New York Yankees: MLB executive says expect Yankee news today

The offseason has been really slow for both free agents and the 30 MLB teams, including the New York Yankees. Teams suffered huge losses last season, with the Yankees recording the highest losses of any team. They also have no clear picture of what revenues they can expect this season, with the coronavirus surging all over the county. There are now vaccines available but are being distributed far slower than previously expected. Add to that; free agents are abundant out there that remain unsigned.

The offseason may be even slower for the New York Yankees as they have made it a priority to re-sign DJ LeMahieu and, for the most part, put everything on hold until they know the outcome of those negotiations. So far, they are at a standstill as the sides are far apart on the length of that contract.

Last night on Twitter, MLBExecutiveBurner tweeted on his account to expect Yankee news tomorrow. MLBExecutiveBurner@HotStoveintel is a front office MLB executive, so he must have some knowledge of pending signings or moves the Yankees may be making today. What those moves or signings may be, is anyone’s guess. Rachel Luba a former gymnast and now MLB player agent and attorney calls MLB ExecutiveBurner a sexist clown whose identity is unknown.

The New York Yankees have been in a wait and see stalemate with DJ LeMahieu’s contract offer so that the news may be a breakthrough in those negotiations. But with so many need the Yankees have, it could be almost anything. Although the Yankees believe they are satisfied with their young pitching rotation, fans know they would like another premium veteran arm to bolster the pitching rotation. There has been talk that the Yankees could reenlist Masahiro Tanaka’s services or even sign Corey Kluber.

But the news might not end there. The Yankees are also looking to replace Tommy Kahnle, who is now with the Dodgers. They need an additional premium type arm for the bullpen. Other news could involve the resigning of veteran outfielder Brett Gardner. The Yankees refused his option for the 2021 season. EmpireSportsMedia.com will be overseeing the news all day and will bring you the latest when available.

 

 

 

Yankees News/Rumors: Corey Kluber impresses in showcase, Yankees closing in

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber

It is no secret that the New York Yankees need an influx of starting talent in the pitching rotation, and former Texas Rangers’ arm Corey Kluber could fit the bill. While pitching for the Cleveland Indians in 2018, Kluber earned a 2.89 ERA with a 44.4% ground-ball rate. Having an elevated ground-ball percentage is perfect for Yankee Stadium, with short porches that oftentimes result in home runs. However, Kluber has only pitched in 36.2 innings over the past two years, as injuries have taken their toll.

Kluber pitched in front of 25 teams on Wednesday morning, showcasing his abilities following injuries the previous two years. He’s a former Cy Young-winning pitcher, earning two trophies in the category since 2014. He is also earned All-Star appearances in three seasons, and if he can return to form, the Yankees could easily benefit from his comeback.

MLB Insider for ESPN, Jeff Passan, stated that Kluber looked sharp in his pitching simulation:

Nearly 25 teams showed up at Corey Kluber’s showcase today, and scouts came away impressed. His fastball sat 88-90 — and he’s got more velocity in the tank as he builds toward spring training. Kluber threw 30 pitches, including all of his off-speed stuff. Strong market expected.
A one year deal is in the best interest of Kluber, who can revitalize his career to prove adequacy in 2021. The Yankees are one team that desperately needs support after losing Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ to free agency. I continue to harp on Kluber as a fantastic supplement, given his previous success in the MLB.
Kluber clocked in at 88-90 with his fastball, and while some might see that as a negative, he’s never been a speed pitcher. In fact, his career-average speed in the category is 92.7, and we shouldn’t expect him to be at full velocity after missing almost two full years of baseball.
By the time spring training rolls around, the Yankees would have enough time to work him out and get into shape. Considering he’s already familiar with conditioning coach Eric Cressey, the Yankees have the insider track at what needs to be done so he can fit in behind Gerrit Cole with ease.

New York Mets: Is Albert Almora Jr. Worth Signing For Center Field?

