New York Giants: Mediocre Marks For Jones In NFL.com QB Index

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants have likely found the quarterback they’ll be with for the next years in Daniel Jones, but the verdict around the league still isn’t decided on just how good or not Jones is. Some have praised Jones for his skill as a rookie and some believe the Giants have a franchise quarterback on their hands, but others have pointed out problems like Jones making a number of turnovers during his rookie season and have chosen to rate the former Duke standout lower because of it.

The QB Index on NFL.com leans towards the more cynical side when it comes to looking at how Jones performed over the last season, at least in where they actually chose to rank him. Jones was praised, but comes in at 23rd, which is somewhat acceptable but isn’t all that high for starting quarterbacks – it puts him below Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and others who aren’t exactly the flashiest names in the league.

The ranking was, of course, explained by both the positives and negatives surrounding Jones, ranging from his good performance as a rookie to his fumbling tendency.

Jones became the third rookie of all time to have three or more games throwing four-plus pass TDs (joining Deshaun Watson and Fran Tarkenton). Aside from the fumbles (lost 11, tied for the most in a single season since at least 1992), the once-maligned sixth overall pick of the 2019 draft gave Giants fans reason for optimism.

With that being said, after moving on from Eli Manning and having struggled to find a replacement during previous years, the Giants could be doing far worse right now than their current position, with a middle tier quarterback.

Jones can rise in most rankings with some time spent improving in the offseason, and will benefit from entering next season with further experience. Or he could suffer from the sophomore slump and fall further back. At this point, it’s still a bit too early to know.

New York Yankees 2020 Season Preview: Kyle Higashioka

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

After serving as the “third catcher” behind Austin Romine for the past three years, Kyle Higashioka is going to have the chance to prove himself to the New York Yankees in 2020. With Romine now playing in Detroit, the back-up catcher role is all Higgy’s.

Higashioka has never played more than 29 major league games in one season but has spent over a year on the major league roster. He would come up when the roster expanded in September or when Gary Sanchez hit the IL, but that was about it.

Over his 146 career at-bats, he has a career .164 average. That’s not great, but he hit .214 in 2019, and each year has been better. He hit .278 and mashed 20 home runs in AAA in 2019.

Higashioka calls good games, and his defense and arm are developing. Overall, his playstyle is similar to Gary Sanchez, with just a bit better defense.

2020 Expectations:

As said before, Higashioka is expected to be the back-up catcher at the major league level in 2020. Now, the team has Erik Kratz and Chris Ianetta in the organization, but both are on minor league deals. Both will be in spring training but are not expected to break camp with the team.

But, I think it’s likely that we will see Ianetta eventually. If Sanchez lands on the IL (or Higashioka), they will need another catcher. I have a hard time seeing it be Kratz because of his age and skill level decreasing, so it would probably be Ianetta. The only way we see Ianetta or Kratz without an injury is if Higashioka is playing bad.

The Yankees need Higashioka to continue to call good games and develop the rest of his game. The potential is there, and he’s a little better every year. Hopefully, 2020 is the year he breaks out and shows the team what he’s made of.

New York Giants: Chiefs WR Demarcus Robinson A Potential FA Target

Free agency and the NFL’s new league year is right around the corner. The New York Giants are expected to be big spenders this offseason. They already have $69 million in cap space before they make their final roster cuts.

The Giants’ have been linked to numerous big-name free agents like Yannick Ngakoue and Jack Conklin. However, their interests are reportedly aimed towards less expensive options. The Giants are reportedly expected to pursue free agent wide receiver Demarcus Robinson in free agency (Matt Lombardo).

Demarcus Robinson Stats and Highlights

The Giants are seemingly set at the wide receiver position. Sterling Shepard is a young talent that recently signed a contract extension, and Darius Slayton looks like a rising star. Additionally, the Giants added Golden Tate to their offense last season. He performed well but did get suspended for the first four games of the season.

