One way the New York Yankees and MLB could supplement the loss of regular season games

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Cameron Maybin

With all baseball activities being canceled for the foreseeable future, the New York Yankees should be preparing for one of the strangest regular seasons ever experienced. Fitting all 162 games into the year will be difficult as operations won’t begin for at least another six weeks, and likely longer due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The assumption that the season will be shortened opens up a number of alternative ideas that could supplement the loss of games — one of the ideas is doubleheaders. If MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is forced to restructure the season, enforcing doubleheaders is a fantastic workaround to ensure teams play as many games as possible.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan mentioned the possibility of playing doubleheaders once or twice per week, but how would that work in regards to mitigating fatigue.

The average season is 27 weeks long and encompasses 162 games over that period. That’s about six games per week, and at this rate, that’s far behind the number they would need to have a competitive season.

Passan suggests a weekly doubleheader, though, which would allow the league to fit in as many games as possible while maintaining the normalcy of the regular season. However, it’s likely they could shorten the lengths of the games on those days to help avoid injury.

The Yankees have dealt with ample injuries this offseason before Spring Training even began, and forcing them to play multiple doubleheaders per week would be roster suicide. There’s little evidence to suggest that Yankees’ sluggers would be able to survive that reality.

To help lower the probability of injury, the MLB could expand the active roster to 28, which would increase the rotation of players and maintain rest. There are various options the league could follow, but taking a little bit of everything could be the solution.

If it were up to me, I would institute one doubleheader per week but expand the active roster to mitigate injuries. Lowering the number of games to about 140 might normalize the schedule and allow the playoffs to occur without detrimental weather conditions.

New York Giants: What To Expect From DeAndre Baker In 2020

New York Giants, DeAndre Baker

The New York Giants have made an effort to improve their secondary in recent years. The 2019 NFL Draft saw New York invest three draft picks into defensive backs (four if you count Sam Beal). The most exciting prospect that the Giants landed was DeAndre Baker at the end of the first round.

After selecting Daniel Jones and Dexter Lawrence with the sixth and seventeenth picks, the Giants traded back up into the first round to secure the stud Georgia cornerback. Baker was plugged in as a starter on the defense immediately, but he struggled to make an impact right away.

In fact, DeAndre Baker was a liability in coverage for the majority of his rookie season. But he did show a lot of improvement in the second half of the season and flashed his potential as a great NFL cornerback. That being said, what should the Giants expect from DeAndre Baker heading into his sophomore season in 2020?

Cornerback Two, Again

Last season, the Giants’ primary cornerback was Janoris Jenkins. This season it will be James Bradberry, the Giants’ latest and greatest free-agent acquisition. Bradberry is a solid press-coverage outside cornerback, just like Baker was expected to be coming out of college. So in 2020, Bradberry will be the Giants’ primary cornerback with Baker manning up the opposite side of the field as the second cornerback on the depth chart.

A New Scheme

DeAndre Baker is getting a new scheme to play in next season. This is surely music to his ears as Baker was not at all a scheme fit in James Bettcher’s defense. Bettcher often had Baker sit in zone coverage and play far off the line of scrimmage. Somehow Bettcher did not understand that Baker is a press-man cornerback. Jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and locking them down in man coverage is what DeAndre strived in at Georgia.

The Giants’ new defensive coordinator, however, will utilize DeAndre Baker’s skillset. The Giants’ defense in 2020 will feature a lot of man coverage and press coverage. This is exactly what Baker needs to improve his game- a defense that prioritizes the things he is best at.

A Strong Finish To His Rookie Season

As I mentioned earlier, DeAndre Baker exhibited a lot of improvement in the second half of the 2019 season. Baker had 8 passes defended in 2019, 5 of which came in the final four games of the season. Against the Bears and Eagles in Week 14, Baker allowed only one catch on seven targets for seven yards combined, adding three pass breakups (According to Pro Football Focus).

In a new and improved defensive scheme, DeAndre Baker is a breakout candidate for the Giants in 2020. The young cornerback was truly lockdown in college and cornerbacks have a steep learning curve when entering the league. Hopefully, Baker can make the jump in his second season and prove to be the first-round prospect we all thought he was.

Three ways the Marqui Christian departure affects the New York Jets

Marqui Christian has reportedly back out of his deal with the New York Jets. How does this affect the team moving forward?

