New York Yankees: There is a three-team race for DJ LeMahieu, per reports

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

DJ LeMahieu has been, without a doubt, one of the most influential ballplayers for the New York Yankees in recent memory. This past season, he led the whole circuit in batting average with .364 and had an amazing 1.011 OPS. He was the Yankees’ leader in fWAR in the last two campaigns, and his offensive and defensive contributions are undeniable.

That’s why it is so important for the New York Yankees to retain his services, now that he’s a free agent. He’s reportedly looking for a five-year deal, which the team may be reluctant to give him because he’s 32. But to be fair, his two best offensive season were 2019 and 2020. He’s showing no signs of decline.

Ken Davidoff of the New York Post is reporting that LeMahieu wants to stay in the New York area. What does that mean? His first choice is still re-signing with the Yankees, as he has made clear that he loves playing for the Bombers. But given that the Mets also play in the city, have a clear need in his position (after Robinson Cano’s suspension) and have money to spend, they can’t be dismissed as potential suitors.

A Yankees’ foe may enter the mix

Additionally, Davidoff reports that a Yankees’ divisional foe, the Toronto Blue Jays, are also intrigued by the possibility of signing LeMahieu to a contract. They are an up-and-coming team who finished very close to the Bombers in the 2020’s standings, and adding a difference maker like DJ would increase their chances of surpassing New York in the short term.

However, Davidoff notes that the Blue Jays are at a “geographical” disadvantage. Toronto is relatively close to New York (in comparison to other potential landing spots) but is in another country and out of the New York area, which is where the infielder wants to play.

Plenty of other clubs may be interested in LeMahieu, but for now, it appears to be a three-team race between the Yankees, the Mets, and the Blue Jays, The Bombers are still viewed as the favorites, but it would benefit them to close a deal sooner than later.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Chapman to miss first games, Clint Frazier no longer the “bad boy” (video)

New York Yankees, Aroldis Chapman

Aroldis Chapman, the New York Yankees closer, will miss the first two games of the 2021 season. Yesterday he had his suspension hearing for throwing at the head of Mike Brosseau at the bottom of the ninth inning of a game on September 1 at Tropicana Field in a game that the Yankees won 5-3.

Chapman was originally suspended for three games, but that was overturned by a special assistant to the commissioner, John McHale Jr., and reduced to two days. The original suspension was announced shortly after the incident by Chris Young, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of baseball operations.

The altercation happened during a tense game between the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays on September 1 at the Rays Tropicana Field. Chapman threw a 101 mph fastball near Brosseau’s head on his first pitch to the pinch-hitter with two outs in the ninth inning of a 5-3 victory over the Rays on Sept. 1. Umpires convened before issuing warnings to both benches, and Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was ejected after coming onto the field to argue.

The Yankees and Rays have a history of throwing at each other, and it all boiled over when Chapman appeared to throw at the head of Brosseau. Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash in an after-game interview seemed to threaten the Yankees by saying:

“We’re talking about a 100-mph fastball over a young man’s head,” Cash said. “It’s poor judgment, poor coaching, it’s just poor teaching, what they’re doing.

“The last thing I’ll say on it: I’ve got a whole damn stable of guys who throw 98 mph. Period.”

As it turned out, Brosseau got his “revenge.” Mike Brosseau was the new hero in the Tampa Bay region, as he homered off his arch-nemesis Aroldis Chapman to bring the Rays to the ALCS.

Clint Frazier’s girlfriend responsible for the big change?

Clint Frazier has had a long road to being an everyday player for the New York Yankees. That road has been filled with bumps, bruises, lousy field play, immaturity, and snarky comments and behavior.

This past season a new Clint Frazier appeared on the field. Great hitting and superior fielding led Yankee manager Aaron Boone to make him a regular player late in the season. It all became noticeable in summer camp when in the very first exhibition game, Frazier was the only one who chooses to wear a mask when hitting and on the field. When asked about it, he said it was no big deal; he needs to protect his fellow players.

