WATCH: Yankees’ Gary Sanchez rips home run to left field, showing off offensive power

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

Gary Sanchez is back! Or so we hope. The New York Yankees watched they’re starting catcher rope a home run to left field during the intrasquad exhibition game on Monday evening.

Sanchez has been inconsistent on offense the past few seasons, posting a .186 batting average in 2018 and a.232 batting average in 2019. Last year, he posted a career-high 34 home runs and a solid 77 RBIs over at 396 at-bats. His defense has also been an issue at times, allowing far too many passed balls and seeing his caught stealing percentages decrease exponentially.

A one-knee stance, curated this offseason to help his framing and throwing ability will hopefully be behind the improvement in the category.

However, here’s a look at El Gary’s home run!

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If Sanchez can replicate those numbers, the Yankees will be blessed with the production of their star catcher.

Last week, Sanchez stated that he will be ready for opening day and should have good momentum.

“I think two weeks is going to be enough for me to get ready and catch all nine innings.” Despite the long break, Sanchez didn’t seem to lose a step. He said, “I left to go to the DR because I have a complex there,” where he was working on his “offense and defense.” He finished by saying, “I can tell you, anytime my name is in the lineup, I’ll be ready to go.” Very confident from the young catcher.

New York Giants: Kaden Smith Has Breakout Potential In 2020

New York Giants, Kaden Smith

The New York Giants will likely run a lot more twelve-personnel in 2020. With the recent hiring of Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator, the team’s offense is set to emphasize a heavy usage of the tight end position.

Luckily for the Giants, they have just the personnel to run two-tight end sets. The Gmen have two capable tight ends on their roster: Evan Engram and Kaden Smith. Engram is an explosive, versatile receiving threat who can be a matchup-nightmare at the tight end position. Kaden Smith is quite the opposite, however, his playstyle might be even more fitting to the Giants’ new offensive scheme.

Kaden Smith Stats and Highlights

Kaden Smith is a solid, reliable tight end. He is not the fastest guy nor the best route runner, but he has dependable hands and good run-blocking skills. Jason Garret utilizes a run-heavy offensive scheme that leans on the tight ends to make key blocks. Evan Engram has struggled as a run-blocker in his career, but Kaden Smith might flourish in this role.

Kaden Smith, the undrafted rookie out of Standford, is an excellent blocker from the tight end position. He did a superb job as a lead blocker once he was put into the starting lineup in Week 12. Take this block against the Washington Redskins as a perfect example:

Jason Garrett is a bright offensive mind and he will carve out a defined role for Evan Engram in 2020. This role will maximize his athleticism and receiving talents. But a role will also be carved out for Kaden Smith as he enters his second season. Throughout Garrett’s time in Dallas, he coached one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the sport: Jason Witten.

Witten was never an extraordinary athlete or explosive route runner. But he was always a dependable receiver with a high football IQ that allowed him to find soft spots in defenses and get open. Witten was also an excellent run-blocker. This is similar to Kaden Smith’s playing style. He could fit that Witten role in Garrett’s offense with the Giants.

In his 5 games as a starter in 2019, Kaden Smith caught 22 of his 30 targets (73% catch rate) for 170 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was one of the most dependable receivers on the field for the Giants. Likely receiving an expanded role in 2020, Kaden Smith could have a breakout season in store for the Giants.

Be sure to check out our Kaden Smith highlight video on YouTube here:

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New York Giants: Why Evan Engram should make the move to wide receiver

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants’ offense has the potential to be a top-5 offense in the NFL. In 2019, the Giants’ offensive weapons were never on the field at the same time. Hopefully, everyone stays healthy this year, and fans get to see then offense in full gear—especially Evan Engram, who is going into a contract year.

There’s reason for excitement regarding Evan Engram; it’s time for him to break out and have a huge season. For Engram to have a tremendous year, making the move to wide receiver could be more beneficial.

To sum up the idea, he has the size, hands, and speed. Also, It won’t be a drastic change for him, and I think it will keep Engram on the field for more than eight games. In Pat Shurmur’s offensive system, Engram was used as a blocking tight end who would swing out for passes. Regardless of what happened last year, Engram needs a new system, he can’t be stuck blocking defensive ends and linebackers.

