New York Jets: Three Takeaways from Joe Douglas’ Comments

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

General manager Joe Douglas emerged to speak out on the state of his New York Jets, who look very different from when we last saw them.

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas emerged on Wednesday to give a de facto state-of-the-team conference call. Despite the relative stagnance of the sporting world, the Jets are undoubtedly a different looking team thanks to Douglas’ moves

Here are the main takeaways from Wednesday’s comments…

Expect a lineman at #11

These aren’t your father’s Jets. They’re not your older brother’s Jets. Heck, they might not be your twin brother’s Jets.

The blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era was all but confirmed with the checks Douglas has bestowed this offseason. Funds have been diverted to providing protection for the Jets’ potential pair of backfield saviors, Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell. Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant have gotten green makeovers. Competition for playing time will ensue, but Douglas is pleased with the established depth he was able to obtain.

“We had a lot of holes to fill. Our plan was to be strategic and disciplined,” Douglas said, per Robby Sabo of Jets X Factor. “I felt like we needed to build a foundation…the best teams in the NFL have a lot of depth.”

The improvements offered apparent flexibility and freedom to the Jets with the 11th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Perhaps the pick could be used on a playmaking receiver talent like CeeDee Lamb or Henry Ruggs.

Douglas, how, gave a veiled “not so fast”.

“I think there’s a real shortage of quality offensive linemen in the NFL,” he said per Ralph Vacchiano of SNY. “So we’re going to do our best to get as many quality ones as we can because you can never have too many.”

Improving the line has been one of the early hallmarks of the Douglas era. One of his first moves was convincing former All-Pro Ryan Kalil out of retirement for the 2019 season. That one didn’t pan out, but it was perhaps more than Maccagnan had done in years. Prior to taking Chuma Edoga in last season’s third round, the Jets had not taken a blocker within the draft’s first two days since Vlad Ducasse back in 2010. Douglas, it appears, is just getting started.

Receiving help will rise from within

With an apparent dedication to blocking at the 11th, the draft is still relatively deep at receiver. Talented names like Jalen Reagor, KJ Hamler, and Chase Claypool will likely all still be around on day two. That’s big for the Jets after the departure of Anderson.

The newly minted Carolina Panther’s tallies of 3,059 yards and 20 touchdowns over the past four seasons are relatively pedestrian in today’s NFL. But the fact remains that the Jets just lost a lot of offensive productions. No other Jets, for example, reached double digits in touchdowns in the same span. As of now, the void of top receiver is set to be filled by Breshad Perriman on one of Douglas’ prove-it deals.

Douglas acknowledged that the Jets aren’t done spending yet. At the same time, he’s looking forward to seeing some of the current roster names rise up in Anderson’s wake. According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, Douglas invoked the names of Vyncint Smith, Josh Doctson, and Braxton Berrios. Considering the fact that that group combined for 44 receptions and 340 yards in 2019, they’re probably not done adding to the arsenal. It could well strengthen the case for Demaryius Thomas to return.

Brian Winters is probably staying

The veteran blocker Winters has frequently appeared on lists of potential salary cap cuts. Entering the final part of a four-year extension, the departure of Winters would save the Jets just over $7.2 million against the cap. With interior help coming in the form of McGovern, Van Roten, and Josh Andrews, it felt like Winters was on borrowed time, but Douglas appeared to imply the opposite in this bit from SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. 

“We love his competitiveness and toughness,” Douglas said. “We should have a really good competition for our offensive line.”

While that’s far from cementing his roster spot, it certainly sounds like Winters will be invited to training camp, whenever that may be. Experience could certainly play in Winters’ favor. Only three members from the 2019 roster have more service in the NFL. Winters is also set to be the longest-tenured Jet in New Jersey should running back Bilal Powell leave in free agency.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Matt Blake feels “really good” about James Paxton’s progress

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Coronavirus has pushed back the start of the MLB season. The worst thing about it is that we don’t know when will that be. The New York Yankees, like every other team, are patiently waiting. However, while they wait, they are getting excellent news on the injury front.

Because of the delayed season, chances are that they will have every injured player back, except for Luis Severino, of course, who is out until 2021 with Tommy John surgery.

Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and James Paxton are all progressing nicely and are expected to be ready when the season starts, or shortly after.

According to what Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake said Wednesday to Lindsey Adler of The Athletic, he feels “really good” about Paxton’s progress.

Paxton started playing catch in early March, a little over a month after undergoing surgery to remove a cyst from his spine on February 5. Initially, his timetable was about three or four months, which would have meant losing nearly all of the first half.

But as things stand right now, a hypothetical season would start in June at the earliest, and July seems like a more appropriate target given that the virus isn’t yet under control in the United States.

