New York Giants lose starting kicker and punter to COVID-19 list

New York Giants, Graham Gano

The New York Giants have been lucky this season in dealing with a pandemic. While the team hasn’t come out without any problems at all, they’ve mostly avoided having players and staff get sick and the COVID-19 list hasn’t seen much use by the team. However, that’s starting to change as the Giants’ special teams unit has been hit hard recently and could see big changes for their week 12 game against the Bengals.

Starting kicker Graham Gano ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be ready in time to make a return against the Bengals. As if that’s not bad on its own, the Giants also lose starting punter Riley Dixon to the list. He was placed on it Wednesday along with long snapper Casey Kreiter.

However, there is no guarantee that these players actually tested positive. It’s possible for players to end up on the list simply because they were around contacts who did, or were at higher risk for infection.

The team didn’t report new positive tests on Wednesday when Dixon and Kreiter were placed on the reserve list.

The Giants have brought in alternative option Ryan Santoso from the practice squad to fill in for these two players. Santoso is a dual kicker and punter and played in three games last season for the Titans. However, he was waived by the team in December and joined the Giants during September of this year.

Graham Gano definitely did test positive for the virus, unlike Dixon and Kreiter, so it remains to be seen if all three players will be ready to go against Cincinnati. If not, the Giants might just have a relative unknown player kicking their big field goals for them.

AJ McKee remains perfect at Bellator 253

AJ McKee

Tonight, Bellator MMA returned with the continuation of their Featherweight Grand Prix. In the main event of the evening, AJ McKee (16-0) was looking to stay undefeated as he fought former bantamweight champion, Darrion Caldwell (15-3).

Caldwell was coming into tonight off back to back wins since moving up to featherweight. After Caldwell lost his bantamweight crown at Bellator 222, he decided he needed a little change of scenery so he decided to chase on million dollars in the Grand Prix.

McKee on the other hand is one of the hottest prospects in MMA. He’s not just the talk of Bellator, but the entire MMA community is buzzing about AJ McKee. The son of a former fighter, McKee was looking to punch his ticket to the Bellator Grand Prix finals tonight.

For the first time in his Bellator career, McKee would be taking on a fighter who on paper was a better wrestler. Caldwell was a national champion wrestler and we saw those wrestling skills right away in the main event.

Caldwell was able to land a takedown early on in the first round. However, McKee was extremely active from his back. Then out of no where, McKee locks up a neck crank from the bottom and Caldwell is forced to tap very early into the first round. Incredible performance by McKee.

AJ McKee defeats Darrion Caldwell by Submission (Neck Crank) – Round 1

What’s next after Bellator 253?

If you were not impressed with AJ McKee before Bellator 253, you have to be now. The undefeated phenom continued his dominance but this time he did it over a former world champion.

McKee is the total package and he’s going to be a nightmare for anyone in Bellator. He’s got incredibly slick striking and he is insanely creative in all aspects. That submission tonight truly came out of no where.

After tonight, McKee advances to the finals of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix. He will wait for the champion, Patricio Pitbull, to face Emmanuel Sanchez which is likely going to take place early next year.

The New York Yankees were right to let Robinson Cano walk all along

On Wednesday, the MLB announced that Robinson Cano of the New York Mets has been suspended 162 games for use of PEDs, his second violation. The suspension will likely assure that Cano will never make the Hall of Fame, forever tinting his legacy.

Cano’s stellar career began with the New York Yankees in 2005, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting. His nine-year tenure with the Bronx Bombers saw five all-star selections and four top-10 finishes in MVP voting.

However, after the 2013 season, the Yankees would let Cano walk in free agency. He’d accept a 10-year, $240 million contract over a 7-year, $175 million offer from the Yankees.

As disappointing as it was to lose Cano to the Mariners at the time, the Yankees wound up being right about letting him walk.

