New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole Impresses In Spring Debut

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

New York Yankees ace Gerrit Cole impressed fans in his first spring appearance in pinstripes.

He only pitched one inning, but the 29-year-old didn’t allow a hit. After the Pirates lead-off hitter popped out, Cole struck out two with a walk sandwiched in between.

The most impressive part of his outing was his velocity. It may only be February, but Cole lit up the radar, touching 98 mph. The two batters he struck out went down on three pitches, and the pop-up was on two pitches. He had trouble against the batter that he walked, putting him on first in just four pitches.

But it’s good for him to pitch with a little pressure with a runner on base. It also gives him a chance to throw a few from the stretch.

His outing lasted just 20 pitches for 12 strikes, but it was a good start. Cole has been facing his teammates in practice every day, so he’s stayed sharp. Each time he goes out in a game should be a more extended outing. His next time out, probably over the weekend, should be two innings or so.

The Yankees are split squad on Saturday, but both games are televised. One is on YES, the other on MLB Network. Hopefully, he can pitch on Saturday so fans can see him live for the first time. They aren’t on TV again until the following Tuesday (3/3) against Boston on YES and ESPN.

The Yankees are hoping that Monday is the start of an excellent season for Gerrit Cole. With a few early injuries to the rotation, the team needs him sharp to open the season in a month.

Lou Lamoriello Takes Big Swing for the New York Islanders at the Trade Deadline

New York Islanders, Lou Lamoriello

Lou Lamoriello believes in his team, and today, he made it clearly known by making the biggest move in his tenure as general manager of the New York Islanders thus far, as well as the Isles’ biggest trade deadline acquisition in nearly 13 years.

This morning, Lamoriello swung a deal for Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau for a 2020 conditional first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, and a 2022 conditional third-round pick. He then signed the 27-year-old to a long-term deal for the next six years at $5 million AAV.

“First of all, we felt that with our lineup, to solidify down the middle we needed a center iceman,” Lamoriello said in a conference call with reporters just after the 3 P.M. deadline had passed. In particular a right shot.”

The addition of Pageau immediately makes an Islander club, who has been struggling to find the right recipe for their third-line center since Valtteri Filppula left in free agency and since Casey Cizikas went down. They’re now deep down the middle for the foreseeable future with he, Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and Cizikas.

What the trade also does is add some juice to a forward corps who have been in desperate need of a spark in recent weeks.

“When you’re looking at a center you try to get a complete player who can play in all situations and certainly this young man fit the bill. He has signed an extension and we’re delighted with that, especially with the age he’s at and what we feel he can bring,” Lamoriello added.

Lamoriello wasn’t done there, as it looked like he was also gunning to snag another big-time name, Zach Parise.

Parise and Lamoriello go way back to when Parise was drafted by Lamoriello when he was the general manager in New Jersey. The deal couldn’t come to fruition, and although Lamoriello wouldn’t confirm or deny that there was some smoke to the fire, it once again showed he was taking initiative to keep improving this core group.

I had written on Friday that the pressure was on Lamoriello to do something major, even after he traded for veteran d-man Andy Greene last Sunday. Trading for Pageau was exactly that. It sends a message to the fans, players, and the coach that this is a win-now organization that’s not focusing on the future like years prior.

Making a move like this speaks volumes about Lamoriello and how he’s continuing to keep this franchise moving in the right direction.

He’s tried at the deadline last year and failed. He failed in the offseason with Artemi Panarin. This time around, he didn’t. He connected and it was a home run.

Lamoriello in one instance again changed the narrative that this franchise has a bright future ahead of it. And yes, it might be not be until down the road when we know just how important this day was. But at this moment, Lamoriello got the job done and swung for the fences to do it.

 

New York Giants: Top Prospects To Watch At The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine

The 2020 NFL Draft is right around the corner. The Draft will begin on April 23 this year. In preparation for the NFL Draft, the NFL Scouting Combine will begin this week.

