New York Yankees: Revisiting the Stanton Trade, and the huge ‘what if’

New York Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

As the 2020 season rears its head back and steams toward us, and with Giancarlo Stanton injuring his calf in the Spring Training game Wednesday afternoon, I figured what better time to revisit the Stanton trade than now. More specifically, I wanted to have a bit of fun and explore the possible ‘what if’ the Yankees had traded for a different Miami Marlins outfielder — Christian Yelich. Seeing as to how a lot of Yankees fans feel as if the team got the worse of the two players, I wanted to dive into a comparison of both players and how I still am perfectly happy with Giancarlo.

Stanton’s Time in New York

Giancarlo Stanton has been a very solid player for the Yankees, when he’s on the field. The production is undoubtedly still there, and his talent is at the top of the league. With that, he has had trouble staying healthy over the last year. His injuries, while all seemingly unlucky and unrelated to one another, still stack up and cause him to miss significant time. For Stanton to be missing this much time, especially with his hefty contract, is hard for everyone involved in the equation.

As tough as it must’ve been for Stanton to miss virtually all of last season, and to already be forced off the field with a hamstring injury, the Yankees have had to manage because of his absence as well. With the incredible career year by Gardner, and the emergence of Mike Tauchman, Stanton’s injury wasn’t as big of a deal as it could’ve been. However, in 2018, Stanton showed that he was deserving of the ’17 NL MVP award, despite regressing. The regression, was expected, as Stanton smashed 59 HR’s and posted a WRC+ of 158 in 2017. Both staggering numbers, but the ’18 season he was more than solid. Stanton ended up OPS’ing .852 to go with a WRC+ of 129 and hit 38 home runs. To say he’s a liability at this point, or that the Yankees chose the “worse” between he and Yelich would be a false statement. While Yelich has been absolutely insane, and won an MVP with Milwaukee, there’s no true telling how he would’ve done in Pinstripes.

The thing with Stanton is that when he’s on the field, he’s one of the best players in baseball. Both offensively and defensively, Stanton is menacing and oozes quality. He played 158 games in 2018, following up the 159 he appeared in in ’17, so saying he’s injury prone and inconsistent with playtime would be incorrect. His injuries have been ones that linger, and when he does get healthy, something else pops up that drags out his rehab process. I don’t view him as an injury prone player, or not nearly as much as the stretch from ’12-’16 — where he only appeared in 140 games once. I am not upset having Stanton in New York, and I think his mentality and the way he plays the game embodies the Yankee way. He’s focused on his craft and enjoys living his life off the field, often reserved he leads by his play and his pedigree. Stanton has made a career off of being one of the most feared hitters in the league, as whenever he steps in the box opposing pitchers tremble. His mammoth power is second to only Aaron Judge, and he has an incredible baseball mind as well.

Revisiting the Trade Packages

For the sake of looking back, and rethinking some things, I figured it’d be interesting to see how Yelich may have done in Pinstripes. For starters, re-working the trade package is one of the first glaring things I see as a problem. When the Yankees acquired Stanton, the package they gave up for him was small, as they ended up taking on the at-the-time goliath contract. New York ended up sending Starlin Castro, Jose Devers and Jorge Guzman to Miami, in exchange for Stanton — and his $25,000,000 AAV contract. Looking back at the trade now, especially with how many large contracts have been handed out like candy over the past few years, paying $25 mil a season for a player of Stanton’s caliber is definitely worth it.

As for the Yelich trade, Miami ended up receiving Lewis Brinson — who was at the time the Brewers’ top prospect — as well as Jordan Yamamoto, Isan Diaz and Monte Harrison. Yamamoto is now one of the Marlins’ flurry of rotational arms, and Brinson has been absolutely dreadful. However, looking back at the time of the trade, there was no telling that Brinson would be where he is at now — fighting for a roster spot on the Marlins this Spring. If the Yankees were to want to acquire Yelich instead of Stanton, they would’ve likely had to have offered Andujar or Torres, as well as a flurry of other talented prospects. For me, as amazing as Yelich has been with the Brewers, would it have been worth it to see off Torres and/or Andujar, for someone — who at the time — was a talented player, and was predicted for roughly 5.0 fWAR the following season? In short, no. While New York never made a formal offer for Yelich — as they had their sights on Stanton and acquired him well before Yelich was traded — the Marlins were asking for Acuna from the Braves in exchange for Yelich. Essentially, Miami was asking every team to fork over their best prospect for him.

