New York Giants: Analyzing the defensive line through the first five weeks

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

The defensive line is a big part of every team. Many say the game is won and lost in the trenches. The trenches were a big priority for Dave Gettleman’s rebuild of the New York Giants. He believed in the necessity of hog-mollies up-front and that these were the players that would win the Giants football games. It was a unit that had a lot of expectations for them heading into the season after several years of bad play from the positional group. 

Unfortunately, for them and the Giants, the team has yet to win a football game. However, the question is if the defensive line has been the factor in these losses or have they lived up to preseason expectations.

Leonard Williams

Leonard Williams entered the season with the highest expectations for New York.

After a 0.5 sack season where Williams was still franchised tagged many called into question if Williams really should have a future with the Giants. He was an elite talent but had underperformed for the majority of his career, and many thought that it may have been time to bail. Obviously, the USC product wanted none of that and is on a mission this season to prove all of his doubters wrong.

So far, his mission has been semi-successful. Williams has already improved on his stats from last year. He currently has 19 tackles (11 solo), two sacks, four tackles for loss, 11 run-stops, nine QB pressures, and four QB hits. These are good signs as his four tackles for loss, and two sacks are already more than double his numbers from last year. Williams is also Pro Football Focus’s 36th best interior defensive lineman with an overall grade of 69.0. 

While he has surely stuffed the stat sheet more than last year, his overall efficiency on the line has gone down. His pass rush and run defense grades from PFF are 64.5 and 69.6, respectively. Despite being a little above the league average, these numbers are career lows for Williams. A lot of this is due to the Giants as a whole performing bad, but Williams will definitely need to take that next step if he wants to get the contract extension he thinks he deserves.

Dexter Lawrence

Dexter Lawrence has lived up to his first-round pick hype so far this season.

The Clemson product has built on his strong rookie campaign and is slowly emerging as one of the league’s top interior defensive lineman. He is currently ranked 26th in his position by PFF, with a grade of 71.8. 

Lawrence’s start to the season is also an improvement from his rookie season as he currently has 23 tackles (14 solo), 11 run stops, two tackles for loss, three QB hits, and one sack. These are all on pace to be career highs for Lawrence, and he has gotten the majority of his toughest offensive line matchups (Steelers, Bears, 49ers, and Rams) out of the way. This looks to be a big season for the sophomore defensive tackle and one where he should establish himself as a cornerstone of this team.

Dalvin Tomlinson

Now to nose tackle.

Tomlinson has been Mr. Reliable his whole career. He has never missed a start and has been amongst PFF’s top 30 defensive linemen all four years. 

As for this season, Tomlinson is currently the 24th best interior lineman with a PFF rating of 73.0. Tomlinson has been really improving his pass rush this season as he already has one sack, six pressures, and three QB hits, which all project to be season highs. Tomlinson is also posting the best pass-rushing grade of his entire career, 75.0, in 2020. 

The Alabama alum has also not digressed in the run game, where he still ranks among the league’s best with 12 run stops so far this season.

Overall

As a unit, this trio has been pretty impressive and has lived up to the hype of the best positional group that the Giants possess. They currently have all three members in the top 40 in their position and are leading the Giants to one of the NFL’s statistically best defensive fronts.

The Giants have only allowed a league’s best 79 rushing yards per game. The burden of run-stopping mostly falls on the defensive lineman, and these three have done an amazing job to make New York a top three run defense. This is a drastic improvement from 2019, where the Giants allowed about 113 yards on the ground per game.

Big Blue has also stepped it up in the pass rush as they are currently tied for 12th in the league in sacks with 12 sacks. They have already faced some of their toughest offensive line matchups and are already on pace for more than two sacks of what they did last year. While this seems like a small total, this trio alone only attributed to 6.5 sacks all of last year. Through only five games this year, the front three have already recorded four sacks against some of their toughest opponents of the season.

Big things were expected from this personnel group, and for the most part, they have delivered. Only time will tell if they can sustain this play.

New York Giants: WR Darius Slayton emerging as a premier playmaker

New York Giants, Darius Slayton

The New York Giants‘ offense has been one of the worst in the NFL through five weeks of the 2020 NFL season. Daniel Jones and the offensive line have struggled to get the offense rolling this year. There has also been a slew of injuries and some questionable play calls within Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme.

