Why Kenny Golladay should be the New York Giants’ top target in free agency

New York Giants, Kenny Golladay

The New York Giants will be looking to upgrade their offense this offseason. One position New York will target is wide receiver. The Giants’ receiving trio of Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, and Golden Tate underperformed in 2020. In 2021, New York will hopefully add a new face to the mix.

While the Giants are in need of a new receiving threat for Daniel Jones, they are entering a free agency period loaded with talent at the position they so desperately need to upgrade. Amongst the top free-agent wide receivers includes Pro Bowl talents like Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay, and Chris Godwin.

One of those big three stands out amongst the rest as a perfect fit for the New York Giants. Kenny Golladay should be the New York Giants’ top target in free agency.

Why Kenny Golladay is a perfect fit for the Giants

The top three wide receivers in free agency are going to be expensive. New York is already tight on cap space, but will likely make cuts to free up space and make a run at one of these top receiving options. Allen Robinson will be the most expensive option and will likely be priced out of the Giants’ price range.

But just a peg below Robinson will be Kenny Golladay. Now, Golladay will also command a boat-load of money. But he is definitely going to be the more affordable option of the top two receivers. According to Spotrac, Golladay is projected to receive a contract worth around $17 million on average annually. Allen Robinson’s projected market value is around $20 million on average annually.

The Giants can save a few million dollars by bidding on Kenny Golladay instead of Allen Robinson but still receive a huge influx of talent. The Giants do not have a receiver like Kenny Golladay. Kenny is a true wide receiver who lines up all over the field and puts up big numbers.

Additionally, Kenny Golladay is a perfect scheme fit for Jason Garrett’s offense. Garrett loves a big-body wide receiver who can make contested catches as he had with Dez Bryant during their best years in Dallas. Golladay is one of the best contested-catch receivers in the NFL.

Kenny Golladay stats and highlights

Since 2019, Kenny Golladay has the fourth-highest contested catch rate in the NFL at 67%, per Pro Football Focus. Golladay’s 36 contested catches in 2019 and 2020 combined is the third-highest total in that time span, and he only played five games in 2020. Kenny is also the vertical threat that the Giants desperately need but do not have.

Golladay’s average depth of target in 2019 and 2020 was 15.8 yards, the fourth-highest amongst NFL wide receivers. Kenny proved to be one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers in 2019. He made his first Pro Bowl appearance after racking up 1,190 yards on 65 receptions and a league-high 11 touchdown receptions.

Kenny Golladay is a true number one wide receiver. The Giants reportedly inquired about a trade for Kenny Golladay in October of 2020. It makes sense why they were interested, and they should still be interested in entering the 2021 free agency period. If Golladay does indeed hit the open market this year, the New York Giants should make him their top target.

Yankees and Mets have MLB’s top second basemen, per MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now

DJ LeMahieu has led the New York Yankees in fWAR (Fangraphs’ version of Wins Above Replacement) in the last two seasons, and while he was a free agent for months after the 2020 season ended, the Bombers and his agents were able to hammer out a six-year, $90 million deal.

Meanwhile, the New York Mets have a very good and versatile second baseman on their own right. Despite a slow start in 2020, his stats at the end of the abbreviated year were more or less on par with what he has done in his previous two campaigns: a .311/.383/.454 line, a .360 wOBA, and a 130 wRC+.

Both are excellent offensive performers, versatile with the glove (they can play several positions in the infield) and, overall, the two best second baseman in MLB according to MLB Network’s Top 10 Right Now.

The Yankees’ veteran infielder topped MLB Network’s “Top 10 Players Right Now” second basemen rankings, beating McNeil for the highest spot.

As NJ Advance Media notes, the most recent Gold Glove winners didn’t make the top 10: Kolten Wong and Cesar Hernandez.

The top 5, led by the Yankees’ star

1. D.J. LEMAHIEU
Club: Yankees.
Age: 32 (33 on July 13, 2021).
Bats: Right.
2020 stats: .364 average, 195 AB, 41 runs, 71 hits, 10 doubles, 2 triples, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 3 SB, 18 BB, 21 K, 1.011 OPS, 50 games.
2020 ranking: No. 2.