The Transition to New York

Christian Yelich is one of the best players in all of baseball, and is the best player in the National League, with the exception of arguably Mookie Betts. Coming into the 2018 season, however, Stanton was the better player of the two. Not to mention, he was coming at a far cheaper price — due to his contract. However, looking now and comparing the two, Christian Yelich is definitely the better player without a doubt. With that, nobody saw him producing back to back MVP seasons, as ultimately his repeat was derailed by him getting injured. I viewed Yelich as one of the better outfielders in baseball, as he’s clearly a talented 5-tool player, but I didn’t think he was as good or as talented as Giancarlo Stanton.

Next, there’s always a worry with players being able to adapt to the Yankee lifestyle and what comes with it. Being a member of the Yankees means that you are on one of the best clubs, and the most prestigious club, in all of baseball. What comes with that is the expectation to be great and to perform when called upon. There have been many players that had high expectations and ended up floundering in Pinstripes. Sonny Gray, AJ Burnett, and Jacoby Ellsbury — for a great portion of his Yankee career — all failed to live up to expectations set. With that, all of them saw success elsewhere, as Sonny Gray specifically bounced back in glorious fashion this last year with Cincinnati. To say Yelich wouldn’t perform in New York would be ignorant and a statement that holds no substance. However, to say that there are doubts about if Yelich would have acclimated as well as Stanton did in his transition from the small market Marlins to the Yankees, is a valid statement in every way.

The Yankees didn’t get the “worse” of the Two

With Spring Training now under way, and the season right around the corner, 2020 looks to be a massive year for both Stanton and Yelich. Even with this hamstring injury, it shouldn’t be problematic for Stanton as he looks on track to be back by Opening Day, if not a few games after. I have high expectations for Giancarlo, and still believe he is at the top of the crop of players in the entire league. His projections, by ZiPS, Steamer, and THE BAT, all have him hitting at least 40 HR’s and pairing it with a WRC+ of 130+. With that, the collective expectation is that Stanton plays 130-140 games this upcoming season, which makes those projections all the more impressive. As for Christian Yelich, his HR low projection amongst those sources, is 36. To go with that, they have him posting a WRC+ of at least 144, and playing in at least 142 games.

With both players, there is no “worse” of the two, in my opinion. The last two years, I will say, Yelich has been the far more productive and better of the two. With that, the year prior Giancarlo clubbed as many HR’s in that individual year as Yelich had hit from the years ’13-’17 — and posted a 7.3 fWAR season. I would say the ceiling for both players is in the stratosphere, and even if Stanton is to be used as a DH a fair amount this year, his value and role will still be undisputed. Yelich may be the better of the two now, and could be for the future, but the Yankees got an incredible player in Stanton and he fits the role and what the Yankees need — and needed, perfectly.

Essentially, the Yankees didn’t make a mistake trading for Stanton. He is an incredible player and a great presence to have in the clubhouse as well. If he is to be tormented by these small-ish injuries that develop and turn into something that is around longer, this season, I would be massively disappointed and somewhat surprised. Stanton is a consistent player and takes care of his body, so the idea his injuries are because he’s not in shape, or to blame it on the Yankees, needs to be done away with.

Giancarlo looks to put together a fantastic year, and combine with the rest of the talented New York Yankees in the hunt for number 28. As for Yelich, he looks to lead the Brewers in the loaded NL Central, and make his case for his second NL MVP.