The Giants’ offense has been held back by a variety of factors. But, in the darkness, there has been one glimmer of hope. Wide receiver Darius Slayton has been excellent, despite the offense’s struggles, and appears to be emerging as a premier playmaker in New York’s offense.

Darius Slayton 2020 Stats and Highlights

Daniel Jones and Darius Slayton are both competing in their second professional seasons. Jones was the Giants’ first-round pick in 2019 and Slayton was selected in the fifth round of the same draft. The two players developed special chemistry in their rookie season. So far, as sophomores, their chemistry seems to be even stronger than it was last year.

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has struggled in 2020. He has thrown only 2 touchdown passes in five games compared to 8 turnovers in the same span. But Darius Slayton has been, by far, his most reliable receiving option and his biggest playmaker.

Darius Slayton has caught each of Daniel Jones’s two touchdown passes this season, both coming in Week One against the Steelers. He has also hauled in 23 receptions on 40 targets, totaling 365 yards.

Slayton is coming off of arguably the most impressive performance of his career in Week Five versus Dallas. In this heartbreaking loss, Slayton was phenomenal, totaling 129 yards on 8 receptions and 4 missed tackles. He was a threat before and after the catch. Slayton also had a 30+ yard receiving touchdown wiped away by a penalty in that game.

This Week Five performance earned Slayton a spot on Pro Football Focus’s Team of the Week. Slayton earned an elite 91.2 receiving grade against the Cowboys.

Entering Week Six, Slayton is primed to face off against the Washington Football Team. They too have a talented second-year wide receiver in Terry McLaurin. Giants fans are hoping to see their young wide receiver outplay the other and lead the Giants to their first win of the 2020 NFL season.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Shortstop Andres Gimenez

New York Mets, Andres Gimenez

Andres Gimenez was one of the New York Mets top prospects heading into summer camp but quickly proved to be more than that. Gimenez made the Mets roster but was not expected to make much of an impact. He took full advantage of limited playing time early in the season and parlayed that into an everyday role at shortstop.

Through July, Gimenez only played in eight games (two starts) but went 4-13 (.308) during that period. His stellar defense and surprising early success at the plate started earning him opportunities to play every day. Gimenez ended up starting 27 of the final 41 games he played in and showed plenty of potential at the plate.

It was easy to forget that Gimenez was just a 21-year old rookie, but his slash line of .263/.333/.398 shows there is still more work to be done at the plate. For a player who has played less than 200 games at AA, it is very promising to see him survive and, at times, excel at the big league level. His strikeout rate (20.6%) and hard contact rate (26.4%) were below what they should be for an everyday shortstop.

Hitting Adjustments

Gimenez can use his 13.5-degree launch angle and 27.5% line drive rate as something to build on. He pulled the ball almost half the time, so he can take advantage of his speed on extra-base hits once he learns to use the whole field.

When teams started to scout Gimenez fully, they figured out how to get him out. They shifted on him more, and he only had a .125 wOBA against the shift compared to .336 without it. Pitchers also started throwing him more breaking balls; he only hit .192 with a .167 slugging against them. His issue was not only being able to hit the fastball, hitting .292 against the hard stuff.

Gimenez hit a tremendous 7-for-16 (.438) against offspeed pitches. It shows he can keep his weight back on the slow stuff but cannot recognize the sliders and curveballs thrown at him yet.

Major League Ready

Statistics aside, this kid has the hitting mechanics in place to become a good major league hitter. Gimenez added a leg kick to his batting stance, allowing him to access more of his power. He showed opposite-field power in flashes as well, which shows it can be something he brings out more as he adjusts to major league pitching.

The glove and base stealing ability of Gimenez is already major league ready. Gimenez had a positive outs above average and one defensive run saved at all three infield positions he played (SS, 2B, 3B). Despite a small sample size, all of the projections put him as an outstanding defender. Gimenez was a menace on the bases, successful in eight of nine stolen base attempts. His speed also ranked him in the top 6% in all of baseball.

Overall, Gimenez is on track to becoming the next star shortstop for the Mets. His eight stolen bases were tied for 10th in the NL, along with his three triples. Gimenez put himself in a position to battle for the shortstop job in 2021 due to his first season.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Hitting: 50 (55), Biggest key will be using the whole field.

Power: 35 (40), Still a couple of years from breaking into the 15-20 home run threshold.

