New York Giants: Bengals head coach keeping starting QB hidden before week 12

New York Giants, Brandon Allen

The New York Giants are going into one of the most important games of their season on Sunday, but they still don’t know who the opposing quarterback is. Joe Burrow was injured in the last game out for the Bengals, and now that he’s out for the season, the Bengals have multiple players to replace him with. The catch is that none of them are exactly experienced NFL starters, and it looks like the Giants will have an advantage regardless of who the Bengals go with.

Still, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor is being careful with the information about who will start. While reports initially came out suggesting the team could go with Brandon Allen, more uncertainty has been introduced through statements made by Taylor.

The head coach hasn’t publicly said either way which player will be starting – Brandon Allen, or Ryan Finley.

“We feel like we’ve got two guys that know the system very well and can lead us to victory. [It’s based on] who gives us the best chance to win. We always do what’s best for the team, and we’re always going to do what puts us in the best position to win games,” Taylor said to reporters about the team’s quarterback situation.

One would expect the Giants to win against either player. Allen only has 515 passing yards and a 3-2 career ratio for touchdowns and interceptions. Finley, on the other hand, only has 505 passing yards and 3 interceptions to only two touchdowns.

However, the Giants did already suffer a blowout loss this season to backup quarterback Nick Mullens and the 49ers. It would be wise not to underestimate the opposition just because they don’t have their starting quarterback – even if the Bengals are another team stuck in the lower echelon of the league for now.

Thanksgiving Day game has major implications for New York Giants’ season

New York Giants, Cam Fleming

The New York Giants are not playing on Thanksgiving this year. However, two of their division rivals are playing. And the game that they are playing is crucial for the Giants and their playoff aspirations.

After a wild Week 11 in the NFL, the Giants found themselves in a three-way tie for second place in the NFC East, despite not playing during their bye week. The Giants, Football Team, and Cowboys are all tied with a 3-7 record. Washington and Dallas both picked up clutch victories last week to narrow the gap between themselves and the division-leading Philadelphia Eagles. Philadelphia is a half-game ahead of everyone else with a 3-6-1 record.

With the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Football Team facing off in this Thanksgiving matchup, Giants fans should watch closely as this game could have major implications on New York’s season. The Giants have a tough schedule to close out the year, playing playoff-caliber teams like the Ravens, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Browns before season’s end. The Giants might struggle to string together more wins this year, but some of their divisional rivals’ schedules are not as difficult.

The Cowboys, in particular, have a much easier schedule. The Cowboys will face one legitimate playoff contender, the Baltimore Ravens. The rest of their matchups are quite manageable. Dallas will play the 49ers, starting Nick Mullens, their backup quarterback. Outside of that, they will play the Bengals who just lost Joe Burrow for the season, as well as the struggling Eagles and one final matchup with the Giants. If Dallas continues to play the way they did last week, that season-ending matchup with the Giants could be an additional playoff game.

Root for Washington or Dallas?

For Giants fans, Washington needs to beat Dallas today. The Giants have the tie-breaker over Washington, beating them twice this season. New York has already lost one of its two matchups against the Cowboys and will play their next game against Dallas in Week 17. Dallas has a favorable schedule leading up to that game and could string together some wins to take the lead in the divisional race.

The Washington Football Team, however, plays a much harder schedule to close out the season. They will face the undefeated Steelers and the Super Bowl-contending Seahawks, making their schedule instantly harder than Dallas’s. For Washington to stay alive in the playoff race, they need to win today’s matchup. Additionally, in order to keep Dallas from picking up steam and taking a lead in the division, Washington needs to win today’s matchup. The Giants should hope to see Dallas crumble like the crust of an apple pie during today’s afternoon Turkey Day matchup.

4 players the New York Jets should be thankful for

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! Unfortunately (maybe fortunately for our appetites) the Jets do not play today. At 0-10, the Jets are in the midst of one of their worst starts in franchise history.

Here are four New York Jets players to be thankful for:

Mekhi Becton LT

Mekhi Becton has been the biggest bright spot for the Jets this season. The eleventh overall pick has broken out immediately and asserted himself as one of the top tackles in the league.

