive tackle position. With the team needing help at both spots, it’s easy to see why they could use a top five pick to make an improvement at either position.

According to NJ Advance Media, it’s linebacker that the Giants are looking at with the pick. The name that’s being brought up again is Isaiah Simmons, Clemson’s alternative to Chase Young who was mocked to the Giants almost immediately after they fell to number four in the draft order and likely fell out of the race for Young.

“The name I keep hearing if they don’t trade back in the draft and stay at No. 4 is Isaiah Simmons,” one NFL evaluator tells NJ Advance Media. “That has really picked up since they released Alec Ogletree and Kareem Martin.”

“They seem to be doing a lot of homework on linebackers,” a second individual said.

Simmons is one of the top players the Giants have been linked to at the number four spot with the other name that keeps coming up being Mekhi Becton from Louisville – the former would be an upgrade for the defense while the latter could potentially replace Nate Solder in his rookie season.

While Simmons wasn’t as notable in college last year as Chase Young, his greater versatility and ability to help in coverage has been praised.

The Giants, however, seem to be considering a trade down for Auburn’s Derrick Brown. Dave Gettleman has never traded back as the General Manager in charge of a draft, though, and it seems like an odd selection to make a first time trade in the first round for. We’ll see over the next few weeks if the interest in Brown is simply pre-draft hype and smokescreens, with the team’s real interest being in Simmons.

Yankees win split games vs Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa

Yankees 5 Red Sox 2:

Today the New York Yankees had split-squad games. Game 1 was between the Yankees and the Tigers; game 2 was between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.  The Red Sox matchup was an away game for the Yankees and was played at Jet Blue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, where it was 64 degrees with bright sunny skies and a bit of wind blowing from the west at 14mph.  The Red Sox starting pitcher was Eduardo Rodriguez last season’s best Red Sox pitcher.  Jordan Montgomery started for the Yankees.

Rodriguez put down the Yanks 1, 2, 3 in the first half-inning.  Johnathan Montgomery held down the Red Sox in the bottom of the inning. In the Bombers’ half Clint Frazier got a double, Erik Kratz got a single, but Rodriguez got out of the inning via a double play.  At the bottom of the second, Pereza got a hit off Montgomery, but he closed out the inning with the strikeout.  Rodriguez put down the Yankees in the top of the third as the game remained scoreless.  Nick Tropeano replaced Monty at the bottom of the third. Tropeano got the side out in order. At the end of three and a half, the Yankees had two hits, and the Red Sox had one hit.

Gio Urshela hammered a double to the right at the top of the fourth inning. Ryan Brasier replaced Rodriguez.  Urshela went to third on a Clint Frazier ground out. Erik Kratz singled driving in Urshela for the Yankees 1-0 lead.  Estrada singled moving Kratz to second, but a ground out ended the inning, but the Yankees took the 1-0 lead. Morland walked in the bottom of the fouth for the second Boston base runner.  With Daniel Alverez pitching for the Yankees allowed two runners and then walked Lucroy, then balked driving in a run for a game tied at 1.  Dalbec singled in another run for the Boston 2-1 lead.

At the top of the fifth, Heath Hembree took over for the Red Sox.  Wade singled, Luke Voit singled, allowing Wade to reach third, Gio Urshela walked loading the bases.  Clint Frazier stepped to the plate and had a sky-high pop out, the Boston catcher dropped the ball, and two base-runners came home for the 3-2 Yankee lead.  A wild pitch allowed the Yankees another run to end the inning at 4-2 (good guys).  In the bottom, Luis Medina pitched, shutting down the Sox 1,2,3. Jeffery Springs shut out the side.  Medina came back in at the bottom of the sixth, he allowed a single, but the Red Sox couldn’t score.

At the top of the seventh, Duran doubled off Yoan Aybar, followed by a double by Max Burt.  Alverez singled, but Duran got thrown out at home. Clint Frazier had a long sac fly driving in Burt for the Yankee 5-2 lead.  At the bottom, Luis Gil came in for the Yankees and did not allow a runner.  Brian Johnson shut down the Yankees in the top of the eighth. Red Sox loaded the bases for Yankee pitcher Acevedo, but he got out of it at the bottom of the ninth with a pop-out for the final score of Yankees 5 and the Red Sox 2.