 

New York Yankees: ‘Next Man Up’ Mentality Continues Through the 2020 Season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees are yet again faced with the dilemma of the “next man up” mentality before the season has even started. Giancarlo Stanton is out indefinitely with a calf strain and may not be ready for opening day. James Paxton will miss three to four months and Luis Severino will miss the whole 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Many can now say the Yankees are used to playing through and dealing with injuries, so this nothing new nor surprising at all. Luckily, there are players from last season that got playing time in the Major Leagues because of the absurd amount of injuries. They will have to step up and perform similarly to how they played last year.

Likely “Next Man Up” Players for the 2020 Season

Clint Frazier

This is the year for Frazier to finally prove that he belongs on a Major League roster. He had a nice stretch offensively when the outfielders started to go down with injuries early on in the season. His defense will be the question that defines his ability to stay on the roster. In a backup role to Miguel Andujar or Mike Tauchman, he provides power near the lower third of the lineup.

Mike Tauchman

The player who sparked the “next man up’ mentality, Tauchman, has a chance to split time with Andujar, Wade, and Frazier in left and backup Gardner in center. He was a brilliant surprise last year and is another example of Cashman working his magic, bringing in unforeseen talent. In just 87  games, Tauchman batted .277, hit 13 home runs, and flashed the leather in multiple outfield positions.

Tyler Wade

The Yankees new utility man, Tyler Wade, has become a very valuable player to the team. His ability to play multiple positions becomes more important when a starting outfielder goes down with an injury. He will need to backup Andujar or Frazier in left, backup Torres at short, and LeMahieu at second.

Jonathan Loaisiga

Loaisiga appeared mostly out of the bullpen in 2019 but has the stuff and velocity to become spot-starter or even the fifth pitcher in the rotation. He reached the upper 90s with his fastball and had a nice appearance against the Houston Astros in the postseason.   He and Jordan Montgomery are most likely going to round out the rotation to begin the year.

New York Yankees fans, keep your fingers crossed this is the last time we hear or say the word “injury” all season. Even if they do occur, the “next man up’ mentality worked for the Yankees last year and there is a high chance of success this year. They will have the same players filling those roles for the second year in a row. As long as the starters produce numbers like they did last year, the Yankees will still win plenty of games.

 

Red-Hot Mika Zibanejad leads New York Rangers to their Ninth Straight Road Win

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

Maybe it was the Poutine that caused the New York Rangers to be a bit sluggish but they rallied in the third period with four goals to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2. Mika Zibanejad started the four-goal rally by scoring at the 11-minute mark of the third period.

Ryan Strome scored twice and added an assist while Phillip Di Giuseppe and Adam Fox each added a goal.  Third-period rallies are nothing new for the Rangers now have outscored opponents 81-56 in the third period this season, and their plus-25 goal differential in the third period this season is the best in the NHL.

Their nine-game road winning streak is tied for the eighth-longest in NHL history. They are also the first NHL team that has posted a nine-game road winning streak since the Nashville Predators accomplished this during the 2017-18 season.

Mika Zibanejad leading the way for the New York Rangers

One of the keys to the third-period comeback was to place Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin together on a line. In post-game interviews, players mentioned that head coach David Quinn was less than pleased with their effort, especially with the first two lines, and this led to the pairing.

Zibanejad has now scored in six straight games for the Blueshirts. He is the first Ranger who has posted a six-game goal streak since Jaromir Jagr during the 2005-06 season.

That six-game goal streak is tied for the longest goal streak in the NHL this season, and he is one of four players who have posted a six-game goal streak in 2019-20 joining the likes of Patrick Kane, Sebastian Aho, and Max Domi.

Thursday night’s goal was his thirtieth of the season, making him the first Ranger who has registered 30 or more goals in two consecutive seasons since Jaromir Jagr in 2005-06 and 2006-07, and the first from a center since Mark Messier did this in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

After the game, Zibanejad said of the third-period line switch that the result of that was that they “Played harder, worked harder, played faster, and we saw the result of that today.”  They will need to continue that philosophy as they travel to Philadelphia to face the Flyers on Friday night.

