New York Giants O-Line In The NFL’s Top Half, Says Ex-Scout

New York Giants, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder

The New York Giants are no strangers to facing complaints about the offensive line. One of the main problems in the last years of Eli Manning, and the rookie year of this year’s starter Daniel Jones, was pass protection – a problem that forced the team’s quarterbacks into making bad throws on a number of occasions thanks to the line not holding up long enough for openings to appear. Names from Ereck Flowers to Nate Solders have been regarded as busts at offensive line positions for the Giants, among others.

But the team is taking a step forward to change that this season, and the Giants showed a serious commitment to that by spending the number four overall pick on tackle Andrew Thomas over others such as outside linebacker Isaiah Simmons, a more expected pick. According to some sources, that decision was a good one in turning the team’s fates around at the offensive line positions.

Sports Illustrated spoke with a former NFC scout, who even says that the Giants have made it out of the basement and into the upper half of the league in that area.

“In a short time, this has gone from a bottom-five offensive line that should rank in the top half of the league with a ceiling even higher due to the presence of (first-round pick Andrew) Thomas,” the scout said.

It looks like Thomas may take on a starting role in his first season and depending on how his performance in training camp goes, he could unseat Nate Solder at left tackle. It’s a big change, and if Thomas is an improvement, one that can immediately benefit Daniel Jones.

But the Giants are also no stranger to having hyped up offensive lines that haven’t performed so well. Solder, for example, was a high profile signing at the time. Even the season before Solder’s arrival, the Giants had shuffled players around and made a couple of additions without much practical difference on the field. Will this season be different? That’s still up for debate, but at the least, some voices around the league are more confident in the team this year.

As the MLB searches for a plan, they’ve quickly fallen behind other sports

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Well, well, well. After being one of the first sports to start spitballing restart ideas, the MLB has officially fallen behind other leagues. A month-long money struggle later, the MLB has no plan while other sports are beginning to start up again.

NASCAR has been running races at empty tracks for three weeks now, and the PGA Tour is scheduled to return on the 11th. WWE has already completed a few events.

Just this week, the NBA announced its return to the hardwood. They’ll be returning on July 31st in Orlando at Disney World to conclude the regular season and operate the playoffs under a 22-team format. Game seven of the finals would end in mid-October, with the next season starting just seven weeks later. On the ladies’ side of things, the WNBA is in early talks about a 22-game season.

The NHL is operating under a phased plan that could potentially see games resuming in July. The NFL is planning to run its schedule as planned and teams are beginning to reopen facilities.

With all this happening, the MLB is stuck in a huge money struggle with its players. The players have already agreed to prorated salaries, but the greedy owners want players to take larger cuts to minimize the revenue loss. What owners fail to realize is that teams would make back lost revenue very quickly once fans are in the stands again.

But, it may not be impossible to get fans back in the stands. The MLB should consider a limited attendance approach to make a little ticket revenue. NASCAR has an event at Homestead/Miami Speedway next weekend that will allow for 1,000 fans. Families must wear masks and social distance from other families in the stands. The MLB should consider a similar approach.

Time is ticking away, and the MLB needs to act quickly. No season will kill the game, and the league can’t let that happen.

New York Giants: Potential Cut Candidates To Free Up Cap Space Next Offseason

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants entered the 2020 free agency period with a ton of cap space. The team had around $80 million to spend. And spend it they did. After free agency and the 2020 NFL Draft, the Giants are down to having less than $10 million in cap space for the upcoming season.

So what will the Giants do in 2021? Will they have enough cap space to upgrade their team and resign the likes of Saquon Barkley and others? The Giants are projected to have around $45 million in cap space next offseason. But they could make some cuts to free up even more cap space (stats via Spotrac).

2021 Cut Candidates

Nate Solder

The first and most obvious cut candidate for the Giants’ next offseason is Nate Solder. Solder was a player that some considered to be a cut candidate heading into this offseason. Ultimately, it looks as though the Giants plan on keeping the veteran offensive tackle around for at least another year. But if his play continues to disappoint, cutting Nate Solder in 2021 is a no-brainer. Solder is due to account for 9.81% of the team’s 2021 cap space with a cap hit of $20.5 million. Luckily for New York, Nate Solder’s dead cap is only $6.5 million next year, meaning they can save $14 million if they cut him.