2. JEFF McNEIL
Club: Mets.
Age: 28 (29 on April 8, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .311 average, 183 AB, 19 runs, 57 hits, 14 doubles, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 0 SB, 20 BB, 24 K, .836 OPS, 52 games.
2020 ranking: Not in top 10.

3. KETEL MARTE
Club: Arizona Diamondbacks.
Age: 27 (28 on Oct. 12, 2021).
Bats: Both.
2020 stats: .287 average, 195 AB, 19 runs, 52 hits, 14 doubles, 1 triple, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 1 SB, 7 BB, 21 K, .732 OPS, 45 games.
2020 ranking: No. 1.

4. BRANDON LOWE
Club: Tampa Bay Rays.
Age: 26 (27 on July 6, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .269 average, 193 AB, 36 runs, 52 hits, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HR, 37 RBI, 3 SB, 25 BB, 58 K, .916 OPS, 56 games.
2020 ranking: No. 5.

5. CAVAN BIGGIO
Club: Toronto Blue Jays.
Age: 25 (26 on April 11, 2021).
Bats: Left.
2020 stats: .250 average, 220 AB, 41 runs, 55 hits, 16 doubles, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 6 SB, 41 BB, 61 K, .807 OPS, 59 games.
2020 ranking: No. 8.

Islanders should take these extra few days of not playing to reassess what has gone wrong

News came out earlier this morning that the Islanders game against the Buffalo Sabres which was scheduled for tonight was postponed due to COVID-19 protocol. It’s the first snag the Isles have had to deal with when it comes to the virus this year. The development places no fault on the Islanders’ part but more on their opponent after they played the Devils — who had several players who were in the game test positive over the last day or so — on Sunday.

With these extra couple days of possibly not playing, the Islanders could some soul-searching and reassess what’s gone wrong with their season thus far.

This campaign has not gotten off to the start many were hoping for after the team made it to the Eastern Conference finals in the summer. At 3-4-2, the Islanders sit in seventh place in the MassMutual East Division. They’ve lost five games in a row, all in variously gut-punching fashions; the latest coming Sunday night in overtime in Philadelphia after Mathew Barzal took a bad high-sticking penalty. Furthermore, they’ve received inconsistent performances from two of their most important forwards, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey.

Nelson through nine games has just three points, ditto Bailey. Bailey did finally score his first of the year on Sunday but he’s been extremely quiet outside of that.

Beyond those individuals, the Islanders really need to find themselves again. There have been spurts where they’ve dominated, but they’ve mostly had trouble being that club that excels at even strength. There lies a huge problem.

One of the Islanders’ keys to their “identity” and overall success in recent seasons has been their ability to outwork their opposition at 5-on-5 and being defensively sound. That’s been seen less than expected in a majority of the games the Isles have played this season. They also haven’t been helped by having to depend on two lines most nights.

Special teams they can also use a reset. The penalty kill has been ok, but does sit in the bottom-half of the league. The power play? Also in that category. But they still look befuddled on the man-advantage most of the time. Zone entries continue to be a major problem, which has gone on for a long time. On this latest five-game trip, they went 2-for-18 man up. That’s awful and just isn’t going to cut it.

Head coach Barry Trotz said today that special teams would get much of the focus depending on the schedule this week. Good.

There’s been positives — Mathew Barzal, Noah Dobson, the kids (Kieffer Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom) looking spry and Semyon Varlamov— but a lot of why the Isles sit where they are currently is attributed to not getting enough effort and uncharacteristic play.

That can be fixed. We’ve seen it before.

And they should take this extra time this week to do so.

Kyle Okposo will always have a special place in the hearts of Isles fans. He also knows how much the arena saga has worn on the franchise and the fans. This quote he made to NHL.com’s Brian Compton yesterday tells you all you need to know how much the current Sabre still appreciated the Coliseum and his thoughts on the organization finally getting their new home.

“It’s going to be tough to see the old barn go. Nassau was a pretty cool arena; a lot of history there. But I’m sure the new site at Belmont is gonna be phenomenal. I know that they’ve been trying to do it for a long time.”

 

 

 

New York Mets issue statement; will “review hiring processes”

New York Mets, Mets

A day after The Athletic ran an article detailing inappropriate advances made by former New York Mets‘ manager (and current pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels) Mickey Callaway, several people pointed the finger towards Queens given that his practices took place in three organizations, one of them being the Mets.

