New York Giants: Logan Ryan still in the lead for NFC free safeties Pro Bowl voting

New York Giants, Logan Ryan

The New York Giants added Logan Ryan as a free agent after no other team gave him the same chance following his departure from the Titans, and they haven’t regretted the choice since. Ryan has become a key part of the secondary in what turned out to be a successful experiment following an early injury to Xavier McKinney. While Ryan was initially brought in just for this reason, he’s become enough of a factor for Giants fans to start thinking about the odds of him sticking around next year.

One of the fruits of his labor is his lead in the voting for NFC free safeties for the Pro Bowl. There’s one week left to vote and so far, no one has surpassed Ryan’s total in this category.

For once, the Giants have multiple players in contention for Pro Bowl spots – a change from the last couple of years where they had one of the thinnest rosters in the NFL.

Ryan has 69 combined tackles so far after playing in every game for the Giants and is on pace for one of his best years in this category. He also has a single interception and has three forced fumbles this season. If his current pace keeps up, it looks like he’ll surpass his career total for forced fumbles in one season.

The player will be of further interest when the offseason comes, due to his contract. It’s been speculated that the Giants will have to make a choice when it comes to Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Ryan. They may not have enough cap space to afford all three players, but obviously, there’s some desire to keep Ryan around thanks to his impact on the secondary and his Pro Bowl worthy performance.

The forecast of what the cap situation will look like isn’t all clear yet. It’s possible that we’ll see Nate Solder retire, and it looks like Golden Tate is headed out the door after this season. It’s clear right now, however, that many would prefer keeping Ryan and the team’s impact players on the defensive front around rather than Solder and Tate.

Kevin Holland knocks Jacare Souza out at UFC 256

Kevin Holland

The second fight of the main card at UFC 256 was a middleweight battle between Kevin Holland (20-5) and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (26-8,1 NC). Holland was getting the biggest opportunity of his UFC career to date.

While it’s been a tough year on the world, Kevin Holland has had a sensational year in the UFC. The brash middleweight has gone 4-0 and was looking to continue that tonight. 5-0 is a mark that not many can hit in a calendar year.

On the other side of things was the legend, Jacare. Jacare was looking to snap a two-fight losing streak. His last fight came at light heavyweight against the current UFC champion, Jan Blachowicz. Souza was looking to return to his winning ways at middleweight.

UFC 256 Recap

Round 1

The UFC 256 middleweight clash opened up, Holland threw a big right hand. Holland threw a big leg kick that Jacare was able to catch and takedown Holland. However, Holland did a really good job of working his way back up to his feet.

Jacare pushed him against the fence and was able to get him back down. There was a slight separation and Kevin Holland landed a couple of massive right hands from his back that rocked Jacare. Holland follows up and finishes him off. Massive win for Holland who’s gone 5-0 in the UFC this year.

Kevin Holland def. Jacare Souza by KO – Round 1

Ciryl Gane stops Junior Dos Santos at UFC 256

Ciryl Gane UFC

Kicking off the main card tonight at UFC 256 was a heavyweight clash between Junior Dos Santos (21-8) and Ciryl Gane (6-0). The former champion’s back was against the wall coming into this one.

Dos Santos entered the cage riding a three-fight losing streak. However, it was the way he’s lost his last three that have UFC fans wondering if he’s near the end. Cigano has been stopped in three straight outings.

Gane is on the other end of the spectrum. The French heavyweight prospect is looked at by many as a future champion. After tough year full of UFC cancellations, Gane was looking to make a massive statement tonight against Junior Dos Santos.

UFC 256 Recap:

Round 1

As the opening round at UFC 256 got underway, both were very light on their feet. Gane was frequently switching stances then used front kicks to start the striking. Dos Santos was trying to find his range with straight shots.

Gane continued to bounce and throw leg kicks. Dos Santos landed a decent uppercut as Gane got on the inside. Gane then countered with a very decent body kick. Dos Santos started to put a little pressure on Gane, but he was a little out of range to land shots.

Gane continued to land some decent kicks halfway through the round. The former UFC champion was throwing everything into his shots, but nothing was landing in the first. Gane continued to pepper Dos Santos’ legs with kicks.

