New York Giants: Saquon Barkley Receives BTN All-Decade Honors

There’s not many running backs in the NFL more prolific right now than New York Giants star Saquon Barkley, and this season, Barkley might break through and establish himself as the top running back in the league as a whole. However, Barkley’s history of dominance stretches back to before his NFL career. The Giants drafted him at number two overall because of his accomplishments as one of the top backs in the country at Penn State.

More recently, Barkley was recognized by the Big Ten Network for his play in college which saw him lead Penn State in their revival as one of the top programs in the country. Barkley played at the same time as multiple other influential running backs in the conference, Ezekiel Elliot included, but at the end of the day it was Barkley that was selected by BTN for their All-Decade Team.

Over the course of his college career, Barkley played for the Nittany Lions for three years and achieved 5,038 total yards rushing and receiving and 51 touchdowns. He averaged an impressive 6.5 yards from scrimmage per play over those three years, showing just how big he was as a member of the Penn State offense.

Barkley, of course, made a big splash and was one of the top rushers in the league after coming out into the NFL from Penn State as a second overall draft pick with the Giants. His second season was slower because of injury, but Barkley is expected to be back to full speed for the 2020 season as one of the main offensive weapons of the team.

And as we get ready for the upcoming season, it’s worth looking back at Barkley’s college highlights. They say a lot about just how lethal Barkley can be to the other team when fully healthy.

New York Giants: Where Will The Pass-Rush Come From In 2020?

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants‘ defense has struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks in recent seasons. The Giants lack a top edge rusher on their current roster. Markus Golden was a solid contributor in 2019, totaling 10 sacks, but he is not guaranteed to remain with the Giants in 2020. Now, with a new defensive scheme being installed and a new group of defenders added, where will the pass-rush come from in 2020?

Patrick Graham’s Defensive Scheme

The majority of the pass-rush will come from new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s scheme. Patrick Graham runs a blitz-heavy, man-to-man defense:

“Graham had a great defensive scheme in place. The two major play calls of the Miami defense were blitzing and man to man coverage. Graham was very clever with his blitzing packages, using a variety of linebacker and defensive back blitzes. In Miami, Graham would also send in delayed blitzes to really disturb an offense. This was not just done in between the gaps; the blitzes came from different spots on the field. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). The Dolphins ran man to man coverage 50% of the time in the 2019 season and would often show blitz and drop back into coverage. This was a great strategy in the Graham defense, keeping opposing offenses on their toes because of the constant blitzing formations.” – Jack Quartararo of Empire Sports Media

With an emphasis on blitzing, Patrick Graham will scheme together the Giants’ pass rush. The Giants’ defense will run many complex blitzes to get after opposing quarterbacks. But who will be executing these blitzes for the Giants?

The Personnel

The Giants do not have a top-tier edge rusher. None of the players on the team’s roster are expected to dominate opposing offensive lines and rack up 15 sacks in a season. However, the team has added some underrated players. These players fit perfectly into Patrick Graham’s scheme and will help him generate a pass rush.

Kyler Fackrell, the former Green Bay Packers edge rusher, was one of the Giants’ key additions in the 2020 offseason. In 2018, with a career-high in snaps, Kyler Fackrell recorded career-highs with 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 18 pressures. In 2019, though, Fackrell saw a huge decrease in playing time, being on the field for only 40% of the team’s snaps. Maybe reuniting with Graham and seeing an increase in playing time will lead to another 10+ sack season from Kyler Fackrell.

The Giants’ new addition in their secondary, safety Xavier McKinney, will also help boost the defense’s pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, Xavier recorded 21 pressures across 71 pass-rushing snaps in the last two years. He also totaled 3 sacks in each of his last two seasons. McKinney is an excellent pass-rusher from the safety position, making him a perfect fit in Patrick Graham’s blitz-heavy system.

In 2020, the New York Giants will have to implore a pass-rush by committee. The scheme will need to generate pressure to make up for the lack of a top-tier edge rusher on the team. Luckily for Patrick Graham, he has a group of underrated pass rushers at multiple positions that will help him get the job done.

