Yankees Rumors: Interesting Lindor news, DJ LeMehieu could be stolen away

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees haven’t been as aggressive as usual this off-season, as the Mets have actually taken the thunder with a blockbuster deal on Thursday afternoon.

They finalized a trade with the Cleveland Indians, acquiring star shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco. In the move, they will acquire two extremely talented players, and this is something the Yankees would normally do, but with new owner Steve Cohen taking over the Mets this off-season, changes are incoming. The desire to spend money and actually improve the team is the first major takeaway, as general manager Brian Cashman waits idly by for DJ LeMahieu to make a decision on his future.

However, Lindor had been linked to the Yankees for quite some time, and an interesting takeaway did bubble to the surface following the deal with Cleveland.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post stated that the Yankees ‘did,’ in fact, inquire about Francisco Lindor as a backup plan to losing DJ LeMahieu.

Yankees inquired with the Indians on the price for Lindor as a backup plan if they did not sign LeMahieu, but have remained committed to seeing it thru with LeMahieu even as other options — such as Lindor — come off the board.

It seems as if Cashman dipped his hand in the Lindor sweepstakes, but the timing just didn’t work out right. It is clear he feels confident with his farm system and the youth he continues to develop, but the Yankees need to be thinking about winning now, especially with other teams on the rise.

The New York Yankees are the only ones aggressively pursuing DJ:

Former Nationals GM Jim Bowden wrote in The Athletic that the Dodgers have similar contract length concerns.

The Dodgers are in the mix for LeMahieu’s services, but like the Yankees don’t appear willing to offer a five-year contract nor the average annual value LeMahieu’s agent Joel Wolfe is hoping to get. However, the baseball fit for the Dodgers is enormous. The Dodgers could put him at third base where he would be above-average defensively or they could put him at his best position of second base where he’s won three Gold Glove awards in his career.

It is becoming increasingly worrisome that the Yankees might lose out on LeMahieu this off-season. The Dodgers are really the only team I feel could challenge them in terms of years and financial allocations. While it seems both clubs are trying to stay away from a five-year deal, DJ continues to hold out in hopes of receiving what he desires.

However, given a different team doesn’t enter the fold and the Dodgers don’t get overly aggressive, the Yankees can wait patiently and settle on a compromise, given the fact that LeMahieu has already made it known he prefers to stay in New York.

New York Giants Hypothetical: What would it take to land Deshaun Watson in a trade?

Deshaun Watson, New York Giants

The hypothetical scenario where the New York Giants land star quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade is quite optimistic and unlikely. However, it is always fun to dabble in the improbable, as Watson represents one of the best passers in the NFL, but is also an incredible athlete.

Some might say that Giants quarterback Daniel Jones has similar traits: throwing on the run, utilizing his legs to pick up extra yards, and making throws downfield. The primary difference, Watson, is simply better in every category.

However, the Houston Texans have done him zero favors when it comes to maximizing his potential. After they traded away DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals and did little to bolster his protection on the offensive line, Watson was doomed from the start. Since then, Houston has moved on from general manager Bill O’Brien, as they recently hired former Patriots Director of personnel Nick Caserio.

Recent reports have indicated that Watson could be considering a trade demand, but the reality of that happening is minimal. If he were available, he would solve a lot of the problems the Giants are currently facing. Jones is still developing, and many are unsure if he is the future at the position for Big Blue. Watson is a proven commodity still on his rookie deal, and with a contract extension already in place, the Giants could begin to look toward the future regarding the cap situation.

Aside from Jason Garrett castrating Daniel Jones this past season in the passing game, the second-year quarterback played in 14 games, throwing 11 touchdown passes and rushing for one score. He did fumble 11 times and threw 10 interceptions, which was less than his 2019 totals but still a bit concerning.

On the other hand, Watson played in all 16 games and threw for nearly 5,000 yards, 33 touchdowns, and rushed for 444 yards and three scores. He fumbled just eight times and threw seven interceptions, proving his superiority over Jones.

The question is, how much would it take for the New York Giants to land him in a trade?

Ultimately, Houston would want a massive haul for Watson’s services. With Caserio taking over, hitting the restart button with a number of first-round picks could be a good move. The issue, they would lose their franchise quarterback and a fundamental piece to the team.

If I were general manager Dave Gettleman, I would consider offering two first-round picks, Daniel Jones and Evan Engram.

Not only would this provide Houston with plenty of draft capital for the future, but it would also give them a solid quarterback to build around on his rookie deal. Engram is simply an additional piece the Giants can afford to move on from as he’s entering his fifth year in the NFL. He likely has a third-round value, if not fourth. Houston doesn’t have an elite receiving tight end (minus the drops), so Engram moving over in the trade would be a benefit, especially with his pre-existing chemistry with Jones.

Of course, this is a hypothetical that is subject to change, but it would give Houston a quarterback to work with (Jones), who the Patriots were reportedly interested in during the draft process, which coincides with the hiring of Caserio. An interesting situation at the least, and while the rumors are undoubtedly spiraling, it is always fun to consider astronomical trades that could blow up the NFL.

