The WR1 the New York Giants could be looking for in 2021 FA

Allen Robinson, New York Giants

Isn’t it ironic that the New York Giants desperately need a WR1 after trading away Odell Beckham Jr. last year? Considering Big Blue ranks dead last in the NFL with 44 points through four games, their offense could certainly use a jolt of energy.

Beckham, who posted 81 yards through the air and 73 yards on the ground in the victory over the Dallas Cowboys Sunday afternoon, is rubbing it in the face of the Giants. He also hit pay-dirt twice, while the Giants haven’t scored a touchdown in over two games. Over the last 16 quarters of football, Daniel Jones and the offense have only reached the end zone twice, with their last six scoring drives resulting in field goals.

Considering the Giants’ lack of offensive weaponization, finding a free agent WR1 in 2021 might be a necessity. Given they don’t allocate a high draft pick toward the position in the 2021 NFL draft, current Chicago Bear Allen Robinson could fit the bill. Against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Robinson posted 101 yards and one score over seven receptions.

The Bears only managed 11 points, but Robinson displayed his number one WR status in the loss. So far in the campaign, Robinson has 331 yards and two scores and would offer Jones a fantastic option in the receiving game.

The New York Giants will need to allocate resources one way or another:

The primary issue is his future contract, which will likely land in the $15-18 million range per season. The Giants have a healthy cap situation at the moment, given they have several high profile players on one-year deals. They currently are paying Leonard Williams and Kyler Fackrell a combined $20.7 million. Getting rid of their contracts would allow the Giants to sign Robinson and then some. In addition, they could look to extend Williams on a multi-year deal, but it would have to be less than $14 million per-season, given his inability to rack up sacks at an extravagant level.

Pairing Robinson with Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton would be fantastic; this would also assume that the Giants cut Golden Tate, who would otherwise count $8.5 million against the cap. After the 2020 season, the Giants have an out in his deal, counting $4.7 million against the cap in dead money, but will ultimately save them about $4 million.

With all of these savings added up, the Giants are in a solid position to spend in free agency and add players via the draft. With a defense playing above their weight-class, solving the offense’s issues is a major concern at this point.

Of course, I would be remiss not to mention the schematic deficiencies that offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has imposed on the team thus far.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: First Baseman Pete Alonso

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

Pete Alonso‘s rookie season for the New York Mets was nearly impossible to duplicate. He hit 53 home runs, won the home run derby and rookie of the year. The combination of tough luck and lack of plate discipline caused him to underachieve during the 2020 season.

Alonso struggled mightily during the first third of the season, only batting .197. Though he walked at a good rate, he only had two home runs through the season’s first 18 games. His defense also suffered from it, which caused him to see more time at designated hitter.

The following 20 games were filled with inconsistency. At times, it looked like he was becoming the 2019 Alonso, and during others, he looked completely lost. Over his next 20 games, he hit six home runs but only batted .222. Part of his unlucky season comes from a .204 BABIP, where he would have line drives sucked up by the shift.

Return to Form

Alonso’s struggles came from him over swinging, overthinking, and swinging outside of his strike zone. The over swinging came from him trying to replicate his home run output. His strength is at the top of the league, and using his natural swing will allow him to access his full field power.

The overthinking came during at-bats where he would let fastballs in the zone go by then chase offspeed pitches outside of the zone to strikeout. It also led to him spending the year around the .200 mark with runners in scoring position. Lastly, he spent a lot of time chasing pitches up in the zone that he cannot hit. Alonso only had a slugging percentage of .167 on pitches up and in for a strike and .200 on pitches up and away for a strike.

In five of the other seven squares in the strike zone, he slugged over .500. The adjustments showed over the final 19 games where slashed .271/.338/.657 with eight home runs. While the walk rate dropped, the strikeouts did as well since he was making solid contact. Should this have been a longer season, we would have seen his numbers improve to where the slump would be a forgotten part of the season.

