New York Giants: Darius Slayton Named Most Cost Effective Giant

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

New York Giants General Manager Dave Gettleman has racked up a number of controversial moves so far during his time in the position, but one of the decisions that’s definitely been a hit instead of a miss has been the choice to draft Darius Slayton.

The Giants ended up with a player that was considered a steal but was only supposed to play a role in the rotation of receivers, but what they got in the end was a rising star who led the team in receiving after stepping up for Sterling Shepard when the more experienced veteran had concussion troubles.

Slayton racked up 8 touchdowns and was one of the reasons Daniel Jones was able to have a breakout season even with some of his top weapons having trouble staying on the field last season. According to Bleacher Report, that makes his contract the one that has the best value for the team.

Slayton provided the Giants with something they didn’t previously have on the roster: an outside threat. Veterans Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are more effective working out of the slot, whereas Slayton is a slightly bigger target (6’1″, 190 lbs.) with the ability to stretch the field and demand safety help… The thought of Slayton’s continued development as New York’s WR1 without a salary-cap number over $1.02 million at any point during the next three seasons is exciting.

The Giants have been mocked to select Ja’Marr Chase for the 2021 Draft by a number of sources so far, and Chase has an impressive resume as the top receiver in the country during LSU’s championship season. However, depending on Slayton’s performance this year, they may not need a receiver enough to draft one with their first pick.

Slayton will face tougher competition this season, of course, as opponents learn more about his playing style and realize that they need to scheme against him to neutralize his threat rather than dismissing him as an inexperienced rookie. But his destiny largely rests in his own hands.

The team is getting a great value out of his contract and if he can keep it up, the Giants will likely have no problems rewarding his good play with further time in the spotlight as one of their top weapons.

The gap left by Odell Beckham Jr. at receiver was noticeable coming into last season. But for now, it still remains to be seen whether that gap will be filled by Slayton or Shepard or someone else entirely.

BREAKING: Two Yankees test positive for coronavirus

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Following team workouts on Saturday, New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced that two players on the team are positive for coronavirus. Those two players are DJ LeMahieu and Luis Cessa.

LeMahieu is reportedly asymptomatic, while Cessa has mild symptoms. The players gave Boone permission to announce the positive tests. Both players tested positive before returning to New York and are isolating at home.

These are the first two players known to test positive for coronavirus on the Yankees. Just 31 players across the league tested positive during preliminary testing.

Besides those two, not all players have reported to camp yet. That’s because some players are still waiting to receive a negative test to clear them to the facility. That includes guys like Gary Sanchez and Aroldis Chapman.

The announcement of LeMahieu and Cessa testing positive for coronavirus comes on the same afternoon that Masahiro Tanaka was rushed to the hospital after an injury in a simulated game. He was hit on a come-backer off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton. Tanaka is expected to be released on Saturday night as his CT scans came back clean.

Hopefully, these issues will be it for the Yankees in 2020. They’ve gone through an awful string of injuries and bad luck over the past few years, including earlier this year. The baseball gods have been against them, so it would be great if the team could make it through a season without many issues.

But, on the other hand, it’s not unexpected that players are testing positive for coronavirus. That’s just going to happen this year, and players know that. Hopefully, players will see what happened to LeMahieu and Cessa and use that as a warning that anyone can get it and that they need to be careful.

 

New York Giants: Is Leonard Williams Worth His Reported Asking Price?

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants placed their franchise tag on newly acquired defensive lineman Leonard Williams this offseason. That franchise tag will pay Williams $16.1 million for the 2020 NFL season. Williams was acquired in a midseason trade that cost the Giants a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 fifth-round pick. General Manager Dave Gettleman prioritizes the defensive line and felt this to be a worthy trade, despite the negative reaction amongst fans.

One of the main criticisms of the Leonard Williams trade was Leonard’s impending contract status. Williams was set to be a free agent in the 2020 offseason. With his contract expiring, many fans did not understand why Gettleman felt the need to trade for him midseason when the Giants could have just bid on Williams in free agency instead.