Dos Santos threw a spinning back kick, but again couldn’t land. One minute left in the round and Gane lands another really good body kick. Dos Santos tried to catch a kick and get a takedown, but couldn’t land it. Dos Santos landed some good shots at the end, but a really good first round for Gane.

Round 2

As the second round at UFC 256 got underway, Gane went right back to throwing leg kicks. Dos Santos appeared to be trying to time Gane, but Gane was staying just out of range of Cigano’s big shots.

A minute into the round and Gane continued to land good kicks. Dos Santos landed a good right hand and Gane pushed JDS against the fence. Dos Santos was able to separate and get things back to striking.

Then out of no where, Gane lands a massive jab that hurts the former UFC champion. An elbow drops JDS and Gane finishes him off with a couple of shots.

Ciryl Gane def. Junior Dos Santos by TKO – Round 2

Thibodeau wants to see more Randle-Toppin combo, Knicks defense

New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau

With 1:04 left in the second quarter in the New York Knicks‘ preseason opener, Tom Thibodeau pulled out starter Nerlens Noel and inserted back rookie Obi Toppin.

For the first time, Toppin and starting power forward Julius Randle shared the floor. Toppin played as a small-ball center against Detroit’s big man Mason Plumlee while Randle took on Blake Griffin.

Derrick Rose fished a foul from Randle during that brief spurt after the veteran point guard used a Griffin screen to free up from Elfrid Payton.

There was little action on the offensive side involving Randle and Toppin. Thibodeau has yet to decide on his rotation, but he said he wants to see more of that experiment when the Knicks take on the Pistons again on Sunday night.

“We’ll probably mix and match tomorrow. We haven’t decided yet completely how might that be. We want to see different combinations on the floor. It’s really like the first two teams we’re mixing and matching those guys. Who we start with might be different than who finish with. We wanna see, we have a look at Julius and Obi for a short sequence in the first half — experimenting that way is important for us also,” Thibodeau said on a zoom call with reporters on Saturday. “We’ll see. We’ll take it day by day.”

Thibodeau’s signature

The Knicks’ defensive rating of 112.4 last season ranked 23rd in the league. Last Friday night, Thibodeau was able to stamp his signature defense on the Knicks in just a short amount of time.

The Knicks put forth a defensive effort that wasn’t matched by their jittery offense.

“We know our defense is ahead of our offense right now. We’ve been drilling it non stop since training camp started. Just playing for each other helps a lot,” Randle said.

Noel was in the middle of it all, setting the tone for their defensive juggernaut that did not go for naught.

In his first start as a Knick, Noel had eight rebounds, six on the defensive end, one steal, and two shot blocks on top of his 10 points. Mitchell Robinson followed his lead as the third-year center came up with seven rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.

“It was a great start to build a good foundation. It was a testament to you, practice how you play. I think we had great preparation. The defense might be a little ahead of the offense but that is to be expected. Coach has definitely been working with us to make sure to take defense to a whole new level. Just making sure having that intensity and defensive focus,” Noel said.

Winning habits

Noel is already on his fourth team as an eight-year veteran but has only experienced the playoffs last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. He wants to continue winning, and he knows it starts with habit-building, especially on the defensive end.

“We’ve made it a focal point in our practices. Have that defensive intensity from transition defense to talking, high-level communication. It’s gonna be contagious throughout the season to have that as a backbone because as we all know, you can make or miss shots from night to night. You just gotta put the work in all your shots and hope for the best but defense is an effort thing,” Noel said.

Their habits built during their short training camp were enough to sustain them in their first game together.

Players are creatures of habit.

Their active hands have resulted in 12 steals. Their swarming defense forced 22 turnovers, which they parlayed into 24 points, including 11 in transition.

Beginning of an old era

The Knicks won, but Thibodeau left the Little Caesar Arena dissatisfied after the Pistons put up a spirited rally at the end that fell short.

“Like all preseason games, there’s good and bad. We have to look at how we can improve today and tomorrow. So for our first game, we probably played 36, 37 minutes of good basketball, and you’re striving to be a 48-minute team. So there’s a lot of work to be done,” Thibodeau said.

“In every game, that will hold true. It’s important for us to understand that either win or lose, we make the necessary corrections, and we move forward.”