 

Yankees: Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, and Mike Ford make their case for that 26 roster spot

New York Yankees, Mike Ford

Yankees’ Clint Frazier making the case with his bat:

This year rosters around baseball will expand from the traditional 25 to 26 players, and Clint Frazier wants that spot.  Frazier, so far in the last two years, has had a checkered time with the big team.  At times ablaze at the plate and at times a little leaguer in the outfield.  There is no question that Frazier is a formidable force with his quick swinging bat. He slashed .267/.317/.489, with 12 home runs in 225 at-bats in 2019.  Where Frazier has to prove himself is in his defense.  This season may be his last chance to prove to the Yankees that he belongs at the major league level. 

Several players, including Manager Aaron Boone, believes in Frazier.  Boone said: “Fraz has the chance to be a great player in this league, we want to be there for him, continue to help him grow in this game.” How much playing time if he makes the team will depend on the health of the outfield with Aaron Hicks still rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery, questions with Stanton durability, and a possible sore shoulder from Judge.  As Frazier fights for the extra spot on the roster he said: 

“…So I think this spring training, if I could go out there and I do what I can do offensively and I do what I know that I can defensively, then maybe I’ll put myself in a different spot to not only focus on the 26th man.”

When Frazier was spoken too, he seemed to want to talk about baseball and not his run-ins with reporters or any other distractions he may have caused.

“But I also believe that if I lose who I am, it probably affects you on the field, and that’s the biggest thing, is trying to be yourself without becoming a distraction. And as we all know, distractions can linger. And I don’t want to go through distractions. I don’t want to deal with that anymore….I’m here to have people just talk about baseball. I don’t need the rest of the stuff. This isn’t the Yankees’ reality TV show.”

So far, Frazier has shown that his offseason work to improve his outfield play, may have had an impact.  With Aaron Judge yet to start playing, Clint has been playing right field with no errors.  He also has made an offseason adjustment in his stance at the plate.  He claims the new left heal up position gives him more control.  In yesterday’s game against the Rays, he homered over the stands in left field.

Tyler Wade wants to be a full-time player:

Tyler Dean Wade is 25 years old this year, and after doing the New York Scranton shuttle for the last few years, he would like to remain at Yankee Stadium as a full-time player. He has a good case for that this year, possibly his best suit to keep wearing the pinstripes.  Yankees scouts took notice of Wade and particularly liked his athleticism. They thought so much of him that they selected him in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB draft when he was just eighteen.

He made his pro debut in the rookie Gulf Coast League. At the end of the season, he was batting .309 with 12 RBI’s and the Yankees promoted him to the Staten Island Yankees. In the same year, he also played at the Charleston River Dogs and for the Trenton Thunder. He ended playing in 129 games for an average of .273 with 51 RBI’s.  He started 2015 with the Tampa A team but ended the season back with the Thunder. Between the two teams, he played in 127 games for an average of .262 with 31 RBI’s and with three home runs. He was an invitee to 2016 spring training but spent the season with the Thunder.

Wade made his major league debut on June 27, 2017, but found himself on that shuttle back and forth.  He hit .310 for the Rail Riders but .155 for the Yankees in just 30 games. During the 2018 season, he was back and forth between the teams again. During the winter, he played in the Arizona fall league, where he worked on his outfield skills.   He started the 2019 season with the Rail Riders but has been up and down again. While at Scranton, Wade has been honing his outfield skills while his natural position is shortstop. As it turns out, Wade has progressed into a “Super Utility Player” even playing second base. He still isn’t the greatest hitter.

