Brooklyn Nets: Sean Marks keeps promise, signs Joe Harris to massive deal

Brooklyn Nets, Joe Harris

Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks made true to his promise that Joe Harris is their number one priority.

The Nets re-signed Harris to a lucrative four-year, $75 million deal, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Harris’ rise from a castoff to one of the league’s finest shooters has been one of the biggest reasons the Nets were able to lure superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to sign in 2019.

Harris, the 2019 NBA three-point contest champion, is coming off a career season where he averaged 14.5 points while shooting 42.4 percent beyond the arc.

Harris’ massive deal has pushed the Nets’ luxury tax bill to $47.5 million.

The Nets now have 13 players under contract, including new acquisitions Landry Shamet (from Los Angeles Clippers) and Bruce Brown (from Detroit Pistons).

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Knicks add more shooting, sign Alec Burks to 1-yr deal

The New York Knicks continue to operate with the future in mind.

As the rest of the league gave out massive contracts to role players, the Knicks opted to dole out a one-year, 6 million deal to veteran guard Alec Burks according to multiple reports.

Burks will be reunited with Knicks assistant coach Johnnie Bryant and assistant general manager Walter Perrin, who selected him as the 12th overall pick back in 2011 with the Utah Jazz.

Burks worked closely with Bryant, who came aboard in his sophomore season as a player development coach under then Jazz coach Ty Corbin.

He played with the Jazz until 2018 and has bounced to four different teams since then.

Burks will bring in veteran leadership and much-needed shooting to the Knicks, his sixth team.

Burks split his time with the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers last season. He hit a solid 42 percent of his threes in 18 games with the 76ers while he had a 38-percent three-point clip with the Warriors.

The Knicks now have 12 players under contract and still have over $30 million in cap space.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

UFC 255 Preview: Shogun Rua – Paul Craig 2

Shogun Rua

Kicking off the main card of UFC 255 tomorrow is a rematch in the light heavyweight division. Former light heavyweight champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (27-11-1), will be taking on Paul Craig (13-4-1). The fight is a rematch from last November.

The two men previously fought to a split draw last year. Since then the former UFC light heavyweight champion, Rua, fought back on Fight Island when he concluded his trilogy with Antonio Rogero Nogueira.

Rua won that fight by split decision. The former champion is now 2-0-1 in his last three fights, however, he hasn’t looked incredibly impressive in those performances. Shogun will head into tomorrow night as the 14th ranked light heavyweight in the UFC.

Craig on the other hand will come into the fight 15th. Paul Craig is known for one that and that is submitting his opponents. Out of his 13 professional wins, only one of them hasn’t been a submission. Craig has only gone the distance once in his professional career and that was against Shogun.

UFC 255 Prediction

This is such an interesting fight to think about. Both men are inside the top 15 of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division, however, both are in vastly different career positions. Shogun is clearly on his way out the door in his fighting career.

Meanwhile, Craig is looking to take another step forward to getting to fight top ten competition. I think that we are going to learn a lot about this fight in the opening round tomorrow night.

If the former UFC light heavyweight champion can establish his leg kicks early and maintain good striking distance, he’s got a great chance. Craig is the bigger man, but his striking isn’t anything to write home about.

While Shogun is a black belt in Jiu Jitsu, Craig wants to get this fight to the mat. He should have a big advantage on the mat and we have seen Shogun submitted before. Shogun’s cardio concerned me in his last fight, but we’ve only seen Craig go the distance once.

I’m honestly not sure who will have the cardio advantage. When making a prediction, I think that Craig is going to be able to get this fight to the ground. I think his strength on the ground will prevail and he will get the win over the former UFC champion.

Prediction: Paul Craig by Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke) – Round 2

Will the latest New York Giants news stunt the offensive line’s growth?

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants have had one crazy bye week, to say the least. The Giants have made a major change on their coaching staff which also led to some serious drama and rumors surrounding the team and its head coach. The Gmen are also dealing with a small COVID-19 outbreak amongst their team, placing three more players on the reserve/COVID-19 list today.

