New York Giants: Is Miami having a change of heart on Tua?

Tua Tagovailoa

It’s no secret that the New York Giants are sitting in a great spot with the number four overall pick.  April’s draft could still become much more interesting if things go a little differently than expected.

The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero suggests that the Miami Dolphins might prefer Oregon’s Justin Herbert over Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.  Per Salguero, the Dolphins are not fully sold on Tua’s durability. The Alabama star suffered a season-ending hip injury against Mississippi State.  This was not the first setback for Tua.  In the 2018 season alone, Tagovailoa suffered injuries to his knee, quad, and ankle on three separate occasions. This string of knocks could certainly raise serious concerns for a team searching for their franchise QB.

What this could mean for the Giants’ draft plans.

It is nothing new to suggest Miami could use their draft capital to third with the Detroit Lions to acquire Tua.  They very well could do the same for Justin Herbert.  

This wouldn’t change things for the Giants if they were to stay at four.  They’d still have their pick of an offensive tackle, or a defensive playmaker, such as Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons.  However, if Tua is still available at four, the return for a trade back by the Giants could increase.

It has already been well documented that the Los Angeles Chargers and QB Philip Rivers have parted ways.  The Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton’s divorce seems inevitable.  As well, with the young QB guru Joe Brady on board, a new signal-caller makes plenty of sense.  Let us also not forget Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders. Although going from fourth to the twelve spots is unappealing, acquiring another first-round pick (Las Vegas owns the 19th pick as well) is not something to easily shy away from.

These teams have already been rumored as potential trade partners for the Giants.  However, if Tua and his talents are available, that bidding war could become much more intense.  

What could the Giants get for the 4th overall pick?

As ESM’s Anthony Rivardo suggested last week, the New York Giants return on a trade back from fourth for a QB could already be large.  If one of these quarterback-needy teams prefers Tua’s skillset to Herbert’s and Tagovailoa is available at four, the likelihood of a future first-round pick being in the return increases significantly.  

It is far too early to speculate let 2021 NFL Draft and remaining optimistic for the 2020 NFL season is important.  However, for a team that is really not soon making any deep playoff runs, these extra picks this year and beyond are critical.  Although Dave Gettleman has never traded back in the first before, now would be the year to do so.

New York Mets: Tim Tebow has a dream, but needs to work a lot to reach it

New York Mets

Tim Tebow isn’t giving up on his dream to reach the big leagues with the New York Mets. In an interview with the team’s beat writer for MLB.com Anthony DiComo, the former football player opened up about several subjects.

He traveled a lot during the offseason but still managed to follow his usual routine to open up space for baseball.
After training in some unconventional places (Maldives and the Vatican among those) he reported to the New York Mets’ camp this week for his fourth straight spring training with the team.

“That would obviously be something that would be special, and I think another part of the dream,” Tebow said of making the Majors. “Part of it’s just playing every day and enjoying it and competing, which I love. Obviously, that would be awesome. It would be a lie if I said that wouldn’t be super cool. Of course that would be something that would be special. But I wouldn’t say it would be a success or failure if that did or did not happen.”

Tebow has slowly worked his way up to Triple-A. Last season wasn’t good by any means: he slashed .163/.240/.255 in 264 plate appearances and ran a 37.1 K%. His season included health issues and was ended prematurely by a finger laceration.

He will return, for now, to the Syracuse Mets

He will return to Syracuse to start the year and would need to improve his performance and stay healthy to reach his dream. Specifically, he should focus in trimmin that strikeout rate and improving his contact skills. But he is passionate about baseball, and that should help him.

“I’ve tried to be someone that when I love something or I’m passionate about it, I kind of go all in for it,” Tebow said. “Hopefully, that’s something that anyone can see about my life. And I think that’s the biggest thing. And I think that’s also for a time. I think there are seasons for our life that are called for different things, and hopefully this is part of that season in my life.”

