New York Yankees: Who will play left field?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

With an MLB restart plan finally in check, things are looking up for the New York Yankees. One of the advantages that they had with the coronavirus shutdown was that it allowed the team to get mostly healthy again. That includes the outfield duo of Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge, the starting center and right fielders, respectively.

A healthy Aaron Hicks pushes Brett Gardner out of centerfield, with him potentially being able to play left. Additionally, the Yankees have Giancarlo Stanton and Clint Frazier. Who will start in left field come Opening Day?

The Gardy Party

I believe that it will most likely be Brett Gardner in left field in 2020. Gardner had a good 2019 season, hitting .251 and slugging a career-high 28 home runs. He still has speed, resulting in a good glove despite a poor arm. Although Stanton and Frazier may be better hitters, Gardner is a much better defender compared to the other two.

It will mainly be Giancarlo Stanton in the DH role. His bat is far too valuable to leave out of the lineup, and using him as the DH can help him stay healthy. He had 38 home runs and 100 RBIs in 2018 as 2019 was significantly shortened due to injuries. Stanton also won the 2017 NL MVP.

Now that leaves us with Clint Frazier. Frazier had success at the plate in 2019, hitting .267 with 12 home runs and 38 RBIs. Defense was a completely different story, having -8 defensive runs saved and ended up with just a 0.1 WAR because of it.

Although he is getting older and his time in pinstripes could soon be over, left field is currently Brett Gardner’s to lose. However, young guns like Clint Frazier will be waiting in the wings if something ever happens.

New York Giants: Keep A Close Eye On These Players When Camp Is Here

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants, like the rest of the NFL, have missed out on a lot during this offseason due to facilities around the league being shut down for the spring due to COVID-19. However, it increasingly looks like training camp is going to happen as usual, starting in late July – even if the preseason is likely to be shortened to a couple of weeks thanks to awkward scheduling.

When the players do hit the field once again though, to work out together for the first time during 2020, which players are the ones worth keeping an eye on? Here’s three players to pay attention to, for both positive and negative reasons.

OLB Lorenzo Carter

The Giants are waiting on Lorenzo Carter. And they have been waiting on Lorenzo Carter. Carter was drafted in 2018 but after a pair of seasons where the outside linebacker performed somewhat under the expectation in tackles and sacks, many are wondering if Carter is even the right player for the spot.

Carter has increased competition this season after the Giants signed Kyler Fackrell at the same position specifically to help with the pass rush. The team also brings back Oshane Ximines, and if the Giants manage to bring back sack leader Markus Golden despite Golden’s free agency dragging on all the way into late June, Carter will have to deal with an even more crowded outside linebacker position with multiple other players who have statistically performed better than him.

It’s a make or break season for Carter despite being one of the regulars in the linebacker group during 2019. If his training camp performance is poor, those starts at OLB may not be so regular and Carter may find himself with a lesser percentage of the team’s snaps compared to others.

CB DeAndre Baker

So far, it looks like DeAndre Baker has a good shot to beat his legal case and return to football after multiple witnesses have claimed that he isn’t guilty of the crime he’s been accused of.

But Baker hitting the field again doesn’t necessarily mean all of his troubles will go away instantly. Baker’s missed time with the team during this offseason already because of his legal trouble, and while the Giants have been limited to a virtual program just like the rest of the league, the time spent still counts for something.

It’s an advantage for Baker’s rivals such as Sam Beal, who have a chance to move up and position themselves as the number two corner next to James Bradberry if they can outperform Baker early on, starting with camp.

After all, even if Baker is back in the game physically, there’s no telling if his head will be in the game immediately after a stressful legal situation.

OLB Kyler Fackrell

Another player on the defense and specifically the defensive line, Kyler Fackrell is another important name to keep an eye on not just for camp but for the entire season.

That’s because the Giants seem unlikely to come to a deal with Markus Golden, and they’re relying on him to fill the gap that Golden leaves in their team. The Giants haven’t been good in the sacks department for a long time now and Golden was their one saving grace in that area. If he’s gone, someone else is going to have to fill in for the production if the Giants don’t want to stay where they are or decline further in that area.

Fackrell had 10.5 sacks in 2018 but only had 1.5 last season. He was supplanted by others, playing in 16 games for Green Bay but starting none of them. It’s a concerning performance and the Giants will need Fackrell to bounce back to have a good pass rush this season.

All of that starts in camp. It’s worth paying attention to reports about how Fackrell has done once training camp begins.