Details are emerging about the Jets’ free agency acquisitions, but it appears that former Los Angeles Rams safety Marqui Christian won’t be joining the green party.

According to a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post, a deal between the Jets and Christian fell through, leaving the Jets relatively shallow in safety depth. ESM takes a look at how Christian’s rejection impacts the remainder of the team’s offseason plans.

Rontez Miles Could Come Back For Yet Another Year

Rontez Miles has flown under the radar through his professional tenure, but, in some ways, he represents the quintessential inspiring NFL story. The safety entered the league as a Division II outcast from California University of Pennsylvania but has gone on to build a sizable and decent career as a reserve safety and special teams maven. He currently stands out as the third-longest tenured member of the team, behind only Bilal Powell and Brian Winters. Last season, Miles’ service was rewarded with a team captaincy. His 16 special teams tackles earned two years prior were tied for third in the league and he has also been used as a personal protector.

Miles, 31, is currently one of the Jets’ remaining free agents. The arrival of Christian might’ve spelled the end for him, but new life has potentially been granted to his Jets career. He has dealt with injuries over the past few seasons, but with the Jets’ perpetual rebuild in perhaps its most hopeful stage yet, they’re going to need some veteran seasoning. Minus Miles and a few free agents, only four members of the active roster are in their 30s. One (Josh Bellamy) could be a cap space casualty and the other (Brett Maher) is a newcomer who could have some competition at camp.

Safeties Shoot Up the Big Board

The Jets’ draft plan for next month is a lot less murky after adding serviceable blockers from elsewhere. Thus, there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility with their eight draft picks. Good thing too, because the Jets have plenty of need left to fill. Secondary depth was near the summit of offseason needs, and they at least took care of things in the cornerback department (Pierre Desir, re-signing Brian Poole and Arthur Maulet). They’re desperate thin at safety behind their strong duo of Adams and Maye. Journeyman Bennett Jackson was re-signed and former CFLer Anthony Cioffi was brought in February. But there’s no doubt the Jets could use some help. Day three of last year’s draft saw them add a local diamond in the secondary rough in the form of Rutgers cornerback Bless Austin.

Where the Jets lack depth, the draft is there to compensate. Several talented solutions could be available. One of ESM’s latest Jets mock drafts has them taking FCS standout Jeremy Chinn from Southern Illinois. A decent week at Mobile’s Senior Bowl put him on the national radar and he followed it up with a decent Combine. Other potential latter-pick options may include the undersized but reputed Minnesota ballhawk Antoine Winfield Jr. (son of the three-time Pro Bowler) or Big Ten run stoppers Antoine Brooks (Maryland) and Khaleke Hudson (Michigan).

The Jets have the draft capital (extra picks earned via trades with the Giants and Chiefs), but if they’d rather focus on more offensive help (i.e. blocking and receiving), further opportunities await…

Free Agency Could Bring Back Familiar Faces

Metropolitan sports fans eager for athletic events of any kind have been partially placated by the local NFL squads making moves. Missing out on Christian ensures that the Jets aren’t done yet. They have just over $32.5 million in cap space left to work with, so it’s not like Joe Douglas and company have to close up shop until draft day.

Fortunately for the Jets, experienced options to deepen the safety depth chart are available. Among them is safety Damarious Randall, who previously worked with Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams during the latter’s helm as interim head coach in Cleveland.  Christian had previously worked with defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator Dennard Wilson in Los Angles. Alternative Wilson alumni from Los Angeles that are on the market include Blake Countess who played six games with the Jets last season.

It’s impossible to deny that the Jets have gotten better during this transaction period, at least on paper. But with less-than-desirable contingency plans behind the  strong pairing of Adams and Maye, the Jets don’t have the luxury of standing idle at this point.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Mets: Michael Wacha embraced technology to improve his game thanks to his dad

Simeon Woods-Richardson

It seems like Michael Wacha has been around for ages. He was, after all, the MVP of the National League Championship Series back in 2013. But believe it or not, he is still only 28 years old. The New York Mets didn’t care about his 2019 struggles (4.76 ERA, 5.61 FIP) and signed him to a one-year deal this offseason. They believe he can return to form.

And Wacha himself explained to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News that he has worked to fix his mechanics. He believes they got “out of whack” over the last couple of years.