The delayed start of the season will benefit Paxton

While it is a sad development, it represents an advantageous position for the New York Yankees’ southpaw to be, as he has a chance (and a very good one, at that) to be ready when things get rolling again.

The southpaw was solid in 2019, his first season in pinstripes. He had a 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 186/55 K/BB ratio over 150 2/3 innings (29 starts.)

He is slated to become a free agent in 2021, and he will surely want to have a great season to leave on a high note or to increase the chances of a reunion later down the road.

New York Giants: New Linebacker Blake Martinez Shows Off Insane Home-Training Facility (VIDEO)

New York Giants, Blake Martinez

The New York Giants made a splash this offseason when they signed free agent inside linebacker Blake Martinez. This was an exciting signing for the Giants. Securing a linebacker to replace Alec Ogletree was a big move that needed to be made this offseason. Fans are eager to see Martinez get to work in Big Blue.

However, it could be a while before Blake Martinez gets to put on a Giants jersey and start practicing. The coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on life as we all know it. The NFL’s offseason will undergo major changes regarding offseason programs such as OTA’s and training camp. It is uncertain at this point when exactly the NFL season will kickoff. But do not worry; the Giants’ new linebacker is safely training in his new tricked out facility at home:

 

With almost all of the offseason programs in jeopardy due to COVID-19, the training that NFL players do in their own time will be crucial this year. Rest assured knowing Martinez is training hard at home this offseason. With equipment like this, Blake Martinez will be ready for the 2020 NFL season.

Who are the Yankees’ players most likely to lead statistical categories in a shortened season?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

MLB won’t be playing official games in the foreseeable future. That’s a fact, and we should consider ourselves lucky if we get to see any action before June or July at this point. The New York Yankees, just like every other team, are playing the waiting game.

The available time and our fascination for stats leave us with plenty of opportunities to speculate what could happen in a shortened season, which is looking like the most likely scenario at this point.

In this case, we will look at which current members of the New York Yankees could lead several statistical categories in 2020. We don’t know if the schedule will have 162 games, 120, 100, 81, 40, or none, but let’s play along!

Yankees with a chance to lead categories

Batting average: I like DJ LeMahieu’s chances of winning the batting title in a shortened season. He is a career .302 hitter and had a .327 mark last year. He feasts on fastballs, breaking balls, offspeed stuff, you name it. The infielder has virtually no weaknesses in the batter’s box.

Runs: Several Yankees could lead the Major Leagues in runs in what is shaping up to be a fantastic lineup. Aaron Judge is a prime candidate with that beautiful on-base percentage, and DJ LeMahieu and Gleyber Torres could be in the mix, as well. Judge scored 128 times in 2017, but he needs to stay on the field.

RBI: Giancarlo Stanton and Gleyber Torres are in the mix when we talk about runs batted in. The latter needs to keep growing in the plate and as a player, generally speaking, while the former needs to avoid hitting the IL.

Home runs: If health is on his side, I would favor Stanton over Judge (slightly) to win the home run crown. Let’s not forget that he hit as many as 59 while playing with the Miami Marlins.

Doubles: If he had regular playing time, I would put young slugger Miguel Andujar as the Yankees’ best candidate to lead the league in two-baggers. That’s not the case for now, however.

Walks: Aaron Judge and Luke Voit are the most logical choices here. The former has a career 16.1 BB%, and the latter holds a 11.9 mark, with a 13.9 register in an injury-filled 2019.

Pitching categories: Among current New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole is the most logical candidate to accumulate league-leading figures in wins, quality starts, ERA, WHIP and strikeouts.

However, in a shortened season, there could be enough variance and randomness that another hurler, say Masahiro Tanaka or James Paxton, could accumulate more wins than the free agent signing.

Report: New York Giants sitting with more cap space than previously reported

New York Giants, John Mara, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants were thought to be strapped of cash after signing multiple players to three-year contracts with front-loaded money. However, the true cap breakdown was provided by ESPN’ Jordan Raanan, as he stated:

As noted in here, #Giants did in fact use signing bonuses for their top FAs. They quickly amended the original structure to deals for James Bradberry ($9M signing bonus, $3M roster bonus) + Blake Martinez ($6M signing, $4M roster). Provides more cap space than has been reported.

Converting large chunks of cap into signing bonuses has allowed Big Blue to clear some room in case they want to go after another talented free agent.

ESPN’s Field Yates stated that the Giants have nearly $20 million in cap available, which would open up the opportunity for them to retain Markus Golden on a reasonable deal. Now, it’s important to note that GM Dave Gettleman prefers to have leftover cap going into the season, and they must keep at least $10 million for rookie contracts.