He declined an invitation to join the XFL and be a quarterback again to focus on baseball. Mets’ manager Luis Rojas defined Tebow as a “prospect” but at 32, he may be running out of time. However, Rojas believes that Tebow “can be a big leaguer at some point.”

And even if he doesn’t reach the Show, Tebow will use his status to contribute to society. “If all we did was try to play and win or lose a game, then it still doesn’t matter,” Tebow said. “But if you can transcend that, the platform that you’re given with football or baseball or something, and you can take that to inspire or change or encourage another life, then you did something that truly matters, in my opinion. And that’s ultimately something that I want to have in my life.”

Can anyone overcome the Yankees for the AL Pennant in 2020?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

2019 saw the New York Yankees and the Astros face off in the ALCS for the AL Pennant, which came down to a walk-off home run from Jose Altuve in game 6, which in its’ own regard, is still questioned about its’ legitimacy. I think it is fair to think these 2 teams could potentially end up in the ALCS again this year. The Yankees have to be the favorite for the AL Pennant based on their off-season acquisition of Gerrit Cole, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, at worst in the top 3. That big-time move is combined with their already #1 offense in baseball, scoring the most runs per game in 2019 at 5.77 (according to teamrankings.com) and second-most in 2018 at 5.22. Their pitching addition adds to a rotation already with the likes of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and James Paxton. In addition, they have one of the top bullpens with Aroldis Chapman, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, Adam Ottavino and Chad Green.

The American League East competition lies in the Rays, who lost to the Astros in the 2019 ALDS, and the Red Sox, who just traded away 2 of their starters. The American League Central has the Twins who bolstered their already prolific lineup and added pitching and the White Sox who had the busiest off-season. Then, of course, the West has the Astros and the Angels who added Anthony Rendon to form a truly dynamic duo with Mike Trout. While this is going to be stiff competition, the Yankees were 2 games and a few breaks away from going to the World Series last year, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to again be a contender.

Added motivation

The Yankees are literally chomping at the bit to get the season started in 2020, and to say they have added motivation might be an understatement. After the whole Astros cheating scandal played itself out throughout the off-season, many Yankees fans (and players) believe they were cheated, quite literally, out of a title shot in 2017, 2018, and potentially 2019. I have no doubt they will be motivated to run through the league and prove they belong in the World Series where they should have been in recent years.

Gerrit Cole said in his introductory Spring Training conference,

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole
Dec 18, 2019; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole, center, holds the sign he was photographed holding at the 2001 World Series as a kid as he poses for photos with Hal Steinbrenner, left, and his wife Amy during a press conference at Legends Club at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

“I’ve been champing at the bit quite a bit this off-season… I love it, it’s a dream to go out there every day and try to win every single time” This is a guy who is ready to lay it all on the line, and win a championship for the team he grew up rooting for as a kid.

When Gary Sanchez was asked his opinion of Jose Altuve not wanting his shirt ripped off he said, “I can tell you that if I hit a homer and I get my team to the World Series, they can rip off my pants… Everything. They can rip everything off. If I get my team to the World Series, hitting a walk-off homer like that, they can rip anything off.” Again, this sounds like a guy who wants to get it done this year, and all of them have to feel this way after the scandal came out.

Unfinished Business

The Yankees are returning nearly an identical roster to the one they fielded in the 2019 ALCS, and their depth is one of the best in baseball, their roster is the star-studded top to bottom. To say World Series or bust might be a stretch, but for a team that has that goal nearly every year amidst their history maybe it’s not so far-fetched. The team seems to have a different air about them this year. It almost feels like a redemption tour for the Yankees, and one of those seasons we see them tear through the league as we have become accustomed to for so many years.

If it does end up that the Astros and Yankees face off once again in the 2020 ALCS, that would assume that the Astros know how to play baseball without cheating. This is a radically different scenario for the Astros compared to 2019 and previous seasons. There will be one incredible pitcher in a different dugout when the 2020 regular season begins, and Gerrit Cole could make all the difference being in a Yankees uniform in 2020.