Cano would have four solid seasons with the Mariners before seeing an 80-game suspension derail his 2018 season. That off-season, Cano was dealt to the Mets where he’d see the 2019 season be the worst of his career. Cano bat just .256 while only playing in 107 games.

In the shortened 2020 season, Cano seemed to be getting his career back on track. Hitting .316 in the COVID-19 shortened season, Cano hit 10 home runs and drove in 30 with an OPS of nearly .900.

Cano’s 2021 suspension might end up being it for the smooth-swinging second-baseman. He’ll be 39 once reinstated, and with the Mets under new ownership, Steve Cohen could permanently replace Cano with young-guns. We’ll see what Cohen has in store, but the future doesn’t look good for Robinson Cano.

Despite having some good seasons with the Mariners, the Yankees were smart to let him walk. They would’ve had to deal with suspensions and a guy who isn’t know to have the most hustle in the world. Once again, Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman has proven why he’s one of the smartest men in baseball.

New York Giants: S Logan Ryan confident and ready to tackle the rest of the season

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants are fresh off of a statement victory against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 10. This win was crucial, as this was the firs time the Giants beat their heated rival Eagles since 2016. This win was also clutch as the Giants’ record improved to 3-7, keeping them in the hunt to win the NFC East.

It appears that the race to win the east will come down to the Giants and the Eagles. The Dallas Cowboys seem out of the hunt as they have been starting third and fourth string quarterbacks and dropping games ever since they lost Dak Prescott to a season-ending injury. The Washington Football Team has also lost its starting quarterback for the season. These teams are trending downward, along with Philadelphia, while the Giants are trending upward and starting to click on both sides of the ball.

The Giants are fortunate to see their offense finally get on track these past two weeks. New York’s struggles this season have occurred while in possession of the football. For the most part, the defense has been consistent and efficient in 2020. Mostly thanks to some clutch free agent signings by Dave Gettleman, Joe Judge, and company.

The Giants made a number of key free agent signings this offseason. James Bradberry and Blake Martinez standout as the team’s splash free agent signings. Both of them have been excellent in 2020. But the Giants’ third splash in free agency came much later in the process with the training camp signing of Logan Ryan. Logan Ryan has quietly been one of the best players and leaders on the Giants’ defense this season. And this defensive leader is confident in the direction that the Giants are heading to close out this season.

Logan Ryan’s 2020 Season

New York Giants safety Logan Ryan believes in his team and their future. Not just the long-term future, but Ryan believes in the Giants’ immediate future. When discussing the Giants today, Ryan saidWe are putting in the work and I don’t think the Eagles are matching that. We are on a mission this year and no one is on our level.”

After an impressive Week 10 victory over Philadelphia, Logan Ryan is confident that the Giants are the better of those two teams. He believes that the Giants are going to win the race to win their division. And, if they continue to play the way they have the last two weeks, there is a good chance he ends up being right about that.

Ryan has been excellent for the Giants this season, manning the free safety position. The Giants signed Logan Ryan after rookie safety Xavier McKinney suffered a broken foot during training camp, an injury that has kept him out for the whole season to this point. McKinney looks likely to return to the lineup soon, but Ryan has been playing at a high level, so he will by no means be replaced by the rookie once he returns.

Through ten games, Logan Ryan has totaled a combined 59 tackles. He has also been a playmaker, forcing two fumbles, one interception, and even recording one sack. Ryan was signed to a one-year contract this training camp. Considering the leadership presence he has had on this team and the high level of performance he has contributed, it is likely Logan Ryan will play his way into a contract extension this season.

New York Mets: Former manager and advisor Terry Collins is “retired”

New York Mets, Terry Collins

A longtime manager of the New York Mets, who was still involved with the organization as an advisor until recently, has, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, decided to step aside and call it a career. And what a colorful career it was.

Terry Collins, who was the New York Mets’ manager from 2011 to 2017, informed Heyman about his future, reaching him via text message and saying him: “I’m retired.” Collins is 71 years old and is a respected figure in the Mets organization.

