Where Does Grant Haley Fit In The New York Giants’ 2020 Defense?

New York Giants cornerback, Grant Haley.

The New York Giants have made plenty of roster improvements this offseason. They have invested heavily in their secondary in each of the past two drafts. Last season, Grant Haley served primarily as the team’s slot cornerback. He did struggle, though, and the Giants drafted Darnay Holmes in the fourth round this year to seemingly start in the slot.

On top of that, the Giants selected safety Xavier McKinney in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. This could mean more reps in the slot for Julian Love. So, with these additions, it seems like Grant Haley has been pushed down the depth chart and will not be involved with the defense much in 2020. But I do not believe that to be true. I think that Grant Haley has a specific, and important role to play in this defense.

Grant Haley’s Role

Grant Haley struggled in coverage last season. He allowed an 82.1% completion percentage when targeted, surrendering 32 completions for 342 yards. He also failed to record a pass defended in 2019.

Despite his struggles in coverage, Haley demonstrated that he is a capable tackler. He totaled 43 combined tackles with only 3 missed tackles on the season. Haley’s tackling ability is well above-average for a cornerback and provides him with value in the Giants’ defense this season.

Being an excellent open-field tackler, Haley will be impactful for this defense on obvious run-downs. When the opposing offense is certainly going to run, substituting Haley into the defense in place of Holmes makes plenty of sense. Haley could be the featured cornerback in goal-line situations as well. Near the goal line, Haley will not have to worry about tracking a receiver downfield and could simply play a flat zone, waiting to attack any runner that may come near.

Third or fourth-and-short situations also make sense for Grant Haley. Pretty much anytime you can be certain that the offense is either running the ball or throwing the ball short-range, Haley provides value because of his excellent tackling ability. Joe Judge and Patrick Graham have made it abundantly clear that they will play their players to their strengths. Players will not be forced to do things they do not excel at. Haley will not be asked to travel with Desean Jackson on a 30-yard post route in man coverage. But it would make sense if Haley was asked to make a clutch open-field tackle on Miles Sanders.

These are the best five international free agents in New York Mets’ history

Simeon Woods-Richardson

International free agents can benefit a team in a variety of ways. The most obvious one is that the player reaches the bigs and becomes a key contributor for that ballclub that signed him for several years. However, they can also return value via trades. With that said, who have been the New York Mets‘ best five amateur signings?

Before the Ronny Mauricios and Francisco Alvarezes of the club, there were others that paved the way and completed successful careers, with the Mets or in other places Here are some of them:

1. José Reyes

Country: Dominican Republic

Career WAR: 37.2

Reyes is the best shortstop in the New York Mets’ history. That’s a fact and it’s not even close. He accumulated 37.2 WAR in his career.

Playing with the Mets in two stints (2003-11, 2016-18) he had 408 stolen bases and 113 triples with the team, both being the top figures in franchise history.

Here is Anthony DiComo’s report found in MLB.com: “From his days as a teenager, Reyes tantalized international scouts with his five-tool potential. The Mets signed him out of the Dominican Republic shortly after he turned 16, and Reyes reached the big leagues four years later. Immediately, he made an impact, hitting .307 his rookie season and blossoming into full stardom two years later. From 2005-07, Reyes led the National League in stolen bases each season, topping out at a career-high 78 in ’07. He made four All-Star teams over a six-year stretch and won a batting title in ’11.”

2. Edgardo Alfonzo

Country: Venezuela

Career WAR: 28.8

Alfonzo was a fine second baseman and a key fixture of the Mets’ in the late nineties and early 2000s. He was known as a clutch hitter who always produced in tough spots.

The Mets signed him as a 17-year old from Venezuela back in 1991. “Alfonzo was never a chart-topping prospect during the early part of that decade, but he developed into one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. During eight seasons in New York, Alfonzo hit .292 with 120 home runs and an .812 OPS — numbers he punctuated with four more homers and 17 RBIs in 24 postseason games. Alfonzo also hit a key home run in Game 163 to push the Mets into the playoffs in ’99, demonstrating a knack for clutch hitting that continued into the 2000 postseason; overall, his .318 average with runners in scoring position remains the highest in franchise history,” MLB wrote.

3. Carlos Gómez

Country: Dominican Republic

Career WAR: 24.4

Carlos Gomez was a fantastic two-way player in his prime: a Gold Glove-caliber defender and a threat to homer or steal a base every time he stepped into the batters’ box or the basepaths.

