What should the New York Jets do with Robby Anderson?

New York Jets, Robby Anderson

Coming off a sub-par season offensively, the New York Jets‘ passing attack needs to be revamped. The top three receivers last season, in terms of receptions, were Jamison Crowder, Le’Veon Bell, and Robby Anderson, in that order. Crowder is under contract for two more years following his 3-year, $28.5-million deal from last offseason. Bell is still under contract, but there are several rumors surrounding him, which is a whole other discussion. Anderson is set to become an unrestricted free agent very soon. So, how should the Jets handle the situation?

Tag-and-trade

The first option the team could explore is giving Robby Anderson the franchise tag, and then ultimately trading him. This would ensure two things: the Jets wouldn’t lose Anderson without getting anything in return, and they also wouldn’t have to pay him the money he’s seeking. This route was taken a couple of times last season, perhaps most notable with Jadeveon Clowney. The Houston Texans tagged Clowney before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks. If the front office elects this is the best option, they could potentially end up with, not a first-round pick like the Cowboys got for Amari Cooper, but a late second or third-round pick, maybe two.

Sign him

This is the easy choice. The team could sign Anderson to a multi-year deal, although they’d likely have to pay him more than they would like. Anderson finished with 52 receptions for 779 yards and five touchdowns last season. Those are solid numbers for a number-two receiver on a team, which Anderson would probably fit best as, but was the number-one receiver on the depleted Jets team. This point, plus the fact that this is a very thin free agency class regarding receivers, will make him request more money. According to Pete Prisco, a writer for CBS Sports, Anderson is set to be the third-best receiver in free agency, only behind A.J. Green and Amari Cooper. This will probably have Anderson seeking an annual salary over $10 million, at least. He has been reported to be wanting a yearly salary of $14 million, according to Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report.

Let him walk

Obviously, if a deal can’t be agreed upon, Anderson will play elsewhere. He should have a decent market because of the very thin free agency group. He’ll have teams willing to give him his desired salary and might be more appetizing to him. If this is the case, sure, the front office will have more money to spend elsewhere, but there would be a hole to fill. If he leaves, the team would have Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, Jehu Chesson, Josh Bellamy, and, possibly, Quincy Enunwa fighting for targets. That’s a receiving corp that would need help. Once again, this is a thin free agency. Outside of Anderson, Cooper, and Green, the next-best option is Breshad Perriman, especially after recently signing Josh Doctson. Perriman could probably be signed for less than Anderson but isn’t the same player he is. Regardless of offseason signings, the team should look to draft some playmakers.

Robby Anderson and the Jets have contract negotiations to figure out by the time free agency begins on March 18. If the team elects to let him go, backup plans need to be identified to replenish the receiving corp.

Should The New York Giants Pursue Vic Beasley?

Currently, the New York Giants have $69 million in cap space. After they make their roster cuts, they should have upwards of $80 million. The Giants have 22 impending free agents but have not yet made decisions on any of them. Other teams, however, have made public decisions on some of their free agents.

For example, the Atlanta Falcons recently announced that they would be allowing edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. to walk in free agency. The Giants, with a glaring need at edge rusher, could be a potential landing spot for Beasley.

Affordable Contract

Vic Beasley has an estimated market value of $7.3 million on average annually, according to Spotrac. Beasley’s inconsistent play over the past three seasons will make teams skeptical of signing him in 2020. He could end up on a one-year “prove-it” deal with a little more money. But if a team looks to sign Beasley long-term, his annual salary is not expected to be very high.

The Giants will take a look at all of the free-agent edge rushers in 2020. Yannick Ngakoue, Shaquil Barrett, and Jadeveon Clowney are the big-names to watch, but whatever team signs them will have to break the bank. The Giants might be wise to take a chance on someone like Vic Beasley Jr., who has much-untapped potential that could be acquired on an affordable deal.

Untapped Potential

Vic Beasley is a former first-round pick that was drafted eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. As a draft prospect in the 2015 offseason, Vic tore up the NFL Scouting Combine and was a top performer at his position in every single workout he participated in (NFL.com).