Although Frazier has a quick bat and hits for contact, and shows power, his fieldwork has always dogged him. After one lousy game on the field, Frazier refused to face the media in a very immature move. Yankee players always take questions from the media. Later, when sent down to Scranton, he had many snarky comments and removed everything Yankees from his social media.

We may now know that his girlfriend may deserve the credit for the big change. Kaylee Gambadoro, whom he has been linked to since the summer, a happy birthday on Wednesday — and it came with a telling caption.

“went from Scranton’s bad boy to New York’s best behaved because of this one. I love youuuuuu scoop! from her instagram account.”

 

 

 

 

UFC 255 Preview: Deiveson Figueiredo – Alex Perez

Tomorrow night at UFC 255, the promotion is showcasing both the men’s and the women’s flyweight divisions. Both champions will defend their titles and in the main event of the evening Deiveson Figueiredo (19-1) takes on Alex Perez (24-5).

The fight will mark the first official title defense for the UFC champion, Figueiredo. Back in February, Figueiredo knocked out Joseph Benavidez in a fight that was supposed to be for the UFC title.

However, Figueiredo missed weight and the title wasn’t on the line. Figueiredo then fought Benavidez again in July for the title and ran through him after making weight. Deiveson Figueiredo looks like an absolute force at flyweight.

Figueiredo is very big for the weight class and he has great skills everywhere. He’s got good striking with tremendous power and he’s incredibly slick on the ground. Figueiredo can lull you to sleep with his deliberate pace but his long arms and power catches opponents off guard.

Standing across from the champion will be contender series veteran, Alex Perez. Perez earned his shot in the UFC back in 2017 and has only lost to Joseph Benavidez since in seven fights with the promotion.

Perez also has a very well rounded skillset and he has tremendous leg kicks. Back at UFC 250, Perez finished Jussier Formiga with a heavy dose of calf kicks. Perez definitely has the skills to put up a fight against the champion.

UFC 255 Prediction

The UFC 255 main event should be a fun one for however long it lasts. Both Figueiredo and Perez are very well rounded fighters so I think it should be relatively even during some of the exchanges.

However, I think there’s a clear favorite in this one and that would be the champion. I’m expecting Perez to come out and try to start fast, but I expect Figueiredo to just be waiting and picking his shots.

There is no one at flyweight that possesses the power of Figueiredo. He also has this killer instinct and he seems to be taking his career seriously. I’m expecting Perez to have some moments early, but those will only come as Figueiredo is figuring out the fight.

I think in the second round, you’ll see the champion really start to settle in. Expect a back and forth early, but I see a big shot closing the show late in the second round tomorrow night. Figueiredo will retain his UFC title tomorrow night.

Prediction: Deiveson Figueiredo by TKO – Round 2

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Will the Yankees take Brett Gardner and Masahiro Tanaka back, how about both?

New York Yankees, Brett Gardner

The New York Yankees have several players that reached free agency after the World Series. Only one was offered a qualifying offer, DJ LeMahieu, who the Yankees will battle to get him back into Yankee pinstripes. Most of the others will not be Yankees next year. The two exceptions could be Masahiro Tanaka and the other, outfielder Brett Gardner.

Both of these Yankees had sub-par seasons. Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka ran out of gas and had a mostly pitiful second half and postseason. Gardner was the opposite; he had a very average season after having a break out year in 2019. But in the postseason, he shined with a .375 in the Wild Card Series; in the ALDS, he hit .364. Regardless of those stats, Clint Frazier replaced him in the ALCS.

One of the biggest questions this offseason will be if the Yankees will take Brett Gardner or Masahiro Tanaka back into the Yankee Stadium’s warm fold. Both the “Tank” and “Gardy” have indicated they would like to remain a Yankee. Gardner has been most vocal about it, saying that he wants to retire a Yankee, but after last year he would like to have his family be able to sit at Yankee Stadium and see him play one more season.

