New York Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon sends letter to the team’s season ticket holders

According to SNY, the New York Mets’ COO Jeff Wilpon wrote a letter to season ticket holders amid the current coronavirus crisis. The United States are among the most heavily affected countries in the world, and the thought of starting the MLB season soon is, despite the league’s efforts and brain-storming, far-fetched.

Here’s the letter written by the Mets’ COO:

“Dear Mets fans:

Let me start by saying that I hope this note finds you and your families healthy and safe.

We are in unprecedented times and the current situation is bigger than any sport. Our priority over all else is the health and safety of our players, employees, fans and all communities, as well as following the recommendations of our public health officials, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Major League Baseball, and our own medical team.

There are so many heroes putting themselves at risk every day in an effort to save lives who deserve our gratitude and applause. Thank you to all of the doctors, nurses, health care professionals and uniformed personnel for being on the front lines around the clock during this pandemic.

As a token of our appreciation, our organization is working with our partners to provide meals and beverages for these selfless workers to help keep their strength and spirits up.

We also recently launched a $1.2M program to provide financial assistance for Citi Field game day staff impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Our hope is that these funds will help to ease the hardship suffered by the many game day staff members who have been impacted by this crisis.

We are confident that baseball will play a role in helping the country recover, as it has so often done in the past. We all look forward to when baseball is able to provide that sense of community for all of us.

Please continue to practice measures that will keep you and your family, friends, and community safe and healthy.

Jeff Wilpon

Mets Chief Operating Officer.”

The Mets are in wait-and-see mode

MLB and the players’ association are considering the idea of playing games without fans as soon as May in Arizona.

There are several spring training complexes there, not to mention Chase Field, the home field of the D-backs.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets’ players keep preparing themselves in their own homes, in most cases. Manager Luis Rojas is monitoring the roster from afar.

The New York Giants Should Trade For Vikings Safety Anthony Harris

New York Giants, Anthony Harris

The New York Giants spent much money in free agency this offseason. They made a couple of splash signings on defense with linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback James Bradberry. But New York’s defense still has room for improvement.

The 2020 NFL Draft will take place in sixteen days. Rumors indicate that the Giants are going to prioritize upgrading the defense in the draft. New York has invested a sizeable amount of draft capital into their secondary over the past two seasons. But there are some talented safeties in this year’s class that the Giants could plug into the rotation along with Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love.

Outside of the NFL Draft, there is still a way for New York to acquire an uber-talented safety. Prior to the New League Year, the Giants reportedly did have an interest in signing Anthony Harris. Unfortunately, the Vikings placed the franchise tag on Harris, keeping him off the open market. But the elite Vikings safety is still available if the Giants are still interested. According to Ian Rapoport, the Vikings “acknowledged to teams that Harris could be had for a mid-to-late round draft pick.” The highest-graded safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, could be acquired via trade for a mid-to-late round pick. This is something the Giants should be all over- and apparently, they are.

Anthony Harris Back On The Trade Block

According to new reports, an Anthony Harris trade possibility is “back on the table.” Darren Wolfson of KSTP-TV reports that the contract negotiations between the Minnesota Vikings and Anthony Harris are “not quite going so well.” Later in the report, “Wolfson mentions the New York Giants as a potential suitor.” The rumors seem to indicate that the Giants are attempting to trade for Harris, though the Vikings might have their price set a little too high.

With the NFL Draft just sixteen days away, the Vikings and Giants would have to come to terms on a trade pretty soon if it is going to happen. The deal would involve moving draft capital and could shift each team’s respective draft plans.

Why The Giants Should Make This Trade

The price of trading for Anthony Harris is unknown. However, the initial asking price at the start of free agency, according to Ian Rapoport, was a “mid-to-late round draft pick.” If the price has gone up marginally, it still is likely a bargain deal for one of the best safeties in the NFL.

Anthony Harris is a ball-hawking coverage safety. In 2019, the Vikings safety led the NFL in interceptions with 6 picks, one of which was a pick-six. He also added 11 passes defended and 60 combined tackles (with only 3 missed tackles), both of which were a career-high. Quarterbacks struggle to throw into Anthony’s coverage. Harris had a 44.2 passer rating allowed when targeted. His coverage was targeted 23 times, and he allowed 15 completions for only 151 yards, 0 touchdowns, and those 6 interceptions.

