New York Giants: Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. to link up in ACL rehab

Saquon Barkley

The season ended early for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley. While Barkley came into the year with big expectations, he was out only a couple games in thanks to an ACL tear. The injury would put him out for the entire season and Barkley is currently at the phase of rehabbing. If that rehab goes well, everyone is hoping Barkley can be a full speed player come the 2021 season.

Another player recovering from the same injury, however, is former Giant Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham’s time in Cleveland since being traded has been far from perfect. The latest in a line of problems is that injury, which cut his season down to 7 games and saw him match his career low in touchdowns.

It looks like the two players are set to link up as they both rehab from similar injury situations.

“Only thing I do know that I have planned for sure, I’m definitely going to link up with [Odell],” Barkley told ESPN in an interview. “Obviously Odell tore his knee a little too. I think we both need just being there. We’re really good friends. Competing with each other and pushing each other will also be good too. That’s the only thing I know for certain I will do. Everything else is up in the air.”

Many consider the Giants to have won the Odell Beckham trade. Not because Beckham doesn’t have raw talent, but because various circumstances like this have prevented him from playing to his fullest potential in Cleveland. And it seemingly didn’t take long for Beckham to get involved in organizational drama in Cleveland, either.

But the trade hasn’t stopped Barkley from working with Beckham.

“Every year we always link up with him at some point, somewhere. Definitely going to find a way to link up.”

He mentioned the possibility of getting other injured players involved, such as Bengals QB Joe Burrow.

Injuries have affected many players around the league, and Barkley is one of the ones who has been impacted the most over the past couple of seasons. It’s put a big dent on his overall numbers, but fans will still be holding out hope that in 2021 Barkley can return to his healthy standard. After all, when he first showed up, it looked like a fully healthy Barkley would completely change the game for the Giants.

Should the New York Giants consider trading Evan Engram?

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants did not have many players selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020. One Giants player who was selected to the Pro Bowl, though, was a very controversial selection. The Giants’ offense was putrid this season, averaging only 17.5 points per game. But one player on their offense must have stood out to Pro Bowl voters.

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was selected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020 to the surprise of all Giants fans. Most fans felt Engram endured a down season this year, arguably the worst season of his career. Engram posted a career-low in touchdowns this season, reaching the end zone just twice. He also recorded a staggering 11 drops on the year, pulling frustration from Giants fans all season long.

Many fans thought Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan was far more deserving of a Pro Bowl selection after scoring 11 touchdowns, but he was snubbed in place of Evan Engram. Engram is still a young, talented player for the Giants. However, he is entering a contract year and has yet to meet the expectations set out for him after his incredible 2017 rookie season. Now, before New York has to pay Evan in 2022 potentially, the Giants need to decide whether or not they want Evan Engram to be a part of the team’s long-term future.

Should the Giants trade Evan Engram?

Despite his frustrating, drop-filled season, Evan Engram was arguably the most explosive and talented playmaker on the Giants’ offense last season, with Saquon Barkley on injured reserve. Engram still managed to rack up 654 receiving yards in 2020, despite leaving plenty of yards dropped onto the field.

Evan Engram is a talented player who cannot seem to get out of his own way. Maybe a change of scenery is what is best for him. But should the Giants really consider trading their starting tight end?

Replacement on the roster?

The Giants would be thin at the tight end position if they traded Evan Engram. Behind Evan is Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Kaden Smith is a young tight end with decent run-blocking capabilities but is not likely to emerge as a starting-level receiving talent. Toilolo is a pure run-blocker from the tight end position and is in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason.

Drafting a tight end

The Giants do have options to replace Evan Engram if they decide to trade him. One popular name connected to the Giants this offseason if draft prospect Kyle Pitts from the University of Florida. Pitts is a phenomenal tight end prospect that will likely be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Kyle Pitts totaled 43 receptions for 770 yards and an insane 12 touchdowns in only 8 games in 2020.

The Giants might not want to spend their coveted eleventh overall draft pick on a tight end, though, with much more pressing needs on their roster. New York is in need of a wide receiver and could target one with that pick or use the pick to improve their defense. But maybe the Giants could trade Evan Engram for a high-to-mid-round draft pick and replace him in free agency.