Last season, he had his best batting average at the stadium  .247, which is a 20% increase from 2018.  That appears to be a trend as he has improved that average 20% each year, if he continues at that rate, it is reasonable to assume he will be in the well over a .277 average, and the Yankees would be pleased with that.  The only thing that has been holding him back is his lack of hitting.  For the Yankees, Wade provides a player that can play anywhere in the outfield with more than adequate defense.  He can back up DJ LeMahieu to give him some rest for what the Yankees feel will be a very long season.  Maybe most importantly, Wade is a shortstop who can certainly replace Gleyber Torres, should he need rest or have an injury.  Add to that he is the fastest Yankee on the base paths.  In spring training so far, he is showing off his stuff, stealing three bases, and Yesterday he hit a home run out of George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Mike Ford reminds Yankees decision-makers of his power:

In yesterday’s game in Tampa, Mike Ford reminded the front office that he was here and wants to stay here.  Ford will be fighting for that first base job that he will likely lose to Luke Voit.  So the only way he can impress is through his bat.  Ford spent seven years in the minor leagues between the Yankees and Mariners. For the Yankees, he played in the minors for Staten Island, Trenton Thunder, The River Dogs, Tampa, and Scranton Wilkes/Barre. In the 2012 Ford when undrafted and signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent. He spent that whole year with the Staten Island Yankees.

In 2014 while with the River Dogs, Ford hit four home runs in one game. He was later promoted to Tampa, where he was named an All-Star for the Florida State League. In the winter of 2017, he was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Seattle Mariners, but in March of 2018, he was returned to the Yankees.  At the start of 2019, Ford was invited to spring training as a non-roster player. He was eventually assigned to the Rail Riders but got his big break when he was called up to the majors when Greg Bird was injured. He made his major league debut in April and got his first hit on April 21. He hit his first home run on April 23rd. He traveled back and forth from Scranton to the Stadium several times during the year.

With all the Yankee injuries, Ford found himself playing in the last 52 games of the season.  His batting average was .259, but what impressed manager Boone more than anything else was his power.  He, in that short span the hit 12 home runs, that’s a home run in every four games.   (that’s 40 home runs for a full season). Yesterday in Tampa, he smashed a home run well into the centerfield stands.  Playing in just a few innings and only three games in spring training, that home run may power him into that 26th roster spot.

 

 

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone still confident in team after losing Severino

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees haven’t even begun their season yet and they’ve already lost one of the biggest players on the roster. Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season to undergo Tommy John surgery.

James Paxton is already going to miss three to four months, Domingo German will return from his suspension in June, and there’s concern around Aaron Judge’s shoulder and Giancarlo Stanton’s calf.

Even though it’s obvious that Severino’s absence is very negative for the team, manager Aaron Boone remains confident in the team and his players.

“We’re good,” Boone said. “We’ve got a lot of good pitchers. We’ll kind of figure it out. It’s an opportunity, obviously, for more and more people to kick the door in and take advantage of an opportunity. Another one knocks here and who wants to take advantage of it? We have a lot of talented people capable of that and we’ll make a good decision regarding it.”

Severino missed pretty much all of last season too due to several injuries he had over the season. The New York Yankees still finished with 103 wins and won the American League East. Even though Severino will be greatly missed, the team is still very talented without him.

“Obviously, missing much of last year, and how tough that was on him, to come in, my immediate reaction is just kind of feeling for him and wanting to check in on him and see how he’s doing,” said Boone. “Obviously, it’s losing a great pitcher. We’ll manage it. We’ll figure it out. We’ll just try to support Sevy right now.”

New York Mets: Rick Porcello is rounding into form

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

The New York Mets‘ starting pitchers are starting to round into form. Noah Syndergaard had a great game on Wednesday in what was his spring training debut, and last night, Rick Porcello delivered a much better performance than that of his first contest.

Yesterday, the pitcher that the Mets signed in free agency this year spun two scoreless innings, and while he allowed a couple of base hits, he also struck out a pair of batters in the defeat against the Marlins.

Sure, the New York Mets as a whole haven’t had a good spring. Their record currently stands at 1-5. However, the win-loss column isn’t, and shouldn’t be, the primary concern at this stage of the season.

Getting healthy and round into form are the primary goals for most players. Porcello is one of them: he needs a good spring to enter the season in great shape and leave 2019 behind.