Simeon Woods-Richardson

Albert Almora Jr. is another center fielder who is reportedly on the New York Mets’ radar. The former Chicago Cub is coming off two poor offensive seasons while his first three were decent. Almora is low on the list of free-agent center field options but is certainly worth looking at if George Springer is out of the picture.

Almora’s slashed .289/.326/.412 and had 11 defensive runs saved over his first three seasons as a center fielder. He is hitting just .230/.270/.366 with -5 defensive runs saved in his two most recent seasons. Almora hit a career-high 12 home runs in that period, but the added power forced his average to suffer.

Worth A Shot?

When taking the rest of Almora’s defensive stats into perspective, the DFS is an outlier. His outfield reactions and bursts were similar to his best defensive year in 2018. The only regression came in his ability to go back on the ball, but it leveled out during 2020. Almora is only 27 on opening day, and all signs point to his defensive returning as a strong part of his game.

The offensive side of his game is a much bigger question. Almora has multiple years of being at the bottom of the league in hard-hit rates, among other key offensive analytics. The only way the Mets should consider him if multiple free agents like Springer, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Kevin Pillar are no longer available. If the Mets stayed within the organization, Guillermo Heredia could play at the same level as Almora.

New York Giants: 3 pass rushers to target in free agency

New York Giants, Yannick Ngakoue

It is no secret that the New York Giants desperately need help at outside linebacker, considering their pass rush was limited at times due to injury. Early on in the season, both Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, the Giants’ starters at OLB, went down with individual ailments.

Carter tore his Achilles against the Dallas Cowboys, and Ximines suffered a shoulder injury that landed him on IR. Ultimately, both of them missed the remainder of the season, forcing players like Carter Coughlin and veteran Jabaal Sheard to earn more minutes than expected.

Surprisingly, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham managed to curate a pass rush without depth at OLB. Thanks to a strong interior pass rush and well-schemed games, the Giants still managed to produce more than 40 sacks this past season.

However, there is little justification to continue relying on Carter and Ximines as their primary pass rushers, considering their injuries. This free agency could represent a solid opportunity for the Giants to acquire an above-average pass rusher, so let’s take a few available options on the market.

Three free-agent pass rushers the New York Giants should consider:

1.) Yannick Ngakoue

One of the bigger names is Yannick Ngakoue, a 6-foot-2, 246-pound defensive end. He has the ability to play in the dirt and also outside linebacker. Having a pass rusher who can play three-technique, five-technique, and OLB is extremely valuable. Graham loves to use his players in multiple ways, so Ngakoue would be a perfect fit for the Giants, but his price tag likely won’t be. Spotrac has him valued at $12 million for 2020, but after posting 8.0 sacks and 10 QB hits this past year, I expect him to land a multi-year deal worth at least $16 million per season.

With the salary cap expected to drop exponentially and the Giants projected to re-sign Leonard Williams on a big deal, I don’t believe Ngakoue will be within their price range. In addition, he has been inconsistent over the past few seasons but does represent one of the better options on the market at just 25 years old — I love his versatility and diversity when playing in different techniques, but again, the Giants simply don’t have the money available, especially with wide receiver being a significant need.

2.) Leonard Floyd

Another adequate option for the New York Giants is Leonard Floyd, who was previously of interest back in 2016 before the Chicago Bears leapfrogged Big Blue and selected him. After four inconsistent seasons with Chicago, Floyd has catapulted to another level in 2020. The 28-year-old linebacker recorded 10.5 sacks, 55 combined tackles, 19 quarterback hits, and 11 tackles for loss this season. In other words, he has taken his game to another level, and having a good interior defense around him has only benefited his development.

With the Giants expected to retain Leonard Williams and potentially Dalvin Tomlinson, Floyd could fit the bill perfectly as a standup pass rusher. In addition, he can also play a variety of roles, dropping back into shallow coverage and covering the flats, which is something that Patrick Graham likes to do with his OLBs.