2021 Improvements

While his defense took a step back during his sophomore slump, expect it to return to where it was in 2019. If there is a designated hitter in 2021, Alonso will play first less due to Smith’s emergence. He finished the season on a six-game hitting streak and looked like the complete hitter he was during his amazing rookie season. There were worries early in the 60-game sprint, but there is no reason to doubt a big season from Alonso in 2021.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 35 (55), Having Chili Davis back in the locker room will make a big difference

Power: 80 (80), Still one of the best in the power department. Still finished tied for third in the NL, despite the struggles.

Run: 30 (30), Very good baserunning instincts for a player who lacks speed

Arm: 50 (50)

Field: 30 (40), The hard worker Alonso is will definitely show the stepback on defense was a fluke

Overall: 55 (70), Expect nothing short of greatness in 2021

State of the bantamweight division after UFC Fight Island 4

UFC Fight Island 4 was a big night for the women’s bantamweight division. On the main card you had four of the top six contenders in the bantamweight division in action. The champion, Amanda Nunes, had her eyes on the action on Saturday.

In the main event of UFC Fight Island 4, Holly Holm (14-5) took on Irene Aldana (12-6). A fight that was being hyped up as a competitive striking match proved to be anything but. Instead of a competitive fight, Holm completely dominated Aldana over the course of five rounds.

The former UFC bantamweight champion made a big statement on Saturday. Earlier in the evening the top ranked bantamweight contender, Germaine de Randamie (10-4) was also in action. The former featherweight champion took on Juliana Pena (9-4).

This fight proved to be much more competitive than the main event. Both ladies had clearly won a round entering the third in final round. Pena tried to be aggressive, but she ended up getting caught in a guillotine choke. The former UFC champion tightened the choke and put Pena out.

It was a big night for the top two contenders in the bantamweight division. Both de Randamie and Holm were very impressive, however, there’s not a clear number one contender after Saturday. However, there appears to be a clear path for what’s next.

What should the UFC do?

The greatest women’s fighter of all time, Amanda Nunes, will be defending her featherweight title later this year at UFC 256. The double champion is expected to drop back down to defend her bantamweight title at some point in 2021.

With Nunes planning on returning, the path for the UFC is pretty clear. The promotion needs to pair up de Randamie and Holm again after Saturday night. These two ladies have history that dates back to UFC 208.

Holm and de Randamie headlined that PPV which crowned the first UFC women’s featherweight champion. De Randamie won on the scorecards, but it was a fight that was littered with controversy. De Randamie hit Holm after the bell following multiple rounds.

While de Randamie won three rounds, many believed she should’ve had a point taken away which would have made the fight a draw. Instead, de Randamie walked out as the UFC‘s featherweight champion. However, nobody felt great about the result.

There has never been a more perfect time to run this fight back. These two are the top ranked contenders in the bantamweight division, and it’s going to take some time before Nunes is ready to defend the title. The winner of the rematch would present a clear top challenger for the GOAT.

New York Yankees postseason preview: Cole to face Snell in first game of the 2020 postseason ALDS

Tonight will be an epic game in New York Yankees history. In a heated season between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, they will meet up in a must see match between two aces, the New York Yankees Gerrit Cole and the Tampa Bay Rays Blake Snell, in game one of the American League Divisional Series at Petco Park in San Diego, California.

Tonight the two teams will leave the hotel resort they both share in Carlsbad, California, and take the field in San Diego, and take part in the first game of five games to determine who will go on to compete in the American League Championship Series and have a chance to go on to the World Series of baseball. The other game played today will be played by the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics.

Major League Baseball’s 2020 playoffs are headed to the divisional round after eight teams were eliminated in the Wild Card Series. The 16-team playoff field was cut in half in the best-of-three Wild Card Series with six teams needing just two games to advance. The Yankees will face the Rays, and the Astros will take on the Athletics in the pair of ALDS matchups. The Astro’s first game of the series will have been completed at Dodger Stadium when the Yankees take the field. On the National League side of the bracket, the top-seeded Dodgers will play the Padres at  Arlington on Tuesday. The Marlins go up against the Braves on Monday in Houston.

