Yankees News/Rumors: A perfect backup plan if the Yanks lose DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees are coming increasingly closer to losing star infielder DJ LeMahieu to an alternative club. There are three teams that have entered the picture for his services, including the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, and LA Dodgers. All three, especially the Blue Jays, are serious about potentially acquiring LeMahieu and his offensive capabilities. However, the Dodgers are even viewing him as a potential solution at third base, despite minimal reps in the past at the position.

General manager Brian Cashman has to be gearing up for the possibility of supplementing DJs loss, despite his desire to stay in pinstripes. Reports have indicated that he and the team are about $25 million away from finding a compromise, but Cashman has strict orders not to overspend on free agents this year.

The Yankees are essentially hoping that other teams don’t outbid them for his services, so they can lower his price tag. It is a risky move for Cashman, but they won’t overspend for a player who will be 37 at the end of his desired contract.

Here’s how the New York Yankees could perfectly reallocate his money:

Don’t expect any big-name free agent signings, but there are a few players that could immediately help their cause and upgrade several spots.

1.) SS: Didi Gregorius

Reuniting with Didi Gregorius would be a great idea for the Yankees, considering he is 30 years old and had one of his best seasons ever in 2020. Despite a smaller sample size over 60 games, Gregorius hit .284 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs, collecting a career-low 11.8% strikeout rate and career-high .339 on-base percentage.

Once again, Gregorius was a consistent defender, and signing him to deal would allow the Yankees to move Gleyber Torres back to second base, where LeMahieu is currently expected to play. It would be an efficient move, solidifying the infield’s defense and injecting a known commodity back into the batting order. In addition, he’s a lefty hitter, adding a bit of diversity to a Yankee team that is heavily right-handed.

2.) SP: Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi has a projected market value of about $14 million per season, far less than Masahiro Tanaka was making in 2020. He’s a quality pitcher at 30 years old but had a down 2020 season that could allow the Yankees to acquire him on a cheaper deal. In 2019, Jake finished with a 3.51 ERA, earning a 35% ground ball rate and 10.08 strikeouts per nine. He pitched 159 total innings, winning 15 games.

Odorizzi’s primary pitches are his fastball, slider, and change-up. His fastball averages out at about 93 mph, but he has very solid curve-oriented pitches. His pitch diversity makes him a solid starter with potential, and the Yankees might be willing to take a flyer on him to supplement some of their losses in the starting rotation.

State of the UFC’s heavyweight division entering 2021

MMA, Stipe Miocic

2021 will usher in a new day in the heavyweight division. As we enter January 2021, it has been three years since UFC heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic (20-3), fought someone not named Daniel Cormier (22-3, 1 NC).

At UFC 220 back in January of 2018, Miocic defended his title against Francis Ngannou (15-3). Ngannou was being billed as the next big thing having destroyed every contender the UFC had put in front of him.

However, Miocic showed off his greatness that night shutting out the French contender. However, Miocic would lose his title in the summer of 2018 when he was knocked out in the first round by Daniel Cormier.

The UFC then angled for Cormier to face Brock Lesnar in a superfight. The proposed matchup with Lesnar was supposed to be Cormier’s last UFC fight. The fight never materialized and Cormier went on to defend his title against Derrick Lewis (24-7, 1 NC).

Cormier defeated Lewis and waited for the Lesnar fight. Again, it never came together so Cormier decided to give Stipe Miocic a rematch at UFC 241. After dominating the fight early, Cormier got knocked out by Miocic in the fourth round.

After that fight, Miocic needed to take some time off. A year later, Miocic and Cormier finished their trilogy at UFC 252 in Cormier’s last fight. Miocic won the fight by unanimous decision cementing himself as the heavyweight GOAT.

UFC’s heavyweight division in 2021

With the Miocic – Cormier trilogy behind us, it’s time for the UFC’s heavyweight division to move on in 2021. However, Miocic will face a familiar foe in his first title defense of the year. He will once again take on Francis Ngannou.