The Combine is a crucial part of the draft process. Teams finally have the chance to meet and interview this year’s prospects. The New York Giants are picking fourth overall in this year’s draft and will have their pick at some of the top prospects in the class. With the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine about to kick off, let’s take a look at three of the top prospects to keep an eye on for the Giants in 2020.

Isaiah Simmons

One of the draft’s most hyped prospects is Clemson’s do-it-all linebacker, Isaiah Simmons. Simmons played nearly every position on Clemson’s defense and is an exceptional athlete. 

Dane Brugler of The Athletic said, “They might rename the combine after Isaiah Simmons after he is done with it.” According to Albert Breer of MMQB, one college scouting director forecast to Breer that Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons will run in the low 4.4s, and his “jumps are gonna be nuts.”

Isaiah Simmons is going to test extremely well in the Combine drills this week. He has the speed, size, and athleticism to drop jaws. Simmons has been linked to the Giants on many occasions, so expect them to keep an eye on the draft’s top linebacker.

Tristan Wirfs

According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, the New York Giants are “in love” with Iowa offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs is already expected to be one of the Giants’ top targets in the 2020 NFL Draft. But with a strong performance at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, Tristan could make himself a must-draft target for the Giants who have a severe need at offensive tackle.

Tristan Wirfs is expected to dominate the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. He is a mammoth of a human being, standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing 322 pounds. Despite this, Tristan can move at a somewhat rapid pace. He is expected to run a sub-4.9s 40-yard dash. He would be only the fifth offensive tackle ever to accomplish this feat and the only offensive tackle to run a sub 4.9s while weighing 322 pounds.

Tristan Wirfs has been described as a “300-pound man that moves like a dancer.” But he also moves weights like ragdolls. Tristan broke Iowa’s hang clean record with four reps of 450 pounds last year. Wirfs is sure to impress during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine and could make his way surging up teams’ draft boards.

Mekhi Becton

The Giants are in the market for an offensive tackle. Tristan Wirfs is undoubtedly one of the top options for the Giants in the 2020 NFL Draft, but there are others. Another offensive tackle to keep an eye on at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine is Mekhi Becton.

Mekhi Becton is a massive human being. He is maybe the definition of the term “hog molly” that general manager Dave Gettleman is known to use. The Lousiville offensive tackle towers over the competition at 6 feet 7 inches. He also weighs in at a humungous 369 pounds.

Becton’s size is rare. But, what makes him so unique is the athletic ability he has combined with his otherworldly stature. Lance Zierlein of NFL.com described Becton as an offensive tackle with an “enormous frame complemented by surprisingly nimble feet and functional athleticism to handle either tackle spot.” The Giants could draft Mekhi Becton to play left tackle or right tackle depending on how much they do or do not trust Nate Solder.

The Giants will be able to find a franchise building block in the 2020 NFL Draft. But that all starts with the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine. This is a crucial step in the draft process, and these three players will need to live up to expectations and impress New York if they want to get selected fourth overall.

New York Giants release TE Scott Simonson to start free agency

New York Giants, Scott Simonson, Rhett Ellison

While the New York Giants sit happily with $61 million in cap space, a bevy of cuts will ensue in the coming days to open up more space. An anticipated $80-85 million in available salary will put the Giants in a good place this free agency period, allowing them to pursue some of the best talents on the market.

To start free agency, Big Blue released tight end, Scott Simonson, who was more of a reserve option in recent seasons. After suffering a high ankle sprain during pre-season play in 2019, he failed to make an impact on the season, resulting in his departure.

The Giants will save just $331K in cap space by releasing him.

New York Yankees: Luke Voit “tore everything down there” in 2019

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

When New York Yankees‘ first baseman Luke Voit landed on the injured list with a sports hernia in 2019, most believed he would return at some point during the latter portion of the season. However, Voit ended up missing the entire post-season, forcing DJ LeMahieu into a starting role at first.