Finding a tight end in free agency

There are a few veteran options that the Giants could consider at tight end in free agency. In his twelfth career season, Jared Cook managed to rack up 504 yards and 7 touchdowns on 37 receptions in 2020. Cook has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends over his entire career and went to back to back Pro Bowls in 2018 and 2019. Despite thirty-three years old, Jared Cook is still playing some of his best football and could provide plenty of value to the Giants on a one-year deal.

Gerald Everett is a bit of a younger and likely pricier option for the Giants in free agency. The twenty-seven-year-old tight end has been with the Los Angeles Rams since his career began in 2017. Everett has been playing a complementary role, playing alongside Tyler Higbee with the Rams. The Rams run a lot of twelve-personnel, though, and Everett has made the most of his snaps. In 2020, Gerald posted a career-high 417 yards on 41 receptions. One red flag on Everett, though, is his six drops this past season. This could have been an anomaly, though, as he posted zero drops in both 2018 and 2019. Maybe a change of scenery could propel Everett into a legitimate starter.

One last high-end, long-shot option the Giants could take a look at in free agency is Hunter Henry. Henry is a twenty-seven-year-old tight end that has dealt with extensive injuries throughout his career. But when Henry is healthy, he performs as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Henry has played 26 games in the past two seasons. Through those 26 games, Hunter has racked up 9 touchdowns and 1,265 receiving yards.

Hunter Henry is likely to be retained by the Los Angeles Chargers as they try to build around quarterback Justin Herbert. However, if he does hit the open market, Henry will be a highly-coveted free agent and could be a perfect fit for the Giants if they move on from Evan Engram.

New York Yankees: JA Happ signs deal with the Minnesota Twins

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the Minnesota Twins have signed former New York Yankees pitcher JA Happ to a one-year deal.

Happ, 38, came to the Yankees in the middle of the 2018 season in a trade involving Brandon Drury. The left-hander pitched well for the Yankees in the second half of the season, going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP.

That off-season, the Yankees signed Happ to a two-year, $34 million deal with a vesting option for 2021.

Unfortunately, the signing never really panned out for the Yankees. Happ’s 2019 season saw him with an ERA near 5.00 with a 5.22 FIP and a 1.295 WHIP. His velocity began to dip, and his spin rates decreased, but he managed to muster out 12 wins with significant run support.

With the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, Happ needed to make 10 starts to meet his vesting option with the Yankees. He started the season getting skipped in the rotation multiple times and struggling the times that he would pitch. But once the injury bug struck the Yankees again, Happ started games regularly, and he performed well.

Happ made nine starts on the season and finished with a 3.47 ERA and 4.57 FIP. His stats are skewed due to allowing eight runs in his first seven innings of the season.

Since Happ made just nine starts, he could not meet his vesting option with the Yankees and became a free agent. He’ll go to a Twins team looking for pitching support to put the team in a position to win the AL Central.  In Minnesota, Happ should be able to make starts regularly and prove that he still has something left in the tank.

New York Liberty: Nayo Raincock-Okunwe skipping another WNBA season

Raincock-Ekunwe, a New York Liberty representative since 2017, will turn her focus toward Canada’s Olympic efforts.

In an interview with CBC Sports, New York Liberty forward Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe confirmed that she will sit out the 2021 WNBA season. The Toronto-born veteran has expressed her desire to focus on the Canadian national team’s Olympic endeavors at the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo.

“The plan this year is to forego the WNBA season again and to play with Team Canada for the whole summer, not miss any of our training camps leading up to the Olympics,” Raincock-Ekunwe told Myles Ditcher. “(I am) fully committed to Team Canada.”

Raincock-Ekunwe, 29, joined the Liberty in 2017 and has played two seasons with the team. In that time, she has averaged 3.7 points and 2.2 rebounds over 11 minutes per game. During the latter campaign in 2019, Raincock-Ekunwe developed a strong rapport with fellow Team Canada representative Kia Nurse and then-rookie Marine Johannes.