Fireside Giants Ep 29: A New York Giants podcast – Saquon Barkley will explode in 2020, James Bradberry quotes, more!

New York Giants, Fireside Giants

To start off episode 29 of Fireside Giants, Alex and Anthony take a look at Saquon Barkley and why he can have an extravagant season with the New York Giants in 2020. First of all, bashing Pat Shurmur tends to be a consistent trend for the Fireside Giants hosts, considering his lack of efficiency playcalling and the utter dismissal of time management.

We reflect on some of his poor decisions as the Giants’ head coach, notably against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he pulled Barkley out of the game plan and gave up a fourth-quarter lead to lose the game.

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Before Barkley had been put in the backseat, he had dominated the first half. This only scratches the surface on how bad Shurmur was in managing games and controlling the clock. You would imagine a head coach would be capable at the very least of running the ball in the second half when you have a lead, but Shurmur clearly was not on the same wavelength.

Nonetheless, new head coach Joe Judge will not take over offensive playcalling to duties, leaving it to offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett. He will essentially be a walk around head coach establishing consequences and disciplinary tactics to ensure his team remains focused. With that being said, Barkley should have a better season based on the heavy 12 personnel sets Garrett likes to run and a strong offensive line.

Alex and Anthony also dive into James Bradberry and how he compares to Janoris Jenkins. Bradberry is a solid corner coming over from the Carolina Panthers, and he posted productive numbers last season compared to Jenkins, who faced off against lesser talent.

This is a fantastic episode full of knowledge and information that you will want to know going into the 2020 campaign. Make sure to subscribe on YouTube for the video portion and more content, as well as on iTunes for immediate updates and notifications.

Sky Blue FC soccer returns: What you need to know

Metropolitan team sports return tonight in Utah, as Sky Blue FC partakes in the NWSL’s 2020 Challenge Cup.

Team sports have returned to the metropolitan area. The roar of the crowd is still on mute, but fans can still tune in to represent their area, particularly the Harrison, New Jersey area.

Sky Blue FC will begin an abbreviated 2020 season on Tuesday night, as they’ll be one of eight contenders for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Challenge Cup. Normally an in-season tournament, the Challenge Cup will effectively serve as the NWSL’s eighth season of competition. Proceedings began on Saturday sans spectators at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman Utah, with half of the participants partaking in a doubleheader. Sky Blue is part of the second part of a Tuesday pair, taking on Washington State-based OL Reign (10 p.m. ET, CBS All Access).

Eight of the NWSL’s nine teams (one, the Orlando Pride, has pulled out due to positive coronavirus tests) are participating and will each play four matches en route to tournament seeding. The finale will come on July 26 at Rio Tinto Stadium, home of the host Utah Royals FC.

Whether you’re returning to support The Beez or a newcomer seeking sports. here’s what you need to know about the squad’s endeavors…

Blue and (Later) Red

Sky Blue FC was formed in 2007 and previously partook in Women’s Professional Soccer. They were absorbed in the NSWL after WPS’ folding, but skies have been gray ever since. They reached the NWSL’s semifinals in their 2013 debut, but have failed to reach the postseason since. 2018 was perhaps rock-bottom to the tune of a 1-17-6 record (accompanied by reports of poor management, training facilities, transportation, and housing) but 2019 was a step in the right direction. Sky Blue went 5-14-5 and hosted over 8,000 fans for a September match at Red Bull Arena last season. The MLS facility in Harrison was slated to be their full-time home in 2020 before current events stepped in.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is part of Sky Blue’s ownership group alongside his wife Tammy. The state’s First Lady was pleased with the new collaboration in a statement to the team website upon the announcement of the collaboration last November.

“Last season demonstrated that we are ready to take our players and fans to the next level,” Tammy said. “This move provides our professional athletes with the top-notch facilities they deserve and gives our growing fanbase increased access via public transit and an enhanced gameday experience.”

Sky Blue general manager Alyse LaHue agreed, remarking “The move to Red Bull Arena builds upon the positive momentum we gained last season and will help propel our club and the league to the next level.”