Beasley’s NFL Draft profile from 2015 states that he “projects as a 3-4 outside linebacker.” Unfortunately for him, he was drafted by a team that runs a 4-3 defense. The Falcons under Dan Quinn have been known to use a 4-3 under defense. Because of this, the Falcons were not playing Beasley to his strengths and were technically playing him out of position.

The Giants will be running a multiple defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, but the base of the defense, according to graham himself, is more of a 3-4. Vic Beasley would be able to do what he does best and play as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Giants. But he could also use his experience in a 4-3 when the Giants switch up their defensive schemes.

Vic Beasley Jr. did find some success with the Falcons, but his inconsistency is the reason they are not interested in extending him. In 2016, Beasley recorded 15.5 sacks, which led the NFL. He then followed that up with only 18 sacks over the next three years. He had a flash in the pan in 2016 but has not been able to reach that level of success since then. But, maybe in a multiple or 3-4 defense, Vic Beasley could return to form and be the dominant pass-rusher he was expected to be coming out of college. At the very least, Vic Beasley Jr. would be an excellent addition as a secondary pass-rusher for the Giants on an affordable contract.

Frank Ntilikina should still be a part of the New York Knicks’ future

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks have had difficulty developing their draft picks in recent years. 3rd-year guard Frank Ntilikina’s potential has been a divisive topic among Knicks fans. A lottery selection in the 2018 draft, Frank’s career to this point hasn’t panned out the way many would have hoped. So how should the Knicks utilize the Frenchman going forward?

Frank Ntilikina is not the Knicks’ point guard of the future, and that’s fine.

Frank hasn’t been able to take hold of the Knicks starting point guard job. This is where the Knicks as a franchise have let disappointment and frustration dominate both their narrative and their decisions. A classic Knicks move would be to completely jump ship. However, just because Ntilikina isn’t going to be an All-Star does not mean his future is bleak.

Frank’s recipe for success is as the team’s “swiss army knife” off the bench. The sooner the front office and fans can accept this, the easier it will be to let Frank grow into the best player he can be.

So what are Frank’s strengths? Ntilikina’s defense has been what has kept him on the court. Frank was measured at 6’6 at the FIBA World Cup this past summer. His height and massive 7’1 wingspan allow him effortlessly clog passing lanes and disrupt ball handlers.  Currently, Ntilikina ranks as the 5th most effective pick and roll defender in the NBA. His frame and tenacity not only make him an annoyance for opposing point guards but also allow him to even match up and defend taller wing players.

On offense, Frank has shown flashes of playmaking potential. He’s worked well operating a pick and roll, but his shooting has been dreadful. Shooting just 38% from the field and 30% from 3, Frank’s ability to score has been erratic. So if he is to improve his game, where can the Knicks look for inspiration?

Frank Ntilikina can be the next… Justise Winslow?

Now while current Memphis Grizzly Justise Winslow was recently traded away by the Heat, his career to this point can be a lesson for Frank and Knicks fans. Winslow, like Ntilikina, was a lottery pick who stayed on the court because of his defense. Winslow struggled with his shooting early on, shooting just 40% from the field and 26% from 3 in his first two seasons.

The Heat stuck with him. Winslow continued to improve his shooting and playmaking while becoming one of the league’s best defenders. Winslow cemented himself as a jack-of-all-trades whose versatility allowed him to thrive.

At 21 years old, Frank’s development is far from over. In accepting a new role that lets him focus on his strengths, he could turn into a dangerous 2-way player. So whether or not the Knicks select a point guard in the 2020 draft, Ntilikina should still be seen as a piece of the Knicks’ future.

New York Yankees: Aaron Judge publicly talks about the Astros cheating scandal

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees have all reported to Spring Training and are ready to get the 2020 season started. That being said, the upcoming season is not what everyone is talking about, unfortunately. Since the media has access to players, all everyone is talking about is the Houston Astros cheating scandal. Regardless of who you are, the media is asking every player what their thoughts are on the scandal.

Aaron Judge had his press conference with the media today and of course, was asked about the commissioner’s report and the scandal.

This is what Aaron Judge had to say about vacating the Astros’ 2017 championship: “I just don’t think it holds any value with me. You cheated and you didn’t earn it. That’s how I feel is, it wasn’t earned.”