Run: 65 (70), Doubt he will get faster, but his baserunning/stealing ability will get better and better.

Arm: 60 (60), Solid arm allowing him to play anywhere in the infield.

Field: 70 (75), Gold Glove-caliber player, which earned him everyday opportunities.

Overall: 45 (55), His career arc will go as high as his bat takes him.

New York Yankees Top 10’s: The Yankees top right-fielders throughout history

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

This is another installment of my top 10 New York Yankees series, I give my choices for the top 10 Yankee right fielders of all time.  The Yankees, in their glorious history, have many of the best players ever to play in their positions in the history of MLB.  Previous installments have featured the top ten pitchers, catchers, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd baseman. With so many good players and different ways of measuring greatness, different writers may have different rankings, these are mine.

10.  Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge has only played for the Yankees for five years but has racked up a batting average of .272 with 268 runs driven in, and 119 home runs, plus another 11 long balls in postseason play.. Considering his excellent stats, his defense is even better.  He has a rocket of an accurate arm, making many difficult plays look easy.  In future years he could easily rank considerably higher on this list.  The only thing that might prevent that is his frequent injuries. 2017 was his best year with the Yankees, since then his injuries have prevented him from greatness.

9. George Selkirk

Many Yankee fans may not know the name of George Selkirk, but he played for the New York Yankees between 1934 and 1942, playing his entire career for the Yankees. Selkirk was an excellent fielder and hit a .290 batting average for the Yankees with 576 runs batted in. His fielding percentage was .976, which was excellent for that time.

8. Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield could have been higher on this list. However, he only played three years with the Yankees. Sheffield was a menacing figure at the plate. In his three years, he hit .291 with 269 RBIs and 76 home runs. Sheffield, like Aaron Judge, had a cannon for an arm. He made spectacular plays, often hitting the right-field wall. He had a remarkable 22-year career in the outfield. He played for the Yankees between 2004 and 2006.

7. Hank Bauer

Hanke Bauer is often an underrated right fielder. He played for the Yankees between 1948 and 1959. During that time, he hit .277 with 654 runs batted in and 158 long balls. He was one of the Yankee’s most contact hitters of his time. In 12 years with the Yankees, he hit an average of 110 hits a year for a total of 1326 hits. He was a five-time MVP candidate during the span.

6. Lou Piniella

Lou Piniella was one of the most popular New York Yankee players in the 1970s and ’80s. He spent eleven years with the Yankees hitting .295 with 417 RBIs. Piniella was not a home run hitter but had 971 hits in his Yankee tenure. He was a magnificent arm in the outfield. Piniella had a vast knowledge of the game and went on to be the Yankee manager from 1986 to 1987. He also managed the Mariners, Cubs, Rays, and the Reds. He returned to manage the Yankees for the second time in 1988.

5. Roger Maris

Roger Maris is a famous Yankees that is often overrated due to his record 61 home runs in 1961. What is overlooked is that he was an outstanding right fielder. His fielding percentage was .978. He hit .265 with 541 runs batting while getting 203 home runs. He was an MVP in the right-field and an MVP in centerfield as well in 1961. He is one of a very few Yankees to win the MVP award several times. Maris, who came from the Athletics but his seven years with the Yankees, were his best years. After leaving the Yankees, he quickly faded away.

4. Dave Winfield

The hulking Dave Winfield was another Yankee that was a fan favorite. However, he didn’t have the best relationship with the New York Yankees’ primary owner George Steinbrenner and regularly fought with him. Winfield came to the Yankees from the San Diego Padres in 1981 and hung around until 1990. During that time, he hit .290 with 818 runs batting in and 205 home runs. His 1300 as a Yankee was part of a career that produced 3,110 hits. While with the Yankees, he was an All-Star eight times and a five-time Gold Glover in right-field. Dave was a first-ballot inductee into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Reggie Jackson

George Steinbrenner, who was not shy when spending money, reached out into the new free-agent market and acquired Reggie Jackson from the Baltimore Orioles for just short of $3 million in 1976.  Jackson would later say:

“It was like trying to hustle a girl in a bar,” the flamboyant Jackson said about Steinbrenner’s efforts after he signed a five‐year contract with the Yankees said to be worth $2.9 million. “Some clubs offered several hundred thousand dollars more. possibly seven figures more,‐ but the reason I’m a Yankee is that George Steinbrenner outhustled everybody else.”

