New York Giants welcome back Alex Tanney, will travel to Seattle

New York Giants, Javon Leake

Going into their crucial game against the Seattle Seahawks, the New York Giants are left with a tough situation at QB. It looks like Daniel Jones is unlikely to play due to injury, and with that, the Giants only have Colt McCoy as a viable starter.

But if McCoy goes down, the question of who will play the quarterback position becomes dodgier. Sitting behind McCoy on the depth chart is former Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson, but the Giants are bringing in new help. Or more accurately, old help.

That help comes in the form of a face that Giants fans will already be familiar with from previous seasons – Alex Tanney. According to a report from Dan Duggan of the Athletic, the Giants are expected to bring Tanney back onto the practice squad. The backup QB should travel to Seattle, and if the Giants need to add another QB at the last minute, Tanney could be activated and suit up.

The team has also already moved Clayton Thorson from the practice squad, meaning he’ll likely be the backup for McCoy in case anything happens injury-wise during the Seattle game. While Tanney has more experience overall with the Giants, Thorson has more experience working with the current system and so it looks like he may be higher up on the depth chart.

Tanney hasn’t gotten much regular season playing time after joining the Giants originally in 2018, with 15 career passing attempts and 11 career completions. He was released from the team September 5th, but may have a chance to scratch out a spot once again depending on how things go now that the Giant have brought him back for at least one more game.

New York Giants: Leonard Williams on his way to a career year

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

New York Giants general manager Dave Gettleman has had mixed reviews in his first three years with the Giants. Gettleman has made a handful of great decisions, mixed in with a fair amount of poor decisions. By far his most controversial decision, however, was trading for defensive lineman Leonard Williams in the middle of the 2019 season.

The Giants’ season was pretty much over when Gettleman made the trade. New York had no real chance of making the playoffs and was not one interior defender away from turning things around. Regardless, Gettleman made the trade, giving up two draft picks to acquire Leonard “Big Cat” Williams.

Since then, Leonard Williams has been a star for the Giants. Of course, some fans will still criticize the trade since Williams was set to be a free agent at the end of the 2019 season. Gettleman could have tried to sign him in the offseason without giving up draft picks. But there is no time machine to change the way Leonard Williams got here, but now that he is here, he is playing like one of the best defensive linemen in football.

Leonard Williams Stats and Highlights

Over the final eight weeks of the 2019 season, Williams was solid for the Giants, but he was not very productive. He made an impact, opening things up for his teammates and totaling a solid amount of quarterback pressures. But he finished the eight-week stint with only 0.5 sack.

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Williams in the offseason after the two sides were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term contract. Leo needed to put together a top-tier season to earn that lucrative extension. So far, he has done just that, putting together what could be a career-year for the sixth-year pro out of USC.

Through eleven games, Leonard Williams has already totaled six sacks this season. His career-high sack total is seven, so he seems to be on pace to surpass that by season’s end. Williams made the Pro Bowl just once with the Jets in 2016. There is a good chance he earns his second Pro Bowl nod this season, though, as Williams is performing as one of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen.

Leonard Williams has totaled 36 combined tackles this season with 8 tackles for loss. He has been excellent defending the run, but his productivity as a pass-rusher has been the difference-maker this year. Leonard has already racked up 19 quarterback hits and 22 pressures to go along with his six sacks.

Playing out this year on the franchise tag, Leonard Williams will once again be a free agent this offseason. The Giants will have to sign Williams to a huge contract this offseason if they want to keep him around long-term. But based on his performance this season, Leonard Williams seems in line for a big contract, whether it be with the Giants or another team in free agency.

New York Yankees News: Gary Sanchez’s struggles persist in winter ball (video)

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

The New York Yankees catcher, Gary Sanchez, to his credit, is playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic League. He is hoping playing winter ball may sharpen the skills that caused him to have the worst season of his young career. This is the first time he has played in the Dominican League in six years. Unfortunately, his debut Friday night was not encouraging.

After a horrible season for the Yankees, it was questionable whether the Yankees would trade him or not tender him an offer and let him become a free agent. In a move surprising to many, the New York Yankees offered him a contract for play in the 2021 season. Sanchez reportedly will cash in for nearly $6 million.