He had been working as an advisor under former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who was fired when new Mets’ owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson took over the team in the past few days.

Collins was even a manager candidate before last season, when the Mets ended up appointing Carlos Beltran. However, he didn’t return to a manager position.

Collins was the skipper when the Mets last reached the World Series, back in 2015. They lost to the Kansas City Royals in that Fall Classic. Alderson was then acting as the club’s general manager, a role he fulfilled from 2010 to 2018. That means Collins was the manager for the majority of Alderson’s tenure as the GM.

He will be remembered for his tenure with the Mets

Before managing the Mets in 2011, Collins had previously served as the skipper for the Houston Astros and the Anaheim Angels, before they changed their name to the Los Angeles Angels.

Collins will likely be remembered for three things: reaching the World Series in 2015, leaving Johan Santana to throw 134 pitches in his 2012 no-hitter, and sticking with then-ace Matt Harvey in the ninth inning in Game 5 against the Royals in the World Series.

If Collins is indeed retired, he ends his career with a career managerial record of 995-1,017, according to Danny Abriano of SNY.

Knicks net two 2023 2nd rd picks, Ed Davis in Jazz’s salary dump move

New York Knicks, Leon Rose, Ed Davis

For the second time in a row, the New York Knicks and the Utah Jazz have consummated a minor trade that has a profound impact.

This time, the Knicks absorbed Ed Davis’ $5 million expiring salary according to multiple reports, first by The Athletic’s Tony Jones.

The Jazz have attached two 2023 second-round picks for the Knicks’ troubles—that frees up $5 million for Utah to work on re-signing its free agent Jordan Clarkson.

The Knicks still have $35 million left in their cap space, while the Jazz are now $18 million under the luxury tax.

On Wednesday, the Jazz and the Knicks have swapped their picks (the Knicks’ 27th and 38th picks for the Jazz’ 23rd pick).

Later in the draft, the Knicks parlayed the 23rd pick into the 25th (used to draft Immanuel Quickley) and 33rd picks. The Knicks then traded away the 33rd pick to the Los Angeles Clippers and received a 2023 second-round selection via Detroit.

The Knicks now have four 2023 second-round picks, including their own, in what should be a loaded draft with the one-and-done rule expected to be lifted.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Analyst says that Yankees’ catcher Gary Sanchez has ‘no trade value’ and explains why

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees surely miss the Gary Sanchez of a couple of seasons ago. That batter could comfortably put at least a 110 wRC+ and be a threat to hit a home run every time he stepped on the batters’ box. The latter part of the statement remains true, but Sanchez, who slumped all the way to a .147/.253/.365 line in 2020, finished with a disappointing 69 wRC+.

Yes, the sample size is small, but the offensive slump, inability to make consistent contact, and his suspect job blocking balls in the dirt and framing, resulted in the New York Yankees giving nearly all of the postseason starts to backup Kyle Higashioka.

After the season ended, the Yankees said that they will at least listen to offers on Sanchez. But does he have any trade value left? Craig Edwards, an analyst at Fangraphs, seems to think that is no longer the case.

The Yankees miss his contributions

FanGraphs doesn’t expect Sanchez to return to form. Here’s why:

“The swing-and-miss issues on sliders are pretty indisputable. … Sánchez whiffed on 18% of sliders last year, which was right in line with his career averages. … Further compounding things was a more than 50% increase on whiffs against four-seam fastballs. … But wait, it gets worse. … Jeff Zimmerman looked at Sánchez’s poor BABIP and found the shift was killing his batting average despite his hard contact. … Add that all up, and you get an offensive performance that hit new lows this past season and has been trending downwards for quite some time.”

If the offensive struggles continue and the defensive limitations persist, Edwards is inclined to believe that “he’s a below-average player and a decent backup. And if he doesn’t get the bat back up to average, he’s the third catcher/26th man on the roster who can pinch-hit and rarely starts.”

So what should the Yankees do?