It was a cheap buy for Steinbrenner as Jackson turned out to be George’s best purchase.  However, Jackson was a controversial player with the Yankees; some loved him, some hated him.  That includes manager Billy Martin, catcher Thurman Munson, and Steinbrenner himself.  There were often fights for power amongst the three.  From Jackson in dugout fights with Martin and his hitting three homers in one game, he always wanted to be in the spotlight.

Regardless of what negative views fans of others had of him, he deserved the praise.  During his five years with the New York Yankees, he hit .281 with 144 home runs.  He had a 900 OPS.  He also had a .980 fielding percentage in right field for the Yankees.  Reggie was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993.

2. Paul O’Neill

Paul O’Neill is unsung and unrewarded as a Yankee right-fielder, and many sportswriters would put him down a few notches on this list. But this writer feels he is one of the best players ever to grace the right-field at Yankees Stadium.  His batting average of .303 over nine years with the Yankees speaks for itself.  He hit for power, he hit for contact, and was the ultimate team player.  He consistently did what was needed to help his team.

O’Neill played for the Yankees from 1993 to 2001, he was part of four Yankee World Series Championships and contributed to all of them. During his time, the “Warrior” had 858 RBIs and hit 185 home runs while hitting nearly 1,500 hits.  Paul will probably not reach the Hall of Fame for his lack of home runs, but for his time with the Yankees, he owned the fans.  In his last game as a Yankee in 2001, it was the ninth inning, from the entire stadium all you hear for the whole inning was “Paulie” clap, clap, clap, clap, Paulie, clap, clap, clap, clap.

 

Since retiring from baseball, he has become an integral part of the YES Network broadcasting and analyzing Yankee games.

1.  Babe Ruth

There is not enough space in this article to talk about the achievements of Babe Ruth, he is not only my pick for the best New York Yankee right-fielder but for the best baseball player ever.  In what was called the worst trade in baseball history, Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee, being short on money, traded Babe Ruth away to the Yankees for $100,000 the day after Christmas in 1919.

Ruth would spend the next fifteen years with the Yankees.  Over the period he had a batting average of an incredible .349, with 659 home runs.  There was no other hitter like him then and since then.  He had a fielding percentage that averaged .965, which for that time was very good.  Ruth was an All-Star and a most valuable player back when awards weren’t as common as they are today.  Being a pitcher for the Red Sox, he even pitched to a winning percentage of 1.000 with a record of 5-0.

In his 15 years with the Yankees, Ruth helped the team win seven American League (AL) pennants and four World Series championships.  In 1936 Ruth was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame as one of its “first five” inaugural members.

 

Honorable mentions go to Jessie Barfield, Willie Keller, Tommy Henrich, and Giancarlo Stanton.

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. Follow me on Twitter @parleewilliam.

 

NASCAR officials say Kyle Larson has applied for reinstatement

Larson was removed from the NASCAR Cup Series circuit after using a racial slur during a virtual race in April.

In a statement from Zack Albert of NASCAR.com, series officials have said that Kyle Larson has applied for reinstatement back onto the circuit. Larson has been suspended since April after using a racial slur during an event on the iRacing racing simulator.

While NASCAR drivers ran virtual races during the COVID-19-induced pause in the spring, Larson, attempting to address his spotter, said over his radio “You can’t hear me? Hey, n*****.” He was originally suspended indefinitely by NASCAR and later outright fired by Chip Ganassi Racing, having driven the team’s No. 42 Chevrolet over the last seven seasons.

After apologizing, Larson remained silent on social media for about six months. He later released an essay on his official site earlier this month and spoke about the incident publicly for the first time on Friday in an interview with James Brown on CBS This Morning.

“It’s not my word to use. I need to get it out of my vocabulary, and I have,” Larson said in his interview with Brown, seen above. “I understand (that) people who might not know me, if they might not believe and think that I’m just checking a box. I feel like I’ve definitely grown more in these last six months than I have in the 28 years I’ve been alive.”

Brown always interviews representatives from the Urban Youth Racing School, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that, according to their statement, “provide(s) urban youth with exposure to an educational initiative that will engage them in STEM in a more holistic way by teaching them how to think critically and independently through preparing them to embrace the depths of all academic subjects for obtaining the skills necessary for successful STEM careers”. Larson had been involved with UYRS prior to the iRacing incident.