After having two injury-riddled seasons, Sanchez managed to stay healthy this season after having some minor back problems in spring training. But staying healthy wasn’t the cure for Sanchez’s lack of hitting and regressed skill behind the plate. Gary Sanchez managed 10 homers on the season but hit a pitiful .147 for the whole season. He wasn’t sharp behind the plate either, with five passed balls, equivalent to 13.5 passed balls in a regular season. That compares to only 7 missed balls in 2019.

Friday night for the Toros del Este’s, he went 1-5. He did not catch in the game as he was the team’s designated hitter for the Friday night game. Sanchez batting fourth in the lineup. In a somewhat encouraging sign, he did hit a single over the second baseman’s head. However, he kept doing what he did all last season, swinging and missing on balls low and outside. The problem with his swing is that pitchers know if they throw down and out of the zone, Gary will swing at it and strikeout like he did three times last night.

If you watch the video below, you will see him aimlessly flailing at those same pitches. Sanchez faced right-hander Albert Abreu, a 25-year-old Yankees prospect who made his debut during the 2020 season.

Even though Sanchez was tendered, it doesn’t mean he will remain with the Yankees; he still could be used in a trade package for a pitcher or other team need. The Yankee front office hopes that Sanchez will answer his poor play in the winter games; if not, his future with the Yankees is still unclear.

Kyle Higashioka is the only other backstop on the roster. Higashioka also earned the role of ace Gerrit Cole’s personal catcher by midseason. If the Yankees cut Sanchez in spring training, they will then have to find two additional catchers. Erik Kratz, the backup during the 2020 season, has retired from baseball after mentoring Deivi Garcia in his debut. If Sanchez is cut, the Yankees will have to pay him a termination fee.

UFC books Dominick Cruz – Casey Kenney

The former UFC bantamweight champion is back. Today, MMA Junkie reported that the promotion is booking Dominick Cruz (22-3) against Casey Kenney (16-2-1) in March. The fight will take place at the proposed UFC 259 PPV.

This news came out of no where and is honestly a tad stunning. After Dominick Cruz lost to Henry Cejudo back at UFC 249, it wasn’t clear on if he was going to continue to fight. Cruz has made a career for himself at the broadcast table.

However, it appears that the former UFC champion is still wanting to keep his fighting career alive. Cruz is one of the best bantamweights of all time, however, his career has been famously derailed by injuries.

Due to injuries, Cruz has only fought five times in the last nine years. Prior to his title fight at UFC 249 against Cejudo, Cruz had been out for three and a half years. He will enter the cage on a two-fight losing streak.

Cruz lost his UFC title to Cody Garbrandt back in December of 2016. That night, Cruz seemed just a step behind Garbrandt. Following that loss, injuries kept him out until the Cejudo fight. Cruz was finished in the second round by Triple C.

UFC 259 Bantamweight Clash

To be honest, I’m a tad surprised by the opponent choice for Dominick Cruz. Sure, Cruz has lost two in a row and has been out of the cage a lot, but I was still expecting a more high profile opponent for him in his next fight.

Casey Kenney is getting a massive opportunity at UFC 259 taking on the former champion. Kenney is 5-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Merab Dvalishvili back in February. He’s won three straight to close out 2020.

Despite the winning streak, Kenney still finds himself outside of the UFC‘s top 15. However, if he’s able to pickup a win over Dominick Cruz, that would be a massive bump for his career. Should be a fun one when March rolls around.

Are the New York Yankees looking to add a veteran starter?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

If you’ve been following the New York Yankees over the past decade, you’ve heard the same issue discussed over and over. That issue is the lack of starting pitching. Lack of starting pitching and consistent hitting have been the Yankees downfall.

The bombers attempted to address the starting pitching issue last offseason. The Yankees went out and signed the best pitcher on the market in Gerrit Cole. Overall, Cole had a very good first year in pinstripes. He pitched very well in his three postseason starts.

However, the Yankees still fell short and didn’t make it to the World Series. The World Series drought for the Yankees continued in 2020. To be fair to the Yankees, their rotation took some injury hits this year that really hindered the club.

Luis Severino (injury) and Domingo German (suspension) missed the entire season. James Paxton also missed a majority of the season due to injuries. The Yankees are planning on having German back next year and Severino to return at some point.

However, there are still a ton of question marks about the rotation moving forward. Masahiro Tanaka is a free agent and there is no guarantee that the Yankees retain his services. Jordan Montgomery will get a starting rotation spot, but after that, there’s question marks.