It never hurts to have depth at wide receiver. The Giants’ reported interest in Demarcus Robinson could indicate that they want to add depth at the position, or it could mean that they want to move on from a receiver currently on the roster. Whichever route they decide to go, Demarcus Robinson would be a great acquisition of talent.

Demarcus Robinson has never missed a game in his four-year career. The 25-year-old out of Florida has seen an increase in production every year and had somewhat of a breakout season in 2019. In 2019, Robinson caught 32 passes on 55 targets. He totaled 449 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. Robinson was a member of the Super Bowl champion Chiefs this year. 

The soon-to-be free agent is a big-play threat. He could add a new dynamic of deep-passing plays to the Giants’ offense with Daniel Jones. Jones has been touted as a bit of a gunslinger after his rookie season. His game would benefit from having a deep-threat like Robinson on the outside. Demarcus Robinson has the speed and size to be an outside threat.

New York Yankees’ Gerrit Cole gushes over World Series or Bust mentality

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

When the New York Yankees unloaded $324 million over the next nine-year for star pitcher Gerrit Cole, not only did they expect quality baseball from him, but the winning mentality that makes his teammates even better.

The Yankees have high hopes for Cole in 2020, and it starts with a World Series mindset.

“I love it,” Cole said of the team’s World Series-or-bust mentality. “From a player perspective, it doesn’t get much [simpler] than that. It’s the dream to go out there every day and try to win every single time. It sounds very simple, but you guys know better than I do, being around this organization, there are a lot of moving parts and there are a lot of people that pour a lot of time into simplifying that one theme: We need to win a world championship… That drive to win is what fuels you.”

The New York Yankees have given Gerrit Cole everything he needs:

Cole is focused on winning, money aside, which is what makes him one of the best starters in the MLB and why the Yankees elected to drop a boat-load of cash on his doorstep. Luring him to the Bronx required plenty of effort, including knowing the wine he drank on his Anniversary in Florence and his mindset towards technological growth.

So far, the Bombers have done nothing but aid his happiness and adapt to his progressive approach. It’s well documented that the Yankees are one of the most tech-advanced teams in the league.

The quality of the team as a whole has given Cole the confidence and motivation to dominate:

“It’s easy to stay driven this year,” Cole said of getting within a win of a championship last October. “My free agent process got done really quickly. You mix that excitement with that disappointment or bad feeling you have of losing and you get someone who’s [champing] on the bit. I’m ready to go right now to take care of business. It drives me every year, but specifically last year, coming so close, it just makes the opportunity this year so much more exciting.”

Cole has fully recovered from pitching 250-innings in 2019 and will be ready to go for spring training. All that’s left now is to wait until we can see him feature in a meaningful game.

New York Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton Expectations

Remember a couple of years ago when the New York Yankees acquired the reigning National League MVP? The guy who looked to be chiseled out of granite and he hit 59 home runs while driving in 132 runs in a pitchers ballpark. This guy was supposed to come right in and hit over 100 combined home runs with Aaron Judge, and the Yankees were supposed to walk to a World Series. Well, neither of those things happened which left many Yankees fans incredibly disappointed. Now to be fair, Giancarlo Stanton actually had a very productive first year in pinstripes hitting 38 home runs and driving in 100, but that was not the expectation from fans. The Yankees fell short against Boston in the playoffs and Stanton was mostly invisible in that series. I defended Giancarlo a lot in 2018 because it reminded me a lot of Alex Rodriguez‘ first year with the Yankees. A-Rod came to New York after winning the MVP in Texas and his numbers dipped in his first year with the Yankees. A-Rod hit 11 fewer homers and drove in 12 fewer runs while his slash line was down across the board. In his second year, A-Rod returned to form and won the MVP. That is what I was hoping to see last year from Stanton. I was hoping to see a guy who played pissed off while smashing 50 bombs and leading the Yankees to a World Series. Yeah, that didn’t happen either.