New York Yankees report to spring training and Astros lose pitcher Martes to one-year suspension

New York Yankees, Albert Abreu

Yesterday New York Yankee players reported to spring camp at the training complex at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. They joined Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Miguel Andujar,  all of which arrived early for an early start on spring training.  Their first training workouts will be today under the warm Florida sun.  They will do stretching exercises and make fundamental plays to sharpen their skills for the first Yankee spring training game that will be this coming Saturday, February 22nd, at home at 1 pm in the park named after former Yankee owner George “the boss” Steinbrenner.  Their first game will be against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pitchers and catchers:

Pitchers and catchers reported this past Wednesday; their workout began on Thursday with all eyes, including the media on offseason acquisition  Gerrit Cole.  Cole did not disappoint even given a pitcher clinic after this first pitch as a Yankee.  J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka threw live batting practice today. However, their first pitches didn’t draw the attention that Gerrit Cole did they will still provide the much-needed depth,  The staring rotation will be Gerrit Cole at the top of the rotation the will feature Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, mostly likely rounding up that rotation will be Jordan Montgomery.  James Paxton underwent back surgery and won’t return to the rotation until June.  Domingo German, who is out on suspension for breaking the domestic violence rule of the MLB, will be back after the remain 63 games of his suspension have been completed.  German was 18-4 last year before his suspension and will probably take his place as the number three or four starter in the rotation.  On Monday, Happ threw a total of 28 pitches in two innings and Tanaka 20 in one frame.

The bullpen is solid with Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Chad Green.  Green, who was a starter in several games, will be backed up in the bullpen by Luis Cessa,  Ben Heller, and Jonathan Loaisiga.  Anchoring the entire bullpen is Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman who was the first time winner of the Reliever of the Year Award.  Chapman, 31, pitched to a 2.21 ERA over 57 innings, striking out 85. He saved 37 games and made his second straight All-Star team and sixth overall.

Yankee players report:

With player workout scheduled to start tomorrow,  Mike Ford and Luke Voit will be competing for the starting position at first base with Luke Voit expected to get it unless he underperforms during spring training.  Ford, while replacing Voit last year, hit 12 home runs in just 50 games. Second base is solid with 2019 Silver Slugger DJ LeMahieu and the “machine” hitter in his position.   Gleyber Torres will be practicing hard to show that he can replace shortstop Didi Gregorius that signed with the Phillies during the offseason when the Yankees failed to take up his option.  Third base is Gio Urshela’s to lose after his breakout season last year.  Gary Sanchez will be the backstop while his backup will Kyle Higashioka will most likely be backup after the loss of Austin Romine to the Tigers. However, Kratz, Iannetta, and Thole with also be competing for the position.

In the outfield, Aaron Judge has the right field nailed down with his excellent play. With the injured Aaron Hicks out until sometime around that All-Star break, Brett Gardner will be capability handling the center field.  Giancarlo Stanton will handle the left-field spot; unless he is DH’ing, in that case, Mike Tauchman will be charged with defense in left.  In 87 games, Tauchman batted .277 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs.

Interviewed yesterday, he said:

“I am grateful for the opportunity I got.’’ “Our team dealt with significant injuries last year. We won a lot of games [103], but at the same time, it is the New York Yankees, and [we are] expected to win a championship.’’

Miguel Andujar will be tested to play three different positions, his traditional 3rd base, first base and in the outfield.  On Monday, he took fly balls in the outfield of Field 3 with Aaron Judge.  With Andujar’s powerful bat, they will want him in the lineup.  He may alternate with Giancarlo Stanton as the DH.

Referring to Miggy: 

“We will get him out there in a lot of different situations and positions but also being mindful of the demands that creates.’’

Astros fifth starter suspended for one year testing positive for PED’S

As if the Astros need any more problems as they report to spring training, Major League Baseball announced today the Astros starter, Francis Martes, is to be suspended for 162 games and will miss the entire 2020 season.  The punishment was harsh as it’s Martes’s second positive test for PED’s.  Martes will also not be paid during his suspension.  He tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone.

