Watch: New York Giants’ Evan Engram will be healthy to start 2020 season

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants struggled for a variety of reasons in 2019, one of them being the injury bug took its toll on the team. Rookie quarterback Daniel Jones wasn’t given much in terms of playmaking talent as Saquon Barkley went down with a high ankle sprain, Evan Engram missed half the season with a foot sprain, and Sterling Shepard was in an out due to multiple concussions. Don’t forget about Golden Tate‘s four-game suspension to open the year and Darius Slayton missing the first two games of the campaign as well.

Jones didn’t play a single contest with his entire supporting cast, but 2020 might be a bit different as his players are getting stronger and will likely be prepared to start the 2020 season with a full bill of health.

One of the more questionable players leading up to the present day was Evan Engram, who was still in a walking boot a few months ago but is now running and cutting nicely. The Giants exercised their fifth-year option on the young tight end, and they are expecting him to be productive this year after having Lisfranc surgery on his foot. The scheduled start of training camp is less than a month away, and Engram is working hard to prepare himself for the physicality, and intensity football brings.

Engram posted a workout video on Monday showing him running without a boot and cutting for the first time publicly.

The last three seasons for the former Mississippi talent have gone poorly due to injury. His rookie campaign was by far his best, posting 722 yards and six touchdowns. Last season in eight games, he posted 467 yards with three touchdowns, taking significant steps backward every season since his inception into the NFL.

However, plenty of players have returned from injury-plagued starts to their careers and ended up being productive and efficient. The Giants have two years left of Engram and his speedy abilities, and maximizing them will be essential for new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett. When healthy, Evan is one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the NFL, and they desperately need him to remain that way in the future. Jones will certainly benefit from his talents.

New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge: “It’s time to get things rolling”

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

The New York Yankees will report this week to start the second version of the spring training, with the slight difference that it is already summertime. Coronavirus effectively took three months of baseball from us, and 102 games. But it also let injured players, such as Aaron Judge, to get healthy.

Judge suffered a broken rib and a punctured lung while making a catch last September, and he couldn’t shake off the injury for much of the offseason and into the spring.

However, with baseball activities set to resume this week, the talented outfielder said that he has been able to “hit a little bit,” which was the only thing that he hadn’t been able to do until recently.

The New York Yankees’ right fielder was performing only weight-room exercises during the spring at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla.

“This break has allowed some of the players, including myself, to get healthy,” Judge told Sports Illustrated. “Luckily, I’ve been able to go into our facility in Tampa Bay with five or six teammates to work out, get on the field and run around, and hit a little bit. For us, it’s kind of been business as usual and has felt like an extended Spring Training.”

The Yankees could have Judge by opening day

The extended break, therefore, was beneficial for Judge, who went from missing a couple of months of the season to potentially being healthy when the Yankees take on the Washington Nationals on July 23, on Opening Day.

Considering that he started hitting in November, his injury, not diagnosed at the time, wasn’t able to heal properly.

“He never shares if something’s bothering him,” Cashman said on May 14, “so obviously when he did show up in the spring and said something has been bothering him, it was an ‘uh-oh’ moment, because he really does not ever complain about anything. He didn’t complain in the wintertime, either. But once the testing came back, once they eventually found it, the timeframe looked like it was going to take us more likely into summer.”

Judge returned to New York on the weekend, flying from Florida on a private jet with teammates Mike Ford and Tyler Wade per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch.

“I honestly can’t wait to get back out there,” Judge told SI. “It’s going to be an exciting year. I’ve been telling my teammates that we have one of the best teams in the league, especially with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole in our rotation. It’s going to be something special.”

The Yankees’ star also said that it will be tough to adapt to baseball in the COVID-19 world, but he is ready.

“Missing out on some sunflower seeds is going to be tough, but I’ll take playing baseball over that aspect any day,” Judge said. “It’s time to get things rolling. The fans need baseball back.”

UFC: Rose Namajunas on finding the love again for MMA; “This is what I love to do… I’m a martial artist”

The last year few years have been eventful for the former UFC strawweight champion, Rose Namajunas (8-4). After suffering some early setbacks in her career, she shocked the world by knocking out Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 217 to win the title. She cemented her status after defeating Jedrzejczyk a second time at UFC 223. However, Namajunas fell on tough times following that fight.