Amongst those three players, one of them was a key offensive lineman. Rookie offensive tackle Matt Peart tested positive for COVID-19 and will go on the reserve/COVID-19 list, likely keeping him out of next Sunday’s game against the Bengals. The Giants have slowly but surely been working Peart into the lineup on Sundays. He has played a total of 107 snaps this season, rotating into both the left and right tackle positions, seeing limited playing time this regular season.

But Peart has been impressive in his small sample size. He seems to have a bright future ahead of him, as do many of the other young offensive linemen on the Giants’ roster. New York’s offensive line struggled greatly at the beginning of the season but has seemingly improved its play over the past couple of weeks.

But now, the team’s offensive line coach, Marc Colombo, has been fired, and there seem to be some reports indicating that the offensive linemen might not be pleased with this decision. On top of that, the Giants’ new offensive line coach, Dave DeGuglielmo, does not exactly have a reputation for being a likable guy. Maybe the Giants’ offensive line needs a change in coaching philosophy. But could this stark change lead to even more struggles up front?

The potential repercussions of this coaching change

According to reporter Michael Silver, there had been tensions surrounding Colombo and Joe Judge for weeks now. Art Stapleton confirmed this portion of Silver’s report, as both reporters mention a disagreement between Judge and Colombo regarding center Nick Gates’s technique.

Where Silver’s report differs from Stapleton’s and others’, though, is when he mentions the team’s reaction to this move. Silver reports that Judge’s personality has been “off-putting” to some and that Judge and his assistants that came with him from New England “have exuded an alarming aura of haughtiness.”

Art Stapleton responded to this portion of Silver’s report, saying it sounds “like sour grapes” and was “completely unrelated” to the Colombo firing.

Regardless, Silver makes a good point at the end of his report. Silver refers to this Colombo fiasco as an “open sore” and notes that the Giants’ offensive linemen are “unsure” what this sudden coaching change will mean. The linemen are wondering “whether they’ll have to relearn techniques on the fly” amongst other things, which is definitely a fair concern.

Could this whole situation lead to further struggles along the Giants’ offensive line? These young linemen have been coached one specific way since training camp began with Colombo as their coach in the summer. Since then, they have been practicing and learning Colombo’s way of offensive line play. Now, Dave DeGuglielmo will have to step in and try to correct the errors that Judge has seen from his offensive line in the 2020 season.

With so many of the Giants’ offensive linemen being young players, still learning the NFL game, it is fair to be concerned whether this sudden change will affect their growth and development. Losing Matt Peart to the reserve/COVID-19 list for the time being also does not improve the situation. Peart is a young, promising player that the Giants want to see more of, not less. Hopefully, he makes a quick and full recovery and can seamlessly rejoin the Giants as they welcome a new offensive line coach.

Report: New York Yankees close to making a decision on Gary Sanchez’s future in pinstripes

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

With the conclusion of the World Series came the post-season comments from New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrunner. During his press conference, he mentioned the catcher position as one that needed revisiting.

General manager Brian Cashman also noted that they would be reevaluating catcher and potentially investing capital into upgrading the spot.

Of course, making a sweeping change at catcher would indicate the departure of Gary Sanchez, or simply the benching. Last season, Sanchez earned $5.6 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. This was a significant raise from the 670K he earned in 2019. However, his production vastly underwhelmed compared to his financial investment.

He finished the 2020 campaign with a .147 batting average, a 36% strikeout rate, and a .365 slugging percentage. He had 10 homers and 24 RBIs, but his homers shouldn’t mask his inadequacies across the board. In addition, his defense was inconsistent and eventually became a liability.

Sanchez ended up sitting for a majority of the post-season, while reserve catcher Kyle Higashioka earned more reps and became Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher.

Nonetheless, it seems as if the Yankees are still committed to Sanchez, and are close to offering him a new contract. Extending him long-term would be a bad move at this point, considering how poor he performed last season and his degradation since 2017. He has put together three seasons of inadequate play, despite his 34 HRs in 2019. He is a great slugger and one of the best power catchers in the MLB, but every other part of his game has seen a decline in play.