However, given Floyd’s breakout season, he could be in line for a big contract. The Giants could offer him a deal worth $14 million per season that might get it done, but he also might be out of their price range.

3.) Jordan Jenkins

The first two options are a bit more pricey, but the Giants could look to Jets’ outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins as a potential supplement. Jenkins is only 26 years old and has good size at 6-foot-3 and 259 pounds. In 2019, he recorded 8.0 sacks and 13 quarterback hits, but his production fell off this past season, recording just 2.0 sacks and six quarterback hits.

Nonetheless, the Jets were extremely disappointing, and with a better team around him and some motivation, Jenkins can be an extremely productive pass rusher. In addition, he could be a very cheap alternative for the Giants, we are likely going to move on from Kyler Fackrell this off-season.

A two-year deal worth $7 million could get it done after he signed a one-year, $3.75 million deal with the Jets this past off-season. I think Jenkins can actually be quite a productive player when given the tools, and Graham is known for extracting the most out of his defenders.

Calvin Kattar wants a title shot with a win at UFC Fight Island 7

UFC

This weekend at UFC Fight Island 7, Calvin Kattar (22-4) has the biggest fight of his career. In the headliner, he’s taking on the former featherweight champion of the world, Max Holloway (21-6), in the UFC‘s first main event on ABC.

Kattar comes into the contest as the sixth ranked featherweight in the UFC. He’s 4-1 in his last five fights inside the octagon with the only loss coming to Zabit Magomedsharipov (22-1) in a fight that was taken on short notice.

That fight was a three round main event, however, if it had been a five round fight, many believe Kattar would have won. Instead, Zabit walked away with his hand raised that night. Kattar has since won two straight over Jeremy Stephens and Dan Ige.

The Boston Finisher knows that the opportunity in front of him at UFC Fight Island 7 is a big one. Max Holloway is considered by many in the business to still be the best featherweight on the planet.

Yes, he lost to the champion, Alexander Volkanovski (22-1), however, the majority believe he won their fight in July. Nevertheless, Holloway lost by split decision and now Kattar is getting his shot at the former champion.

Kattar spoke to the media yesterday to discuss the fight and his plans after. He made it very clear that he believes a UFC title shot should be next if he wins. Kattar told the media, “What else do you gotta do besides take out the number one guy?”

Should Kattar get a UFC title shot with a win?

Calvin Kattar is in a very interesting spot heading into Saturday night. He’s still ranked outside the top five, however, he’s taking on the number one contender. He definitely has a case for a title fight if he gets the win.

However, there is one fighter in front of him who could throw a wrench in his UFC title plans. That fighter being Zabit. Zabit already holds a victory over Kattar and he’s currently ranked third in the division.

If Kattar wins, everyone in front of him is either booked, suspended or coming off of a loss outside of Zabit. Currently, the promotion is targeting a title fight between Volkanovski and Brian Ortega (15-1, 1 NC) in the next couple of months.

Should Kattar get the win on Saturday, I think the fight to make would be the rematch between Zabit and Kattar. Give them both a full camp to show who is truly the better fighter between the two. If the UFC makes that fight, you’ll have a true number one contender in the division.

NASCAR news roundup (1/14/21): Kaz Grala signs with Kaulig, Next Gen testing continues

Read for the latest news around NASCAR.

Kaz Grala signs with Kaulig

Kaulig Racing announced that Kaz Grala would be driving some of the organization’s Cup Series races in the No. 16 car. Grala, 22, has raced part-time in the Xfinity Series the past three seasons and the past two with Richard Childress Racing. The driver made his Cup Series debut in 2020, filling in for Austin Dillion and finishing 7th at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course after Dillion received a positive COVID-19 test result.

Grala will make his 2021 Cup Series debut in the Daytona 500, assuming the team qualifies.  He will make several other starts throughout the season, with an official schedule coming soon.

A Crew Chief hasn’t been announced, but it’s expected that Brett Griffin will spot the car.

