New York Mets’ spring training standouts: Jacob deGrom

New York Mets, Jacob deGrom

Picture the scene: New York Mets‘ training camp. Jacob deGrom, who threw curveballs only 2.9 percent of the time in 2019, hung one to J.D. Davis in a simulated game back in the start of the month. The slugger hit it out of the park and just like that, the two-time Cy Young award winner says: “THAT’s why I don’t throw it.”

DeGrom has accumulated 16.0 fWAR in the last two seasons. He was clearly the league’s best hurler of 2018 and 2019, and he is still at his peak, at 31 years old. Yet he still has the drive to improve, to get better and add more weapons to his repertoire.

The Mets’ hurler started a couple of games in the abbreviated 2020 spring training, with very good results. Of course, for a pitcher of his stature and caliber, spring training stats matter less and getting in physical and baseball shape should be, and are, the priorities.

The Mets’ ace had a good spring

His stats were good, nevertheless: in his two starts, deGrom pitched seven frames and only allowed a single run, which was earned. He only allowed two baserunners, both via base hits. No walks appear on his stat line, and he punched out five rivals. He was pumping 97-98 mph in the radar gun.

Speaking about his curveball experiments, the Mets’ ace said to the New York Post that he has been “putting some work in-between [starts] on it and it’s been good in the pen. In the game, it seems to pop up. It’s something I’ve been working on to have another weapon.”

Just imagine deGrom, who already throws an elite four-seam fastball, slider and changeup, with yet another trick in his sleeve. It would be unfair to opposing hitters.

For now, it is unclear whether deGrom will incorporate the curveball more. Heck, it is unclear if we are going to see an official baseball game in 2020, with the current coronavirus crisis. But one thing is true: in Jacob deGrom, the New York Mets have arguably the major league’s best pitcher, healthy and hungry for a championship.

New York Jets set to bring back LB James Burgess (Report)

The veteran defender, he of a career-best 80 tackles last year, was another who stepped up his game when injuries struck the New York Jets.

One of the NFL’s ultimate journeymen is starting to establish a base with the New York Jets.

According to Dennis Waszak of the Associated Press, linebacker James Burgess is set to return to the team on a one-year deal. The Jets were Burgess’ sixth team over four NFL seasons.

Burgess entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Louisville in 2016. He joined the Jets last spring and went on to have a strong preseason with 13 tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown during an exhibition win in Atlanta. Burgess was left off the Week 1 roster, but was added to the team prior to their Week 8 game in Jacksonville.

Burgess came through when the Jets’ defense suffered injuries, namely those to starting linebackers Avery Williamson and C.J. Mosley. In just 10 games, Burgess earned a career-high 80 tackles. His best performance came in a December win over Miami, where he earned 12 tackles and a forced fumble. Burgess originally spent time in Dolphins camp in 2016 and later on their roster during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.

Other Burgess highlights include a credited safety in the first meeting with Miami in November, touching a fallen Ryan Fitzpatrick in the end zone. He also his first career interception against the Buffalo Bills in the Jets’ season finale.j

Burgess has earned 163 tackles, including 4.5 sacks, over three seasons of action. He has also spent time in the systems of Chargers, Ravens, Jaguars, and Browns.

The Jets have spent the past few days bringing back several of their incumbent linebackers on one-year deals. Neville Hewitt signed over the weekend, while Jordan Jenkins was reportedly welcomed back on a $5 million contract earlier on Monday.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets #MockDraftMonday, March 23, 2020

New York Jets

ESM’s staff gives their full New York Jets mock drafts after the team’s eventful first week of free agency.

The New York Jets didn’t get the things they truly wanted in free agency…pricy gifts like Jack Conklin and Dante Fowler went elsewhere.

But the first weekend of free agency was a lot like, say, a pair of socks or school supplies in your stocking. It’s not exactly what you want, but it’s just what you need.

That’s what the Jets had in mind when they added three linemen from elsewhere, as well as re-upping with 2019 contributor Alex Lewis. For the first time in quite a while, the Jets have a plan for an offense built on the success of two explosive backfield weapons, Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell.

How did the movement affect our experts’ mock drafts?

Geoff Magliocchetti

1st Round (11th overall)-WR CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma
2nd Round (48th overall)-G Shane Lemieux, Oregon
3rd Round (68th overall)-T Ezra Cleveland, Boise State
3rd Round (79th overall)-EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
4th Round (120th overall)-S Jeremy Chinn, Southern Illinois
5th Round (158th overall)-WR Quintez Cephus, Wisconsin
6th Round (191st overall)-RB Mike Warren, Cincinnati
6th Round (211th overall)-K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

With the additions of Connor McGovern, George Fant, and Greg Van Roten, the Jets opened up some flexibility up with the 11th overall pick. Thus, they added some protection for Darnold. Now, they need to get him weapons. With Robby Anderson’s situation still in limbo, the time is right to use such a pick on a receiver. Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy will probably be gone, but Lamb is certainly a desirable consolation prize.