Becton is already leading the Pro Bowl votes for offensive tackles. Becton has been an absolute force this season with a PFF grade of 73.9 and easy handling of premier pass rushers like Joey and Nick Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Frank Clark, among others. Becton has emerged as a franchise left tackle throughout this season, and he provides a huge (literally) building block for the future. The Jets struck gold on Mt. Becton.

Braden Mann P

Braden Mann being selected was viewed by some as a curious pick in the 6th round when the Jets had such a need at receiver. However, the former college star has been a breakout piece. Now, purely off stats, Mann has a 44.8 average in terms of a yard per punt, which only ranks 19th in the league, but his sample size is the largest in the league at 50, which is an excessive amount for punters. With a floundering offense, Mann gets a lot of work, and the fact that as a rookie, he already is in the pro bowl consideration and being a consistent punter is very impressive. Special teams do matter, and the future for the Jets groups is all the brighter with Braden in it.

Denzel Mims WR

Denzel Mims was out for the first 6 games this season, despite that, he has broken out in a big way. Mims currently sits at 13 receptions for 217 yards, with an average of 16.7 yards per reception. He has averaged around 54.3 yards per game and been a consistent producer for the Jets with their QB issues. Mims has made some really spectacular catches, though, that have really opened eyes. His beautiful sideline catch against the Chargers Sunday was just another example of his phenomenal hands. What the Jets offense needs to do is maximize his catch radius and start throwing him more targets in the red zone. Despite missing time, Mims figures to still put up above-average numbers this season, and he figures to be a great piece for the future.

Quinnen Williams DT

Arguably the biggest breakout star of the Jets season is the former third overall pick, Quinnen Williams. Last season Williams had 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFLs, 6 QB Hits, and a FR. This season, in only 10 games, Williams has 34 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 7 QB Hits, and a FF. Williams has already exceeded his rookie campaign in only nine games that he has played in this season. Williams still has six games to continue to build onto his breakout season. Williams has displayed a real visible growth in his play as well. Last season he seemed a lot weaker and less developed. He still has a long way to go, but he has looked much quicker and more refined this season, and that is a huge thing to be thankful for in the trenches in the future.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: DJ LeMahieu negotiations painfully inch forward?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

One of the most sought after free agents is DJ LeMahieu, and that’s not a good thing for the New York Yankees. The Yankees have many needs, including rebuilding a pitching rotation that can win a season for them. But another priority is re-signing DJ LeMahieu, their award-winning second baseman. General manager Brian Cashman got him from the Colorado Rockies for $24 million on a two-year deal.

Fortunately and unfortunately, LeMahieu was more than the Yankees ever could have asked for and outperformed his contract big time. He was a Silver Slugger batting .327 with 26 home runs and providing excellent defense. This year he just got better, leading all of baseball with a hitting title .364 batting average and hitting 10 home runs in this short season. He became the first player in modern times to win the title in both leagues.

There is little information out there that tells us the New York Yankees are negotiating with LeMahieu or even talking to him as yet. But that is not unusual for general manager Brian Cashman; he seldom drops a hint or shows his hand to the public. Several sources say the Yankees will not want to meet his demands for money, consider a five-year contract that he has made known, that he wants.

Simultaneously, some sources say the Yankees are indeed negotiating with the Wasserman Group, DJ’s agent. The Yankees would like to see a three-year contract for $60 million, but that is not likely to cut it. Some of the scuttlebutt is that general manager Brian Cashman might get really creative in a way to keep LeMahieu in pinstripes. He could entice him to stay in the Bronx with a longer contract, maybe going as much as five years or even six years via the vesting option, based on performance.

The way this could work is the Yankees give DJ the approximate $22 million for three years. Then add a fourth or even fifth year to the contract vesting based on performance.  In other words, if DJ reached a specific batting average or number of home runs in this third or fourth year, he would automatically get an additional season added to his contract at an agreed-upon rate. With LeMahieu already indicating that he likes New York and wants to stay with the team, this creativity may be the straw that stirs the drink and make the Yankees’ top priority happen.