They may sign another player, specifically at the pass rusher position, but it seems as if they’re playing the waiting game to see what other teams are doing before the draft. Any indications of movement could lower projected yearly earnings for free agents or increase their value. A lot depends on the draft choices of the Washington Redksin and Detroit Lions for the Giants, so getting a clearer picture of what they might do should help in making contractual decisions.

Golden’s market is fascinating, as you’d think he would have developed some interest from teams looking for a 3-4 outside linebacker. Coming off a lesser 2018 campaign, he bounced back with 10.0 sacks in 2019 and showed his ability to get after the quarterback consistently. The Giants could be waiting to open up enough cap for him, but things seem to be at a standstill. There are other spots on the roster than need more depth, which is where the available cap could come into play.

Lifelong New York Yankees’ fan Zack Granite hopes to fulfill his dream

New York Yankees

On November 22, the New York Yankees signed outfielder Zack Granite to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He had spent all 2019 at Triple-A in the Texas Rangers’ organization and hit .290/.331/.375 with three homers and 25 stolen bases.

At first, the Yankees’ intention was for the 27-year-old speedster, who once was a heralded prospect with the Minnesota Twins, to offer depth at the three outfield positions. However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it isn’t a given that he ever plays for the team, considering that the players at his positions will likely be healthy by the time the season starts.

As it turns out, Granite is a lifelong Yankees’ fan. He attended Yankee Stadium as a fan and went as a player in 2017 with the Twins.

“From when I was a kid, when I thought about playing in the majors, I envisioned myself in a Yankee uniform,” Granite said to Dan Martin of the New York Post. “Now I’m 27 and have that chance. The first game in spring training, I started and was wearing pinstripes. I had chills and a big smile. I dreamed about it my whole life.”

He hasn’t played in the majors since 2017. He’s hoping he can play a major league game for the team he loves.

Playing for the Yankees is a dream of his

“It just stinks,” Granite said of the whole situation. “I hope it doesn’t end like this. I’m hoping we can start in June or July and play as long as we can. I don’t know if that’s gonna happen, but I love baseball. It’s what I’ve done my whole life. Even my wife is saying, ‘It’s weird having you around.’”

“I always wanted to say I played for the Yankees. You hear about all the success they’ve had with guys coming from different organizations. They do a great job with player development, and I wanted to learn from the best. Maybe it wasn’t my best chance to make an Opening Day roster, but I thought it would make me a better player.”

During the abbreviated spring training, he was showing off his patience: he was 3-for-18 with six walks when play stopped.

The grim reality for the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball fans

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Atmosphere is a significant factor in sports. The energy fans create and the aura around the stadium is a major reason players rise to the occasion and enjoy performing at a competitive level. The New York Yankees and Major League Baseball, in general, could be forced into an unfortunate circumstance this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ensuring fan and player safety is the most critical reality we are facing in modern-day life, which could indicate that games are played without fans in the stands. A throwback to the Sandlot days, where the only thing standing between the outfield and a home run ball is an angry dog that’s actually extremely friendly (if you haven’t watched Sandlot, please do yourself a favor).

Our Northern neighbors have already banned gatherings

With Canada a significant aspect of baseball, they have already banned public gatherings until late-June, which would force teams to play without fans or not at all. The United States could follow their lead in that regard, especially if the severity of the pandemic continues to increase.

New York remains the epicenter for coronavirus, seeing massive spikes in positive cases, but necessary precautions will begin to flatten the curve. Baseball is on the back-end of a humanitarian crisis — focusing on saving lives and supporting our health-care workers is the priority at this time.

However, we are left quarantined indoors with no sporting events and minimal entertainment. This time can be used for family, work, and many other things, but being smart about our decisions is significant. The sooner we abide by the suggested rules (staying indoors and avoiding public spaces), the sooner we can return to normal life.

The Yankees are taking the necessary precautions as well, staying in their homes, or practicing social distancing at their Tampa location. Most players have returned to their homes to wait out the storm, but we are slowly beating this thing!

NO-HAN! Let’s remember how New York Mets’ pitcher Johan Santana made history (+video)

In 2012, the New York Mets were celebrating their 50th birthday. Yes, the franchise has had some highs and lows, but two World Series titles and lots of good memories sure stole lots of smiles from people of all generations. In June 1 of that year, Venezuelan lefty Johan Santana made history, becoming the first player of the franchise to pitch a no-hit, no-run.

The achievement was noteworthy for a variety of reasons. First, it was a no-hitter! That has merit on itself. And second, the Mets were, together with the Padres, the only MLB franchise without such a game.

It’s surprising that a franchise that has had some studs on the mound, such as Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden, just to name two, didn’t have a no-hitter until Johan Santana’s came in 2012.