The week of UFC 223, Conor McGregor’s infamous bus attack occurred. Namajunas was on the bus, and she was visibly shaken by the event. Following her win that weekend, she stepped away from the sport for a year. She was struggling with a few things, and she was struggling to find the passion for the sport. She returned at UFC 237 against Jessica Andrade (20-7). After dominating early, Namajunas was knocked out by a vicious slam.

It was unclear if Namajunas would fight again after that loss. Conventional wisdom would say that of course a former champion entering her prime would fight again, but Namajunas was struggling to love the sport that she was so great at. However, recently she found the spark again, and she told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani all about it.

Coming back for her UFC title

“This is what I love to do…I’m a martial artist.” Namajunas told Helwani. While she said she doesn’t miss what she went through as champion, she stated that she did miss having the title. Realistically a win at UFC 251 puts her in line to fight champion Weili Zhang (21-1). When asked about the current champ, Namajunas only had the highest of praise.

“I’d love to fight her one day. She’s a true martial artist…Like, she’s the sh*t,” Namajunas told Helwani. I really believe that Namajunas is a better fighter than Jessica Andrade. No disrespect to Andrade, but she was getting absolutely dominated before that slam knockout. If that slam doesn’t occur, I don’t think Andrade would have lasted the entire fight.

When she returns, I’m expecting big things from Namajunas at UFC 251. I think when she’s mentally on, it’s hard to bet against her. I think she’s got all the advantages against Andrade outside of pure strength. A motivated Namajunas is a dangerous woman, I think she’s going to show her greatness on Fight Island this July. If she takes care of business, I can’t wait for the potential fight between her and the champion, Zhang.

New York Mets: Brodie Van Wagenen confident in Yoenis Cespedes’ ability to contribute

New York Mets, Yeonis Cespedes

The New York Mets didn’t know what to expect from Yoenis Cespedes back in February, when the original spring training started. He was coming off multiple heel and ankle surgeries and while he was doing some baseball activities, he wasn’t particularly close to playing in a game back then.

Now, fast forward several months, we are about to enter July and the season will start either on July 23 or the very next day. A little over four months have passed since pitchers and catchers first reported to the Mets, and Cespedes is now in line to reclaim his spot on the team lineup.

In what capacity? Everything is pointing towards Cespedes being the primary designated hitter. The DH rule will be implemented in both leagues this year, and that way, the New York Mets can have Cespedes’ potent bat and save his legs from some wear and tear.

The Mets hope his bat, at least, can excel

Of course, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen knows that Cespedes hasn’t played in nearly two years, so he will be cautious about what to expect.

“We’ll have to evaluate how the next few days go, but we’re optimistic,” Van Wagenen said in his first extensive public comments since March, according to MLB.com. “His bat can be a real impact, and can be a little bit of a separator for us as we compare ourselves to the rest of the teams in the league.”

Cespedes has hit an impressive 282/.346/.543 since landing on the Mets back in 2015. His bat can be a difference-maker in a tough NL East.

In March, he was taking batting practice and participating in defensive drills. He wasn’t running at full speed, and while Van Wagenen didn’t exactly provide a full health report on him nowadays, he projected optimism.

“Ces is an incredible athlete,” Van Wagenen said. “When he’s 100 percent healthy, he’s got a dynamic skillset with all five tools. We’ll want to make sure we put him in a position to be able to utilize those tools that he has.”

New York Mets sign J.T. Ginn to over-slot deal to cap off impressive draft strategy

The New York Mets‘ draft strategy paid off. Essentially, the team grabbed two first-rounders with their first and second round picks, respectively: outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong and one of the best pitching talents in the event in J.T. Ginn.

Ginn was widely considered as a first-round talent by scouts and talent evaluators around the league. The Mets announced last night that they signed him to an over-slot deal of $2.9 million, when slot value indicated that his value was around $1.4 million.

The New York Mets certainly took a risk by selecting Ginn, as they knew he wasn’t likely to accept slot value given that he is confident in his talent despite seeing his stock fall due to Tommy John surgery.

