New York Yankees: 5 targets the Yankees should look at before the trade deadline

New York Yankees, Mike Clevinger

In this shortened season the New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams likely will not see the normal amount of action by the trade deadline, that has been moved forward to August 31st.  The lack of blockbuster trades will be caused by a lack of money available to make those trades, due to the money that will be lost in this short season.

If there is much action, the New York Yankees will likely be involved.  After the mega purchase of the best available pitcher on the market in the offseason, the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year $324 million contract.  General Manager Brian Cashman and Hal Steinbrenner have gotten the message that it’s pitching stupid. Three of my trade targets the Yankees should seriously consider are pitchers.

1. Mike Clevinger

The Cleveland Indian Mike Clevinger a right-handed pitcher, could be a New York Yankee target. He is a premier starting pitcher that could have an impact on the Yankee rotation in a season that will see Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Adam Warren, and most likely J.A. Happ reach free agency.

Clevinger’s last season was 13-4 in 21 starts for the Indians, with an ERA of 2.71. He had 169 strikeouts and a whip of 1.056.  Clevinger from Jacksonville, Florida is 29 just like Gerrit Cole. Clevinger has four pitches that he uses regularly.  A curveball, a slider, a changeup, and a top of the league 99 mph fastball.

2. Marcus Stroman

Last year during the trade season I constantly praised Marcus Stroman, not as top of the line pitcher, but as a mid-rotation dependable pitcher that would be a good fit for the New York Yankees. When the Yankees considered him, he was a Toronto Blue Jay.  A trade was made and he ended up with the Mets, certainly not his first choice.

Stroman has not kept it a secret that he would love to pitch for the Yankees. He is the type of pitcher that would eat up the spotlight of Yankee Stadium. The right-hander has already said in a Zoom call recently that he expects to dominate this season.  In Sunday’s three-inning intrasquad outing he walked the first three batters he faced, but the Long Island native didn’t allow a run, retired seven of the last eight batters, and struck out three while throwing 47 pitches. Stroman is known for coming on strong after a slow start. A trade for Stroman also could be the most cost-effective trade the Yankees could make.

3. Kirby Yates

The New York Yankees already have one of the best bullpens in baseball, but there would be nothing wrong with making it even better.  The easiest way to do that is the add Kirby Yates who would be the perfect fit for the Yankees. Yates will reach free agency after this season.

Yates has been one of the best relievers in the game for the past two years and earned his first All-Star nod in 2019. He pitched to a 1.19 ERA, led the NL in saves with 41, and struck out 101 batters in just 60.2 innings. The San Diego Padres are going nowhere in the next few seasons and just may be willing to trade the rigth-hander.

4. Francisco Lindor

During the last trade season the Yankees went after Francisco Lindor, often called the best shortstop in baseball.  Although the trade offer that was made never became public, the Yankees or other suiters could not make a deal. Lindor reaches free agency after the 2021 season. It has been rumored that Indians manager Terry Francona has ordered a trade of Lindor.

Last season Lindor hit .284 with 32 homers. The 26-year-old has a bright future in baseball.  In just five years he has been an All-Star four times, a Silver Slugger twice, and has won the Gold Glove Award at short twice. The downside to this trade is it will be costly for the Yankees.  How Miguel Torres performs early on in the season, may cause the Yankees to go after him again. The Yankees also would like to see his left-hand bat in a lineup that doesn’t take advantage of the short right-field porch.

5. Nolan Arenado

The New York Yankees have always liked trading with the Colorado Rockies.  The Yankees have looked at Nolan Arenado before.  Although the Yankees don’t need a third baseman, they certainly would like his bat in the lineup that saw him achieve 41 home runs and a .315 batting average, last season for the Rockies.

Should the Yankees go after Arenado they will be getting a 29-year old that has been an All-Star five times, a  Gold Glover seven times, and a Platinum Glover for the last three seasons. He also achieved Silver Slugger status four times.  Arenado is at the top of his career.