The article reveals that he also did it while working with the Cleveland Indians, and as recently as 2020 when he was already a member of the Angels. The Mets have now issued a statement on the matter.

“The conduct reported in The Athletic story today is completely unacceptable and would never be tolerated under my ownership,” were the words of New York Mets’ owner Steve Cohen.

On the other hand, Sandy Alderson, the Mets’ president, stated that “I was appalled by the actions reported today of former manager Mickey Callaway. I was unaware of the conduct described in the story at the time of Mickey’s hire or at any time during my tenure as General Manager.”

The Mets plan to learn from recent experiences

At least, the Mets plan to be more responsible at the time of hiring a person from now on. “We have already begun a review of our hiring processes to ensure our vetting of new employees is more thorough and comprehensive.”

Five women have accused Mickey Callaway of lewd advances, spanning at least five years. “Two or three times a week for a month he’d send me shirtless selfies … He’d follow up with something like, ‘Now you send me one of you,’” one of the victims explained to The Athletic.

This come just a couple of weeks after the Mets had to fire general manager Jared Porter after it was revealed he sent unsolicited, inappropriate pictures and messages to a female reporter back when he was with the Chicago Cubs in 2016.

UFC: Justin Gaethje down to fight ‘Cringey’ Michael Chandler

Ever since UFC 258 concluded, the lightweight division has been in the news non-stop. We have fighters calling each other out and some fighters saying others are not worthy of certain fights. Several potential matchups materializing in front of our eyes.

At UFC 258, Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5) and proved to the world that he’s the best lightweight not named Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0). Khabib is the current lightweight champion, although he’s maintained that he’s been retired since UFC 254.

Before Poirier knocked out McGregor, Michael Chandler (22-5) made his debut with the UFC in the co-main event. Chandler knocked out Dan Hooker (20-10) with a massive left hook and a few follow up shots.

While all of this is unfolding, the former interim UFC lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje (22-3), has been sitting back waiting for his next move. Gaethje said the UFC attempted to call him before the PPV, but he wanted to see how things shook out.

Back in October, Gaethje failed in his attempt to become UFC lightweight champion. He as choked out by Khabib, but despite the loss, he remains the second ranked contender in the lightweight division.

Gaethje has not been calling for a title shot, instead, he’s been calling for any fight. He believes that he needs to get a win before he gets his next UFC title shot. There are several names Gaethje is thinking about next.

UFC’s options for Justin Gaethje

Before UFC 258, Dana White had said that the promotion was going to work on Gaethje – Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC). However, that fight has not materialized and Oliveira has turned down fights since then due to his desire to fight for the title. 

Last week, Gaethje said that he would ‘SmokeNate Diaz (20-12) if the UFC would give him that opportunity. Of course, he’s also talked about his desire to fight Conor McGregor. However, Gaethje has maintained that McGregor doesn’t want to fight him.

There does seem to be one perfect match for Gaethje and that is Michael Chandler. Gaethje said he respects Chandler but finds him cringey and Chandler told ESPN this week that he believes that him and Gaethje are on a collision course. A fight between the two men could materialize quickly.

Yesterday, Gaethje’s manager told ESPN that Gaethje is very much open to fighting Michael Chandler. It seems like the perfect fight to make for the UFC is pairing up Chandler and Justin Gaethje. Both men want the fight and it would create some much needed clarity at 155.

New York Liberty sign 2020 Most Improved Player Betnijah Laney

The newest member of the New York Liberty enjoyed a breakout season in Atlanta and also appeared on the WNBA’s All-Defensive First Team.

Betnijah Laney is used to putting on a show on tri-state area hardwood as a Rutgers alumna. She’s about to do so on a professional level.

The New York Liberty announced on Tuesday that the team has brought in Laney as a free agent signing. Laney is the defending winner of the league’s Most Improved Player Award as a member of the Atlanta Dream.

“We are beyond excited to welcome Betnijah to the New York Liberty,” said Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb said in a team statement. “As a player, Betnijah represents everything it takes to wear the seafoam and black, from her resilience, to her dedication, to her never quit attitude. As a person, she is someone New Yorkers will fully embrace as she is as committed to making an impact in the community as she is on court.”