Having said that, the Jets can’t fully turn away from the offensive line just yet, hence the additions of Lemieux and Cleveland. Thus, their third pick on day two can be used to fill yet another need, that of the pass rush in the form of Greenard, who would certainly be welcomed by fellow SEC alums Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Day three saw the Jets find unexpected help in the secondary last year (Bless Austin) and that trend could repeat itself in the form of FCS standout Chinn. The depth of the 2020 receiver class would also be on display with the fifth-round selection of Cephus. Things are capped off, as they were in the original mock, by the kicker selection Blankenship, to at least provided Brett Maher some competition in camp. Prior to that, the Jets would add a compliment to Bell, as both Bilal Powell and Ty Montgomery are up for free agency.

Dylan Price

1st Round (11th overall)-OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
2nd Round (48th overall)-CB Trevon Diggs, Alabama
3rd Round (68th overall)-WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
3rd Round (79th overall)-EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
4th Round (120th overall)-EDGE Kenny Wilekes, Michigan State
5th Round (158th overall)-RB Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State
6th Round (191st overall)-LB Justin Strnad, Wake Forest
6th Round (211th overall)-OL Gage Cervenka, Clemson

This draft would be a haul for the Jets. Thomas immediately bolsters the offensive line and becomes the anchor of the line for the future. Diggs is a corner with room to grow who’s thrived in man coverage which is what Gregg Williams likes. He could start right away alongside Desir and give Bless Austin a year to sit behind Desir before becoming the starter. Aiyuk is familiar with Darnold (they train together), and he’s a freak athlete. He’d be a great weapon for Sam and he was a great value in the third round.

In the fourth and fifth, I doubled dipped with talented edge rushers. Greenard and Wilekes would be great picks, both are talented on their own. As a duo, they could grow together and develop into a formidable duo. Evans would be a change of pace back with potential. Strnad is a value pick who could be a nice backup and special teams guy for the Jets. Cervenka is low-risk with good potential, likely at guard. He could compete for reps with Lewis.

Brendan Carpenter

1st Round (11th overall)-OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
2nd Round (48th overall)-WR Jalen Reagor, TCU
3rd Round (68th overall)-EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah
3rd Round (79th overall)-CB Troy Pride Jr., Notre Dame
4th Round (120th overall)-WR Collin Johnson, Texas
5th Round (158th overall)-EDGE Jonathan Greenard, Florida
6th Round (191st overall)-LB Mohammad Barry, Nebraska
6th Round (211th overall)-K Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia

The Jets have certainly addressed the offensive line with their free agent signings, but could still look for another starting-caliber tackle. At six-foot-five and 315 pounds, Thomas is capable of playing both right and left tackle. He would most likely slide into the right tackle spot with recently signed George Fant at left tackle. There are some options for a flashier pick here, but Thomas is the safe pick.

Wide receiver is a position of need and the Jets could add a weapon or two. Reagor’s ability to track the ball in the air and move downfield would be an instant boost for Sam Darnold. Though he dealt with injuries, Johnson’s size (6’6, 222 lbs.) on the outside is a must. Defensively, the Jets would look to bring in new pass rushers, especially with the pick obtained in the Leonard Williams deal. Anae’s speed and athleticism aren’t premier, but he knows how to get to the quarterback, while Greenard could be a plug-and-play piece for the Jets in the short-term and a nice rotation guy in the long-run, if nothing else.

Sebastian Vela

1st Round (11th overall)-OT Andrew Thomas, Georgia
2nd Round (48th overall)-CB AJ Terrell, Clemson
3rd Round (68th overall)-WR Michael Pittman Jr., USC
3rd Round (79th overall)-EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah
4th Round (120th overall)-RB Anthony McFarland, Maryland
5th Round (158th overall)-OL Yasir Durant, Missouri
6th Round (191st overall)-CB Lamar Jackson, Nebraska
6th Round (211th overall)-OT Trey Adams, Washington

The 11th pick should be simple for the Jets. Andrew Thomas has dominated the SEC for the past three years and was essential in Jake Fromm’s success at Georgia.  Thomas has an extremely high floor and is arguably the most NFL ready tackle in the draft. If he falls to 11 the Jets should be sprinting towards the podium with their card ready.

