Baltimore Ravens Agree to Deal with offensive guard D.J Fluker

DJ Fluker, Ravens

Veteran offensive linemen D.J. Fluker has found a new home in Baltimore after being released on Sunday by the Seattle Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport. The former member of the 2013 All-Rookie team will most likely be competing for an open spot left by Marshal Yanda’s retirement last season. DJ released this statement on social media after being released by Seattle. Dj kept it professional as he is one of the most respected individuals on and off the field in the NFL.

“Dear 12s,

“I was released by the Seahawks today. Couple of things: I am not upset, or hurt. This is a business and one that I’ve been in for a while. I want to thank John and Pete for their very thoughtful calls.

“Stay safe, be kind and I love y’all.

“Thank you, Seattle.”

D. J. Fluker’s strength and power could be a great fit in Baltimore as they like to run the ball. He will tire out the defensive linemen with his relentless ability, size, and power. It will be a major hole to fill as Marshal Yanda has been a major contributor to the Baltimore offensive line for the last 13 years.

This opens a door and creates an opportunity for Seattle as they are in the market for an edge rusher. This is a glaring need for this team as they had the second least amount of sacks in the regular season last year. This is clearly a big concern and a need they should fulfill as they drafted two edge rushers in the 2020 NFL draft. It is seeming more possible that they may try and re-sign Jadevon Clowney. Additionally, targeting 25-year-old Yannick Ngakoue who has made it very clear he has zero intention of playing for Jacksonville next season.

New York Yankees: One giant infield flaw

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees are one of the best teams in baseball and do many things very well. But, one of the things that the team lacks is infield defense. DJ LeMahieu is a stellar defender and the clear-cut best defensive infielder. Otherwise, the team is lacking in that department.

Gio Urshela is one of those guys who makes a lot of the tough plays but struggles on some of the routine ones. He had a defensive runs saved rating (DRS) of just one in 2019. His career DRS is a -2, and it’s somewhat surprising that he was in the big leagues for a few years before 2019 since his offensive was previously a huge struggle. His fielding percentage was also just a .954 in 2019.

Urshela’s third-base counterpart of Miguel Andujar is much much worse, coming in with a league-low -21 DRS rating in 2018. If it weren’t for that, he likely would’ve won Rookie of the Year that year. Across the diamond is Luke Voit, who had a -12 DRS rating in 2019.

At shortstop is Gleyber Torres, who had a -13 DRS rating in 2019. However, he platooned between shortstop and second base with the Didi Gregorius injury and was significantly better at shortstop. His DRS rating was a -1 at shortstop (still not particularly great), where he will be at for the foreseeable future. He also played more games at shortstop in 2019.

And of course, you can’t forget about Gary Sanchez. His defensive ratings aren’t awful, but he makes up a lot of his positive ratings on his arm and awareness. His career caught-stealing percentage is 33%, but it was down to 23% in 2019. His career-high was 41% in 2016. He has 47 passed balls in 306 career games, which is, uh, concerning. Sanchez also led the league in catcher errors in 2017 and 2019. He only caught 90 games in 2019, which is also somewhat concerning.

The Yankees don’t have very many flaws, but infield defense is for sure one of them.

 

 

New York Mets: Dellin Betances Future With the Mets

New York Mets pursuing Dellin Betances.

Like many players who signed one-year deals in the offseason, Dellin Betances is going to have a limited chance to show the New York Mets he is still an All-Star. After only pitching in one game during the 2018 season due to Achilles and lat injuries Betances only pitched in a handful of games before Coronavirus delayed his comeback journey.

Betances was on track to return during the first month of the season if everything went to plan. One of the doubts of signing Betances was the obvious health concerns. Those were the only thing standing between him and a multi-year deal.

Concerns With Betances?

If you have taken a look at any Betances article or column over the last 48 hours you will see a lot of people who had nothing else to write about. When describing Betances the word “if” is brought up a lot. These pertain to his health and control which is understandable. What does not make sense is these so-called “experts” are not breaking anything new or giving us any helpful information.

The analysis is simple.