Though Raincock-Ekunwe will not partake in the Liberty’s 2021 affairs, she did extend some kind words to the New Yorkers in Ditcher’s report. New York endured a 2-20 season during the WNBA’s bubble season in Bradenton, Florida last year, but are set to welcome back touted 2020 draft pick Sabrina Ionescu. The top overall choice and Oregon alumna was lost to the season with an ankle injury sustained in only her third career game.

“I think they’re making some moves this year that will be big, that will be beneficial for the team,” Raincock-Ekunwe said. “Sabrina being healthy and with the rookies they had last season getting some experience last year, I think it will be a great year for New York. So yeah, it’s tough to turn down the opportunity to play in one of the best leagues in the world. But I think Canada has a really good opportunity this summer.”

Raincock-Ekunwe was one of several New York veterans that sat out of the bubble season in the wake of the ongoing health crisis, joining Asia Durr, Rebecca Allen, Marine Johannes, and Han Xu.

In the meantime, Raincock-Ekunwe is currently partaking in overseas action with LDLC ASVEL Féminin in France, alongside Johannes and Alysha Clark of the defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm. She mentioned that she endured a milder case of COVID-19 during a pause in the international season, but told Ditcher she is “not feeling any side effects”.

Team Canada is looking to earn its first-ever Olympic medal, its best finish being fourth during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Raincock-Ekunwe previously partook in the most recent showing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, where Canada placed seventh. More recently, Raincock-Ekunwe was a major factor in clinching a spot for the Tokyo Games. Canada’s undefeated three-game stretch in a qualifying tournament in Ostend, Belgium last February allowed them to clinch one of the dozen spots in the delayed Omypics. The team originally got to the Belgian qualifiers through a three-game showing in Raincock-Ekunwe’s home province of British Columbia. She notably wowed the Edmonton crowd with a double-double showing (27 points, 11 rebounds) in an 84-80 win over Puerto Rico.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Michael Chiesa beats Neil Magny at UFC Fight Island 8

The UFC was back in action today for the eighth fight night from Fight Island. The card was geared toward the local time in Abu Dhabi thus the main card started at 12 PM ET here in the US.

In the main event of the evening we saw a welterweight contest between Neil Magny (24-7) and Michael Chiesa (17-4). The two top ten welterweights in the UFC were looking to take another step forward and both men carried in three-fight winning streaks.

Magny returned after a lengthy layoff to have an incredible 2020. He fought three times and picked up three victories. The Haitian Sensation was looking to get a signature win over Chiesa that would likely net him a top five opponent in his next fight.

Michael Chiesa was fighting for the first time in the UFC in nearly a year. After winning in January of 2020, Chiesa spent the majority of the year on the shelf due to leg injuries. However, he’s back now and looking to resume his welterweight run.

Once thought to be a dangerous lightweight contender, Chiesa has now become a force in the UFC‘s welterweight division. Chiesa stopped depleting himself to make 155 and he’s been unbeaten since the move up. Today, he was trying to move to 4-0 at 170 pounds.

UFC Fight Island 8 Recap

Round 1

The UFC Fight Island 8 main event kicked off with a touch of the gloves. Magny immediately started trying to work his jabs as the two men looked to begin. The two men briefly clinched, but nothing came of it.

Chiesa landed a nice front kick to the body to get his striking going. Magny was controlling the center as Chiesa was circling around looking for his openings. Chiesa seemed a bit out of range early and he was getting caught by Magny’s jab.

Two minutes in and Chiesa stepped in and tried to land a big straight left, but it didn’t phase Magny. After he briefly landed that left, he darted in again and landed a cleaner left hand. After that landed, Magny started pressuring, but Chiesa was able to get a takedown.

Chiesa was on top with two minutes to work. Magny tried to hit a reversal, but Chiesa was doing a really good job of controlling Magny. The UFC Fight Island 8 main event’s opening round closes and it was a good one for Michael Chiesa.

Round 2

The second round opened with Chiesa looking to work his jab. Magny established his range with a solid jab and body kick. Chiesa closed the distance and got a body lock which he tried to use to get a takedown. However, Magny did a great job of defending the takedown.