Next Gen testing continues at Charlotte

NASCAR tested the Next Gen car again on Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the prototype for the second time. He and Martin Truex Jr. tested the car shortly after the 2020 season at Charlotte, and Busch was there to check some of the issues encountered during the earlier test. According to competition officials, the test went well.

More testing needs to be completed with the car, including Goodyear tire tests. A 2021 testing schedule hasn’t been announced.

Miguel Paludo to run three Xfinity road course races

JR Motorsports announced this week that Miguel Paludo would race three road courses in the 2021 Xfinity Series. Paludo, 37, hasn’t raced in NASCAR since 2013 in the Camping World Truck Series.

Paludo will race the No. 8 machine at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course, Circuit of the Americas, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Newman, Roush Fenway Racing land new sponsorship

Kohler Generators have signed with Ryan Newman and Roush Fenway Racing, becoming an anchor partner in 2021. The company will be Newman’s primary sponsor for eight races, including the Daytona 500.

With Kohler on the hood, Newman’s looking to win his second Daytona 500 and redeem himself after his horrific wreck in 2020. He was wrecked leading with just feet to go in last year’s race. Roush Fenway is looking for the team’s third victory in the Great American Race.

New York Yankees News/Rumors: Teammates talk the need for DJ LeMahieu

New York Yankees, DJ LeMahieu

The New York Yankees have made it a priority to re-sign batting champ DJ LeMahieu, but more than two months into the offseason and the Yankees and DJ have not been able to strike a deal. The Yankees would like a deal that gives LeMahieu three years with the Yankees and $75 million for his bank account. LeMahieu wants more security than that, requesting five years and $110 million or more, according to Joel Sherman.

Recently LeMahieu has reported his frustration with the Yankees and how they have dealt with his contract demands. He has suggested that the Wasserman group, his agents, re-engage with the other teams that have shown an interest in the star player. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, the Toronto Blue Jays, and even the crosstown New York Mets have expressed varying interest levels in the 2020 batting champ.

The New York Yankee front office and even his fellow teammates have been relatively quiet on the negotiations. But that is changing now, with several players expressing that the Yankees should get the deal done because the team needs his bat in the lineup and defensive skills. Earlier Clint Frazier pointed out the need to resign him. Chad Green has chimed in, wondering what’s going on.

“I personally haven’t texted him, but I’ve definitely texted guys who are really close to him and have been like, ‘OK, what’s the deal with DJ? Are we signing him back or what’s going on?’

“So, I personally, I’m just going to leave him alone. But I’ve definitely asked some other guys what’s going on. I think the other guys have said too, they’ve just kind of left him alone about it and let him make the best decision for himself.”

Now first baseman and 2020 home run leader Luke Voit is sending a clear message to Yankee owner Hal Steinbrenner when he spoke with NBC’s Bruce Beck on Tuesday.

“We need him, I think he’s the best hitter in baseball. I’m literally sitting next to a printer right now and it makes me think of DJ because he’s a freaking machine. We need him! I think DJ deserves a lot and I know he wants to be a Yankee,” Voit said. “But I’m sure there’s 4 or 5 other teams that would love to have him too.”

Many fans and probably the New York Yankee front office thought it would be difficult for LeMahieu to repeat his stellar 2019 season, but he did and did it with even better results. The 32-year old second baseman slashed .364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs and a 177 wRC+ in 2020, winning a Silver Slugger Award and the best batting average title, besting his 2019 and showing the Yankees that he still has a lot in the tank.

Yankee players seldom speak out on these kinds of issues, but it’s becoming more and more obvious with each day that passes, and the stalemate continues that the players like the fans are just as frustrated as LeMahieu. It appears that LeMahieu because he wants to stay in New York, would take less money than other teams might offer if the Yankees would give him the five years of security that he wants. The Yankees should get it done before another team offers him something he can’t refuse.

 

 

 

The New York Rangers are prepared to “Embrace the Grind”

On the night before the start 2020-21 season, New York Rangers President John Davidson, GM Jeff Gorton, and Head Coach David Quinn held a virtual town hall to talk about their expectations for the upcoming season.