Most sportswriters agree that the Yankees will want to solve the problem of retaining LeMahieu before they tackle the club’s other needs. If that is true, we may see action on LeMahieu sooner than later. Now the disclaimer: it is very early in the offseason; when and if any of these things come true is up in the air and subject to change until an actual deal is signed.

Many industry experts expect that LeMahieu will look for an amount in the $20 million range and a period of five years. He will surely have enough money for a quarter pounder and a car wash if he gets that. The New York Yankees afforded LeMahieu their only qualifying offer of $18.9 million for the 2021 season. DJ refused that, making him a free agent and able to test the market for his services.

Most sportswriters knew that the Blue Jays were interested and a few other teams. Then the Washington Nationals who have courted him before are interested in kicking the tires too. But, the newest development could drive his value up even more. The New York Mets have lost their second baseman Robinson Cano to a PED suspension, keeping out the 2021 season. The Mets also have a new cash-rich owner in Steve Cohen who always wants to be seen as a winner, much like previous Yankee owner George M. Steinbrenner.

Many see Cohan wanting to make a splash to improve the team, and what better way to do it than to acquire LeMahieu. Others say that he can move his centerfielder to second and go after George Springer.  Whatever the case, it’s good news for LeMahieu and not for the Yankees.

With the New York Yankees being short on funds and with other needs to address, if DJ LeMahieu is not reasonable with the Yankees, the Yankees will not be pushed beyond their limits and still could let him walk.

New York Yankees Analysis: Four Yankees must prove themselves in 2021 or they may be gone

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

This whole article on the New York Yankees goes on the premise that the Yankees will not make any surprising blockbuster moves, such as making moves that include pitching star Trevor Bauer, J.T. Realmuto, or securing Francisco Lindor’s services. With the extreme amount of money the Yankees lost last year and the cloudy future ahead, it is a relatively safe bet they will not be spending big. They are more likely to make minor tweaks to the existing staff.

If this scenario holds true, four New York Yankees will be in the spotlight this upcoming season. If they don’t perform, quite frankly, their days in Yankee pinstripes might be over. Those players are Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Domingo German. I have to remind you that this is very young in the offseason, and many changes could affect these players’ outcomes.

Gary Sanchez:

The  New York Yankees and its fans have really soured on catcher Gary Sanchez even his most ardent supporters. He got so bad last season that he was actually sat down at times toward the end of the season and in most of the postseason, in favor of backup catch Kyle Higashioka. When your backup catcher is trusted more than your starting catcher, that isn’t good.

It appears, regardless of trade rumors, is that Gary Sanchez will be around in some form next season. But, if he doesn’t improve, he could be on some other team for 2022. He must prove this season that he can stay healthy in a 162 games season, improve his defense, and strike out less and become more of a contact hitter that does’ constantly chase pitches out of the zone. It is very likely that in 2021 he will find himself platooned more often with Kyle Higashioka making finding his stride even more difficult. It is good to see him playing winter ball in the Dominican; hopefully, he can improve by doing this.  The bottom line here is that the Yankees can’t have a player that hits .147 taking up room in the lineup.

Aaron Judge:

Aaron Judge is on this list for a far different reason, but it is just as concerning. Judge has immense talent that is unquestioned. The problem with Judge is that that talent is totally wasted if he can’t stay on the field; it is purely potential going unrealized. With Judge due to make some serious money, he will have to have two seasons where he remains relatively healthy to have any chance of a long-term contract. If he doesn’t, he might find himself on the chopping block.

Judge started the year at a torrid rate hitting an amazing nine home runs in just seventeen games and, at one point, a home run in six straight games for the New York Yankees. But then the injury bug that has dogged him throughout his career hit, with a calf strain. Upon his return, he injured it again, allowing him to play in less than half the games in this coronavirus shortened season. When Judge returned, he never hit another home run in the remainder of the regular season, again not allowing him to show his real worth as a Yankee superstar.

Gleyber Torres:

First, Torres most likely has fewer chances of being cut from the New York Yankees due to his young age, talent, and ability to improve. Nevertheless, he must improve. Whether he remains at short or is moved to second base, he must improve his defense. And after a very sub-par season at the plate, he must also show the Yankees he can hit again.