Terrell would be a terrific fit for the Jets as he is a big lanky corner that excels in man coverage and press coverage which is essential in a Gregg Williams defense, while Anae would immediately provide the Jets with a much-needed pass-rushing presence on the edge. On offense,t he Jets desperately need wide receivers and who better to get than Sam Darnold’s old buddy from USC? McFarland is a quick and twitchy running back that has good hands and a knack for homerun plays. Durant is a developmental lineman with a lot of potential he’d be worth the risk in the fifth round, while Adams could be the same if he’s able to stay healthy.

 

 

New York Giants land versatile back Dion Lewis on a one-year deal

New York Giants, Dion Lewis

The New York Giants have signed former Tennessee Titan and New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis to a one-year deal, according to Josina Anderson.

Lewis spent three years in New England alongside Joe Judge, posting his best career year in 2017 with 896 yards on the ground and 214 through the air. He earned nine total touchdowns that year, his best.

Lewis took a backseat with the Titans the past two seasons, lagging behind Derrick Henry but still logging substantial numbers in 2018 in the passing game. Hos 400 receiving yards showed off his skill set and why he can be a reliable backup to Saquon Barkley.

Taking some of the strain off of Barkley was the goal here, and he’s essentially a better version of Javorious Allen, who the Giants brought in to hold the fort down when Barkley suffered his high ankle sprain last season.

Now, the Giants have Barkley, Lewis, and Wayne Gallman on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gallman receive the ax in the coming weeks, or he could land on the practice squad for other teams to potentially sign.

Fennelly’s Four Round Giants’ Mock Draft

New York Giants, Mekhi Becton

It’s my turn to try my hand at a mock draft for the New York Giants. Using The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Simulator, I limited my scope to the first four rounds. Keep in mind, the simulator does not predict or account for trades, so you are regulated to staying in your spot and taking the best player as possible for your team.

Here’s what I ended up with:

RD1, P4: Mekhi Becton, OT, Louisville

Tristan Wirfs of Iowa was actually of the board at No. 2 to Washington with Chase Young going to Detroit third overall. Many would like to see Clemson LB Isaiah Simmons here but it is about time they did something to fix this offensive line. With a young quarterback and a running game that needs a road grader, Becton is the perfect pick here. He can move Nate Solder either to right tackle or the bench which is what this team needs.

RD2, P36: Terrell Lewis, EDGE, Alabama

After a slow start to his college career, the 6’5″, 262 pound Lewis came on strong in his final year for the Tide. He was a named a second-team All-SEC selection recording 31 tackles (11.5 for loss) with six sacks and two passes defensed in 11 games. He is seen as a ascending player with a ton of upside but the injury history has kept him out of the first round.

RD3, P99: Terrell Burgess, S, Utah

Ran a 4.46 40 with 20 benches at the NFL Combine. Conducts himself like a pro and takes his preparation seriously. NFL.com compares Burgess to Demarious Randall. The Giants would hav preferred a veteran safety to replace Antoine Bethea but Burgess could be mature and talented enough to be the answer.

RD4, P110: K.J. Hill, WR, Ohio State

Stayed in school the extra year and became the Buckeyes’ all-time receptions leader. Is a solid route runner with dependable hands who will give the Giants another reliable option in the passing game.

New York Yankee Player Profiles: Gary Sanchez future Yankee great?

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez Yankee’s future great or future flop?

There is probably no New York Yankees player that is more controversial than Gary Sanchez, you either love him or hate him according to how you see him. Some see him as a miserable failure as a backstop, and others see him as the most powerful catcher in MLB history. As I see it, neither is entirely true, but I will say his improvement this past year is remarkable.

On December 2, 1992, Orquidia Herrera gave birth to a baby boy down in the Dominican Republic. That boy was Gary Sanchez. His parents separated when he was young, and he, his three brothers, and one sister were raised by their mother and Grandmother Agustina Pena. There is not a lot known about how Gary started in baseball, but we do know he played in the sandlots of the Dominican Republic and that he was discovered by Mark Newman, who was at the time the head of the Yankees farm system. He was at the Yankees training facility complex in Boca Chica, and a 15-year-old Gary Sanchez impressed him. In a game, Gary, in just four swings, hit a homer to right, then to center and then to left field.

Yankees sign prospect Gary Sanchez

At the age of seventeen in 2009, the New York Yankees signed Gary as in international free agent, giving him a $3 million signing bonus. After signing, he started playing with the Gulf Coast Yankees, but a year later he was promoted to the Staten Island Yankees. In 2010, he finished the season with a batting average of .329 with 8 home runs and 43 runs batted in and was called one of the best prospects in all of baseball. He started the 2012 season with Charleston but was quickly promoted to the Tampa Yankees and eventually to the Trenton Thunder. in 2015 he was promoted to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders. He got his major league appearance as a pinch hitter of October 3rd, where he went hitless in two at-bats. When the season was over, he played for the Arizona Fall League, where he led the league in home runs.