Ngannou’s losses to Miocic then Derrick Lewis might have been the best thing for him. He’s rededicated himself to the sport and he’s looked untouchable since. After losing a decision to Lewis, Ngannou is 4-0 with four first round knockouts.

Not only that, but none of those opponents have gone more than 71 seconds. The UFC’s predator looks better than ever and he’s expected to face Miocic in March for the heavyweight title.

Another exciting aspect of the heavyweight division in 2021 is the arrival of Jon Jones (26-1,1 NC). Jones is widely considered to be the greatest fighter of all-time and he’s finally decided to move up to heavyweight.

After reigning over light heavyweight for nearly a decade, Jones is preparing for a shot at the heavyweight title. He’s expected to face the winner of Miocic – Ngannou over the summer or early next fall.

Other Contenders

Behind Jones there are a number of compelling contenders. Derrick Lewis and Curtis Blaydes (14-2, 1 NC) are expected to faceoff in 2021. They were supposed to fight in November, however, Blaydes tested positive for COVID and the fight was scrapped.

Both contenders have multiple fight winning streaks. A win for either man would put them in great position. The guy to really watch out for is Ciryl Gane (7-0). Gane just knocked out JDS at UFC 256 and is poised to be a top contender.

Of course, Alistair Overeem (47-18, 1 NC) and Alexander Volkov (32-8) are two others to watch out for. They headline a Fight Night in February. Of course there’s still Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1) out there who’s ranked third at heavyweight at the moment.

Miocic is finally done with Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones is entering the heavyweight picture. Francis Ngannou looks better than ever and there’s a ton of hungry and dangerous contenders behind him. Should be a fun year at heavyweight in 2021.

It could be the Yankees or Japan for free agent pitching star

New York Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka

The New York Yankees have several holes to fill in the rotation because they lost three-fifths of their 2020 rotation to free agency. James Paxton, J.A. Happ, and Masahiro Tanaka are now free to sign with any team for the 2021 campaign and beyond.

Tanaka, precisely, is needed in the Bronx, but the Yankees have been waiting to re-sign infielder DJ LeMahieu to focus on other areas of need.

The seven-year deal Tanaka signed with the Yankees before the 2014 season is now on the books. In 174 games and 173 starts, he pitched 1054.1 innings of a 3.74 ERA and a 3.91 FIP, with an 8.46 K/9 and a 1.78 BB/9. The stellar import accumulated 18.9 fWAR over that span.

Now, according to NJ Advance Media, Tanaka could opt to return to Japan if he doesn’t re-sign with the Yankees. Returning to New York appears to be his first choice, but the Bombers are playing the waiting game and Tanaka may not want to.

Tanaka wants to return to the Yankees

Here is the NJ Advance Media report: “There’s a good chance that Tanaka will either re-sign with the Yankees or play in Japan next season for his old Pacific League team, a source close to the pitcher told NJ Advance Media. The source, who didn’t want his name made public, added that Tanaka wants to return to the Yankees and isn’t interested in playing for a team that won’t contend next season, regardless of money.”

The New York Mets and the Los Angeles Angels are in need of some starting pitching, but it is unlikely that Tanaka goes to another United States team that isn’t the Yankees.

“The source added that it’s unlikely Tanaka will sign with the Angels, who already have fellow Japanese star Shohei Ohtani, a pitcher/designated hitter. Also, the source stated Tanaka has had plans for years to end his playing career with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, his club from 2007-13. If he returns to the Yanks, he’ll probably to have to settle for a one- or two-year deal for around $12M annually tops,” the article said.

State of the UFC’s light heavyweight division entering 2021

Corey Anderson

Last night, we got big announcement for the light heavyweight division. At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) will be defending his light heavyweight crown against the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).

It’s a massive fight with huge implications for the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. 2020 has been a very fascinating year at 205 pounds. When the year started, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) was getting ready to defend his title against Dominick Reyes (12-2).