Torres had a far from a stellar season at short. At one point in the season, he had the most errors in baseball. After a season and a half at the position, the Yankees realize that he may not get better and have to find a way to keep the potential Yankee star in the lineup. In 2019 he had the most home runs (38) of any Yankee. He didn’t play all that well at the plate either this past season, but that is likely more of a blip in the young man’s career that he will hopefully recover from. If he doesn’t fix either of these areas, he may not be as lucky as Sanchez, who continued to receive the support that is now lacking, which may not be extended to Torres.

Domingo German:

German is still another situation. German made a horrible decision to slap his wife in public and get suspended for 81 games. Owner and Chief Operating Officer Hal Steinbrenner has already made it clear that he has to show that he is a changed man before he will be allowed to return. To make his way back to the Yankees, German impresses greatly while playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He has pitched nine innings, only giving up one run in his first two games while striking out eight.

If indeed the Yankees do take him back and surely need to help solve the Yankees pitching woes, he must perform. In 2019 he was the Yankees winningness pitcher going 18-4. The Yankees certainly could have used that this past season. If he can come close to that, he may be on the team for years to come. He is a free agent after the 2024 season. If he doesn’t perform as expected, the Yankees considering his moral baggage, may not be worth keeping him around.

The bottom line in all of this is that these New York Yankee players must improve in 2021. With Gary Sanchez, it is hard to see how he will improve after three seasons with no improvement. Torres has hope, and with Judge, much of it is out of his control; he must stay on the field. If the majority of these players can’t improve or even get worse, the Yankees may find themselves in a complete rebuild, further distancing them from another World Series win.

 

 

Why Mike Chernoff chose not to work with the New York Mets

Mike Chernoff is a very capable baseball executive, with incredible knowledge about the sport and valuable experience making important decisions of a team. He’s done it for years with the small-market Cleveland Indians, building contending squads, and the New York Mets were very interested in bringing him to Queens to do the same thing. However, he decided to stay in Ohio.

If you are wondering why Chernoff chose to stay with the Indians instead of pursuing a job with the New York Mets, Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes, who has covered the tribe for years, offered his perspective.

“He likes how he fits with the Indians. He has a seat at the table with (Indians president Chris) Antonetti, manager Terry Francona and the rest of the front office on every baseball decision that is made,” Hoynes wrote.

The veteran reporter also said that the Indians provide a safe place for Chernoff. “It is a stable organization, a good place to work and a hard place to leave. He does not have to wonder what it’s like to be the No.1 baseball guy because Antonetti challenges him at every turn, pushing him to be better. Everyone has a chance to voice their opinion when a question about contracts, arbitration or player acquisitions arrive.”

The Mets are looking for a GM

The Mets, with owner Steve Cohen and president Sandy Alderson taking over a contending team, are one of the most desirable landing places for an executive. They are serious people, with experience, and money to spend on improving the roster.

But after much speculation, Chernoff, who is the Indians’ general manager, decided to stay put. The Mets, therefore, are left looking for a GM of their own, as Alderson will take care of baseball operations for now.

Chernoff is a New Jersey native whose father Mark Chernoff is the senior vice president for Entercom who oversees WFAN.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Jayson Stark weren’t surprised by Chernoff’s decision. “Those in the game who know (Mike) Chernoff say … he does not necessarily value his career path over other considerations – family, lifestyle, the Indians’ workplace environment. Could the Mets, in particular, make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? Of course. But for Chernoff, it would not be a slam-dunk decision.”

New York Mets: Here’s Steve Cohen’s stance on the return of the black uniforms

It’s clear that the New York Mets have more important things to worry about, like getting a general manager, finding a starting catcher, bringing reinforcements to the rotation, and decide on a plan to replace Robinson Cano at second base. However, the potential return of the black uniforms is still a hot theme around the team and the fanbase.

While they haven’t been used for some time now, the black uniforms bring good memories to lots of Mets’ fans. And new owner Steve Cohen is toying with the idea of bringing them back, at least some nights.

The hedge fund billionaire and now Mets’ owner said to SNY that he thinks there are more people in favor of their return than those who are openly against it.