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As shown above, Engram missed half of the 2019 season. Also, the Giants added Levine Toilolo to the depth chart. This was a necessary move, Toilolo is a massive body blocking tight end who can fill in for Engram. As well as Kaden Smith, Smith could fill in for Engram as he makes the move to wide receiver. Utlimaltlety, Toilolo will be a great run-blocking tight end for Saquon Barkley. Overall, the Giants don’t have to worry about tight end, they have multiple options to choose from.

Giants need a big-body receiver

Going into the 2020 season, the Giants don’t have a big-body wide receiver. With the addition of a big-body wide receiver, this could help Daniel Jones grow into a star; Engram could be the perfect weapon. For starters, he’s a mismatch nightmare; Engram is bigger than a lot of NFL cornerbacks. Also, Engram has the wheels to beat at cornerback down the sideline, I can see Engram playing out wide and going up for jump balls. I see Engram’s potential very similar to George Kittles’s game, in terms of receiving.

Overall, Evan Engram can be a true threat at wide receiver, and the Giants should consider it. The opportunities are endless for Engram, keeping him healthy and off the offensive line will be a huge factor in 2020.

WATCH: Yankees’ Brett Gardner shakes off the old man rust and makes awesome leaping catch

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees hosted their fourth intrasquad game on Monday evening, just nine days before the start of the regular season.

Management is still shaking out their summer camp roster to find their top 30 players, who will be taken into the season.

The outfield has been a big question this year, as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks were all projected to miss a nice chunk of the regular season before COVID-19 shut down the MLB.

The Yankees retained veteran Brett Gardner to supplement injuries. He signed a one-year, $12.5 million contract after hitting a career-high, 28 homers.

At 36 years old, Gardner should theoretically be taking steps back due to age, but he showed off his athleticism in left field during the game.

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Aside from his great home run totals, he had a .251 with a career-high 74 RBIs as well. While he did strike out 108 times, the veteran still contains the ability to play at a high-level. He is an outfield Maestro and can cover every position adequately. That is a primary reason the Yankees elected to retain him on a deal worth more than his contract in 2019 ($7.5 million).

New York Jets: Top ten in Madden NFL 21 ratings leak

New York Jets

Gamers in green got a bit of a treat this week, as the New York Jets’ ten best players in Madden NFL 21 were revealed.

The status of the 2020 NFL season may be in question, but pixelated gridiron endeavors are perhaps more ensured than ever.

As the arrival of Madden NFL 21 looms next month, player ratings from the game have begun to trickle out through either leaks or official releases from developer Electronic Arts. Popular Madden strategy and fan site Madden School (which is not affiliated with EA) has obtained the top ten highest-rated players from each of the league’s 32 teams. The top portion of the Jets’ list is dominated by defense, with six defenders leading the rankings. Safety Jamal Adams headlines the proceedings with a mark of 92, up two points from last season.

The full top ten is below…

Player Rating Difference From Madden 20
S Jamal Adams 92 +2
RB Le’veon Bell 87 -5
LB CJ Mosley 85 -2
LB Avery Williamson 83 -2
CB Pierre Desir 81 +1
S Marcus Maye 81 +3
CB Brian Poole 80 +3
WR Jamison Crowder 80 +1
RB Frank Gore 79 -2
G Brian Winters 79 -3

Additionally, EA officially released the top ten players in each skill position, as well as the ratings for rookies in those spots…

Player Rating
WR Denzel Mims 70
RB La’mical Perine 66
QB James Morgan 60

Notably absent among the top ten is quarterback Sam Darnold, who had a 74 labeling in last year’s original postings. Madden rankings can fluctuate and update throughout the season, so these rankings are subject to change.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson is set to grace the cover of Madden NFL 21, which will be the 34th edition of the iconic franchise. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey are the latest members of the “99 Club”, earning the highest rating a player can achieve in the game, which is named after renowned football coach and commentator John Madden. Brett Favre is the only Jets player to grace the cover of Madden. He originally appeared in a Green Bay Packers uniform for Madden NFL 09 (released in August 2008), but an alternate cover was made available after he was traded to New York shortly before the start of the season.

Madden NFL 21 well be released on August 28 on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Bellator: Michael Chandler – Benson Henderson 2 on tap for Aug. 7th event

Bellator MMA is going to be making their return this month, and you can expect them to come out swinging with their events. Multiple reports are saying that a big time lightweight matchup is booked for their second event.