Abysmal 2019

Stanton was hurt virtually the entire season only playing in 18 total games. In those 18 games, Stanton only had 17 hits in 59 total plate appearances. Stanton injured his bicep, then he injured his shoulder, then he injured his knee. Stanton finally looked healthy when the Yankees took the field in the post season. He hit a home run in game one of the ALCS and the Yankees had the momentum. Then, like it had all season, the injury bug hit Stanton hard with a quad strain. Stanton just could not stay healthy last season and was one of the contributing factors to the Yankees not being able to overcome the Astros.

Expectations for 2020

So what should we expect this year as fans? Well I think Stanton is in the optimum position to change the minds of fans in 2020. It seems that the general consensus of Yankee fans really don’t believe in Stanton. They don’t feel that he’s made for New York and fans really aren’t expecting much. I can’t really say that I blame them. Stanton is facing the pressure of the dollar amount of his contract, but he’s not feeling the pressure from the fans expectations and I think he will show that this year. I would be shocked if Stanton made it through the entire season without a stop on the IL, but I’m expecting a big year from Giancarlo overall. My prediction for his stat line: .272 BA, 43 HRs, 108 RBIs, .352 OBP. I expect Stanton to have a huge impact on the Yankees this year, and I fully expect him to hit some shots that make fans jaws hit the ground. Would I be surprised if Stanton misses most of the season due to injuries? I suppose I wouldn’t considering what happened last year, but I’m ready to throw last year away and start fresh with my thoughts on Stanton. 2020 is the year Giancarlo Stanton shows why the Yankees went out and got him in the first place.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams states he didn’t ask for $15 million per season

A media frenzy occurred after New York Giants’ interior defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, reportedly stated that he was seeking at least $15 million per season in free agency. There’s little evidence to prove that Williams is worth that much, as Over The Cap has him valued at about $7.5 million on the open market. This report has him asking for double that amount, but since it was released, Williams has stated himself that it’s not true.

SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano claimed that Williams and his representation were asking for that amount, but here’s the proof from the source.

Williams was traded from the Jets to the Giants midway through the 2019 campaign, and his production did take a minor upswing. With Gang Green, he recorded just five QB hits over seven games, and in five starts with the Giants, he managed 11.

The Giants’ run-defense also improved significantly, but an uptick in pressures and run-stopping doesn’t justify a $15 million valuation, and it was false to begin with.

The former first-round pick stated that it would be foolish to put a price on his head, as it would essentially be capping his worth. However, I anticipate he will be valued in the $10-12 million range. If the Giants feature a hybrid system that incorporates a 4-3 scheme, Williams would function as a rotational piece, or it would force Dexter Lawrence and Dalvin Tomlinson to the sidelines.

I prefer to extend Tomlinson, who will be considerably cheaper than to add Williams on a big-deal. Allocate the money towards a premium pass-rusher and utilize BJ Hill more prominently on the interior. Hill showed he could produce in his rookie season back in 2018, as he racked up 5.5 sacks and eight QB hits.

New York Rangers defeat Winnipeg; DeAngelo, Buchnevich join Kreider on Trade List

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider scored two goals and Igor Shesterkin made 42 saves to lead the New York Rangers past the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. Kreider’s performance solidified him as the number one trade target heading to the Feb 24 trade deadline, but the Rangers continue to negotiate in order to sign the 28-year-old forward.

Buchnevich and DeAngelo join Kreider as possible New York Ranger trades

Pavel Buchenevich and Tony DeAngelo have risen up TSN’s trade bait chart in response to the New York Ranger’s attempt to re-sign Chris Kreider. This is due to the fact that if the Rangers can sign Kreider, they will most likely have to part ways with a combination of Pavel Buchnevich, Tony DeAngelo and/or possibly Ryan Strome in order to stay under the salary cap for the 2020-2021 season.  Alexandar Georgiev dropped out of their list, but the possibility of a trade still exists before the deadline. Kreider still has many potential suitors, even after the Pittsburgh Penguins may have crossed their name off that list by acquiring Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker.