Yankees 9 Tigers 2

The Tigers game took place at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, where it was mostly sunny with a game-time temperature of 63 degrees.  The Yankees starting pitcher was Gerrit Cole in his second start of the spring training season.  Yankee players faced LHP Matthew Boyd for the Tigers.

As Cole walked to the mound for his warmups, the Yankee faithful roared with applause, and stood and cheered again as he was announced.  Reyes got a base hit, but Cole got two fly outs and a strikeout in the half.  The Yankees were scoreless in the first.  Cole gave up another hit in the second but got a flyout and a strikeout.  At the top of the second, Clint Frazier got a double off Rodriguez, Kratz got a single, and Frazier advanced to third, but the Yankees failed to score.  At the top of the third, Cole got two quick outs, and then Boone relieved him after 30 pitches.  He also got applause as he walked off the field.

Luis Cessa took over the pitching in the top of the fourth for the Yankees and mowed down the Tigers.   The Yankees didn’t score in the bottom.  In the top of the fifth Adam Ottavino took over for Cessa, he allowed a single, but put down the rest of the side.   At the bottom of the fifth, Kyle Funkhouser pitched for the Tigers, Chris Iannetta doubled, Herrera singled moving Iannetta to third, Amburgey singled down the right-field line for the Yankees 1-0 lead. Granite singled driving in Herrera for the 2-0 Yankee lead.  With two on Gleyber Torres homered driving in three for the 5-0 lead.

At the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers Soto had quite a bit of trouble with the  Yankees.  The home team got three more runs for the Yankee 8-0 lead. Tommy Kahnle came in for the Yankees top of the seventh he allowed two on and then a single drove in the first run for the Tigers, he then walked the bases loaded, Rily Green allowed Kahnle to get out of the inning while only giving up one run.  Yankees 8-1.   Chad Green gave up a run in the top of the eighth, making the score Yankees 8, and the Tigers 2.  At the bottom of the eighth Josh Towers singled, and Diego Castillo doubled, making it 9-2 Yankees.  The Tigers failed to score in the top of the ninth for the Yankee win.

The winning pitcher in the Yankee/Red Sox game was Daniel Alverez, the loser was Hembree; the save went to Acevedo.  In the Yankee/Tiger game, the winning pitcher was Yankee Adam Ottavino, and the loser was Funkhouser.  Gleyber Torres homered for the Yankees.

New York Yankees: Cole Shines In Second Spring Start

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

In his second spring start with the New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole yet again shined. It didn’t even look like spring training the way he pitched.

Cole went 2 and 2/3 innings, striking out three. He threw just 30 pitches and allowed two hits.

Yankees skipper Aaron Boone stated that Cole would not exceed 35-40 pitches on Saturday, but removed him after two quick outs in the third despite being under his pitch limit.

He never really allowed any hard contact. The singles he allowed were pretty weakly hit and got some pop-ups and weak ground-balls.

Cole was able to deal with a little bit of everything during his start. He pitched to guys from the stretch and from the wind-up, dependent on if someone was on. He got some guys out quick, while others he had to fight to retire them. It’s super important in spring that he sees all types of situations against guys that aren’t on your team.

And the velocity was there again. His fastball was still touching 96-98 mph, and that’s a good sign for the spring. But on the other hand, you don’t want to throw too hard too early and tire out your arm.

Cole is now expected to be on a somewhat normal rotation. He will pitch again next Thursday or Friday, dependent on what Aaron Boone decides with an off-day on Monday.

The Yankees are playing Detroit and Boston on Saturday as they are rolling with a split-squad. They will face the Tigers again on Sunday and Boston on Tuesday. The Boston game will actually be televised on both YES and ESPN.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton injury update

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge

When New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was initially diagnosed with a sore shoulder, most believed he would return in due time. However, he has missed all of the preseason games up to this point and is still working through with caution.