“This is the Kyle that I know. This is the Kyle who said this. Now, which one is real?” UYRS co-founder Michelle Martin asks. Asked by Brown why she supported Larson, publicly, Martin says “I had the opportunity to meet with Kyle face-to-face after it happened. One of the things in looking in his eyes for the sincerity was ‘are you sorry that you got caught, or are you really sorry that this happened?’. With our very first conversation, post-the-n-word situation, (present) was the fact that he wanted to learn.”

In his letter, Larson said he completed the NASCAR-mandated sensitivity training but sought to “do some work on (his) own”. Larson hired a diversity coach and later volunteered at a memorial for George Floyd, an African-American man who was killed by Minneapolis police brutality. He also mentions conversations with numerous Black athletes, including former fellow NASCAR competitor Bubba Wallace.

Should he be reinstated, several rumors have linked Larson to a ride at Hendrick Motorsports. Former NASCAR Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart expressed interest in bringing Larson into his Stewart-Haas Racing team.

“I feel like it’s time to get Kyle back in the sport,” Stewart said in an August interview on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I think he’s paid his dues. I think he served his penalty as far as society is concerned. I think it’s time for NASCAR to let the kid have an opportunity to get back to where he belongs and that’s behind (the wheel) of a stock car.”

As the United States undergoes a period of reckoning in dealing with systemic racism, NASCAR has made changes to help all fans feel more welcome at their venues. In June, the series banned displays of the Confederate flag, labeling that their prescience “runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry”.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR: Chase Elliott prepares for a fateful Round of 8

Chase Elliott has accomplished a lot in his NASCAR career, but the next three races could help him take a career-changing step forward.

Chase Elliott wore a hat while speaking with the media on Thursday afternoon. That’s obviously not out of the ordinary when it comes to NASCAR driver availability, but Elliott’s headwear bore not one of his sponsors, but rather the curvy “A” of MLB’s Atlanta Braves. It makes all the sense in the world, considering his Dawsonville, Georgia roots.

“I enjoy watching the sport. Obviously, I’m a Braves fan and they have a game today, and that’s why I’m wearing the hat,” Elliott said with a smile about his hat. He jokingly tried to connect the hat to a sponsor that regularly graces his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “To be honest with you, I forgot I had this media availability today…but I’m sponsored by NAPA.”

The Braves would go on to top the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, giving them a 3-1 series lead. Elliott and his Braves are in remarkably similar situations…with one more win over three opportunities, they can each earn a chance to play for their respective sport’s ultimate prize.

Bolstered by young talent, both the Braves and the No. 9 team have accomplished much in their respective fields. Atlanta has taken home each of the last three NL East division titles, and Elliott has reached the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs in all five of his full-time season. But the final hurdle has proved difficult. One more win for the Braves would send them to their first World Series since 1999. Elliott, meanwhile, is battling to escape from the Round of 8.

The No. 9 is one of eight vehicles left in contention for the 2020 Cup Series title. A 16-driver playoff field has been split in half in time for the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC). The next three races will determine the four-driver championship field at Phoenix Raceway. Playoff drivers who win one of the next three races get an automatic invite to the title push in the desert.

Elliot, the son of 1988 Cup Series champion Bill, has been in a must-win situation at Phoenix on three occasions…when Phoenix hosted the penultimate race of the year and served as the Round of 8’s finale. Heartbreak has followed each time. In 2017, he was passed for the lead by Matt Kenseth with 10 laps to go, denying him the automatic championship entry. Last season saw him wreck in the early stages. Bad luck, often in the form of wrecks beyond his control, forced him into such dire set-ups. Elliott would be the last driver in contention at Phoenix if the Round of 8 was skipped over, but he’s only five points ahead of fifth-place Joey Logano.

He’s not going to let Round of 8 yips of the past affect his approach in 2020.

“For us, we’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel. That’s number one,” he said. “I think another thing that we don’t want to do is to get too far off the beaten path. I feel like, for us, when we’ve been at our best and as a team, myself included, performing at the level that we’re all capable of doing, I feel like we’ve contended with the best of the series this year, in my personal opinion. And, I think we’re capable of doing that again. So, from my situation, I’m just trying to sit back and trying to do exactly that; and trying to perform at the level I know we can.”