The Mets want him to leave 2019 behind

Last season, the 31-year-old had a 5.52 ERA (4.76 FIP) with the Boston Red Sox in 32 starts. He hurled 174.1 innings and had a 7.38 K/9 and a 2.32 BB/9. An elevated home run rate (1.60 HR/9) and a low strand rate (65.7 percent) were some of the culprits, but make no mistake: he was bad.

Those in attendance last night say that Porcello’s breaking stuff was sharp, which is a great development for the Mets. The Queens’ squad gambled on a return to form from Porcello with a one-year deal in the winter.

“There are always things to work on,” Porcello said to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, noting that he will focus on his fastball command in future outings. “This is only the second time out. There’s a long way to go.”

In the first outing, Porcello gave up one run in an inning of work. For the spring, his ERA stands at 3.00 in three frames, with no walks and three punchouts.

Given that he will make $10 million in 2020, it is widely assumed that the New York Mets will guarantee Porcello a spot in the rotation. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman will join him. The additional place will likely be awarded to the winner of a battle between Michael Wacha and Steven Matz, although the team hasn’t ruled out using openers and other unconventional arrangements.

New York Mets: Porcello Improves in His Second Spring Start

New York Mets, Rick Porcello

Despite the New York Mets dropping to the Miami Marlins 3-1, Rick Porcello looked a lot better during Thursday’s start. The other Mets big league relievers pitched well again while the depth pitchers struggled. The loss moved the Mets to 1-5 and the Marlins to 6-0.

Wins and losses are meaningless during the Spring. The situations for each team also differ for the Mets and Marlins as well. The Mets roster is mostly set for the regular season, while the Marlins have plenty of players trying to latch on to a roster spot. As long as the regulars are playing well, the Mets should not be worried.

Pitching Ups and Downs

Porcello threw up twos across the board. Two innings, two hits, two strikeouts. He worked in and out of trouble in the first inning then pitched a 1-2-3 in his second inning of work. Brad Brach and Robert Gsellman followed to pitch the third and fourth with success. Each threw perfect innings, and both have not allowed run in the Spring. Both Brach and Gsellman are key middle relief pitchers and could earn bigger spots if Edwin Diaz and Dellin Betances are holes in the bullpen.

The minor league depth crew of Corey Oswalt, Stephen Nogosek, and Nick Rumbelow all allowed runs during their outings. While no one from the trio was particularly bad, the minor leaguers who finish off the games have already cost the Mets some games early in the Spring.

Awaken the Polar Bear

Pete Alonso is still shaking the offseason rust but showed signs of life with his double in the first inning. He was hitless in nine at-bats heading into Thursday’s game. The baserunning still needed WD-40 as he was picked off second to conclude the inning.

Michael Conforto is another Met who is trying to find his hitting groove. He went 1-for-2 with a single to improve to 2-for-10 in the Spring.

On Friday, the Mets face Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals for the second time of the Spring. The Mets trot Marcus Stroman out for his second start and first in Port St. Lucie. Stroman allowed one run in 1.2 innings against the Cardinals to open up the Spring.

New York Islanders’ Top Line Leading the Way of Late

At this time of the season in the NHL, if you’re in the fight for the postseason, teams look to their top guys to elevate their game. For the New York Islanders, they’ve received that extra boost lately from the trio of Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Mathew Barzal.

In the last five games, that threesome has combined for 22 points. Eberle, in particular,  is red hot. He notched his fifth goal in the previous four games in last night’s overtime loss in St. Louis. Also, in the loss, Barzal notched his third straight multi-assist game while Lee extended his point streak to four games.

“He’s moving his feet,” head coach Barry Trotz told MSG’s Shannon Hogan after the game in regards to Eberle’s recent success. “He’s getting inside the hard areas, playing with a lot more poise and making good decisions. He’s in a groove.”

The Islanders have been waiting for the first line to turn it up another notch for a while.