Manager Aaron Boone remains unsure as to when Judge will be cleared to take the field. He has participated in individual drills but has refrained from throwing and batting with live pitches.

“I don’t know, we will see. He hit in the cage [Thursday], the first time live so, I got to see what the next step is,’’ Boone said Friday.

At the beginning of spring training, the Yankees ensured the media that they would take it slow with Judge so that he is 100% healthy for the regular season. His workload has gradually increased, but not to a point where they have a timetable for return solidified.

On Sunday, though, March will be in full effect, and the clock is ticking as to when Judge will finally earn some live-action wraps and begin to prepare for the season opener.

Along with the Judge, the Yankees also lost Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery, and James Paxton will miss a minimum of three months after having lower back surgery to remove a cyst. Not to mention Giancarlo’s injury, which will keep him out for at least one week and potentially the beginning of the regular season.

Boone stated that it would be a close call for Stanton to be active on March 26 when the Yankees open the season against Baltimore.

“I mean, it makes it seem that I don’t take care of myself,” Stanton said. “Which makes it that much more frustrating.”

“There’s no word for what I feel, really,” Stanton said. “I need to get back to where I need to be. It all depends on this week and next week and going forward.”

Clearly, frustration is setting in for the high-priced slugger, and the Yankees can’t afford to have any more players go down with minor injuries that take far too long to correct.

 

Wilson’s Philosophy: Why the New York Giants should pursue Byron Jones over Jeff Okudah

New York Giants, Jeff Okudah, Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys

As one of the best cornerback prospects in recent memory, Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah represents a significant upgrade at the position for the New York Giants if they are willing to invest the fourth overall pick in the standout defender.

However, another option lands in free agency in the form of Byron Jones, who is said to hit the market after the Dallas Cowboys considered his value. With Dallas looking to shed cap space due to the future signings of Dak Prescott and potentially Amari Cooper, Jones represents a premium target for the Giants, who lack a true number one corner after the departure of Janoris Jenkins in 2019.

Landing Jones would be a massive win for Big Blue and general manager Dave Gettleman. His statistics don’t say much regarding the detail of his quality, but often for a star corner, the lower the numbers, the better the performance. Opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators are staying away from Jones and his side of the field, as he limited one of the best wide receivers in the game, Michael Thomas, to zero receptions last year in their matchup.

Why the New York Giants should invest in Jones over Okudah:

Passing on Okuda will be extremely difficult, considering how young and cheap he is on a rookie deal. As one of the best options in the draft, he offers the secondary a bright future. The one thing that he lacks is guaranteed performance, and the Giants know what they are getting in Byron, who made the switch to cornerback in 2018 after featuring as a free safety for the Dallas Cowboys.

Seeing how he has performed over the past two seasons, the Giants can be confident that they are getting their money’s worth. At just 27 years old, Jones is still in his prime and will earn a multi-year contract worth at least $17 million per season. While that is a ton of space for the Giants to be spending at the cornerback position, they need to solidify their secondary and ensure that the pass rush has time to get after quarterbacks. That was a struggle for the defense last season as the secondary was weak and didn’t allow for many coverage sucks.

Additionally, it’s important to note that the Giants have plenty of avenues they can exercise on draft day. Whether they trade back or not, options like Isaiah Simmons, a top tackle prospect, or even Chase Young could be on the board with the 4th pick.

 

New York Mets: Andres Gimenez is eager to show he belongs

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

The New York Mets are well set for the present and future at the shortstop position. They have the young rising star in Amed Rosario, a player that has improved yearly since his promotion to the bigs in 2017. They have the star prospect in Ronny Mauricio. However, there is a third crucial piece in the puzzle.

Young Andres Gimenez is already showing in spring training that he can hang with the big boys. Yesterday, he hit a home run. He had nine of those in Double-A, which is not known as a hitter’s paradise. He has some pop and is already showing it in games.