Edwards says that “the Yankees are supposedly ‘open’ to trading him, but who is going to give up decent players and pay Sánchez his $5 million salary when he isn’t really projected as a starter-level player? There are a bunch of teams who would likely be willing to take a chance on him — the Rockies, Rangers, Marlins, and Tigers come to mind immediately — but they’re probably unwilling to give up any promising or useful players in exchange.”

Report: Knicks pursue Gordon Hayward, Malik Beasley

After a thorough house cleaning that opened up a $40 million cap space, the New York Knicks have reportedly begun shopping.

Marc Stein of the New York Times doubled down on The Ringer’s earlier report of the Knicks’ interest in Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Hayward has declined his $34 million player option and will enter free agency.

Aside from having the cap space, the Knicks have Johnnie Bryant credited for Hayward’s development in Utah.

ESPN’s front office insider Bobby Marks told Empire Sports Media that Hayward could fetch around $20-25 million per in the free agency market.

Paying Hayward in that range will likely remove the Knicks from contention in Russell Westbrook’s sweepstakes.

Meanwhile, CBS’ Sam Quinn has posited that the Celtics could execute a sign-and-trade deal wherein they would have to attach an asset to create a hefty trade exception.

Another target

According to Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, the Knicks are also among the interested teams for Minnesota Timberwolves’ combo guard Malik Beasley.

Beasley, who has emerged as a solid starter since the Timberwolves acquired him in the February trade deadline, has become expendable after selecting Anthony Edwards as the top overall pick on Wednesday’s NBA Draft.

Beasley averaged 20.7 points on a spectacular 42.6 percent shooting beyond the arc in 14 games with the Timberwolves. However, legal troubles have marred his otherwise impressive stay in Minnesota.

Beasley is facing charges of fifth-degree drug possession and threats of violence after his arrest in September. Hennepin County officials have also recently challenged his parental rights.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Brooklyn Nets add Landry Shamet, decline Garrett Temple’s team option

landry shamet, knicks, nets

The Brooklyn Nets made a couple of moves that saved them roughly $9 million in luxury tax while injecting more shooting to surround Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The Nets have landed Landry Shamet in a three-way Draft Day trade with the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Detroit Pistons. The Nets then waived veteran Garrett Temple on Thursday, first reported by Ian Begley of SNY.

Luke Kennard will go to the Clippers, while the Nets’ 19th pick (Villanova’s Saddiq Bey) will begin his NBA career as a Piston.

The 23-year old Shamet will add shooting to the Nets, the sixth-worst in three-point accuracy last season. Shamet is a 40.2 percent career three-point shooter and is much younger than Temple.

The Nets were able to lower down their luxury tax bill by not picking up the $5 million team option of Temple, who is expected to sign with another contender.

Shamet appeared to be excited with the trade as he posted a video of him enjoying steak and wine with Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind playing in the background shortly after the deal was announced on Wednesday night.

Shamet will also serve as insurance if Joe Harris leaves. But multiple reports have indicated that the sharpshooting Harris will return to the Nets.

The Nets general manager Sean Marks has indicated that Harris is a priority. The Nets hope to re-sign him when the free agency begins Friday.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Yankees: DJ LeMahieu, how he became a Yankee and if he will remain in pinstripes

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

All the talk about DJ LeMahieu, the New York Yankees free agent, and if he will remain in the New York Yankees pinstripes, dominates the offseason hot stove. And for a good reason, he is one of the best players in baseball. Here is his story and how he became a Yankee and remain in those traditional pinstripes.

The Yankee’s 32-year-old David John “DJ” LeMahieu has completed his second year with the Yankees. He quickly became a favorite player among all Yankee fans last season. The Cubs selected LeMahieu in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft, and he made his MLB debut for the Cubs in 2011 before being traded to the Rockies before the 2012 season. LeMahieu won a Gold Glove Award in 2014, 2017, and 2018 and was named an MLB All-Star in 2015 and 2017, and won the National League batting title in 2016. After becoming a free agent, he signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season.