So why were the Mets able to offer Ginn so much money? Because they managed to ink under-slot deals with their final four selections, freeing space in the budget to offer Ginn something close to first-round value. They saved $1.1 million in extra funds to offer the hurler, and they threw some more money to reach the final number, $2.9 million.

The Mets did some cash maneuvering

All in all, the Mets had roughly $7.1 million in Draft pool money to spend and they went over by a little less than 5 percent. They will face a money penalty, but it won’t be significant. It is expected, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, to be less than $300,000. If they had offered more, they could have been slapped with the loss of a future selection.
Crow-Armstrong, the Mets’ first-rounder, signed a $3.36 million deal.

General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen praised Ginn, who was picked 52nd overall, during the draft, saying he was a “premium talent that is going to require real investment in terms of dollars.”

The Mississippi State star had a 3.13 ERA in 17 starts as a freshman, and fired six scoreless frames in a College World Series vs. Louisville.

Ginn won’t pitch in the 2020 season as he recovers from the elbow reconstruction surgery, but when healthy, he can flash upper-90s gas and two other decent pitches.

A fully healthy d-corps can be the x-factor for a deep playoff run for the Islanders

If you already didn’t know by now, the New York Islanders will be a fully healthy squad when the NHL begins its 24-team playoff at the beginning of August.

That means a refreshed and re-energized defensive corps which not only will be hole once again with Adam Pelech returning but one that has depth and added experience.

Having those intangibles could make the Isles go very far in the postseason, farther than they’ve been able to get in their last two postseason appearances.

Now sure they’ll need their offense and goaltending to step up, but it’s the blueline which is Barry Trotz’s squad’s most important strength. We were witnesses this year to just how crucial having a healthy defense can be to the success of this team.

When Pelech went down in early January with a supposed season-ending Achillies injury, things began to crumble. Besides a losing record — the Isles went 10-13-7 with Pelech out — the entire D looked more vulnerable and less structured in their own zone. Several players, not known for making mistakes started to make them much too often. The pressure of replacing Pelech also forced veterans like Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and rookie Noah Dobson to struggle with heavier workloads. Even the addition of Andy Greene before the trade deadline didn’t help much in stopping the bleeding.

But that’s all in the past. The nine defensemen the Islanders will have when full-team training camps begin next week in Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return To Play program, provides them a huge advantage moving forward.

And their lies where the Isles can really make a deep run — Trotz will have a litany of options at his disposal. Meaning he can throw something different at an opponent at a moment’s notice.`

You can take it to the bank that Trotz will partner Pelech back up with usual his running mate, Ryan Pulock. Those two will be the number one pair. Pelech and Pulock were the biggest reason the Isles swept the Penguins in the first round in last year’s postseason. How they shut down Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the Penguins’ other top forwards was exceptional and was the model for how to counterattack a team’s most dangerous players.

That duo being back together immediately transforms the whole club and making the Isles a more robust team to play against.

Behind that twosome is an interesting mix.

Devon Toews and Scott Mayfield both had up and down campaigns before the year was suspended. As a pairing though, they’ve shown in the past they can be very dependable and sneaky good. They two were quiet but effective the previous spring against the Pens. Toews alone was the Isles’ best player in their second-round defeat to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The other veterans, Boychuk, Leddy, and Thomas Hickey for that matter, also provide more vigor.

Boychuk being 100%, after the scary incident with him being cut by a skate to the face the week before the hiatus, supplies the Isles another needed element on the back end. Beyond his playoff experience, at 36, Boychuk is still that hard-nosed, gut-it-out d-man who is willing to pay the price, exemplified by his continuing nature to block shots and throw his body around. To win in the postseason, you need players like him.

For Leddy,  he wasn’t having a bad year before the stoppage, but his game and numbers definitely weren’t up to his standard. Another chance to turn it on in the playoffs could bring out the best we’ve seen from him.

Regarding Hickey, it’s unlikely he will see any playoff action based on he’s the last player on the depth chart behind rookie Noah Dobson. Still, if he does see the ice, Hickey will be all recovered from his injuries during the season. Keep this in mind: don’t think his experience in past postseasons, plus not having played a single game with the big club all year, won’t provide him with that necessary chip on his shoulder. It most certainly will.