New York Giants: Jabrill Peppers A True Defensive Playmaker

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers

The New York Giants completed one of the most shocking trades in recent memory last offseason. After five spectacular seasons with the Giants, the team traded away superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. In return, the Giants received the Cleveland Browns’ first and third-round picks, along with Jabrill Peppers, a former first-round safety.

Jabrill Peppers was the key to getting the trade done. Reports indicated that the Giants would not trade Odell unless they got at least two first-round picks in return. Ultimately, they did not, but to the Giants, getting Peppers was like getting a first-round pick. Jabrill was certainly a first-round talent but he had already played two full seasons in the NFL by the time the Giants acquired him.

In Jabrill Peppers’s third NFL season, there were plenty of great moments, mixed in with a fair share of disappointments. The biggest disappointment of the young safety’s third season was his season-ending injury. Peppers suffered a back injury in Week 12 that kept him sidelined for the rest of the year. Fully healthy entering his fourth season with his fifth-year option picked up, Jabrill Peppers is primed to break out as a true defensive playmaker on the Giants’ defense in 2020.

Jabrill Peppers Stats and Highlights

Jabrill Peppers played and started in 11 games for the Giants in 2020. In those 11 games, Peppers was easily the best playmaker on the Giants’ defense. He totaled 76 combined tackles, including 51 solo and 5 tackles for loss. In 2018, Peppers played in all 16 games with the Browns. He recorded only 3 more combined tackles in 2018 than he did in 2019 and the same number of TFL’s.

The New York Giants’ defense featured Peppers in a prominent role. He lined up all over the team’s defense and made plays in every facet of the game. The Giants brought Jabrill on 27 blitzes last season. He recorded a pressure on 6 of those 27 pass-rushing snaps.

Jabrill Peppers also significantly improved in coverage last season. In 2018, Peppers’s coverage was targeted 48 times. He allowed 29 completions (60.4%), 368 yards, and 5 touchdowns for a passer rating of 110.4. In 2019, Jabrill brought that passer rating all the way down to 84.0, allowing the opposition to go 23/36 with only 268 yards and 1 touchdown. Peppers recorded 1 interception in both seasons, including a pick-six in 2019.

If there is one thing that Jabrill Peppers needs to improve on, it is his tackling. That is arguably Jabrill’s best skill, but it is also something he needs to do with more consistency. Jabrill Peppers’s missed tackle rate in 2018 was 12.2%. In 2019, it was 12.6%. Jabrill missed 11 tackles in both seasons. 11 missed tackles in 2019 means he missed 1 tackle per game. Jabrill was a turnover machine in 2019, forcing 3 fumbles. He is an aggressive, hard-hitting safety that excels in run support. But in 2020, the Giants will need to see Jabrill Peppers become a more consistent tackler.

BREAKING: New York Knicks Waive Allonzo Trier To Bring in Theo Pinson

New York Knicks, Allonzo Trier

According to SNY, the New York Knicks will be parting ways with the 24 year old guard Allonzo Trier in order to bring in former Nets guard, Theo Pinson. Allonzo Trier was an undrafted free agent, and in two seasons with the Knicks, had averaged 9.7 points on 45.5% from the field and 38.4 percent from three in 19.9 minutes per game.

The Knicks are getting a player averaging 3.9 points on 30.7% from the field and 21.4% from three. Speaking personally here, this move has little statistical sense to it, as the Knicks’ offense needs shooters for RJ Barrett, but they just let go of one of their better shooters for a worse one.

The Knicks still have the draft and free agency to go, they are saving a couple million dollars with this move, but the amount they’re saving is insignificant to the talent drop they just experienced. How will this move pan out for the Knicks? Probably poorly, but Theo is young and so I will reserve doubt for when I actually see him play rather than now.

New York Mets: Dom Smith opens up about ugly episodes with racism

New York Mets first baseman and outfielder Dominic Smith has already provided his thoughts about what happened to George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter movement. However, in a heartfelt interview with Steve Gelbs, in a clip released Thursday on SNY.tv, he went a little deeper and even told some ugly racist scenes he has had to witness.

“I just had to really get my words together because I’ve been through it and I see it on an everyday basis,” said one of the very best young players in the New York Mets roster. “It really means a lot to me that the world is taking notice.

“I’ve grown up in South Central L.A., close to Compton. My grandma grew up and lives still in L.A., in the city, close to Crenshaw High School where Darryl Strawberry went. I still go back to those places every year. It’s something that I noticed after I got drafted and traveled the world, got to see the world, and see how other people grow up and live. I saw how growing up in the inner city, we just didn’t have the same chance, the same opportunities.”