Image, if you will, Gerrit Cole leading off the rotation followed by Mike Clevinger, a bullpen that includes Kirby Yates, Francisco Lindor at short, and Nolan Arenado at third base with his 41 home runs.  One can dream, but much will depend on how the Yankees present players will do before the deadline.  How much money the New York Yankees want to spend, and who they might be willing to give up for these elite players.

 

UFC on ESPN 13 Preview: Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige try to inch closer to a title shot

UFC

The UFC has round two on Fight Island tomorrow night. In the headliner, Calvin Kattar (21-4) takes on Dan Ige (14-2) in a battle of two top ten UFC featherweights. A win for either man could inch them closer to the title. Should be a solid night of fights so lets dive into the main card.

Calvin Kattar vs Dan Ige

The main event is a fight that I’m really looking forward to. Calvin Kattar is definitely one of the best featherweights in the world.

He’s coming off of a knockout victory over Jeremy Stephens back at UFC 249. Prior to that he lost a decision to Zabit Magomedsharipov, but Kattar was really coming on in that fight. He’s been tested by some of the best guys in the world.

When any fight is on the feet, Kattar is a tough challenge for anyone. He has very smooth boxing, but he also has a variety of clean striking techniques like the knockout elbow he landed against Stephens.

Ige comes into this fight on an impressive six fight winning streak. He’s slowly taken on better and better competition as the winning streak has occurred with his most impressive win coming in his last contest.

Ige has decent striking, and he does a really good job of transitioning striking to takedowns. I think he will have to try to get Kattar to the ground in this one if he wants to have a chance to win. Both of his last two wins were split decisions, but he’s going to have to do more to win this one.

Ige is really good, but I’m not sure he’s on Kattar’s level. When the fight’s on the feet, Ige is going to have his hands full. Expect Ige to have some moments, but I expect Kattar to get his second finish in the last couple of months in this one.

Prediction: Calvin Kattar by TKO – Round 3

Tim Elliot vs Ryan Benoit

The co-main event of the evening features a flyweight contest between Tim Elliot (15-11-1) and Ryan Benoit (10-6).

For Elliot, this is a massive fight for him. The former title challenger is just 1-4 in his last five fights including losing three in a row. A loss tomorrow night could spell the end for Elliot in the UFC.

Elliot is extremely active and does a lot of things well. He’s got a very unique style, but he’s always busy. He’s good on the ground, and his awkward stand-up allows him to land some decent shots. He’s also got a very good chin.

Benoit has some of the best power in the division, and it’s effortless power. If Benoit lands clean, he’s going to hurt you. Benoit fought for the first time back in December after a two year layoff and he lost a split decision.

Benoit is going to want to keep this standing and he’s going to be looking for the knockout. Elliot’s activity and frantic pace will give the judges a lot to look at. To me the fight comes down to how it’s one. If there’s a finish, Benoit is taking it. If it goes to the cards, I think Elliot will take this one due to his fighting style.

Prediction: Tim Elliot by Unanimous Decision

Jimmie Rivera vs Cody Stamann

The third fight of the evening is a fight that was recently added between Jimmie Rivera (22-4) and Cody Stamann (19-2-1). This fight is between two bantamweights, but due to the short notice, it’s taking place at featherweight.

This is a fight that was originally targeted for August, but after both men volunteered to replace Pedro Munhoz, the UFC decided to add this fight to the card. Rivera comes into this fight 1-3 in his last four fights.

Rivera has always been one of the better bantamweights in the world, but he’s not at the elite level. His three losses were all against the top three guys currently in the division. Rivera has a very solid overall game. Good grappling, good boxing, and really good muy thai.

Stamann comes into this fight after winning the most emotional fight of his career last month at UFC 250. Stamann had just lost his little brother, but put on one of his best performance on his way to victory against Brian Kelleher.

Stamann has shown improved striking, but he uses that to try to setup takedowns or opportunities to grapple. To me, this is Stamann’s second crack at really top tier competition after losing to Aljamain Sterling at UFC 228.

I really like Stamann, but I think I’m leaning towards Rivera in this one. I think Rivera is going to keep the fight standing, and I think his more polished striking will allow him to land at a higher rate giving him the decision in this one.

