New York Giants need more from rookie OT Andrew Thomas

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants‘ offensive line has struggled as the team has fallen to 0-5 to start the 2020 NFL season. Second-year quarterback Daniel Jones has been under constant pressure behind the Giants’ “rebuilt” offensive line. New York invested plenty of assets into its offensive line in the 2020 NFL offseason, but so far, these investments have not exactly paid off.

The biggest investment that the Giants made into their offensive line came in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft. With the fourth overall pick in the draft, the New York Giants selected left tackle Andrew Thomas. Through the first five weeks of his rookie season, Thomas has struggled immensely and has not lived up to his first-round expectations.

Andrew Thomas’s Struggles

Through the first five weeks of the 2020 NFL season, Andrew Thomas has looked like a disappointing draft pick. He has had some moments of solid play, but overall, Thomas has been disappointing.

According to Pro Football Focus, Andrew Thomas allowed 9 pressures against the Cowboys in Week Five. Through five weeks, Thomas has been charged with four sacks, 28 pressures, and three hits allowed.

Why Andrew Thomas Should Fine

Andrew Thomas is young. He is a rookie. He is still learning how to play professional football. At only 21 years old, Andrew Thomas has plenty of time to grow. He was not drafted fourth overall to solve an instant need for the Giants. Thomas was drafted to be the team’s left tackle for, hopefully, a decade or more.

So while Andrew Thomas’s rookie season has gotten off to a really poor start, he has plenty of time to turn things around.

New York Yankees: Three free agent relievers to pursue

New York Yankees

With reliever Tommy Kahnle expected to miss all of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, the New York Yankees could use another high leverage pitcher. Here are three relievers that the Yankees could pursue this offseason.

Liam Hendricks

Hendricks, 31, has been arguably one of the best relievers in the league over the past few seasons. He pitched to the tune of a 1.80 ERA in 2019 and a 1.78 ERA in 2020. The Australian born right-hander punched-out 37 batters in 25.1 innings in 2020, picking up 14 saves and three wins.

Kirby Yates

Yates thrived for three years in San Diego before missing most of the 2020 season with an injury. He had a 3.72 ERA in 2017, and got his ERA down to a whopping 1.19 in 2019. Yates was an all-star for the first time in 2019 and even finished in the top-10 in CY Young award voting.

If Yates were to come to New York, it wouldn’t be his first time donning the pinstripes. He pitched 41 games for the Yankees in 2016 with a 5.23 ERA to his name.

Alex Colomé

Colomé has been one of the most consistent relievers in the MLB over the span of his career, but 2020 was undoubtedly his best season. He had a 0.81 ERA over 22.1 innings, punching out 16 and winning two games. In his eight year career, Colomé has only had three seasons with an ERA over three, and hasn’t had a season where his ERA climbed over four.

There are a handful of solid relievers that will hit the free-agent market this offseason. The Yankees could use any of these arms to help bolster their already solid bullpen.

New York Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter suffers ruptured Achilles

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

New York Giants EDGE defender, Lorenzo Carter, suffered a ruptured Achilles on Sunday afternoon in Dallas, per Mike Garafolo.

This was a devastating injury for Big Blue and the Georgia alum as this projected to be the year where Carter broke out. After just 8.5 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and 23 QB hits in his first two years, Lorenzo Carter was slowly developing into his role as the premier edge threat for New York.

Carter had already posted one sack, two tackles for loss, eight pressures, and four QB hits in the first four games of the season. In three of these games, Carter played over 80-percent of snaps proving that he was a vital aspect of the team.

The third-year defender was really coming into his own as he had been a top 20 EDGE defender in the run with a Pro Football Focus (PFF) run-grade of 71.5. Carter also had an overall grade of 68.4 ranking him 34th in the league amongst EDGE defenders.

This season-ending injury adds to a laundry list of devastating injuries seen around the NFL this season. It has called into question the true preparedness that the players possessed coming into the season with a shortened prep period due to COVID-19.

New York Yankees: Is it finally time to let Brett Gardner go?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

New York Yankees’ center-fielder Brett Gardner has spent 13 years with the Yankees and has been with the club for his entire career. The Yankees signed him to a one-year, $12.5 million dollar contract for the 2020 season and he is now a free agent this offseason. The question is, do the Yankees resign the MLB and Yankee veteran back?

Brett Gardner was the last player on the roster this season that was apart of the 2009 World Series championship team. He’s known to be a great leader in the clubhouse and a role model for younger players. Gardner has been willing to do whatever the Yankees asked of him throughout his career in pinstripes and he always played his heart out.