The Knicks of the ’90s have been known for this defensive toughness, and Thibodeau was a big part of that glorious past.

It may still be too early. The Knicks may not win a lot of games this coming season. But the Knicks we’ve been longing to see appears to be coming back.

Welcome back, Knicks basketball!

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Mets Hiring D’Backs Jared Porter As New General Manager

New York Mets

The ongoing General Manager search for the New York Mets has finally concluded, with Arizona Diamondbacks Assistant GM Jared Porter earning the job. Porter is well regarded throughout baseball and was seen as a future GM prior as his reputation grew. As Porter is just moving into his 40s, he is in line to replace Sandy Alderson as President of Baseball Operations if all goes well.

After years of watching the Wilpons import executives who were incompetent, it is amazing to see the Cohen/Alderson group select another quality candidate. Porter spent the last three seasons as the Assistant GM and Senior Vice President of the Diamondbacks. He has an extensive background in the scouting department and has been part of multiple World Series winnings front offices.

The Curse Breaker

Whether or not anything since 1986 is considered a curse, the Mets are in a 34-year championship drought. Porter was the Director of Professional Scouting/Special Assistant for the 2016 curse ending Chicago Cubs. He was also part of three Boston Red Sox World Series-winning front offices (2004, 2007, 2013).

Porter has seen a bevy of jobs throughout his career. He worked his way up from the bottom as an intern, then up a player development assistant, coordinator of professional scouting, and all the way up to assistant director of professional scouting before taking the director job.

Joel Sherman deemed Porter a “Theo Epstein disciple” and will join Alderson and Cohen’s initiative to better the analytic department. This a complete 180 from the Brodie Van Wagenen hiring. Porter’s experience and success show he is more than ready for a GM opportunity.

NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson likely won’t partake in preseason Clash at Daytona

This Saturday night, the UFC makes it's long anticipated return to Las Vegas with UFC on ESPN 9 which will be headlined by a welterweight contest between former champion, Tyron Woodley,

Jimmie Johnson will return to Daytona International Speedway in 2021, but he won’t be piloting a NASCAR vehicle.

Jimmie Johnson’s NASCAR departure hasn’t even begun, but fans are already clamoring for a return.

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, 45, retired from full-time racing after the 2020 season. He spent his whole career in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, winning 83 Cup races (tied for fifth-most all-time). No storybook ending awaited Johnson, who missed out on the Cup Series playoffs and finished 18th in the final standings, but he nonetheless qualified for February’s Busch Clash, the unofficial opener to the NASCAR season at Daytona International Speedway. The 2021 Busch Clash will be run on Tuesday, February 9, five days before the Daytona 500.

However, Johnson more or less eliminated any hope that he would come back to NASCAR earlier this week.

Johnson has returned to Daytona this week as he prepares to partake in the Rolex 24 endurance race (also known as the 24 Hours at Daytona). He has also begun an IndyCar endeavor with Chip Ganassi Racing, which also fields a pair of entries in the Cup Series. But questions about his NASCAR availability inevitably rose, especially with the Clash moving to the Daytona’s road course for the first time. The road course will also host the Rolex 24 and the second event on NASCAR’s national series calendars (replacing Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California).

But Johnson, who has previously left the door open to making cameo appearances in NASCAR, dashed the hopes of any fan hoping to see him return. Not only did he say that no teams have inquired about his Clash availability, but Johnson would turn any offers down to focus on his fledgling IndyCar career.

“I feel like just in pure transparency that I need to not drive a stock car for a while to really reprogram my senses and my brain to drive downforce,” Johnson said. “It’s just a totally different way to get through a center of the corner.”

“The season is going to be here before I know it. Of course, there’s going to be a big spotlight on me and how I’m going to perform in the car, with the testing being so little. I got a lot I need to do so I can be on pace.”

The Busch Clash has been run annually since 1979 as an exhibition race prior to the renowned 500-mile event. All playoff drivers from the 2020 season are eligible to partake, as are 2020 race winners, stage winners, and pole sitters from on-track qualifying and from Daytona 500s past. Previous Clash winners are also invited if they have raced full-time the year before (a caveat that is also enforced with the Daytona pole sitter entry). Johnson is eligible through multiple victories in the 500 (2006, 2013), the Clash (2005, 2019), and a stage win at the late spring Martinsville race.