Masahiro Tanaka:

Tanaka is one of the top starting pitchers available in free agency this winter and could have competing offers if the Yankees look to bring him back on a multi-year deal. While still a valuable player and certainly a valuable veteran player, Gardner seems likely to be inclined to focus on returning to the Yankees, according to Lindsey Adler of The Athletic.

Outside of the New York Yankee realm, Tanaka is one of the best free-agent pitchers out there, he is established, and he is experienced, including four successful postseasons. The Yankees need a stable pitcher behind Yankee ace Gerrit Cole. The Yankees have other options in Trevor Bauer, Charlie Morton, and others. Still, the Yankees know Tanaka, and he could fill the position behind a returning Luis Severino and the possible return of Domingo German. Having Tanaka in the mix will give the up and coming Yankee pitching prospects time to develop. Any deal with Tanaka will be fewer years and deeply discounted as he is not an ace-like pitcher any longer.

Brett Gardner:

The situation with the veteran clubhouse leader Brett Gardner is quite different. The Yankee’s don’t have needs in the outfield. This year Clint Frazier has blossomed, and his dream of replacing Gardner in the left-field seems to have come true.

However, although Gardner’s performance this past season was lacking, he still is an excellent defender, walks a lot, can steal bases, speedily run the bases, and hit for power. He still, at his age, plays with more energy and vigor than many younger players. He is also a great mentor to the young players by his example and ability to show the young guy how to be Yankees.

The New York Yankees refused his option, instead, buying out his contract for 2021 for $2.5 million. His option was for $10 million. If the Yankees were smart, they would negotiate that down and bring Brett Garder back for one more year, not only for the loyalty aspect of a deal like that but also for the Yankee outfield’s injury history back up at any position with quality defense.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Jared Hughes

Jared Hughes sprinted his way to the New York Mets after a bout with COVID-19, which kept him out of summer camp. Hughes was often called into duty once he was on the roster, and unfortunately, it caught him to him by the end of the season.

Hughes is known for his tremendous bowling ball sinker, which produces plenty of groundballs. He was a good as any reliever in the Mets bullpen through the first day of September. Hughes had a 2.51 ERA; batters hit .173 against him in 14.1 innings.

In his last six outings of the season, Hughes had nothing left in the tank. He allowed eight runs in the same amount of innings and allowed over two baserunners an inning. Hughes’s lack of control outside the strike zone led to six walks, and in the zone, it led to a .368 average against him.

Sink to Win

Hughes was able to neutralize righties using that hard sinker, holding them to a .340 slugging. Lefties were much better, slamming a .541 slugging percentage against him. The odd part about his season was his ERA below 1.50 with zero or one day rest but over 4.50 with more days of rest. Hughes got more rest in September, which seems like being taken out of the groove of pitching consistently allowed the fatigue to catch up to him.

Hughes 5.6 BB/9 and 8.5 K/9 were the highest of his career. He also produced the most soft contact since 2011, which shows that if his control was right, he was a useful reliever. Hughes’s concerning part comes with his ERA, WHIP, and FIP, all being the highest of his career.

Hughes heads into free agency and is looking for another one year deal to latch on with a franchise. His sinker fell victim to some bad luck with a .346 average but only a .261 xba. Hughes had plenty of success with his secondary pitches, which makes him a good risk on the marker.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 50 (60), The overall numbers did not look good, but the movement is still as strong as ever.

Curveball: 80 (80), Wipeout pitch with a 46.7% whiff rate and good horizontal movement.

Changeup: 55 (50), Only threw 59 but had success with them.

4-Seam Fastball: 40 (45), The one hit in three put in play was a home run

Command: 45 (50), The high walk rate was a blip on the radar.

Overall: 45 (55), Would not be a bad idea for the Mets to bring Hughes back.

Should the New York Giants extend Logan Ryan beyond 2020?

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

When New York Giants rookie Xavier McKinney suffered a fractured foot during training camp this past off-season, the immediate thought was, “how do we solve this problem?”