However, it’s time that the Yankees realize the younger talent on their roster and let Brett Gardner walk during his free agency. It became obvious that Clint Frazier is ready to take a full role on the MLB roster and to get a ton of playing time. Left-handed Mike Tauchman, as well. The team already has established superstars such as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and Aaron Hicks that should be the regular starting three in the outfield. Of course, the injury concern always comes into mind when talking about these three, but that’s where Tauchman and Frazier would cover.

Garnder hit .223 in 29 games this season while slugging five homers. The previous year Gardner hit a career-high 28 home runs and held a .251 batting average. He is 37-years-old and is at the end of his career. That’s not to say that he won’t find himself in a one or two-year deal over the offseason, but I think the Yankees and other clubs know Gardner’s career is coming close to an end.

It’s the same idea with Didi Gregorius last offseason. The Yankees knew that young slugger Gleyber Torres was the future shortstop of the franchise and let Gregorius walk during his free agency. Even though all Yankee fans loved Gregorius, it was realistic to let him go. The same goes for Gardy. New York Yankees fans across the board love him, but realistically looking at it, it’s time to let him go

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Center Fielder Brandon Nimmo

Brandon Nimmo had a very underrated year in 2020 for the New York Mets continuing to hold down the leadoff spot in their order. His incredible ability to combine his walks and power made him an instrumental player in the Mets order. Despite his amazing offensive prowess, he ranked as one of the worst defensive center fielders in baseball.

Nimmo started the season slow hitting the ball but his ability to get on base with ease. Through his first 18 games, he hit .218 with a .427 on-base percentage and 18 walks with the same amount of strikeouts. In the rest of his 37 games, his numbers were on an All-Star level. There is a slight caveat, most of his at-bats came against right-handed pitchers.

Either way, his slash line of .305/.393/.534 with six home runs and 13 RBIs is very impressive. His walk rate and strikeouts rates also decreased because he was more aggressive early in the count. It was Nimmo’s first season, where his strikeout rate finished below 20%. He also kept his walk rate in the top 10% in the league. Nimmo also became someone defenses could not shift against. His wOBA against the shift increased by almost 200 points, and it was due to him raising his average on offspeed pitches. He batted .233 in 2020 compared to a lousy .032 during the 2019 season.

Defensive Struggles

Nimmo was forced into center field duty because none of their better defensive players could produce like him offensively. He had a -4 outs above average and a -5 defensive runs saved in center field. Despite having good speed, he could not combine it with getting good jumps and taking correct angles to the ball. Nimmo held his own in right field, but it is tough to see the Mets going forward with him as their everyday center fielder during 2021.

He is heading into his second year of arbitration and will likely get somewhere around $6 million-$8 million in an increased salary. Nimmo’s ability to combine a great eye at the plate with good power makes him a versatile leadoff hitter. The drawbacks come in his center field defense and that he became a platoon player as the season carried on, only hitting .180 against lefties.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 60 (55), Hitting lefties will be the difference between Nimmo being a .300 and .270 hitter.

Power: 60 (60), Would have been on pace for 23 home runs in a full season.

Run: 50 (45), Lost a step this season but still capable of batting leadoff and stealing 10-15 bases.

Arm: 45 (45), 3 Outfield Assists on the Year.

Field: 45 (40), Can’t play center field but should be serviceable everywhere else.

Which players will the New York Mets retain?

The New York Mets are in the middle of an ownership change. Hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen will acquire the team from the Wilpons, pending approval from the MLB owners (which is expected to be a formality.)

The arrival of Cohen, who would become the league’s wealthiest owner, has understandably brought some high expectations when it comes to potential free agents that could land with the New York Mets. Names such as Trevor Bauer, George Springer and J.T. Realmuto have been thrown around.

However, before thinking about bringing outside talent (which is an obvious need, to be honest) the Mets should figure out which free agents they will retain for the 2021 season, as several players’ contracts will expire after the World Series ends.

The Mets’ first decisions are coming closer

So which Mets’ players are set to become free agents? MLB.com reports that outfielders Yoenis Céspedes and Jake Marisnick, infielders Jed Lowrie and Eduardo Núñez, starting pitchers Marcus Stroman, Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha and relievers Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes and Erasmo Ramírez will all hit the market.

Cespedes and Stroman are obviously the big names, but the former is unlikely to return given that his relationship with the Mets appears to have soured ever since he was forced to restructure his deal, not to mention after the handling of his opt-out decision in the early days of the 2020 season.

Stroman could be a candidate to come back, but he will seek a long-term deal in the open market. The Mets will likely extend him a qualifying offer, and he’s likely to reject it to pursue a longer deal.

There are a couple of player options. Dellin Betances and Brad Brach, two important reliever, hold options for $6 million and $1.25 million, respectively.