Some New York Mets star players, including Pete Alonso, Dominic Smith, Marcus Stroman, and J.D. Davis, have publicly said they would support the return of the black uniforms. Per Cohen, it is a real possibility for the 2021 season and beyond.

“There’s lots of discussion on these black jerseys,” Cohen told SNY’s Steve Gelbs during an exclusive interview on Mets Hot Stove. “Seems like there are people who are fervent who want it, and then people who actually don’t want it. I think it’s probably more that people want it than don’t want it.

“I haven’t talked to the players about it. I want to make sure they would be into that. And maybe we do it on a night every once in a while or something, just to shake it up.”

The Mets’ history with the black uniforms

From 1998 to 2011, the Mets wore the black jerseys and caps, both at home and on the road, as they rotated kits. Back then, they used two caps — one all black and another black with a blue bill.

Alonso, in particular, loves them. “The black unis are the dopest! No cap. It would be a mentality and attitude. The orange and blue accents are like the city lights in the night sky. So many Mets greats wore the black. My only question is: why not?”

Cohen said, half jokingly, that he would have to listen to Alonso, since he’s so much bigger than him. Will the Mets be wearing black at some point in 2021?

New York Yankees are happy with Luis Severino’s progress

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees need reliable starters, and that is no secret. Pitching is the name of the game, and having an ace or two can really make things easier for a manager. In the case of Aaron Boone, he has a real good one in Gerrit Cole, but the team’s pitching depth was put to test last season, and it wasn’t always a smooth ride.

The New York Yankees were forced to use J.A. Happ in an important postseason start (well, as you probably recall, it was actually a bulk relief appearance) and rely on rookie Deivi Garcia, who wasn’t bad at all, but it’s not the most desirable scenario.

As Domingo German is set to return from suspension and Jordan Montgomery will be a steady presence in the rotation, the Yankees need one or two additional arms, since Happ, Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton are all free agents. One of those arms could potentially be Luis Severino, but he has to complete rehab from Tommy John surgery.

The Yankees are expecting him to contribute in 2021

Recently, the Yankees said that they will take things slow with Sevy and let him complete his rehab at his pace, but he’s expected back at some point in June or July.

Severino is now nine months removed from his Tommy John surgery, and thankfully, everything is going well for him according to the team. In June or July, he would be 14-15 months removed from his procedure.

Yankees’ skipper Aaron Boone had this to say about him on the latest edition of the YES Network’s Yankees Hot Stove:

“He had surgery in February, so typically with Tommy John you’re out 12 to 15 months, 12 to 16. We’ll certainly be conservative when we’re dealing with anyone, but especially a guy that’s as valuable and as important as Luis is to our team.

“It’s going according to plan. He’s throwing. He’s not on a mound yet, but I think that’s moving in the direction that it should and I’m looking forward to him playing a big part for us in this upcoming season.”

The Bombers are expecting him to be an asset for the second half of the season.

Yankees news/rumors: Didi Gregorious reunion, Luke Voit trade, Gleyber Torres to second?

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody but Jacoby Ellsbury for theft. Well, we’ve gotten that out of the way, time to dive into the hot stove and conjure up some exciting New York Yankees’ scenarios to enjoy with some turkey!

The rumor mill has been active this season, as expected, but one idea has really sparked my interest. The return of shortstop Didi Gregorius, a player beloved in the clubhouse and within the fan base. Gregorius finished his 2019 season with the Yankees on a down note, missing half the year with Tommy John and finishing with a .238 batting average. However, he had 16 homers and 61 RBIs but backed up his lackluster performance with an incredible 2020.

Didi finished with a .284 average, including 10 homers and 40 RBIs over 237 plate appearances. He struck out 11.8%, the lowest in his entire career, and walked 6.3% of the time. He earned a 1.4 WAR, once again posting efficient defensive statistics.

He logged a .968 fielding percentage with seven errors and 33 double plays. While he suffered through some deficiencies, this can be considered an anomaly based on his past performances. Having spent the last five seasons with the Yankees, playing for a new team that struggled was likely a factor.

However, Didi returning to the Yankees would mean three things, Gleyber Torres would be moving back to second base, and DJ LeMahieu would be starting at first base.