By this point, labeling Elliott’s success as the product of nepotism is foolhardy. Elliott has nine wins over the past three seasons and has established himself as NASCAR’s new king of road courses. Last Sunday’s win at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval” (half-oval, half-road course) was his fourth straight on such set-ups. Only series legend Jeff Gordon has eclipsed that mark (6). Further accolades include the most recent All-Star Race and the 2014 Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series title…two before he took over Hendrick’s No. 24 for a retiring Gordon.

Since having switched to the No. 9, a nod to his father’s glory days with Melling Racing, Elliott has seemed to earn everything but a Cup Series title, one that can truly make him a face of NASCAR, one nearing a new generation with a new vehicle template and schedule on the road ahead.

But Elliott’s mind isn’t meandering on any sort of validation…he’ll worry about that if and when his championship moment comes.

“When you’re on the hunt for one or you’ve never done it before, I’m not sure I’m thinking about the validation it’s going to give me on the backside,” he said. “I think I’m really just thinking about that being the goal and that being what I want to achieve and being that next step or the next thing that our team wants to go and have a shot at trying to make the final four.”

“I feel like that’s something you kind of reflect on after you do something like that. I’m not sure you really know what it feels like or what validation it might give you internally unless you’ve achieved it; which I obviously have not.”

“Personally, and as a team, there’s nothing anybody outside of myself or my team is going to say to me to make we want to win a championship more.”

Elliott will start on the pole for Sunday’s race at Kansas. He finished 12th during the last visit to the 1.5-mile tri-oval in the summer, but he won the fall event in 2018.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Islanders: Matt Martin reportedly preparing to sign

New York Islanders, Matt Martin

New York Islanders‘ long term enforcer, Matt Martin, is closing in on a contract to return to the Island. Martin is almost like the modern-day Mr. Islander. Every Islander fan loves him and wanted him to re-sign.

Lou Lamoriello is finally getting the deal done. Arthur Staple, longtime Islanders’ reporter, states that as many as 7 teams inquired on Martin last week. There have been reports that Martin took a hometown discount in order to return to the Island. I’ve projected his contract length and cap hit down below.

Length

This will not be a one year deal. It won’t be a one year deal because Ross Johnston won’t ever take his place. Isles fans have to be happy about this, though. Martin was one of the best players on the Islanders during the playoffs.

Martin is also lightyears better than Johnston. Yes, Johnston can hit pretty hard and fight everyone. Martin can actually forecheck effectively, score key goals, move the puck around, and still be a top enforcer in the league. This deal must be at least 2 years long. I wouldn’t be surprised if the deal is for 3 years. He’s a key piece on the Isles, and that needs to be recognized.

Cap Hit

As previously stated, Martin most likely took a hometown discount. This means he isn’t getting paid $3 million a year like his linemates. That doesn’t bother him though, he’d rather play on the Island than anywhere else. He’d take $700k from the Islanders before he takes $5 million from the Rangers. That’s loyalty in it’s purest form, and that’s why the fans love Martin.

No one wanted him to leave the first time, and no one wants to see him leave again. I believe Martin signed for $1.5 million a year. It’s a discount for him, but it gets the Islanders back a key piece in their lineup.

New York Giants: Sterling Shepard injury update, could miss more time

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants have struggled to get their passing game going through five weeks, and a big part of that is due to the absence of Sterling Shepard. As their top slot option and security blanket for Daniel Jones, losing him has been catastrophic.

However, even though two weeks when Shepard was present, he didn’t make a significant impact. He only tallied 76 yards and eight receptions against Pittsburgh and Chicago before suffering a turf toe injury that has kept him out since.

The Giants inevitably put him on injured reserve, and he is likely to miss the week six contest against the Washington Football Team as the injury lingers.

The Giants have looked Darius Slayton‘s way more than not in recent weeks due to Sterling’s absence, as veteran pass-catcher Golden Tate hasn’t managed to get anything going.

Management elected to elevate Austin Mack from the practice squad and waive Damion Ratley after a costly offensive passing interference call against Dallas in week five.

Mack, who has given defensive backs trouble all season long and during training camp, will finally get his chance to suit up and prove his worth in an NFL game.