After getting his first few takedowns defended, Chiesa was finally able to get the takedown. Once on the ground, Magny tried to hit another switch which forced a scramble. Chiesa ended up on top, but Magny was able to work his way back up to his feet.

Magny then tried for his own takedown, but Chiesa ended up getting another takedown instead. Chiesa was slowly trying to advance his position, however, Magny was doing well at defending. Chiesa then landed a few really solid elbows.

Magny tried to work his way back up, but Chiesa kept him planted on the ground. Another solid elbow lands for Chiesa with 30 seconds left in the round. It’s 2-0 Chiesa after two in the UFC Fight Island 8 main event.

Round 3

The third round of the UFC main event started with pressure from Neil Magny. Chiesa opened the striking with a body kick, but Magny pushed forward with a few shots. Magny then forced Chiesa up against the fence and clinched.

Magny was then able to land a big takedown against the fence and get the back of Chiesa. Chiesa started trying to work his way back up, but Magny was leaning on him heavy. Chiesa was able to work his way up to his feet and get the fight separated.

Magny went right back to work with pressure and landed a good kick. Chiesa then forced Magny back with a clean left hand. Then Chiesa was able to push Magny against the fence. However, Magny reversed the position and was able to push Chiesa against the fence.

Both men reversed the position back and forth for about 30 seconds. Chiesa was able to land a takedown, but Magny immediately forced scramble. After some back and forth, Chiesa ended up in the mount, but he was too high and Magny got out.

Another scramble and Chiesa ended up back on top. Neil Magny was able to land some shots from the bottom and had a much better round. Despite ending the round on the bottom, I lean ever so slightly towards Magny. 2-1 Chiesa after three in the UFC main event. However, it could easily be 3-0.

Round 4

Magny seemed a little fresher as the fourth round started. He was bouncing on his feet while Chiesa was just circling around in the first thirty seconds. Chiesa then landed a very clean right hand and transitioned that into a takedown one minute in.

Chiesa kept trying to advance his position, but Magny was defending well. Magny used the fence to try and get back up to his feet, but he gave up his back in the process. Chiesa locked in the body-triangle as the two men went back to the ground.

Magny tried to roll to the top position, but Chiesa landed in the mount. Magny defended well and was able to get back up. Chiesa took his back against the fence again, however, Magny was able to break away.

Magny landed a couple of clean shots, but then he forced a clinch. Chiesa then reversed the position along the fence. Chiesa went for a takedown and Magny was able to lock in an inverted triangle choke. However, Chiesa defended well as the round came to a close. 3-1 Chiesa after four in the UFC main event.

Round 5

Entering the final round of UFC Fight Island 8, Neil Magny needed a finish in this one. Magny started the round with heavy pressure as Chiesa circled around the outside. No strikes were thrown by either man in the first 30 seconds.

Chiesa then started the striking with a nice exchanged that connected on Magny. A minute into the round and Magny hasn’t thrown anything of significance. He finally was pushed forward with shots but Chiesa was able to get another body lock.

Magny was able to work his way to Chiesa’s back and pulled Chiesa down. However, Chiesa scrambled immediately and ended up on top. Magny tried to work his way up, but ended up giving up his back. To defend, he turned into Chiesa and held him in half guard.

A minute left in the round and Magny doesn’t seem to be fighting with any urgency. Magny tried to escape a couple of times in the final 30 seconds, but he gave up the mount. The final bell sounds and this one will be a clear win for Chiesa. I have it 4-1, but it could easily be 5-0.

Michael Chiesa def. Neil Magny by Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

New York Mets are interested in Enrique Hernandez, but they have competition

As the New York Mets keep looking for a guy capable of being a good defender in center field, one name has appeared on the team’s radar in the last few hours. Free agent Enrique Hernandez, who recently won a World Series ring with the Los Angeles Dodgers could be a fit in Queens.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the New York Mets “were in pretty strong” on the free agent utilityman. However, it appears that the primary person pushing for Hernandez was the now-fired general manager Jared Porter.

Heyman notes, however, that even though the Boston Red Sox remain “high” on Kike’ Hernandez, the Mets and others also interested.