Among the many topics discussed, much was talked about the many difficulties that the Blueshirts face in this very different kind of season.

Unfortunately, one of the biggest tasks that the Rangers and the NHL will face is dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Davidson addressed that by discussing the many protocols and procedures that the NHL is requiring of teams this season.

Some of the procedures that the NHL have put in place include:

• Home teams must make their home rink or practice rink available to visiting teams. Visiting teams are not permitted to use rinks owned by third parties. Team practices will also not be open to the public.

• Players will be prohibited from carpooling to games, there will be no road trip roommates, and teams must secure an additional two hotel rooms on road trips in the event of a positive COVID-19 test.

• Players will also only be permitted to go to the rink and hotel on road trips. No other destinations, including bars, restaurants, clubs, etc., will be permitted.

• During the regular season, the NHL will announce the names of players that test positive, but will not do so during training camp when it will simply release league-wide numbers.

• Coaches must wear masks while on the bench.

In addition to the protocols, other procedures mandated by state or local governments need to be considered in the day to day operations of the team.

Davidson listed off many questions that the Rangers will have to deal with, including questions such as “How do we get the players who live in Westchester County to the Garden?” “What is the best way to get the team out to play the Islanders and the Devils?” Simple questions to answer in previous years but not so simple during a pandemic.

When it comes to these procedures and the necessity to follow them to make sure that the season runs as smoothly as possible, Davidson’s message to the team was “Don’t let your guard down because if everyone does their part, there is a good chance we finish the season.”

Head Coach David Quinn also addressed what the pandemic has meant to design practices for training camp and the preparation for the start of the season. Quinn talked about the coaches’ meetings and how there have been some things that they have not been able to implement yet. While he is concerned about this, he also mentioned that he feels that the Islanders are in the same situation.

“Our sport is so driven by hard work, especially now since you don’t have the chance to work on the structure and the things that you normally work on in a three-week training camp and six exhibition games,” Quinn said.

Another factor that the Blueshirt’s brass discussed was the 56 game season and the fact that they are going to face some very familiar foes eight times this season. Davidson was reminded that this was customary during the time in which he tended net in the NHL.

“The element of nastiness will come back” Davidson predicted, making a point of mentioning that in April, the Rangers will face their old friends, the New Jersey Devils, in four consecutive contests. “That breeds contempt.”

“Familiarity will bring some more intensity to each game,” Quinn also said of the different schedule. “When you see a team eight times in three-and-a-half months, you will probably see some chippiness.”

Davidson also talked about what he feels the Rangers will need to navigate through this unusual season.

“I think one of the main keys is going to be discipline,” Davidson stated. “not only playing as hard as you can and competing, but discipline can make a difference when you are playing in high energy, highly physical games.”

All of these challenges have led the players to adopt the motto “embrace the grind” as they try to navigate through the intricacies of a very unusual season.

The “grind” begins Thursday night in a season that many will “embrace the effort” as the Rangers face more than just who they play on any given night in order to finish a season faced with so many challenges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Bills: Brian Daboll balancing coaching, championship opportunities

The Buffalo Bills’ OC is overseeing what’s arguably the hottest offense in football while keeping an eye on a potential future elsewhere.

Buffalo Bills fans in the new century are used to seeing coaches come and go. Brian Daboll is the 12th man to hold the title of Buffalo offensive coordinator since Joe Pendry’s three-year term ended after the 2000 season. Among the names before him are Kevin Gilbride, Alex Van Pelt, and Greg Roman. Gilbride won a Super Bowl in the same spot with the Giants, while Van Pelt and Roman have opportunities to do in their respective roles with Cleveland and Baltimore. But they were unable to unlock the offensive potential Western New York had to offer and were subsequently bid farewell.

Daboll is likewise writing his Buffalo coda, but, from a personal standpoint, it comes under the sweetest circumstances on the precipice of football nirvana.