Gimenez homered against uber-prospect Alex Reyes, no less. That was the winning hit and represented the Mets’ second win of the spring.

Gimenez is ranked, according to MLB Pipeline, as the New York Mets’ third best prospect. He will start the season in the upper minors, and while lots of things need to go wrong organizationally for him to receive an extended opportunity with the big club, he is showing maturity and determination.

The Mets have a gem

The slick-fielding shortstop is fast. He stole 28 bases last season in Double-A. He is a plus defender with a 60 hit tool, according to MLB. While his average was .250 last season, he is capable of much more.

Even if the Mets block his path to the bigs, he could be a valuable trade piece for a team that will be contending in 2020 and beyond.

The young shortstop spent a lot of time in the offseason packing his 6-foot frame with some more muscle. He also added a leg kick last season as a timing mechanism, thanks to an advice from Minor League coaches.

“He’s worked a lot on his approach,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said to MLB.com. “You can see a little more leverage on his swing, and also he’s put some more muscle on there. Good job by our Minor League coaches and development. They’ve done a good job with him.”

Make no mistake: his 250/.309/.387 line last season in Double-A may fool you, but this is a talented hitter that managed to make adjustments and rake to the tune of a 371/.413/.586 line in the Arizona Fall League. The New York Mets have a good one in Gimenez.

New York Mets: Brandon Nimmo, the man with the “big heart”

For days, Brandon Nimmo and his wife insisted he was, and is, fine. The media turmoil that resulted in the cardiac screening and related tests that the New York Mets‘ centerfielder and likely leadoff hitter underwent was, for a moment, a distraction. But as it turns out, the player not only says he is fine, he is also showing it on the field.

He returned to the lineup on Friday and went 1-for-2 with a single and a run scored in the Mets’ second victory of spring training, against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The talented outfielder even joked about the whole situation. “I guess I have a little bit larger heart,” Nimmo said to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, laughing. “Hey, I’ve got a lot of love to give.”

This week, the Mets scratched him from the lineup because of an issue that the team cardiologist flagged on his physical.

Nimmo explained the issue and named it an “irregular heartbeat,” and declares he has been familiar with it for quite some time now, most precisely since 2016.

The Mets wanted to make sure everything was OK

The Mets told Nimmo, back then, that it was a non-issue, but this time around, the team doctors wanted to retest it this week to ensure “the walls of his heart had not thickened.”

The timing, however, was very bad: the Mets told him roughly 25 minutes before Wednesday’s game that he couldn’t play.

He underwent more tests and wore a monitor for a full day, after which he performed a stress test on a treadmill the following day, per DiComo. After all that process finished, he was allowed to play on Friday.

Fittingly, it is a good thing that Nimmo has such a big heart. He is, after all, expected to be the sparkplug of the offense, the leadoff hitter, the one that gets on base to start the show that Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, J.D. Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Pete Alonso and others will continue.

“Honestly, for the Mets and me, it was more of a precaution. Everyone was pretty concerned and sent out prayers. (My wife) just wanted to relay hey, it’s not that serious, and this was more of a precaution and I’m fine, and I’m going to be fine,” Nimmo said about Chelsea, his partner, going to Twitter to clarify his health state.

New York Yankees: Don’t worry about injuries, the B team is better?

New York Yankees, Miguel Andujar

Everyone in baseball knows that the New York Yankees have tremendous depth. Last year the Yankees had an unprecedented number of injuries; 38 to be exact, to 30 different players. So what did the Yankees do? They relied on the B team, players from the farm system and second-string players.  The result was 103 wins, second in all of baseball while suffering constant injuries to the everyday players.  If you recalled many times last year we were saying; we don’t need those injured coming back, these guys are doing great.

When measuring player performance, most look at a player’s batting average, which is deceiving, to see the measure of actual achievement, you need to look at OPS.  OPS is On-base plus slugging that is a sabermetric baseball statistic calculated as the sum of a player’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The ability of a player both to get on base and to hit for power, two critical offensive skills, are represented by the OPS percentage.