It remains unclear, to this point, if Mets’ president Sandy Alderson or assistant general manager Zack Scott will be prioritizing Hernandez the same way Porter was. In any case, he makes for a very interesting player with defensive versatility and some pop.

The Mets could use Hernandez’s versatility

In 2020, Hernandez slashed .230/.270/.410 with a .290 wOBA and a 83 wRC+. That’s well-below average offensive production, but Hernandez has been good in the past and has been, to this point, basically an average hitter for his career, with a 99 wRC+.

For his career, he has 18 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) at second base in 1,263.1 innings. He played 95 frames in the outfield last season with the Dodgers, with 1 DRS and a 6.6 UZR/150. If he signs with the Mets, the most glaring need right now in the defensive alignment is center field.

After losing out on star center fielder George Springer to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, the Mets remain focused on adding a center fielder and some additional pitching help. Jackie Bradley jr., Albert Almora, and Kevin Kiermaier are some of the names being linked with the team in the last few hours.

New York Jets: The case against Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson, New York Giants

The idea of Deshaun Watson moving to the New York Jets sounds too good to be true. That’s because, frankly…it is.

Somehow, someway, the Houston Texans…a team blessed with the talents of one of the most recognizable names in football on each side of the ball, winners of four of the last six AFC South titles…managed to become a more toxic gridiron wasteland than the New York Jets.

To paraphrase the great Ron Burgundy, one can’t even be mad. It’s amazing.

The biggest story outside of the NFL playoff picture by far is the fate of Watson, the beleaguered franchise quarterback. No playoff games await Watson, but he is apparently nonetheless on a mission this postseason: to get out of Houston as fast as possible. It’s a liberation that has been brewing for some time and the rumbling has only intensified upon the end of the Texans’ 4-12 season. Adam Schefter of ESPN brought things to a fever pitch through a report that strongly indicated that Watson “has played his last snap for the team”.

Despite the lack of a formal trade request (and the prescience of the no-trade clause in his contract), Watson has been linked to several of his non-playoff brethren, including the Jets. The sleuths of Instagram took notice of one of Watson’s recent “likes”, one featuring potentially the first of many punny headlines from the New York Post. Richard Sherman, a noted fan of new Jets boss Robert Saleh, advised Watson to “head to New York” on Cris Collinsworth’s podcast. Video has surfaced of Watson purchasing a car his associates wanting it painted “jet green”.

From a Jets standpoint, all the pieces appear to align in their favor. The light at the end of their two-win tunnel was the second overall pick in April’s draft, a pick the Texans desperately need after shipping their own first rounder (which became the pick right after New York’s) to Miami. That more than likely won’t be enough to satisfy the Texans (who likely won’t be appearing in Wid Card Saturday’s afternoon slot anytime soon), but the Jets have the picks to atone for it, including guaranteed first-rounders from Seattle via the Jamal Adams trade. Assets beyond picks could include contributors under contract that might become salary cap casualties anyway…talented names like Jamison Crowder and Henry Anderson that could potentially save the Jets a pick. Thier cap space is already pretty attractive as is; entering the 2021 offseason, the Jets have just over $65 million to spend, behind only Jacksonville ($73 million).

The Jets have been looking for a lasting franchise quarterback after since Joe Namath took his final green snaps in 1976. False prophets have come and gone, but a name like Watson, only starting to tap into his true potential and power, could give the Jets long-term assurance and stability at arguably the most important position in all of sports.

If all of this sounds too good to be true…especially when it comes to a franchise as star-crossed as the Jets…that’s because, frankly, it probably is. A union between Watson and the Jets wouldn’t be fair to either side, tantalizing as it may be.

For Watson, a New York collaboration wouldn’t be much different from his current situation in Houston…except it would be a lot colder. From a Jets’ standpoint, there would little separate a potential era of Watson from the Sam Darnold saga. The way the team is constructed now, there would be plenty of instances of Watson running for his life, and this would be after he led the league in passing yardage despite being brought down 49 times with the Texans (third-worst in football). Watson’s mobile talents would perhaps spare him some of the carnage, but likely nothing where he would be able to make a meaningful difference in the Jets’ offense, one that finished at or near the bottom of most major statistical categories.