The struggle to get consistency from all four lines has plagued the Isles all year long. Early on this season, it was the second unit — Anthony Beauviller, Brock Nelson, and Derick Brassard — who were carrying a bulk of the offense. Once those three were disbanded, the entire offense seemed to sputter. Some of that could also be due to injuries, as the team was without Casey Cizikas.

But while all that was going on, Barzal and Lee were dealing with the absence of Eberle.

Eberle had been sidelined with a lower-body injury that cost him ten games. Having that missing piece, Barzal and Lee had difficulty producing.

That’s clearly not the case now.

You can see those three are on their game. Don’t believe me? Watch the goal they created, which led to the Isles’ second goal last night.

It started with Barzal finding a loose puck in the neutral zone off a turnover. Barzal then raced his way into the Blues’ zone and stopped just past the blue line. He then fed a streaking Lee who found an uncovered Eberle. Eberle took the pass and made a nifty move and deposited one past Blues goalie Jordan Binnington.

Forget just rolling right now in terms of points; the first line is generating the most chances of any of the 12 forwards Trotz is deploying out every night.

“We were creating a bit, especially in the first [period] there,” Eberle said after last night’s game. “The biggest thing is when you’re playing well, you want to just continue to do the things that let you play well.”

That line continuing its recent surge could loom large for the Isles as they enter the home stretch. The Metro is so tight right now, and the team’s offense still not at full strength due to Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck still being out.

So, the more impact the Barzal-Lee-Eberle trio has on a nightly basis, the better the Isles have a shot at winning and the harder they are to defend.

Those three have gotten a good head start by how they’ve performed over the last five games. Now they need to sustain it.

 

Did the New York Yankees find their 5th starter in Clarke Schmidt?

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

The season-ending injury to New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino has significant consequences. Finding a fifth starter would be problematic for any other team, but the Yankees have a profound prospect system and made the intelligent decision to retain J.A. Happ.

With James Paxton also expected to miss at least two months after having a cyst removed from his lower back, Jordan Montgomery will have to fill the void and claim the No. 4 spot in the rotation.

Initially, I expected the Yankees to utilize a three-man rotation for the fifth spot in the unit, but after seeing Clark Schmidt, one of the Yankees top youth pitching prospects, dominate on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays, my opinion has changed slightly.

Schmidt dominated in the minors last year, posting a 2.37 ERA in AA Trenton, while only pitching in 19 innings. In High A Tampa, he pitched 63.1 innings and logged a 3.84 ERA.

2019 Season Statistics:

GCL Yankees East: 8.1 IP, 3.24 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 1.080 WHIP, 15.12 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 1.08 HR/9
High-A Tampa Tarpons: 63.1 IP, 3.84 ERA, 2.87 FIP, 1.311 WHIP, 9.81 K/9, 3.41 BB/9, 0.28 HR/9
Double-A Trenton Thunder: 19 IP, 2.37 ERA, 2.01 FIP, 0.789 WHIP, 9 K/9, 0.47 BB/9, 0.47 HR/9

According to The Athletic’s Keith Law, Schmidt is the Yankees’ top-rated prospect. He struck out three batters and allowed two hits over two innings pitched against the Rays on Thursday. While the 24-year-old has yet to make his MLB debut, he finished the 2019 season with a 2-0 record in Trenton.

Some say it is unlikely that Schmidt will make a significant impact on the 2020 season, but he utilized impressive offspeed pitches during his outing against Tampa Bay. His high strikeout rate and ability to generate ground balls rank among his greatest strengths. This also looks very good in Yankee Stadium. While consistency has been an issue at times for Schmidt, he has plenty of time to refine his abilities before the beginning of the season.

The Yankees do have Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, and other more experienced pitchers as options to fill the No. 5 spot. However, I wouldn’t toss Schmidt aside just yet, especially after such an impressive outing. Keep an eye on him as the pre-season progresses.