Prediction: Jimmie Rivera by Unanimous Decision

Molly McCann vs Talia Santos

The second fight on the main card of UFC on ESPN 13 is a women’s flyweight contest between Molly McCann (10-2) and Talia Santos (15-1).

McCann comes into this fight on a three fight winning streak. She’s as tough as they come and she loves to brawl. The English flyweight does extremely well at closing the distance despite her height disadvantage in the division.

She has really good hooks that she’s able to land up top or dig to the body. She’s also the type of fighter who is going to close the distance and move forward the entire time.

Santos is coming into this fight after losing the first fight of her pro career in February of 2019. The Brazilian has 10 knockouts on her record, and she’s a very good striker.Santos is solid all around, but she’s extremely unproven.

Despite having more fights than McCann, Santos hasn’t faced the same level of competition. You could say that her record was a little padded coming into the UFC. In this matchup, I think it’s a lot to ask of Santos to get passed someone as tough as McCann. I think Santos will have her moments, but expect McCann to close the distance well and land enough to score a decision.

Prediction: Molly McCann by Unanimous Decision

Abdul Razak Alhassan vs Mounir Lazzez

This might be the fight I’m looking forward to the most out of the entire card. Welterweight knockout artist, Abdul Razak Alhassan (10-1) will be taking on UFC newcomer Mounir Lazzez (9-1).

If you’re a fan of striking, this is not a fight you’re going to want to miss. These two men have 19 wins between the two of them, and 18 of those wins came by knockout. These two men are going to stand and trade.

Alhassan might be one of the scariest UFC welterweights in the world. All ten of his professional wins have come via first round knockout. In his last fight, he starched Niko Price in the first. Alhassan comes forward extremely aggressive, but he’s got good technique as well.

Lazzez was given a really rough draw in his first UFC contest. However, Lazzez does have a skillset that can help him. His nickname is “The Sniper” and that’s how he fights. He does a really good job at connecting from distance.

With these two prolific knockout artists, I do not see this fight lasting long. I really like Lazzez in this division, but this is just too much for his first fight. I think Alhassan is going to see a second round for the first time in his career, but it doesn’t last long after that.

Prediction: Abdul Razak Alhassan by TKO – Round 2

UFC on ESPN 13 Outlook

UFC on ESPN 13 is a card that doesn’t have a lot of big names, but it’s a card that the hard core MMA fans should love. From the opening fight of the main card to the main event, there are some serious fights that should entertain. Expect a lot of fireworks tomorrow from Fight Island.

New York Giants: Nate Solder The Most Overpaid OT In The League?

New York Giants, Nate Solder

It’s just about fact that the New York Giants are overpaying offensive tackle Nate Solder. The team took a risk on making him the highest paid tackle in the league and at this point in time, that risk hasn’t paid off. Few are looking forward to seeing Solder return to a starting position for another season after a rough debut year with the Giants, and the word is that Solder might have to move to another position on the line due to Andrew Thomas coming in to start at the left tackle spot.

In other words, Solder definitely has a bad contract. But is it the worse one in the league, at any position? CBS Sports thinks so, according to a recent article.

Nate Solder, the most overpaid in the league?

The article makes the point that while the Giants made Solder the highest paid offensive lineman in the league, they also moved to draft a tackle in the top five almost immediately after. The Giants wouldn’t have done that if Solder performed at left tackle, and according to the article, it’s part of the evidence that Solder is the most overpaid player not just on the Giants but in the league as a whole.

When the Giants made Nate Solder the highest-paid left tackle in NFL history back in 2018, they were probably hoping that his play would justify his pay, but that simply hasn’t been the case. Solder has been so bad that he might actually go down as one of the free agent busts in NFL history. If you watched any highlights of the Giants from 2019, you may have noticed that Daniel Jones was almost always running for his life. A big reason for that is because of Solder’s struggles: The left tackle surrendered 11 sacks last year, according to Pro Football Focus.

A position change, possibly to right tackle, looks to be in the future of Solder. At the very least, he’ll have to compete with Andrew Thomas – and Thomas, of course, is a rookie. Normally, a rookie wouldn’t compete immediately with a player that’s recently signed such a large deal.