During the regular season, the Tampa Bay Rays bested the Yankees 8 games to 2.  But this is a very different team than the Rays took on during the regular season.  It’s a team that is now mostly healthy, powerful, and ready to take on the postseason. DJ LeMahieu, the baseball batting champion, Luke Voit, the baseball home run leader, and both Giancarlo Stanton and slugger Aaron Judge all missed games in those matchups.

“We’re a lot healthier, these games are a lot more meaningful,” said Voit. “They have good pitching and they figured out ways to score runs against us, you gotta give them credit, but I think we’re a lot different team than when we faced them during the regular season, and I feel good about us. We got a really tough lineup, and I think we’re gonna do a lot of damage against them.”

Aaron Judge said previous to the game that he is looking forward to facing the Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell in the first game of the five-game series.

“Blake Snell’s an incredible pitcher…He’s the ace of that staff, great competitor…You love competing against guys like that,” he said. “He’s gonna go out there and lay it on the line, give it his all every single outing, and he’s gonna have fun doping it. Same with me, I’ma go out there and do my best, lay it all on the line, and we’re gonna have some fun.”

“They just got a lot of good arms down there. A lot of good guys that can get it upper 90s, got good breaking pitches that they throw in the zone…You really can’t sell out to their fastball or sell out on the breaking ball. They can throw either pitch in the zone at any time, so that makes it tough at times,” Judge said.

The game will be played at Petco Park in San Diego; Petco is an open stadium in downtown San Diego, California; it’s the home of the San Diego Padres of the National League. The weather for the game will not be a factor; as the 8:07 pm EDT, first pitch time will feature clear skies and a temperature in the upper ’70s.  There will be no chance of rain and just a light breeze from the north. The game will be televised nationally on the TBS Network with pre and post-game coverage on the YES Network.

In 2008, after years of ignoring the expansion of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the Rays won their first division Championship over the New York Yankees, and the Rays became rivals. As the years progressed, the rivalry increased, as did the tension when the teams played together. Both teams resented each other for aggressive play. They were often accusing each other of purposely hitting each other’s hitters and sliding into bases too hard. All of this caused increased chirping from both dugouts.  The tensions between the teams reached its highest point on September 27, 2018. After a back-and-forth of hitting batters, when CC Sabathia was ejected for throwing at Jesus Sucre. Sabathia was furious and let the Rays’ dugout know it by yelling directly at them.

The back and forth chirping continued in 2019. In 2020 the Rays bested the Yankees for the Division win. Also, the Rays won 8 of the ten times the team faced each other in the shortened season. The teams met more drama on September 1, when New York Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman nearly hit Mike Brosseau in the head. Both teams burst out of the dugouts, although there were no punches thrown, both teams shouted at each other on the field. Both managers and Chapman were thrown out of the game. It should be mentioned that both teams have hit batters earlier in the series, and the Yankees were tired of the Rays pitchers throwing up and in to their batters.

The entire incident boiled over when, after the game, the Rays manager overreacted by claiming the Chapman ball was on purpose and could have killed his player.

“Somebody’s got to be accountable. And the last thing I’ll say on it is, I got a whole damn stable full of guys that throw 98 miles an hour. Period.”

The threat was made real when the team had t-shirts made, emblazoned with the phrase. And now these two teams will play a five-game series to determine who will go on to the American League Championship series, and they will do it while living together at the same resort.  The last time these teams faced off was on Sept. 2 at Yankee Stadium, while the ALDS will be played at a neutral-site at Petco Park in San Diego, preventing any home-field advantage for either team. Ahead of workouts, the Rays Kevin Keirmaier didn’t mince his words.

“They don’t like us, we don’t like them, and it’s going to continue to stay that way,’

The New York Yankees Brett Gardner stated that the feeling is mutual, but we are concentrating on winning the Divisional series. With the tensions between these teams, and the stakes so high, one has to wonder what will happen in the series if a batter gets unintentionally hit by an opposing pitcher. You have to remember that Rays manager Kevin Cash all but promised to get back at the Yankees. For fans of both teams, the series will be must-watch tv.