His best years came with the Milwaukee Brewers, though, but before that, he helped the Mets net Johan Santana via trade.

“Even though the best years of Gómez’s career came in Milwaukee, the Mets received significant value from him; their signing of Gómez as a 16-year-old in 2002 allowed them to trade for Twins ace Johan Santana six years later. As the linchpin of that deal coming off his rookie season, Gómez played two forgettable years in Minnesota before blossoming into a repeat All-Star with the Brewers. In his best two seasons, 2013-14, Gómez hit .284/.347/.491 with an average of 23 home runs, 30 doubles, seven triples and 37 stolen bases per year. He also won a Gold Glove in center field in ’13.”

4. Nelson Cruz

Country: Dominican Republic

Career WAR: 37.9

One that is still active (and mashing) is Nelson Cruz. You would be amazed to know that the New York Mets signed him as a 17-year old amateur free agent.

“For the Mets, Cruz was the international signing that got away. The Mets signed him at age 17 but traded him to the A’s while he was still a teenager, before he even took a professional at-bat with the organization. Unlike when the Mets dealt Gomez, the return for Cruz was light: infielder Jorge Velandia, who hit .149 over parts of three seasons in Flushing. Neither the Mets nor the A’s, for that matter, envisioned Cruz becoming a six-time All-Star elsewhere as one of baseball’s most productive sluggers even into his late 30s.”

5. Octavio Dotel

Country: Dominican Republic

Career WAR: 15.8

Octavio Dotel was one of the game’s premier middle relievers in the 2000s. However, he became famous for his role in other bullpens, not on the New York Mets.

“Dotel signed with the Mets out of the Dominican Republic at age 19 and played his rookie season in Flushing, even appearing in two games during the 1999 playoffs. From there, he became an important part of franchise history. After the ’99 season, the Mets traded Dotel and two others to the Astros for Derek Bell and Mike Hampton, the latter of whom left via free agency a year later. When he did, the Mets received the compensatory pick they used to draft David Wright.”

Several members of the New York Yankees are helping Pedro Martinez’s “Step Up To The Plate” fund against COVID-19

New York Yankees

Some things are bigger than a rivalry. In this case, the battle against coronavirus should be the world’s number one priority, and Pedro Martinez, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees perfectly understand that.

The former ace is coming through one last time, but this time, it isn’t in the mound. Martinez and several MLB stars, including some current members of the New York Yankees roster, are uniting forces to combat the deadly disease that, to this day, refuses to go away.

Marly Rivera of ESPN reported that the Pedro Martinez Foundation has recently created the “Step Up To The Plate” fund and has raised $550,000 in the battle against the COVID-19 in the Dominican Republic.

The virus not only has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives worldwide but also has halted the planet’s economy and even the baseball season.

Several Yankees are helping out

Among the current Yankees players joining the initiative are starter Luis Severino and catcher Gary Sanchez. Former Yankee Dellin Betances and former Red Sox legend David Ortiz are also part of the noble cause.

Regarding the return of baseball, Pedro said that, as reported by NJ.com, that he has talked to Commissioner Rob Manfred and all parts want to return as quickly as possible.

“As of right now, it’s unclear how we will get to play this season, but the commissioner reassured us that we will have baseball this year. In speaking with him, my perception was that one of the things they will do is limit the amount of personnel inside stadiums, and in the beginning, games will likely be played without fans. The commissioner also told us that players’ health and safety will be paramount, and I feel confident that their well-being will never be put in jeopardy. MLB and the MLBPA have some of the best staffs in the world. They know how to run a business, and I am sure they will take all the precautions necessary to be able to play this season,” Pedro said to Rivera.

New York Mets: How Does a Shortened Season Affect the Trade Deadline

If the Major League Baseball season resumes in June, with the regular season starting in July, it will shift the season entirely. The New York Mets, along with the rest of baseball, will have to assess their needs quicker than ever before.

Thinking of the trade deadline is very distant considering that a spring training game has not been played yet. But the Mets should be planning for every possible situation. They already head into the season without Zack Wheeler, due to free agency, and Noah Syndergaard, to Tommy John Surgery.

Pitching is Key

Whether it is the rotation or the bullpen the Mets will have key questions to answer. In the rotation, it will lean on if Steven Matz can hold down the three spot in the rotation. If not the will need to find a quality mid-rotation start they can lean on to pitch the middle games of a postseason series. Out of the entire rotation, Matz is the biggest variable.

The bullpen features the questions that have been discussed all year. How healthy is Dellin Betances and how does Edwin Diaz/Jeurys Familia rebound from their 2019 struggles. At this point Betances should be fully healthy but who knows about the final two. Diaz has looked fine while pitching during the delay and Familia’s weight loss are steps in the right direction.

If the trade deadline remains on July 31, teams get less than a month to evaluate their roster. The best move would be to move the deadline to August 30 to give teams an extra month to make a trade. An extreme alternative would be to extend the trade deadline through the last day of the season which will create chaos on par with NBA free agency.

The date is likely set with each plan the MLB has laid out and it is only a matter of time before those dates get released along with the season schedule.

 

Is former New York Mets’ skipper Bobby Valentine considering running for office?

New York Mets

Former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine recently said, on Baseball Night in New York: Living Room Edition, that he is considering a run for public office, as SNY reported on its site.

Yes, we were shocked when we found out, but in reality, it appears to be more of an idea than a concrete plan. The show’s host Doug Williams was talking about the former skipper successful time as an athletic director at Sacred Heart University and asked him if he’d consider running for a public office.

Valentine was somewhat surprised by the question. “That’s interesting,” he responded. “My neighbor actually knocked on my door and requested me to think about that. So I am thinking about it.”

Valentine, who managed the New York Mets from 1996 to 2002, has always had the willingness to help the community. For instance, he was among the leaders in the Mets’ response to the infamous 9/11 attacks in 2001, and he has also been active in the battle against COVID-19.

The Mets manager from 1996 to 2002 is toying with the idea

The former baseball player and manager expanded on the subject. “These next two years are going to take some real leadership,” he said. “To win anything, as I’ve said often, you need trust and you need teamwork. I think I’m a pretty trustworthy guy and I think I can rally people around the flag so that we can get teamwork.”

But after that, he smiled and pulled back a little bit.

“I’m not running for office,” Valentine said afterward. “It’s just a thought.”

It would really make an interesting story if Valentine, who compiled a 536 – 467 record with the Mets and made it to the 2000 World Series, entered that concrete scenario. However, it is unclear if it will ever happen. For now, let’s remember him as one of the most influential managers in the team’s recent history.

MLB: Teams telling players to “get ready”

New York Yankees, Yankees, Giancarlo Stanton

Jeff Passan reported on Wednesday on SportsCenter that several MLB teams are telling their players to “get ready.” Passan said that right now, there isn’t an official date, but there is increased speculation about a Spring Training report date of June 10th with Opening Day on July 1st. Former MLB player Trevor Plouffe tweeted that he’s heard those dates of late.

Passan also said that “the expectation is that MLB is going to be coming to the Players Association with a plan in the coming days, to a week-plus or so.” This basically means that if approved by the Players Association, the season will be set.

However, several executives are becoming a bit worried about increasing coronavirus numbers in states that are relaxing restrictions, per Ken Rosenthal. Severe enough outbreaks could shutdown the season again, making it “difficult for baseball to resume.”

Cases will likely increase in most states as they open up, at least for some time. With so many people needing to work to support their families, most states have had no option but to reopen. Strict social distancing and travel guidelines in reopened states need to be enforced to slow the spread while making the economy function.

If states open and they can’t control the spread with guidelines, then everything will have to get shut down to regain control of the situation. That would include baseball and other sports, at least in those states.

Even with increasing cases in some states, the MLB is still planning to go ahead with the season. We have no idea how long the season will be, but it will be better than nothing. Baseball will have an opportunity to be the center of attention again and try to gain back fans they’ve lost along the way.

New York Yankees: Many players not in the lineup will have an Impact on the 2020 season

The New York Yankees are hoping to have an injury-free regular season. However, we all know that will not happen.  The best we can hope for is a season that does not come close to last year’s unprecedented number of injuries that saw 38 entries to the IL.

With inevitable injuries bound to show their ugly head during the season, once it begins, the New York Yankees will be dependant on the ‘next man up” mentality among bench players and some players that will be used from the minor leagues.  With the minor league season, canceled, key players will stay game-ready at the George M. Steinbrenner Field complex in Tampa, Florida.

The Yankees will be compiled at some point in the season to use Mike Ford, Tyler Wade, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, and even Zack Granite.  There is a glut of players available to play left field.  Giancarlo Stanton and Miguel Andujar seem likey to alternate between the outfield and the DH.  Should either of those get injured, Frazier, Wade, and Tauchman will come into play.