Golden Tate

The Giants could also look to cut Golden Tate. Tate signed with the Giants just last offseason, but his stay in the New York/New Jersey area could be short. Tate is another player who carries a high cap hit next season and might not be living up to his salary (one could argue it either way). Golden’s cap hit in 2021 is at $11 million and his dead cap hit is only $5 million. If Tate’s age catches up with him or he fails to impress for any other reason, the Giants could save $6 million in cap space by cutting him after the 2020 season.

Kevin Zeitler

Another, more surprising name on the offensive line could appear as a cut candidate. The Giants’ best offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler’s contract is structured in a way that makes it very easy to move on from him after this season. That doesn’t mean they should move on from him, but if for some reason Zeitler’s performance bottoms out in 2020, the team could free up a whopping $12.5 million by cutting him. Zeitler’s cap hit in 2021 will be $14.5 million with a dead cap hit of only $2.5 million. Zeitler is only 30 years old, so he could end up getting a second contract with the Giants. But if the team does not consider him to be part of their future plans, they could move on from the former Cleveland Brown after this season.

Obscure All-Stars to Play for the New York Mets: Jason Isringhausen

Jason Isringhausen was originally a New York Mets draft pick in 1991 and part of the failed “Generation K.” He lived up to the hype during his rookie season, but the following two seasons were sub-par due to various injuries, including punching a trash can.

The Mets opted to make Isringhausen a deliver during the 1999 season, and he started to pitch much better. Manager Bobby Valentine was reluctant to use him as a reliever, and the Mets traded Isringhausen to the Oakland Athletics. As usual, the Mets missed out big time, and 293 saves he was an integral part of the A’s and St. Louis Cardinals’ success.

Return to His Beginnings

During the 2009 season, Isringhausen learned he needed his third Tommy John Surgery. He was 36 at the time, and his return to a major league roster was a steep climb. Isringhausen did not make it back to the big leagues in 2010 and signed a minor league deal with the Mets heading into the 2011 Spring Training.

The fastball velocity dipped, but his knuckle curveball still had the vintage sharp bite to it. On April 10, the Mets called-up the 38-year old Isringhausen to join their bullpen. He looked like the two-time All-Star he once was for most of the season. Over 42 games (36.2 innings), he had a 2.70 ERA and held batters to a .192 batting average.

After the Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez, Isringhausen earned the closer role with Bobby Parnell waiting in the wings. He converted seven saves and eight opportunities, including his 300th of his career. Isringhausen was the third Mets to pick up his 300th save with them and the first pitcher in MLB history to return from three Tommy John Surgeries.

He faded during the final month-plus, allowing 11 runs in the same amount of outings. Despite his ERA increasing to 4.05, Isringhausen pitched a lot better than the story the numbers told.

Bigger than Baseball

The return to the Mets was a solid career coming full circle. During his first stint with the Mets, he was the young, immature prospect who was living it up in the city. He matured from a person destroying his career to a veteran player could look up to and learn from his career. Isringhausen is one of the rare Mets who spent time as the youngest and oldest player in the clubhouse.

Those who may not remember the history he had in New York forget his injuries from drunkenly falling while climbing his girlfriend’s balcony or slicing his leg with a box cutter while trying to open a driver’s wheel lock. Anyone who spent time around the franchise during his second go-around could immediately see a person who was ultimately the opposite of his younger years.

Isringhausen spent the 2012 season with the Los Angeles Angels and had to be forced into retirement when no team signed him for the 2013 season.

The one Islander who will have benefited most from the break during the season

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Islanders

The New York Islanders, and the rest of the other 23 teams who will participate in the 24-team playoff, now know they’re officially back.

This morning, Isles g.m. Lou Lamoriello told reporters that the team will open its training facility back up on Monday, this beginning Phase 2 of the league’s Return to Play program.

”We have satisfied all protocols,” Lamoriello added on a Friday conference call, referring to the extensive list of requirements established last week by the NHL/NHLPA. “We’ve checked all the boxes.

The latest development was to be heard expected but is still exciting not just for the fans and coaches, but the players as well. Several of the club’s key guys who were injured prior to the season being suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak — Adam Pelech, Casey Cizikas, Johnny Boychuk — will all be back and ready to go. For the players who weren’t dealing with any ailments but had been maybe feeling the effects of the grind of an 82-game season, they should feel fresh and re-energized, as they were basically given another offseason in a sense.

