Former New York Ranger Selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame

Kevin Lowe, who played on the New York Rangers Stanley Cup Championship team in 1994, was selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday. In addition to Lowe, four other players were named to this year’s class: Jarome Iginla, Marian Hossa, Kim St-Pierre, and Doug Wilson. They are joined by longtime NHL executive Ken Holland, in the builder category.

The defenseman was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Rangers in December 1992 (Lowe was a restricted free-agent). In 1994, he won the Stanley Cup bringing his personal total to six, after winning five with the Oilers. In total, Lowe played in 1254 career regular-season games, scoring 84 goals with assists, along with 1498 penalty minutes. He added another 214 playoff games, scoring 58 points and earning 192 penalty minutes.

Lowe played in 127 games with the Blueshirts from 1992-96 where he scored 10 goals and had 38 assists. After the 1996 season, he signed a free-agent contract to return to Edmonton, where he played out his final two seasons with the Oilers.

In 1990, while a member of the OIlers. Lowe was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award is given to to the NHL player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community. The winner is chosen by “a special panel of representatives” from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and the NHL Broadcasters’ Association.

Lowe also had the distinction of being one of the few players who played in the NHL without playing a minute in the minors. He was drafted in the first round, 21st overall, of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, the franchise’s first-ever NHL draft selection. He played the next season with the Oilers after playing three seasons in juniors with the Quebec Ramparts.

The newest class was determined by a panel of 18 voters, which met virtually earlier in the week to elect the Class of 2020 using a secure online ballot. One of the voters is current Rangers President John Davidson.

In their press release, Lanny McDonald, Chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame said: “The Hockey Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these hockey legends as Honored Members. Their contributions to the game of hockey are well documented and their election to the Hockey Hall of Fame is richly deserved.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York Giants: 4 players are vying for the starting center position in 2020

New York Giants, Spencer Pulley, Jon Halapio, Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux

Rebuilding an NFL roster can be extremely tumultuous, and for the New York Giants, it hasn’t been an easy process. The team is still currently reinforcing the roster and building out the depth portions at specific positions. Spots like linebacker, cornerback, and the offensive line remain unpredictable. One position the Giants will look to build out will be at center.

Currently, the Giants have Nick Gates, Shane Lemieux, Spencer Pulley, and Jon Halapio competing for a starting spot.

Let’s take a look at each player and how they stack up for a potential starting spot with the New York Giants:

1. Shane Lemieux

The former Oregon starting lineman has worked hard to diversify his skillset and adapt to interior line positions. At 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, Lemieux has a mean streak that shows on tape. He started out at left guard for the Ducks over four seasons, tallying 52 games in total. He was a team captain last year and earn second-team All-American and second-team Pac 12 accolades. He only missed one snap throughout his entire collegiate career, indicating he is a healthy player that takes care of his body.

General manager Dave Gettleman stated that Lemieux “plays mad,” and Judge back that up stating “he plays nasty.”

Aggressive linemen are something Gettleman looks for in the draft, and securing Lemieux in the fifth round is a fantastic value grab. While I don’t anticipate him to be a starting player right off the bat, he has the physical traits to develop quickly. While the center position may suit him better, the Giants will look to insert him at guard as well to test his abilities and if he can act as a solid depth piece. Nonetheless, he will be competing for a starting position at center in 2020.

Could the Yankees give Estevan Florial the opportunity of a life time?

New York Yankees, Estevan Florial

The last we heard of New York Yankees prospect Estevan Florial, he was torturing Nationals right-handed pitcher Hunter Strickland in a spring game. Florial ripped a 97 MPH fastball down the third-base line into the corner. The hit put the Yankees ahead by three and secured a 6-3 victory over Washington. This was the final game before MLB shut down operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Baseball America noted that Florial is in desperate need of a bounce-back year, and the delay of the season undoubtedly hurt his progression. However, the Yankees could give him the opportunity of a lifetime to feature on the 30-man roster during a shortened 60-game campaign.

Few prospects are in bigger need of a rebound than Florial, who has missed chunks of time over the last two years with broken bones in his right wrist. When he’s been on the field, he’s suffered from a lack of strike-zone discipline and the corresponding timing issues that come with such long layoffs. He still has the raw tools to be a productive major leaguer—he went 1-for-2 on Friday—but needs to show some results this season, which will likely begin (at some point) in Double-A Trenton.

Florial is considered one of the best prospects in the Yankees farm system and has been rated that way for quite some time. However, injuries have significantly limited his development and progression as an athlete and baseball player. The Yankees decided to put him on the 40-man roster this off-season, and while it is a longshot, he lands an active spot in a shortened season, nothing is impossible.