Sanchez competes for starting catcher

During spring training in 2016, Gary competed with Austin Romine for the job of back up catcher, but Romine won out and Gary started the season with the Rail Riders. The Yankees again promoted Sánchez to the major leagues on August 3, and he recorded his first major league hit, that same day. On August 10, Sánchez went 4-for-5, with his first major league home run and 3 singles. On August 16, Sánchez had his first two home run game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Early in 2017, Gary served his first stint on the DL. Later in the year he participated in the Home Run Derby beating out Giancarlo Stanton 17-16 but losing to Miguel Sano.

Yogi Barra held the New York Yankee most home runs by a catcher record until Gary broke it with 31 in September. That same season he received the Silver Slugger Award, but also tied for the most passed balls in the majors. In 2018 he was again on the DL and was out for a month. Also during the year, he was criticized for lack of hustle and more passed balls. After being on the DL twice, Gary played in only 89 games during the year. He finished the year batting .186 and got the award for the most passed balls in majors.

A Gary Sanchez rebirth?

Gary this past season as in the past year was again criticized for his lack of hustle and more passed balls. But on April 7th Gary hit 3 home runs in the same game but he quickly found himself on the IL again. After a few weeks, he returned to a stretch of 0-11 at the plate. He then hit the first grand slam of his career against the San Francisco Giants. During a game in July at Target Field, Sanchez again found himself on the IL, this time with a groin strain. He returned to the rotation much sooner than expected and as a different player. No more lack of hustle no more passed balls and more home runs. The fact is that the trio of Sanchez, Romine, and Higashioka was the most potent catcher trio in the AL.  As the season progressed he found himself in a home run contest with Gleyber Torres falling one short of Torre’s 38.

Sanchez lives with his wife Sahaira and their four-year-old daughter Sara in New York, but during the offseason, they love traveling. In the past two seasons they’ve been to Costa Rica and to Peru. Sanchez has often said the birth of his daughter made him realize that he couldn’t squander his opportunity to be a big-league player.
So, according to which side of the fence you’re on, you either think Gary doesn’t try hard enough, lacks the hustle and is a failure as a catcher. Or you think he’s the best thing since sliced bread and a future Yankee great.

Gary Sanchez  facts

The facts are this: Sanchez is a better than average catcher with an accurate bullet of an arm that few base runners should challenge. According to pitchers, he calls an excellent game. He is a catcher that can hit home runs and lots of them. Gary is still young as a backstop and could very well be known in the future as one of the greatest Yankee catchers in history, rivaling Yogi and Thurman.  As we watch Gary the only thing we worry about is if he can stay healthy.  During this shortened spring training he had to stop catching due to a sore back before the season was suspended.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

New York Giants To Re-Sign Wide Receiver Corey Coleman

New York Giants, Corey Coleman

The New York Giants are re-signing wide receiver Corey Coleman to a one-year deal, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. Coleman missed the entire 2019 season with a torn ACL. The 25-year-old receiver suffered the gruesome injury in the first training camp practice of 2019.

The Giants signed Coleman in 2018 after the New England Patriots cut him. Corey Coleman is a former first-round draft pick from the Cleveland Browns in 2016. He has struggled to find his footing in the NFL and has been on four teams in the last two years.

In 2018, Corey Coleman appeared in eight games for the Giants, starting in one of those games. He was targeted eight times, tallying five receptions for 71 yards and five first downs. Coleman was expected to receive an increased role in the offense in the 2019 season before his injury. The Giants’ offense sorely missed a deep-threat, speedy receiver, a position Coleman could surely fill.

Since suffering the ACL injury last offseason, Coleman has been patiently waiting for a second chance. It seems now that he has received that chance and will have the opportunity to once again fight for a roster spot with the New York Giants.

What Yankees are set to lose essential opportunities during the regular season?

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

When the MLB officially announced the halting of baseball operations two weeks ago, the New York Yankees saw themselves stuck in Tampa, Florida, for the time being. Informal workouts, recovery, and very little ensued, and now with Florida set to establish a stay-at-home policy, the Bombers might have to find a different place to remain in baseball shape.

The world remains in quarantine over the coronavirus pandemic, straining the sports world in the process (of course, humanity is more important). The Yankees were set to start the regular season with an outfield built by committee — Brett Gardner in centerfield, Mike Tauchman in right field and Clint Frazier in left.