As he told Thosar, Wacha wasn’t one for using technology to improve his performance, but with the help of his father Tom, he has decided to do it this winter.

He showed up to spring training throwing harder than at any point in the last year. It started by watching and analyzing videos of his mechanics with his dad.

The Mets have faith in him

Tom was the one who pulled up videos of Michael’s 2019 starts with the St. Louis Cardinals. They both looked at critical things such as release point, spin rate, arm slot and other mechanics.

“I’ve always just been like, I’m going to out-compete this guy,” Wacha said earlier in March. “I usually take it on myself and not really understand — OK, that’s a bad pitch because of this, and maybe this will work better because of the spin rate or the ride on this pitch.”

It all started before he signed with the New York Mets. After initially being on the outside looking for a rotation spot given that the team had Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Steven Matz and fellow free agent signing Rick Porcello, he is now a sure thing to be in the top five because of Thor’s injury.

“My dad definitely pulled up quite a bit of the videos,” Wacha said. “He’s got some websites — I don’t even know where he looks it up. He’s got my release points at certain times during the year when I’m not pitching good. He was definitely getting into it this offseason and passing along some information to me. I think it was very helpful for sure.”

Wacha will try to improve on his 4.76 ERA and 1.563 WHIP. Let’s hope there is a season and he has a shot to do it.

New York Mets: Citi Field Workers Awaiting Pay During Coronavirus Halt

The Coronavirus effect has shutdown sports altogether, but it has not just affected the lives of the athletes. Throughout sports, we are seeing the employees who help create a good stadium experience unable to work due to social distancing. The New York Mets pledged $1 million to their Citi Field employees, but the Mets are still figuring out how to allocate the funds.

Citi Field workers have not heard from ownership or the organization on how or when they will receive paychecks. Aramark, the foodservice client that staffs Citi Field with contracted workers, has not reached out either.

Who Pays Who?

It is unclear who pays who during this situation because we have never seen a pandemic like this. In comparison to the Barclays Center, all of their food workers received pay since the NBA/NHL shutdown. The Boston Red Sox chipped in an extra $500,000 to help their workers get through these tough times.

This is a trying time for a majority of the country, and there is no precedent on the correct to handle everything. There is also plenty of uncertainty for everyone involved. For an organization known more for idiocy than intelligence, hopefully, they do not make matters worse.

New York Yankees: Boone shuts down rumors about moving Judge to first base

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has a cracked rib and had a collapsed lung (undiagnosed in the first tests) that presumably dates back to a play in the outfield last September. There have been rumors about the New York Yankees wanting to move him to first base.

Apparently, that won’t be the case. Yankees manager Aaron Boone shut down the rumors and dismissed the notion of moving Judge from right field, where he proved to be one of the best in the Major Leagues last season.

Talking at the Michael Kay Show, the Yankees’ skipper said that “he has had a couple of unfortunate injuries the last couple of years, but moving him? Absolutely not… He is an elite defender and one of the game’s great players. Never a discussion to move him.’’

The 2017 Rookie of the Year is still recovering from his cracked rib. A recent CT scan showed slight improvement, and he will be re-evaluated in a couple of weeks. At the moment of suffering the injury, there were doubts regarding his opening day availability, but given that the season isn’t expected to start until June or July (if there is baseball at all) he could be ready from the beginning.

The Yankees have an elite outfielder in Judge

It would preposterous to move Judge from right field at this point while he still has his youth, range and athleticism. According to Fangraphs, he had a 7.6 defensive rating, a very good number that makes him an elite option.

In fact, judging by DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) Judge led not only the American League, but also MLB right fielders with 20, in a tie with Los Angeles Dodgers’ fellow slugger Cody Bellinger.

His phenomenal throwing arm would also be wasted in first base, not to mention that the New York Yankees have plenty of options there as well.

New York Yankees: Yankee starting lineup narrows by the day, find out why!

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.

For the New York Yankees, today was supposed to be the second game of the regular season at Baltimore Park at Camden Yards, after a day off yesterday.  Instead, all of baseball is in delay caused by the spread of the coronavirus.  With two weeks of spring training likely to still take place, and the unknown as to when the season might start, that starting lineup for the Yankees remains in flux.

Just two weeks ago, it was uncertain as to if Gary Sanchez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Judge would be available to be inserted into the opening day lineup.  Since then, Giancarlo Stanton‘s grade one calf strain has healed.  Recently New York Yankee manager Aaron Boone has stated that is the season was to start today, Standon is ready to go.