Everyone knows that the New York Yankees had a big year in 2017 and was possibly robbed of going to the World Series. As much as the Dodgers are frustrated with what happened, the Yankees were also snubbed out of a great year.

Aaron Judge also explained why he deleted the post of Jose Altuve when he won the MVP in 2017. “Just sick to my stomach, to find out. I had a lot of respect for those guys and what they did, especially what they did for the city of Houston and that whole organization. They had a team that was in last place and drafted right, got the right players in there, and eventually got to the World Series. I had a lot of respect for them — the way they played and what they did. And then to find out that it wasn’t earned, they cheated — that didn’t sit well with me, and I just didn’t feel like the post that I did really meant the same anymore.”

Besides 2017, Judge believes that the Astros probably cheated in 2019 too. “It’s tough to think that it didn’t continue. I don’t know all the facts. Nobody knows all the facts, to be honest. So to think that they cheated and won it all in ’17, to think that they just clear-cut stopped, it’s tough for me to say that. But we’ll never really know.”

 

New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole Expectations

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Alright, I admit that I have done it too. I have envisioned the new ace of the New York Yankees winning 25 games, and having the greatest season for a starting pitcher in history. I’ve envisioned Gerrit Cole striking out 350 batters with an ERA near 2.

I’ve envisioned him pitching a shutout in the clinching game for the Yankees as they win their 28th World Series. Can you see it? You can almost feel the Champagne yourself right?

Why shouldn’t you have those expectations when the Yankees just shelled out $324 million for this superstar pitcher. Well, we have to remember this is Cole’s first year in New York. Gerrit Cole is coming off the best year of his career and the New York expectations have never been higher, but what should the expectations really be for Gerrit Cole? Should they be as lofty as the expectations above or should they be tapered down just a little?

First Year with the New York Yankees

In 2019, Gerrit Cole was incredible. Cole dominated baseball with a 20-5 record, striking out 326 batters while having a 2.50 ERA. No question, in my opinion, he should have been the Cy Young over Justin Verlander, but that is a different argument for a different day. Anyone could make the statement that Cole is the best pitcher in baseball and you would get no argument from me.

I think Cole has the best stuff, he has a nasty attitude when he’s on the mound, and he’s supremely confident. He dives deep into analytics and is constantly looking for ways to improve his performance on the field. However, the first year in New York is a daunting year for any superstar. We’ve seen it with Giancarlo Stanton, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, and others. There is a huge adjustment to playing in the bright lights on New York and even the best in the game seems to shrink a little in their first year.

While those guys didn’t have bad years at all in their first years with the Yankees, they fell short of the lofty fan expectations. Will Cole fall into that category or is this white whale truly that, a white whale?

2020 Expectations

To me, I really do think Gerrit Cole is a different animal. He’s the best pitcher in the world, and I think he has a chip on his shoulder to prove that.

There are many in NYC that don’t even believe he’s the best pitcher in the city. I think Cole knows he has a lot to prove, and I expect him to be at the top of his game. That being said, I am expecting his numbers to be slightly down from last season.

Here is my prediction for the 2020 Gerrit Cole line: 21-6, 286 strikeouts, 2.98 ERA. Gerrit Cole’s ERA is going to climb just a little, his strikeouts are going to decrease a little, but he is going to still be the best pitcher in the American League, and I think he is going to get the award he deserved last year and that is the American League Cy Young Award in 2020.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge talks Houston Astros and injury update

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Earlier on Tuesday morning, the New York Yankees reported that slugger Aaron Judge would miss batting practice and refrain from throwing the ball in team drills. The reason for this was due to a shoulder injury.

Judge has been working on his throwing and hitting all offseason, and skipper Aaron Boone stated that the injury was just “crankiness and soreness,” and that there’s nothing to worry about. That’s great news for a Yankees team that doesn’t need to start spring training with an injury to one of their best players.

However, the Aaron Judge news doesn’t end there, as he addressed the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal and how it made him feel over the past few months.

“All I ever heard when I turned on MLB Network or ESPN was ‘baseball stealing,’ ‘baseball sign-stealing,’ cheating, cheating, cheating, and that’s, you know, first and foremost as a fan, I grew up as a fan of baseball, I don’t want to see that.”