Looking at this young spring training season, what Yankee players have the best OPS?  The players with the best OPS are going to have the most significant impact on the team and its ability to win games.  You would expect DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, and players like Luke Voit or Brett Gardner to have the best OPS percentage, after all, they are the regular Yankee players that are supposed to carry the team.  So far this spring training season, that is not the case.

These are the Yankees that have the top eight OPS percentages so far in the first full week of spring training.  Most of these players you might not have ever heard of, and none of them are part of what could be called the regular starting lineup.  Kellin Deglan 1.400 OPS, Clint Frazier 1.357, Chris Iannetta 1.292, Mike Ford 1.194, Hoy Jun Park 1.167, Armando Alvarez 1.000, Chris Gittens 1.000, and Brandon Wagner 1.000.  Reviewing those names, you don’t see a single regular Yankee player.  Does that mean that these players are better than the A-team?  Of course not!  But it does show you how good many of the players that may replace injured regular players are.

The Yankees certainly don’t want to test that theory.  But for Yankee fans, hopefully, the Yankees will not have to endure the injuries they did last year, but remember; it’s that Yankee depth that many times carried the team to those 103 wins last year, that will do it again, if necessary.

By the way, the two best regular player OPS’s belong to Miguel Andujar .970, and Brett Gardner .821.  The worst OPS’s have been earned by Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Tauchman, bot at .000.  However, to be fair, it should be mentioned that Stanton has only had one at-bat and two at-bats for Tauchman.

 

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Chris Kreider Injured as the New York Rangers Lose to the Flyers

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers saw their nine-game road win streak end Friday night in Philadelphia, but more importantly, the Rangers suffered another loss when Chris Kreider left the game with a fractured foot.

Jakub Voracek tied an NHL career-high with four assists, as Philadelphia defeated the Rangers 5-2. The two teams will square off again on Sunday afternoon at MSG. The good news is that the Blueshirts remained tied with the Carolina Hurricanes, two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference, as all three lost Friday.

The New York Rangers lose Chris Kreider for an extended time

Kreider blocked a low shot from Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers in the right circle of the defensive zone with 7:40 remaining in the period. He gingerly skated to the bench and briefly played one more shift.

There was no word after the game from the Rangers on how long he will be out. However, after the game, head coach David Quinn talked about the impact that losing Kreider will have on the team.

“We’ve proven we can overcome losing one of our top players and we’re going to have to do it again,” Quinn said. “Teams throughout the League are handling injuries, and we’ve been pretty fortunate for the most part this season for injuries.”

Kreider did not play the final two periods for the Rangers, who were playing back-to-back games and which is also the third in four nights, and looked every bit like a team that has been on the ice quite a bit within the last week.

Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev summed it up by saying:

“It felt like we just were running on empty today. We’re not looking for excuses obviously here, but it felt like maybe it was a little hard to play back-to-back against a really good team like that.”

The Rangers have not set a timetable for a return, but medical estimates state that he would be out at least a couple of weeks.

 

New York Yankees: In-Depth Analysis on why Judge was Robbed MVP in 2017

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

I know what you’re thinking: how in the world was José Altuve crowned the title of AL MVP in 2017? Better yet, why am I writing an article about this 2 years after the decision was determined?

Am I an angry Scrooge that doesn’t understand how to release pent-up anger brewing for over 2 years? Actually, it’s much more simple than that.

As a lover of baseball and knowledge, I want to learn in full detail why Altuve was chosen over Aaron Judge. Not because of the recent cheating scandal or because I’m furious, but because I’m genuinely curious.

First off, let’s begin with the most basic and overused statistic on the planet; batting average. In the 2017 season, Altuve posted a .346 AVG, while Judge posted a .284 AVG. Sure, Altuve posted a much higher AVG compared to Judge, but in the grand scheme of baseball, does it mean you’re an overall better player? Should the title of MVP be decided by AVG in a day in the age of advanced analytics?