What do you think of this hypothetical trade, and what would you consider offering for a Watson if he was available?

New York Knicks: The key to Julius Randle’s insane start to 2021 boils down to one factor

New York Knicks, Julius Randle

When the New York Knicks embarked on a tough opening to the 2021 season, they didn’t anticipate to start the year 5-3. The Knicks have won five of their last six games, with a majority of them being playoff-caliber squads. In their last three contests, the Knicks have scored no less than 106 points, beating the Indiana Pacers, Atlanta Hawks, and Utah Jazz consecutively.

The New York Knicks are surging, and credit is due:

A healthy portion of their success is thanks to power forward Julius Randle, who is averaging 23.1 points per game over 38.6 minutes. While he leads the team with 4.9 turnovers per contest, he’s also dominating the boards, hauling in 12 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game. His success this season boils down to one simple factor, reps. Randle spent the entire quarantine training relentlessly to become the best player he can possibly be under new head coach Tom Thibodeau. Ultimately, Covid allowed him to refine his abilities and go back to the basics, where he worked on his footwork and shot.

The New York Post interview Tyler Relph, Julius Randle’s personal trainer. His detailed answers unveil the key to the Knicks’ power-forward’s dominance this season, so far:

“He’s the hardest worker I’ve ever seen,” Relph says. “By far. You know, it isn’t easy to average 20 and 10 and 3 in the NBA. You don’t do that just by showing up. But even by that standard, he took it to an unbelievable level this summer.”

Being an elite score in the NBA is extremely difficult, especially when you’re not a primary shooter. Randle makes his money in the paint, driving the lane and making contested shots from the field. He’s not an elite three-point shooter like Steph Curry but relies on his physicality and aggressiveness to help his team put points on the board.

“We had nothing but time,” Relph says, “and he didn’t want to waste any of it. We had nine months. So I told him: ‘Let’s be an all-star. Let’s try to get you to be one of the best players in the league.’ We went back to what we used to do. Footwork, stuff to make sure he got to spots fast. Over and over. Every day.”

“I knew what this was going to be,” Relph says. “I told him, ‘You’re gonna play 40 [minutes] every night. If you play hard, Thibs is gonna let you go.’ We didn’t know he’d want him to be a point forward but once they talked and he said so it was just perfect. Plays to all of Ju’s strengths.

Thibodeau expects aggressive basketball with a focus on defense. As long as Julius was in shape and ready to play ample minutes, he could produce a fantastic season. He has been one of the driving forces behind the New York Knicks’ recent success, and without his off-season work, none of it would be possible.

“It’s been phenomenal because Julius and Thibs are of the same mindset. They’re workers. Neither of them has ever really been given anything, they had to earn everything. They’re both the first guys to work every day. They see things exactly the same way.”

At the rate Randle is on, not only will he be considered an All-Star, but he will justify the contract New York gave him in 2019. They inked him to a three-year, $62.1 million deal, which expires after the 2022 season. After last year‘s debacle, most believed Randle would be shipped off, but his mentality and dedication to the team have paid off in dividends.

NASCAR news roundup (1/8/21): Larson spotter fired, No. 38 filled, Kaulig to run part-time in Cup Series

Read to get caught up on the latest NASCAR news.

Larson spotter fired over social media activity

At the end of December, Hendrick Motorsports hired Chris Monez to spot Kyle Larson’s No. 5 machine in the NASCAR Cup Series. However, just days after his hiring, Monez was dismissed after curious social media activity emerged.

Monez was caught liking several suspicious tweets, including one about the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory. Followers of the disproven theory believe that a group of Satan-worshipping pedophiles are plotting against United States President Donald Trump.

Now, with just a month to go until the Busch Clash at Daytona, Larson remains without a spotter and much sponsorship. A leaked image of Larson’s hauler revealed Hendrickcars.com on it, but no sponsors have officially been confirmed.

Monez was Ty Dillon’s spotter in 2020.

Kaulig Racing to run limited Cup Series races in 2021

Kaulig Racing announced on Wednesday that they are planning to run limited Cup Series races in 2021. The team’s been known for their Xfinity Series success, getting multiple drivers to victory lane in 2020. Kaulig Racing would like to field full-time Cup Series teams eventually.

The team plans to run superspeedway and road courses races in 2021, with a full schedule coming at a later date.

Justin Haley, a strong restrictor plate racer, and AJ Allmendinger, a strong road course racer, are included in Kaulig’s 2021 Xfinity Series lineup. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see those two run some of the Cup Series races, as both are Cup Series winners.

For more on this story, click here.

Anthony Alfredo to drive for Front Row Motorsports

Anthony Alfredo announced on his Twitter Wednesday that he’d drive the No. 38 Cup Series car for Front Row Motorsports in 2021. Alfredo, 21, is taking the seat of John Hunter Nemechek, who went back to full-time Camping World Truck Series racing.

The youngster has competed in parts of just two seasons in NASCAR’s top three levels. He ran 13 Truck Series races in 2019 and 19 Xfinity Series races in 2020. He’s yet to win in either series but has 2 top-5s and 11 top-10s combined.