Coombe on Over

With the move to Harrison (from Rutgers-hosted settings in Piscataway) delayed by a year, current Sky Blue duties now lay in the hands of first-year head coach Freya Coombe. She took the team over in September after the departure of third-year coach Denise Reddy and oversaw a 1-3-1 stretch to end the season. Included in that group was a win over Tuesday’s opponent (then known as Seattle Reign FC) and a draw with Orlando in the Harrison demonstration.

The team’s decisionmakers felt her stint at the end of the 2019 campaign made her very deserving of full-time duties.

“Freya’s undeniable work ethic made our decision easy,” Tammy Murphy remarked to the team’s website. “She earned the trust and respect of our players quickly last season, and her steady leadership will provide consistency.”

Coombe previously partook in on and off-field endeavors with Reading FC, part of the Barclays FC Women’s Super League, the top women’s football division in England.

“We laid a strong foundation for success last year,” Coombe recalled after her December promotion “We’re already working diligently this offseason to help the organization take the next step.”

Play On

Sky Blue will bring a roster of 26 players to Utah, sequestering in an Olympic Village-like setting that other leagues are set to emulate upon their returns later this summer. Not included in that tally are Carli Lloyd and Mallory Pugh, each of whom is renowned for their national squad exploits. Lloyd is currently working off a knee injury while Pugh hasn’t fully recovered from a hip ailment.

Their absence will make the arrival of another US national team representative, McCall Zerboni, who knows what it’s like to win in the Empire State, all the more crucial. She previously won an NWSL title with the Western New York Flash and was more recently part of the North Carolina Courage’s quest to consecutive championships in the most recent seasons. Zerboni has also been part of the NWSL’s Best XI in 2017 and 2018.

“She has a higher presence on the field, which is something that we believe that we needed,” LaHue remarked to Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “If she sees something that maybe doesn’t look quite right she’s not afraid to round the team up and say so. I think that’s tremendous, and it’s great leadership for us to have.”

Zerboni’s former Western New York teammate, Gina Lewandowski, is also set to oversee the young lineup. She felt the stay-at-home period was good for Sky Blue’s morale and helped them build as a team before getting the green light for Utah.

“I personally feel like I was able to get a lot stronger and fitter in that time period,” she said to Tim Shoemaker of The Morning Call. “All of us were able to take advantage of that time to work on our individual strength and technical aspects of the game. I had some resources at home that gave me the ability to be creative and work on my own weaknesses. I strengthened my body to the point where I was ready for preseason again.”

Each of Sky Blue’s 2020 NWSL Draft picks, including their top choice Evelyne Viens of South Florida (fifth overall) made the roster, as did captain Sarah Woldmoe. The midfielder is one of Sky Blue’s longest-tenured players, joining the team as a 2015 draft pick.

“I feel so confident about this roster heading into the NWSL Challenge Cup,” said team-captain Woldmoe said on the team site. “We all put in the work individually during quarantine and have really put it all together collectively now. Every day I get to work with teammates who are giving it their all to improve and prepare. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that we have the talent and drive to take us all the way. We are ready to go and we are so excited for this tournament.”

For the full roster, click here.

Schedule

Date Opponnent Time (ET) TV
6/30 OL Reign 10 p.m. CBS All Access
7/4 Utah Royals FC 12:30 p.m. CBS All Access
7/8 Houston Dash 10 p.m. CBS All Access
7/13 North Carolina Courage 10 p.m. CBS All Access
7/18 Quarterfinals TBD CBS All Access
7/22 Semifinals TBD CBS All Access
7/26 Championship 12:30 p.m. CBS

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Brooklyn Nets: The COVID-19 Nightmare Continues

It was only a few months ago when a report came out that four Brooklyn Nets players, one of them being Kevin Durant, tested positive for COVID-19. Now, in the last 48 hours, two more Nets have publicly announced that they too have tested positive for the virus.