Shesterkin removed for concussion check, comes back for the win

Igor Shesterkin recorded 42 saves in the win but had to be removed for a concussion check after colliding with a Winnipeg player. At 8:12 of the first, Shesterkin was crashed into by Andrew Copp after the Jets forward was pushed by Tony DeAngelo. Henrik Lundqvist came in to finish the first period and recorded a save as Shesterkin was cleared and re-entered the game in the second period. Shesterkin is the first rookie goaltender in Ranger history who has made at least 40 saves in two consecutive team games and is the first rookie goaltender who has earned a 40-save win in two consecutive personal appearances. Also, Shesterkin’s 238 career saves are the most by a Rangers goalie in his first seven NHL appearances and the most any goalie has made in his first seven appearances with the Rangers. After the game, head coach David Quinn praised his young netminder by saying From where I sit, it doesn’t matter what league he’s in, it doesn’t matter what building he’s in, it doesn’t matter about anything, he just has a net behind him and he’s going to keep the puck out of it, which is a simple approach and it works.”

Yankees: Baseball Yankee fans finally get an apology from the Astros!

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve

Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via AP has reported that the Houston Astros, after a postseason of complete silence, have finally addressed the sign-stealing scandal this morning.  In front of the media, Astro owner Jim Crane, new Manager Dusty Baker and players Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman discussed the sign-stealing situation by reading prepared statements.  Team owner Jim Crane spoke first, saying this will never happen again, while he’s in charge.  He blamed the scandal on the front office and leadership.  He further added that the players should not be held responsible for the lack of leadership.

Alex Bregman than spoke, saying:

“I am really sorry about the choices that were made by my team, by the organization, and by me. I have learned from this, and I hope to regain the trust of baseball fans.”

Jose Altuve said he felt remorse:

“I want to say that the whole Astros organization feels bad about what happened in 2017. We especially feel remorse for the impacts on the fans and the game of baseball. Our team is determined to move forward.”

Following Bregman and Altuve’s statements, they immediately returned to the clubhouse without taking any questions from the media.

Crane and Baker did stick around to answer some questions.  Crane, in answering a question, said: “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series, and we’ll leave it at that.” “I truly believe there were no buzzers ever.” He continued that he felt that he should not be accountable for the actions of the team.  He also added that he did not think it was necessary to reach out to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  He did not refer to the Yankees.  Altuve and Bregman’s comments were an improvement over their less than apologetic comments made recently at the Houston Astros FanFest.

After Commissioner Manfred released his report on January 15 detailing the scheme, reactions around the league began to seep out slowly.  Now that pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training, many of the pent up feelings of anger are coming to light.  Yankee pitchers CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have both expressed that they felt cheated.  Sabathia now retired felt he may have missed on his last chance at another WS ring.

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone and catcher Gary Sanchez expressed doubt that the Astros were totally clean this past year either.  Boone, in his news conference, said when asked about the scheme, he summarily replied that we have moved on and are focused on the 2020 campaign.  There will likely be many more statements coming forth that will express disappointment with the Astros.  With spring training starting, the Astros had to address the situation to ease the backlash they will most certainly feel as the storyline occupies the season.

New York Yankees sign Seattle pitcher Tony Zych

New York Yankees, Tony Zych

On Wednesday, the New York Yankees signed from Seattle Mariners reliever Tony Zych to a minor league contract.  The Yankees have added potential depth to the pitching staff with the 6′ 3″ right-hander.  Zych made his major league debut in 2015 but has not pitched in the last two years. He has been recovering from an injury to his Thoracic outlet, which is the space between the collarbone and ribs.  When he last pitched, he had a very long beard that made him look like a backwoodsman, which he will shave per the Yankees appearance policy.

From 2015 to 2017, while with the Mariners in 72 2/3 innings, he pitched to an ERA of 2.72  while throwing a fastball in the high nineties.  His career ERA is 3.73  since 2011.