To the Jets’ credit, namely general manager Joe Douglas’, they’re starting to making sensible, rational, if not conservative, decisions with their offensive roster. In his first draft last spring, Douglas bypassed the name-brand receiving talent to take tackle Mekhi Becton. Not only did Becton turn out to be one of the brightest emergences of the 2020 rookie class, but Douglas was also able to earn a big-play receiver in Denzel Mims in the second round. There’s also plenty of time between now and Week 1 of a hopefully normal 2021 season…heck, there’s plenty of time even before the draft…for Douglas, Saleh, and the Jets to stock up and become more attractive to a new franchise quarterback, whether it’s Watson, Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields. There’s no guarantee they’ll even move on from Darnold, who has reportedly caught the eye of both Saleh and his reported new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

Unfortunately for Douglas, however, his debut veteran acquisition class left much to be desired, riddled with names that were plagued by injuries (Bradley McDougald, Greg Van Roten), inconsistency (Connor McGovern, Pierre Desir), or both (Breshad Perriman). Adding Watson is the type of move a team makes when they’re the proverbial “one move away” from the Super Bowl. If the Adam Gase era proved anything, it’s that the Jets are many, many moves away from a mere playoff berth, much less the Big Game.

The Jets needed to use every asset, every piece of roster capital they have to end this cycle of rebuilding. Dedicating a majority of those resources, be it picks, be it cap space, to Watson and his contract (which includes a $40 million cap hit next year) would be reckless spending, using excess fund to plug one hole when there are many, many, many holes to be filled. Bringing Watson in would sell jerseys, but it wouldn’t necessarily lead to wins.

Modern NFL endeavors have provided countless examples of such irresponsible spending. The Jets’ MetLife Stadium co-tenants, for example, were on the verge of something at least entertaining at the end of the 2016-17 season. In the first year of their post-Tom Coughlin endeavors, the New York Giants won 11 games and showcased six All-Pro men on their roster. Their season ended in a listless 38-13 Wild Card playoff loss in Green Bay, but hope was on the horizon, manifested in several high-profile transactions. Big Blue welcomed in receiver Brandon Marshall to work alongside Odell Beckham Jr. They used their first-round pick on tight end Evan Engram, an Ole Miss alum to gear up fellow former Rebel Eli Manning for one last run to glory. Later in the draft, the Giants took Davis Webb in the third round, perhaps the most serious they had come to seeking an heir to the Manning throne. The team also re-upped with fan favorite pass rusher Jason Pierre-Paul to the tune of a four-year contract with $40 million guaranteed.

But in their marquee spending, the Giants failed to account for some of more dour problems hidden on their roster, namely the offensive line. The Giants did little, if anything, to upgrade their line, letting reliable veterans like Andrew Whitworth fall by the wayside. Cursed with little to no blocking help, the Giants sputtered to a brutal 3-13 season and fell down a hole they have yet to emerge from. Beckham has since been traded, and there is little left from the promising 2016 campaign.

The story of the modern Giants and so many other “offseason champions” in the NFL serve as cautionary tales to active Super Bowl seekers. A house renovation could serve as a strong parable to what the Jets are going through at this moment. Bringing in Watson would be a high-profile purchase, immediately spending a windfall on, say, a luxury vehicle or swimming pool. However, doing so would ignore more grimy, subtle problems in the house that could bring the entire structure down…mold damage in the basement, perhaps. Even if the Jets admit that Darnold isn’t the answer, there are still situations to resolve, such as their porous blocking, uncertain rungame situation, and lack of offensive weapons and defensive depth. Filling every blank with Watson isn’t going to work, no matter how hard the Jets try. The Texans have tried doing that with Watson and J.J. Watt…chaos has enused.

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It seems hard for Jets fans to believe, but that’s the cruelly funny thing about life in the NFL: there’s no situation, no matter how dire, where things can’t actively get worse. The Jets have been blessed with a plethora of offseason capital through multiple draft picks and excess cap space. To cash it all in on one big-ticket player would be reckless.