“He’s pretty much over the hump,” Boone said. “He’s pretty much run aggressively and done the things necessary. If and when we begin spring training games, he would likely be ready to roll for that.”

Aaron Judge has a fractured rib and a healed partially collapsed lung.  The injury probably happened near the end of the previous season when he dove for a catch at Yankee Stadium.  The rib injury, which was initially diagnosed as shoulder soreness that later seemed to involve a chest muscle soreness, was finally after a second MRI diagnosed as the rib fracture.  Boone, when addressing the media on Judge’s progress, said:

“Aaron is still in the healing phase of that rib bone,” Boone said. “I think he’ll be re-evaluated in a few weeks as far as reimaging to see if there’s continued healing with that rib. But he’s been able to work out. Doing a lot of lower body stuff. Is able to do some upper body stuff, some overhead things, so he’s going in pretty much every day in Tampa there to continue his rehab.”

Pitcher Jame Paxton who was initially supposed to miss at least the first two months of the season is the most affected of the Yankee players by the season delay and now appears close to being ready by the time the season finally starts.  Paxton is continuing his work out and throwing program at his home in Wisconsin.  Aaron Boone has said the situation with pitchers is different than field players.  Even if Paxton is somewhat ready to start the season, he will still need more time to build up strength and will likely only pitch a few innings in their first starts.

Other New York Yankee players involved in injuries include Gary Sanchez with back soreness.  Shortly after being shut down with the soreness, Sanchez came down with the flu.  Little is known regarding how he is rehabbing from the back issue.  Yankee ace Luis Severino had Tommy John surgery about two weeks ago and will miss the entire 2020 season while recovering.  Another player Aaron Hicks who is also recovering from Tommy John from the previous season, will likely return to the field after Judge and Stanton.

This conclusion can be made; the original projected lineup is meaningless now with the unknown start of the season and the rehab progress of the above Yankee players.  When the final determination is made as to when the season will start, the Yankee lineup may be healthy and what manager Aaron Boone would have wanted it to be.

Commissioner Rob Manfred recently said regarding when the finish or mini spring training would ramp up, he said:

“My optimistic outlook is that at some point in May we’ll be gearing back up,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said on ESPN Wednesday. “We’ll have to make a determination depending on what the precise date is as to how much of a preparation period we need.”

During that min-spring training, observations will be made as to what that 26 man roster will look like and who will fill out the starting day lineup.  Questions remain if hopeful players like Clint Frazier, Tyler Wade, or Mike Ford will find a place on that opening day roster.  Whatever the case, the New York Yankees are in a better position due to the delay than if the season had started on time.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees Prospects: Anthony Seigler

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

With the 23rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, the New York Yankees selected the talented switch hitting catcher, Anthony Seigler. Seigler was high on a lot of draft boards, and was an intriguing prospect in a number of ways. One of the main things that stood out about Seigler was the fact that he was a switch hitting catcher and a switch pitching pitcher. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. Seigler could throw from both sides with a fastball that could touch the upper 80s. The New York Yankees loved Seigler’s athleticism for the catcher position. In watching him in high school, Seigler displayed the ability to field balls in the dirt and had a quick trigger arm that could nail runners on the base path. Seigler looked to be a guy that the Yankees could groom to be their catcher of the future assuming the day will come where Gary Sanchez moves off the position. However, Seigler has hit a few speed bumps in his first couple of years with the organization.

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Bumpy Road

One of the things that the New York Yankees scouts wanted to see from Seigler in his first couple of years, is for him to gain strength and make more consistent contact at the plate. In his first year, Seigler didn’t show a lot of pop, but he did look solid in his 24 games that he played in. He had a batting average that sat in the mid-200s and an OBP that was closer to 400. Seigler’s lack of speed in his swing did cause him to ground out a lot, but there was definitely promise. He was rated as the second-best position prospect the Yankees had before last year, but he has dropped off quite a bit. Seigler has been hit with the Yankees injury bug and only played 30 games last year. In those 30 games, Seigler was not very impressive. He didn’t hit one ball out of the park and he had a batting average of .175. Now, injuries could have played a big role in his numbers last year, but it is definitely something that gave scouts pause. Seigler dropped to the fifteenth ranked prospect in the system due to his lack of performance and continuous injuries through his first couple of years in the minors.