The fight took place at UFC 247. Reyes pushed Jones to the absolute limit and many believed that he won that fight. However, all three judges awarded Jones the decision and Jones walked away with his title.

Shortly after that, Jan Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson who was looked at as the next top contender. Jones was in attendance and the two men did a little talking through the cage. It appeared that would be the next title fight.

However, Jones decided to vacate his UFC light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title. When Jones vacated, the promotion booked Blachowicz against Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes was an uncrowned champion in the eyes of many in the MMA community after his fight with Jones. However, his uncrowned reign didn’t last long because Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

UFC’s light heavyweight division in 2021

As mentioned, we already have the first title fight booked for UFC 259. Now, depending on who wins that fight, there are different fights that could be booked. If Blachowicz retains his title, Glover Teixeira (32-7) will be next.

The 41 year old Teixeira is riding a five-fight winning streak. He had an incredible 2020 where he finished former title challengers Anthony Smith (34-16) and Thiago Santos (21-8). However, he’s being passed over for Adesanya at this time.

The UFC has said that he’s the next contender, but the promotion is always about booking the biggest fights. While it’s not fair to Teixeira, his fight against Blachowicz is no where near as big as Adesanya moving up.

If Adesanya wins at UFC 259, I don’t see Teixeira getting the next shot. The reason is that I think the UFC will do everything they can to book the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones should Adesanya capture the light heavyweight title.

Jones is intent on becoming heavyweight champion over the summer. Imagine a fall blockbuster that pairs the two-division champion, Adesanya, against the new heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.

That is the current status at the very top of the division. The contender I have my eyes on as we enter 2021 is Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years and he made his debut with the promotion at UFC 251.

He’s a very entertaining fighter and he put Volkan Oezdemir to sleep when they fought. He fights Dominick Reyes in February in a pivotal matchup for the division. 2021 is going to be interesting year for the light heavyweights.

I honestly don’t know what path the division is going to go down. The paths are vastly different depending on who wins at UFC 259 between Blachowicz and Adesanya.

New York Yankees Player Profiles: Clarke Schmidt, will he be the fifth starter in 2021? (video)

New York Yankees, Clarke Schmidt

The New York Yankees have many decisions to make this offseason and before spring training. But nothing is happening while everything is on hold until the front office finds out if they can re-sign DJ LeMahieu. Even if they do sign him soon, there will not likely be any changes until right before or during spring training. The New York Yankees will be conservative with spending as owner Hal Steinbrenner has already said he wants to cut payroll, not spend. With that stance, big signings are most likely not going to happen.

According to how you look at it, that news could be bad, or on the other hand, good for young Yankee prospects like the up and coming prospect Clarke Schmidt. Clarke made his major league debut on September 4, 2020. With the loss of Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ, Schmidt just might be considered for the anchor spot on the 2020 rotation. How he performs during spring training will make that more clear. But let’s start his rise to possible inclusion in the rotation from the beginning.

Clarke was born in Acworth, Georgia, and attended Allatoona High School and played baseball at the University of South Carolina. As a freshman, Schmidt pitched in 18 games and made 10 starts, pitching to a 2–2 with a 4.81 ERA and 55. He became South Carolina’s ace as a sophomore in 2016. He pitched in 18 games with 17 starts and went 9–5 with a 3.40 ERA and 129 strikeouts. Schmidt remained the team’s number one starter his junior year in 2017, but in April, he was forced to have Tommy John surgery to repair an ACL.

Nevertheless, he was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 2017 draft but did hot play that year at all rehabbing. He made his pro debut with the Gulf Coast Yankees in 2018. He got a big signing bonus of $2.1 million. He quickly worked his way in the minors finishing the season with a 3.09 ERA in ​23 1/3 innings. He started 2019 with the Tampa Tarpons but in August was promoted to the Trenton Thunder, where he pitched until it was announced that there would be no minor league season. On September 4th, he was called up to the Stadium, where he pitched in relief. The 24-year-old ended up pitching in 3 games for 6.1 innings striking out seven but had an elevated 7.11 ERA.

He really impressed manager Aaron Boone and the coaching staff during spring training. Pitching coach Matt Blake feels that Schmidt is progressing well and is the second most promising pitcher after Deivi Garcia will most likely be the number three started when the season starts, assuming the Yankees make no moves to either bring back Masahiro Tanaka or pick up another mid-level pitcher. As it stands now, the number five spot is vacant and probably will be a competition between Schmidt and Jonathan Loaisiga. In the video below, Schmidt talks about his progress and what he is doing during the offseason to be ready for spring training.

 

 

 

State of the UFC’s middleweight division entering 2021

Last night, we learned that the UFC‘s middleweight champion is officially moving up in weight for his next fight. Israel Adesanya (20-0) is moving up to light heavyweight to fight Jan Blachowicz (27-8) for the light heavyweight title at UFC 259. 

Adesanya is trying to become just the fifth fighter in the promotion’s history to hold two belts at the same time. There have been a lot of questions surrounding Adesanya’s future at 185 with him moving up.

The UFC middleweight champion has been very vocal about his desire to potentially fight Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) in 2021. If the UFC makes that fight should Adesanya win the light heavyweight title, the middleweight strap would be on ice.

However, Adesanya has said that he will definitely return to the UFC’s middleweight division no matter what. He stated that 185 is his natural weight class and where he feels the best. This move is to just challenge himself and further his legacy.

In all honesty, the move is actually a good thing for the middleweight division. There are great fights inside the division, however, Adesanya has defeated most of the fighters that sit inside the top ten.

UFC’s middleweight division in 2021

The top contender in the middleweight division is former UFC champion, Robert Whittaker (22-5). Whittaker went on an incredible run to grab the middleweight title, but was easily defeated by Adesanya last October.

Since then, Whittaker took out two of the more compelling contenders in the division. He defeated Darren Till (18-3-1) and Jared Cannonier (13-5) by decision. Both of those fighters were guys Adesanya was interested in fighting.

However, Whittaker turned them away. With the way Adesanya defeated Whittaker last year, the champion isn’t motivated for the rematch at this time. The word is that the UFC is looking to book Whittaker against former title challenger, Paulo Costa (13-1).

Costa was just knocked out by Adesanya at UFC 253. Prior to that, many thought he was the most dangerous contender in the division. There is preliminary talk about that fight being for an interim title, but that’s far from confirmed.

The two fighters I have my eyes on entering 2021 is Marvin Vettori (16-4-1) and Kevin Holland (21-5). Vettori has busted through in 2021 on the heels of four straight wins to fifth in the middleweight rankings.

The Italian middleweight has already lost to Adesanya, but he lost by split decision. One big win for Vettori in 2021 could make him next in line. Kevin Holland was our breakout fighter of the year in 2020.

Holland has become a star after going 5-0 this year. The entertaining middleweight gets his first main event opportunity against Derek Brunson (21-7) in March. Should he win that, he could be just a win away from a title shot.

If Holland can get a couple of wins, he’s probably the most compelling UFC challenger at 185 for Adesanya. There’s a little beef there already, and the fight’s buildup would be a lot of fun. Should be an interesting year at middleweight.

New York Mets: Who Deserves Their Contract Price, Springer or Bauer?

New York Yankees, Trevor Bauer

The New York Mets seem to be on different wavelengths with Trevor Bauer and George Springer in their negotiations. Both players want large contracts, but only one of them actually deserves any amount close to their asking price.

The Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal was a treasonous act to Major League Baseball. They never got the correct punishment, but nothing else can be done to fix the past. Springer proved before and after the scandal that he is still an All-Star caliber player. His pedigree of averaging .270/.361/.491 with 35 home runs and 28 doubles is terrific production.

On the other hand, Bauer has an inconsistent career. Bauer is still an outstanding pitcher, but he is not worth Gerrit Cole money. Bauer’s first four full seasons resulted in ERAs over four but then followed it with two out of three seasons with ERAs under 2.50. The money that Bauer wants is better off allocated to multiple players who could benefit the team more. We also cannot forget the, for lack of a better term, “crap” that comes with Trevor Bauer off the field.