Another reason why Watson’s potential New York arrival sounds so promising is because not only has he made an impact on the field, but he continues to be a vital prescience off of it as well. Watson has made it clear he wants to use his voice for good as Americans seek an end to systemic racism and he has also come through for Houston medical staffers fighting the ongoing health crisis. Bringing in a high-character superstar would be the perfect way to open a new Jets era, one that could allow them to shatter the losing status quo that New York football has become far-too-accustomed to. Watson’s rumored eagerness to join a two-win team bearing what’s by far the longest playoff drought in the NFL (10 seasons) speaks volumes as well, signifying a welcome counter to the concept of “ring-chasing” that has spread throughout the major professional sports leagues.

But to ask Watson to come to New York and become a lone, instant fixer-upper…which is essentially what he would be if the Jets bestow all of their offseason funding unto him…when he’s on the precipice of entering his prime is a little too much to ask for. A more established contender, a Miami, an Indianapolis, would be better for a player of his talents. If the Jets truly want to make a change at quarterback, they would be far better off using their cap space to create a more attractive environment for a rookie quarterback, or even build around Darnold if Saleh and LaFleur are impressed enough to keep him around.

This is a new, exciting time to take an interest in the New York Jets…it’s so rare to say that. While there’s a chance that Douglas could make the Watson revolution work, it’s best, for the time being, to avoid temptation. It’s never good to use an “all for one” mentality…the assets, an “all for all” situation, would be better spent on many helpers, never mind just one, showstopping as he may be.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Former MLB player Mark DeRosa is “high” on Yankees’ outfielder: “He can put the team on his back”

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees, barring some unexpected developments, will go ahead with Aaron Judge in right field, Aaron Hicks in center, and Giancarlo Stanton as the regular designated hitter. The left field spot will be for Clint Frazier, who underwent a transformation from 2019 to 2020 in which he turned into a patient hitter and a reliable fielder after years of being a liability in both areas.

On Sunday, a rumor involving Frazier circulated around Yankees Twitter, one that had him as a centerpiece to bring Cincinnati Reds’ starter Luis Castillo. It was all false, though, as Frazier remains unlikely to be moved.

On Tuesday, former big leaguer Mark DeRosa praised his abilities and evolution as a player.

“I’m high on Clint Frazier and I like the up-and-comers — the Kyle Lewises, the Luis Robertses,” DeRosa said of the Yankees’ outfielder while speaking on the MLB Network. “This is an aircraft carrier, like (former Rockies general manager) Dan O’Dowd likes to say. This is 30 (home runs) and 100 (RBI). This is the guy who wants to be the best player on the field any given night. He worked on his defense tirelessly. I’m excited to see him get 600 plate appearances because I think offensively he can put the team on his back for weeks at a time. He’s on my list and he’s on it pretty solid.”

The Yankees will give left field to Frazier

Those are very nice compliments from a former colleague, one that managed to hit .268 with 100 home runs and 494 RBI during a long career as a utility infielder.

The New York Yankees’ young slugger was ranked No. 9 on “The Shredder’s” list of the top 10 left fielders in MLB.

In 2020, after working in his overall approach, batting stance and defense, Frazier slashed .267/.394/.511 with a .388 wOBA and a 149 wRC+. He slugged eight homers in 39 games for the Yankees.

New York Yankees: Hall of Famer says Gary Sanchez “doesn’t enjoy baseball right now”

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez

If you have been following the New York Yankees in the last few years, you probably know that Gary Sanchez is, without a doubt, one of the most heavily criticized players currently on the roster. The 2020 season, of course, did nothing to remedy the situation, as he slumped all the way to a .147/.253/.365 line with a lousy, career-worst 69 wRC+ (100 representing an “average” hitter.)

Being on the receiving end of so much criticism can be damaging to a player’s ego and emotional wellbeing. It’s not always easy to endure, especially considering that Sanchez has given so much to the Yankees ever since he has been a regular, since 2016. He is one of the premier hitting catchers in the league, and is still young at 28. He can turn things around.

Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, who played the same position as Sanchez in a highly successfil career, recently said that the New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez isn’t in a good place mentally with spring training around the corner.

The Yankees seem to have faith in their catcher

Despite the poor season, Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman has implied that Sanchez will enter spring training as the starting catcher. So far, the team hasn’t made any additions in his position.