Laney, 27, will appear on her fifth WNBA team after entering the league as a second-round pick of the Chicago Sky in 2015. She previously spent four years at Rutgers under the watch of legendary head coach C. Vivian Stringer in Piscataway. Laney was on the team’s 2014 squad that won the WNIT and later set a Rutgers Athletic Center single-game record with 24 rebounds in a tilt against North Carolina later that year. The previous holder was original Liberty representative Sue Wicks, who carried the mark since 1987.

After prior stints with Chicago, Connecticut, and Indiana, Laney enjoyed a breakout season with the Dream in the Bradenton bubble. She smashed her career-bests with averages of 17.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. Laney made a huge statement during Atlanta’s 84-78 win over the Liberty on July 31, reaching 30 points for the first time in her career. She would top that mark less than a month later in an August loss to Washington.

For her efforts, Laney was awarded the 2020 Most Improved Player Award, previously bestowed to her fellow Piscataway alumna Kia Vaughn, who won it with the Liberty in 2011. Laney was also named to the WNBA’s All-Defensive First Team alongside Atlanta teammate Elizabeth Williams.

In other Liberty roster news, Rachel Galligan has reported that Joyner Holmes has been re-added on a training camp deal. The rookie put up 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds over 19 games after being signed from Seattle prior to the bubble’s inflation.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Cody Stamann gets a new opponent for UFC Vegas 18

UFC Vegas 18 has seen a switch up for this Saturday night. Originally, Cody Stamann (19-3-1) was set to take on Andre Ewell (17-6) this Saturday, however, that fight has been called off after Ewell tested positive for COVID-19.

The UFC worked quickly and found Stamann a replacement. Stamann will take on UFC newcomer, Askar Askar (11-1) this Saturday night. The news was first reported by Bloody Canvas. Askar last competed at LFA 92 back in October where he won a decision.

For Askar, he’s taking his shot, but it’s a steep mountain to climb on Saturday night. Stamann is one of the best in the promotion and that’s a lot to take on with just under a week’s notice. However, taking this fight will do nothing but earn him praise with the promotion.

Entering 2020, Askar Askar was undefeated. However, back in February he suffered his first career loss when he was knocked out by Saidyokub Kakhramonov in the first round. As mentioned, he bounced back to defeat Kevin Wirth in October.

UFC newcomer takes on top bantamweight

Cody Stamann will make the walk on Saturday as the thirteenth ranked bantamweight in the UFC. Since making his debut with the promotion back in 2017, the only men to have defeated him are near the top of the division.

Stamann has a 5-2-1 record in the UFC after eight fights. However, the two losses came against Aljamain Sterling and Jimmie Rivera while the draw came against Song Yadong. All ranked bantamweights in the UFC.

The last we saw Stamann was when he took on Jimmie Rivera on Fight Island. Stamann had just fought a month prior to that and defeated Brian Kelleher. He was looking to capitalize on the momentum, but ultimately dropped a decision to Rivera.

Now, Stamann will look to get back on track with a win over Askar. It’s a risky fight to take for Stamann considering it’s such short notice against someone who’s never been in the UFC. I would expect a heavy dose of wrestling on Saturday night from The Spartan.

Knicks’ Tom Thibodeau raves about Zach LaVine, could trade be a possibility?

New York Knicks, Zach Lavine

The New York Knicks fell to the Chicago Bulls on Monday evening, making it their second consecutive loss after submitting to the Los Angeles Clippers over the weekend. In the contest, second-year guard RJ Barrett finished with 14 points, his lowest over the past few days, as Julius Randle recorded a team by 23 and 11 rebounds. Rookie Immanuel Quickley logged 16 points over 30 minutes, providing that jolt offense they needed in the fourth quarter. However, it simply wasn’t enough, as the Knicks’ defense failed to rise to the occasion, as they seem gassed/exhausted in the final moments.

However, head coach Tom Thibodeau got a glance at one of his former players, Zach LaVine, who finished with 21 points and shot 50% from the field. He also hauled in five rebounds and recorded three assists. He was dominant in the contest, connecting on multiple three-pointers that sealed the win and sent the Knicks packing.

Thibodeau raved about LaVine after the contest and once again fuels a dim flame that the Knicks could target him as a trade option.