Right now if things go as planned, the Yankees have three rotation spots confirmed: Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Domingo German. Severino will take a spot when he’s healthy, but there’s no word on when that’ll be.

The Yankees options?

In a perfect world, the Yankees would make another sexy splash and sign Trevor Bauer. Imagine a rotation led by Cole and Bauer, however, we know that the bombers are looking to cut payroll instead of adding this offseason.

The Yankees are focused on bringing back DJ LeMahieu and that is not going to come cheap. Once they resign LeMahieu, they will look at how to improve the club. I could see them adding a guy like Archie Bradley for the bullpen.

For the starting rotation, they are not going to be shopping near the top. Instead, I think the Yankees are going to be in the bargain bin hoping for a diamond in the rough. They will also be looking to add a veteran presence in the rotation.

Two names that would make a lot of sense are Jose Quintana and Corey Kluber. The Yankees have liked Quintana for a long time and originally attempted to acquire him from the White Sox before they traded him to the Cubs.

Quintana really struggled with the Cubs in comparison to his years with the White Sox. However, the Yankees might see him as a guy who can be stable in the rotation. Kluber is a wild card to me.

The former Cy Young winner is just a couple of years removed from being one of baseball’s best. However, injuries have seen him pitch only 36.2 innings in two seasons. If the Yankees believe they can recapture some of his best stuff, I can see them bringing him in.

Either way, I expect the Yankees to add a starter this offseason not named Masahiro Tanaka. Even if they bring Tanaka back, I think Cashman will try to add another rotation option on the cheap end. I do not see them trying to go fully young with Garcia and Schmidt.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Winter Meetings this week, will the Yankees make big moves?

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees and the other 29 MLB teams will participate in the baseball Winter Meetings this week. The meetings will be from December 6-10. Originally scheduled to be held at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Texas. The coronavirus has caused them to be canceled and held virtually and remotely.

The winter meetings are often packed with acquisitions and trades. How much activity will take place this year is anyone’s guess. It could be normal, but it could also be much slower than in previous years because the in-person meetings were canceled. The coronavirus and its recent surge are only making the financial condition of all teams less clear. Owners don’t know what the 2021 season will look like. Will it be a full 162 game season, and will fans be allowed in the stands?

These financial considerations will have a blanket effect over the whole offseason for owners and free agents alike. Most owners, including the New York Yankees, will want to penny-pinch where they can. Players may only be willing to sign short-term contracts to negotiate better when the money may be better.

Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner has already said that he wants to stay under the $210 million payroll threshold. With that being said, it is doubtful that you will see any blockbuster big-money deals like you saw last season with the purchase of Gerrit Cole. But there are free agents out there who may be of interest to the Yankees, including trades to be made.

Think back to the last few years. The New York Yankees and it’s general manager Brian Cashman has made some really great under the radar moves. Some of these moves were actually criticized by fans as do nothing moves. One, for instance, happened before the beginning of spring training. With fans hoping for a Manny Machado or a Brice Harper, instead, they got a little known DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu, in two years, has outperformed both Harper and Machado.  Winning the batting title this season and causing the Yankees to prioritize bringing him back with a new contract.

Other instances are Luke Voit. Who would have guessed when the Yankee got him from the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018 that he would be the 2020 home run leader. Another case is Gio Urshela, who the Yankees traded for at the end of the 2018 season from the Blue Jays. He has done nothing but play far beyond expectations for the Yankees. The Indians gave Clint Frazier a $3.5 signing bonus. But they lost faith in him and decided they needed a closer more. Frazier was traded to the Yankees who didn’t lose faith, and now he is one of the upcoming baby boomer stars.

Getting back to the present, look for Cashman to be creative in rebuilding the pitching rotation behind Gerrit Cole. He will also re-sign DJ LeMahieu at almost any cost. The sticking point in those negotiations has to do with DJ’s age; he is 32 and adamant about wanting a five-year contract to give him future security. The Yankees want three years. DJ had made it known through his agent, the Wasserman Group, that he might be willing to take less money for the longer contract. Cashman may be able to put together a deal that will work for both parties.

One thing we know is that the upcoming week will see more action for all teams, including the New York Yankees, than we have so far in an offseason that seems to be dragging on with little changes that will promise a new World Championship for the Yankees and it’s fans.