But if there’s one guy, in particular, who will have benefited the most from the long hiatus, it’s J.G. Pageau.

I’m sure you’re asking yourselves, why Pageau over someone like Pelech — he’s coming back from a season-ending Achilles injury — or Cizikas or Boychuk (skate cuts), or even Mathew Barzal? Well, there are a few things to account for when it comes to the Quebec native.

Pageau, after the Islanders traded for him at the deadline in late February, only got to suit up in a handful of games with his new team. The pressure was on him to perform immediately and give the Islanders one of the missing ingredients they were lacking all season — a third-line center. And it’s not to say Pageau didn’t get off to a good start — he scored twice in his first two games — but there’s still a learning curve when it comes to head coach Barry Trotz’s system.

Trotz pointed out last week that having he and d-man Andy Greene getting in a full training camp of sorts will help both individually and the team as a whole.

The break will have also helped Pageau mentally.

Getting traded in season, there comes a lot of things off the ice that are in the back of a players’ mind (finding a place, getting settled, etc.). Pageau explained such when he chatted with the NHL Network a month ago. But with not having played a game in three months, the 27-year-old should have all his bearings in order, which will allow him to be dialed in on his game entirely.

Pageau is known to be a playoff performer, so this kind of break and knowing he’s on a club that has something to play for again will have motivated him to elevate his game from regular season to playoff mode.

The last appearance for Pageau in the postseason was in 2017 with the Senators, who made a shocking run to Eastern Conference Finals. That spring was only the second time Pageau experienced playoff hockey, and he played some of the best hockey of his career (eight goals in 19 games).

Again, that might not sound like a long time, but for any NHL player, being out of the playoffs for that long, the fire and passion is definitely burning inside.

J.G. Pageau hasn’t experienced a victory yet as a part of the Islanders; they were 0-4-3 since his arrival. All of that is now in the past. A new season is set to begin.

What that means for the Isles is they will now get to see why they traded for Pageau and signed him for the long haul.

And they can thank the break for allowing that to happen.

 

New York Rangers: Projecting their Expanded Roster

New York Rangers, Brett Howden, Filip Chytil

When the New York Rangers resume their season in July, they and the other NHL teams will have the benefit of an extended roster when they face the Carolina Hurricanes in the play-in round. What we expect is that the play-in/playoff roster will likely include 28 skaters and unlimited goaltenders. The goaltending situation is already set with the three mainstays. The extra skaters will be the group that will have most curious as to how the Rangers fill this roster expansion

The projections assume that all players are healthy and that Kaapo Kakko will play, but may be held out due to the potential Covid-19 risk involved for a player with immunity issues due to Type 1 diabetes and Celiac disease.

At this point and hopefully subject to change, college players or free agents signed after the pause or signed to contracts that begin next season are not eligible.

Phillip Di Giuseppe

The 26-year-old Di Giuseppe was solid when he was recalled and filled in when injuries hit the team in February and March. His presence will even be more important as the likely fill-in for Brendan Lemieux, who should still be sitting out a suspension he received just before the pause of the season. Di Giuseppe played three seasons at the University of Michigan before signing with Carolina in 2014. He appeared in 147 games for the Hurricanes over four seasons and three games for Nashville in 2018-19 before signing with the Rangers as a free agent last summer. He has no playoff experience.

Vitali Kravtsov

This could be a good chance for reconciliation with the Rangers. Briefly, here is what happened: he failed to make the Rangers’ NHL roster out of training camp, pouted about being sent to AHL Hartford, decided to go back to Russia to play in the KHL, struggled there for about a month-and-a-half, and ultimately returned to the AHL. This pause may give a chance to sort things out and possibly show what he can do. Skating with the team during camp could at the very least, allow the 20-year-old to develop his potential.

Steven Fogarty

You have to like someone who was selected captain of his team in Harford. Fogarty has a nice size and can play both the center and the wing. His maturity at age 27 with some NHL experience would make him valuable for roster depth. Fogarty was recalled and played 8 and half minutes in the Rangers final game before the pause, that 3-2 OT loss to Colorado.

Libor Hajek

He will likely be the first defenseman in reserve for the team. Hajek had been considered a partner for Jacob Trouba after the Brady Skjei trade but was kept down in Hartford. Now he has the chance to join the camp in July and to see if he can step into that spot or will be a valuable seventh defenseman.

Lias Andersson

This could be another player on the Rangers reconciliation tour 2020. Johan Rylander of the Swedish newspaper Gotebergs-Posten spoke with Andersson and stated that the New York Rangers had contacted Andersson about returning for the playoffs, but that he was unsure about coming back. As one of the top prospects, it might be a good chance to start fresh and move forward, allowing the Rangers to benefit from his talent.

Tim Gettinger

The 22-year-old has the size to be a bottom-six type of player to work the boards on a checking line. This is the kind of depth you like to have in this kind of situation.

Yegor Rykov/Darren Raddysh

Would like to have some more defenseman in case something happens during the series.

If the NHL changes its mind on allowing college players and free agents to play……

Morgan Barron, K’Andre Miller, Patrick Khoderenko, and Justin Richards will all get consideration to be included on the roster. Nils Lundkvist? A wild-card for sure.

The same goes for Tyler Wall, a nice way to transition him into the Rangers family, especially since it looks like the Rangers could keep an unlimited amount of goalies.

If the NHL does not change its mind, look for Vinni Lettieri, Boo Nieves, and the big banger Matt Belesky to be stronger considered for roster spots.

 

 

 

 

 

New York Yankees: David Cone offers ideas to save the season

Former New York Yankees and Mets pitcher David Cone is familiar with the tense situation that is happening right now between the MLB owners and the players’ association. After all, he was a union representative back in 1994.

After having a successful career, most notable for his time with the Yankees, Cone is now an analyst for the YES Network.

“What comes to mind is there’s a deadline,” Cone said. “The similarities here, the one big common denominator here is that there is a deadline, that if you don’t make a decision or come to some sort of an agreement by a certain date, then it becomes too late. And then it cannot be revived.

“That’s what happened when the World Series was canceled then, it just got to too late of a date to revive anything, and the players were out too long and there was no way that you could pick the season back up.

The former Yankees’ hurler said that the league should start relatively soon. Otherwise, the season would be in jeopardy.

“That’s the one thing I would look at now, is that you do need to get started, you need to come to some sort of an agreement because the longer it goes on, the more in jeopardy this season becomes.”

He knows a thing or two about strikes

Between 1994 and 1995, there was a 232-day stoppage. “There was just a lack of meetings at all, a lack of dialogue, to where both sides were entrenched, and there was really nothing left to talk about at that point,” Cone remembered. “There was no way to even call a meeting to try to revive something that had a framework for an agreement.”

Given that there is virtually no time to play a 162-game season or something close to it, and that a 40 or 50 game-season would severely damage the players’ earnings, Cone is proposing both sides meeting in the middle: 82 games and an expanded 14-team playoffs.

“I would say a fair number would be somewhere in the 82-game region,” Cone said. “If I was the commissioner that’s where I would try to start the conversation.”

The primary issue right now, besides the coronavirus, is players’ compensation. There would be no fans in the stands so owners want to limit payroll responsibilities as much as they can.

“This one’s different,” Cone said. “There is so much hardship around the world, much less in our country, particularly in New York. There is no patience for these sorts of things going on right now; there’s no sympathy out there for either side.

“Obviously I’m always gonna be partial to the players, I believe they have a right to stand up for themselves and not be taken advantage of, but obviously these are unprecedented times.

“It calls for calmer heads and a sense of compromise on both sides.”

New York Yankees and Mets’ fans, as well as other fanbases, are getting desperate. They want baseball back, and frustration with owners and union representatives is growing.

Should the New York Giants take a flier on Demaryius Thomas to bolster their WR corps?

New York Jets, Demaryius Thomas

The New York Giants struggled with injuries in 2019, especially in the wide receiver corps. Sterling Shepard suffered multiple concussions that put his career in jeopardy, Darius Slayton missed the first two games of the season due to injury, and Corey Coleman tore his ACL during training camp. Altogether, they missed 21 total games, putting rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in a tumultuous position.

Adding depth and talent to the unit is essential for the growth of the offense and Jones’ long-term success. Currently, they have a Shepard, Slayton, Coleman, and Golden Tate as their top four wide receivers.

They also brought in several undrafted free agents in Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Derrick Dillon, to compete for special teams reps and a back end spot with the wide receivers. Coleman, who is coming off another significant injury, will be battling for a roster spot, so nothing is guaranteed.

Should the New York Giants take a flier on Demaryius Thomas?

It might even be beneficial to take a flyer on a free agent like Demaryius Thomas, who’s coming off a decent season with the New York Jets. This would allow him to stay local and simply switch New York teams. However, he did report that he prefers to join the Denver Broncos, where he has friends and a legacy waiting for him.

“I would love to be a Denver Bronco,” Thomas said on 104.3 The Fan on Wednesday, via Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic. “That’s where I got drafted, that’s where I played well. … A lot of friends that consider me family are out there. I love Denver. But it had to go down the way it did. It is what it is. I’ll retire there one day.”

If the Broncos elect to pass on his services, Thomas would offer the Giants a reliable WR with high upside. He is three years removed from a 1083 yard campaign, including five touchdown receptions. In 2019, he posted 433 yards and one score over 58 targets. He can be serviceable in the passing game, having logged 84 yards against the Giants last year on a 66.7% catch-rate. His experience could be useful for players like Darius Slayton, and having a trustworthy number four pass-catcher would only benefit Jones.

Mike Woodson getting a third crack at the New York Knicks gig?

New York Knicks, Spike Lee

Former New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson could get another crack at it.  It’s reported that Woodson is another candidate to interview for the job.

Woodson was selected by the Knicks out of Indiana in the 1980 draft.  He played one season for the organization before moving into 5 other clubs throughout his 10 year career.

Woodson began his coaching career in 1996 being an assistant for several team including the Knicks.  He got his big break being the coach for the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2010.

After Atlanta let him go, Woodson came into the Knicks staff as an assistant.  Eventually the team would fire Mike D’Antoni and promote Woodson to interim then full- time head coach.

During his 2 seasons at the helm, Woodson went 109-79.  He led the Knicks to 54 wins and a playoff berth in the 2012-13 season.  That year was, by far, Carmelo Anthony’s best as a Knicks and one of the most fun teams to watch.

Woodson actually got another interview in 2018 for the Knicks job.  He lost out to David Fizdale.  So, this will be his 3rd crack at the Knicks gig.

While Woodson is more of a defensive mind coach, his Knicks teams had plenty of scorers.  This current roster does not.  They lack scorers and aren’t above average on defense either.

Interviewing Woodson could just be adding another interviewer to the list.  The Knicks can’t be seriously considering Woodson.  He’s a fine coach but not the one you want to rebuild a team with.  Tom Thibodeau remains the front runner for the New York Knicks head coaching vacancy.

New York Mets: Could Matt Harvey play in the KBO league?

Chris Flexen and Drew Gagnon, two former pitchers in the New York Mets organization are currently excelling in South Korea’s baseball circuit, the KBO. Could a third former Met follow the same path? Matt Harvey, who fell out of favor not only with the team but also with MLB clubs, would be interested in pitching in Asia.

According to Jason Lee, Harvey, a former MLB All-Star, is apparently interested in playing in the KBO. The New York Post, through its reporter Joel Sherman, confirmed the report as being true.

Sherman said that KBO clubs have been talking to Harvey’s agents. The former Mets’ ace, who was a star from 2012 to 2015, has been staying in shape by throwing bullpen sessions regularly.

The former Mets’ ace wants to keep pitching

Harvey had expressed interested in keep pitching in the MLB, but after ending his time with the Angels in 2019, he hasn’t been able to entice clubs in America. That’s why pitching in Korea would be an option he should consider.
Harvey recently talked about his next options, but at the time, he didn’t mention Korea. He tried out for the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason, but didn’t make a good enough impression.

“I hope somebody gives me a shot,” Harvey told Dan Martin of the New York Post. “I feel like I have many more years in me.”

The New York Mets made a serious postseason run that ended in the World Series. That year, Harvey returned from Tommy John surgery and he surpassed his innings limit in order to help the team compete. After that year, injuries and ineffectiveness have severely affected his career.

The most problematic ailment, so far, for Harvey’s career has been thoracic outlet syndrome. He had failed stints with the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Angels prior to his tryout with the Jays.