The Players Association issued a statement on the suspension:

“Throughout our system, players are educated through MLB’s drug prevention and treatment programs,” the Astros said in a statement. “We hope that Francis will learn from this experience moving forward.”  With the Astros cheating scandal, this is just what they needed that will certainly not help their reputation as cheaters.

Fennelly: Silent Cespedes to Let His Bat Do the Talking

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

Who cares if New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cepedes speaks to the media or not? I certainly don’t, and you shouldn’t, either.

We’re talking about a player who hasn’t played in a game since July 20, 2018 and has had so many unusual injuries and setbacks, his career has become bizarre to the point where it’s almost comical.

Cespedes was once the Mets’ cornerstone player, their main power source. But times have changed. The team’s talent base has grown. They are the team of Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario now.

Cespedes’ heel problems and run-in with a wild boar on his ranch last year are a backstory these days. The Mets are more concerned with their two massive faux pas this offseason – the poor vetting that led them to hire – and fire – manager Carlos Beltran and the botched sale of the franchise to billionaire Steven A. Cohen.

Cespedes is currently just getting back into the swing of things. He doesn’t really have a place in the lineup or even on the roster. His salary for this season was to be nearly $30 million but the Mets had him over a barrel after fracturing his ankle in an encounter with a wild boar and whittled his salary down to approximately $6 million for this season. He can gain back $20 million via incentives, but that means he’d have to stay healthy, which is something he hasn’t been able to do.

Asked to make a few statements upon his return to the team in Port St. Lucie on Monday, Cespedes was respectful but curt.

“No,” he said. “Not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year”.

Asked why, he simply replied: “because I don’t want to”.

Fine. Like I said, who cares what he has to say, anyway. It would just add to the non-baseball fodder that’s been permeating this team’s narrative thus far in 2020. WFAN’s Joe Benigno agrees with me that Cespedes is better off staying quiet and letting his bat do the talking.

“I don’t care if he doesn’t talk to the media,” Benigno said on the air Monday. “Go play. As long as he plays, go out there, get my team a big year, I don’t care if you talk to anybody. I don’t care. You don’t talk to the wild boars. You don’t talk to the camels. I don’t care who you don’t talk to. Go out there and get my team a big freaking year. That’s all that matters to me about Yoenis Cespedes. He’s not going to be on the team next season. We know that. This is it. It’s his last year here no matter what. Go out and take my team to a World Series.”

The Mets are hoping they can get anything out of the 34-year-old slugger, who looked better than expected in the batting cage on Monday.

“His mindset is really to go into the progression, to get into the feel of doing the activity out there,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He claims, ‘It’s almost been like two years since I’ve seen pitchers.’ But he was ticking the ball. He was on time. That’s not easy to do. So he’s happy that he’s joining the guys, he’s joining the team and he’s doing the activities. I think he felt good about his timing today and how some things played out during the workout.”

New York Yankees on top, and Stanton’s comeback: The PECOTA Projections

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

PECOTA Projections show the New York Yankees as No.1

The baseballpropectus.com has issued its crystal ball 2020 projections. They are done annually and throughout the season.  On the site, they issue a warning: “Please remember that PECOTA and our simulations do not “pick” a team to “win” any particular number of games. Rather, they identify an estimated range of games a team might win and tells you the average of that fairly wide range. That is the point of the visualizations. Any one of those outcomes is possible. However, some of them, as you can see, are more likely than others.” PECOTA stands for Player Empirical Comparison, and Optimization Test Algorithm is BP’s proprietary system that projects player and team performance.