The Yankees will start their ace, Gerrit Cole. Cole is a postseason veteran, pitching in eight postseason games, with a 7-4 record and an ERA of 2.60. His regular-season record was 7-3 with an ERA of 2.84.  He tossed the first game of the Wild Card Series against the Cleveland Indians and went seven strong innings, giving up two runs, walking no one, and racking up 13 strikeouts, while throwing 105 pitches. The 13 strikeouts without a walk pair him with Tom Seaver (1973) as the only pitchers to accomplish the feat.  Cole, in his last 34 innings while paired with battery mate Kyle Higashioka has pitched to an ERA of just 1.32. Cole is 0-1 against the Rays this year. That loss came when the Yankee lineup was struggling.

Cole will need to go deep into the game, using just one or two relievers so that the Yankees will have a fresh bullpen for Masahiro Tanaka’s start on Tuesday.  Ideally, the Yankees powerful lineup will burst out early against Snell, limiting Cole’s pitch count, as if the series goes to five games, it will allow Cole to start that game on short rest.

The Tampa Bay Rays will start Blake Snell. Snell was 4-2 in the regular season with an ERA of 3.24 in 11 starts.  Snell seldom goes more than five innings and records just over one strikeout per inning. Should Snell not go deep into the game today, the Rays can count on their strong bullpen to back him up. Snell is the first Ray’s pitcher to pitch five no-hit innings in a postseason game. Snell is going to have to find a way to shut down the batting title, DJ LeMahieu.  LeMahieu hits very well off of Snell. He batted .429 against snell in 14 at-bats.

Snell is a really good pitcher, but pitches differently to the New York Yankees than any other team.  He doesn’t use his slider, instead concentrates on his high four-seam fastball.  This means tonight you will not see many down and in pitches; he will hope the Yankees go out of the zone on outside pitches and miss his high fastball. Snell is a conventional pitcher that pitches pretty much by the textbook.  The Yankees can take advantage of this, knowing that a high fastball will greet the in their first at-bat.

The bottom line tonight is that Cole is going to pitch like Cole can pitch, and, at the same time, avoid giving up the long ball.  The Yankees are going to have to have their lineup alive and string hits together and hope the power hitters can rack up some RBI’s with a few long balls. The Yankees have had a problem this year, leaving men on base; they are going to have to avoid that throughout the series if they wish to get to the ALCS.

 

After Bellator Milan win, is James Gallagher in title contention?

This past weekend at Bellator Milan, James Gallagher (11-1) made a statement with his performance. The confident Irish bantamweight submitted a very tough and game Callum Ellenor (8-3) in the first round of their main event at Bellator Milan.

There was a lot of heat between the two bantamweights leading up to the contest. Gallagher shoved Ellenor at the pre-fight weigh in ceremony to draw up interest. Throughout the fight, Gallagher did a very good job of beating Ellenor wherever the fight took place.

Gallagher did a fantastic job of using his good kicks to keep Ellenor at range to start the fight. As soon as Ellenor tried to return a kick, Gallagher caught it and dragged him to the ground. That is where Gallagher completely took control of the fight.

Once the two were on the ground, it was all Gallagher. Ellenor tried to get up a few times, but ended up giving up his back to Gallagher. Once Gallagher has your back, you’re in deep trouble. The Irish bantamweight locked up a rear naked choke and won his fourth straight in the Bellator cage.

Bellator Title Contention?

Gallagher trains at the same gym as Conor McGregor, and he’s bitten off a little bit of that McGregor swagger. Gallagher was the hottest prospect in Bellator prior to him getting demolished by Ricky Bandejas back at Bellator 204.

That was a very humbling fight for Gallagher who had to refocus his career after that loss. Since that fight, Gallagher has gone 4-0 with three wins by rear naked choke inside the Bellator cage. After the fight, Gallagher said that he was coming for that bantamweight title.

Juan Archuleta just captured the vacant title with his win over Patchy Mix back at Bellator 246. Sergio Pettis is likely going to get the next shot at Archuleta. With that in mind, perhaps the promotion could book Gallagher against Patchy Mix.

The winner would definitely be deserving of a shot at the bantamweight title. I think it’s time for Gallagher to take that step up to really elite competition in the Bellator cage. It doesn’t get much better than top contender Patchy Mix.