Voit’s injury was a bit more severe than previously thought, as a Philadelphia specialist gave him problematic news.

“He told me I tore everything down there,’’ said Voit. “I was happy because of how bad the season ended for me last year. I was just like, ‘Wow, I didn’t really know it was that bad.’ I tried to fight through it. I’m a competitor, I want to play. I’m feeling good and ready to get things rolling.”

Luke continued to play through the pain in the early stages before shutting himself down, only to find out he had shredded his lower abdomen. The first injury he picked up was in July against the Red Sox in London (abdominal strain), and the second was a sports hernia in late August.

He managed to convince the training staff to clear him before playoff action began but didn’t feature in any fashion. He was more of a last-resort player.

Voit will be looking to leave his mark in 2020 after having a successful 2019 campaign before his injury began to affect his performance. Hitting 21 homers and driving in 62 runs last year has put him in place to succeed after joining the Yankees as an unexpected contributor.

How did Luke Voit fare fore New York Yankees after his injury?

Prior to Voit succumbing to injury, he was slashing .280/.393/.509 through 78 games, with 17 homers and 50 RBIs. After, he slashed .228/.348/.368 in 40 games, hitting four homers and 12 RBIs. Seeing a dropoff as steep as that should give a good indication of what’s to come in 2020. Having dropped 10 pounds and looking healthier this pre-season, Voit should see a more productive campaign in the year ahead.

New York Giants: Peter King torches Dave Gettleman’s draft approach

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

It’s no secret that New York Giants‘ GM Dave Gettleman is a firm believer in taking the highest-rated player in any given NFL Draft. I anticipate that 2020 will be no different, but his approach should change given the opportunity he has to accumulate draft capital.

The New York Giants need to make the right decision:

Gettleman has never traded back in all of his years as a general manager, but the upcoming draft presents the best opportunity to do so, as the Giants have the 4th overall selection and the two teams directly behind them are in need of a quarterback.

With Tua Tagovailoa healing nicely and expected to make a full recovery, the Miami Dolphins and Chargers could be in the market for his services. If both Washington and Detroit stay put, it would put Gettleman in a position of great leverage, but knowing his history, we can’t guarantee he makes the logical decision.

In his latest “Football Morning in America” column, Peter King expresses his disdain over Gettleman’s inefficiency in the draft:

A GM who has made 45 picks has never traded down to accumulate more picks from any of the 45. That is borderline negligent. Maybe not even borderline. I am incredulous about that. As I documented last week, GM John Schneider of the Seahawks used last year’s 21st overall pick and traded down six times to accumulate six picks, one of whom was wide receiver DK Metcalf, who, as it turned out, produced better value than a 21st pick in most drafts as a rookie. And four other players from the trade played for the Seahawks last season. Trying to not make too much of that, but wow. Just wow.

Gettleman now has his third consecutive opportunity to select a player in the top 10 of the draft, and after snagging Saquon Barkley at No. 2 and Daniel Jones at No. 6, he cannot sit idly by and pass over the chance to accumulate a huge injection of assets. Make the right choice, Dave!

BREAKING NEWS: New York Rangers’ Shesterkin, Buchnevich Injured in Car Accident

New York Rangers, Igor Shesterkin

During his latest press conference on the signing of Chris Kreider, New York Rangers president John Davidson announced that Igor Sheserkin and Pavel Buchnevich had been injured in a car accident. Shesterkin sustained a “small upper-body rib fracture, not displaced” in the accident on Sunday and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.  “The estimate right now is that he will be reassessed regarding his injury in a couple of weeks,” Davidson said.

“In our business, you’re certainly dealt curveballs all the time. That’s a tough curveball we have to deal with.” Buchnevich was a passenger, and was quite shaken up according to Davidson and is day-to-day.

Davidson said the accident was in Brooklyn, and the driver in front of them made a U-turn that led to the collision. Both players were wearing seatbelts, and the airbags were deployed. The players were taken to New York-Presbyterian Hospital and seen by Ranger doctors.