The PECOTA standing shows the New York Yankees with a one-game lead over the Houston Astros for the best in the American League total of 99 wins.  The only team to come out ahead of the Yankees in baseball is the National League Los Angeles Dodgers, fresh off their acquisition of Mookie Betts and David Price.  The model shows the Dodgers with 103 wins.   In somewhat of a surprise, it also shows the New York Mets besting the Washington Nationals for a one-game lead in the NL East.  In the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays come in second to the Yankees with 87 wins, Boston with 84 with the Jays and Orioles trailing.

Interestingly the projections for the Yankees have been off by about two games in the negative for the last few years.  Based on that, give or take it would put the Yankees at 101 wins, which I believe is more accurate, as they have won 100 games in 2018, and with unprecedented injuries last year, they won 103 games.  With the addition of true ace Gerrit Cole, and hopefully a much more healthy team this year, it would appear to support this writer’s opinion over the issued projections.  Nevertheless, they do have the Yankees on top. In another interesting forecast, they have newly hired Joe Girardi’s Phillies coming in at less than a .500 winning percentage.

Projection model shows Stanton improvement

Giancarlo Stanton, after having two unimpressive seasons for the Yankees, and they paid the big bucks for him after being the 2017 National League MVP winner, he is projected to play much better this year and most importantly while making 595 plate appearances.  Stanton plays the left outfield and is frequently a DH in the lineup.  Last year he hit .288 with three homers in only 59 at batts.  The PECOTA model shows him hitting .257/.353/.537 for a sharp line.  But the huge difference is that he is projected to remain healthy appear in as many games as he did in his MVP season.

Just like the team standing, I believe he will hit better than that.  I question the plate appearances as his injury history has not been wonderful although he did make a career-high 705 plate appearances in 2018.  If he stays healthy, it’s not unreasonable to assume he will hit in the 40 plus range for home runs, and become very productive.

Field Manager Aaron Boone recently said of Stanton: “I felt like his process and his work, even in the small number of games that he did play for us, is at that quality to start the season before he got hurt. Then, he came back and had the fluke (injury), where he hurt his knee on a weird slide into third base. His at-bats and his focus and his process were good last year. I felt like he was going to have a monster season for us. And I feel that way very much going into this year.”

“So the big thing is going to be just keeping him healthy, keeping him built up properly, using spring training smartly. And I do feel like he’s got a special season. The desire and the burn is very much there.” The Yankees are hoping Stanton can have a 2017 like season as they are still on the hook for nine more years of his $325 million guaranteed deal he signed in November 2014.  He will earn $26 million this year.

New York Mets: Lowrie is practicing with no restrictions; Cespedes is still limited

Simeon Woods-Richardson

Two New York Mets‘ players that aren’t in the cards to be regulars as of now, but are near locks to make the roster if healthy, are making progress injury-wise. Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie are, according to manager Luis Rojas, making progress.

Lowrie came to the Mets prior to the 2019 season. However, he only managed eight plate appearances with a variety of injuries, including a left knee issue that is about to turn a year old.

Cespedes, meanwhile, hasn’t played since July 2018 with multiple heel injuries. The 2019 season was also a lost one, after he had a run-in with a wild boar that resulted in a broken ankle.

Per Rojas, Lowrie was a full participant in the Mets’ sessions and workouts. He had no physical restrictions and took ground balls, took live batting practice and more. “Jed is a full go in practice,” the skipper said. He is still wearing a brace.

Lowrie reported to Mets’ camp with a large brace

When he reported to the New York Mets’ camp on Sunday, Lowrie appeared with a large knee brace. He said it helped him manage the “symptoms” he was feeling, although he failed to specify which those were.

The Cuban outfielder, meanwhile, had an eventful first workout day on Monday. He declined to talk to the press covering the Mets in Port St. Lucie. He also said that he didn’t plan on doing so at any moment in the year.

Cespedes is working hard to get back on the field and earn a spot in the opening day roster because he would earn $5 more million if that happens, per the details of his reworked contract.