As for team options, the Mets will decide whether to retain Wilson Ramos ($10 million, with a $1.5 million buyout) Robinson Chirinos ($6.5 million, with a $1.5 million buyout), as well as third baseman Todd Frazier ($5.75 million, with a $1.5 million buyout). Those seems like easy “no” but only time will tell.

PFL CEO Peter Murray: ‘There’s room for another leader in MMA’

When the World Series of Fighting evolved into the Professional Fighters League back in 2017, it would have been easy for the organization to lose its momentum and fade into obscurity.

Instead, thanks to its game-changing league format and deep roster of talent, the PFL has exceeded just about every expectation put on them, and in just two short years, they have established themselves as the fastest-rising MMA promotion in the world and is right up there at the top, just behind the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Probably what makes the PFL stand out the most among other organizations is their game-changing league format, which features a regular season-style elimination round, playoffs, and finals, with the last man or woman standing at the end of each tournament being crowned that year’s PFL World Champion. Apart from some gold around the waist, the newly-crowned PFL champion also gets a US$ 1 million grand prize, another aspect that’s unique to the PFL.

PFL CEO Peter Murray believes that the regular season format is something that all sports fans can gravitate towards.

“We dialed in on what works in other sports, and we have the credibility and authenticity with MMA with great fighters and an incredible presentation and production value,” Murray explained in an interview with heavy.com. “But when you overlay a true sports season format, broader sports fans will understand how that works. It’s programmatic. There’s a beginning, middle, and end.”

As great as the PFL’s league format is, it would be nothing without top tier talent competing in it, that’s why the organization has also assembled a deep roster of some of the world’s most talented fighters featuring reigning champions like Kayla Harrison, Lance Palmer, Ray Cooper III, and Natan Schulte to veteran stars like Rory MacDonald, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, and Bubba Jenkins.

“We all want exciting fighters. I’m looking for a guy that’s well-rounded in the game of mixed martial arts,” PFL President Ray Sefo said in a 2019 interview with Sherdog.com. “I’m not looking for a [fighter] that just wants to take a guy down and be a wet blanket. I love wrestlers that can actually stand and bang, because they can take you down anytime, and then they can trade with you.”

Just recently, the PFL announced eight more roster acquisitions from countries like Brazil, Germany, Norway, South Korea, and the United States, headlined by UFC veteran Cezar Ferreira, multiple-time champion Joilton Lutterbach, and up-and-coming Asian star Sung Bin Jo.

These new signings along with the already deep talent pool are sure to make the PFL’s 2021 season something to watch out for.

While the fighters and the format are helping carry the PFL on the surface level, people behind the scenes like the management team as well as the league’s partners are also making a huge impact.

All of these factors are helping bring the PFL to the pinnacle of the sport, alongside industry leaders such as the UFC.

“There’s room for another leader in this next evolution of the sport,” Murray shared on an episode of David Meltzer’s ‘The Playbook’. “I have amazing partners, we have titans in our ownership group from media, sports, entertainment, and technology.”

New York Yankees Top 10s: Great Yankee shortstops, who was your favorite? (video)

New York Yankees, Yankees, Derek Jeter

The New York Yankees in their 107-year glorious history have had their share of great baseball players.  From Babe Ruth to Joe DiMaggio to Ron Guidry, Derek Jeter, and dozens more, some of the best baseball players in history have graced Yankee Stadium.  In my other top ten columns, I’ve dealt with the pitchers, catchers, and baseman.  In this installment, I will attempt to identify the great Yankee shortstops.  With so many great shortstops, some writers will differ with the order of their preferences.  Here are this writer’s top 10.

One through five is relatively easy, beyond that gets more difficult as the New York Yankees are more known for their outfielders, 2nd and 3rd baseman. If the Yankee has a position that is the weakest in their history, it is probably at shortstop. Also, the Yankees have had players that were known for their offense and defense of their positions, but they were more well know at another position. A good example is Alex Rodgriguez, one of the top five shortstops in all of the baseball lore, but he played 3rd base for the Yankees. Joe Sewell, the Hall of Fame shortstop, could have been included in this list, but I did not consider him as he only played two years for the Yankees.

10.  Tom Tresh

First, let me say about Tom Tresh that he would have been in the top five with the exception that he played more in the New York Yankee Stadium outfield than in at short. Tresh played nine years for the Yankees with a career batting average of .247 with 140 home runs, five seasons with 20 or more, while being an excellent defender at both short and in the outfield.