Judge was clearly affected on a personal level by the Astros’ actions over the past few seasons, especially considering they knocked the Bombers out of the playoffs on two separate occasions.

“I was mad, I was pretty upset. To know we were probably cheated out of a possibility of making it to a World Series.”

“To hear that you got cheated out of that opportunity, that’s tough to kind of let go,” Judge stumbled as he tried to find the right words to describe his emotions.

The slugger did mention letting it all out now so they can move forward into 2020 with a great team. In addition, he was asked about Jose Altuve and him winning the MVP in 2017. Judge explained how he won it, and that next time he will have to make the margin so big that it doesn’t come down to the wire.

Mets’ Reliever Seth Lugo Suffers Toe Fracture

Let the 2020 injury train begin for the New York Mets. The team that has sustained more injuries in recent years is off to another quick start this season as it was revealed today that top reliever Seth Lugo has suffered a fractured left pinky toe.

The Mets said the injury occurred in Lugo’s hotel room on Monday night down in Port St. Lucie. There was no report of a wild boar in the room.  Mets manager Luis Rojas downplayed the incident as minor.

From SNY.tv:

Rojas said there is “no concern at all” and that Lugo will refrain from throwing for roughly three days before ramping back up again.

 

“It’s probably gonna take a little later until he starts participating in games, but we’re not concerned about it. … they’re doing a padding on his spikes,” Rojas added. “He was testing it walking around today and everything. It’s his left foot, so landing on it the next three days we’ll see how it progresses and then he’ll start throwing.”

Lugo was used strictly as a reliever in 2019, going 7-4 with a 2.70 earned run average in 80 innings over 61 games. He is one of the Mets’ most relievable bullpen arms. The injury could keep him from pitching in some upcoming Grapefruit League games which begin this Saturday.

 

New York Giants land top cornerback in Mel Kiper’s latest Mock Draft

New York Giants, Jeff Okudah

In Mel Kiper’s first mock draft of the offseason, the New York Giants landed star linebacker Isaiah Simmons out of Clemons. Kiper should have stopped there as he proceeded to mock Jeff Okudah to Big Blue in his second attempt.

The Giants desperately need a No. 1 corner, but it’s known that corners require ample time to adapt to the speed and physicality of the NFL. I understand the need for different scenarios, and that Okudah does fit the bill alongside dusty DeAndre Baker. Still, after spending a first-rounder on the position in 2019, they cannot follow their own footsteps.

However, this time, they decide on taking Ohio State’s Jeff Okudah at No. 4 overall.

So if Tagovailoa jumps into the top three, that means the Giants could choose between Okudah and Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons, whom I mocked to New York in my first projection of picks 1-32. And after the Giants cut Janoris Jenkins in December, cornerback surged to the top of the team’s needs. First-round pick DeAndre Baker had a rough rookie season, racking up nine penalties and getting burned badly at times. Let’s get Okudah to New York in this scenario, locking down one side of the field with the clear top corner in this class. Edge rusher and offensive tackle are also positions this team must address in the offseason.

Why the New York Giants shouldn’t consider this course of action:

The Giants didn’t only add Baker in the 2019 NFL Draft; they also landed Julian Love and Corey Ballentine. Spending three picks on one position should void any possibility of selecting another in 2020. However, curring Janoris Jenkins and lacking a No. 1 CB is problematic, so I see where Kiper is going with this mock draft, but free agency offers plenty of value. It opens up the prospective trade back option and/or grabbing Simmons.

The Giants haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round in years, and with Simmons’ diversity and dynamic style of play, they would be foolish to overlook him.

Andy Greene Thrives in New York Islanders Debut

Andy Greene made quite the first impression in his first game with the New York Islanders.

Greene, 37, whom the Islanders traded for on Sunday from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2021 second-round pick and 21-year old prospect David Quenneville, logged 19:46 of ice time and recorded an assist in the Isles’ 2-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes.

“Duck’s legs under water,” the newly acquired D-man told reporters after the game. “I was sitting there trying to make simple reads and simple plays. Try to ease my way into the game and go from there.”

The Islanders had been ailing big time in the absence of Adam Pelech, who suffered a freak injury at the beginning of last month. Greene came in yesterday and immediately filled that void. His presence was felt right away when the Islanders were trailing 1-0.