Though Johnson’s traditional No. 48 seat has been filled by former teammate Alex Bowman, it was possible he could briefly take over a car one of his other teams had available. Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet is available with newcomer Kyle Larson ineligible for the Clash (having partaken in only four races before being dealt a suspension for uttering a racist slur during a virtual race), as his Ganassi’s No. 42 Chevrolet. That car, driven by Larson at the start of 2020, was taken over by temporarily unretired former Matt Kenseth for the rest of the year. Xfinity and Truck Series veteran Ross Chastain will take over the car starting with the 500. Obviously, none of these ideas would be attractive to Johnson as inches closer to his IndyCar debut.

Kenseth and another recent retiree, Clint Bowyer, are also eligible but neither has shown interest in competing. Bowyer, former driver of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, would be more likely to call the exhibition for Fox Sports, as he is set to join Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon in the network’s racing booth next season. Ty Dillon is also eligible, but has been left without a ride after his No. 13 Germain Racing Chevrolet team shut down.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Nick Mangold comments on the New York Jets’ latest loss

New York Jets legend Nick Mangold appeared on MSG earlier this week to address his former team’s latest defeat.

Nick Mangold knows a thing or two about suffering tough defeats in a New York Jets uniform. Even if the former staple at center is part of the last thing the Jets have had to resemble glory days, he’s seen his share of brutal defeats, as he shared during a visit to local cable talk show MSG A.M. earlier this week.

Mangold’s visit to hosts Monica McNutt and Kazeem Famuyid coincided with one of the more soul-crushing defeats in New York memory. The Jets (0-12) seem destined for their first victory of the 2020 season, leading the Las Vegas Raiders 28-24 with time dwindling and the opponent out of timeouts. However, an ill-advised blitz call left the Jets’ inexperienced secondary relatively alone as Derek Carr launched a deep ball to Henry Ruggs. The 46-yard score gave Las Vegas the lead and doomed the Jets to yet another defeat.

Speaking with McNutt and Famuyid about the latest defeat, Mangold sympathized with the modern wearers of green and white.

“They have to be devastated,” Mangold said. “You play a full game of football where you have the lead at the end and then lose on a last second touchdown. If the first 11 losses weren’t demoralizing enough, this one will be the nail in the coffin. It’s difficult. 12 losses is the most in franchise history in a row. It’s just a bad place to be. One Jets Drive is probably not too happy this morning.”

The loss reminded Mangold of one of the uglier losses of his career, as the lineman flashed back to a 17-13 defeat to the Denver Broncos in November 2011. Then in the thick of a playoff hunt, New York led a majority of that game but was victimized by a 95-yard Denver drive capped off by Tim Tebow’s scramble for six. The Jets wound up missing the 2011-12 AFC playoffs by a single game.

“It’s no fun,” he said. “You always look at the coach and think that we couldn’t have done something else? Then the player side steps in – and you think if this guy made a play or this guy made a play or maybe if we don’t let a strip sack early on in the game, we would have never been put in that situation. There are so many snowballs that happen in your mind.”

Mangold also indirectly sympathized with Williams, with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was fired less than 24 hours after his blitzing gambit backfired. Inside linebackers coach Frank Bush will handle the defensive boss duties over the final four weeks of the season, starting with Sunday’s visit to Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).

“Everyone out there is trying to win the game. I know it doesn’t look like it when you make the call and you get burned like that. But if the corner had made a play on the ball and they didn’t score a touchdown, it would have been that the pressure caused them to throw it errantly and the Jets win. It goes both ways.”

Mangold, 36, has kept busy since announcing his retirement with the Jets in 2018. He appears as a regular commentator of the Jets’ modern endeavors on MSG and also coaches youth football. Mangold and his wife Jennifer live in Madison, NJ with their two children.

MSG A.M. airs weekdays at 8 a.m. ET on MSG Network.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR releases 2021 TV broadcast schedule

Earlier this week, NASCAR released their TV broadcast schedule for the 2021 season.