Leonard Williams Contract Update

Critics of this trade are getting more justification with the latest news. According to a report by Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Leonard Williams is asking for crazy money from the New York Giants. The report states that Williams is “seeking a deal worth $18-$20M per season.” The deadline for the Giants and Williams to agree to a long-term deal is July 15th and the two sides reportedly are “not close” to reaching an agreement.

Is Leonard Williams Worth His Asking Price?

If the Giants do pay Leonard Williams that salary, it will be a highly controversial decision. An $18-20 million dollar salary will make Williams one of the highest-paid interior defensive linemen in the NFL. Currently, Aaron Donald is the highest-paid IDL with an average salary of $22.5 million. A salary of $18-20 million would make Leonard Williams the third-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in the league. At that price point, Williams would be paid more than the likes of J.J. Watt, Fletcher Cox, Grady Jarrett, Geno Atkins, and many other highly-talented defensive linemen on their second contracts.

Leonard Williams is not the only interior defensive lineman looking to secure a big bag right now. Chiefs defensive lineman Chris Jones is also seeking a contract worth $20 million annually. Jones’s contract dispute with Kansas City could lead to a trade. The difference between Chris Jones and Leonard Williams, though, is that Chris Jones is a much better player.

Chris Jones is a legitimate pass-rushing threat from the interior. In 2018, Jones totaled 15.5 sacks and 49 pressures. He followed that up with a 9 sack, 27 pressure performance in 2019. According to Pro Football Focus, Jones ranks third among interior defenders in pass-rushing grade over the past four seasons. He also has recorded 212 pressures in that time span, fourth-most (PFF). Production like that is worth a premium price. Compare that to Leonard Williams’s 17.5 career sacks, and it is hard to justify paying these two players the same salary.

Leonard Williams is a talented defensive lineman and does have value as one of the ten best players at his position. However, he is not a top-three player at his position and it would not make much sense for the Giants to pay him like he is.

Leonard Williams Stats and Highlights

The Giants do have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. Leonard Williams is arguably the best player on the team’s defense. He has been a great run-defender throughout his entire career but he has not been a consistently good pass-rusher. However, PFF has discussed why Williams might be underrated as a pass-rusher:

“Among 87 interior defenders with 200 or more pass-rushing snaps, Williams ranked 13th in pressure rate at 11.3% but his one sack in 424 pass-rushing snaps put him near the bottom of the list in sack rate. On the other hand, Williams led the position with 19 quarterback hits. A few fractions of a second faster on several of those plays and that sack total looks a whole lot more respectable.” Pro Football Focus on Leonard Williams’s pass-rushing ability.

Williams does get consistent quarterback pressure. He recorded 17 pressures in 8 games with the New York Giants in 2019. But is this reason enough to justify a $20 million dollar contract? The Giants have other players that they will soon need to consider paying large contracts to, such as Saquon Barkley, Jabrill Peppers, Daniel Jones, and Evan Engram. It might be wise for the Giants to save their money for those players, rather than pay Leonard Williams like he is one of the best players in the NFL when he simply is not.

New York Mets: Edwin Diaz ready to prove himself

New York Mets, Edwin Diaz

New York Mets reliever Edwin Diaz is a man on a mission.

The Mets acquired Diaz from the Seattle Mariners in December 2018. The Mets also corralled infielder Robinson Cano while sending prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, relievers Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista and outfielder Jay Bruce to Seattle.

Diaz is coming off a discouraging debut season with the Mets. Recording a 5.59 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while surrendering 15 home runs and blowing seven save opportunities, the right-handed reliever struggled to find his footing.

Despite the rough season, Diaz feels that he’s still a “closer,” as expressed in a Friday afternoon interview (quotes by means of Mike Puma of the New York Post).