The Chicago native was picked in the fourth round of the 2008 draft by his hometown Chicago Cubs.  Baseball American has an old scouting report on him. “He has worked at 94-97 mph all season, with a high of 99. His fastball gets on hitters quickly thanks to some funk in his delivery. Zych’s arm action isn’t pretty and puts some stress on his shoulder, but it adds to his deception and doesn’t hamper his control. … Has the mental toughness to handle late-inning assignments … Doesn’t miss as many bats as he should because his fastball can get straight, and his slider can flatten out.”

Zych has two distinctions; one is that he will be reuniting with Chad Green, who was a college teammate of Zych. The other distinction is somewhat historic.

The 29-year-old Zych went into the baseball history books when he made his debut with Seattle.  He broke the 105-year-old record for having a name that placed him as the very last in the alphabetical list of major league players.

When the Chicago Tribune interviewed him in 2015, he said about the record: “It’s really cool to set a record, but I didn’t do anything but show up. Now I hope to do something on the field to make me stay up here a lot longer.” According to how he does in the minors, Yankee fans my see him at some point in the season.

 

Yankees: Boone press conference, the Astros, Cole, Sanchez, Montgomery, and more!

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Yesterday afternoon New York Yankees Field Manager Aaron Boone gave his first spring training press conference. He gave no opening statement.  It was more of a question and an answer affair with the media asking questions and Boone commenting.

Boone on Gerrit Cole:

Meredith Marakovits was first up asking if Boone has seen newly acquired first bullpen session and what he thought of it?  Boone responded:

“He had a really good day; it was good to see him put on the pinstripes and get out there and have a very efficient day of throwing 25 pitches.”

Boone said that he was able to speak with Cole.  He was impressed with his detail and noticed what each of his pitches was doing.  He added that it was good to see him get out there on the mound in that Yankee Uniform.

Another question was asked by the media as to what else they talked about.  Boone said it was good to speak with him as he knows what he wants to do, and being able to talk to a good pitcher only speeds up the process us growing together as he acclimates to the team, so we can aid him and help him improve in his game.

“He expects a lot of himself and continues to work hard to be great as he improves in his craft,” Boone said.

Boone was asked: what does the addition of Cole to the rotation and to the entire ball club mean in your mind?  Boone summarized that he is arguably the best pitcher in baseball, and adding him to an already good lineup makes him the anchor as other of our injured pitchers come back, Sevy, Monty Happ, and others.  Boone cited that Cole was a true ace that goes deep into games and makes our bullpen even better, allowing them to come in when they are really needed.

Gary Sanchez and more on the Astros going forward:

On another subject, the media asked about Gary Sanchez and if some of the mechanics changes he was making.  The reported added: “how much room do you think he has to grow?”  “I think there is still a lot of meat on the bone; I think he has improved a lot over the years and with Tanner coming in and the work that has already begun, there’s a lot more there to be had” Boone responded.  He added, “I’m confident as the season progresses, we will see those results.”  Boone was then asked if he was sure that any Astro devices were not used last year in the playoffs?  Boone smiled and said: “No, you know that’s certainly one of those great unknowns.” He also summarized, saying that he feels the way the Major League has handled this will lead to better baseball going forward.  He said that he, at times, was mad and frustrated but said it was time to move on.

Boone avoids Astros anger and the outlook for the Yankees:

For a period of time, the media was citing different things that were said and done in trying to get Boone to express some anger; they were unsuccessful with Boone commenting continually that that’s in the rearview mirror, we are focused on a championship.  He did add that he thinks the steps the MLB has taken and will continue to take will better police the game.   After the Astros questions Boone was asked if he thought the addition of Cole after the loss of some players, and some of the returning players, it would allow him to continue what he started last season?

Boone offered: 

“We think we’ve been a championship team the last couple of years—adding Cole that was taken away from one of the teams we’ve been competing against so heavily, so having him is exciting.”  Boone added that: “we have a lot of guys that are in the prime of their careers and hopefully we will be a little bit more fortunate on the injury front this year.”