Chandler’s last Bellator fight?

The much anticipated rematch between Michael Chandler (20-5) and Benson Henderson (28-8) is slated to headline Bellator‘s August 7th event.

For Chandler, this is the last fight on his current Bellator deal. Chandler wants to stay with the promotion, but he has alluded to his openness to the market.

Chandler comes into the rematch after knocking out Sidney Outlaw at Bellator 237 back in December. When Chandler first fought Henderson, Chandler took the fight by split decision.

The former UFC lightweight champion, Henderson, enters this rematch on a four fight winning streak in Bellator. Henderson didn’t get off to the best start in his Bellator career.

After jumping to the promotion, “Smooth” started just 1-3. After that rough start, Henderson rattled off those four consecutive wins including victories over Myles Jury and Adam Piccolotti.

This is a big fight for both men. For Henderson, a win could mean a title shot. For Chandler, a win is massive heading into free agency. Expect Bellator to build a pretty good card around this main event on August 7th.

New York Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka: “I feel lucky, it could have been much worse”

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

New York Yankees‘ starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka addressed the media on Tuesday, and the primary topic was, unsurprisingly, the moment in which he got hit in the head by a Giancarlo Stanton line drive, and the aftermath of that moment.

“Fortunately, everything has been fine. Things have been going in the right direction. Obviously, we are taking things a little bit more carefully now, but the good thing is that I’m feeling fine right now,” he said.

When questioned about how scary that moment was, Tanaka said that “everything happened so quickly. By the time I realized the ball was heading my way, it had already unfolded.”

“It was a very unfortunate event, but I feel very lucky. It could have been something much worse, and now I have no symptoms at all,” he confirmed.

The next step for Tanaka is throwing a bullpen, but the Yankees are taking it “day by day,” as Tanaka explained it. “Hopefully I will be able to get on the mound sooner rather than later,” he said.

The Yankees are taking things slow

The Japanese star confirmed that after leaving the hospital, he has felt no concussion-like symptoms at all. However, he still doesn’t know when he will be pitching again for the New York Yankees.

“I want to be optimistic about (returning relatively soon,) but the injury is at the head. I need to be cautious about it, moreso than with any other body part,” he told the media.

Tanaka cited family reasons for returning to Japan when spring training action was halted, but said he was able to keep training. “There were some restrictions back in Japan, but I threw some bullpens and made the most out of the situation.”

All in all, Tanaka and the Yankees dodged a bullet and it seems that the stellar hurler won’t miss too much time of the regular season, provided he keeps feeling no symptoms.

New York Yankees: Gleyber Torres talks 2020, Tyler Wade, Clarke Schmidt

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

Infielder Gleyber Torres is focused on helping the New York Yankees win the World Series in the truncated 2020 Major League Baseball season.

On Monday Torres said the Yankees’ mission is “winning everything” (quotes per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch).

“Last year is in the past right now,” Torres said on Monday. “We forgot that. Our mentality and our focus is on the short season right now. We have a mission; the mission is winning everything. That is the job, that’s the focus and mentality, and we’re preparing right now to get there.”

DJ LeMahieu was manager Aaron Boone’s projected second baseman this season, but the infielder recently tested positive for COVID-19, vacating the middle infield position for the time being. A prime candidate to start in LeMahieu’s place is Tyler Wade.

Torres, the Yankees’ likely shortstop, would be “100 percent comfortable” with Wade being his double-play partner.

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“I’d be 100 percent comfortable,” Torres said. “I knew Wade in the Minor Leagues. We’ve got really good communication during the double plays and during the game. It’s like growing up together, and it’s the same feeling right now.”

One of the Yankees’ top prospects, 24-year-old right-hander Clarke Schmidt, has caught Torres’ eye.

“Clarke is really impressive,” Torres said. “We always played a little joke, [saying], ‘When I face you, I’m going to try to hit a homer.’ And now I’ve faced him. I feel really good, I feel confident in all my pitchers.”

Last season Torres posted an .871 OPS and 128 OPS+ while totaling 38 home runs and 90 RBIs. He started 64 games at second base and 73 at shortstop.