All three of the Yankees’ starting outfielders were on pace to miss Opening Day, and now two of them can easily make it back in time for the new start date, which could be many weeks away. Judge’s stress fracture (rib) has seen gradual progress in his recovery, indicating he’s in the right direction, and Stanton is still nursing a grade 1 calf strain that seems to be more like a grade 3 calf strain based on his extended absence.

What Yankees’ players will lose their opportunities?

Frazier will likely lose the most in regards to an opportunity. He has been fighting himself for a starting role in recent years, but his defense has held him back significantly. Factor in his attitude problem in 2019, and there was never a chance for him to cement himself on the active roster. However, he has seemed more mature and up for the fight this spring, batting a robust .320 with eight hits over 25 at-bats.

The reality is, the Yankees have a bevy of players who can fill spots in the outfield, and they need more depth at other positions. Miguel Andujar will undoubtedly earn a spot, given his ability to play in left field and third base. Mike Ford will likely be an option behind Luke Voit at first, and Tyler Wade is a jack of all trades.

Unfortunately, Frazier might lose his opportunity to show what he can do, but I don’t doubt he will get the chance at some point in 2020. Patience is vital with “Red Thunder.”

New York Knicks owner and Charles Oakley hopefully work out dispute

New York Knicks, Charles Oakley

Former New York Knicks forward, Charles Oakley, and the teams owner have been ordered to work things out.  The two are to have their dispute mediated by the federal court of appeals.

They will have their mediation over the phone, due to COVID-19.  It will be presided over by former Supreme Court justice Charles Ramos.

The former Knicks player was escorted out of the Garden in February of 2017 after a dispute with the owner.  During the dispute, Oakley hit a security guard in his face, shoved another guard before being dragged away from the game and handcuffed.

There were speculation that Oakley had no comments towards the Knicks owner, despite reports, and was confronted for no reason then things escalated.  Oakley was banned from the Garden shortly after but the ban was later lifted in 6 days later.  In September 2017, Oakley then filed a civil lawsuit over the incident.

Whatever people may believe or want to believe about that incident, this is a good thing.  It’s time to resolve this conflict which was uncalled for from beginning.  It wasn’t a good look for the Knicks organization and continues to linger over their heads.

All these negative incident or reports within the Knicks organization need to be taken care of.  The Knicks are trying to rebuild, rebrand, and turn around the organization.  These types of interactions brings a negative stigma towards the franchise.  It could be why some free agents didn’t choose the Knicks in the past and recently.

This is step in the right direction for the organization to change the opinions some may have about them.  The New York Knicks need this conflict to be resolved so they can turn their attention to cleaning up other incidents.  When this is resolved, next up, the Spike Lee incident.

What happens if the New York Giants don’t sign a pass rusher to bolster defense?

New York Giants, Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

The New York Giants are proceeding through free agency with caution, electing to invest in tier-2 free agents rather than spend money on top players with bloated contracts.

Signing Blake Martinez and James Bradberry attests to their money-saving mentality, as both Byron Jones and Cory Littleton earned more significant contracts (not by much, but more). The Giants taking a more conceded approach tells us a few things — first, they don’t feel like they can win in 2020. Second, they have adopted a different attitude toward financial spending, and lastly, Joe Judge is taking on more responsibility.

General manager Dave Gettleman has been committed to the NFL Draft in recent seasons, but going into year three of a rebuild, we can imagine his desire to fill positions of need with top talent. Head coach Joe Judge has implemented a more conservative approach, which could hurt the pass rush position temporarily.

The New York Giants are still in on some pass rushers:

Currently, Big Blue features Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, and Kyler Fackrell as their primary pass rushers. Reports have indicated that Markus Golden could still be in the mix, but fitting his salary into the cap would require the Giants to re-structure Leonard Williams’ contract (currently set to earn $16.126 million on the franchise tag).

If the Giants elect to stay firm with their three unproven pass rushers, they will be taking a considerable risk at the position and risk defensive inefficiency. However, knowing that the team needs to adapt to the style of Judge and co., there’s no rush to jump into a big contract, unless they can front-load the deal on a three-year contract, similar to Bradberry and Martinez’s.

An alternative would be to address the position through the draft. While it’s unlikely, Chase Young falls to the 4th overall pick, grabbing Isaiah Simmons could supplement some concern, as he can rush the passer on third downs as an OLB. Simmons considers himself a “defender,” which opens up his usability. It’s easy to forget he logged 8.0 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss in 2019.

It’s also important to note that the Giants expect the interior of their defensive front to generate a considerable pass rush push, closing the pocket and pressuring quarterbacks to throw earlier. This was a major factor in the decision to retain Leonard Williams.