New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: Mike Tauchman

Mike Tauchman, New York Yankees

New York Yankees outfielder Mike Tauchman was among those who stepped up to have a tremendous 2019 season.

Like DJ LeMahieu and Adam Ottavino, Tauchman was previously a member of the Colorado Rockies but came over in a trade unlike the other two. Before 2019, Tauchman appeared in just 52 games and had a .153 career average. That would all change.

The 29-year-old of Palatine, Illinois, hit .277 with 13 home runs and 47 RBIs in 2019. He had a .504 slugging and a .865 OPS in just 260 at-bats. He spent some time in AAA throughout the year and missed the final three or so weeks of the season due to injury.

Tauchman had just one error in 86 games played on defense, and that’s incredible. He’s showing that his glove has the potential to be elite, and that helped him win playing time over the not defensively gifted Clint Frazier.

2020 Expectations:

Tauchman is expected to play quite a bit for the Yankees, but will likely not quite be an everyday player.

The team has Aaron Judge, Brett Gardner, and Giancarlo Stanton to play right, center, and left, respectively. The amount of playing time he gets will likely be dependent on how often Stanton plays the field. If Stanton plays a lot of defense, someone like Miguel Andujar or Mike Ford would likely DH. However, if Stanton DHs a lot, then we will see Tauchman more. And, we will, of course, see him any time an outfielder needs rest.

If Tauchman can do something similar to last year, that would be great for the Yankees. They don’t need him to bat .300 or anywhere near it. They need a reliable option to back-up the outfield, and Tauchman can provide that.

New York Giants: Seventh-Easiest Schedule Could Lead To Promising 2020

New York Giants, Joe Judge

Heading into the 2019 NFL season, the New York Giants were blessed with one of the easiest schedules in the league. According to CBS, New York had the 27th hardest schedule in the NFL last season, (or fifth easiest). In 2020, the Giants once again have one of the easiest strength of schedules in the NFL.

According to Sports Illustrated, the Giants have the seventh-easiest strength of schedule in 2020. Their 2020 opponents have a combined record of 123-132-1 (.482). While we do not yet know what the Giants’ exact schedule will be this season, we do know who their opponents will be for home and away games. The Giants’ list of 2020 opponents gives them many winnable matchups and a legitimate chance to compete in Joe Judge’s first year as head coach.

Who are the Giants’ 2020 Opponents?

Home:

The Giants will host these opponents in MetLife stadium in 2020: Arizona Cardinals, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

The Giants will only host two playoff teams in 2020. The San Francisco 49ers were one of the best teams in the league, making it all the way to the Super Bowl and earning a 13-3 regular-season record. The other playoff team that the Giants will host is the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles, who narrowly made the playoffs with a 9-7 record and only scraped in because of their lousy division.

Outside of those two teams, there is not a ton of serious competition for the Giants at home in 2020. Granted, the Giants went 4-12 in 2019, so every team is competitive to the Gmen. However, the Cardinals, Buccaneers, Browns, and Steelers all missed the playoffs in 2019. The Giants should consider themselves lucky. They should not be too severely outmatched in any of their games in New Jersey.

Away:

The Giants will face these opponents on the road in 2020: Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins.

The Giants will benefit from playing in one of the NFL’s weaker divisions. The Eagles won the NFC East in 2020 with a mediocre record of 9-7. The divisional opponents’ overall record was 20-28. If they have a better roster and coaching staff in place next season, the Giants should be able to compete for their division’s title.

The Giants will travel to play two of the best teams from 2019 next season. The Baltimore Ravens had the best record in the league last year at 14-2 and the Seattle Seahawks were a strong playoff team with an 11-5 record. The rest of the Giants’ road opponents, the Bears, Bengals, and Rams, missed the playoffs in 2019. The Bengals even finished with the worst record in the NFL. This slate of opponents sets the Giants up to be road warriors in 2020.

Do the Yankees have an elite tandem of Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino?

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Before James Paxton went down with a cyst in his lower back, the New York Yankees were looking healthy and ready to go in 2020. Of course, back luck had to strike at some point, even after the strength and conditioning program was overhauled this offseason. Paxton’s injury was a fluke and shouldn’t be considered any more than that, as it wasn’t baseball-related and had been haunting him for quite some time. Surgery was ultimately the right move for the future of his career and the upcoming season.