Alfredo has a lot to learn but is in a good position to do so with Front Row Motorsports.

Additionally, the team will field the No. 36 car for the Daytona 500 with David Ragan behind the wheel. Michael McDowell will return in the No. 34 car full-time in 2021.

For more on this story, click here.

Bristol Motor Speedway preparing for spring dirt race

In a video posted to social media, Bristol Motor Speedway showed the beginning of preparations for the facility’s spring races.

BMS will host the Bristol Dirt Nationals from March 15th-20th, with eight different classes racing over six days.

A week later, NASCAR comes to town. The Camping World Truck Series will race a 134 lap event on Saturday, March 27th, with the Cup Series race taking place on Sunday, March 28th. The length of the Cup Series race has yet to be determined.

Top NASCAR executive leaves for Sonoma Raceway

One of NASCAR’s top executives, Jill Gregory, will be leaving to become the GM of Sonoma Raceway. The track is a part of Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), an organization owning eight NASCAR tracks.

Gregory will take the role of the retiring Steve Page, longtime GM of Sonoma Raceway. In her time with NASCAR, Gregory has led the sport’s marketing, media, communications, broadcasting, and diversity and inclusion. She’s also helped develop NASCAR.com, the NASCAR mobile app, and NASCAR fantasy games.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Sticky situation for Gerrit Cole as he is named in banned substance lawsuit

Could the Yankees pursue Gerrit Cole this offseason?

New York Yankees ace pitcher Gerrit Cole has gotten himself implicated in a lawsuit involving his previous team’s actions, the Houston Astros, in 2019. The lawsuit involves the Los Angeles Angels clubhouse manager “Bubba” Harkins, who has been fired by the Angels when his attornies submitted a text message allegedly from Cole, in Orange County (Calif.) Superior Court on Thursday, according to reports, including one in the Los Angeles Times.

“Hey Bubba, it’s Gerrit Cole, I was wondering if you could help me out with this sticky situation,” the pitcher, then with the Astros wrote on Jan. 17, 2019, adding a wink emoji, according to the reports. “We don’t see you until May, but we have some road games in April that are in cold weather places. The stuff I had last year seizes up when it gets cold.”

A Major League Baseball investigation found he was providing banned substances to pitchers to enhance their baseball grip. The Angels fired Harkins in March. Harkins had filed a defamation lawsuit against the Angels and Major League Baseball in August. The lawsuit implicated several pitchers, both with the Angels and other team pitchers, including Cole. In the suit, Harkins claimed he was being used as a “scapegoat.”

Last year, Trevor Bauer wrote in The Players’ Tribune that he was suspicious of how pitchers on the Astros teams Cole pitched for had improved their spin rate so dramatically.

“When I see a guy go from being a good pitcher for one team and spinning the ball at 2,200 rpm, to spinning the ball at 2,600 or 2,700 in Houston, I know exactly what happened,”

Trevor Bauer, in the story, never mentioned Gerrit Cole specifically. The Post’s Joel Sherman asked Cole about the issue in February after signing a nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees. Cole did not respond to Bauer’s story, but regarding the notion, the Astros were better at creating a sticky product or teaching how to use that product, Cole repeated three times, “No.” Nevertheless, this could be a “sticky situation” for the New York Yankees pitcher.

This report was first issued overnight by the New York Post. This all came to light late yesterday due to court filings that were reported by the Los Angeles Times.

 

New York Ranger’s prospect shined in World Juniors spotlight

One of the keys for Team USA on their way to winning gold at the most recent World Juniors tournament was New York Rangers prospect Brett Berard. He was joined on the team by fellow Rangers prospect Hunter Skinner. Team Canada, the silver medalist, also had two prospects on their team in Dylan Garand and Braden Schneider.

Berard made the most of his world junior experience, especially early on. Playing for his Providence College coach Nate Leaman, the left-winger moved his way up from the fourth to the third line and has been particularly effective on a trio with center John Farinacci and right winger Bobby Brink. Berard posted four points in his first three games while making opponents wince anytime they saw him bearing down on the puck. Getting a shot of confidence early certainly helps the world junior first-timer. Berard finished the tournament with a goal, 4 assists, and a plus 8 rating.

Berard was the second-youngest player on the United States’ roster and one of only six players born in 2002 that represented the United States in the tournament. This is the first time he represented the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship, he has played with Team USA in several tournaments in his career, including the 2018 World U17 Hockey Challenge.

What has intrigued the Rangers is how Berard plays the game. He has been described as a “tiger on the ice”. The Providence College freshman is quick, skilled, and tenacious, bringing a gritty element to the forecheck. This was very evident in the gold medal game as his tenacity frequently frustrated the talented Canadian forwards. In a pre-tournament interview, Berard attributed much of this from a childhood where he always had a hockey buddy in younger brother Brady, a 2022 NHL draft prospect currently playing for the U.S. National Team Development Program.

As recent reports have the Rangers showing interest in Brian Boyle so they can add some grit to their lineup, it appears that they won’t have to wait too much longer to add some grit from their own prospects.