As for Shepard, turf toe can be a multiple week injury, as it has been. I don’t expect him to play until week seven against the Philadelphia Eagles, which will be an essential division game, especially if they overcome Washington in week six.

What does Sterling Shepard bring to the New York Giants’ offense?

Even though Shepard didn’t make a significant impact in the receiving game through two weeks, his run blocking is one of the best in the NFL. His ability to seal the outside matches perfectly with Jason Garrett outside zone blocking scheme.

However, consistency and continuity in the new offense are essential for players like Shep, who couldn’t develop a rhythm. Remaining healthy is essential for the 27-year-old receiver, and he has been unfortunately injury prone the past few seasons, notably with concussions.

New York Yankees: Reporter proposes idea to improve infield defense, and it involves trading Gio Urshela

New York Yankees, Gio Urshela

In recent days, fans and some media circles have been talking about how the New York Yankees need to find a way to improve their infield defense, specifically the shortstop position. It’s true, Gleyber Torres, the starting shortstop, hasn’t been good at the position: this year, he had a -5.0 UZR, a -13.0 UZR/150 and -9 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS.)

DJ LeMahieu, a solid defensive second baseman, is set to enter free agency, and Gio Urshela, someone with a good defensive reputation but divisive statistical profile, is under contract.

SNY’s Andy Martino proposes an idea for the New York Yankees to improve the shortstop situation: re-sign DJ LeMahieu, bringing a defensive-minded shortstop and moving Gleyber to the hot corner. Gio Urshela? Trade him, he says.

“The Yanks could tighten their defense by re-signing LeMahieu to play second base, moving Torres to third base, trading Gio Urshela and bringing in a shortstop like Andrelton Simmons or Brandon Crawford,” he wrote.

He defends his idea, saying that scouts and metrics say that the Torres experiment at short “hasn’t worked out. Torres seems to be lacking in some basic skills and instincts like knowing when to cover the bag — odd for a player who came up in the minor leagues as a shortstop — and doesn’t have the range that is ideal for the position.”

Do the Yankees need to upgrade the shortstop position?

The Yankees’ Torres was in the bottom two percentile in Statcast’s defensive metric outs above average.
“Most evaluators believe that Torres is best suited to play second base. But that’s LeMahieu’s position, and the Yankees need his bat and quiet leadership. A year ago, the Yankees considered trading Luke Voit to create more lefty-right balance in the lineup. Doing so now would achieve a different objective in freeing up first base for LeMahieu. But Voit has emerged as a star, and should probably stay.”

“That leaves Urshela as the odd man out if the team wants to keep both LeMahieu and Torres. Although we’ve grown accustomed to watching Urshela make exceptional plays at third base, the advanced stats tell a different story, ranking him behind 80 percent of MLB third basemen in outs above average,” he said.

What do you think about the idea? Feel free to use the comments section to weigh in.

New York Yankees: Luke Voit eager to avenge the postseason defeat

New York Yankees, Luke Voit

The New York Yankees were convinced that they could defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. First baseman Luke Voit even said “we are going to win it,” after the Bombers took Game 4 behind a good start from Jordan Montgomery. However, the offense wasn’t there and they fell short 2-1, losing the best-of-five series.

On Thursday, Voit appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter and talked about the disappointing loss, one that has been tough to swallow for the New York Yankees’ players and the fanbase. “It was really tough on us, but we will get them next year,’’ he said.

The Rays were very problematic for the Yankees. In the regular season, they won eight of the ten matchups between the two teams. And later, in the postseason, they sent the Bombers packing with the series victory in San Diego.

They beat the Yankees fair and square

Even still, Voit wasn’t being a sore loser. He praised Tampa’s talent, he just wants next season to get here already so the Yankees can avenge the defeat.

“They are a feisty bunch of hitters. They kind of play small-ball, find a way to get guys over, bunt and going first to third,’’ Voit said. “Their pitching depth is unbelievable. You have to give them some credit. They will bring their closer in the fourth inning just to get through the part of our lineup. It’s a different philosophy, but it is working.’’

“They took it to us, but you know what? We are going to be back next year and get after it,’’ Voit said. “But at the end of the day, you have to tip your cap even though it is frustrating and not what we want as Yankee nation.’’

The Rays are currently up 3-2 against the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series. They held a 3-0 lead, but the Astros have fought back and are now about to even the matchup if Tampa doesn’t close it out.