With the Bombers starting spring training this week, it’s important to note that GM Brian Cashman locked down Gerrit Cole on a $324 million deal for two reasons. One, to ensure the Yankees had one of the best starting rotations in baseball, and two, because of his impeccable health history. Adapting to Yankee Stadium isn’t easy for most pitchers, but Cole is in a different realm of talent.

Pairing him with Luis Severino, who posted ace-like numbers in the first half of 2018, could prove to be one of the best tandems in baseball. Factor in a healthy Paxton and their top three options represent absolute dominance.

According to SNY, manager Aaron Boone is excited about the possibilities of this group:

“In Gerrit, we’re seeing a guy in the prime of his career, arguably the best pitcher in the sport right now,” Boone explained. “Getting to know him a little bit now this winter, and obviously going through the free-agent process, looking forward to continue to get to know the person a little bit more…

“Sevy’s now been through a lot in this game. He’s been a Cy Young candidate, he’s gotten to the big leagues fast, he’s gone through some tough times, he’s gone through some failures, he’s gone through massive successes, he’s gone through an injury-plagued season now, but his talent and determination, coupled with those experiences that he’s had already as a young man, I think will only benefit him going forward, and looking forward to what he’s gonna be able to do for us this year.”

Those are kind and advocational words from the Yankees’ skipper. I expect both Cole and Severino to be dominant in 2020, especially with the latter of the two returning from an injury-plagued 2019. Managing his activity this pre-season will be essential, as preparation is everything when it comes to baseball.

New York Mets: Wilson Ramos is leaving behind any controversies with his teammates

Last season, New York Mets‘ starter Noah Syndergaard revealed that he preferred to pitch to Tomas Nido and Rene Rivera rather than do it to Wilson Ramos. That was not ideal since Ramos is the team’s starting catcher.

However, the backstop showed that his intention is to leave it all behind. The miscommunications and things that led to Thor’s preferences, at least according to Ramos, should be over.

According to Newsday’s Tim Healey, Ramos said on the first day of spring training that the saga is over because the two men had a much better communication near the end of last season.

“That should help to be more on the same page this year,” Ramos said. “I learned from those little things. We got really good conversation after that case and now we got better communication, better relationship.”

“To me, I never have something bad against my teammate. We learn from the bad things and we already learned from that situation, so now it’s another year, 2020, and we’re ready.”

Ramos is saying all the right things. Yes, he needs to secure playing time given that he is a free agent after the season (unless the club triggers his option for 2021.) However, he seems honest and has a great attitude towards the whole situation.

Ramos is the Mets’ most dangerous offensive catcher

The New York Mets’ best defensive alignment is with Nido behind the dish. However, the team’s offense is at its best when Ramos is occupying the position. After all, he is a career .275/.322/.436 with a 104 wRC+. Nido is not an offensive threat.

According to Ramos, he will keep doing something he tried late last season. He will set up with one knee on the ground.

That will make it easier to receive pitches in the bottom of the zone and just below it, which should help his framing. That is, precisely, a “comfort zone” for Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman.

“It was hard to get those pitches a little bit because I’m a big guy,” said the 6-1, 245 pound Ramos. “This spring, I would like to work more with my knee on the ground. That will help me to get that low target to my guys. I hope they feel more better with that low target.”

The New York Mets were close to acquiring Lindor at the Winter Meetings

New York Yankees, Mets, Francisco Lindor

Spring training is already here, and the New York Mets‘ pitchers and catchers already reported to camp in Port St. Lucie. It’s that time of the year where dreams fly, everybody is in the “shape of his life” and baseball is around the corner.

It’s also a time to discuss what “may have happened” if some things were different. For example, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal detailed just how close the Mets were to pull off what could have been the trade of the offseason, at least until the Mookie Betts deal went through.

Rosenthal said that the Mets were close to acquire the Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor. The two teams talked during the MLB Winter Meetings, but no deal was struck at the time. Both clubs decided to move on.

Here is what Rosenthal wrote about the failed transaction:

“Start with Lindor. The Mets aggressively tried to acquire him at the winter meetings, engaging in significant dialogue with the Indians, sources said. The price likely would have been shortstop Amed Rosario and two top prospects – too high for the Mets’ liking, considering that Lindor likely will earn in the $40 million to $45 million range in his final two years of arbitration before becoming a free agent.”