Then you have Andy Greene, who played well in his short run with the Islanders who came over before the deadline.

At 37, Greene knows the grind of going far in the playoffs — he’s played in the postseason six times in his career, including the Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils in 2012. Another solid option who can help benefit the Isles as the series and months go longer, Greene, if tabbed by Trotz, will be fresh and gives the Isles’ defense even more invaluable experience and veteran gumption.

To be successful in the NHL playoffs, your defense needs to be at its very best and stay healthy. The Islanders are no different. Their defense is going to be the deciding factor if they do end up playing for a Stanley Cup later this summer.

UFC: Former welterweight champ, Tyron Woodley, hungry to fight two more times in 2020

UFC, Tyrone Woodley

Just two years ago, Tyron Woodley (19-5-1) was looked as one of the best fighters in the UFC. Woodley had knocked out Robbie Lawler to win the welterweight title, then he successfully defended the title three times. With his skillset, it was hard to imagine him losing the welterweight title. Fast-forward and Woodley finds himself on a two-fight losing streak. At 38-years-old, Woodley still remains hungry and took to Instagram Live to say as much recently.

“I want to fight two more times this year,” (via MMA Junkie). “So we are right now in June. I feel like if I can get one on the books sometime in the near future then it still leaves me with November or December to fight again.”

What does the UFC do?

Woodley would also go on to say that he’s not in a position to call anyone out. Woodley is coming off back-to-back shutout losses. Kamaru Usman dominated him for five rounds taking away his UFC welterweight title, then Gilbert Burns dismantled him back in May. In both fights, Woodley just looked very hesitant to pull the trigger. He did not look like the same Tyron Woodley that we have seen in the past.

Robbie Lawler

So the question becomes, what does the UFC do with Woodley? To me, I think there’s a few matchups that would make sense for Woodley at this stage of his career. I think if you paired Woodley up with Robbie Lawler (28-14, 1 NC) it would make sense. Both men are on multiple fight losing streaks. They were already supposed to rematch a year ago, but injuries forced Woodley out of the fight.

Stephen Thompson

Another fight that could make sense is a third fight with Stephen Thompson (15-4-1). Both of their first two UFC title fights were razor close. They are right next to each other in the rankings so it would make perfect sense from that standpoint. Probably not the sexiest matchup considering the way the first two fights went, but it’s definitely a possibility.

Colby Covington

Then of course you have the potential matchup with Colby Covington (15-2). While there is a lot of heat behind this matchup, I’m not sure the UFC would give Woodley this fight after back-to-back losses, but it’s the biggest potential fight there is. There is a ton of heat between the two men, and both are looking to get back to the UFC welterweight title. This has to be the fight that Woodley wants.

Time will tell what Dana White and the UFC decide to do with Tyron Woodley. He’s still considered to be one of the better welterweights in the world, but many are doubting his eliteness at this stage of his career. I would guess that we will probably see him back in August, perhaps on the card headlined by Cormier/Miocic 3.

MLB All-Time Team: Rotation/Bullpen

New York Yankees, Mariano Rivera

As a Part 2 to my MLB All-Time Team, I will list my pitchers, which I am allowed 13 of. I will go with 5 starters and 8 relievers, and so it may not be the 13 best pitchers of all time as there wouldn’t be 8 relievers in that list, it’ll really be the 5 best starters and then 8 best relievers of all time. For reference to who the batters were click here, and with that being said, let’s get on with out historic squad.

#1: Pedro Martinez

Yes I’m a Yankees fan putting a Red Sox legend as the best pitcher of all time, and that’s because I think he simply is. Yes he’s 15th in fWAR but that’s in only 2720.2 innings pitched compared to the people ahead of him who all have at least 1,100 innings more on their career. In the steroid era he had a career 2.95 ERA and 2.91 FIP and is one of three pitchers (minimum 2,000 innings pitched) who had a 10 or higher K/9 in their career. He also has the 5th best WHIP of all time at 1.05 and the best FIP- of all time and second best ERA- of all time, two stats that compare a pitcher to the average of that stat in their playing time, meaning that when you adjust for the era you pitched in, no one was more dominant in their era than Pedro was in his. Disgaree with me if you want, but he’s my GOAT pitcher.