But “Pudge,” speaking on a Zoom call Tuesday to promote the upcoming 41st Annual Thurman Munson Awards ceremony, doesn’t think he is quite right mentally.

“He doesn’t enjoy baseball right now,” Rodriguez said about the Yankees’ backstop, per WFAN. “He feels like … he comes to the ballpark and it’s a depressing thing for him right now. That’s what I see when he’s playing. … I think he has too much pressure on himself. He’s trying to do too much. I’ve talked to him a few times and he’s very positive. But Gary plays in an organization and in a city where obviously, you have to do a good job pretty much every night. … He needs to breathe, he needs to relax himself. He needs to believe that he’s a great player. Now because (the mental) part of his game is not there he feels like everything else he doesn’t have.”

Islanders’ GM Lou Lamoriello has high expectations for Mathew Barzal this season

The Islanders’ season is less than a week old, but that hasn’t kept g.m. Lou Lamoriello from having a few things to say about his club’s start.

Lamoriello did a radio spot with Sirius NHL Radio yesterday after the Isles’ 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Monday night. It was a very candid and open interview, probably some would say the most open the Islanders general manager has been to date.

One of the main topics discussed was Mathew Barzal and Lou’s expectations for him in this shortened season.

“What we expect from Mat is to do the things that god has given him with his talent,” Lamoriello said.

Barzal is now in his fifth season in the NHL and he’s just agreed to a three-year, $7M deal on January 9th. That contract put him with captain Anders Lee as the highest-paid player on the team. He’s also considered the Islanders’ best player from an offensive standpoint; the 23-year-old has led the team in points three straight seasons.

Lamoriello though is looking for more from his stud center beyond the scoresheet.

“Not worry about scoring, but just worrying about both ends of the ice,” he said. “He has worked at that, been outstanding and made that commitment. “He wants to be an Islander. He said that loud and clear. He’s been great. I have nothing but good things to say about him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone with better edges. He’s certainly an integral part of this team.”

It’s true that Barzal has gotten better in some of those areas, but he still hasn’t reached that echelon where he’s one of the more consistent two-way centers in the sport. That’s expected to change this year. Lou knows it. He knows it.

Barzal even made it a sticking point after signing his new deal that consistency was going to be key for him moving forward.

And it goes hand-and-hand with what the Isles are trying to accomplish: Winning a Stanley Cup.

The Isles’ bread-and-butter under Lamoriello since he arrived in 2018, and furthermore Barry Trotz, has been a defense-first mentality. Barzal plays a key part in that. It’s easy to see why Lamoriello is so keen on him being laser-focused at improving with and without the puck  as opposed to him just leaning more towards offense, which most fans have been clamoring to see for a while now.

Expectations coming into this season were already sky high for Barzal. The fact that Lamoriello came out and said what he likes to see from him was different and enlightening.

You usually don’t hear the general manager talk expectations about their star players, let alone Lou Lamoriello. Obviously though he sees the untapped potential Barzal has.

And he hopes that potential comes out in droves this year not only offensively but defensively.

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Lamoriello also had some high praise for the defensive corps he and the coaching staff assembled this year. What he said about the duo of Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech really drove home how great they’ve become.

“I never realized what their abilities were. Great human beings, great teammates, he said. “They stay within their limits and playing together they’ve make each other better. They’ve done a great job.”

Lamoriello also was emphatic about Nick Leddy and how he feels he’s playing his best hockey since he took over the organization. He also was quick to point out Noah Dobson and how he thinks he will progress.

“Noah Dobson has outstanding potential. We feel he’s going to get better and better.”

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Speaking of Pulock, it seems he and the rest of the guys in the room are more than comfortable continuing to play the underdog role despite two straight postseason appearances and making the Eastern Conference finals this past summer.

“I think we as a group are kind of fine with that underdog mentality and trying to prove people wrong,” he said chatting on NHL Network yesterday. We’ve looked at it the past couple of years and had success that way. We’re gonna keep building that way.”

Pulock also showed off his stitched ear from the shot he took up high on Saturday, all 18 of them. That’s a hockey guy.