The first race of the season will be the Daytona Clash, held on February 9 at 7pm ET on FS1. It’ll be a non-points paying race ran on the Daytona road-course open to drivers meeting at least one of the following criteria:

  • 2020 Busch Pole Award winners
  • Past Busch Clash winners who competed full-time in 2020
  • Daytona 500 champions who competed full-time in 2020
  • Former DAYTONA 500 Busch Pole winners who competed full-time in 2020
  • 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers, race winners, and stage winners

Two days later, Daytona will host a pair of 150 mile qualifying races for the DAYTONA 500. Like the Clash, the race will take place at 7pm ET on FS1.

The regular-season gets underway on Sunday, February 14 with the DAYTONA 500, starting at 2:30PM ET and airing on FOX.

Including the DAYTONA 500, Fox and FS1 will air 16 points-paying Cup Series races. The network will conclude their 2021 play-by-play coverage with the All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, June 13 on FS1.

FOX and FS1 races will be called by Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, and Larry McReynolds. 2021 will be Bowyer’s first season in the TV booth.

Beginning June 20 at Nashville Superspeedway, NBC and NBCSN will begin their play-by-play coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series in a 3:30 PM ET start on NBCSN. The NBC networks will air the final 20 races of the season, including all 10 Playoff races.

The season finale will take place on November 7 at Phoenix Raceway with a 3PM ET start on NBC.

Rick Allen, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, and Steve Letarte will have the call on all NBC/NBCSN races.

2021 TV schedule notes:

  • 18 races will be broadcast on network television, including the first seven points-paying races on FOX
  • Just six races have scheduled evening start times
  • Seven points-paying road course races grace the NASCAR schedule, including four on NBC/NBCSN

The full 2021 TV schedule is below:

 

New York Yankees Analysis: Cashman’s pitching moves since 2000, the hits and the busts

The New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is the longest-tenured general manager in all of baseball. He has made some amazing acquisitions and trades over his time with the Yankees, but he has also had some terrible misses. To refresh your memory before the 2019 season, he acquired DJ LeMahieu from the Colorado Rockies for one of his best successes ever.

Cashman started with the Yankees as a humble intern in 1986, he impressed George M Steinbrenner, and six years later, he was promoted to the Assistant General Manager.  From that time, he worked hand and hand with then-manager Buck Showalter and “Stick Michael,” building the Yankee dynasty of the late ’90s. He became general manager of the Yankees in 1998. Under his leadership, the New York Yankees have won four World Series championships and six American League pennants.

Today thinking of this Yankees team’s pitching needs, we look at Cashman’s record in finding the starting pitching needs for the Yankees and how successful he was.

1998: Orlando Hernandez

One of the first moves Cashman made after being named general manager in February 1998 was signing Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez when the right-hander defected from Cuba. He was a crucial part of the 1998 team’s dominant rotation as he went 12-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 21 starts.

2000-2001: Mike Mussina

Cashman’s first great acquisition was Mike “The Moose” Mussina from the Baltimore Orioles. This one move may have been Cashman’s greatest. Mussina pitched successfully for the Yankees for eight years, racking up a 123-72 record. He also won over then games in each of those years. He ended his career with a 20 game winning season in 2008.

2001-2002: Jeff Weaver

If Mike Mussina was one of his best moves, Jeff Nelson turned out to be not so much. Nelson was okay in 2002, but in 2003, he fell apart. It all went south in 2003, though, as Weaver went 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA. He later gave up a walk-off homer in Game 4 of the World Series against the Marlins.

2002-2003: Jose Contreras

Contreras’ overall stat line in ’03 was 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA, but he had a rough postseason, allowing seven runs in eleven innings across his eight appearances. He reverted to being a full-time starter in 2004 but didn’t fare well and was traded to the White Sox. The New York Yankees also acquired Jon Lieber, but he didn’t appear in a game in 2003 as an injury that caused him not to appear for the Yankees until 2004.

2003-2004: Kevin Brown

The 2003 offseason was one of the most difficult for Cashman as he lost both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens to the Houston Astros. He had to make up for the loss, so he traded for Kevin Brown and Javier Vazquez. Brown pitched well in 2004, going 10-6 but only had 22 starts due to frequent injuries, including the time he punched the wall in the dugout, breaking his hand. He won ALDS Game 3 before getting lit up in games 3 and 7 of the ALCS. He went 4-7 with a 6.50 ERA in 13 starts in 2005 before retiring.