Spring was rough for the New York Mets’ young hitter

Even during this year’s spring training, the Mets’ slugger had to tolerate both direct and indirect racism. He told a painful, ugly story about a trip to a restaurant in Florida with teammate J.D. Davis, in which they waited to hours and workers of the restaurant failed to provide a meal, or so much as a glass of water.

“Me and J.D. (Davis), we went to eat in spring training this year. We went to eat at a relatively close restaurant in (Port St. Lucie), and we sat there, ordered our food, we waited, nobody in the restaurant, waited 30 minutes, no food. More people come into the restaurant now, maybe about five, six, seven people come in, they order. An hour goes by now, still no food. Other people who came in maybe 15 minutes ago get their food. An hour and a half goes by, still no food. The restaurant’s not even packed. They don’t bring us bread, they don’t bring us water, they don’t bring us anything. So I’m like ‘J.D. are you seeing what’s going on?’ and in my opinion, people obviously can be verbally racist or show racism verbally as much as they did back in the day, but I feel like indirectly you can show some prejudice. And I don’t understand how I’ve been sitting here for an hour and 45 minutes, and people have been popping in and out for the last hour. We waited for two hours and I said ‘J.D., come on, we have to leave. I’m not waiting any longer.’ So we finally left, and I mean, they apologized on the way out, but in my opinion, I just felt like they didn’t want us there. They were staring at us crazy since we walked in the door, and that’s one little aspect.”

The Mets’ pinch-hitting star also told a story when he was driving his car this spring and another motorist honked and directed a racial slur at him.

“Another aspect, driving in Port. St. Lucie in my nice car. I’m driving down the street, and the streets in (Port St. Lucie), they have a lot of one-lane streets, so the street shifted off to a turning lane and a single-lane street. So as soon as it shifted off, I got in the left-hand turn lane. Somebody’s honking at me, honk, honk, honk. I pull up to the light and he pulls up next to me. I rolled down my window and he said ‘Turn on your f–king blinker.’ He was… verbatim, word-for-word he said, ‘You probably f–king stole that car, you n—-r ‘ to me.”

There has been no shortage of support for Smith. New York Mets’ teammates, such as Pete Alonso and Michael Conforto, often reach out to him to see how he’s doing. Smith says they want to learn and understand everything, the pain they have had to endure so far.

“I think, as a group, we don’t see skin color, complexion, anything like that. We treat each other with respect, and I guess (we’re) a brotherhood, really. We’re wearing Orange and Blue together, we’re brothers. So we’re going to battle with each there for 162 games so you’ve got to be able to trust each other. I think that’s the bond we built. Those guys are very understanding about the issues and struggles I go through,” Smith said.

New York Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone wants to take pressure off players: “One day at a time”

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

As we have said many times, the 2020 MLB season won’t be a marathon. It will be a sprint race, with only 60 games as opposed to the usual 162. The margin for error will be, evidently, diminished, and any cold streak could lead to trouble for those teams looking to make the playoffs, like the New York Yankees.

However, manager Aaron Boone doesn’t want his players to feel that they need to win every game. Yes, people have said that the Yankees should feel more pressure now that the schedule is shorter, but Boone prefers that his players keep approaching the calendar one day at a time.

“Certainly my message is you can’t live in that world where, ‘We’ve got to play well,’ or ‘We can’t lose too many games in this stretch,’” the skipper said Thursday on a TickPick video chat. “We got to focus on the day, and the next thing for us is July 3 when we start.”

The manager provided the answer after being questioned if the New York Yankees needed to get off to a fast start.
“That’s obviously going to be the talk on overdrive from day one,” Boone said. “You lose Opening Day and (you hear) ‘You can’t afford to lose too many.‘” But he doesn’t want his players to feel that way.

“We have a plan in place of how we want to attack our summer training,” Boone said. “It’s a shortened version. It’s very important that we use it wisely to get guys built up safely, to get guys in the best position to come out of the gates and get off to that good start.

“But our first focus is July 3 and kind of winning that day and making sure we start laying another solid foundation to put ourselves in a good spot when the season starts. I feel confident that our plan is coming together.”

The Yankees will go step by step, but the goal is clear

The Yankees are looking to get to the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year. Once there, they now things would be closer to normal, at least schedule-wise.

“We feel like we have a team capable of being a world champion,” Boone said. “That’s the focus. That’s the drive. We have a hungry group that is eager to climb to the top of the mountain.”

He says that there will be no added pressure other than the existing one, because the Yankees are always expected to be champions.