“My mentality has always been that I’m a closer, despite even what happened last year,” Diaz said through an interpreter following a Friday afternoon workout at Citi Field. “This offseason I went in and trained hard, I worked on different things that gave me the confidence that made me feel that I could be the closer of this team.”

Diaz is a year removed from making the American League All-Star Game roster and winning the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year Award with the Mariners. That season, 2018, he recorded a 1.96 ERA and 0.79 WHIP while totaling 124 strikeouts and converting 57-of-61 save opportunities.

Diaz is out to prove that he’s worthy of being the Mets closer this season.

“Now, going into this second spring training, I’m going to try to prove during these next two to three weeks that I can be the closer of this team.”

New York’s bullpen struggled to finish games last season. They were 28th in MLB in BABIP (.312), 26th in ERA (4.99), 22nd in home runs per nine innings (1.47) and 19th in FIP (4.71) and walks per nine innings (3.93) while being 28th in innings pitched (519.2).

The Mets finished last season 86-76, good for third place in the National League East.

Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks talks Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving’s health and input

Brooklyn Nets, Kyrie Irving

Last summer, the Brooklyn Nets signed Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to four-year, max-level contracts. Durant has missed the entire 2019-20 season as he rehabs from a torn Achilles tendon suffered in the 2019 NBA playoffs. Meanwhile, Irving has been limited to 20 games this season due to a handful of injuries.

As the NBA gears up for the resumption of the 2019-20 regular season, Nets general manager Sean Marks feels it’s important to take into account the long game with Durant and Irving regarding them playing this season (quotes by means of Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“[Irving] is doing well. But like Kevin, you have to look at the risk-reward. When you have a lot of money and your future tied to a couple guys — the whole team, but these two guys are an integral part of it — they haven’t had the appropriate buildup,” Marks said Friday on WFAN. “The last thing you want to do is put these guys out there when they haven’t had the appropriate workload and buildup.”

The Nets parted ways with head coach Kenny Atkinson in March, subsequently promoting Jacque Vaughn to interim head coach. Vaughn coached two games prior to the NBA season being suspended.

Marks feels that Durant and Irving should have some input on the team’s head-coaching future.

“It would not be smart of us if we were not to involve some of these key players in this decision,” Marks said. “Kevin, Kyrie, we’re going to pick their brains on what they’re looking for in a leader, what they need. They’ve been brutally honest so far.”

Marks makes it clear that the two stars want to win a championship with the Nets.

“I’m not going to be asking Kevin to come down to Orlando to evaluate anybody. When you get to the level of those elite players, they have ultimate goals in mind. They want to be held accountable. Kevin and Kyrie have told me they want to win a championship in Brooklyn.”

New York Yankees News: Masahiro Tanaka hit in the head, latest update here

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

For the New York Yankees, the first day of summer camp has turned into a horror.  While training Masahiro Tanaka was pitching to Giancarlo Stanton when Stanton hit a line drive that hit Tanaka in the head.  Tanaka immediately fell to the ground in obvious pain. As he was hit you could hear a loud crack when the ball struck him.  He laid motionless for minutes before trainers helped him off the mound to the dugout. Update below.

The latest on Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka after taking a comebacker to the head is up and walking on his own as reported by the New York Yankees.  The Yankees said is talking and is alert. They said they are optimistic the Tanaka will be okay.  In an effort to assure his status they have sent Tanaka to New York’s Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation.

The New York Yankees official statement read: He is currently alert, responsive, and walking under his own power. He is being sent to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for further evaluation and testing.

This year with the acquisition of Gerrit Cole, he will be the New York Yankees ace.  Last year Masahiro Tanaka had to take Luis Severino’s ace role. However, Yankee fans were let down as Tanaka was not at dominate last season. He ended the season with an 11-9 record and an inflated 4.45 ERA in 32 games. The ERA is mostly due to a couple of poor outings where Tanaka didn’t survive past the first or second inning.