Even if LeMahieu earns a significant contract and plays first base, his offensive capabilities are well worth the money. In addition, he’s capable of filling multiple infield positions and supplementing injuries, increasing his value. There is really no arguing what DJ brings to the team, so the third factor that would need to unroll for Gregorius to return is a Luke Voit trade.

George A. King of the NY Post stated in regard to a Didi Gregorious return:

However, there are no voices inside the organization screaming their displeasure when his name is brought up internally.

This is in context with the potential for the Yankees to bring back the beloved shortstop. Voit’s value is at an all-time high after a successful 2020 campaign where he had a league-high 22 homers and finished with a .277 average.

Defensively, he has improved significantly but still has a negative effect on the team. His offense is where he makes his money, and considering how well he has played and battled through injuries, the Yankees could sell high on him at this point. However, Voit is loyal and fought tirelessly to stay on the field when they needed him most last season, and I believe the Bombers will commit to him for that.

While the likelihood of the Yankees moving Torres back to second base is slim, anything can happen this off-season. The idea of having Gregorius at shortstop, Torres at second, and LeMahieu at first is certainly appealing. However, their current lineup is just as exciting aside from the fact that Torres had serious issues with routine plays at short in 2020.

New York Giants preparing to roll out three-headed monster at safety

New York Giants, Xavier McKinney, Jabrill Peppers

Prior to the start of the 2020 season, the New York Giants were extremely excited to insert second-round safety Xavier McKinney into their defense. With a new scheme and personnel across-the-board, the Giants finally committed to the rebuild, as head coach Joe Judge took control and began to lay the foundation for the future.

McKinney was expected to be a focal point for the defense this year but unfortunately suffered a foot fracture earlier in training camp. He has missed every game leading up to week 11, but there is hope that he can see the field in week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals. This would be the perfect opportunity for him to gain some essential reps against a lackluster offense that just lost star quarterback Joe Burrow. However, easing him into action is a priority, in hopes that he doesn’t reaggravate the injury.

In 2019, McKinney recorded seven turnovers, including four forced fumbles, three interceptions, 5.5 tackles for a loss, and 3.0 sacks. With this type of production, the defense is gaining a true playmaker, and they are finally ready to roll out a three-headed monster at safety that will hopefully exercise Patrick Graham’s scheme to perfection.

How the New York Giants will use their trio of safeties:

Graham tends to focus on cover 1 defense with a healthy blend of man coverage, but he’s adaptable. This year, with a lackluster CB2, he’s been forced to utilize more soft zone to keep the ball in front of his players and mitigate big plays downfield. This has worked well, despite the passing defense ranking 24th in the league. The rest of the defense has been stellar, ranking sixth and stopping the run and 12th in points allowed per game.

The big question is, where will McKinney play when he returns?

Most believe he will rotate with Julian Love at free safety, but it seems as if Logan Ryan better suits the position, and McKinney could move down to strong safety and play alongside Jabrill Peppers in a money-backer role, a position established by James Bettcher.

In fact, this trio of safeties is capable of doing many different things, as all three can play strong safety, free safety, and a blend of both. Creating confusion for opposing quarterbacks and keeping the offenses honest is exactly how they should be utilizing McKinney, Peppers, and Ryan.

Peppers has been solid this year, playing strong safety but has had trouble in coverage at times. He’s allowed 339 total yards and one touchdown, which is the most yardage he has allowed since his inception into the NFL in 2017. However, he has been solid against the run, posting 50 combined tackles and four tackles for a loss through nine games.

This is why I suggest McKinney potentially moving to the strong safety position, where he can cover at a more efficient rate and utilize his aggressiveness against the run.

Ryan, who believes he can be the best safety in the NFL, has been a godsend for the Giants this season. After they lost McKinney, management elected to sign Ryan as a supplement. He has been the glue that holds the defense together, communication-wise, and has a playmaker. He had a timely interception against Washington two weeks ago and has been average across-the-board. That is the most the Giants could hope for it in a new scheme, but he has once again been successful in many different categories.

Ryan has lined up as a strong safety, free safety, and cornerback this season but has spent the last three games in a deeper portion of the field. That is why I expect McKinney to rotate down to strong safety if he earns any reps in week 12.