9. Gene Michael

Gene Michael was valuable to the New York Yankees, as a player, coach, manager, and in the front office.  He was as much responsible for the last ’90s, 2000’s Yankee dynasty as anyone in the organization. Michael started his seven-year stint with the Yankees in 1968. He was not known as a hitter and less so as a long ball hitter.  What he was known for was his excellent defense at short.  He is another Yankees that could have ranked higher on this list if his offense was in line with his defense.

8. Mark Koenig

Many present-day fans don’t know Mark Koenig, he played for the Yankees for six years starting in 1925.  Koenig was an excellent hitter for that time, hitting .285.  He was not a home run hitter but hit for contact.  In 1928 he hit .319 for the season.   He was agile at short and played 2nd and 3rd when needed.  In 1927 he had third-most assists at shortstop in all of baseball (423).  In the World Series that the Yankees lost that year, he hit .500 without any errors in 28 chances.

7. Kid Elberfeld

Kid Elberfeld is another Yankee that few fans don’t remember.  He played short for the New York Yankees between 1903 and 1909.  In his seven years, he averaged .268 with 28 home runs.  As with many players at that time, he played all infield positions with the exception of the 1st base.  His fielding average was .938, which was excellent for shortstops at that time.

6. Bucky Dent

Some may say that Bucky Dent should be further down this list or not on it it all.  I place him sixth due to his exceptional spotlight play in the 1978 one-game playoff with the Red Sox. Dent hit .239 while with the Yankees and was an All-Star twice mostly because of his defense.  Dent was primarily known as a clutch contact hitter hitting 518 hits as a Yankee.

5. Frank Crosetti

Frank Crosetti is my choice as the 5th best Yankee shortstop.  Crosetti played his entire 17-year career with the Yankees, which brings him up on the list substantially. He hit .245 with over a thousand runs scored.  He was a two-time All-Star and a three-time MVP candidate.  Crossetti started his career at short for the Yankees in 1932, a position he held until a poor season in 1940 when Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto took over for him at short.  But he retook the job when Rizzuto left for the Navy. Rizzuto rejoined the club in  946. Crosetti then became a player/coach for the club when he retired in 1948.  He had a .948 fielding percentage as a Yankee

4. Roger Peckinpaugh

Roger Peckinpaugh was a Yankee for nine years and was an MVP candidate in 1914 when he was a player/manager.  He is the only one of the list to have managed the Yankees. He had a .949 fielding average while with the Yankees, which was quite good for that era.  He had a .259 batting average over the span.  He was known as a contact hitter with the ability to steal bases.  He stole 38 in 1914.  In 1921 Peckinpaugh led all of baseball with the most assists in one game (9).  After leaving the Yankees, he had a long managerial career ending with the Indians in 1941.  He later became general manager and president of the Indians.

3. Tony Kubek

Tony Kubek was one of the most beloved New York Yankees. He played 9 years with the Yankees in 1957 he won the Rookie of the Year award.  He played from 1957 to 1965.  He was an All-Star four times and was an MVP candidate three times.  Kubek is the first utility player to make the list, and although he played all over the field, 80% of his games were played at short, which is where he won all his awards.  The only position that Kubek did not play for the Yankees is that of pitcher or catcher.  In Game Seven of the 1960 World Series, he bungled a double play when he was hit in the throat by a bad hop that knocked him out.  At short, he had an excellent .967 fielding percentage.

2.  Phil Rizzuto

Known as much for his career in broadcasting and his onfield play at short. Rizutto can not be overlooked as one of the best Yankee shortstops ever. The “Scooter” had a .968 fielding percentage at short in his 13 Yankee seasons.  Rizzuto was of small stature, and the manager at the time that Rizzuto made his major league debut in 1941 Joe McCarthy once said Rizzuto was too small to be a good baseball player.  History has shown that McCarthy was very wrong.  IN 13 years, he had a fielding percentage of .968.  He hit .273 over the life of his career with almost 1,600 hits over the span.  Rizzuto the five-time All-Star was an MVP candidate eight-time capturing the award in 1950.  Rizzuto was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. When he left the Yankees in 1956, he had over 1200 double-plays under his belt.

He contributed to seven Yankee World Series championships and is sixth all-time in World Series games played, eighth in hits with 45, fourth in walks with 30, and tied for third in stolen bases with 10. Rizzuto would go on to have an exceptional 40 years broadcasting on radio and TV for the New York Yankees.  His folksy style embraced him to the Yankee fans.  His signature “Holy Cow” was known throughout baseball even to this day.

1.  Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is the hands-down best New York Yankee shortstop ever.  This baby bomber spent his entire Hall of Fame career, 20 years with the Yankees all of them at shortstop. He is one of the very few career Yankees to have never played a game at another position at any time during there career.  Jeter was the most popular of all Yankees from the late ’90s to the present.  He was a member of the “Core four” that brought the Yankees to five World Series Championships.