The New York Yankees will likely go with the hot hand:

If the Yankees elect to stick with Higgy and Sanchez next season, they will likely play the hot hand and rotate. It is not a terrible idea, considering Higashioka finished last season with a .250 batting average and 0.5 WAR.

Steinbrenner also mentioned that the Yankees were significantly affected by COVID-19 financially, so they will be trying to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold. Trading or acquiring a big-name catcher is probably not one of their top priorities.

New York Yankees News: Brian Cashman is sleeping on the field at Yankees Stadium and Turkeys for the needy

Brian Cashman, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees may be months from playing at Yankee Stadium, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t being put to good use. Yankee’s general manager Brian Cashman is again bringing attention to the nation’s homeless youth by sleeping in the field at Yankee Stadium.

Cashman is known for doing good for many charities and causes. Cashman slept on the field Thursday night at Yankee Stadium in support of The Covenant House nonprofit. The entire New York Yankee organization is fully supportive of the Bronx and New York communities. Covenant House is one of Brian Cashman’s favorite causes.

Covenant House provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness. We help young people transform their lives and put them on a path to independence.

covenanthouse.orgcovenanthouse.org
Covenant House virtual event will include Yankee Senior Vice President & General Manager Brian Cashman, along with business leaders, celebrities, individuals and families from across the country to raise funds and awareness for youth experiencing homelessness during COVID-19.
© New York Yankees 2020 • http://www.yankees.comhttp://www.yankeesbeisbol.com
NOVEMBER 20, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW YORK YANKEES TO PROVIDE
THANKSGIVING FOOD VOUCHERS TO BRONX RESIDENTS
The New York Yankees and Krasdale Foods
will again team up to hold their annual Thanksgiving Food Voucher Giveaway with the help of Food Bank For New York City as approximately 4,000 $25 food vouchers will be distributed to Bronx residents to assist local families in preparing their Thanksgiving meals. The vouchers can be redeemed at participating local Bronx-based C-Town and Bravo supermarkets. Due to COVID-19 considerations, distribution will not take place at Yankee Stadium as it has in prior years but instead be implemented by Food Bank For New York City, which will disseminate vouchers at various soup kitchens and food pantries in the community surrounding Yankee Stadium. “In this especially difficult year for those in our local community, the Yankees remain committed to providing a
measure of help for families to celebrate the holiday season,” said
Brian Smith, Yankees Senior Vice President of Corporate/Community Relations:
                                             ;
 “Although COVID-19 safety considerations limited what wecould do in-person at Yankee Stadium, we have found analternative way to have the same positive effect asin prior years of the voucher giveaway. We thank our partner KrasdaleFoods for their tremendous supportand deeply appreciate the devoted work of the Food Bank of New York ingetting these vouchers into thehands of those in need.“
“The holiday season is already one of the toughest times of the year for struggling New Yorkers who feeladded pressure to provide meals for their families — the COVID-19 pandemic has onlymade this worse,” saidJanis Robinson, Vice President of Institutions and Partnerships at Food Bank For New York City. “Everymeal counts, and we are truly gratefulfor the support of the New York Yankees and Krasdale Foods in helpingus provide New Yorkers in need all of the items necessary for a holiday feast this year.”

 

New York Knicks OUT on Russell Westbrook, could be looking to max Fred VanVleet

New York Knicks, Russell Westbrook

The New York Knicks have an interesting off-season ahead of them, particularly in free agency. With the 2020–21 league year ready to begin, things are just getting started after the NBA draft.

The Knicks landed Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, a power forward and shooting guard who can also act as a backup point guard. They also turned several picks into more value by executing several trades. The early deliveries of Leon Rose seem to be positive, especially after they acquired Ed Davis of the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz traded away Davis as a salary dump, sending over two 2023 second-round draft picks in exchange for the Knicks acquiring him. Clearly, Rose is looking to the long-term, and developing his youth is currently his priority.