#2: Roger Clemens

Had it not been for PEDs, I would’ve put him at one, but you take his stats with a grain of salt because of his PED usage. 3rd all time in FIP- and 8th in ERA- and the best fWAR of all time amongst pitchers. I think Clemens is a shoe-in for a starting five and that having that rocket arm in this rotation will be able to give me some serious firepower. Analytically speaking he’s undoubtedly an all-time great, and he’s my second starter

#3: Randy Johnson

Our first southpaw, Johnson is one of the best strikeout pitchers per 9 of all time, with a 10.61 K/9 and a whopping 110.4 fWAR. His 3.29 ERA and 3.19 FIP in the over 4,000 innings is amazing especially since you consider that he pitched from the 1989 season to 2009 which puts him directly in the steroid era, so his FIP- and ERA- metrics give him more justice and show he was an absolute stud on the mound. He’s the best lefty of all time in my opinion, and he’s perfect for this squad.

#4: Walter Johnson

The Big Train is a premier pick for this squad, with a 2.17 career ERA and a 2.42 FIP, he’s elite by any metric you’d like to bring up. He has a 117.1 fWAR and a ERA- of 68 and FIP- of 76 along with a 1.06 WHIP and was one of the best right handers of his era. He does have the best ERA and FIP out of all starters but his era adjusted stats bring him a tick below our top 3, but he’s still going to be a monster on this squad.

#5: Sandy Koufax

The second southpaw on this list, there are few stretches of baseball more dominant than from 1962-1966 as he had a better than 1:1 strikeout to inning ratio, with a 1.95 ERA and 2.00 FIP  in that span. He won 3 Cy Youngs, 1 MVP, 5 ERA and FIP crowns, 4 WHIP crowns, 3 strikeout crowns, all while averaging 263 innings per SEASON. He’d be higher on this list had his health issues not derailed his career, but he’s more than deserving of a spot in this ultimate rotation.

Bullpen:

Aroldis Chapman: A present day reliever? This isn’t only one on the list but Chapman is going to be a HOFer one day, with a 2.23 ERA, 2.01 FIP, and a 2.36 xFIP with a 14.84 K/9 is insane, and I think he’s one of the 8 best relievers of all time, being a fire-baller and a historic strikeout machine. He’d be higher on this list but his limited body of work holds him back (for now)

Lee Smith: A Hall of Fame reliever, Lee Smith has a 3.03 ERA and a 2.93 FIP over 1289.1 innings and is one of baseball’s best relievers being a 6’6 225 hurler who was reliable as they get. He was able to toss multiple 100+ inning seasons as a reliever and was durable. He’s an electric reliever and a mainstay in the best relievers conversation, so I have to put him in this bullpen.

Trevor Hoffman: I know that I have him here at 6 and that’ll upset people, but saves aren’t the best metrics for a reliever. He has a 3.08 FIP and 2.87 ERA which is really good but the people ahead of him either had lower ERA and FIP metrics, or had longer careers and therefore had more overall value. Yes Hoffman is a great reliever but he’s not better than the 5 ahead of him.

Rich “Goose” Gossage: A staple in talks of some of baseball’s best relievers, Gossage pitched 1809 innings and had a 3.01 ERA and a 3.18 FIP. The reason I have him above Hoffman is because of his 500 innings more of relief work, I won’t count his innings as a starter but it’s just part of how Gossage was more durable and was as good as Hoffman arguably but for longer.

Craig Kimbrel: What? Above Gossage??? Above HOFFMAN? HE DOESN’T KNOW BASEBALL” Yes I know this is very upsetting for people who only look at names and not metrics. In his career Kimbrel already has a 2.08 ERA and a 2.19 FIP and 2.26 xFIP. That’s beyond elite, and while he doesn’t have the 600 saves, saves are a product of being up by 1-3 runs and finishing the job, things beyond the control of a pitcher as they can’t force a team to only be up by a score of 1-3 runs. Kimbrel had a rough 2019, and people will use that to say he’s washed but that’s without the context of how he didn’t have a healthy season or a spring training. He’s a top 4 reliever all time, to not have him top 8 is to ignore analytics in favor for bias.