After 20 years at short, he had the highest fielding percentage (.976) of any Yankee shortstop in the history of the club.  Add to that, Jeter was clutch at every important opportunity.  He hit an amazing batting average of .310, the eighth highest of any Yankee.  He led all Yankees playing 2,247 games while getting a historic 3,465 hits.  He was also number one with 544 doubles.

Getting back to Jeter being clutch, he had a unique ability to find himself in impact changing moments during the regular and postseason.  He seemed to relish it, although the shortstop was one of the most modest players always putting the team first.  A few examples include him getting his 3000th hit.  He didn’t just get a hit, he did it in style with a smashing home run.  When it came time for Jeter to retire in his last appearance at Yankee Stadium, he turned fantasy into reality when he hit the walk-off home run in his final game.

Jeter, during his career with the Yankees, was Rookie of the Year in 1996, he was an All-Star 14 times, a twelve-time MVP candidate, a five-time Gold Glove award winner, and a Silver Slugger award winner five times.  Jeter was one fo those unique players that played consistently throughout his entire career and retired at the top of his game.  Jeter became the second Yankee shortstop to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame to be inducted in the 2020 class.  He missed a unanimous vote by just one sour sportswriter.

In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com.  Peak career performance and performance in postseason play was also a factor.  Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.

New York Islanders: Cory Schneider signs and Johnny Boychuk update

Cory Schneider, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have finally signed their first free agent in 2020. This one is quite a shocker. It isn’t the top 6 forward that all Islander fans have been wanting. It isn’t Barzal or Pulock or Toews being re-signed. No, it’s the Islanders signing a depth goalie. But, this move makes total sense. I mean, why wouldn’t the Islanders sign Cory Schneider? He’s not the best goalie by a mile, but the Islanders have no depth. Christopher Gibson and Linus Soderstrom both left. I like this move a lot for the Islanders.

Where Does He Fit?

Schneider is almost certainly going straight to Bridgeport. But, he’s a good replacement goalie if either Varlamov or Sorokin goes down. Mitch Korn will have a field day turning Schneider’s career around. No surprise that Lamoriello signed Schneider, though.

Lou really just recycles the same eight guys in every franchise he’s been with. Schneider will teach Jakub Skarek the ropes. This is perfect for the young goalie. Every young player needs that veteran presence to calm them down and teach them a few things. The contract details haven’t surfaced yet, but my best guess is that it’s a one year deal for about $1 million.

Boychuk Traded?

This is why you clicked on this article. Lou Lamoriello has somehow found multiple suitors for Johnny Boychuk. Always reliable and up to date source, NRD, states that “Things heating up slightly… still a few yards to go, but the Isles are more confident now then they were on finding a home for Boychuk.”

They also stated that the Islanders won’t get anything major back for him. The Isles need this trade to happen. They instantly open up $5 million in cap space and can start resigning their big guys back. Don’t be surprised if it’s Ottawa trading for him.

Why the New York Yankees should bring back DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu has been an extremely productive hitter for the New York Yankees, leading the team in fWAR in each of the last two seasons. Besides winning the batting title this year and showing us his overall offensive excellence every day, he has also played his usual great defense wherever the Yankees have put him.

However, his deal will be up after the World Series is over, and one can’t help but wonder whether the New York Yankees will do everything in their power to retain their services. He’ll surely have plenty of suitors once he hits the free agent market.

According to Bryan Hoch, the Yankees’ beat writer for MLB.com, LeMahieu and the team haven’t discussed a contract extension to this point. However, the second baseman added that both he and the club decided to wait until their season is over to have contract talks.

The Yankees signed LeMahieu to a two-year, $24 million contract before the 2019 season. Since that moment, all he has done is rake: dating back to the moment he put pen to paper, LeMahieu has slashed .336/.386/.536 (146 wRC+) with 36 home runs in 871 plate appearances, and has been a great defender at second, third and first.

The Yankees should pay the man!

Since he is already 32 years old, it remains to be seen if the Yankees show him the money and the long-term commitment he will probably require. He has the talent and the present value to pursue a four-year deal if he so desires.

Retaining LeMahieu should be a top priority for the New York Yankees since he remains a top offensive threat and offers elite bat control and defensive versatility. He is not an all-out slugger that earns his money with home runs and walks. To the contrary, he makes his living on an uncanny abilty to put the bat on the ball, and the lineup would miss those traits if he walks to another team.

DJ LeMahieu has earned his payday. The Yankees should prioritize his return for 2021 and beyond.