Other important dates to watch for are December 10, the Rule 5 draft, and the Yankees and other teams can dip into those not protected by the Dec. 2 deadline. January 15 is the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures. Players can accept or choose arbitration. Also, on that date, the  2021 international signing period opens. It’s usually in July but has been pushed up to January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

 

New York Knicks: Frank Ntilikina could be left behind with Tom Thibodeau’s strategy

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

The New York Knicks have a tall task ahead of them trying to figure out who they’re going to utilize at point guard and why.

The expectation is that Tom Thibodeau will select Elfrid Payton as a starter, considering he is the most refined of the group and offers veteran experience. In addition, he’s a solid defensive player and can create on the go, fitting the mold of transition point guard, a strategy that fits Obi Toppin’s style and the fast-paced system I anticipate seeing.

Here’s a list of all the New York Knicks’ guards:

-Frank Ntilikina

-Elfrid Payton

-Dennis Smith Jr.

-Myles Powell

-Immanuel Quickley

-Jared Harper

-Austin Rivers

With this many guards fighting for playing time, it the question, where does Frank Ntilikina fit into this mess? Last season with the Knicks, Frank had his highest points per game at 6.3, logging 3.0 assists and 2.1 total rebounds on .393% shooting from the floor. He only averaged 20.8 minutes per game, but the expectation is that he will have to fight for every minute in a crowded room of guards.

“It’s part of the game,’’ Ntilikina said of the playing-time battle. “We have a lot of guards on this team, a lot of competitors, which is going to bring the best out of the team. We’re going to compete hard for minutes and the coach is going to decide what he wants to do. We have trust in him. He knows what he’s doing. He knows his job. So he’s going to put the best players together on the court.’’

The New York Knicks are going in a new direction:

Youngsters with potential aren’t going to earn preferential treatment this season, as Tom plans to put a winning product on the floor. As a well-known coach that understands player development, I think this is in the best interest of the team. Allowing the Knicks to become the joke of the NBA is not the proper method of developing confidence and chemistry with your players.

However, Ntilikina might not see his usual fair shot at starting minutes. The reality is, he is a defensive maestro that offers solid late-game value and is essentially a lead protector. He did see a slight bump in his scoring production last year, finishing with 28 points in the last two games of the season. In the final six games of the year, he enjoyed double-digit points twice— a positive stride.

“At the end of last season it allowed to be more comfortable on the court,’’ Ntilikina said. “Of course [I worked on] my defense, but also offensively being a better player, being able to score and give my teammates a lot of options. That’s why I felt really more comfortable at the end of last season and that’s what I’m trying to work on and keep improving.’’

For Frank to earn starting minutes, he’s going to have to improve his scoring, that’s the bottom line. Whether or not he can do that is yet to be seen, but he has been working tirelessly to improve his game and prepare for the 2020–21 season.

Yankees news/rumors: Archie Bradley makes perfect sense, Gary Sanchez disappoints in Winter League

New York Yankees, Archie Bradley

The New York Yankees are in the market for a starting pitcher, but all the better options continue to be plucked in free agency.

Nonetheless, the Yankees need to replace James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and JA Happ. It seems as if they are taking their time in the process, looking for the perfect fit and trying to save as much money as possible.

General manager Brian Cashman isn’t used to having a cap to his spending, something he will have this off-season — keeping the team under the $210 luxury tax threshold is the goal.

Nonetheless, one name that represents a potential upgrade is reliever Archie Bradley. Kicking the tires on him would make a lot of sense for the bombers, and while he only pitched 18.1 and then this past season, he recorded 2.9 5 ERA with a 39.2% ground ball right. The sample size is simply too small to consider, so let’s take a look at his 2019 statistics for a better idea of what he brings.

Bradley pitched 71.2 innings in 200019/66 games. He recorded a 3.52 ERA, 45.2% ground ball rate, 10.93 strikeouts per nine, and 87 strikeouts in total (Fangraphs).

The Diamondback had a solid 2019 campaign, and the Yankees might want to consider bringing him in after losing Tommy Kahnle to Tommy John surgery last year.

Manager Aaron Boone was forced to utilize Chad Green, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman as his primary relievers. The issue, Green was inconsistent, and Jonathan Holder was a liability at times. In addition, Jonathan Loaisiga and Luis Cessa were questionable in high leverage situations, so the Yankees need another reliever to utilize.