Vazquez was actually an All-Star in 2004 before struggling down the stretch, going 14-10 with a 4.91 ERA. He got the win in relief in ALCS Game 3 before allowing the soul-crushing Johnny Damon grand slam in Game 7. Vazquez would again pitch for the Yankees in 2010. That stint did not go well. Oh, and back to Lieber; he was14-8 with a 4.33 ERA for the Yanks in 2004. He gave up 3 ER over 6.2 innings in a no-decision in ALDS Game 2 against the Twins. Lieber then won ALCS Game 2 against the Sox but took the loss in Game 6. Of the three pitchers mentioned, he was probably best for the Yankees. Whatever the case, all three were gone after the 2004 season.

2004-2205: Randy Johnson

After the huge collapse of the New York Yankees in the ALCS, the Yankees cleaned house. Brown retired from baseball, and Vazquez and Lieber were sent out to dry. Cashman hired the “Big Unit” Randy Johnson, Jeret Wright, and yes, Carl Pavano. Let’s get Pavono out of the way first. He was on the injured list more than the mound and was one of the Yankee’s greatest failures starting only 26 games over five years. Wright went 15-8 with a 3.28 ERA. He would make 40 starts over his two seasons in the Bronx, going 16-12 with a 4.99 ERA. Wright didn’t make it out of the third inning in his only postseason start, allowing four runs on five hits as the Tigers eliminated the Yankees in ALDS Game 4 in 2006.

Randy Johnson was a five-time Cy Young Award-winning and led the National League in strikeouts. Johnson was not nearly as good as a Yankee, posting ERA’s of 3.79 and 5.00 in his two seasons with them. The worst part was that he was an utter postseason failure in pinstripes. He got shelled for five runs in just three innings in ALDS Game 3 in ’05, and another five in Game 3 again in ’06. Considering he was hired to be a postseason killer, he was an utter failure with the Yankees.

2007: Kei Igawa

Cashman tried to repair the team in 2007; he did that by getting both Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens back from Houston. He also hired Igawa; rather than bore you, he was one of the worst Yankee acquisitions of all time.

2008-2009: CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett

This is like the tale of two cities, one of the best and one of the worst. Burnett never adjusted to playing for the Yankees in the big spotlight. In his first year, he went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 2009 before pitching to an ERA over 5 in the next two seasons. He was rewarded by being sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Outside of Mike Mussina, CC Sabathia was Cashmans best Yankee signing. He went 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA in five starts in the 2009 postseason, during which he was named ALCS MVP. He went on to pitch 11 seasons for the Yankees, making three All-Star teams, leading the league in wins twice, and pitching to an 8-4 record in the postseason. Sabathia was a huge Yankee favorite. In his later years, although not as good, he battled each and every time he hit the mound for the Yankees before retiring last year.

2011-2012: Hiroki Kuroda

After an amazing postseason performance, Cashman signed Michael Pineda was at best a wild story with the New York Yankees, being both brilliant but at the same time horrible. He would have tremendous performances followed by long stretches of misery. He started with a shoulder injury that prevented him from pitching until 2014. Upon his return, he had a 1.89 ERA in 13 games. He never pitched that well again, and the Yankees let him walk in 2018.

Hiroki Kuroda was a consistent veteran presence in the rotation during his three seasons in New York. Kuroda also fared well in the 2012 playoffs, taking a no-decision after firing 8.1 innings of two-run ball in Game 3 of the ALDS against the Orioles. Kuroda was a much better pitcher than the Yankees give him credit for. He played during the years the had some pretty stinky teams.

December 2011 also saw Cashman sign international free agent Luis Severino. The verdict is out of Severino as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. In 2018 he went 19-8 before the surgery. Severino could still be a Yankee great when he returns this season.

2013-2014: Masahiro Tanaka

If there is a toss-up as to the best pitchers on this list between Mussina and Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka surely has to come in third place. Even with an almost immediate partially torn UCL, Tanaka has been one of the most dependable Yankee pitchers even though he was not the ace they thought they were getting. Up until the last two years, Tanaka and CC were the backbones of the Yankee rotation. Tanaka has not been the same pitcher in the past two years and doesn’t go deep into games. At the end of the 2020 season, the New York Yankees did not give him a qualifying offer to remain a Yankee. He isn’t worth near the $23 million he earned last season. That being said, he was good enough that the Yankee might be willing to take him back short term on a much-discounted contract.