The Dominican Republic native played in 74 games with Tampa Bay in 2019. Over 301 plate appearances, he posted eight home runs, 38 RBIs, and tallied a .237 batting average. His offense has struggled significantly, but his defense at centerfield as been solid. Over 529 innings in the outfield last season, he posted a .973 fielding percentage and allowed four errors.

He has the potential to be a fantastic professional player, but health has been his major concern. He’s broken his wrist twice and suffered other ailments, but if he can remain healthy this year, the Yankees could find a place for him on the active roster. While I believe it is a longshot, they could swap him in considering the condensed schedule that will require players to feature frequently. Fatigue remains a serious concern for players, and having alternatives like Estevan prepared is only a positive.

New York Yankees: A COVID-19 baseball season, all the news in one place

New York Yankees, Zack Britton

How will COVID-19 affect this shortened baseball season?

The New York Yankees are making there way to Yankee Stadium in the shadow of the coronavirus.  With the virus raging in many parts of the country it’s anyone’s guess if the season can be completed.  Over 40 positive virus tests have already been reported across the MLB teams.  The Philadelphia Phillies lead in that total with seven staff infected, three of which are players.  The Yankees have reported only four cases; none are players.

Additional positive tests are bound to show up. MLB officials have not made it public as what would happen if a team becomes heavily infected. If that happens, it could shut down a team.  What effect that would have on other teams and the season is unknown.

As an example, in Connecticut, the Travelers Golf Championship is being held this week. Most of the players and their caddies arrived at the course on Monday, as of Thursday morning five players have had to drop out. One player has tested positive; two players had to drop out when their caddie’s tested positive and two other because a family member has tested positive. One dropped out on Monday and Tuesday and three just yesterday. However, the tournament will be played.

Zack Britton on the health and safety protocols

The New York Yankees assumed setup man Zack Britton has stated that he feels that Major League Baseball has their priorities straight.  He is satisfied with the health protocols that have been put in place.  He, as well as all of the Yankees, are ready to take the field.

“I am anxious to see how it all works out. I think we are taking the appropriate steps regarding health protocols,’’ Britton wrote in an email to The New YorkPost on Wednesday. “Obviously, with only 60 games, the season will feel a lot different, but I am excited we are playing again.’’

The New York Yankees and Mets won’t be affected by tri-state quarantine rules

Yesterday the states of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut agreed to a joint quarantine requirement from anyone entering those states that are coming from a state that has ten in one hundred thousand rates of coronavirus infection. That includes states like Texas, Arizona, California, Florida, the Carolinas, and other southern states.

The mandate is that anyone coming from those states by any mode of travel will have to self-quarantine for fourteen days.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated yesterday that the quarantine would not affect the New York Yankees or Mets.  He stated the reason for the exclusion was that he and health officials had already worked out an agreement with the New York teams.  Missing from the statement was if it applied to other teams traveling to play in New York Stadiums, however, one would have to assume it does.

What do the Yankee fans think about this shortened season?

There are some New York Yankee fans that would rather see this season canceled altogether.  They are in the minority as most fans want to see a baseball season this year and have been starved waiting to see the boys of summer take the field.

Yesterday across five Yankee fan groups on Facebook I conducted a poll to find out what Yankees fans felt about a season and if it could be completed during the coronavirus pandemic.  6% feel the coronavirus will cause the second half of spring training to be canceled.  9% responded who cares it’s not a legitimate season. 19% believe the season will be completed and the Yankees will be World Champions again.  But a resounding number, 66% of Yankee fans believe that the season will not be completed due to the virus.

The Yankee bullpen will see expanded use this season

When any baseball season starts it takes several games beyond spring training for stating pitchers to build up arm strength.  With a season that may only feature ten to twelve starts, they won’t be at full strength when the season starts on July 23rd.

Manager Aaron Boone will rely heavily on the bullpen at the start of the season.  Usually, a manager tries not to do that so that the bullpen is fresh going into the postseason.  Boone, will not have to worry about that this year as the season will be 20 games short of a half-season.  He will have the luxury of using the bullpen as much as he wants.

Boone will be especially careful of letting new Yankee ace Gerrit Cole go too deep in early games.  Boone will want Cole to be fresh and at his best going into the postseason where he is expected to be a significant factor in the Yankee’s success.

Blue Jays face additional hurdles to start a season

The Players Association has informed players agents that they are petitioning the Canadian government to allow them to have a baseball season in Canada.  They expect to get an answer today or tomorrow.  Once the get that that permission, they have to get permission to play at Roger’s Center, their home park in Toronto.  That permission is expected to take a few days.