The 45-year-old Ontario, Canada native is not only partaking in one of the eight remaining active Super Bowl treks but he is also on the forefront of the minds of those seeking to reopen their championship windows. As one of the most popular candidates for an open head coaching spot, Daboll has interviewed with the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers and other teams have reportedly expressed interest. Per NFL procedures, Daboll can’t officially be hired until the Bills’ season ends. It’ll extend to at least Saturday night, as the Bills battle Roman and the Ravens in the opening leg of the AFC Divisional playoffs (8:15 p.m. ET, NBC).

While Bills fans may have come to grips with the likelihood that Daboll’s Buffalo career won’t make it to Valentine’s Day, they certainly hope that the outside attention won’t take his focus away from their magical season in progress. Under Daboll’s watch, Buffalo’s offense ranks at or near the top of almost every major statistical category, and franchise quarterback Josh Allen has become an MVP candidate in his care. Their 13-win season has snapped countless streaks of futility on the Bills’ ledger. For example, they won their first playoff game in over a quarter-century last weekend in the Wild Card round against Indianapolis.

Prior to the 27-24 win over the Colts, Daboll assured Bills Mafia that they had nothing to worry about when it came to his current mindset.

“(I’m) humbled by it, but (I’m) focused on what we have to do here,” Daboll said of the situation, per Nick Wojton of Bills Wire. “You have a tremendous challenge ahead of you. You better be focused.”

Buffalo earned 397 yards in their Wild Card triumph, a few tallies about their average of 396.5, second in the NFL behind only Kansas City. They ranked 23rd in total offense last season but have been energized by Allen’s breakout season as well as the arrival of former Minnesota playoff hero Stefon Diggs.

“I hate to keep giving him so much credit because I don’t want anyone to steal him from me,” Diggs said with a smile in a report from Marcel Louis-Jacques of ESPN. “He’s a guy that knows what he’s doing, he knows the flow of the game, knows when to call what. We just trust him, whatever he calls, I’m running it…He always has our back and I (haven’t) seen him miss yet.”

Daboll is a rare Bills representative who has tasted the finest nectars mainstream football has to offer. He was an active contributor to five of the New England Patriots’ six Super Bowl titles in a variety of assistant roles (most recently as the tight ends coach in 2013-16). During a brief college interlude, Daboll was the University of Alabama Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator during their 2017 national title run.

The call from the Bills came shortly after the Tide rolled to an overtime victory in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Buffalo’s offense came home 30th in his first year as they struggled to a 6-10 mark. The move up to 23rd was quiet on paper, but general manager Brandon Beane was enthused by the progress.

“Going back to when Brian was here in ’18, obviously (we were) very young on offense and inexperienced at critical positions,” Beane recalled in Louis-Jacques’ story. “Then you go to ’19 and, all right, we helped the O-line, it’s Year 2 for Josh and we gave him a couple weapons in Cole (Beasley) and John Brown, but we still don’t have enough here yet. I thought what Brian did from 18 to 19 showed growth and it obviously starts with the most critical position. Look at Josh’s growth and what he did. Brian was hands-on in that.”

Daboll is well versed in the challenges ahead, despite his conversations elsewhere. The Bills (14-3) will have to navigate through the rest of the postseason without rookie Zack Moss, one of their top running backs. Baltimore (12-5) is also well known for their pressure and pass rush. They worked their way into the Divisional round with a 20-13 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon.

In their victory, the Ravens held the high-powered Titans offense to a mere 209 yards and 12 first downs. All-Pro rusher Derrick Henry tallied a mere 40 yards on 18 carries, with none of his rushes going beyond eight yards. Daboll also pointed out that Baltimore’s pressures and quarterback knockdowns top the league.

“They’re the top defense that we’ve played all year,” Daboll said, per Bills reporter Jordan LaBarber. “That’s what the playoffs are. Those are the moments that you live for. Highly competitive individuals playing in tough games that are meaningful games, and it will be a challenge.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags