New York Yankees: Ex-Yankee reliever Tommy Kahnle signed by the Dodgers

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees ex-middle reliever Tommy Kahnle has been signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency. Kahnle, a premium middle reliever, had Tommy John Surgery during the 2020 season and would be unable to pitch for the Yankees during the upcoming 2021 season. After the 2020 season, the Yankees did not include him on the 2020 roster and optioned him to the Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders. Rather than accept, he choose free agency.

Kahnle had a standout season in 2019, appearing in 72 games with a WHIP of 1.06, but he pitched in just one game last year before undergoing elbow surgery.

The 31-year-old Kahnle was originally a fifth-round pick by the Yankees in 2010. He wasn’t protected and went to the Colorado Rockies in the 2013 Rule 5 draft. He then spent two seasons with the Rockies and parts of two more seasons with the Chicago White Sox. In a 2017 deal with the Sox, he and Todd Frazier and David Robertson were again Yankees. The Yankees were hopeful that Kahnle would return to the team in 2022 as he was an integral part of the bullpen. With the two deal with the Dodgers, that will not happen.

The deal with the Dodgers and Kahnle was confirmed this afternoon. The contract is worth just under $5 million-plus incentives. Kahnle will receive a $550K signing bonus and can earn even more incentives in 2022. One of the main priorities of the Dodgers was to bolster their bullpen. That is also a priority for the New York Yankees, especially now.

New York Yankees: Multiple bullpen spots available to sign high-leverage pitchers

New York Yankees, Archie Bradley

As the off-season has rolled on, the two focus spots for the New York Yankees have remained DJ LeMahieu and the starting rotation. However, something that hasn’t been talked about as much is the status of the Yankee bullpen.

With Tommy Kahnle and Jonathan Holder no longer on the Yankees, it leaves availability for the team to sign at least two high-leverage relievers. Right now, the Yankees have four high-leverage relievers on the roster: Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Adam Ottavino.

Although four high-leverage relievers is a good start, it isn’t enough for a team in the World Series mix. With how the playoffs are generally formatted, you need five or six trusted relievers in the mix. Having Holder and Kahnle gave the Yankees that fifth or sixth option, but those players are no longer in the question.

The team has the likes of Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Ben Heller, but those guys aren’t good enough to be placed in high-leverage situations consistently. So, it’s important that the Yankees stay in the free-agent mix for relievers, as a few bullpen signings could help push the Yankees over the top.

Who’s available on the market?

Fortunately for the Yankees, this off-season happens to have a market stacked with relief pitchers. One of the guys the Yankees should be all over is Liam Hendricks, a 31-year-old with a sub-two ERA over the past two seasons.

However, if the team can’t land Hendricks, other solid options still remain. Brad Hand, who had a 2.05 ERA in 2020, is one of the more desired relievers, along with the hard-throwing Archie Bradley.

Other relievers available include Kirby Yates, Ken Giles, Hansel Robles, and Roberto Osuna.

As important as starting pitching and DJ LeMahieu is for the Yankees, the team can’t forget about bolstering their bullpen.

Don’t close the door on the New York Yankees signing Trevor Bauer just yet

trevor bauer, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have been clear on what they’ve been focused on for weeks. They are focused on bringing back DJ LeMahieu. Right now, the team is in a bit of a staring contest with the MVP candidate.

The Yankees and LeMahieu’s reps are at odds over a guaranteed fifth year. Per my understanding, both sides are comfortable with the Yankees AAV offer. However, the years are keeping the sides apart for now.

While I ultimately believe that the Yankees and LeMahieu will come to terms, you have to imagine that Brian Cashman has a number of different backup scenarios. One of those potentially being a Trevor Story trade which I discussed yesterday.

However, there is another option that would probably be the sexier pick amongst Yankees fans. No, it wouldn’t be a trade for Francisco Lindor or another infielder. Instead, it would be going out and signing another ace for the rotation.

That ace being the NL Cy Young winner, Trevor Bauer. Now, the odds of the Yankees signing Bauer are pretty low. However, it’s not something that’s completely dead and there is a path to the Yankees adding Bauer to the rotation.

Potential Barriers

Before diving into why the Yankees could do this, let’s talk about the barriers. The obvious one being financial. The team is looking to cut payroll as much as possible this year. They have said there is only room for one big signing this offseason.

If the Yankees sign DJ LeMahieu, they wouldn’t go after someone like Trevor Bauer because the money would be too much. Unless they could find a trade partner that would allow them to dump the salary of Giancarlo Stanton.

The next barrier would be the potential fit with the team. The media has drummed up the story of how Trevor Bauer and Yankees ace, Gerrit Cole, didn’t get along in college. That combined with the New York media could be a problem.

However, I truly don’t believe that Bauer would be an issue with the club. I think the guy wants to win and he won’t let anything stand in the way of his team winning. Still, those are two things blocking the way.

What could bring the Yankees and Bauer together

Now, let’s take a look at why the Yankees could do it. Simply put, the Yanks need pitching help. The lack of a consistent starting rotation has hurt the Yankees tremendously over the last decade.

If they were to add someone like a Trevor Bauer to pitch behind Gerrit Cole, the rotation would be the best it’s been in a very long time. That has to be something that is on the mind of Brian Cashman and the front office.

If the Yankees ultimately do not come to terms with DJ LeMahieu, they have some money to play with. In my opinion, I would rather the team invest that money into pitching while finding someone decent to fill the infield gap at a lower price.

Someone like an Andrelton Simmons on the FA market or acquiring a controllable infielder with the Yanks surplus of pitching prospects. Doing this would allow the team the flexibility needed to add another top level starting pitcher

The offseason completely hangs on what happens with DJ LeMahieu. If they Yankees resign him, forget about the team adding a starting pitcher of significance. However, if they don’t come to a deal, Trevor Bauer’s name might become talked about even more when it comes to the Bronx Bombers.

Yankees: Fan-favorite relief pitcher signs with the LA Dodgers on two-year deal

New York Yankees, Tommy Kahnle

The New York Yankees are extremely thin in the bullpen, so when Tommy Kahnle suggested that he would hit free agency instead of staying on a minor league contract with the Bombers, it was a big surprise. Kahnle has elected to test free agency and subsequently signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery this past year, so he will be rehabilitating well into the 2021 season. He was phenomenal for the Yankees in 2019, earning a 3.67 ERA with a 50.4% ground ball rate and 12.91 strikeouts per nine. Before that, he had a tumultuous 2018 season but two consecutive impressive campaigns in 2016 and 2017.

Ultimately, the Yankees are still in need of support in the bullpen, especially with a few tough performances from players like Chad Green and Adam Ottavino during the 2020 season.

Losing Tommy stings for Yankee fans, as the energy he brought was contagious, and he will be missed in pinstripes. However, he was not going to be an impactful player for the 2021 season, so allowing him to heal and earn an opportunity with the Dodgers was in his best interest.

Two New York Rangers tabbed as breakout players for 2020-21

Sportsnet recently listed their top 15 breakout players for the upcoming season and two New York Rangers are at the top of that list. The two Blueshirts that they have tabbed are goalie Igor Shesterkin and defenseman Adam Fox.

It does not really come as a surprise that Shesterkin made the list. On the site Betonline.ag, Shesterkin is the second betting favorite for the Calder trophy behind teammate and first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere. Even with 12 games under his belt, Shesterkin will still be classified as a rookie heading into 2020-21.

The 12 starts gave a glimpse of his potential as Shesterkin notched a highly-impressive 10-2-0 record with an even more impressive 2.52 Goals Against Average and .932 Save Percentage, in addition to an outstnding Quality Start Percentage of .750% and a 3.4 Point Shares.

With Alexandar Georgiev as his backup, Shesterkin is expected to get most of the starts in net for the Blueshirts in a shortened season, especially given his young age and his sheer talent and ability between the pipes.

Sportsnet names Fox as someone who has “put up gaudy stats from the back-end basically everywhere he’s been, including 42 in 70 games as a rookie”.

The Rangers defense may some big question marks but Fox is not among them. He took a bit of a backseat in the rookie talk last season due to the play and coverage of Cole Makar and Quinn Hughes. Based on last year, most expect Fox to see more ice-time this season, instead of being only fourth in ice-time compared to last season.

The Long Island native was originally drafted by Calgary, who eventually trade his rights to Carolina. The Hurricanes then sent Fox to the Rangers in 2019 for two conditional draft picks. It was a move that seems to be well worth the price.

Among the stats that impressed many was that Fox was second on the team in blocked shots (92) and he led the team in takeaways (57). We also know that he has the capacity to be a good table-setter for his scoring teammates as he finished with the record for the most assists in a single season (2015-16) and the most assists in a career (2014-16) while a member of the U.S. National Development Team.

Keeping our fingers crossed that these two will have the chance this season to show why they have been included on this list.

 

 

 

Mets: Darryl Strawberry talks about the ‘swagger’ needed to play in New York; discusses Trevor Bauer

Simeon Woods-Richardson

New York Mets‘ legend Darryl Strawberry talked about several subjects in a very good interview with SNY. He focused on pitching target Trevor Bauer and how hard it is for newcomers to perform in the bright lights of the Big Apple, whether it’s for the Mets or the Yankees.

As a star player who got to know the best (and worse) of the two worlds, Strawberry knows what he is talking about. He admits he hasn’t followed Bauer’s career from up close, but he knows he can be a difference-maker in the rotation.

After all, the Mets are coveting Bauer because he is fresh off winning the National League Cy Young award with the Cincinnati Reds after finishing the 2020 shortened season with a microscopic 1.73 ERA.

Speaking of Bauer, he is known for his flamboyant personality. However, Strawberry says that a player with his swagger and talent can fit in nicely with what the New York Mets are trying to do.

“That’s what you have to have – you have to have personality,” Strawberry said. “But you have to be able to back it up at the same time. You could have the swag about you, but you have to play when you get here.

“Hopefully, any guys who do decide to come to New York – just bring it all with you. Bring it to the ballpark. That’s what fans love.”

A Mets legend of swagger

Strawberry, who still holds the Mets’ record for most home runs hit with 252, wants every high-profile free agent that may go to New York to know that handling everything that comes in the package may be a challenge.

“You’re not playing in Cincinnati or Houston. Can you accept the fact of being booed by fans and challenged by the media?” Strawberry said. “That’s everything they have to look at before they come.”

The eighties Mets, Strawberry said, had that swagger.

“That’s what made us history,” he said. “That’s what made us great. We had personality and swag and every year we had a chance to be in it.”

Islanders’ Anders Lee makes ill fan’s day with FaceTime call

Otto Koivula, New York Islanders

Over the years, Anders Lee has shown he’s more than just a good hockey player for the Islanders. He’s also proven to be a quality human being and a class act.

It’s one of the reasons he’s the current captain of the organization and the ambassador of the franchise.That’s why what he did yesterday resonates so much with the tight-knit community that is Islander fans.

Last night a video of surfaced on social media with Lee FaceTiming a kid named Alexander Gross.

Alex Gross, 17, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer earlier this year. Doctors told him and his family he might not make it past three weeks after he had surgery back in February. But he’s continued to fight through all the trials and tribulations.

Alex is also a huge Islanders fan, as is his entire family. Thomas Greiss, who is no longer with the team, is actually his favorite Islander.

So when he got the call from Anders, it was a very cool moment for both he and his family.

“The Islanders are very special to us and having them there for us at a time that is so difficult mean a lot to us,” said Gross’s father, Garrison.

The call came as a total surprise to Alex. He was just finishing lunch and didn’t know it was coming.

“It was amazing to watch my sons face light up when he got the call,” Garrison added.

The idea of Lee talking with Alex was set in motion after Garrison’s close friend and fellow Isles fan Alan Breecker shared his post about Alex and the hopes of the Islanders reaching out to him.

Once the team saw the post they contacted Garrison to set the arrangements.

“I told him the best times to call and he timed it perfect,” he said. They called me first to verify it is good, I confirmed and they surprised Alexander.”

The clip of Alex receiving made the rounds on social media last night and immediately made spread on Isles Twitter with messages and tweets in support of Alex following thereafter.

The moment for Alex and his family is one they’ll be sure not to forget. It’s also just another reminder of how much Lee does for the community.

As of three days ago, Alex’s condition continues to improve according to his dad. The last update had Alex once again getting his appetite back and his platelets back up over 200 again.

Alex continues to be an inspiration for many. And if you’d like to help him out, you can check out his GoFundMe page under the name Hope for Alex.

Link below:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/6g4xfx-hope-for-alex?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen wins sixth Offensive Player of the Week award

Allen took home his fourth Player of the Week Award this season. Only Jim Kelly has earned more such titles in Buffalo Bills history.

Less than three seasons into his Buffalo Bills career, Josh Allen is already approaching Jim Kelly territory.

The NFL announced on Wednesday that the Bills’ quarterback has earned his fourth AFC Offensive Player of the Week Award of the season, stemming from a dominant performance in last Saturday’s visit to Denver. Allen put up 392 total yards of offense and four touchdowns (two each through the air and on the ground) in a 48-19 win over the Broncos, one that would allow the Bills to clinch their first AFC East title since 1995.

This season has been downright historic for Allen, whose emergence has been a large factor behind the Bills’ divisional takeover. Allen became the first quarterback in NFL history to score at least seven touchdowns in each of his first three seasons and he also joined Cam Newton and Daunte Culpepper as the only quarterbacks in league history to earn at least 60 scores through the air and at least 20 on the ground.

With the sixth Player of the Week award (with one each added in 2018 and 2019), Allen is now behind only Jim Kelly for the biggest haul in team history. This one for the Denver triumph broke a tie with Thurman Thomas with five and he also ties a single-season record for most Player of the Week Awards tallied by a Bill since O.J. Simpson in 1973.

Elsewhere in the AFC’s Week 15 affairs, Indianapolis lineman DeForest Buckner won the Defensive Player of the Week title, while Kansas City punter Tommy Townsend was the special teams representative.

Buffalo (11-3) returns to action on Monday night, taking on the New England Patriots in their final home game of the regular season (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Greg Hardy’s biggest weakness was on full display at UFC Vegas 17

Last weekend at UFC Vegas 17, Greg Hardy (7-3, 1 NC) was looking to pickup his third straight win inside the octagon. Hardy had competed twice in 2020 and won both of his fights against Yorgan De Castro and Maurice Greene.

The order in front of him was to defeat Marcin Tybura (21-6). Tybura was bringing his own winning streak into the octagon having won three-straight UFC fights. The winner was expected to break into the UFC‘s top 15.

In the first round, Greg Hardy looked fantastic. His hands looked extremely crisp and he was busting Tybura up. I was also really impressed with the pace of Greg Hardy. He didn’t seem to be going crazy and he was staying composed.

Hardy was picking his shots and tying together combinations that were landing. However, Tybura wasn’t going away. When the fight went into the second round, there was a massive difference in Greg Hardy.

Hardy did well in the first half of round two, however, he was fading extremely fast. Tybura was able to get Hardy to the ground later in the round and the fight didn’t last long after the fight touched the ground.

Hardy was extremely tired and Tybura started throwing big shots from half guard. There was no fight put up from Hardy and the referee called a stop to the action and Greg Hardy suffered his first loss by stoppage at UFC Vegas 17.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 17?

It’s becoming very clear that cardio is an issue for Greg Hardy. In his UFC fights, we’ve seen that he has very solid technique with his hands. His technique and his overall ability is getting better every single day.

However, the cardio is something that’s not. Hardy is a very big heavyweight who has to cut down to the heavyweight limit of 265 pounds. In his previous UFC fight, he actually missed weight on the first attempt.

Carrying the amount of muscle that he does and going through a weight cut compromises his cardio. Not too mention that Hardy also deals with asthma which of course doesn’t help his cardio. Hardy had a win overturned to a no-contest because he used an inhaler in between rounds.

I’m very impressed with the technical advancements Hardy’s made over the last couple of years. However, to make that next jump, he needs to alter a few things. I really believe that Hardy needs to shed a little muscle and trim down.

He needs to get himself to a weight where he can fight for more than five minutes without appearing exhausted. If he cannot improve his cardio, he’s never going to reach the elite levels in the UFC.

New York Yankees: James Paxton shows improved velocity in workout

New York Yankees, James Paxton

The New York Yankees were banking on a strong season from lefty James Paxton when MLB kicked off in July. Unfortunately, he was battered in his first few turns and showed dimished velocity, which was a concerning development because in the vast majority of cases, that is associated with an injury.

Since starting in the 90-91 mph range, Paxton’s velo was slowly starting to creep up to more respectable levels, but still, far from the 95.5 mph he averaged in 2019. And, as it turns out, he was injured: a left flexor strain cost him the rest of the season, as he hit the injured list after making only five starts.

Now, the New York Yankees’ left-hander isn’t associated with the team anymore, as he is now a free agent. In a market short of elite pitching, Paxton could secure a relatively good deal if he shows other teams he’s healthy.

The former Yankees’ pitcher is generating interest

According to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi, Paxton reached 94 mph during a recent throwing session for scouts. That’s an encouraging sign for the southpaw. It’s not quite his usual velocity, but at this time of the year, clubs will see it as a good sign.

According to Morosi, “as many as 20 teams” sent representatives to watch the workout. It’s not yet known if the Yankees were on that group.

Paxton’s agent, Scott Boras, has naturally been talking up his player, saying that he’s healthy and that he is generating plenty of interest in the open market. His recent showcase seems to validate both claims.

Overall, Paxton is looking to leave behind a very bad 2020 on a personal level. He struggled to a 6.64 ERA in 20.1 frames, and while his FIP was a much more decent 4.37, it was clear from the beginning that he was dealing with some kind of injury. In the five starts he covered for the Yankees this season, his fastball averaged 92.1 mph.