However, there were rumblings that Rose was interested in consuming a max contract, similar to what Russell Westbrook currently has.

According to SI.com’s Chris Mannix, the Knicks are no longer considering acquiring Russell Westbrook in a trade and have now reallocated their interest.

Westbrook’s contract is massive after he signed a five-year, $207 million deal in 2018. If the Knicks acquired him, they would be on the hook for a maximum of $47 million in 2022. That is not a recipe for success, especially with a player that demands a ball in his hands and will probably hurt the youngsters’ development on the roster. In other words, it’s a win-now move, and the Knicks are not ready to make that jump.

The New York Knicks could take to free agency:

The Knicks could look at Fred VanVleet as their point guard for the future, but one thing is for sure, he’s not going to come cheap.

“I’m tryin’ to get paid, man,” the former Raptors point guard said on JJ Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast. “I am not shy about that.”

VanVleet offers stellar defense and is an adequate scorer. He wants to get paid, rightfully so, but maxing him out over a long-term deal might not be beneficial for the Knicks right now. They could stick with supplemental pieces and develop their youth before committing long term to a player who might not deserve a max-deal in the first place. Settling shouldn’t be the new norm for Roses’ era.

Mike Perry badly misses weight for UFC 255

Tomorrow night, one of the more interesting characters in MMA is returning to fight at UFC 255. That character would be Mike Perry (14-6) who is set to take on Tim Means (30-12-1) on the main card tomorrow night.

Perry was originally supposed to face Robbie Lawler tomorrow night. However, Lawler had to pull out of UFC 255 with an injury and Means stepped in on short notice to take the fight against Perry.

Very early this morning, Perry started tweeting out issues about his weight cut for UFC 255. In one tweet, Perry even said, “Maybe I should just lay the gloves down. I don’t want it. I’m just in over my head with this weight.”

All morning there have been questions on whether Perry was being serious or if he was faking. However, we learned today at the weigh ins that Perry’s struggle were obviously very real.

Perry stepped to the scale today and told the commissioner, “Baby, we not even close.” While standing on the scale, Perry’s weight was called out at a staggering 175.5 which is 4.5 pounds over the welterweight limit. As of now, the fight is still on for tomorrow night.

UFC 255 Prediction

For what it’s worth, Tim Means did successfully weigh in for UFC 255. Going on the assumption that the fight is still going to take place tomorrow night, it just got even more difficult for Mike Perry.

For Perry to be successful in this fight, I figured he would have to use his wrestling. I really don’t see him outstriking Means over three rounds unless he’s able to land something massive and finish Means.

I was leaning towards Means before this weight cut issue at UFC 255. Factoring this in really doesn’t help Mike Perry in my eyes. Perry was trying to win his second fight in a row and Means was also looking to win his second fight in a row.

I think when the cage door closes, Mike Perry is going to show his toughness tomorrow. He’s going to try to come forward, but I don’t think his cardio is going to hold. I think Means picks him apart over the final two rounds and takes a decision or a finish in this one.

Prediction: Tim Means by Unanimous Decision

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Yankees GM Brian Cashman may surprise us with dark horses (video)

If there is anything we know about New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, he often works in secret and comes up with such surprising dark horses in moves to improve the team. For example, when fans wanted him to target Manny Machado or Bryce Harper, he instead went after a relative unknown in DJ LeMahieu of the Colorado Rockies, and we all know how that turned out.

We all know that all his picks haven’t been good, Jacoby Ellsbury comes to mind, but more often than not,, Cashman chooses well. In this strange offseason,, after losing tons of money this season and owner Hal Steinbrenner wanting to stay under the luxury tax threshold, Cashman will have to be very creative.  Here are a few under the radar players he could target.

Caleb Smith former Yankee:

The New York Yankees are familiar with Smith, he started his major league career with the Yankees in 2017 after being drafted 14th in 2013. He went 0-1 in nine games, two as a starter.  The Miami Marlins unexpectedly traded for Starling Marte on Aug. 31, and Smith went on to have a very solid September for a D-Backs. He went 0-0 in three starts with  a low ERA of 2.45.