But this isn’t a normal circumstance. Thanks to Solder’s play last season, the Giants are already looking at other options.

However, Solder is still the team’s highest paid player in spite of this. He’s making more than Leonard Williams, more than Saquon Barkley or Golden Tate, and more than the pricey new addition Blake Martinez, all while offering less production than all of them.

The verdict? Saying that Solder is the most overpaid player in the league isn’t an understatement. Despite the high cost the Giants paid to get him, they’re already trying to move on at left tackle, and that shows the Giants are getting a terrible value for the price they’re paying.

New York Mets: Second Base Options Without Robinson Cano

New York Mets’ second baseman, Robinson Cano’s absence from summer camp, is a growing issue each day. The Mets have no timetable for his return, and they will need to figure out a replacement if he is not ready for opening weekend in just ten days.

Jeff McNeil

The obvious choice comes in moving Jeff McNeil to second base. Though his best defensive position is at third base, his production at second base would rank with the best in baseball. With moving McNeil to second, third base needs a replacement.

For the best offense, J.D. Davis moves to third, which allows the combination of Yoenis Cespedes and Dominic Smith to play a majority of the time in left field. Defensively, a healthy Jed Lowrie moves to third, allowing Davis/Cespedes to split DH and left field.

Jed Lowrie

If Jed Lowrie is ever healthy enough to play consistently, he is the simplest option. Lowrie has been a second baseman since 2016 and allows McNeil to remain at third base. He is likely the only switch hitter to stay on the Mets 30-man roster when camp breaks. With his damaged legs, at an older age, it is safe to assume his defense is not what it used to be but could hold the position if Cano is only out for a short period.

Andres Gimenez

Things get interesting with Andres Gimenez. The natural shortstop and top prospect is a long shot at earning a starting job in 2020. He has only played 26 games at second base throughout the minors but is a high upside option should the Mets turn to him for a 60-game sprint.

Due to the Mets’ “win-now” mentality, he needs a very impressive summer camp for the Mets to give him the nod to play every day at second base. During the 30-man roster period, he should see a couple of games there, without Cano, but anything more is unlikely at the moment.

New York Yankees: 2 rising youth players who can land an active roster spot for the 2020 season

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia, Estevan Florial

With just nine days left until the New York Yankees open the regular season against the Washington Nationals, building out the active roster is a more pressing challenge. With four more spots opened up for a condensed 60 game schedule, the Yankees can carry extra players into the season.

With numerous youth players fighting for an opportunity, there are two specific youngsters who have looked good at times during intrasquad exhibition games.

Here are two youth players that could make the active roster:

1.) Deivi Garcia

Garcia is one of the most exciting prospects climbing the minor-league system. He jumped all the way to the No. 3 prospect in the organization last season.

He rose from single-A to AAA baseball in just three months, and over three starts this past Spring Training period before the MLB shit down, he allowed six runs over seven innings. While his small sample size suggests obvious struggles, there is plenty of potential to unveil as his development progresses.

In an intrasquad game last week, Garcia acted as an opener, an interesting role that could earn him live reps during the regular season.

Yankees’ Aaron Boone liked what he saw from the youngster. He said Garcia was “really efficient,” and he threw some “good breaking pitches.” Boone talked about how facing some of the “big boys” was a “good step up for him.” He finished by saying that it was “good to see him get out there and get going.”

Garcia finished the first inning striking out two batters and dominating his way to a positive response from Boone. This is a great sign for Deivi and gives him an advantage moving forward.

New York Giants: The Leonard Williams debate comes down to one factor

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The conundrum that New York Giants’ pass rusher Leonard Williams has created among the fans is toxic. When general manager Dave Gettleman traded a third and fifth-round pick for Williams from the New York Jets, most were perplexed at the decision.

Ultimately, Williams brought experience and pass rush efficiency to Big Blue. Before he entered the fold, the Giants were relying on rookie Dexter Lawrence, second-year interior defender BJ Hill, and veteran Dalvin Tomlinson.