At 28 years old, Bradley utilizes a few different pitches, but his primary two are his fastball and curveball. He uses his four-seam on average 65.9% of the time and curveball 22.5%. He also sprinkles in a sinker and changeup but really is a two-pitch thrower that hovers in the mid-90s with his four-seam.

New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez started his winter league with more strikeouts:

Gary Sanchez enjoyed his winter league debut on Friday night, and while he did earn one solid single, it was a lot more striking out than one would hope for. His one hit was a soft liner over the second baseman’s head, showing solid patience at the plate and contact. This was against Yankees’ Prospect Albert Abreu, who made his major league debut this past year.

Nonetheless, Sanchez finished the night 1-for-5 with three strikeouts in the victory. It is fair to give him some slack after not playing for a few weeks, but considering this level of competition, there’s no way this was a confidence-boosting performance. He is still looking to revitalize his offense and provide more value for the Yankees down the line, especially since they’ve offered him a new contract for the 2021 season.

Manel Kape to serve as UFC 256 backup

For the second time this year, a UFC newcomer is going to serve as the backup for a title fight. Per Mike Heck of MMA Fighting, the promotion has decided to make Manel Kape (15-4) the backup fighter for next weekend’s UFC 256 flyweight title fight.

The UFC flyweight title fight pairs the top contender, Brandon Moreno, against champion, Deiveson Figueiredo. Kape was originally supposed to fight at UFC Vegas 17 on December 19th.

The promotion paired him against top five contender, Alexandre Pantoja. There is a ton of hype surrounding the UFC flyweight debut of Manel Kape. While not quite as big, it’s very similar to the Michael Chandler situation.

Kape is widely considered one of the best flyweights in the world, and obviously the UFC agrees. They were throwing him right into a fight with a guy in the top five. However, Pantoja tested positive for COVID-19 and the fight was cancelled.

There is talk that the promotion will look to rebook that fight in either February or March. However, the promotion wanted Kape to stay in Vegas and keep cutting weight. They decided to make Kape the backup just to ensure that the cursed UFC 256 card has a fallback option.

Year of the UFC backup

As mentioned above, this is the second time this year that a UFC newcomer will serve as a backup. Back in October, Michael Chandler was brought in to the be the backup for UFC 254 which featured the title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Justin Gaethje.

Chandler flew to Fight Island and made weight for the contest. While the Khabib – Gaethje fight went through, Chandler was ready to go just to be safe. Dana White admitted a couple of weeks ago he’s slightly nervous about the weight cuts for the flyweights next weekend.

Both men just fought at UFC 255 and Figueiredo usually struggles to make 125 pounds. Well, the promotion decided to instill a backup option just to cover their bases. While we hope the main event happens as planned, Kape is a very solid fallback option if things go south.

Yankees’ Gary Sanchez has three strikeouts on winter debut

The New York Yankees allowed catcher Gary Sanchez to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic. They want him to try to regain the offensive rhythm that made him perhaps the most feared catcher in baseball from 2016 to 2019, keeping in mind that the 2020 season with the Bombers was a struggle from start to end.

Sanchez made his long-awaited debut in the LIDOM with Toros del Este, a team that didn’t have the privilege of writing Sanchez’s name in the lineup since the 2013 winter season. The Yankees’ backstop didn’t have a particularly good showing on Friday night, but he is just getting started, after all.

In five trips to the plate, the New York Yankees’ slugger went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts and a bloop single, which he got in his second at-bat of the evening. He worked a deep count and then ripped a soft liner to right field to plate a run.

A duel of Yankees players

Sanchez squared off against Yankees’ teammate Albert Abreu, who gave the catcher fits with his slider low and away.
The Yankees opted to tender the arbitration-eligible Sanchez a contract ahead of the 2021 season, despite having a career-low .147 batting average, a 36% strikeout rate, and a 69 wRC+. He did hit 10 home runs, but the Bombers know he is capable of much more and are opting to try and fix what is ailing his swing/approach.

Toros ended up winning 2-1 against Tigres del Licey, in part thanks to Sanchez’s single that put his team on the board. In the rest of the championship, though, he will be looking to gain consistency at the plate and make loud and frequent contact.

For what is worth, Toros is delighted to have him playing, as they should. “It is a luxury for the Toros and the league to have Gary back,” general manager Raymond Abreu told Dominican media outlet precision.com.do. “We are sure that his impact will be enormous both on and off the field.”