“Lindor was a luxury item, not a must-have. The emerging Rosario is under club control for four more seasons. The Mets’ top prospect, Ronny Mauricio, is a shortstop, as is the No. 5 player on Baseball America’s list, Andrés Giménez. When the Mets perceived the Indians were not especially motivated to act, they moved on to a greater area of need, signing Porcello and Wacha for a combined $13 million, or $4 million less than Lindor will earn this season.”

The Mets should have insisted

Perhaps the Mets should have insisted on getting a deal done. Sure, losing Rosario, who is an up-and-coming star at just 24 years old, would have hurt. Mauricio and Gimenez are bright young players, but Lindor is a star and would have taken the Mets to another level roster-wise.

In 143 games and 654 plate appearances, Lindor hit 32 home runs, scored 101 runs, drove in 74 and stole 22 bases. He slashed .284/.335/.518 and registered a 4.4 fWAR, a product of his excellent offensive production and quality defense.

The New York Mets are in win-now mode, as Joe Giglio of NJ.com notes. Lindor would have been a nice piece, but the team decided not to pursue him because of the prospect capital he required and his projected cost for the next couple of years.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams, draft scenarios, three free agents (PODCAST)

New York Giants, Fireside Giants

With the offseason in full swing, the New York Giants are in the belly of the beast, consisting of player evaluations, contractual negotiations, and the implementation of a new system. Turning over the coaching staff for the third time in five years is not an ideal scenario, but the reality is, the Giants had no choice as they pondered the retirement of Eli Manning and flipped the chapter on a 16-year constant at quarterback.

In this week’s episode of “Fireside Giants,” we break down the Leonard Williams, $15 million per season request, take a look at a few different draft scenarios, and three free agents that the Giants should target.

Make sure to watch the video form on Youtube if you prefer that avenue!

Williams is an interesting option for GM Dave Gettleman, as his pride stands in the way of making a good or bad decision. With Patrick Graham settling in as the Giants’ defensive coordinator, it’s important to note that he plans on implementing a hybrid system, which could result in just two interior defensive linemen featuring at times.

Both Dalvin Tomlinson and Dexter Lawrence should be the primary options. If the Giants plan on bouncing around between the 3-4 and 4-3 scheme, Williams would be nothing more than a rotational player earning $15 million per season. The more valuable approach would be to allocate that money towards a top pass-rusher in free agency, and not a guy who logged just 0.5 sacks in 2019. While his QB pressures did increase while on the Giants, not being able to finish doesn’t help with quarterbacks being more mobile in today’s NFL.

We also dive into free agent options like Devin McCourty, Brian Poole, and Byron Jones. All three represent a significant improvement in the secondary for the Giants, and you won’t want to miss our breakdown in the podcast! Please subscribe and give us a 5-star review! We will only be improving as time goes on and hopefully getting some fantastic guests on the show to make your experience even more valuable.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The baseball life of DJ LeMahieu:

The 31-year-old David John “DJ” LeMahieu has completed his first year with the New York Yankees and has quickly become a favorite player among most fans. The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft, and he made his MLB debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Colorado Rockies before the 2012 season. LeMahieu won a Gold Glove Award in 2014, 2017, and 2018, and was named an MLB All-Star in 2015 and 2017; he also won the National League batting title in 2016. After becoming a free agent, he signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season.

DJ was born in California, but his family moved to Michigan after a short time in Nevada, where he attended high school. When in high school, he played as a shortstop and pitcher for the school’s baseball team. In his senior year, as a leadoff hitter, batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases. Although he was selected in the draft by the Detroit Tigers, he decided to attend Louisiana State University instead. He was a shortstop for the baseball team and excelled with a .350 batting average. He later transitioned from shortstop to second base. LeMahieu was selected to the 2009 College World Series All-Tournament team. He hit .444 in the series leading all players in the series with 12 hits.