The Mets didn’t have a no-hitter!

In fact, Seaver had a perfect game going into the ninth inning in 1969, but Jimmy Qualls broke it with a single.

Santana, who was coming off shoulder surgery, needed 134 pitches to complete the feat against the St. Louis Cardinals. He handed five free passes and used a little help from his teammates, most notably Mike Baxter and a miracle catch in left field. He ended up striking out eight batters.

“I don’t think I’ve ever even thrown a no-hitter in video games,” Santana said that night, according to Anthony DiComo.

Cardinals’ hitter Carlos Beltran, who was appointed to manage the New York Mets this offseason but later parted ways with the team following his appearance in MLB’s report about the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, hit a ball down the left field line that was called foul.

In the end, everything worked out great for Santana and the Mets, and Citi Field fans roared with the game’s last strikeout that sealed Johan Santana’s, and the franchise’s first no-hit, no-run.

The game reaired Tuesday on MLB.com.

You can watch the full game here:

Could New York Giants trade for Minnesota star safety?

New York Giants, Anthony Harris

The New York Giants are desperately in need of a starting free safety, and there are several avenues they can take to find one. The NFL Draft offers quality options to supplement the void, specifically in the shape of Antoine Winfield in the second round, known for his ball-hawk abilities and instinctual play.

Winfield is a top option at 36th overall — formerly the captain of the Minnesota football team, recording seven interceptions in 2019, showing off his coverage skills and right-place, right-time mentality. If the Giants want to spend a high draft pick on his skill-set, they would be gaining an immediate starter at the position for the foreseeable future. His downfall, however, is his athleticism and tackling technique at times. Winfield’s elite vision and instincts compensate for his lack of speed/size, and his tackling can always be improved — Joe Judge will harp on the details.

Alternatively, the Giants could seek help in the form of a trade. The Minnesota Vikings recently franchise-tagged Anthony Harris and are working on a long-term deal, but nothing is set in stone. They have been patient with his market and negotiations, indicating that he might be a trade option for a needy-team like Big Blue.

What Anthony Harris would bring to the New York Giants:

Grabbing Harris would immediately turn the free safety position into one of absolute strength, but it would likely cost GM Dave Gettleman at least a third-rounder to pry him away from the Vikings. It would be well worth the investment if it didn’t break the bank, though, considering Harris’ six interceptions and 11 passes defended in 2019.

Harris started in 14 games last season, the most in his career, previously starting in nine games in 2018 and three in 2017. While those numbers are a bit concerning, it seems as if Minnesota were dabbling with Harris in different positions (SS), which ultimately didn’t pay off. Permanently moving him to free safety saw his value explode and landed him a franchise tag deal.

If the Giants can pry him away, they will be in good shape in the defensive secondary, allowing Gettleman to invest draft picks into the offensive line and pass rusher positions.

Looking Back at the Pre-Season Predictions for the New York Rangers

New York Rangers

This was supposed to be the week that the New York Rangers played their final set of regular-season games for the 2019-2020 season, with the hope of many that it would be a springboard to the playoffs. But of course, we all know that the NHL as are most sports around the world are in a holding pattern. So with the normal regular season all but done, let’s take a look back to see what some experts predicted what the season would look like for the Rangers.

Some Experts had the New York Rangers doing well

A bit understandable, even as most realized that the Rangers were in a rebuilding mode. In the Sporting News, very few experts had the Rangers making the playoffs. One pundit who did was Jackie Speigel of the sportingnews.ca, who predicted the Blueshirts would capture the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. She even selected Kaapo Kakko as the winner for the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. Many might remember Jackie for her wonderful work at SNY, so it could be a bit of regional bias but at least the Rangers were knocking at the door when the season shut down. Jace Mallory took it a step further and predicted that the Rangers would secure the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.  Brooklyn native Sammi Silber of NBC Sports even had the Blueshirts winning the Metro. Dave McCarthy of NHL.com and SiriusXM-NHL picked the Rangers second in the Metro.  Overall, less than half of the experts polled had the Rangers making the playoffs.

In looking at some articles that had more in-depth features, Adam Gretz stated in his article for NBCsports.com that: “They should be significantly better. How could they not be after adding Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, Adam Fox, and two potential rookie of the year contenders at forward in Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov? That is a ton of talent to enter the organization in one summer and it should be enough to have the team at least in contention for a playoff spot.”

The SI.com staff predicted that the Rangers would finish seventh in the Metropolitan Division and wrote that “It’s easy to imagine the Rangers playing above their station, and it’s also easy to see them hit growing pains.”

They also wrote that “Each season always brings its own surprises”. I don’t think they had our current predicament in mind when they wrote that!