Open the Wallet

Neither player will get their asking prices, but at least Springer is realistic. Not a single person looked at Bauer’s price as a reasonable request. $40M would easily net the Mets Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka and might even leave them with money to spare.

In the current free-agent market, there is a dramatic dropoff in center field talent. This is what makes Springer the Mets top priority and more deserving of his contract request. $30M per year over five seasons would still be an overpay, but the Mets would have an idea of what Springer will bring. Other pitchers on the market are capable of matching or bettering Bauer’s numbers for a better price. If the Mets need to overpay for a player, Springer is the way to go.

New York Knicks receive poor injury updates ahead of New Years Eve game

New York Knicks, Frank Ntilikina

Coming off a two-game win streak over the Milwaukee Bucks and Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks are gearing up to take on the winless Toronto Raptors in game five of the regular season.

The Raptors are 91.6% favorites based on ESPN’s basketball power index, but in their three losses, they failed to reach 100 points in two of them. Their defense has been suspect at best, so the Knicks have a good chance of unleashing a barrage of offensive prowess.

However, Toronto is not a bad team by any means, considering they have point guard Kyle Lowry, forward Pascal Siakam, and guard Fred VanVleet. They should walk away with a victory over the Knicks, but considering how well Julius Randle has been playing, they cannot be ruled out.

New York Knicks injury updates are not promising:

On Wednesday, the Knicks announced that point guard Frank Ntilikina suffered a mild right knee sprain that will force him out against Toronto on New Year’s Eve.

The expectation is that the injury is day-to-day and that it shouldn’t be anything serious. However, the team is already down Immanuel Quickley (hip pointer), and alternative Dennis Smith Jr. is also dealing with an issue.

Veteran guard Alec Burks has a sprained left ankle and is listed as questionable, along with Quickley and new signing Austin Rivers, who has been dealing with a sore groin.

Rivers still hasn’t made his debut with New York yet, missing the first four games of the season with a groin injury. His elevation from out to questionable means he’s close to making a return, and he should provide offensive support to a team with minimal depth. A new addition to the injury report is Kevin Knox, who has a sore left knee and is probable against the Raptors.

Omari Spellman remains on the bench with a strained right calf, as well as rookie Obi Toppin, who could miss as much as two weeks with a calf injury of his own.

Yankees News/Rumors: Surprise West-Coast team enters the fold for DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees might be waiting a bit too long in their negotiation process with star infielder DJ LeMahieu. After two stellar seasons in pinstripes, LeMahieu is looking for a long-term deal, and a number of teams have come calling for his services. It is known that DJ prefers to stay in the Bronx, as he has vocalized that in recent months.

Nonetheless, there are teams that see him as a potential solution at second base or even on the hot corner. So far, the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Mets have contacted DJ and his representatives, gauging an asking price. The Yankees are reportedly about $25 million away from finding a compromise, but if no other teams are willing to increase his potential deal, the Yankees could force his representatives to meet them in the middle.

Another team has entered the fold, though, which could pose an even bigger threat to DJ leaving the Yankees. The Los Angeles Dodgers have pegged him as a potential fit and considering he most recently won the batting title in 2020, acquiring him but significantly improve their infield and team.

“From what I’m hearing, DJ LeMahieu is on their radar,” David Vassegh of 570 LA Sports said Tuesday on MLB Network’s Hot Stove. “They are definitely in talks with LeMahieu.”

The Dodgers are still trying to figure out a few different pieces, but DJ would certainly solve a few questions they currently have.

“Where Justin Turner stands, still we don’t know. We know that the Dodgers are allowing him to explore free agency. I’m not sure where that process is with Justin and the Dodgers, but from what I was told (Monday) night, the Dodgers are definitely in the mix for DJ LeMahieu, who would really fit in nicely to be able to play second base and also third base.