DeAndre Jordan, at 9:34pm EST on Monday night, tweeted the following about how he found out he had tested positive for COVID-19:

Several hours earlier, it was reported that Spencer Dinwiddie also had tested positive for the virus after feeling COVID-19 symptoms such as chest tightness and a fever. While Jordan has made it clear he will not be playing when the NBA season resumes, Dinwiddie has been hopeful he can recover from the virus in time to rejoin the team hopefully during the playoffs. He had this to say in response to Woj implying Dinwiddie was strongly considering not joining the team in Orlando.

It’s been a rough few months for Nets fans who hoped to see some form of the team they envisioned way back when KD and Kyrie signed in last July. Fans got their hopes up several weeks ago that the two superstars might return when basketball resumes in late July, a rumor that was shut down quickly by both players.

In the last two weeks, it was reported that two more players would not be traveling to Orlando with the team, as the young power forward Nic Claxton had season-ending should-surgery several days ago and journeyman Wilson Chandler has chosen to spend more with his family this summer. Add DeAndre Jordan and possibly Spencer Dinwiddie to the mix, and that’s 6 key contributors the Nets will be missing when play resumes in Orlando. Some fans may be optimistic about the recent signings of Tyler Johnson and Justin Anderson, but at this point, fans will be watching an almost entirely different team than the one we saw for most of the year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that more than anything, we hope Spencer, DeAndre, and all the professional athletes that have tested positive for COVID-19 get well soon. This virus is terrifying for these athletes and their families to have to endure, and I wish them nothing but the best during their recovery period. For the Nets players who have chosen not to return to the bubble for reasons outside of health, such as Wilson Chandler and Kyrie Irving, I have nothing but respect for those men and their decisions. They have a right to either fight for the cause they believe in or spend time with their family during these scary times.

While the Nets will be missing a large portion of their team in Orlando, they still will have Caris LeVert, who was playing the best basketball of his career prior to the season being suspended. Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris should most likely be traveling with the team as well. They should still be competitive and put up a fight in the first round of the playoffs. But many Nets fans can rest assured that this team at full strength and health next year, will be a real title contender and quite possibly the favorite in the East.

Check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for your latest Brooklyn Nets news and listen to the Fireside Nets w/ Spen & Nick podcast!

New York Yankees: ESM has conference call with Yankee GM Brian Cashman, Judge may be ready

New York Yankees, Yankees, Brian Cashman

For the New York Yankees and Yankee fans everywhere, there are many unanswered questions as spring training starts tomorrow.  Today at 2 pm, this writer had the privilege of being in on a conference call as an editor for EmpireSportsMedia.com.  General Manager of the New York Yankees Brian Cashman answered questions on varied subjects asked from across all the baseball writers in on the call. The call lasted just under an hour.

The interview started with a question about if any players had tested positive from the New York Times.  Cashman said he couldn’t answer that per the agreement with the players association.  He did say the cases “that Yankee personnel did have were mild and that they had recovered.”  He also offered prayers for those that have not had mild cases.  Answering a question as to if any Yankee players had opted out, he said, “there are none,” and that all the crew had reported to the stadium, although not all players.

Brian Hock of MLB.com if Aaron Judge would be ready for the season. He asked for an update and what Cashman’s confidence level was.  Cashman did not answer the question directly but said that he was “optimistic that he would be ready.”  He stated that Judge has been doing all workout activities has been swinging off the Tee and will be hitting off of live pitching in the coming days.

When asked about Aaron Hicks, James Paxton and Giancarlo Stanton Cashman recalled all the different injuries and surgeries that took place and said: “that they are ready, and it will depend on conditioning during the next few weeks.”  As far as Stanton is concerned, he seemed less optimistic that he would be starting in the outfield but would definitely be a DH. He made it clear several times that the next few weeks will be telling on if any of these players will be able to withstand a 60 game season over 66 days.

Another interesting thing revealed in the call was that talks are going on now about whether to have any exhibition games during spring training 2.0.  Cashman said the owners are talking about it but no decision had been made.  He made it clear that the New York Yankees would not want to play in any road games during training.