DJ often talks about his father Tom and the effect he had on him becoming who he is today.   As a young boy, Tom would get up early to play ball before it got too hot.  For most of his childhood, his dad was his coach and mentor. After college and starting in the minors DJ would say:  “At this point in my career, you need all the positive you can get. It’s real easy to be hard on yourself in the big leagues. I talk to him almost every day. I’ll go 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, and he’ll somehow find the positive out of it.” He also said of his father: “He’d hit me ten ground balls. If I misplayed one, it was a run for him. Then he’d throw me BP, and we’d play a normal inning. We’d play nine innings, almost every day. For me, at a young age, fielding ground balls was always competitive. If I missed a ball, it could cost me a run.”

His career after being selected by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, didn’t last as the Cubs traded LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies after the 2011 season.  In May of the following year, he was called up to replace an injured player. “I didn’t want it to become something where he was getting tired of it,” said Tom LeMahieu, who made an early Father’s Day trip when the Rockies were in Miami for the weekend. “Every now and then, I’d ask, ‘Do you still want to play?’ And he’d say, ‘Oh, yeah.’ Not only did he want to do it, but he was competitive about it. Even to this day, if you come up with something to do and make a game out of it, he’s into it.”    In August, he recorded his career-best four-hit game against the Brewers for a 9-6 Rockies win. Later in August, LeMahieu wrote his name into the record books, as he recorded 12 assists in a 9-inning victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 28th.   He was a 2015 All-Star, and in 2016, LeMahieu won the National League batting title. His .348 season average led all of Major League Baseball. He was a 2017 All-Star, and in 2018, he was named the best defensive player in all of the majors.

DJ always wanted to play for the New York Yankees. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter. He, in an interview, said that he wanted to be like Jeter. And modeled himself on the field and off the field after him. On January 14th of last year, DJ signed a $24 million, two-year contract with the Yankees. He couldn’t have the number 2 that he wanted, so he selected #26. During his short time with the Yankees, he has played first and shortstop but primarily second base, where he has excelled. The Yankee organization refers to him as the super-utility player. He quickly became a fan favorite for his frequent and timely hitting and good play at second base. He had the most hits of any Yankee and is third in runs batted in. He also has the most doubles. Although he is not a home run hitter, he provides that much needed timely contact hitting that is missing from some of the home run hitters. DJ has turned out to be more than the Yankees could have ever hoped. He had played 2nd 3rd, SS, and a back up of Voit and Ford at first. He has made gold glove plays and had a batting average of .327 with the most hits of any Yankee (197) and 26 home runs. He also has the most singles of any player in baseball.

DJ has continued to be one of the most critical parts of the Yankee lineup, usually leading off. Many fans are calling him “the machine” due to how dependable he is at the plate and in the field. He had four RBI’s in game one of the ALDS. He was in the top 4 in the vote for AL MVP. During the postseason, he hit .325 with 7 singles, 3 doubles, and 3 home runs, with 7 RBI’s.

He still talks with his dad Tom all the time.  “He became more of a mentor than a coach,” LeMahieu said. “A lot of dads, they want their hands on everything. For him to step back and say, ‘Your coaches are your coaches, so do what they say and listen to them’ — that was perfect. He’s not a know-it-all, doesn’t claim to be. His biggest advice to me was:  take a little bit of information from every coach.”

As I stated before, DJ is 31 years old after just celebrating his birthday on August 31. He is married to his wife Jordan since 2014, who is a real estate agent. They have made the decision to keep information about their children under wraps. He is presently living in New York City, where he and his wife are loving the city and being with the Yankees. They have a winter residence in Birmingham, Michigan, where many of their family members live. LeMahieu immediately blended in with the team and is well-liked in the clubhouse.  DJ does not have much of a social media presence. LeMahieu was an All-Star, made the All-MLB First team, and was awarded the Silver Slugger Award, all in his first year with the Yankees.  He will be the opening day starter for the Yankees at second base.

PECOTA has the New York Mets winning the NL East

It is not a secret, with all due respect to the Miami Marlins, that the National League East will, most likely, be a four-team race. The Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves look like the slight favorites, while the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets are right up there. Those squads can finish the season ranked first or fourth and no one will be surprised.

The latest projection system to make its appearance, PECOTA, has a nice surprise for Mets fans. Yes, projections don’t mean anything, but they can provide an idea of how well a team is built.