DJ was born in California, but his family moved to Michigan, where he attended high school. When in high school, he played as a shortstop and pitcher for the school’s baseball team. In his senior year, as a leadoff hitter, he batted .574 with eight home runs, 16 doubles, seven triples, 70 runs scored, 32 runs batted in (RBIs), and 39 stolen bases.

Although he was selected in the Detroit Tigers draft, he decided to attend Lousiana State University instead. He was a shortstop for the baseball team and excelled with a .350 batting average. He later transitioned from shortstop to second base. LeMahieu was selected to the 2009 College World Series All-Tournament team. He hit .444 in the series leading all players in the series with 12 hits.

After being selected by the Cubs in the 2009 draft, his Cubs career didn’t last as the Cubs traded LeMahieu to the Colorado Rockies in 2011. In May of the following year, he was called up to replace an injured player. He recorded his career-best four-hit game against the Brewers for a 9-6 Rockies win in August. Later in August, LeMahieu wrote his name into the record books, as he recorded 12 assists in a 9-inning victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 28th. He was a 2015 All-Star, and in 2016 LeMahieu won the National League batting title. His .348 season average led all of Major League Baseball. He was a 2017 All-Star, and in 2018 he was named the best defensive player in all of the majors.

DJ becomes a New York Yankee

DJ always wanted to play for the New York Yankees. His childhood idol was Derek Jeter. In an interview, he said that he wanted to be like Jeter and modeled his on the field and off the field life after him. On January 14th of last year, DJ signed a $24 million two year contract with our Yankees. He couldn’t have the number 2, so he selected #26. During his short time with the Yankees, he has played shortstop and third base but primarily second base,  where he has excelled. The Yankee organization refers to him as the super-utility player. He quickly became a fan favorite for his frequent and timely hitting and good play at second base.  For his hitting, he was coined “the Machine.”

Last season he had the most hits of any Yankee and was third in runs batted in. He also had the most doubles. Although he is not a home run hitter, he provides that much needed timely hitting missing from some of the home run hitters. DJ has turned out to be more than the Yankees could have ever hoped for. He plays 2nd, 3rd, SS, and a back up of Voit at first.

LeMahieu ended his first season batting .327 with 197 hits, 102 RBI’s, and an OPS of .893. He also had the most singles of any player in baseball.  After the season, MLB awarded him the Silver Slugger Award, and the New York Yankees named him its MVP.  The only question is if DJ would repeat his 2019 performance in the shortened 2020 season.  The question was quickly answered as DJ started the season just as he had ended his 2019 season.  He continues to be the New York Yankees’ “hitting machine.”

LeMahieu hit a bump in the road when he sprained his thumb swinging at a ball.  At first, the Yankees thought he would be day-to-day, but the soreness wasn’t relieved, and he went on the 10 DL on August 6th. He returned from the injured list on Saturday, August 29th.  Although he was not involved in the Yankees’ win in his first game back, he hit a triple in the game.  He ended the season being again Silver Slugger and won the batting title, hitting .364 with 10 homers and 27 RBIs. He had a 1.011 OPS and a .590 slugging percentage while having one of the best balls to strike out baseball ratios. His batting title win made him the only player to win the title in both leagues.

The New York Yankees may wait until later in the offseason to make most of their moves to improve the team due to lacking clarity as to what the 2021 season will look like. But if they make any decisions/moves early, it will most likely be to keep DJ LeMahieu in pinstripes.

As I stated before, DJ is 32 years old. He is married to his wife Jordan since 2014, who is a real estate agent. They have decided to keep information about their children under wraps. He is presently living in New York City during the season when he and his wife love the city and be with the Yankees. They have a winter residence in Birmingham, Michigan, where other family members live. LeMahieu immediately blended in with the team and is well-liked in the clubhouse, and is a favorite of fans. The Yankees will do everything in their power to keep DJ in the Yankee lineup for years to come.