“You put the NY on, that comes with the territory,” he said. “We embrace that, and one of the things we talk often about. We will never run from expectations, especially when we know we have a team that’s capable of doing a lot. They understand that. They embrace that, and in this shortened season we’ll continue to embrace it.”

New York Yankees: Gary Sanchez draws “unfair ire from people”, per Aaron Boone

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone defended his starting catcher in the last few hours, saying that Gary Sanchez receives an unfair amount of criticism for his performance, especially behind the plate.

Basically, the Yankees’ skipper said that Sanchez doesn’t get enough credit for improving his game since he broke into the scene in the major leagues, especially knowing he has had to miss important development time because of injuries.

“I feel like he draws some unfair ire at times from people,” Boone told Brandon Steiner on a video chat sponsored by Tick Picks, on Thursday. He notes he has made strides “and what we see behind the scenes and what has shown up, frankly, on the field” doesn’t get enough publicity in the press.

“He’s gotten a lot better on the defensive side,” the manager kept going about his starting catcher, “and there’s still so much room for him to continue to grow.”

According to the numbers, Sanchez had a mixed 2019 in which he took a step forward in blocking (just seven passed balls in 742 2/3 innings compated to 18 in 653 in 2018) and a step back in framing (-6.8 in framing measurement, No. 16 in the league, as opposed to 2.6 in 2018).

The Yankees’ catcher is a star

At the batter’s box, the New York Yankees’ backstop remains a force, one of the best in the league. Since 2017, he leads MLB with 85 homers.

“He could be the best catcher in the sport,” Boone said. “He’s that talented. He’s had some unfortunate nagging injuries that have come up a little bit the last two years that have altered his season a little bit. He’s still amassed a lot of home runs and at-bats and stuff over the last two years.

“But he’s missed some time, killed some momentum at times. For a young player, and I think for Gary, who burst onto the scene, who was a highly touted prospect (and) came up and took the league by storm, I think sometimes what people forget is catcher is such a demanding position. You don’t often see very young catchers come up and become a central figure on a team.”

New York Yankees: New information indicates Aaron Judge could be ready for Opening Day

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

If the New York Yankees had started the regular season on time, they would’ve been without multiple star players, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and James Paxton. That encompasses their entire starting outfield and one significant pitcher. It is also fair to mention that Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 campaign, so the Yankees were down two influential pitchers before spring training even begun.

The New York Yankees have some positive injury news:

Stanton, who has been dealing with calf injuries since 2019, would have returned early on if the season had been 162 games. He is a near certainty to be a part of New York’s opener, according to Erik Boland of Newsday.

Judge, on the other hand, suffered a stress fracture on a rib on a diving catch last September, and it took several months for team doctors to unearth the discomfort that has been plaguing him.

The Yankee slugger has recently begun hitting off a tee, which attests to his progression through the rehabilitation program the Yankees developed for him. Judge played in only 102 games last season, showing a steady decrease in live action over the past three seasons. Over 378 at-bats, he posted 27 homers, 55 RBIs, and a .272 batting average.

The Bombers desperately need him to remain healthy for a shortened 60-game season, as his defensive abilities and offensive prowess will be a significant factor in the team’s overall success. While there will be an asterisk over the 2020 campaign, nonetheless, winning the World Series this year would end a decade long drought for the Yankees.

Hopefully, the addition of Eric Cressey as the Yankees’ strength and conditioning coach will begin to eliminate the injury bug that has plagued the team over the past two seasons. Soft tissue injuries have been a major issue, especially for players like Stanton. The number of Tommy John surgery that I’ve been conducted over the past year has been astronomical, and Cressey has the pedigree to reduce that number.

A consistently healthy Judge would be transformative for the roster and outfield. If he can begin taking live-reps, he could be on pace to start the regular season, which is projected to launch in late July. Spring training 2.0 will start in the coming days, giving him time and an excellent opportunity to feature in an exhibition game before the regular season comes around.

New York Giants: Saquon Barkley is tearing up the offseason workouts

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

New York Giants’ star running back Saquon Barkley is a man on a mission this offseason.

All over social media, you can see videos of Saquon Barkley putting in that work! Whether it’s in the weight room or the football field, Saquon wants to be the best of all time. There is no doubt in my mind that he wants to prove a lot of people wrong, everyone talks about how the New York Giants drafted him and how it wasn’t the right move.

Saquon will be looking to prove the haters wrong in 2020. Barkley is a generational talent that very few teams would pass on. During the 2019 season, Saquon went down with a high ankle sprain injury; he ended up only missing three-game and still ran for 1,000 yards. Around the NFL, there were a lot of reporters who doubted Saquon. He’s coming for them in 2020.