PECOTA has the Mets winning the NL East with 88 victories and 74 losses, and the Nats one game behind. Here are the projected standings in the division:

New York Mets 88-74
Washington Nationals 87-75
Atlanta Braves 83-79
Philadelphia Phillies 77-85
Miami Marlins 71-91

The Mets have a chance

The projected rankings may rise some eyebrows, but truth be told, the Mets squad is talented enough to finish first in the division. What is really surprising is that PECOTA has the Braves just four games over .500 and the Phillies well under that mark.

The Mets lost Zack Wheeler over the winter, but signed two additional starters: Michael Wacha and Rick Porcello. They also inked high-powered reliever Dellin Betances and made some other minor moves, like Matt Adams. They still have Jed Lowrie.

The Nationals, who were crowned World Champions last season, lost stellar third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels, but they were active in the offseason. The Braves saw Josh Donaldson sign with the Minnesota Twins, while the Phillies signed Wheeler but their rotation still looks a couple of arms short. Miami’s rebuild is still ongoing and they could be interesting in a couple of years, just not right now.

You can find the projections for all divisions here, including playoffs odds.

The New York Knicks aren’t developing their youth

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

The New York Knicks have had many organizational issues over the last decade. These include front office mismanagement, a revolving door at head coach, and an inability to develop young players. The Knicks are currently 12th in the Eastern Conference at 20 games below .500. They are in line to finish as the 6th worst team in the NBA. Not good enough to make the playoffs, not bad enough to have great lottery odds. We’ve seen this story before.

The Knicks are neglecting their draft picks.

Take Kevin Knox, the 8th overall pick of the 2018 draft as an example. In 2018, Playing alongside a barren roster, Knox managed to earn NBA Rookie of the month for December and a spot in the Rising Stars Game.

What is Knox up to in his 2nd season? He is currently averaging  18.4 minutes per game, 28th among sophomores. You read that correctly. The 8th overall pick from a year ago is 28th in minutes played amongst his draft class peers.

When the Knicks traded Marcus Morris at the deadline, it was an opportunity for younger players to take his minutes. In the three games since Morris has been traded, Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and Dennis Smith rank 9th, 10th, and 11th on the team in minutes per game, respectively. Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson have been DNPs. Iggy Brazdeikis and Kenny Wooten are stuck in the G League. Taj Gibson and Wayne Ellington have seen more minutes in those games.

With this roster, development is far more critical than a few wins. Knicks fans don’t want to see Reggie Bullock and Elfrid Payton lead the team to victory a few times a month. They want to see the “Baby Knicks” get playing time. They want to see a youth movement.

New York Mets: Jeff McNeil is preparing to defend the hot corner

No one has told Jeff McNeil that he will be the New York Mets starting third baseman. However, given the overall depth in the outfield and the uncertainty around Jed Lowrie (health, role and performance) he will man the position most nights.

Last year, McNeil prepared to be a left fielder in the Mets’ defensive alignment in spring training. However, injuries struck. Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie suffered physical issues and the team moved McNeil to the hot corner earlier in the season.

Then Frazier returned and the batting machine had to move to the outfield again.

But this time around, McNeil seems to be at the top of the New York Mets’ depth chart at third base. He said, at the beginning of spring training, that the hot corner will be less demanding to his body than left field.

“Just kind of knowing where you are going to be every single day, you’re going to be at third, you kind of know what it takes,” McNeil said Monday to the New York Post. “[You] know how your body feels and we have a great training staff here to help me get through anything, so I am looking forward to it.”

The Mets’ best option

The advanced metrics say that third base is actually McNeil’s best position. It’s not even close. He can play second and left field adequately, but in 154.1 innings in the hot corner in 2019, he registered a 19.4 UZR/150, a 2.4 UZR and 3 DRS.

No matter the position, the Mets need his bat on the lineup day in, day out. He was an offensive star in 2019, slashing .318/.384/.531 with a .384 wOBA and a 143 wRC+. He had a 4.6 fWAR mark.

“I think I was kind of two different hitters last year,” McNeil said. “I mean, there was nothing I did that changed, it’s just how it was. I hit a little more home runs in the second half than the first. I hit a little higher average in the first, but nothing changed. I just kind of what happened so we’ll see how it is this year.”