“You would imagine if the Dodgers do end up signing DJ LeMahieu, that may make things a little bit more precarious for Turner to come back. How much longer can you allow Turner to check out his options and not lose out on others that can improve your team, especially now with Blake Snell in the same division.”

Considering the San Diego Padres just acquired Yu Darvish and Blake Snell, the Dodgers could feel as though they need to make a move ASAP. Acquiring DJ would be a luxurious move, and considering the strength of their team, they would be immediate favorites for the World Series once again. The Yankees need to be extremely careful with their timeline here because he could easily be stolen away in the blink of an eye.

New York Giants: How much blame falls on Daniel Jones for poor 2020 offense?

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

As we head into week 17, the New York Giants’ offense ranks at the bottom of the NFL, averaging a disappointing 17.1 points per contest. Their passing game is also abysmal, averaging 187.7 yards per game, but their running attack has been the only saving grace if any.

There’s plenty of blame to go around, ranging from coordinator Jason Garrett to quarterback Daniel Jones. However, it is clear that Jones has regressed since his rookie season in 2019 when former head coach Pat Shurmur called offensive plays.

Ultimately, Shurmur‘s offense was more efficient, despite many clamoring about his predictability and lack of creativity. No matter how you look at it, Jones had a better overall season, aside from his turnover problem. DJ has alleviated some of those issues when it comes to fumbling and throwing interceptions, but his best game this season came in week one against the Pittsburgh Steelers when he threw for just 279 yards and two touchdowns.

In 2019, his best performance came in week 16 against the Washington Football Team, when he threw for 352 yards and five scores, earning a 132.1 quarterback rating. He was near perfect, and that performance alone sparked optimism for his future.

However, we should have listened to Cowboys fans when they told us Garrett’s scheme was boring and bland. His route concepts are outdated and predictable for modern defenses. He runs too many hooks and flat routes, with receivers not even running beyond 5 yards or getting to the sticks. His offense doesn’t give Jones the ability to create on the move and utilize his instincts properly. It is all mapped out for Jones to hit first reads quickly and not move on to his other targets. Of course, you can blame a lack of playmakers for this issue, but we saw DJ perform much better in 2019 without TE Evan Engram in the second half of the year. Of course, having Saquon Barkley back was helpful, but he was still hampered by a high ankle sprain he suffered earlier in the season.

Who’s to blame for the New York Giants’ offensive woes?

At this point, I would say that 60% of the blame falls on Jason Garrett and his failure to develop intricate route concepts and get players open in man coverage. The last few games, opposing teams are playing primarily cover 1, which is a run-stopping formation. They are lining up in cover 1 against the pass because they don’t respect the receivers and their ability to get open in man coverage. With the receiver failing to gain separation, Jones has to make pinpoint accurate throws, but he does have one flaw that shows up on tape consistently.

What some analysts call “burping the baby,” Jones taps the ball before throwing too often, which resulted in two poor passes against the Baltimore Ravens in week 16. On one throw to Wayne Gallman up the seam, Jones taps the ball, allowing the pass rush to get to him, and the pass ended up behind Gallman, despite him making an acrobatic catch. If he hits them in stride and throws this without tapping the ball, Gallman picks up an extra few yards. They say football is a game of inches, so everything counts.

On a play earlier in the contest, Jones taps the ball just before throwing a dig route to CJ Board — in that split-second, he allowed pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue to hit his arm and disrupt the pass.

It’s small things like this that need to be ironed out in Jones’ game, but I do think those issues will alleviate with time. Having a better play-caller and some better blocking on the OL (should be better in 2021 with experience) would certainly help, but the lack of playmakers doesn’t exactly flush DJ with confidence.

Finding a more modern coordinator to develop route concepts and open up screens would be beneficial, as Garrett criminally missuses Engram and doesn’t push players down the field appropriately.

Overall, I would say Daniel Jones should take about 15% of the blame, but nobody has done him any favors, and I would like to see the Giants get him some more help in the wide receiver corps and a new coordinator who focuses on modern-day passing strategies.