Trading for Anthony Harris would instantly upgrade the Giants’ secondary. A move like this would not push any talent to the bottom of the depth chart, either. Jabrill Peppers will still start at strong safety. Julian Love will be able to move back to his original position, slot cornerback. A secondary featuring Harris, Peppers, Love, Baker, and Bradberry could be a quarterback’s worst nightmare.

Should the New York Yankees expect Gerrit Cole to struggle in his first year as a Bomber?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Should we be expecting New York Yankees‘ Gerrit Cole to dominate or have a rocky start in Yankee Stadium?

When you spend $324 million on any given player, you usually expect them to be one of the best on the team. The New York Yankees did just that with starting pitcher Gerrit Cole this off-season, locking him into a nine-year deal.

Cole dominated with the Houston Astros in 2019, posting a 2.50 ERA with 326 strikeouts. He also recorded 20 overall wins but did struggle in the home run department a bit compared to other seasons. Last year marked the second-highest number of home runs he’s given up (29), with the highest being in 2017 (31). However, he still finished as a runner up for the Cy Young award and was an All-Star. He had the lowest WHIP of his entire career at 0.895, and a career-high strikeout to walk ratio of 6.79.

Coming to the Bronx can be intimidating, as Yankee Stadium has a short right porch and can be a liability for pitchers who are unaware of that reality. Dealing with inconsistent weather conditions is also a factor that will play a part, especially since Cole is coming from a moderately dry Texas landscape.

One New York Yankees pitcher who saw a massive drop off in 2019:

One starting pitcher that struggled in his second season with the Yankees was Jay a hat. He posted an elevated 4.9 1 ERA over 31 games pitched. He was left out of the postseason starting rotation for that reason, after having a successful 2018, spending 11 games with the Yankees and recording a 7-0 record. That small sample size was predominantly away games, and having a more significant role at home saw him struggle. He allowed 34 home runs in 2019, the highest in his entire career.

Now, we shouldn’t expect Cole to fall into the same hole that happened did, but we should be optimistically cautious of his 2020 production.

However, some pitchers joined the Yankees in full stride, like Masahiro Tanaka. The Japanese born player joined the Yankees in 2014, earning an All-Star appearance and posting a 2.77 ERA with 141 strikeouts. That is his best ERA since moving over to Major League Baseball, and in his first year, it was truly spectacular. That is one counter-argument to the idea that pitchers can struggle initially in the Bronx.

Overall, when you have a play as talented as Cole, worrying about him struggling in a new environment shouldn’t even be an after-thought. He should be 100% ready to go once the 2020 season begins and his level of play ‘should’ be up to par with the money he’s earning from the Steinbrenner’s.

 

New York Yankees: Clarke Schmidt’s family is helping him stay in shape during the extended break

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

MLB was supposed to start on March 26. However, due to concerns about the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, play was stopped and the start of the 2020 season was pushed back. There is, as of now, no set date to resume spring training and begin playing games that matter. However, that hasn’t stopped New York Yankees‘ hurler Clarke Schmidt, who is still preparing at home for whenever public health and MLB officials consider that the conditions to play are acceptable.

Schmidt said he was throwing to Cincinnati Reds’ catcher Tyler Stephenson, his buddy, before the state of Georgia (where he lives) implemented a full-on lockdown. Now, he has other partners helping him stay in shape.

Schmidt told Brendan Kuty in a long, entertaining interview for NJ.com that his brother Clete, who used to play professional baseball and retired this past year,is catching his bullpens. “He’s extremely athletic,” he said.

The Yankees’ prospect is getting ready and breaking down video

The promising pitcher said that while doesn’t have the Edgertronic at his house, he does have “certain types of cameras that aren’t as high speed as obviously the other ones. But whether it’s a small video or whatever it might be, I’ve been able to have my father or my mom or whoever it may be video taping.”

His family is helping him reach the major leagues, which could happen as soon as this year as things stand. The Yankees may need fresh arms if expanded rosters are going to be in play.

So, what is Schmidt looking in his videos? “I want to look at release and finger release and you can slow it down enough to where you can see noticeable differences and you can look at axises. You can make Sharpie balls where you color with the Sharpie on the ball to see where the ball is spinning when it comes off your fingers. It will tell you the axis on some of your pitches. I’ve been doing that, working on some stuff with different pitches and stuff like that.”

In four spring training games and seven innings, Schmidt had a 2.57 ERA for the New York Yankees. He had a good showing, and while he will ideally benefit from a bit more seasoning in the minors, he could certainly hold his own in the bigs if that’s the case.

New York Giants: 3 positions to solidify in the second round of the NFL Draft

New York Giants, Austin Jackson

Taking a look at three positions the New York Giants need to upgrade in the 2020 NFL Draft.