Billy Wagner: Billy is so underrated, being one of the best fire-ballers of the reliever class and with his 2.31 ERA and 2.73 FIP he’s one of the most sound run preventer as well. He posted a n 11.92 K/9 and sported a 1.00 WHIP. He’s one of those pitchers that can do it all, with prevention of runs and base-runners, good velocity, great body of work to go off of, AND great strikeout metrics. He’s a shoe in at number 3.

Rollie Fingers: In over 1,500 innings of work, Fingers has a 2.84 ERA and 2.88 FIP, and while Wagner and Kimbrel have better numbers, I think the body of work argument truly does matter here as the gap between Hoffman and Kimbrel was 500 innings but here it’s 1000 so I won’t put Kimbrel higher on the list, and Wagner has 600 less innings with a similar FIP so I have to give Fingers the edge here. A deserving HOFer and a classic for relievers.

Mariano Rivera: My fellow Yankee fans you can breathe a sigh of relief (get it) now that I have Rivera at one. My little monologue on why saves don’t matter as much probably scared you guys into thinking Rivera wouldn’t be number one, but come on guys I wouldn’t do that. A 2.06 ERA and 2.67 FIP as a reliever (not using his starter stats), he was as dominant as they came. He had the best ERA- on this list (second all time behind…Zack Britton) and he’s 10th in FIP- and third on this list (Behind Kimbrel and Chapman.) I won’t even bring up saves, I’ll actually defer to his insane stats in the postseason that speak for themselves. He’s the best reliever of all time, and if I need to close out a game, even with all the talent in this bullpen, I’m bringing out the Sandman.

What do you guys think about this list? Would you change this team at all?

New York Yankees: Could Gio Urshela be the Yankees next Graig Nettles? Find out here

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

The New York Yankees were faced with a dilemma during the 2019 season when star slugger and third baseman Miguel Andujar went on the IL.  Andujar went down with a year-ending labrum injury at the beginning of the 2019 campaign; the fledgling season appeared to hang in the balance. Andujar was having trouble throwing from third, but the Yankees thought they could still keep his big bat in the lineup.  That turned out not to be the case as he elected to have labrum shoulder surgery.

The New York Yankees had no one to replace him.  Temporarily they used DJ LeMahieu, but they needed to find a permanent replacement.  They searched about to find someone that would be adequate.  The ended up bringing up a minor leaguer from their Scranton Wilkes/Barre Triple-A affiliate Rail Riders.  That player was Giovanny Urshela with a reputation of being a good defender at 3rd but with little pop to his bat.  What the Yankees got was a diamond in the rough.

Twenty-eight-year-old Giovanny Urshela is a Columbian baseball player. He has previously played the Toronto Blue Jays and the Cleveland Indians. Urshela signed with the Cleveland Indians as an international free agent in July 2008. He made his professional debut in 2009, playing for the Dominican Summer League Indians and the Arizona League Indians. He spent 2010-2013 in single-A.

He started the 2014 season with Akron and was promoted to the Columbus Clippers of the Class AAA International League during the season. After the 2014 season, the Indians added Urshela to their 40-man roster. He was named the Indians’ fourth-best prospect by MLB.com in 2015. He batted .227 for the Indians before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. Urshela batted .233 with one home run and three RBIs in 19 games for Toronto before he was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on June 26. During his time with the Jays, he was noted for his timely hitting and very capable play at 3rd. Base.

On August 4, 2018, the Blue Jays traded Urshela to the New York Yankees
in exchange for cash considerations. The Yankees assigned him to the
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Urshela was called up by the Yankees
to the bigs on April 6, 2019, as a fill-in for Miguel Andujar at third
base. Urshela has been an out-making specialist in the big leagues and
has indeed shown his worth at the hot corner.

Gio is well-liked in the clubhouse and fits in quite well. Some of this may be his not so young age and experience.  Known as an average player with excellent defense at third, upon the advice of pitching coaches, Urshela made a few changes to his hitting stance. He opened his hitting stance while holding his hands slightly lower and also focused on transferring strength from his legs more effectively. The adjustments paid immediate dividends. Among full-time third basemen, Urshela ranked ninth in the league in OPS (.889).