The New York Rangers were fortunate to keep three goaltenders

With Shesterkin out for a few weeks, the Rangers gamble of keeping three goalies paid off. Alexandar Georgiev and Henrik Lundqvist will step in to take on the goaltending load. Georgiev has a 14-12-1 record this season with a 2.98 GAA. Lundqvist, who has not seen a lot of action recently, has a 10-13-3 record with a 3.12 GAA. The Rangers will miss Shesterkin’s outstanding play are still in good hands with Georgiev and the veteran Lundqvist.

Georgiev staying will slightly alter New York Ranger trade plans

As Georgiev will probably not be traded by the 3 PM deadline, this puts the spotlight on other players. TSN Insiders have indicated that Jesper Fast will likely be traded before the deadline. Fast was a sixth-round pick by the Rangers in 2010 and made his debut in 2013-14. He has played 413 regular-season games for the Rangers, notching 54 goals and 145 points, while adding 39 playoff games. He scored two goals in Saturday night’s 3-2 win over the visiting Sharks, including the game-winner. Even though his recent play has been excellent, his cap hit going forward, and the increased trade value of late makes his a viable option to be traded.

 

MLB.com picks the New York Mets as the fifth most likely team to win the World Series

A lot of New York Mets fans don’t believe they have a good team. And that’s understandable, to some degree: they have had quality squads in the past, only to end up in disappointment one way or another. However, I’ll get it out of the way early in the article: not only is the Mets’ roster good. It is great.

And, guess what? I’m not the only one who is high on the Mets for the 2020 season. As it turns out, Will Leitch and Mike Petriello of MLB.com ranked the league’s favorites to win the World Series from 1 to 30.

Unsurprisingly, the first team “drafted” were the New York Yankees. Leitch said: “I’m not going to overcomplicate this. They’ve got that incredible lineup — is Luke Voit really going to bat ninth? — that billion-dollar bullpen and, now, at last, the ace they’ve been missing. (Importantly so, since James Paxton will miss a few months and Luis Severino is shut down with right forearm soreness.) The Yankees famously didn’t make a World Series for the whole last decade. With the Red Sox apparently taking a step back, the Astros in limbo and the Twins (maybe the second-best team in the AL right now?) forever getting kicked around in The Bronx come October, it has been a long, long time since they were more primed to win one than in 2020.”

Next in the ranking are the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the first team from the National League in World Series odds according to MLB.com’s pair. The Houston Astros were picked third despite their rocky offseason, and the up-and-coming Minnesota Twins were fourth in the ranking.

Guess who is fifth in the ranking? You guessed it, the New York Mets!

Analyzing the Mets’ odds

While Leitch noted that there is a big gap between the top four teams and the Mets, and that is “crazy” to pick them, he rationalized his decision.

“I think they’re the best team in the NL East. You’ve got to pick a division champ before you start grabbing any Wild Cards, and the first four teams picked look like solid chalk for division champs. But the NL East and NL Central? Who knows? Mets fans deserve this. Darn it, Mike, they need it. You gotta have a team every year that you’re higher on than everyone else. For me, that team this year is the Mets,” he explained in their funny exchange.

Heck, Leitch even joked that he would speak with the editor to make the article disappear in six months. But there is something about these New York Mets that make them bonafide contenders.

They have a strong lineup highlighted by Pete Alonso, Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, Wilson Ramos and the up-and-coming Amed Rosario. They have the ace in Jacob deGrom, the rotation depth, and, believe it or not, the bullpen. The Mets also have the depth and the possible return of slugger Yoenis Cespedes.

The NL East is going to be a four-team race that could go until September. But the Mets have more than just “a chance.”

BREAKING NEWS: Chris Kreider Re-Signs with the New York Rangers

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

In a long-awaited move, the New York Rangers have announced that forward Chris Kreider has re-signed with the team in a seven-year contract at an AAV of 6.5 mIllion. Now the Rangers and their fans will wait to see what happens to the other Rangers who could be traded.