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The New York Giants are a better team with Leonard Williams on the field

Leonard immediately made an impact, helping his teammates produce more and draw double teams frequently. Over eight games with the Giants, he posted 0.5 sacks, 26 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits. His 3.7% missed tackle rate was solid and he showed the ability to collapse the pocket and force early throws.

The value Williams brings is clear, but his inability to reach the quarterback and take him to the ground has been the focal point regarding the justification of Gettleman’s trade. However, the Giants hit Williams with the franchise tag this off-season, which will pay him $16.1 million in 2020.

The entire debate holds minimal value until we see what type of player Williams is next season. If he can produce elevated numbers and get after the quarterback well, the trade will have been justified. If he fails to leave his mark, Gettleman could lose his job because of it.

The one-year deal the Giants offered Leonard is a good move. It allows them to move on if he doesn’t perform in 2020. Having no long-term implications is a great thing, aside from the fact they will have lost a third and fifth-round pick from the 2020 NFL draft.

Those picks could have resulted in a starting center or new pass rusher to add to the rotation. That was the opportunity cost of bringing in Williams, who currently serves as one of the better players on defense.

The bottom line, the 2020 season will give us all the answers we need to judge Gettleman’s acquisition of Williams. However, it is too early to make any final decisions on the matter.

New York Yankees top 10’s: My top ten predictions for the Yankees 2020 season

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees will play 60 games in this shortened season and are poised to go all the way. The predictions although some may come true, are more for fun and debate than anything.  One prediction I will not make is if this baseball season can be completed during a coronavirus pandemic.  If it can’t be completed, none of my predictions will come true.  But, being an optimist, I am basing these predictions on the best possible outcome.

10.  Gary Sanchez will be second in home runs!

Gary Sanchez with fight Giancarlo Stanton for the second-most home runs in the season.  His defense behind the plate will again improve, showing the results of his work with new pitching coach Tanner Swanson.  Sanchez may have his first injury-free season, mostly due to the shortened season. He will catch in just 40 games with Kyle Higashioka will be catching in the remaining games.  With Stanton and Sanchez, who wins the title of 2nd most home runs will rest on who can stay injury-free.

9.  DJ LeMahieu will be good, but not as good!

DJ LeMahieu after a slow start will have a good season, being on base frequently.  His defense will be MVP-like, but his time behind the plate will not be as effective.  His slow start may be due not starting on time and remaining somewhat weak early on due to his coronavirus infection.  His last 30 games will be better than his first 30. Instead of his .327 leading batting average, he will end up the season in the .280’s.

8. Clint Frazier will shine in his first full season!

A more mature Clint Frazier will finally prove to the Yankees that he is worth having on the team.  He will show his determination by fighting through a season with a foot ailment.  His improved fielding will be needed this season and his quick bat will make him a DJ LeMahieu-like player for the Yankees in this short season.

7. Does Giancarlo Stanton return to the player he was in 2017?

Giancarlo Stanton will have a relatively healthy season with the Yankees. He will show signs of the type of player that got him the MVP Award, with the Marlins in 2017.  Although he will not top the team in home runs, he will have fewer strikeouts and will be more productive.  If he stays healthy he could be second in home runs.

6. Gerrit Cole will not lose a 2020 game!

Gerrit Cole after going 20-5 with the Houston Astros he will again shine for the New York Yankees.  Although he will not lose a game, he will have two or three no-decisions in his ten or eleven starts in the short season.  The Yankee’s excellent bullpen will keep him from losing games.  In the postseason he will pitch to the greatness of the Yankee’s Andy Pettitte. I would like to add that Justin Verlander will not replicate his 2019 and that Cole will win the Cy Young Award. He has come in 4th and 5th, last year, 2nd in the voting.  This year he will win it as New York Yankee.

5. Gio Urshela will show 2019 was no fluke.

2019 was a break out season for the man at the hot corner that replaced the injured Miguel Andujar, that underwent shoulder surgery. He made Gold Glove after Gold Glove catches at 3rd.  He surprised the team with his better than expected play behind the plate. Although he may not make his 2019 batting average of .314, he nevertheless will prove his worth behind the plate and at the hot corner.