On July 25 he gave up 7 runs in the first inning in a loss to the Red Sox. A big reason for his struggles is that his split-fingered fastball was nowhere near as effective last year as it has been in the past.

The Yankees hope Tanaka being hit in the head will not endanger his season, as they have already lost pitcher Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery.  Severino will miss the entire 2020 season.  If spring training is any indication of him regaining his dominance the Yankees will have a great second man in that pitching rotation.  In the early camp, Tanaka was 1-0 with a 2.08 in three games.

 

New York Yankees Breaking News: Masahiro Tanaka hit in the head by comebacker

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

For the New York Yankees, the first day of summer camp has turned into a horror.  While training Masahiro Tanaka was pitching to Giancarlo Stanton when Stanton hit a line drive that hit Tanaka in the head.  Tanaka immediately fell to the ground in obvious pain. As he was hit you could hear a loud crack when the ball struck him.  He laid motionless for minutes before trainers helped him off the mound to the dugout.  More news when it is available.

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New York Yankees: Gerrit Cole delights Yankee fans at ever turn

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

New York Yankees fans are excited that summer camp 2.0 has started as of today in preparation for the new shortened baseball season on July 23rd. On that day, Yankee fanGs will be delighted to get a look at their new pitching ace Gerrit Cole as he faces the World Champion Washington National’s ace Max Scherzer at National Stadium in the Nations Capital.

Yesterday he delighted fans with the news that he and his wife Amy had given birth to their first baby, a boy 7 pound 13 ounce  Caden Gerrit Cole, he has blue eyes, and Cole said: “he is adorable and I can’t keep my eyes off him.”

Gerrit Cole seems to be very open and direct.  He informed those on the Zoom call that working out yesterday was “a stress relief, it was good to see a lot of people smile, I’m looking forward to more fun at the Stadium.” Meridith Veracovitz asked Cole where he stands with his pitching. He responded: “I threw 3 innings yesterday, 45 pitches at normal velocity.  Its a different environment pitching to your own hitters.” He indicated that he felt on opening day that he would be able to give a five-inning start, maybe more.

When asked about how he feels about facing Max Scherzer on opening day Gerrit said:

“I’m excited just to put this uniform on and get out there, obviously, it’s an enticing matchup having pitched against them in the World Series last year. I’m really excited about it opening up in D.C. is perfect for the country.”

A question from ESPN was circled around the fact that previous to the coronavirus infected close down of baseball, the New York Yankees were projected favorites for the season. What is your feeling about that now?

“I like our chances I talked with Aaron (Judge) yesterday, he is pain free and swinging the bat well.  Giancarlo had time to recover, Aaron Hicks turns out to be the first player to have Tommy John surgery and not miss a regular season game. Any team wants to come out of the gate being absolutely healthy and I think the five months has provided us the opportunity to do that.”

New York Yankee fans are super happy to hear Cole’s take on Aaron Judges readiness to play.  It appears that Gerrit Cole may be this year’s conduit for insider Yankee news. Cole is that breath of fresh air that may carry the Yankees and their fans through this short baseball season.

 

New York Yankees: What to Expect From Second Year Yankees

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

Last year, the Yankees had success from a lot of first-year signings. Players like Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu, and James Paxton all had great debut seasons with the Yankees.

What should we expect from them this year?

DJ LeMahieu was the best player for the Yankees last year but will he perform that way again? LeMahieu is one of the best hitters in the MLB and that doesn’t change overnight. He will still produce impressive numbers and be clutch for the Yankees, I estimate. With a shorter season and fewer opportunities at the plate, it’s hard to see LeMahieu playing as big of a role in the Yankees’ success this year. That’s not to say that it is not possible, it is just something that I see as a stretch.

Here are LeMahieu’s numbers from last season: 602 AB, 197 H, .327 AVG, 102 RBI’s, 27 HR, .375 OBP, .518 SLG, .893 OPS. Postseason: 44 AB, 13 H, .295 AVG, 7 RBI’s, 3 HR, .373 OBP, .629 SLG, 1.002 OPS. Hard numbers to repeat.