In two weeks, the New York Giants will have a new crop of rookies to inject into their team, solidifying positions of weakness and deficiency. With the 4th and 36th overall picks, GM Dave Gettleman has the draft allocations to upgrade two spots, and with offensive tackle and pass rusher being two of the more vulnerable positions, we can expect some value to be spent there.

However, that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Gettleman finding a new center or free safety in the draft. With that being said:

Here are three positions the New York Giants should consider upgrading in the second round:

1.) Center

With Jon Halapio walking in free agency after suffering two serious injuries, the Giants are in the market for a new center. They didn’t lock down any quality free agents and only have Spencer Pulley on the roster, suggesting they will look to the draft for a plug and play prospect. Cesar Ruiz represents the best player available with the 36th overall pick at the position. He would be a significant upgrade and start immediately.

At 6-foot-3, 307-pounds, Ruiz has a great center of gravity and was ranked as the best pass-blocking center in college, per PFF. However, he’s also nimble on his feet and can get to the second level quickly in the run game. If the Giants are going to spend a high pick on a center, he’s undoubtedly the best option.

2.) Free Safety

Some believe that Julian Love is the free safety of the future for the Giants, but I think his talents are better suited at slot cornerback. His 65.5% completion rate against attests to his ability in coverage, but only playing in 37% of snaps last season doesn’t give us much to work with regarding sample size. He does have fluid hips which translate well at free safety, but locking down interior receivers has been a problem for the Giants in the past.

Targetting a player like Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. could be Gettleman’s MO. His genetic traits and captaincy in college make him a great option with an elevated upside for Big Blue. He’s a bit undersized and lacks athleticism in some areas, but taking a chance on him could pay dividends.

3.) OT/LB

Realistically, the Giants have two avenues they can go down with the 4th overall pick — either they land a top offensive tackle prospect or a linebacker like Isaiah Simmons who can play multiples. One way or another, one position will be left in the dark, which is where they can go at No. 36. There are several quality prospects at tackle in the second round, including Isaiah Wilson, Lucas Niang, and Austin Jackson. They need more time to develop, but with Nate Solder set to feature for the 2020 season, the Giants have time on their side to invest in a developmental tackle with a high-ceiling.

This approach suggests that Simmons will be their selection, and considering Gettleman has never drafted an offensive lineman in the first round, this reality is probable.

 

The New York Yankees’ pitchers are using a Google Docs file to update their activities

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Gerrit Cole, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees may be stuck at home, like the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean they are not working or preparing for a hypothetical start of the season, whether it is in May, June, July or August.

Pitching coaches and coordinators, led by newcomer Matt Blake, are certainly not resting and not letting their pitchers relax too much. Instead, they are using a simple, but useful technology resource to keep the whole staff connected and updated with everybody’s progress and activities.

Yes, the players and coaches are all spread around the United States, but the Yankees are using a Google Docs file to keep track of their pitchers and their exact offseason activities and preparations.

The Yankees keep preparing for the season

According to pitching prospect Clarke Schmidt, “whatever you’re doing, whatever you threw that day or whatever you were planning to throw that week, you put it in the Google doc and edit it under your name.”

“[Pitching coach Matt] Blake or a pitching coach will check in on us. That’s the way it’s going right now. They put out a tentative throwing program that you can follow or you can do your own thing, whatever you feel is comfortable for yourself.”

With rumors about the season starting in May with all teams playing games in Arizona, there is a chance that teams play lots of doubleheaders. That would mean expanded rosters, which may result in us seeing a lot from Schmidt and young guns like Jonathan Loaisiga, Mike King, Nick Nelson, Ben Heller, and other talented hurlers from the New York Yankees.

That being the case, the Yankees may need to keep their Google Docs file updated with regular activity. The organization could need contributions from several unexpected places and sources.

“They’ve been awesome with communicating with us,” Schmidt said to NJ.com. “There’s not like a two-day or three-day period that goes on where I’m not talking to someone with the staff, whether it’s Blake or it’s [head trainer Tim Lentych] or Brad Hyde, the strength coach. Everybody’s staying in contact. It’s just making the process as easy as possible because there’s so much unknown. It’s one of those things where any bit of information can help.”