2014-2015: Nathan Eovaldi/Domingo German

This could have been the biggest blockbuster move of Brian Cashman’s career, but two things went wrong. Eovaldi was a solid Yankee, going 14-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 2015 and 9-8 with a 4.76 ERA in 2016 before undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in August. The Yankees let him walk. After his recovery, he would continue an excellent career.

German is a different story. German would go on to be the best Yankee pitcher in 2019. He went 18-4 but was caught slapping his wife in public, breaking the MLB domestic violence protocol, and ended getting suspended for the remainder of the season while the MLB investigatory body looked at his case. He could have gotten over 20 wins and been a big asset in the postseason. Instead, he was suspended for 81 games, including the entire 2020 season.

2017 Trade deadline: sonny Gray

After being traded from the Oakland A’s, Gray was an immediate disaster under the bright lights of Yankee Stadium and a demanding Yankee fan base. In the remainder of the season, he went 4-7. He failed to make it out of the fourth inning in ALDS Game 1 in Cleveland. When Gray was available, so was aging Justin Verlander; the fact they went after Gray and not Verlander may haunt them forever.

Gray went with the Cincinnati Red where he was back with his old Vanderbilt coach. Out of the bright lights of New York, Gray blossomed. In the past two years, he has gone 16-11 with a 3.07 ERA. Some industry experts are predicting the Yankees may kick that tire again. Possibly under a new coach, Matt Blake, he could be a difference-maker.

2018-2019: Gerrit Cole

Shortly before Christmas 2018, a New York Yankee foursome of Cashman, Boone, Blake, and Andy Pettitte traveled to California bearing gifts. They came out of meetings with Gerrit Cole and his wife with one of the best pitching pickups of the decade. Gerrit Cole was a New York Yankee. In this first shortened season with the Yankees, he pitched well. However, for Cole, a season doesn’t make a career. He was signed for nine years; how that pans out only the future will tell.

2018: J.A. Happ and James Paxton

Let’s end the article here and not talk about them at all.

If you are trying to measure Brian Cashman’s performance, you have to remember it is not based on starting pitching alone. Cashman has also acquired Robinson Cano, Hideki Matsui, Giancarlo Stanton, Starlin Castro, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, Nick Swisher, Bobby Abreu, Curtis Granderson, Didi Gregorius, DJ LeMahieu, among many others. The bottom like for Yankee fans is that the Yankees have not had a dominant starting rotation since 2009, the last time they won a World Series. This writer believes that if the don’t have a dominant pitching rotation they can not win in the postseason.

New York Mets: James McCann Agrees to 4-Year/$40+ Million Deal

New York Yankees, Yankees, James McCann

The New York Mets have secured their catching position for the next couple of years as James McCann has finally agreed to a four-year deal. The 30-year old veteran joins the team after a couple of strong offensive seasons with the Chicago White Sox.

McCann brings what Wilson Ramos lacked behind the plate. He is an improved pitch framer and is a catcher that the Mets pitching staff will be happy to work with. Offensively, he has found his stride by hitting .276/.334/.474 with 25 home runs and 75 runs batted in over the last two seasons.

McCann vs. Realmuto

The Mets had to choose between an expensive J.T. Realmuto for six years or a more suitable option for two years. With the history of catchers declining as they get older, the Mets’ wiser choice was to bring in McCann before another team swept up both. Though some still prefer Realmuto, the type of contract dictated that McCann was the better option.

McCann joins an offense that was one of the best in 2020 despite getting minimal production from their catchers. The intriguing part of McCann’s offense is his hard-hit percentages and exit velocities steadily increasing over the past four seasons. Despite heading into his age-31 season, the Mets feel like he is coming into his own at the plate.

Tomas Nido will backup McCann behind the plate in 2021. McCann lost time to fellow All-Star Yasmani Grandal behind the plate in 2020, but expect McCann to be out there for 115-120 games like he has throughout his career. Now that the catching situation is solved, the next focus will be between the duo of George Springer and Trevor Bauer.