Smith continues to look like someone who should outperform his surface numbers thanks to the swing-and-miss data, and he’d be a great fit for a No. 4 starter in the Bronx. He does give up the homer, 33 in 2019 with the Marlins but he also strikes out a lost of players with his fastball and sweeping curve ball.

The Marlins Pablo Lopez:

The Yankees have worked with Derek Jeter of the Marlins before successfully which might make general manager Brian Cashman take a look at Pablo Lopez. Lopez has been around for while, he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2012. In 2013 he went 7-1 with an ERA of 2.57 in 12 starts. After spending time in the minors he was traded to the Miami Marlins in 2017.

López was promoted to the major leagues on June 30, 2018, and he made his MLB debut that same day as the starting pitcher vs the New York Mets. He pitched six innings in which he gave up two runs on six hits while walking one and striking out five, earning the win as Miami defeated the Mets 5-2. In 2019 he was 5-8 with an ERA of 5.09. His 2020 performance was better at 6-4 and an ERA of 3.61. Lopez has a fastball the maxes out at about 97mph, a curve and changeup. He would be a solid 4th or 5th pitcher in the Yankee rotation.

Zach Plesac of the Indians

While the New York Yankees are on the phone with the Cleveland Indians seeing how much they will require for the services of Francisco Lindor, they ought to drop the name of Zach Plesac.  As Triston McKenzie has emerged as yet another excellent young option for the Indians, they might be will to let go Plesac.

Many saw Plesac as a target for Brian Cashman at this year’s trade deadline, but Cashman ended up doing nothing before the trade deadline. Plesac had an excellent 2020 season with the Indians going 4-2 with an ERA of 2.28 in eight starts. That is similar to the performance of Yankee ace Gerrit Cole. The difference between the two is that Plesac could come to the Yankees at 1/10 of the cost.

Whatever the New York Yankees do this offseason we know that they will be penny-pinching after owner Hal Steinbrenner announced that he wanted to stay under the luxury tax threshold. All three of these pitchers would be good pitchers for the Yankees in the middle of the rotation and would come to the Yankees economically.

 

 

 

New York Yankees: Blake Treinen could be the perfect Tommy Kahnle replacement

Should the New York Mets target Blake Treinen?

It seems as if for however good of a bullpen the New York Yankees have, it can always get better. While a back-end of Britton, Ottavino, and Aroldis Chapman is still amongst the best in baseball, why not bolster it further. Tommy Kahnle officially hit FA a couple of weeks back, after declining an option to the minors proposed by New York.

The jury is still out on whether the team decides to bring him back on a multi-year deal for cheaper, but as of now, he’s fielding interest. While losing Kahnle to his injury hurt the team — as prior to him getting hurt, he was one of the most dominant out of the arsenal of arms — it allowed guys like Jonathan Loaisiga and Mike King to see some innings. Although that alone didn’t crush this team, going forward, it should be a hole that should see addressing. A great potential plug for that hole this next season is Blake Treinen. Treinen may not be as dominant as he once was with Oakland, but he would be a great signing nonetheless.

For the Yankees, there’s never going to be a massive lack at any individual position. Luckily for Yankees fans, the team’s reputation and devout fans hold ownership accountable for results.

Signing Treinen would be adding to a room of luxuries, but it would certainly be a signing that could help this team a ton. While bullpen arms are becoming more and more prevalent and important in today’s game, the Yankees have always been a team with a sound pen. Whether it was the David Robertson and Boone Logan pow-wow I grew up watching whilst Mo anchored the closer’s role, or past examples alike, the Yankees know the importance in having a balanced bullpen. Even with the talent already there, Treinen would add depth and solidity.