Betances is going to have trouble find his footing once baseball activities finally resume, just like every other player. The extra time works in his favor instead of against him. All of his ailments will have extra time to heal and combining that with his pending free agency in the offseason. At age 32, he does not want to be the Fernando Rodney type of reliever where he bounces from team to team each season.

Confidence should be sky-high for Betances. His track record shows nothing but dominance and even an average year gives the Mets a quality bullpen arm.

How should the New York Giants approach Evan Engram’s 5th year club option?

New York Giants, Evan Engram

Taking a look at how the New York Giants should proceed with Evan Engram in 2020:

With the 2020 NFL draft coming to an end, the Giants have several decisions to make on the current roster. Tight end Evan Engram is entering the fourth year of his contract, which demands that the Giants make a decision on his fifth-year club option.

Engram has had a troublesome tenure with Big Blue, consistently battling injuries and missing playing time. In 2019, Engram played in only eight games after suffering a mid-foot sprain that required surgery.

His statistical output has decreased consistently over the three years since his inception into the league. His rookie season saw him enjoy his best production, tallying 722 yards and six touchdowns. Fast forward two years, and he logged 467 yards and three touchdowns.

The Giants need him to remain healthy and act like the speedy and versatile TE he is meant to be. When on the field, he is a real weapon that Daniel Jones can utilize in the passing game. However, depending on him to remain active has become an issue, which poses the question, should the Giants extend him for his fifth year?

Solely based on how much the fifth year would cost, extending him should be an easy decision. If the Giants do opt to lock Engram down for a guaranteed 2021 contract, they would need to pay him $6 million in compensation. That is not a lofty price for a tight end of his caliber and potential. Additionally, it gives them the ability to trade him at the deadline next season if they wish. Given he’s having a quality campaign and the Giants are not looking at a playoff berth, he could be used as trade bait to add more draft capital in 2021.

At 25 years old, Engram is still in his prime and capable of producing more. He will make just $1.96 million in base salary next season, a small number given the potential he holds on offense.

“We’ll make the decisions this coming week,’’ general manager Dave Gettleman said. “With the craziness on and off the field, so to speak, over the last six weeks, we’ve had preliminary conversations. We’ll make those decisions pretty quick.’’

On this day in Yankees history: The Bombers storm back from 5-0 down against the Baltimore Orioles

New York Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury

The New York Yankees stormed back from 5-0 down to overcome the Baltimore Orioles on April 28, 2017:

On this day three years ago, the New York Yankees made an astonishing come back against the Orioles. Fast forward to the third inning where the Orioles finally got on the board on a Manny Machado double to centerfield, driving in Joey Rickard and Adam Jones.

This started the route against the Yankees. At the top of the fourth inning with the Orioles already 2-0 ahead, Welington Castillo launched a home run to deep right field, scoring Chris Davis in the process. This increased the Orioles’ lead to 4-0. CC Sabathia struck out Trey Mancini, Jonathan Schoop, and Adam Jones to end the inning, but the damage had already been done.

The Yankees, up to this point, had generated no offense, and that changed in the bottom of the fifth inning as Aaron judge launched a home run to deep left field. Back up catcher Austin Romine grounded into a double play, and Chase Headlyflied out to end the inning.

The top of the six was where the Yankees really fell behind, as Mark Trumbo hit a grand slam to deep left field, scoring Joey Rickard, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado. This occurred after CC Sabathia was plucked from the game, and Bryan Mitchell took over.

However, this is where the Yankees began their route. With fans turning their rally caps on, the bottom of the sixth lead to Didi Gregorius grounding out, subsequently scoring Matt Holliday, and Aaron Judge had his second home run of the game, driving in Starlin Castro. The Yankees were now down 4-9 as they fought their way back.

At the top of the seventh, Jonathan Schoop hit a single to left field driving in Castillo and Craig Gentry, increasing the Orioles’ lead to 11-4. At the bottom of the seventh-inning, Jacoby Ellsbury hit a grand slam against Vidal Nuno III, driving in Austin Romine, Chase Headly, and Matt Holliday.

The score is now 8-11, with the Yankees needing more miracles to overcome a rare offensive outbreak from the Baltimore Orioles. Luckily, at the bottom of the ninth-inning down three runs, Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out, scoring Headly, which allowed Starlin Castro to tie the game, which he did with a home run, driving in Jacoby Ellsbury.

With the game tied at 11 at the bottom of the 10th, the saw Yankees Holliday smash a three-run home run to deep centerfield, driving in Hicks and Kyle Higashioka. The game ended 14-11 in favor of the Yankees, completing a monstrous comeback and showing off their firepower in the process.

New York Yankees: History of the Yankee uniform, and a discussion with ace Gerrit Cole (video)

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

The Yankees are known for pinstripes, but they always haven’t had them.

The New York Yankees have been wearing the pinstripes for years. What most fans don’t realize is that the Yankees started out with a dark grey jersey with four buttons at the top and a bright orange O over the left front.  The reason for that is that the Yankees started out as the Orioles in Baltimore, not New York.  The original eight members of the American League were the Orioles, the Chicago White Stockings, the Americans (Boston Red Sox), the Tigers, the Blues (Indians), the Senators, the Brewers (Orioles), and the Athletics (Phillies).  All had their distinct uniforms.

In the case of the Yankees, when they moved from Baltimore to become the first New York City team, they maintained their dark grey uniforms when they became the New York Highlanders in 1903.  Turn the hands of time ahead 100 years, and four of the eight teams are exactly where they started – Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Cleveland. Of the other four, the A’s moved to Kansas City and then on to Oakland; the Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins; Milwaukee moved to St. Louis in 1902 and became the Browns, then moved to Baltimore in the ’50s and became the Orioles), and then there were the Baltimore Orioles who eventually became the New York Yankees.  All of those changes required changes to uniforms.

The only change to the Highlander uniform was that instead of the O, the team put an N on the right side and a Y on the left.  But the same dark grey uniform remained with the four buttons.  The Yankees got their Highlander’s name from playing at Hilltop Park at 168th Street and Broadway, which was the highest point in elevation in New York City.

In 1904 when Willie Keller was the hitting king the Highlanders introduced a new away uniform.  It was a medium-dark blue with a white belt.  During 1910 the Highlanders were known as both the Highlanders and the Yankees.  The official name change didn’t come until 1913.  But in 1910, the first interlocking NY showed up on the left arm of the team’s uniform.

The design was actually created in 1877 by Louis B. Tiffany for a medal to be given by the New York City Police Department to Officer John McDowell, the first NYC policeman shot in the line of duty. Perhaps because one of the club’s owners, Bill Devery, was a former NYC police chief, the design was adopted by the Highlanders and was to become the most universally known sports insignia.

In 1913 the Highlanders/Yankees moved to the Polo Grounds.  The name that had gained favor Yankees was made official as the New York Yankees. To make the change as evident as possible, the Yankees changed their home uniforms to be white with pinstripes.  Thus the birth of the famed Yankee pinstripes.   To each team in baseball, the uniform is extremely important because once you put it on even if you played for another team first, you are the history and pride of that new team.

Since 1913 there have been several minor changes to the home and away New York Yankees uniforms, but most involve thickness of the lettering. The interlocking NY is only on home pinstripes, and the name New York goes across the chest of the away uniform.  The only significant change is that the 1913 pullover was changed to a button-up jersey.  The Yankees are one of three teams that do not wear players’ names on uniforms but are the only ones that never wear player names.  Both the San Francisco Giants and Boston Red Sox wear player names on their away uniforms.

The importance of the uniform is highlighted every year for every team.  When a new player is introduced to a team and fans, it’s not official until the press conference when he first donned the team’s uniform.

Gerrit Cole sits down with legend David Cone and Jack Curry to talk pitching

In an interview taped for the YES Network that was broadcast last evening, Gerrit Cole speaks with YES Network analyst Jack Curry, and Yankee baseball legend David Cone on how he became a pitcher, on analytics and ball spin among other pitching subjects.

https://www.yesnetwork.com/video/yankees-access-gerrit-cole?t=top-videos

 

 

 

Under Appreciated New York Mets: Darren Oliver

The long time veteran Darren Oliver came to the New York Mets in 2006, attempting to revitalize his career. After spending the majority of his career as a starting pitcher, he became a vital member of the Mets bullpen.

During today’s game, the long reliever is a dying breed, and only a handful remain. Oliver became just that for the Mets. He made the team out of Spring Training as a reliever but had not been a full-time reliever since 1995.

Long Relief Savior

Oliver pitched more than one inning during 24 of his 45 appearances. Outside of Seth Lugo, he has been the last long relief pitcher the Mets had in their bullpen. One of the tough parts about pitching as a long reliever is getting stranded on the mound, whether you are dominating or letting run after run score.

He finished the season with a 3.44 ERA in 81 innings with a 1.12 WHIP. Those numbers include a couple of those rough outings which inflated the ERA. Take away those two outings, and his ERA sits at 2.31 in 74 innings.

Oliver came up clutch in his biggest role of the season during the 2006 NLCS. He threw six shutout innings out of the bullpen to save the pitching staff for the final four games of the series. The outing would turn out the be his last with the Mets. He was in consideration to start game seven over Oliver Perez, but after not starting a game all season, Willie Randolph went with Perez.

Long-Lasting Career

It was surprising that the Mets did not bring him back, considering their bullpen struggles the following two seasons. Despite being 35, there was no reason to think his success was sustainable. Oliver pitched seven more seasons with a 2.85 ERA and averaging 59 games per season.

His 81 innings were the sixth most ever thrown by a Mets left-handed reliever and sixth most thrown by a Mets reliever since 2000.

New York Yankees: So, how is the Houston Astros 2020 shame tour going?

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees are wondering how much shame will be shown to the Houston Astros once this coronavirus shortened season gets underway.  With the COVID-19 virus taking over the 24/7 news cycle, it has shifted the sports world from the cheating Houston Astros to more important things in our life.  However, even though our attention has been diverted, Yankee fans have not forgotten that they may have been cheated out of a 2017 World Series berth by the Houston Astros.

The simple fact is that with the season delayed the Houston Astros have been given a bit of a reprieve from the torture they will endure once the season actually begins.  Back in March Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued his report on the sign-stealing that engulfed the Houston Astros 2017 season.  He issued punishments that included the suspension of their general manager and Field Manager A.J. Hinch, both of which have been fired by the Astros owner.  They got the maximum fine that could be levied and were relieved of their 1st and 2nd draft picks.

But even with the punishments by MLB, fans are not satisfied as they didn’t have to return their Championship rings nor were they stripped of their World Series title.  Because of that and the fact that they haven’t made sincere apologies to teams and fans, they are expected to suffer severe shame as they travel around the country if that happens in this messed-up baseball season.

Fans and players alike have not forgotten how they may have been cheated out of deserved stats, game wins, and awards.  In the case of New York Yankee Aaron Judge, he lost out to Astros Jose Altuve for the MVP award for the 2017 season.  Many pitchers and players have made their feelings of disgust over the cheating scheme.

The Boston Red Sox have been recently exposed for their cheating in their 2018 Championship season.  There manager Alex Cora was fired by the Sox and he was suspended by MLB, not for his Red Sox involvement but for being the Astros ring leader in their cheating scheme.  Although the New York Yankees may feel cheated during that 2018 season, they and other teams may look more kindly on the Sox because they at least had the decency to phone every team and apologize, something the smug Astros have yet to do.

When the season starts, wherever it starts the Houston Astros will be humiliated in many ways.  The obvious is boos when the team is introduced and constant boos for Jose Altuve.  But that will be the least of it.  There will be cheater signs, clanging trash can covers, and the like.  Right now Jose Altuve will take the brunt of the shame.  His lukewarm apology and refusal to take questions further infuriated fans, especially the Yankees and Los Angeles fans that were most affected by cheating.

Altuve was thought to even have buzzers under his jersey to alert him of the pitches coming.  Something he has denied.  But his orders not to rip his jersey off upon reaching home plate certainly puts that in question.  Here’s an interesting fact many fans may not be aware of.  Altuve who is undeniably a good player batted .209 in his away games.  But at his home park, Minutemaid where the cheating went on, he batted .355.  Maybe that is just a coincidence, maybe not.

One thing is for sure, the Houston Astros will be showered with shame during every game they play this season.

 

New York Giants: 5 Rookies Who Should Have an Impact in 2020

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

The New York Giants went into the 2020 NFL Draft with quite a few needs and came out with most of them addressed. The real question is – did they get any players who could be starters or key contributors this season?

The answer is likely, yes. Here’s a list of five players that could start to play a significant role in 2020 for Big Blue.

Andrew Thomas, Offensive Tackle 

The Giants’ first round pick was taken fourth overall which means two things. First, he will start early on and, second, he’s going to play left tackle at some point. The Giants may love Nate Solder as a person and a teammate but the writing is on the wall. His days as a left tackle in this league are winding down if they haven’t wound down already. The plan apparently is to get Thomas on the field ASAP and then integrate him into the left tackle role. That could all happen at the same time once the Giants see that he can handle the role.

Xavier McKinney, Safety

The Giants’ second round pick was just too good a value for GM Dave Gettleman to pass on that he walked back a lucrative trade offer to take the Alabama safety. The Giants are in need of a versatile safety that can play the run, cover tight ends and put a top on the defense. In short, McKinney can do it all. With Jabrill Peppers and Julian Love the current starters, McKinney will likely supplant Love and play the stabilizing role to Peppers’ disrupter. The Giants are hoping that the McKinney/Peppers tandem will be a strong one that galvanized the defense from the back end forward.

Darnay Holmes, Defensive Back  

Gettleman has been loading up on corners and nickelbacks and was determined to get it right. He just may have done that with Holmes. Currently, the Giants have been using Grant Haley as their primary slot corner and peppering in Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine. Holmes is a cut above those players even though he has limited experience in the slot. With Holmes cemented in the slot and at nickel and free agent James Bradberry at one corner, that means that DeAndre Baker will have to fend off the others to win that second corner spot.

Shane Lemieux, Offensive Line

Lemieux was a player the Giants seem to covet intros draft. His name was not one that was on the tip of many tongues going into the draft. He is a steady interior lineman who has a nasty streak to him. His problem is that the Giants already have players with those traits at their guard spots in Kevin Zeitler and Will Hernandez. The plan is try Lemieux at center, a position he’s never played. Spencer Pulley is the current starter with last year’s starter, Jon Halapio, still rehabbing and unsigned. Nick Gates can play center but that is not his strongest position. If Lemieux can show any kind of talent at center in camp, there’s no doubt the coaches will get him some snaps there this season.

Carter Coughlin, Linebacker 

The Giants stole Coughlin in the seventh round. He’s a much better player than most realize. The kid turned down Urban Meyer and Ohio State to play at his hometown school, Minnesota. He is quick (4.57 speed) and has a knack for creating turnovers and making plays behind the line of scrimmage. I can see him making an impact on special teams and possibly on defense as a situational linebacker, package player.

 

 

 

How the New York Yankees are staying active during the off-time

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

It has been a month since the New York Yankees and the rest of Major League Baseball were supposed to begin the new season. Despite the shutdown and no baseball, the Bombers have been staying active to stay prepared for a possible season.

Luke Voit

Despite not being the fastest guy on the team and having zero career stolen bases, Luke Voit is remaining fit. If it’s not benching 135lbs. with each hand, Voit is also doing something to better himself.

Aroldis Chapman

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_N5paZjGr4/

Now, this is someone you don’t want to see in the middle of a brawl on the field. Aroldis Chapman doesn’t throw 100mph+ without putting in the work.

Gerrit Cole

Definitely a bummer that we haven’t seen Gerrit Cole pitch in pinstripes yet, but he’s remaining active and is still throwing to keep his arm healthy.

Mike Ford

Mike Ford has begun something new during this time off. Here he is doing yoga while he works out on LBI as well. Hey, if yoga helps Mike Ford to hit pinch-hit walk-off home runs, I’m all for it.

Kyle Higashioka

Absolutely no remorse here for his wife. Kyle Higashioka is working on his swing while his wife feeds the pitching machine. Higgy’s swing is looking good, and having him as the backup catcher for the Yankees is big.

Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez gets every New York Yankees fan hyped up with this video. El Kraken is down in the Dominican Republic and is staying active with baseball activities.