Boone: Hinch and Cora still friends, and Jordan Montgomery:

He was asked if he would go out of his way to explain the rules of what can be done and can’t be done regarding sign-stealing.  Boone said no, our players know what to do our culture tells us how to handle ourselves.  He was also asked how he felt about Hinch and Cora.  Boone said I still consider them friends, we all make mistakes, none of us are perfect, I’ve struggled with it, tried to make sense of it.  In another pitching question he was asked regarding the number five spot, is it an open competition or is it Montgomery’s to lose?  “We’ll see, Monty is in a good place,” Boone responded.  He also summarized making the answer vaguer.  He’s worked hard this offseason and is ready to go, but we also have some other great arms that will make their names known.  Don’t be surprised if you see some of them make an impact.

Domingo German status:

Boone was asked as to what’s going on with Domingo German.   Boone offered that he was in the Dominican Republic and that he has been going a couple of times a week for the last three or four weeks to get in his work.  He added that he and his staff visited the complex a couple of weeks ago and saw several players, including German.  He said that he will continue to train there and that there was no plan at present to have him at spring training, but that could change.

How will the Astros be treated at Yankee Stadium?

The Astros situation continued to come up during the press conference.  At one point, the media asked: how do you think it will be playing the Astros this year, especially at the Stadium?  Boone offered with a rye smile that “I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting season for them.” “it’s going to be a story everwhere they play, who knows how it all plays out.”  He added that we play them late in the season, we may be contending for a spot at the Stadium who knows what the reaction is going to be, but it will be a storyline during the whole season.  In another Astros question, he was asked if he had personally spoken to Hinch, Boone said that he had texted him once, but had not spoken to him and wasn’t ready to go there yet.

Boone on Miguel Andujar:

Boone was asked if he met with Miguel in the Dominican Republic, and Boone answered in the affirmative.  He said that he talked with him about playing different positions and offered that Andujar had already started working on that on his own.  Boone was further quired as to why he thinks Miguel can handle a multi-positional role.  Boone indicated that one thing he liked was Miguel’s openness to do it, and Boone feels that he has the athletic ability to be successful at it.  He added that Miggy would work his tail off at it, and with his versatility, it may add to his value to the team.

Giancarlo Stanton and the outfield:

Boone was asked how much he was going to use Stanton in the outfield and if he was fully healthy.  Boone indicated that he was confident that Stanton is healthy.  On the outfield and how much Stanton would play there, he more or less skirted the issue, saying it depends on the matchups and the health of our players.  We have a lot of good players, and we may use him as DH much of the time but “certainly feel good about him playing the outfield, and I feel he is healthy enough to do that on a regular basis if needed.”

On the James Paxton surgery:

The Media asked if Paxton will return in May or June?  Confident is the word Boone used, stating that the early returns are good and that he was moving around well.  He added that it would probably be a month before he starts throwing.  He said that Paxton noticed the problem in his last regular-season start in Texas, and we took him out of the game as a precaution even though he wanted to tough it out due to the upcoming postseason. He pitched well in the postseason, but as the winter progressed, it kept annoying him. He underwent treatment that seemed to solve the problem.  After his last injection and consultation with specialists, it was determined that he should undergo the surgery.

Boone discusses Gleyber Torres as shortstop:

The last question of the press conference was on Gleyber Torres and how Boone thought he would do as the new shortstop.   Boone responded:  “I think he will do well,” with a big smile, Boone said:  “he’s had a decent start to his career, he’s kinda handled everything that’s been thrown at him and then some.”  Boone added that he is happy to return to his natural position at short.  He’s a young man at just 23, and he has continued to improve from day one.  Boone cited his preparation, his routine, and maturity in how he handles himself.  “The only thing he has to do now is to go show that he is capable of being an everyday shortstop.”  Boone ended by saying that he was confident that he would take that next step.

Although the media kept up questions on the Astros situation well into the middle of the press conference, it was evident that Boone did not want to dwell on the subject, and would rather discuss the Yankees spring training.  The entire press conference was very upbeat on the outlook of the 2020 Yankees campaign to get to a 28th World Championship.