McKinney was expected to fill a key role on defense, specifically at free safety. As a player at Alabama, McKinney was the highest-rated safety on the 2020 NFL draft board, and he fell all the way to the second round right into the lap of the Giants. His tenacity as a run stopper and ability to cover the field with great game speed made Xavier a premium prospect entering the NFL, and the Giants desperately needed to upgrade the position. His loss through 10 weeks has been masked by one man, Logan Ryan.

When McKinney went down, the Giants immediately engaged in talks with Ryan, signing him to a one-year deal worth up to $7.5 million. He received a $3.5 million signing bonus with the remainder of his deal consisting of bonuses and escalators.

So far, Ryan has been a key defender for Big Blue, racking up 59 combined tackles, four quarterback hits, seven passes defended, two forced fumbles, and an interception. He has allowed a 60.5% completion rate and just one touchdown. His biggest weakness has been tackling, missing almost 12% of his tackles, but making the transition to safety was always going to have hiccups.

Ultimately, Ryan believes he can be the best safety in the NFL, and he’s proving with this transition that he’s more than capable of holding the position down.

“I think I can be the best safety in football,” said Ryan. “I’m working on that.”

He has played alongside SS Jabrill Peppers and FS Julian Love in the deeper portion of the field. His ability to communicate with the younger, more inexperienced players has been integral in the Giants’ recent success, considering they have won their last two games.

Just two weeks ago against Washington, Ryan discovered that his wife was suffering through an ectopic pregnancy, which was a life-threatening issue. Luckily, a Giants medical staff member helped diagnose the problem, and she underwent emergency surgery, likely saving her life. Ryan dedicated the win over Washington to her, securing the game with a last-second interception.

The New York Giants should extend the veteran defender:

This season for Logan almost seems like a storybook, and the ending should result in an extension by the Giants. While they do have McKinney and Peppers preparing to lead their safety duo, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham loves utilizing three safety looks and making it a permanent factor on defense could be the reality considering how well Ryan has played.

There is no doubt that the former Tennessee Titan has been one of the best defenders for the Giants through 10 weeks, and as he continues to find his rhythm at his new position, he should only improve in stature and quality. If the Giants are willing to offer him a three-year extension at around $8 million per season, they shouldn’t wait too much longer to get it done.

Why the New York Yankees shouldn’t even bother with Francisco Lindor

New York Yankees, Mets, Francisco Lindor

Every year the New York Yankees are connected with Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor in a potential trade, and every year that rumor simmers to a halt. While the Yankees could be in the market for a new shortstop, given how Gleyber Torres performed at the position in 2020, it seems as if they are so confident he can develop defensively.

Torres finished the 2020 season with a .933 fielding percentage, nine errors, and 11 double plays turned over 40 games. His numbers were below average, as he allowed a -3.3 error runs above average. Overall, he was completely inadequate and failed to turn routine plays at a respectable level. This fact must be forcing general manager Brian Cashman to revisit the position. Similar to what they are doing at catcher, Torres isn’t set in stone at shortstop, which is why the door to Lindor is wide open.

Trading for Francisco would require a massive hall, including prospects and starting level talent. He has one year left on his deal, so the Yankees’ best chance to acquire him is now. They would have to extend him immediately, and the Steinbrenner’s aren’t keen on overspending at the moment. In fact, Steve Cohen and the New York Mets might be a better landing spot for Lindor, as they aren’t hampered by massive contracts like Giancarlo Stanton’s.

The New York Yankees should stay close to home:

In addition, the Yankees are still trying to re-sign DJ LeMahieu, who reportedly is willing to take a pay cut if the Bombers offer him a five-year contract. Wherever he stays, he wants it to be for a long amount of time, and the fact that LeMahieu wants to stay in New York is only beneficial for them. The primary issue, DJ is 32 years old and will be 37 by the time his deal expires, and the Yankees are already locked into several contracts over the long term.

Overall, the acquisition of Lindor would be costly, in more ways than just monetary. He will also force the Yankees to send prospects, while DJ simply demands cash. The honorable thing to do is to keep DJ and move forward with the players already on the roster, given he provided two years of excellent play and won the batting title this past season.