The New York Mets, deep in position players, could benefit from a shortened and tight schedule

While the coronavirus pandemic has changed everybody’s plans, including MLB, there is a chance, according to a report from ESPN writer Jeff Passan, that play begins in May with all teams in Arizona, in empty stadiums. While playing professional sports in the United States within a couple of weeks or a month seems unrealistic, the fact that the league is considering the idea tells a lot about MLB’s intentions: they want a season this year. The New York Mets, and the rest of the 29 teams, are patiently waiting.

Playing a shortened schedule would mean lots of double-headers and few rest days. That kind of setting could benefit teams with depth, like the New York Mets.

There has been chatter of having expanded rosters to cope with the tight schedule. Teams would need to rotate a lot in order to avoid injuries and burnouts. And, to my view, the Mets are well-equipped, as an organization, to thrive in this environment.

When it comes to position players, few squads boast the depth that the Mets can brag about. Wilson Ramos is the offensive catcher, but Tomas Nido can offer a great glove and call a good game, not to mention he has been toying to alter his swing and pack a little more power in it.

Dominic Smith can spell starting first baseman Pete Alonso, and the likes of Jed Lowrie (if healthy, of course) Luis Guillorme and Eduardo Nunez can offer capable production in the middle infield behind starting duo Robinson Cano and Amed Rosario. Lowrie and J.D. Davis can play in the hot corner if the Mets want to rest starter Jeff McNeil.

The outfield is very deep, too: Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto could be healthy when play starts, and Brandon Nimmo, Jake Marisnick, Davis and Smith can play there, too. They could all rotate and manager Luis Rojas can administrate rest days with ease.

The Mets’ pitching could use one or two reinforcements

The picture gets a little murkier in the pitching department. The rotation has five starters as of now: Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello, Steven Matz and Michael Wacha. After that, there are several question marks, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t talent around. Erasmo Ramirez was having a great spring, and prospect David Peterson showed that he is about ready for the majors. Fellow lefty prospect Kevin Smith could contribute later in the season, as well, and Walter Lockett can make a couple of starts, too.

The New York Mets have some prospects, too, especially catchers and shortstops. They could look to flip a couple in return for a decent starting pitcher for extra depth. The bullpen looks strong, with new signing Dellin Betances and the likes of Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Brad Brach, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

All in all, it looks like the Mets could cope with a shortened, tight schedule.

Losing Adam Pelech Nearly Derailed the Islanders’ Season

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

January 2, 2020, was supposed to be just another night with another game for the New York Islanders.

Looking back at it now, in the midst of the NHL’s shutdown due to the coronavirus, it was that evening that almost derailed the team’s season.

Set to host the lowly New Jersey Devils, the Isles announced just before puck drop that d-man Adam Pelech would not dress after suffering a lower-body injury. Rookie Noah Dobson was thrown in to take Pelech’s place, but questions began to arise as to how Pelech got hurt.

Did it happen in the game prior? During morning skate? At practice?

Nope.

Instead, it was rather the normal pre-game activity for all hockey players — two-touch soccer — where it was revealed Pelech tore his Achilles tendon.

Isles g.m. Lou Lamoriello made the announcement a day later, calling it a “freak accident.” Things only got worse from there. Lamoriello added that the 25-year-old would miss the rest of the season.

The severity of Pelech’s injury sent shockwaves through the organization and the fan base. The Isles, although they had lost to New Jersey the night prior, were still tied for second place in the Metropolitan Division and seemed to be primed for a second straight playoff appearance.

So, not only was the team losing a regular in the lineup, one of the top-four on defense, and their most steady and reliable blue-liner, but they were losing arguably their second-most valuable player behind center Mathew Barzal.

Pelech, before being sidelined, had evolved into one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL dating back to last January. He came on incredibly strong in the second half of last season and did a tremendous job shutting down Sidney Crosby in the Isles’ first-round sweep of the Penguins. Pelech’s performance as a number-one D pushed head coach Barry Trotz to anoint him and Ryan Pulock as the club’s top-pair on defense.

Pelech’s absence definitely had a trickle-down effect on the entire team.

The Isles struggled mightily to keep the puck out of the net and keep a calmer demeanor in their own zone. Some of that blame can be placed on the goaltending and the forwards, but Pelech being 6’3 and close to 220 pounds provided a big body which was tasked with keying in on the opposition’s top players. He also knows how to slow the play down and not get rattled, which allows his team to regroup.

Those missing elements unquestionably played a factor in why the Isles were 10-12-7 without Pelech before the season was postponed. Pelech is so defensively responsible and plays incredibly well to Trotz’s system that replacing him was almost impossible.