He participated in the majority of activities, but as of now, remains a limited participant in workouts until further notice. It’s unclear what chances he has of making the 26-man roster.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge already missing practice with shoulder ailment

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees reported on Tuesday morning that Aaron Judge would be kept out of team-related drills due to a shoulder injury that was bothering him. The ailment seems to be minor and more maintenance-related than anything, but it’s worth noting after fielders reported to camp on Monday.

Judge was not seen at batting practice for the first full day of training, but he was able to participate in other non-strenuous drills to mitigate any injury concern.

The Yankees’ top youth player at 27-years-old, missed 50 games last season with a bevy of issues, ranging from a chipped bone in his wrist to lat issues. Judge is undoubtedly looking to bounce back with a healthy season in 2020.

The New York Rangers Need to Have an Appropriate Exit Strategy for Henrik Lundqvist

In a bit of a surprise move, the New York Rangers started Alexandar Georgiev in net for the second night in a row.  Georgiev started Thursday night in Minnesota and was given the start on the back-to-back against Columbus. The conventional wisdom would be to start Henrik Lundqvist and give the young goaltender the night off, but that did not happen. The thinking was that since Georgiev played well against the Wild, and Lundqvist had not played much lately, the Rangers would go with the youngster. Igor Shesterkin had been named as the number one starter but sat out for the second night in a row with an ankle injury. The end result was good as the Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 3-1, giving them their third straight road victory.  However, a concern will be how the Blueshirts treat their demoted veteran netminder Henrik Lundqvist for the rest of the time that he remains in New York.

Lundqvist deserves a respectful sendoff from the New York Rangers

It is not like Lundqvist has been playing poorly this year. While the 37-year-old veteran may not be as good as he used to be, he is still playing at a solid level. But for the past month-and-a-half, the Rangers have been using a three goalie rotation, with Lundqvist being the odd-man-out. Since Shesterkin’s recall from the AHL in early January, Lundqvist has started just three games for the Rangers, the fewest among the three goalies on the team, with Shesterkin getting the bulk of the playing time.  So, the simple answer is to trade someone, right? Well, that is not as easy as it seems. There had been speculation that the Rangers might trade Georgiev, but a rebuilding team dealing away a 23-year-old goalie doesn’t make much sense unless you are getting a nice haul in return. That has not happened so far. Lundqvist could be traded, but he has a no-movement clause and has stated that he wants to finish his career in New York. He does deserve that consideration but it might mean that he has to be the third goaltender for at least the rest of the season. It could also create a situation where instead of a trade, the Rangers and Lundqvist agree to a buyout of the final year of his contract, making a clean break and allowing Lundqvist to become a free agent. Whatever happens, the Rangers need to finalize things with the class and dignity that Henrik Lundqvist has given to New York for the past 15 years.

New York Yankees: Boone hints that Stanton will most likely be DH

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

The New York Yankees have reported to Spring Training and games are just around the corner. Manager Aaron Boone spoke to the media on Monday and has spoken about certain players and alluded to who’s going to be playing where. He’s already said that Gio Urshela will be the starting first basemen and that Luke Voit will be the starting first basemen.

Giancarlo Stanton has some big questions surrounding his name entering the new season, and one of them is will he be healthy enough to play consistent outfield?

“I could envision him playing a good portion of outfield but I could also envision things unfolding in a way that makes it to where he’s getting more DH reps,” Boone said. “The thing about Giancarlo is, he’s comfortable doing either. He’s comfortable in left field … but he’s also taken to the DH role.”

Last season, Stanton missed the entire season except for 18 games because of several injuries he experienced all year. 2018 was his last season where he was fully healthy and he batted .266 with 38 home runs and knocked in 100 RBIs.

“We’ll go easy with him early … I go through kind of his routine with him probably as much as I do with anyone. In fact, I was just talking to him about it. So, he may not play those first couple games but I would expect him probably that second home game,” said Boone. “And then we’ll just decide, you know, if we want to go outfield right away or some kind of DH role at the start but now he’s good to go and [we] fully expect him to hit and run.”