Chris Kreider is a long time New York Ranger

On April 10, 2012, Chris Kreider signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Rangers. He joined New York the following day for practice and was declared eligible to participate in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.  Kreider made his NHL debut a few days later in a Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-finals on April 16, 2012, and scored his first career NHL goal in Game 6 of that series.

Before joining the Blueshirts, Kreider won two NCAA championships with Boston College. In addition, Kreider scored six goals for the gold medal-winning United States World Junior Championship team in 2010.  He was chosen to represent the United States once again at the 2011 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and led the team with four goals in six games as Team USA won the bronze medal.

In all, Kreider has played in 520 games in New York, scoring 157 goals and 159 assists. This season he has 24 goals and 21 assists. Of course, it is many of the hockey intangibles that have endured him to the New York Rangers and their fans.

Who will be traded from the New York Rangers?

Versatile right-winger Jesper Fast seems to be the next on the list to be traded. Fast’s value may never be higher, considering his current cap hit and recent play. He netted two goals Saturday night in the Rangers victory over the San Jose Sharks.  In addition to Fast,  the Rangers pending free agents and possible trades are as follows: Alexandar Georgiev, Tony DeAngelo, Brendan Lemieux, Ryan Strome, Micheal Haley, and Greg McKegg. DeAngelo, Strome, and Lemieux are all restricted free agents, giving the Rangers some leverage in negotiations if they decide to keep them.

New York Yankees: Jonathan Loaisiga, The Potential Exists, but Only When Consistency Is Present

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

On Sunday afternoon, the New York Yankees fell short to the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-9, dropping the Yanks record to 0-2 in Spring Training.

Yes, they have now lost back-to-back games, but in the grand scheme of things, Spring Training doesn’t remotely indicate how this team will perform in the regular season.

However, there is at least one positive takeaway that should excite any and all die-hard Yankee fans…and that prime positive is Jonathan Loaisiga.

Jonathan Loaisiga pitched well through 1 inning of work, striking out 1 batter and giving up no hits or runs in the process.

In 2019, Loaisiga recorded a 4.55 ERA, 4.94 FIP, 1.48 WHIP and a 4.34 SIERA through 31.2 innings pitched. He also struck out 10.52 batters per 9 innings, walked 4.55 batters per 9 innings and gave up 1.71 home runs per 9 innings.

While the majority of these numbers aren’t outstanding by any stretch of the imagination, his strikeouts per 9 innings stat sheet is important to take tabs on.

Last season, the league average for strikeouts per 9 innings among relievers was at 9.29 and 8.58 among starters, revealing that Loaisiga was above league average in both categories. He was also in the 95th percentile for fastball velocity, 84th percentile for fastball spin and 89th percentile for curve spin.

Loaisiga utilized his four-seem fastball at a 47.7% usage rate, his curve at 30.8%, his changeup at 12.9% and his sinker at 8.6%.

Impressively, Loaisiga was familiar for fooling hitters and accumulated a 14.2% swing and miss rate. This was 2.4% above the league average among relievers and 3.5% above the league average among starters. His swing and miss rate was significantly higher when throwing four-seem fastballs than any other pitch in his arsenal.

It’s also worth mentioning the astonishing whiff percentage Loasigia possessed when throwing either a changeup or curve. When releasing a changeup, he made batters whiff 50% of the time. When releasing a curve, he made batters whiff 45.8% of the time. In all, he made batters whiff 33.2% of the time, above league average by 7.5%.

Loaisiga was also experienced at pressuring batters to chase out of the strike zone. Out of 592 total pitches thrown, batters chased out of the zone 28.9%, just above league average by 0.1%.

If Loaisiga can effectively and precisely locate his fastball, changeup and curve on a regular basis, he will become both a weapon to bolster the bullpen and a reliable source in high leverage situations.