He ended up with a wRC+ (132) (weighed runs above average), which means he had 32% more runs created than the average MLB hitter.  That figure puts him ahead of Colorado super-star Nolan Arenado. It means the New York Yankee have themselves an All-Star player like Arenado, but only have to pay him 2% of Arenado’s salary.  A super win for the Yankees.

He played so well for the Yankees that he even got a call from Iván Duque Márquez, the President of Columbia, to congratulate him on his excellent play. Urshela is the second most timely hitter behind DJ LeMahieu, at one point last season he drove in the winning run in three games in just eight days. He ended his 132 game season, hitting .314, 12 points higher than DJ LeMahieu.  He hit 21 home runs with 34 doubles and 139 hits.

When Gio showed up on the scene, the New York Yankee fans first took notice of him when he started making Graig Nettles-like plays at 3rd.  He made one after the other Gold Glove like catches and throws.  Plays that often headlined Yankee wins.  When his hitting matched his play at third Yankee manager Aaron Boone started throwing paise on their new third baseman. He ended the 2019 season with a fielding percentage of .954 compared to Andujar’s .700. During the season, he also had a fielding percentage at first base and in the outfield of 1.000.

Previous to Urshela’s arrival, they thought that had their future 3rd baseman in Andujar, but with Urshela now at third, Andujar has lost that designation.  The New York Yankees made it clear in spring training 1.0 that Gio Urshela would be the starting 3rd baseman and that it was his job to lose.  Boone and the coaches feel Gio will replicate his 2019 performance as the underlying metrics, suggest sustainability to his growth as a hitter.

Meanwhile, the Yankees will still want to have Miguel Andujar’s bat at the plate even though he has lost his job at 3rd. In 2018 he hit 27 home runs with a batting average of .297. The Yankees will most likely have him platoon with Giancarlo Stanton in the left field.  He will also be a DH for the Yankees when not playing on the field.  In the shortened season, he likely will not see play at 3rd in relief of Urshela.

Have the Yankees found their next Graig Nettles? It appears that they have, and his play this season may cement his play at 3rd for the foreseeable future.  Nettles was the Yankee third baseman for eleven years between 1973 and 1983. It’s also worth mentioning that Gio Urshela also has experience playing at short. With Gleyber Torres’s questionable play as the starting shortstop, this could end up being a 2019 storyline.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.  Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

New York Giants: Markus Golden could leave Big Blue at any moment

New York Giants, Markus Golden

The New York Giants are entering the 2020 season with major question marks on defense. Their pass rush will be a hit or miss, as they are relying on young players like Oshane Ximines and Lorenzo Carter to step up and make an impact. They’re also depending on the interior defensive line to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which attest to the franchise tag they placed on Leonard Williams this off-season.

However, Markus Golden is sitting idly by waiting for another team to snatch him up and take him away from the New York Giants. New head coach Joe Judge implemented the rarely used free-agent tender on Golden, who led the team in sacks in 2019. Essentially, Golden has until July 22 to land a deal elsewhere before guaranteeing his stay with the Giants for at least one more season.

The fact that Golden hasn’t been signed yet attest to how teams view him as a long-term option at the position. While he did post 10.0 sacks in 2019, most of his production came on the back-end of plays and coverage sacks. Nonetheless, he played well against the run and held his own on the edge, earning a second contract from the Giants, which would count $5.2 million next season. The free-agent tender guarantees 110% of his 2019 salary, and that would be a steal considering the value he brought to the team last year.

The Giants need as much pass rush help as they can get, and Golden brings experience and consistency to the position. I am not comfortable relying solely on Ximines and Carter to keep pressure on the quarterback, especially against tougher teams.

The Giants also brought in Kyler Fackrell, who they are expecting to replicate Golden’s production in 2020. Fackrell played under Patrick Graham as his linebackers coach in 2018 when he posted 10.5 sacks, 42 combined tackles, and 12 quarterback hits. He was extremely efficient in rushing the passer and would pair up well if the team manages to retain Golden for one more season.

Nonetheless, Markus has one more month to secure a multi-year deal that pays him more than $5.2 million per season with a mother team. Given his value, I’m surprised he hasn’t been picked up yet, but there is still a good chance he will not play for the Giants moving forward.