New York Mets: Looking at the Designated Hitter Candidates

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The designated hitter is here to stay during the 2020 shortened season, and the New York Mets are full of options. From injury-prone stars to bench players who do not have a role, the candidates are endless for the Mets.

Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes is the front runner to be the designated hitter. Reports say he will be fully healthy for Opening Day, and putting him at DH would preserve his legs for the entire season. Over 81 career games as a DH, he is hitting .287/.328/.524 with 18 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Cespedes has the highest potential to carry the team when healthy, and Mets fans would love to see him contribute every day. Despite the injuries, he still possesses a lethal arm in the outfield and is a former Gold Glove winner.

Dominic Smith

Dominic Smith also dealt with injuries during 2019. He lost playing time at first base due to Pete Alonso earning the job for himself. Smith only has one previous game as a DH and but is a potent left-handed hitter. He is coming off his best year in the big leagues, and he is a better option than Cespedes. Considering that Smith will be with the team in 2021, they should be getting him ready for the DH role going forward.

J.D. Davis

It seems J.D. Davis days at third base are limited and is mainly a left fielder. The most likely situation for Davis to end up at DH is if the Mets opt to put Cespedes in left to keep a strong lineup. They could also put Jake Marisnick in center field and put Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto in the corner positions. The main reason Davis could be a DH is due to his defense in the outfield.

Robinson Cano

A healthy Robinson Cano is someone the Mets would like to play all 60 games of the season. At 37-years old, it is unlikely for him to play all of them at second base. To keep him fresh/healthy moving Jeff McNeil to second and Davis to third base would allow the Mets to DH Cano and keep his bat in the lineup. He is still a solid defensive second baseman, so do not expect him to be the everyday DH.

Wilson Ramos

Much like Cano, Wilson Ramos is someone who needs to play in all 60 games. He will not be able to do that at catcher, but the Mets hope to keep their best hitter with runners in scoring position in the lineup. Instead of giving Ramos an entire day off from catching, moving him to DH and putting Tomas Nido/Rene Rivera behind the plate would balance the drop in production from the catching position. Despite the hitting loss, the catching defense would upgrade during Ramos’ turn at DH.

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie has no fit on the roster and is only an option because he has nowhere to play in the field. The last time Lowrie played every day, he was an All-Star, but he has gone a year and a half since the last time he made a starting lineup. The most significant trait for Lowrie as a DH is his switch-hitting ability.

The Mets DH options are abundant, and it would be no surprise if they had the most players swap in at DH throughout the season. Everything is analytics driving in modern baseball, and combining that with keeping players fresh is going to be a major challenge for Luis Rojas in year one.

New York Giants: Expect A Bigger And Better Daniel Jones In 2020

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

For better or worse, Daniel Jones is the current quarterback starter for the New York Giants and there’s no alternative option this season such as Eli Manning.

Jones flashed potential last season as one of the better performing young quarterbacks in the league, but also showed significant problems in some areas such as turnovers. In fact, Jones’ numbers in that category were big enough to stand out for the entire league and not just compared to his Giants teammates. This offseason, however, Jones is working on some training that may aid in fixing that problem.

One of the reasons for the turnovers is that Jones didn’t maximize his athletic potential despite his good size. This season, he may come in stronger than before after focusing on it in the offseason.

“He’s done a good job of putting together a good physique,” said Anthony Boone, another former Duke quarterback who has worked with Jones this offseason and spoke to the New York Post about it.

“At the end of the day he wanted to get stronger and get a little more meat on his bones but still maintain being able to run and move around and being on the field the whole time. Not ‘I’ve put on too much weight and I get short-winded now.’ His thing was make sure he could stay mobile, agile and be out on the field the whole time,” Boone continued.

Jones’ agility was one of his bonuses even when the Giants first drafted him. With declining play on the offensive line, it became less and less viable to start Eli Manning despite Manning’s difficulty escaping the pass rush.

Another advantage from agility is being able to run for first downs. This, however, does have its downsides. One of these is increased turnover risk, which is something that can be reduced by working on strength. After all, a player that can take hits is less likely to drop the ball.

“When he’s out there and he takes his shirt off or he’s wearing a cut-off or wearing whatever, you can tell physically he’s gotten better. He’s taking care of his body, for sure. He really put some work in to make sure he’s a professional athlete and he’s taking care of his body,” Boone assured.

The Giants are resting much of their hopes on Jones this year after a promising rookie season where he threw for 24 touchdowns. That number, and his touchdown to interception ratio, are expected to improve with Jones having a full offseason to adjust to being the starter this year. That luxury combined with physical improvements may just see a big step up for the Giants’ starter during the 2020 season.