Saquon hitting the weight room

Not only is Saquon griding on the field, but he is also working hard in the weight room. As we all know, Saquon is a different breed, he can squat over 500 pounds with ease! In highschool, Saquon was not the biggest fan of working out.

“Going into my junior year, I kind of had the idea I was going to be the starting running back. I was a little smaller, so I decided to gain weight and try to get faster. I wasn’t a fan of the weight room. I thought just the God-given talent would take you where you needed to go. Now I understand that you need hard work.”

As you can tell, the weight room has worked wonders for Saquon. For a running back to be 230 pounds and run a 4.39 40 yard-dash is unheard of. However, Saquon is a mentor to the rest of the team and wants to be the leader.  Furthermore, I have huge expectations for Barkley in 2020. With a much improved offensive line, the possibilities are endless. People may call me crazy when I say this, but I think Saquon can be the next person to rush for a 2,000-yard season. The kid is that good and the Giants finally are helping him out. For example, Saquon did everything on his own his rookie season.

MLB Analysis: A look across the shortened 2020 Baseball Season, who will win?

The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers

The New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers will be the significant teams to watch during this 2020 shortened baseball season.  The MLB season still relies on the coronavirus allowing it to come to a conclusion.

Let’s take a look at why the Dodgers and Yankees are the MLB teams to watch.  Before the coronavirus took over the direction of baseball, the New York Yankees seemed to be a sure fit for getting to the postseason and most likely winning it all and getting their 28th World Championship.  The Yankees still seem to be the favorites, but they may not run away with it like in a regular season.

The Los Angles Dodgers have a potent lineup, and that was before they acquired the Boston Red Sox’s Mookie Betts.  With the universal DH this year, the Dodgers get to add another big bat to that lineup.  The Dodgers also have a great pitching rotation.  David Price now a Dodger could return to the pitcher he was with the Rays now that he is facing mostly National League hitters.  So It’s a win-win for the Dodgers who was the best National League team last year even though they didn’t get to the World Series.

The New York Yankees won 103 games last year while getting the award for the most injured players in baseball.  This year it will be hard to come close to that number of injuries. With the tremendous bench, the Yankees even if they do have some injuries it shouldn’t be that much of an issue.

The big plus for the MLB Yankees is that their strong pitching rotation is greatly enhanced by the acquisition of one of the best pitchers in the game, Gerrit Cole, to lead off that rotation of James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and apparently Jordan Montgomery. But if any of those fail, the Yankees have plenty of backup options in Jonathan Loaisiga, Clarke Schmidt, Mike King, and even Dievi Garcia.  And that’s not to mention the best bullpen in baseball.

Which of these teams makes it all the way will end up being for two reasons.  One is that they didn’t have any long slumps of poor play and who ended up with the best bench players and bullpen.  Advantage Yankees.  But if they face each other in the World Series it will be a toss-up as to takes home the ring.

A look at the Houston Astros and other team’s chances

For the Houston Astros, it will be a double-edged sword. At least for this shortened season and with no fans in the stands, the Astros will not have to deal with boos, name-calling, and having beer cans thrown at them for their cheating ways.

The Houston Astros last year had arguably the best pitching rotation in baseball.  This year the Astros have lost their best postseason pitcher in Gerrit cole, and back in March, Justin Verlander had groin surgery. When spring training starts anew next week, he will start to throw off the mound and won’t be available to go deep into games for some time.  The Astros still have a potent lineup but will need help from their not so good bullpen.  The Astros will not come even close to the success they had last year. They probably won’t have any hidden camera help either.

The Angels and the Nationals who have had recent MLB seasons with very slow starts, won’t have that luxury in a drastically shortened season.  Unfortunately for fans of the Orioles, Royals, Tigers, Marlins, Pirates, Rockies, and Padres, you might as well hang it up because your teams will go nowhere.

Teams that could give the Dodgers and Yankees a run for their money are the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, and the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Dodgers will have to watch out for the Atlanta Braves, the Cardinals and the Diamondbacks.

I will admit I am going out on a limb in making these predictions as this will be a season like no one has ever seen before.  In only 60 games, anything can happen.  How the coronavirus effects different teams will also be telling. Whatever team in the three geographic divisions who get to the top, they will have to get off to a quick start, maintain it, and not be affected by the physical and emotional issues caused by the coronavirus.

The Cleveland Indians, the Minnesota Twins, or the Milwaukee Brewers could be the surprise break out teams of the shortened season.

After the first month of games, predictions will be a lot clearer.