On the other hand, I think Gio Urshela will get even better. He was to most people, more surprising than DJ LeMahieu. He now has a full season under his belt and I think he is bound to improve and be a game-changer for the Yankees.

His impressive numbers allowed him to take the spot of young hitting sensation Miguel Andujar. Everyone knew that Urshela was gold glove material but no one thought he would show up the way he did at the plate. His numbers were top-notch and got better as the season went on. He’s a player you’re going to see in the Bronx long term. 

Here are Urshela’s numbers from last season: 476 AB, 139 H, .314 AVG, 74 RBI’s, 21 HR, .355 OBP, .534 SLG, .889 OPS. Postseason: 33 AB, 8 H, .244 AVG, 2 RBI’s, 2 HR, .277 OBP, .428 OPS, .705 OPS. Very impressive numbers.

Lastly, we have James Paxton. James Paxton was acquired by the Yankees from the Mariners last year and I think it’s safe to say that was a good move. The Yankees needed an ace last year and being held to that standard in the big apple is not easy. However, he performed great. He proved that he is ready for the bright lights. To me, he’s in his prime and will pitch like an ace next year. He’s a free agent next season and I think it’s no question he should be re-signed. The sky’s the limit for this guy.

Here are Paxton’s numbers from last season: 5-6, 3.82 ERA, 186 SO, 3.3 BB/9, 11.1 SO/9, 1.281 WHIP. Postseason: 1-0, 3.46 ERA, 20 SO, 4.8 BB/9, 13.8 SO/9. These are ace quality stats.

All of these players are going to be sticking around for a while. I am confident they will all win a World Series together one day!

New York Giants: Leonard Williams is asking for crazy money

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The New York Giants are once again staring down the barrel of ignorance, as interior defensive lineman Leonard Williams is asking for what some might say is crazy money.

General manager Dave Gettleman traded for Williams from the New York Jets, sending them a third-round pick for the former first-round picks services. Over eight games with the Giants, Williams posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combined tackles, 11 quarterback hits, and a 3.7% missed tackle rate.

He undoubtedly deserves somewhere in the $12-14 million range on a long-term deal, but the money he’s asking for makes me think he’s reading someone else’s production.

According to Raul Vacchiano of SNY, the Giants and Williams started negotiating late last season, but the two sides are “not close” on a deal. Apparently, he is seeking $18-20 million per season, putting him in the same monetary range as Kansas City Chiefs star, Chris Jones.

Let’s take a look at Jones and his production over the past few seasons, specifically in 2019, when he was elected to a Pro Bowl. Last season, Jones posted 9.0 sacks, forced one fumble, earned 36 combined tackles, and logged 20 quarterback hits. If you go back one more season to 2018, he posted 15.5 sacks, 40 combine tackles, 29 quarterback hits, and forced two fumbles.

His numbers make Williams look like an undrafted free agent, which is why entertaining that type of money for a player of his caliber isn’t even worth talking about.

Recently, ESM reporter Anthony Rivardo spoke about the possibility of the Giants letting Williams walk and paying Jones alternatively, considering Williams is looking for the same number.

The New York Giants have options after 2020

Jones will be a free agent after the 2020 campaign, giving the Giants a fantastic option in case Williams doesn’t produce. It is estimated that Jones will be seeking a deal in the $16-20 million range, similar to Williams. He is currently on a one-year deal with the Chiefs, earning $16.1 million this upcoming year.

Of course, there is the possibility that Williams has a fantastic season, but he hasn’t earned over five sacks since 2016 in his sophomore year. It would be silly to entertain a contract worth more than $14 million per season for Leo, who hasn’t sniffed a Pro Bowl in three seasons. With Gettleman in charge, though, anything is possible.

It is also fair to mention that Williams has a ton of hidden production, but even after considering those statistics, he is nowhere near worth the amount he is looking for on a per-season basis.