The right field is at present, is a different situation.  Although right fielder Aaron Judge is well on the mend from his rib fracture, manager Aaron Judge still has not been able to say he will be ready to start the season in right field.  The logical choice to fill in for him until he can play is Clint Frazier even though his performance in right is not stellar, hopefully, his bat will make up for that.

Centerfield is another part of the field that is lacking backup.  Although Aaron Hicks may be available to start the season, that is not a surety.  It is more likely that Brett Gardner will be out there on opening day.  Another situation is Hick’s propensity to become injured.  Although Gardner is one of the more durable members of the team, he probably can’t play there every day.  New York Yankee options are offseason acquisition Zack Granite and Estevan Florial.  Florial has had his problems at the plate but is a satisfactory outfielder.

New York Yankees MVP DJ LeMahieu will mann second base primarily, and Gleyber Torres will mann short with no backup at the position.  Tyler Wade will be first in line to fill in if Torres is injured or needs a day off.

Luke Voit will not play at first base every game, even in a shortened season.  Mike Ford proved his worth last year at first and showed he could have some power at the plate as well.  Although the Yankees don’t have all the outfield positions nailed down as of yet, they have plenty of talent to move around.  One of the most critical non-lineup players will be the multi-talented Tyler Wade, the super-utility player that can play at second and short, and throughout the outfield.

The wild cards this year that the New York Yankees fans may get to see are sensation centerfielder Jasson Dominguez, centerfielder Brandon Lockridge, or right fielder Rossel Herrera.  If Dominguez gets a chance for a major league debut, he will be one of the youngest ever to grace Yankee Stadium.

 

 

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley A Top 25 Under 25

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley, Darius Slayton

Due to injury trouble last season and a slow comeback from those problems, it’s easy to forget at times that New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley was one of the most dominant backs in the league in his rookie season. However, Barkley reminded the league of his potential near the end of the 2019 season, and comes into the 2020 season as the main offensive weapon for the Giants along with Daniel Jones at quarterback.

Barkley is also one of the top players in the league in general, and that’s not something that can be said about most of the Giants roster at this time. The Giants don’t dominate at most positions but when it comes to running back, they arguably have one of the top three players in the league – and Barkley is also one of the only Giants right now to widely get credit from non-Giants sources as a top player.

According to Pro Football Focus, Barkley is on the list of the top 25 players under 25, which isn’t surprising given his rookie season performance.

13. RB SAQUON BARKLEY, NEW YORK GIANTS

Age at kickoff: 23 years, 7 months, 1 day

Barkley’s inclusion on this list is based on the obvious talent he showcased as a rookie in 2018 rather than the relatively disappointing, injury-plagued sophomore campaign we saw from him this past season. As a rookie in 2018, Barkley’s 86.3 receiving grade was a top-five mark at the position, and his 31 missed tackles forced after the catch led all NFL players by eight. That elusiveness — both as a runner and a receiver — is what makes him so dynamic in open space and what earns him a spot on this list.

What’s perhaps most surprising, however, is that Barkley is only ranked 13th. He’s behind not just some of the top quarterbacks in the league, but also defensive players such as Marshon Lattimore, Kenny Clark, and Nick Bosa… The ranking is definitely lower than what most Giants fans would give Barkley, but it’s based on both seasons of Barkley’s career – and the second season was a disappointment, even if Barkley had good reasons for it to be.

Still, Barkley should have better blocking and better coaching this season, which are both things that are useful in bouncing back from a bad year as a running back. Hopefully, that rise back to the top becomes the dominant narrative in season three rather than an injury struggle.

New York Jets waive four players and lose two more for the 2020 season

New York Jets, Quincy Enunwa

The New York Jets lost two players for the 2020 season and waived two more:

While the Jets did add veteran running back Frank Gore to the roster this week, they also waived four players and placed two more on injured reserve. Losing two depth pieces before training camp has even started is a hit to the team, and one of the players could be on his way out of the NFL after suffering multiple neck injuries.

Quincy Enunwa:

Enunwa played just one game in 2019 before suffering a neck issue known as spinal stenosis. His last productive season was in 2018, where he logged 38 receptions for 449 yards and one touchdown. The 2016 season was his best, having earned 58 receptions, 857 yards, and four scores. However, his potential never blossomed in the way most believed it would, and now it seems as if he could be on his way out of the league entirely. At 27-years-old, Enunwa is still in physical shape, but neck injuries are extremely problematic for NFL players.