Just before the six-minute mark of the middle period, the Coyotes came in on an odd-man rush and got off on Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov that left a rebound and a wide-open cage. Greene, the heady player he’s known to be, saw a streaking Clayton Keller making his way to the front of the net and saved it from being a 2-0 game by blocking Keller’s stick from putting home the loose puck.

“I really liked his game,” head coach Barry Trotz said.

Greene wasn’t done there. He contributed on offense, something that’s rare even for him; Greene only had 11 points on the season before yesterday’s game.

In the third with the Islanders down a pair and them pressing, he threw a shot from the point that was deflected home by Anthony Beauviller, cutting Arizona’s lead in half and notching his first point for his new squad.

The Isles’ penalty kill also saw a boost with Greene’s addition. They went a perfect 2-for-2, and Greene himself blocked one shot and saw 2:32 of ice time with the Isles shorthanded.

“It’s what the doctor ordered,” Trotz also said. “He’s poised. I thought he handled their top line and he’s a good complement for Pully. It’ll definitely be a good fit for us.”

Islanders G.M. Lou Lamoriello still is in need of a forward and could make another move with the NHL Trade Deadline now six days away. But his first acquisition, Greene, showed in one game what he’s going to bring for this team down the stretch.

New York Yankees: Which J.A. Happ will show up for the 2020 season?

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

Back weeks ago, General Manager Brian Cashman made it clear that J.A. Happ would be the fifth starter in the New York Yankees pitching rotation.  Then came the Paxton surgery, and it appears he will now be the fourth starter, with Jordan Montgomery likely taking his fifth spot.  To say that Happ has had a checkered pitching career is an understatement that does not explain his 121-90 record.  For the Yankees, they traded for him at the back end of the 2018 season, and he delighted Yankee fans and the front office with a 7-0 record in eleven games.

2019 season disappointing:

His 2019 season, although not horrible, was a far cry from what the Yankees expected of him.  He was 12-8 with an elevated ERA of 4.91.  With that ERA, he was lucky to win twelve games.  If you give up 5 runs an outing; you can’t expect to have a good season.  Getting back to his checkered record, he has had a 20-4 season with the Jays in 2016 but has also had losing seasons in his career.  Happ lived through the postseason with all types of rumors of the Yankees trying to get his $17MM salary off the payroll.  He is no doubt pleased to still be here and have a chance to show the Yankees that he can be better than last year.  Happ’s contract runs through this season and a 2021 Option Vests with 165 IP or 27 Games Started in during this season.

Happ and Gerrit Cole reunite:

Happ pitched to a .778 winning percentage in 2015 when he was teammates with new Yankee Gerrit Cole.  He messaged Cole when he learned Cole would be a Yankee: “I sent him a message right away saying, ‘I hope we’ll be teammates again,’” Happ said with a laugh. “Obviously, congratulations to him. I think obviously, we’re excited to have him. Anybody would be excited to have a guy like that on your staff. But you know, we’re here now. Hopefully, we’ll move forward from that talk.”  It could be that Cole may be a help to Happ with any issues he may have.

No excuses:

Happ talked about the “juiced” ball used last year may have hurt him, he gave up a career-high 34 home runs in 161.1 innings pitched during the season, but was not using that as an excuse as other pitchers dealt with that as well.  He did talk about his shoulder/biceps issue that bothered him in 2019, he said that is no longer an issue going into the new season.

Happ figures it out:

Happ lives in Clearwater, Florida, and has been throwing at the spring training complex in nearby Tampa throughout the postseason.  At the complex, he came to use the high-speed cameras and video to look at his delivery over the years to help his progress.  “Just the way I was using my body, I think. I was struggling for a large part to kind of put it together,” Happ said. “ And I was struggling to understand why. And I think we just got to a point where it started clicking a little bit better. I was able to use my legs a little bit better, my hips a little bit better.”

Happ thinks his postseason work and analytics will help him have a better 2019 season, and he can get back to the player he has been most of his career.  When asked today how he felt to still be a Yankee, he responded: “Yeah, it’s exciting to be back, and this is the place I’d like to be for sure,” Happ said before Friday’s work out at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

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