Shorts answer…absolutely not. Why? Well, batting average doesn’t remotely explain the whole tale on how a player performed offensively. It ignores a whole chunk of production, such as walks and sacrifice flies and values all hits equally.

A much more dependable alternative is OBP. While it shouldn’t be utilized as an end-all result either, it’s much more reliable as it accounts for hit-by-pitches and walks. However, it doesn’t account for factors such as errors committed by defenders, dropped third strikes and when hitters reach base on a fielder’s choice.

To put this all in perspective, anything that doesn’t mention batting average is ideal for evaluating offensive production. As mentioned earlier, Altuve beat out Judge in AVG, but what about OBP, SLG, OPS, wOBA and wRC+? What about defensive metrics, such as DRS and UZR?

Image result for altuve judge mvp

Yeah…other than AVG, hits, stolen bases and bWAR is the only noticeable stats that Altuve had a better quantity of. Altuve may have accumulated a soaring AVG, but was left in the dust in just about every other category.

For OBP, Judge was .012 points higher, which isn’t conclusive enough to make much of a difference. However, his SLG was .080 points higher, his OPS was .092 points higher and his wRC+ was 13 points higher. If you want to factor in wOBA, Altuve accumulated a .405 wOBA, while Judge accumulated a .430 wOBA, .025 points higher than Altuve.

We have already discussed why OBP is a better option than AVG, but what about SLG, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+? Why are these stats prime candidates of choice?

Let’s begin with SLG, which depicts the sum of bases a player records per at-bat. Unlike AVG, SLG values hit much differently. Doubles are worth more than singles, triples are worth more than doubles and home runs rain superior over all possible outcomes.

OPS is relatively easy to explain, as it’s a player’s OBP and SLG added together. Short, simple and straight to the point.

wOBA is a bit more complicated to explain. wOBA, or weighted on-base average, is utilized to measure a hitter’s offensive value more precisely and is simliar to SLG, but doesn’t calculate doubles as twice the value of singles or home runs as quadruple the value of singles.

Image result for woba

wRC+, or weighted runs created plus, is the collective calculation of all offensive production introduced in a single statistic. Instead of sorting through numbers like home runs and walks recorded, wRC+ takes all production, including ballpark and league-adjusted factors into account. This statistic is the most accurate and finest method of comparing players across all eras.

Image result for wrc+

 

With all of this being said, it’s clear on why Judge had the superior season. He recorded 28 more home runs and broke the single-season rookie record, which has now been surpassed by Pete Alonso. Judge also boasted 12 more extra-base hits, walked 69 more times and cashed in 33 more RBI (even though RBI are based on luck and there is slight confirmation that clutch hitting is a separate skill from regular hitting)

Moving on to defense, Judge saved 6 more runs than Altuve. This is important because DRS, or defensive runs saved, is much more predominant among infielders opposed to outfielders.

Secondly, Judge racked up a higher UZR or ultimate zone rating by 8.3 points. This defensive metrics includes many different components and is popular for quantifying how many runs a player allowed or saved. Overall, Judge surpassed Altuve in outfield arm runs, range runs and error runs.

  • Outfield Arm Runs (ARM) – The number of runs above average an outfielder saves with their arm by preventing runners from advancing.
  • Range Runs  (RngR) – Is the player an Ozzie Smith or an Adam Dunn? Do they get to more balls than average or not?
  • Error Runs (ErrR) – Does the player commit more or fewer errors compared with a league-average player at their position?

Last, but certainly not least, Altuve accumulated a higher bWAR by 0.4 points, but a lower fWAR by 0.7 points. bWAR is the Baseball-References version of WAR, while fWAR is Fangraphs version of WAR. Both are identical in how they value hitting, fielding, base running, and other positional factors.

In this case, it’s all about personal preference. In my opinion, fWAR is a better tool to utilize because I relate to wOBA and wRC+ compared to OPS+. However, in no way, shape or form should bWAR ever be considered futile.

So…Judge over Altuve? Maybe? I sure think he deserved it rightfully so, but I’m also not a baseball voter who decides the outcome of regular-season awards.