The New York Post asked if all the players were there at Yankee Stadium, Cashman responded saying no they aren’t without cited which players had no arrived.  He cited different travel restrictions from countries like Chile, Japan, and other countries. He said they hoped to be in full force in the coming days.  When he was asked if the pitchers would be ramped up by the time the season starts, he said he would have to defer that question to the coaches, but added the New York Yankees, new pitching ace Gerrit Cole was already at the Studium “working his tail off.”

When the discussion turned to the August 25 trade deadline, he was asked if there would be more action or less action due to the shortened season.  Cashman responded that he thought there would be less, as general managers and managers are too busy spending time on trying to make a full season happen.  He did say that if a special opportunity was to arise and COVID-19 or injuries caused a need, and there was “a chess piece available we are in it to win it, that’s the challenge ahead.”

In recalling the entire interview content, Cashman continually referred to the COVID-19 virus and the effect it could have on the season. When asked about the health protocols, he said that he has the 101-page health initiative, and it will be a challenge and costly one to implement all of the procedures. He stated that he had no anxiety about the screening or anything related to the season. He sees the challenges as “an opportunity to do everything to have a champion run at the World Series.”

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New York Jets newcomers’ jersey numbers revealed

New York Jets

The New York Jets unveiled the numerals that their newcomers’ uniforms will bear for the 2020 season on Tuesday.

A majority of New York Jets newcomers unveiled their jersey numbers for the 2020 season.

Offensive line proceedings headlined the new numerals, with first-round pick Mekhi Becton donning No. 77. Becton’s number from Louisville, 73, has been retired by the Jets, putting him in need of a new jersey in more ways than one.

“I wanted to try something new because I didn’t feel right in 70. That’s my high school number and then 73 is retired,” Becton said in a statement to Eric Allen of the Jets’ website. “I feel like 77 is just a different journey, a new journey to start.”

Below, we have the new digits and your jersey planning guide for the Jets’ free agency and draft class.

No. 2: K Brett Maher

Competing with Sam Ficken for the kicker’s slot, Maher maintains his number from Dallas. A previous former Cowboy, Nick Folk, wore the number for the Jets and went on to hold the position for seven seasons.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 2: K Nick Folk, K Jason Myers

No. 4: QB James Morgan

With his Florida International numerals taken by a certain Hall of Fame quarterback, Morgan has opted for single digits this time around. For all you math majors, if you subtract his original number at Bowling Green (16) from his numerals at FIU, you get his new Jets symbol.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 4: QB Brett Favre, P Lac Edwards

New York Jets, Joe Flacco
Oct 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco (5) warms up before the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

No. 5: QB Joe Flacco

Flacco retains the single-digit he wore en route to the Super Bowl in Baltimore. He also donned the number during his cameo in Denver last season.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 5: K Pat Leahy

No. 7: P Braden Mann

The No. 34 Mann wore at Texas A&M was not only taken by cornerback Brian Poole but also barred from NFL usage by a specialist. Thus, he dons a number previously worn by a pair of prior Jets punters.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 7: QB Ken O’Brien, QB Boomer Esiason, QB Geno Smith, P/QB Tom Tupa, P Ben Graham

No. 11: WR Denzel Mims

Those who went out and purchased new Robby Anderson jerseys last season and panicked when the latter went to Carolina need only a mere roll of duct tape and a Sharpie to make things right thanks to Mims. The second-round pick previously owned Flacco’s numeral at Baylor

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 11: WR Robby Anderson, K Jim Turner, WR Jeremy Kerley

No. 18: WR Josh Doctson 

Retaining his number from Washington, Doctson is certainly hoping for some longevity with it. Three consecutive receivers have spent single-year stints with No. 18 (ArDarius Stewart, Deontay Brunett, Demaryius Thomas)

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 18: QB Al Woodall

DETROIT, MI – DECEMBER 15: Breshad Perriman #19 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers catches a fourth quarter touchdown as Tracy Walker #21 of the Detroit Lions gives chase during the fourth quarter of the game at Ford Field on December 15, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. Tampa Bay defeated Detroit 38-17. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

No. 19: WR Breshard Perriman

Keyshawn Johnson took his Jets number to Tampa Bay, and now it appears Perriman will do the same as he makes the reverse trip up north. The number was left behind by Trevor Siemian’s departure.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 19: WR Keyshawn Johnson, DB/PR Chris Farasopoulos, WR/KR Andre Roberts