New York Giants: Defensive Players to Watch at the Combine

New York Giants, Nate Solder, Jon Halapio, Mike Remmers

It is no secret to anyone reading this, but the New York Giants are in serious need of defensive talent.  At the time of this article, the Giants have just $23.2 million of their 2020 cap space allocated to the defensive side of the football.  For comparison, that is less than what both Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald will count towards the Bears and Rams respectively.  The next closest figure is that of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is $42.9 million.

It is without question that the New York Giants will target the defense in both Free Agency and April’s draft.  Everyone knows the big name prospects that the Giants may or may not be able to get in the first round.  Chase Young, Isaiah Simmons, Derrick Brown and Jeffrey Okudah are all well known and potential targets for Big Blue in the early stages.  Yet, with currently 10 picks throughout the entire draft, including compensatory picks, the Giants need to be able to target defenders at every stage.

Who are some other prospects the Giants could target in days 2 and 3?

EDGE Zack Baun – Wisconsin

Zack Baun has been a named mocked to the Giants in the 2nd round by numerous sources.  However, he doesn’t have a flashy name like Young, K’Lavon Chaisson or A.J. Epenesa.  For Giants fans well in tune with Joe Judge’s plan of versatility, maybe you should get accustomed to it.  Baun is a defensive playmaker that will be best suited in a versatile role.  His quickness and burst are what will make him stand out in pressure generation.  He can quickly fill gaps in the run game, as well.  If Zack Baun is indeed a selection for the Giants, look for him to play all over the field for the defense.

CB Damon Arnette – Ohio State

I will not be surprised to see Ohio State’s Damon Arnette sneak into the first round after a good showing in Indianapolis.  His skills in press coverage would be well suited for every team in the NFL.  Arnette does not have the elite speed most teams may covet in a corner, so safety help is a must.  Where he does excel, are his ball skills and short-area abilities.

EDGE Joshua Uche – Michigan

No, this isn’t an article of Big Ten athletes.  Joshua Uche is just good.  In his interview this week, Jedrick Wills picked Uche when asked who his toughest matchup was in college.  That is saying a lot coming from an Alabama prospect.  Uche is not the most filled out athlete, but his quickness and bend is top-notch.  He has the frame to add more mass, which could really propel him into the top echelon of NFL pass rushers.

S Kyle Dugger – Lenoir-Rhyne

The South Atlantic Conference in NCAA’s Division II is about as far away from the Big Ten as one could get.  Kyle Dugger, however, will be competing with top tier talent on Sunday’s.  Dugger is another versatile defensive weapon.  One could call him a poor man’s Isaiah Simmons.  However, if he gets called to play for the New York Giants, they’d very likely hit it rich.  Dugger may find the best success transitioning to LB.  In fact, he was asked to take part in LB drills at the NFL Combine.  He may not have the same skill set as Simmons, but he comes with similar versatility.

LB Akeem Davis-Gaithers – Appalachian State

Another prospect from a “smaller” program, Akeem Davis-Gaithers has the talent that the Giants are looking for.  He’s a linebacker that comes with a very good range.  In college, he occasionally was asked to cover wide receivers, but absolutely has the athleticism to cover running backs and tight ends in pass defense.  Similar to Uche, he could afford to put on some extra pounds.  With his hard-hitting mindset, it would be extremely beneficial for him to do so at the next level.

S Shyheim Carter – Alabama

The Giants have had success with Alabama safeties and Shyheim Carter could be the next.  Like Landon Collins, Carter does his best work near the line of scrimmage.  Another versatile, hybrid player, the New York Giants could very well benefit from his services.  Also like Collins, however, he is not someone you’d trust covering a running back or tight end in coverage.

LB Cameron Brown – Penn State

A late-round prospect, Cam Brown is the type of linebacker the Giants have needed.  He has incredible range and athleticism.  Often being bumped out to cover wide receivers in the slot and tight ends.  The Nittany Lions used him quite often in pass defense of the flat zones.  He’s got the range to play WILL but will need to bulk up and clean up his tackle finishing for the NFL.