4. Aaron Judge will again have an injury-shortened season.

Aaron Judge will have an average season, that he will not get through, without further injuries. Although he will be 4th in home runs for the team, he will lack playing time in the field, even though manager Aaron Boone will be protective of him.  His oversized body and musculature will surely hamper his season again.

3. The Yankees will win 48 games in the short-season.

After the New York Yankees won 100 and 103 games during the last two seasons, they this year, will win 48 games.  The Yankees will dominate their traditional rivals in the east along with the Miami Marlins.  The few games they will lose will mostly be with the Nationals, Phillies and the Atlanta Braves. The addition of Gerrit Cole will offset the loss of Domingo German and Luis Severino.

2. Gleyber Torres will be the Yankees MVP.

Gleyber Torres although taking on a new job this season as the Yankee shortstop will shine again topping his 2019 performance and will lead the team again in home runs and doubles.  He will win the MVP for his performance behind the plate.  Although he will not be the best of shortstops, his efforts to be the best, will turn out to be adequate.

1. The New York Yankees will win their 28th World Championship.

Before the coronavirus struck and the season was shut down, the New York Yankees were the odds on favorites to win the division and the World Series. The shortened season has not changed that, in fact, the shut down allowed injured players to recover and be ready for play at the beginning of the season.  Although there will be injuries, they will not come close to eclipsing 2019.  The shortened season will cause fewer injuries.

With the new divisions set up, the New York Yankees will fight the Washington Nationals all season for the leadership in the East Division, but will prevail and face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the World Title, and will accomplish that goal of a 28th World Championship.

If there was to be a number 11 in this list, it would be Miguel Andujar, who will have an excellent season, nearing the top of the team in home runs and on-base percentage.  He will prove during the season that he can play almost anywhere adequately.

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

Is it time for Watford FC to move on from Troy Deeney?

Watford FC, Troy Deeney

When Watford FC needs a helping hand, Troy Deeney always seems to answer the call. After a 2-1 victory over Newcastle on Saturday, the veteran striker believes Watford has “turned a corner.”

Sitting in fourth place at the bottom of the table, Watford has had a tumultuous 2019-20 campaign. Two second-half penalties secured the win and kept the Hornets alive and willing to fight another day. With teams like Norwich already sitting in the relegation zone permanently, Watford is struggling to maintain their Premier League status.

Their highly anticipated matchup against West Ham United on Friday could be the deciding factor regarding their retention. They are currently three points ahead of Bournemouth, who just thrashed Leicester 4-1 over the weekend.

The Hornets will face off against Manchester City and Arsenal to close the season after their matchup against West Ham. Even a draw would essentially guarantee their place in the Premier League, but with a -21 goal differential, Bournemouth is just three goals away from clawing their way back into the conversation.

Can Troy Deeney save the Hornets again from disappointment?

The 32-year-old skipper hasn’t posted double-digit goals since 2017 when he logged 10. With 24 appearances so far this year, he currently has eight goals and will be looking to add to his tally. His brace over the weekend gave him some essential momentum. But his clear lack of speed and agility have significantly hurt his production and effectiveness on the pitch.

Deeney told Watford’s official website:

“We can’t afford to be naive to the situation that we’re in.

“We’re in a relegation fight, we have been since the start of the season with the poor start that we had, but we’ve turned a corner and it’s in our own hands so we’re relishing that.

“We highlighted the last game (Norwich), this game (Newcastle) and the game on Friday as three must-wins and we’re two out of three so far.

“So we want to keep grinding away and getting better and hopefully that will lead into a better next season.

“I think you can see the change, I think you can see the desire, and that’s what everyone ultimately wants from their football team, and the performances will obviously get better.”

Deeney has one year left on his five year, $16.9 million pound deal. After his contract expires, I believe Watford should look elsewhere to supplement the position. He is simply not the striker he once was, and his elite status on the team has gradually decreased. While bringing him back as a reserve option on a cheaper contract might be beneficial, they cannot rely on him to be an everyday starter moving forward.