New York Jets, La'Mical Perine
MIAMI GARDENS, FL – DECEMBER 30: Lamical Perine #2 of the Florida Gators celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers at the Capital One Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium on December 30, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Florida defeated Virginia 36-28. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

No 22: RB Lamical Perine

The No. 2 he wore in Gainesville was outlawed for running backs by NFL standards, so Perine opted to simply double up in East Rutherford. Jets fans certainly hope he fares better than the previous bearer, the recently departed Trumaine Johnson.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 22: DB Jim Hudson, DB Burgess Owens, DB Erik McMillan

No. 32: CB Ashtyn Davis

Rushers have previously worn Davis’ new number, but it now takes on a defensive tone. Davis previously wore No. 27 in college at Cal.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 32: RB Emerson Boozer, RB Blair Thomas, RB Leon Johnson

No. 35: CB Pierre Desir

No. 35 is a relatively quiet numeral in the grand scheme of Jets history, but Desir is looking to change that. He won’t have to change his repertoire too much, having worn it in Indianapolis.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 35: RB Mike Augustyniak, FB BJ Askew

No. 43: TE Ross Travis

You might expect the former Penn State basketball participants to suit up for the Knicks, but Travis instead joins up with the Jets from Indianapolis. He previously also wore No. 88 in Kansas City.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 43: DB Michael Brim

No. 51: LB Patrick Onwuasor 

The newest Jets interior option moves up three digits from his number in Baltimore. It has held a strong history in the Jets’ linebacking corps.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 51: LB Ralph Baker, LB Jonathan Vilma, LB Greg Buttle, LB Bryan Cox

No. 60: C Connor McGovern

McGovern has a lot to live up to in bringing his Denver number over to New York. It has previously been worn by several notable names on both offense and defense, including a Super Bowl champion linebacker (original bearer Larry Grantham).

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 60: LB Larry Grantham, G/T Dan Alexander, T D’Brickshaw Ferguson

No. 62: G Greg Van Roten

Van Roten’s No. 73 from Carolina will never be worn in New York again, retired for Joe Klecko. Instead, he’ll be the first Jet to wear No. 62 since Vlad Ducasse in 2013.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 62: LB Al Atkinson, G/C Roger Duffy

No. 68: G Josh Andrews

It was in a No. 68 jersey in which Andrews was noticed by general manager Joe Douglas during their shared time in Philadelphia. He’ll redon the number upon their reunion in New York.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 68: G Kevin Mawae, G/T Reggie McElroy, T Kelvin Beachum

No. 72: T Cameron Clark

Alex Lewis had his Charlotte number, so Clark moves one digit up for his new green jersey. There’s a somber hint upon the awarding of this number, previously worn by Super Bowl champion Paul Rochester, who passed away earlier this month.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 72: T Chris Ward, DL Jason Ferguson, DT Paul Rochester

No. 76: T George Fant

No one holds Fant’s old No. 74 from Seattle, but he’s nonetheless moving up a couple of spots. Much like fellow bearer Jumbo Elliott, Fant has been known to go out for a pass a time or two.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 76: T Jumbo Elliott

No. 77: T Mekhi Becton

A new era begins for Becton, who, Van Roten before him, previously wore Klecko’s famous digits while repping the ACC’s Cardinals. It was briefly wrong by Tom Compton last season.

No. 92: DE Jabari Zuniga

Zuniga was able to retain his college numerals from Florida. The spot was previously left open by the trade of Leonard Williams.

Notable Jets Who Wore No. 92: DE Shaun Ellis, DE Leonard Williams

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

 

 

Yankees’ Brian Cashman expects James Paxton, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton to be good to go

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

On a conference call Monday, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman gave several updates on the status of his players. He anticipates James Paxton, Aaron Hicks, and Giancarlo Stanton will be ready to start the 2020 regular season and begin spring training 2.0 on July 3.