Something to Prove

Now, I think there are a lot of positives about Seigler, he just needs to stay healthy. He needs to show the Yankees front office that he is capable of driving the ball more consistently. Again, the power numbers are something that the Yankees love to pay attention too and Seigler just does not drive the ball. He has one home run in 54 minor league games. As alluded to above, a lot of that has to do with his lack of bat speed causing him to be late on a lot of pitches. If Seigler can improve his bat speed and add a little strength, he could be the game changer the Yankees envisioned when they drafted him. A switch hitting catcher who plays really good defense and has decent pop. Whenever the season starts, I want to see more consistent hitting from Seigler. I want to see him drive the ball through the air and not just drive it into the ground. Another thing is I want to see him go through the season and stay healthy. We’ve seen many prospects derailed due to their inability to stay healthy. I still think Anthony Seigler is a really good prospect, he just has a lot to prove to the Yankees.

New York Knicks: Obi Toppin Might Be Exactly What’s Needed at MSG

New York Knicks need shooting badly. Not only does Obi Toppin provide excellent three-point shooting for Dayton, but Toppin is also an unselfish power-forward who passes the ball exceptionally well at his position. Toppin is an older prospect which makes him a safe bet in terms of immediate production at the NBA level, especially at 6’9” 230 lbs along with a 7-foot wingspan. Obi Toppin just might be exactly what’s needed at MSG alongside RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox.

The New York native, Obi Toppin is currently averaging 20.0- points and 7.5- rebounds per game at Dayton. With comparisons to a three-point shooting Amare Stoudemire, Toppin could improve his defense and rebounding. However, playing alongside a very good rebounder and shot-blocker could be a very solid fit. Obi Toppin and Mitchell Robinson could be a dynamic future frontcourt for years, similar to a young DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin.

The ability to run the floor, be unselfish and finish as a lob threat are exciting parts of the Dayton prospect’s game which makes the likes of RJ Barrett and Frank Ntilikina relish the opportunity to play with him. As far as the Knicks go in terms of a point guard search, G-League player, Lamar Peters of the Westchester Knicks must be looked at for a lengthy period of time on a New York Knicks lineup. Peters has been thriving in Mike Miller’s offense so why be quick to draft another young point guard prospect which could take years to develop into his potential when you already have some young talent which includes a sharpshooting point-guard being evaluated in the G-League. If the Lamar Peters experiment doesn’t work out, then it would make sense going into the draft and hopefully look to LaMelo Ball to sport the orange and blue for the next decade, if the organization can be patient with him and Lavar Ball, that itself might be another story.

New York Yankees: Is it possible we’ve seen the last of Masahiro Tanaka?

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees could see the end of some of their one-year players as the regular season could be set back beyond 2020.

Many uncertainties lie ahead for baseball, and the start of the regular season could be pushed by too far for the league to enjoy a reasonable season. Initially, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred put an eight-week stoppage on operations with the expectation that the global pandemic would pass over. However, these seem to be heading in a different direction as America deals with the epidemic.

Only 8-10 players remain in Tampa after Florida considered shutting down the state entirely. Most players and coaches have departed back to their families for the time being, but one player has stuck around, his name is Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka hasn’t returned to Japan due to the flying restrictions, and his 2020 season could potentially be his last in Pinstripes. As Spring Training continues to look like a distant memory, it’s becoming possible that Tanaka could miss the entire year due to the holdout, and with only one year left on his contract, Yankees’ fans might have seen the last of the pitcher.

The New York Yankees have enjoyed consistency from Tanaka:

In 2019, Tanaka struggled at times, but he earned an All-Star appearance based on his success during the first half of the season. The second half wasn’t as productive, as he finished with a 4.45 ERA and 28 homers allowed, the second-most in his career.

However, Tanaka has always been a talented postseason pitcher, finishing the ALDS with a 1.80 ERa over 6.0 innings and a 2.45 ERA over 11.0 innings in the ALCS. Having him in that setting in 2020 would prove to be essential, especially with Luis Severino set to miss the entire campaign.

Of course, there’s a good chance the season will go on, but dealing with the severity of Covid-19 is a priority for the world and country. Hopefully, things will get better, and Tanaka will be able to feature in Pinstripes this year.