Torres says he feels “good.”

“I feel good,” Torres said. “I’m just getting ready to see all the pitchers. I try to be ready each at-bat. I know it’s a little bit different because I don’t really like seeing my teammates; when they pitch, I don’t feel really comfortable. This is a moment to just be focusing in your area and try to get ready for Opening Day.”

The Yankees open the season on the road against the World Series-champion Washington Nationals on July 23.

Yankees’ Aaron Judge ‘getting worked on’, close to return per Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are preparing for an intrasquad game on Monday evening, featuring Jordan Montgomery as one of the starting pitchers.

However, the big news has revolved around Aaron Judge and a stiff neck that has kept him out the past few days. He has received treatment and reportedly seen positive improvements, according to manager Aaron Boone.

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The Yankees manager commented on whether he would perform in today’s intrasquad matchup:

“He is getting worked on right now, I’d say there is a chance, but we haven’t made that call yet.”

“Yes, when he came in today, there is improvement. Again, he’s getting worked on right now, so will have a good feel for whether he is in or out of the intrasquad here in a little bit.”

The former 2017 AL Rookie of Year winner has dealt with numerous injuries the past few seasons, recently overcoming a stress fracture in a rib suffered last September. The latest issue seems to be nothing more than a stiff neck from sleeping on the wrong side of the bed. He should be ready to go by today or within the next few days.

Fortunately, he was spotted at batting practice before the game on Monday, which is scheduled for 5:15 PM.

Judge is looking for a bounce-back campaign after playing in just 102 contests last season. His .272 batting average last year was the worst over his first three years in the MLB. It was the first season he didn’t earn any accolades, whether it be an All-Star consideration or MVP voting.

Aside from Judge, Masahiro Tanaka is making gradual progress as well. After taking a 112 mph baseball off the head from a Giancarlo Stanton line-drive, Tanaka has been careful with his return.

He’s been participating in light activities to ensure concussion symptoms have alleviated, but the expectation is that he should be back on the mound within the next few days. I imagine he will miss the first few games of the regular season, which starts in nine days, but the Yankees have plenty of talent to supplement his loss in the short term.

How Watford FC can defeat West Ham United in a defining relegation game

Troy Deeney, Danny Welbeck

Watford FC is gearing up to face off against West ham United in a defining relegation game on Friday afternoon. Both sides are calling their way out of the relegation zone and a loss would be detrimental to their chances of remaining in the Premier League.

Let’s take a look at how Watford FC can overcome West Ham and inch closer to safety:

West Ham utilizes a 4-4-1-1 formation, dependent on striker Michail Antonio. Antonio scored four goals last week against Norwich City, who sits at the bottom of the table. His stellar performance gives him incredible momentum heading into the matchup against the Hornets.

However, Watford has their own savior gearing up for what he hopes to be another successful performance. Captain Troy Deeney, scored two goals from the penalty spot in the teams 2-1 victory over Newcastle last weekend.

Nigel Pearson currently leads the Watford team, who displays a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Deeney serving as the primary striker. Currently, they are utilizing Danny Welbeck and Ismaila Sarr as their left and right wings, with Abdoulaye Doucoure at center attacking midfielder.

Will Hughes and Etienne Capoue at center mid gives Watford a strong midfield, but their wing-backs have struggled in recent weeks. Adam Masina and Kiko Femenia have been inconsistent at times, which has given opposing teams a way into the 18-yard box. Christian Kabasele and Craig Dawson must remain strong and defend well again set pieces to overcome a surging West Ham attack.

The difference-maker

However, I believe the difference-maker in this game could be Roberto Pereyra, who has struggled this year but remains one of the more talented players on the team. His lack of care has been on display and undoubtedly affected his game in a down season. But with Watford looking to retain their Premier League status, his services are needed immediately. I believe a more aggressive formation would be beneficial in this game, as Watford’s defense is not strong enough to hold off West Ham for 90 minutes. A 4-4-2 formation could be a more suitable look.

Utilizing Deeney and Welbeck as their two strikers, Pearson could keep Capoue on the bench and swing Pereyra out to left-wing. This would make Doucoure and Hughes their center midfielders.

Putting a goal on the board early should be the priority here, and sitting back on defense in the second half to control the lead could help Watford secure their future.