His 2020 salary of $6 million is fully guaranteed and will count $7.8 million against the cap. In 2021, he will earn $4.1 million of his $7.8 million guaranteed for injury. The former sixth-round pick will undoubtedly cash out before the Jets inevitably cut him.

Josh Bellamy:

Bellamy will miss the 2020 campaign with a shoulder injury. Bellamy has spent six years in the NFL, playing in only seven games last year with only two receptions for 20 yards. He had his most productive years with Chicago, but never really found a place as a starter in the league. He was simply a depth piece for the Jets, and now their wide receiver position is even thinner.

Jalin Moore:

The Jets waived Moore on Tuesday with a non-football injury. At 20-years-old, Moore spent the entire 2019 season on the non-football injury list, and having failed to recover fully, the Jets made the ultimate decision to release him.

Kyron Brown:

Brown failed a physical which ultimately force the Jets to wave him along with more. At 23-years-old, he was elevated from the practice squad and played in three games before suffering a quad injury. The injury must have been significant for him to require more time for recovery.

Charles Tapper:

At 26-years-old, Tapper was waived by the Jets as well, posting a non-football injury.

Keon Hatcher:

Hatcher was signed to the practice squad for the final two games of the 2019 season with the Jets. He was also waived along with the three players mentioned above.

New York Giants: Darnay Holmes’ story will make you a believer

New York Giants, Darnay Holmes

Taking a look at New York Giants‘ draft pick Darnay Holmes and what he brings to Big Blue:

When a player like UCLA cornerback Darnay Holmes comes across your draft board, you might want to think twice about passing on him. The New York Giants selected Holmes in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL draft, and after deep-diving into his qualities and traits, I can confidently say this is one of the more exciting and intriguing selections by GM Dave Gettleman and Co.

At first glance, Holmes is a 5-foot-10 corner that plays much bigger than his frame indicates. He is strong off the line of scrimmage and can match up well with receivers on the boundary. However, he was ranked as one of the top nickel corners in the draft, despite having barely played at the position.

The Giants desperately needed help on the interior, and Holmes can provide the talent they are seeking. Prior to his drafting, the Giants had Grant Haley, Julian Love, and Corey Ballentine at the position, all of which are decent players with limited upside. Holmes acquires the athleticism and natural talent to develop into a regular starter at the position rather quickly.

His story, though, is worth talking about, as it will make you a firm believer in his abilities. According to Chris Pettit, the Giants’ top scout, Holmes is a unique talent and one of the hardest-working players he’s ever come across in his 15 years doing the job.

Darnay Holmes is someone, we interviewed him down at the Senior Bowl. He’s really at the top of it, just the way he came in and took over the room. He’s one of the hardest working players that I’ve evaluated in my career. All of the stuff that I’ve gotten back and all of the positive qualities about him. I’m really excited about what he’s going to bring to our team.

Holmes has battled a problematic life up to this point, nearly losing his father at a young age. His father, who is formally an NFL player, was shot seven times in a drug deal gone bad. Luckily, he recovered from the tragic incident, teaching Holmes an essential lesson about responsibility and the meaning of life. He made it his goal to provide a better standard for his family and rise above his father’s past actions.

Having gone from eating out all the time and enjoying a quality lifestyle to eating fast food every day of the week, he embodied a spirit that demanded more for him and his family.

As a junior in college and the team captain of the football club, Holmes set out to increase his draft stock and join the ranks of the NFL this year. After suffering an ankle injury in 2019, Holmes was limited significantly but refused to take the six weeks required to heal properly. He played through the injury, showing off his toughness and ability to lead at a high-level. He graduated from UCLA in three years, a significant feat to accomplish while also being a top student-athlete.

The most humbling part of his journey is when his mom was evicted and forced to live with Darnay and his roommate at school. Holmes made the sacrifice to sleep at the UCLA football facilities so his mother could sleep in a bed comfortably. Holmes said he played some of his best games while sleeping on stacked pallets in his biography penned on The Players Tribune:

When I wasn’t staying at my apartment, I would sleep at the football facility. I’d pile up as many pillows and blankets as I could to create a makeshift bed — it’s called pallets for the ones who know — and it wasn’t so bad. I guess under the circumstances some people might have felt embarrassed, but that never registered with me. I knew I had done the right thing for my mom and my family, and that’s all that matters.

His determination to succeed in his junior year is a product of a seed he planted long ago. His injury severely damaged his draft stock, but the potential he holds as a fourth-round pick could be one of the bigger steals in the draft by the Giants.