Paxton succumbed to surgery this off-season after doctors found a cyst in his lower back. Paxton would have missed a majority of spring training and likely the start of the regular season, but the extra time off allowed him to heal and return to form. He should earn live reps in exhibition games leading up to Opening Day in late July.

The Yankees will likely gain back two starting outfielders

As for Aaron Hicks, who underwent Tommy John surgery this past off-season, he was expected to return in mid-summer, and the Yankees will likely have their starting center fielder back for the 2020 campaign. Hicks played in 59 games last year, hitting 12 homers and earning a .235 average. He returned for the postseason, hitting .154 with one homer and three RBIs against the Houston Astros in their inevitable loss.

Hicks will likely slot into the number three spot in the hitting order, behind Aaron Judge, and before Giancarlo Stanton. As for Stanton, who struggled with calf issues this spring and multiple soft-tissue ailments last year, his recovery has gone well, and he seems to be on track to return with a full bill of health.

Stanton was also a question mark leading up to the start of the regular season if it had gone as scheduled. With the extra time to recover, he should be prepared to feature in late July. With the entire outfield nearly in place, with the potential exception of Aaron Judge, the Yankees will have a stacked defensive team and batting order, giving them fantastic odds at landing a playoff spot in the condensed season.

New York Mets: The Importance of Signing Every Draft Pick

The New York Mets executed their draft-day plan to perfection when they finally signed J.T. Ginn to a deal. With every draft pick signed, they are moving in the right direction to revitalized a weakened farm system over the last couple of seasons.

After dealing Jarred Kelenic, Justin Dunn, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Anthony Kay in the same season, they had plenty of rebuilding to do. The Mets effectively replaced most of those parts during the 2020 MLB Draft.

Prosperous Future

Brodie Van Wagenen aimed to select versatile players with high potential. Every player the Mets selected fit into the category, and Pete Crow-Armstrong was the perfect player to draft with their first pick. Not only does he have five-tool potential, but he has a strong personality as well.

Ginn and Isaiah Greene fit into the high potential category, which is why they fell into the second round. Anthony Walters and Matthew Dyer are versatile players who will be able to play whatever position the Mets feel is best for them. Eric Orze seems to be a steal for what he signed for due to his battle through cancer and the ability to start or relieve.

Van Wagenen and the Mets scouting department did a fantastic job drafting a developed a great gameplan. It allowed them to cut money from their late draft picks and give the money to their top two selections. This has allowed the Mets to have the most success in the 2020 draft. Now we wait to see how each player develops in the future.

New York Yankees players could opt-out of 2020 season

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are currently heading into a condensed 2020 season with their full team of players, but that could change shortly as others around the league have begun to opt-out of a risky campaign. MLB has come to a conclusion with the Player’s Association on a 60 game, full-prorated season that will include a portion of the playoff revenues for the players.

While most players will opt-in and earn their keep, at least some of it in a shorter campaign, the coming days could see players drop out and stay with their families to avoid health risks. There have already been several players to decide against playing, including Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, pitcher Joe Ross, Arizona Diamondbacks right-handed pitcher Mike Leake, and Monday night Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Desmond also stated he would be spending time with his family instead.

Desmond stated “The COVID-19 pandemic has made this baseball season one that is a risk I’m not comfortable taking,” in a post via Instagram.

The New York Yankees could be facing a potential problem:

That is one factor most people forgot about; players might not feel comfortable playing in such a high-risk situation where they could infect others or bring it back to their respective families.

With that being said, the Yankees could be facing a similar problem in the coming days, but with training camp 2.0 slated to restart in two days, their players would have to make a decision quickly on whether to play or not.

Currently, the Bombers are programmed to start up again in the Bronx, leaving Florida due to the spike in cases. The league will have to be extremely tough on the players and the guidelines they set forth to mitigate the concern.

Of course, it will be impossible to shield and protect every player completely, but is it is their responsibility to keep the game safe and virus-free. One case could evidently strike the entire league or at least an entire team, which would put the recently intact season at risk once again.

It seems as if soccer players in other countries have been able to limit their exposure to the virus and stay healthy, and other sports in the US must follow their lead in the precautions being followed.