Speaking of Trotz, he went on with the guys from Sportsnet’s Hockey Central late last week and revealed that he believes his team was hit with the “wrong injuries this year at the wrong times that didn’t allow us keep our head above water enough where we would be in a better situation.” You best believe he was referring to Pelech as well as the ones to Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk, and Cal Clutterbuck.

This past Saturday would have marked the end of the regular season, with the playoffs set to begin tomorrow. There was no guarantee the Isles would have been starting their first-round series against whomever or watching from home. But they might have actually caught some luck with this extended break.

Pelech gave fans an update yesterday saying that his rehab is going well and that he’s going to be ready for training camp, whenever that may be.

That’s a great development for him and the organization. They’ll definitely need him, and they for sure were missing him since he got hurt.

Pelech’s season-ending setback had a major impact on the Islanders, but it could have been so much worse.

The Isles were very lucky it didn’t.

New York Giants: Jeremiah Mock Draft Sends Tristan Wirfs To Giants

New York Giants, Tristan Wirfs

The offseason always has a lot of predictions about the NFL Draft, from both fans and talking heads, and sometimes these predictions are right and other times not – the New York Giants, however, are at the center of more predictions than usual this season. They hold the number four overall pick, and there’s a lot of speculation about what the team will do with it.

Some say that the Giants will trade down and get more picks while taking a dark horse prospect like Derrick Brown in the first round. Others say that the Giants will spend the pick to take one of the highly valued offensive tackles that will likely go in the top ten of this year’s draft.

In the case of NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock draft, the prediction doesn’t differ far from the most supported narrative – that the Giants are looking for protection for Daniel Jones. A quarterback, after all, can’t play well for long without at least average protection. And last season helped to show that the answer likely isn’t Nate Solder for the left tackle position.

It’s Tristan Wirfs from Iowa that Jeremiah sees the Giants taking in this scenario.

The Giants have needs all over their defense, but I still believe protecting Daniel Jones is the top priority.

Wifs has picked up a reputation from the combine as one of the most athletic tackles in the draft, and has moved up in the rankings for many analysts since that performance. The real question, however, is whether or not Wirfs is better than Jedrick Wills, Mekhi Becton, and Andrew Thomas – the other highest rated tackles in the draft. Jeremiah has Wills and Becton going at eight and nine respectively while Thomas would fall out of the top ten to Tom Brady’s Bucs.

It’s a change of the narrative from when Thomas was competing to be known as the best tackle in the draft and was mocked to the Giants at number four in a lot of mock drafts. Will that change hold? We’ll have to see in the coming weeks until draft day in late April.

Are the Cowboys Pursuing Trade For New York Jet’s Cornerstone?

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

The Cowboys went down to the wire with the Jets at the trade deadline in negotiations for star safety Jamal Adams. The New York Jets wanted a 1st Round Pick and 2 Seconds. The Cowboys wouldn’t budge on their offer of a 1st and a day 3 selection. The Jets kept Jamal and after briefly being a cause of unrest among the Jets faithful, he went right back to bringing the energy to the defense and team as a whole.

Now, the New York Jets are in an offseason where they’ve spent a small amount of money on short term deals. They’ve invested in the offensive line and are seemingly going to invest a bulk of their draft picks into the offense as well. The Jets are preparing to rebuild this team into a contender in the future, not next season. This means they need to keep the talent they do have on defense for the long haul, so the Jets need to either lock up Jamal for the future or trade him and get compensation for him.

What Could A Deal Look Like?

I and many Jets fans would prefer he remains in Green and White, but the Cowboys are reportedly monitoring the situation between the Jets and Jamal and may be prepping to attempt a trade again. If the Cowboys did make an offer, it would likely include their 1st rounder, their 2nd or 3rd rounder and maybe another pick. The Jets would hypothetically then have a selection to add one of the top offensive linemen at 11 and add a receiver with the Cowboys selection. This would give them much more flexibility and help build for the long term with more guys on less expensive deals.

Is It Really Worth It?

Although some people discredit Jamal’s impact because of how the safety position is valued, he’s more than just a typical safety. Adams is an absolute monster on defense. He led the team in sacks last year with Jordan Jenkins. He’s also masterful in coverage and tackling. Adams is not just a force on the field but also in the locker room. Adams actively recruits players, is the voice of the team and the captain of the defense. He’s well regarded within the Jets community and the league as a whole. The Jets struck gold with Jamal Adams. No matter who they could add with the Cowboys picks, those players couldn’t have the same impact Jamal has had. Jamal Adams needs to remain a Jet, not just for now, but for a very long time.