The appeal to signing him is obvious; former all-star, 2018 AL Reliever of the Year, and now a World Series champion. Yet, he’s not attracting as much interest as one would believe. Adding to that, it is looking more likely that he ends up accepting a multi-year deal worth an AAV less than $10,000,000 per. If the Yankees are to be looking into bolstering the bullpen, nabbing Treinen would immediately address that.

While his 2020 season wasn’t elite by any means, it was a huge step forward from the disastrous ’19 year. Though Treinen may not be able to find that incredible form that he had in 2018 with Oakland, to say he’s a solid and talented arm is completely fair. Below is a comparison of his previous 3 seasons (info via Fangraphs):

YEAR IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 ERA FIP
2018 80.1 11.20 2.35 0.22 0.78 1.82
2019 58.2 9.05 5.68 1.38 4.91 5.14
2020 25.2 7.71 2.81 0.35 3.86 3.15

The most obvious thing to note with the above statistics is just how bad his 2019 year was. The main reason behind the lack of excitement around Treinen has to be the doubts about his health and form. While 2020 was a huge step forward, and his advanced metrics back that up, even more, it still was too small of a sample to be entirely convinced. Unfortunately for Treinen, him hitting the market after COVID hurt his chances drastically. With players coming off “prove-it” seasons in general, especially for relievers, there is very little room for error. To do so across a 60 game season following a horrendous financial year for the league, that room for error virtually disappears.

One of the more intriguing things with relievers is the amount of volatility involved with them. Relief pitchers have a difficult life in the MLB, as every pitch means more later in games. This offseason, there are an abundance of guys that were once considered elite, now having to find a new team. A few of the names in the same boat as Treinen include: Pedro Baez, Trevor Rosenthal, and of course, former Yankee David Robertson amongst countless others. It is the unfortunate reality in that there are more and more teams focusing on their bullpens internally rather than splashing big money on aging arms. While relievers are becoming more and more of a necessity, the money for them is not going with the demand. For the Yankees, however, there shouldn’t be any hesitancy around a bullpen-arm, simply because of their age. I think seeing Treinen in Pinstripes would be a welcomed sight, and if this last season was anything telling for the future, he may be a perfect complement to Zack Britton.

Looking closer at Treinen’s 2020 season, in comparison specifically to Britton’s, there are some good underlying similarities (info via Fangraphs):

GB% HR/FB % LOB% Soft Contact % Barrel %
BRITTON 71.7% 0.00% 68.4% 28.3% 3.8%
TREINEN 64.0% 9.1% 57.0% 22.7% 1.3%

First thing worth noting is that Britton didn’t allow a HR over the 19.0 innings he tossed. That feat is crazy, but back in his ’16-’17 prime, Britton only allowed 2 HR those two years, over an astounding 104.1 IP. I will say that this last season is a bit of an outlier for both guys, in some ways positive and others negative. Britton’s LOB% of 68.4% was his worst since 2012, and Treinen’s of 57.0% was the worst in his career — by 13.8%. However, the barrel % for Treinen of 1.3% was a career-best, showing that he didn’t give up too much “sweet spot” contact. The interesting thing to observe with Treinen going forward is if he continues to shift his pitching style toward a ground-ball pitcher, similar to how he once was back in Washington. Britton has mastered the art of how to induce soft contact and majority grounders, and it looks as if Blake Treinen could be the next to follow. While his GB% of 64.0% is nowhere near the Britton levels of consistently floating in the mid-high 70’s % that we’ve seen, it is the highest it’s been since prior to him joining Oakland back in 2017.

To be honest, I feel as if the 2018 season was the outlier for Treinen’s career. While he’s always had solid stuff, in terms of great velocity and movement, he’s never been a strikeout reliant pitcher. When he joined the A’s, something changed, thus seeing his K/9 balloon up to 11.20. For his career as a whole, aside from that year, he has been consistently hovering around a K/9 around 8.5. Treinen and Britton could form a very tangible combination between the two, and especially given the opposite handedness of the two, it could make for matchup nightmares down the stretch. Assuming we see more of the 2020 Treinen than the 2019 one, that could be a signing that helps this team immensely going forward.