“He’s continued to grow I think each year,’’ Thibodeau said. “I think sometimes we tend to forget the steps that players take to get to the point to where they are today. and for Zach, he started off, I think he scored around 13 or 14 points a game his first year. Then there was another four-point jump. Now he’s up to 26, 27. He’s shooting 50, 40, 90. He’s an elite shooter. He’s a great athlete. … But he’s a great guy, a hard worker. So you knew he would continue to improve. He’s playing at a very high level.’’

The New York Knicks should at least give Chicago a call:

While the Knicks don’t necessarily need another big man, LaVine is more of a shooting guard that can slice and dice to the basket and has also seen an improvement in his defensive abilities. His growth over the past few seasons is noticeable, going from an average of 16.7 points in 2017-18 to 26.6 this season over 19 games. He’s also seen a career-high assist average this year with 5.1 and another personal record of 4.8 defensive rebounds. Some might say he’s a mirage in terms of trade value, but the Knicks desperately need a 6-foot-5 shooter and natural scorer.

It is unlikely the Bulls will even consider trading him away, but if they’re willing to talk, the Knicks should engage and value him highly.

One Yankees pitching prospect is showing off his impressive pitch velocity

New York Yankes, Luis Medina

The New York Yankees don’t feel overly worried about their lack of healthy pitchers since they have several youth options that could play a part during the 2021 season. Consider last year, when James Paxton went down, and several starters were struggling, the Yankees looked to Deivi Garcia to supplement weaknesses.

While he did have a few tumultuous performances, he finished with a 4.98 ERA and 8.65 strikeouts per nine. It was his first MLB action, and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, Garcia had one performance against the Toronto Blue Jays where he lasted 7.0 innings, allowing five eights and two runs. The Yankees utilized him significantly when he was on the mound, as he clocked in at 103 pitches against Miami last year and had a low of just 75. I would be remiss not to mention his top performance against the New York Mets when he lasted 6.0 innings and didn’t allow single run on four hits.

With the Yankee youth taking steps forward, there is another pitcher on the rise, and his name is Luis Medina. The Yankees have been pleased with his recent outings, as he featured for Puerto Rico in his worst game of the off-season. He gave up five runs on seven heads over 3-2/3 innings, but this seems to be an anomaly. He’s ranked as the Yankees’ 11th overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, who had some pretty great things to say about him.

 

Here’s what MLB Pipeline had to say about the hard-armed pitcher:

With lightning-fast arm speed and little effort, Medina sits at 96-99 mph and tops out at 102 with some natural cut on his fastball. His low-80s curveball is a plus-plus hammer at its best and can be more unhittable than his heater. There also are times when his changeup merits at least a 65 on the 20-80 scouting scale, operating around 90 mph with devastating splitter action.

Despite his huge difficulties throwing strikes, Medina is athletic and has no red flags in his delivery. He does struggle to repeat his mechanics at times, with some observers believing that’s more of a mental than physical issue. There’s a huge gap between his ceiling (frontline starter) and floor (not enough control to contribute in the Majors), but he started to close it at the end of last season.

A pitcher with his velocity has unlimited potential, and at 21 years old, he is still extremely useful. The Yankees can continue to develop him and work with his fundamentals. The ability to throw 97 mph with ease cannot be taught, and adding a few offspeed pitches and improving his control to make him a productive pitcher down the line in the big leagues.

MLB News/Rumors: Do you know the rules for the 2021 baseball season?

The question was, do you know the MLB rules for the 2021 season? Your answer is probably not. After reading this article, you will have some information but probably won’t know any more than you do now for what the rules ultimately will be for the season. The reason for that is the contentious relationship between the owners and the players. MLBPA, the MLB Players Association (players union), represents the hundreds of MLB players. MLB represents the owners of the 30 MLB teams.

If you remember, before last season, the owners and players fought for weeks over the length of the season and the rules of play, along with what the health protocols would be. Don’t expect this pre-season to be any different. Part of the reason is that the players want to show strength going into a year when they will revisit the player’s CBA (collective bargaining agreement), which expires after the 2021 season. It’s entirely possible the long era of labor peace — or, more accurately stated, the long era of the MLBPA permitting itself to be dominated by ownership without a genuine fight — may be at an end. Although there are many issues to be ironed out, the union’s main request will be for the players to receive a greater share of MLB revenues.

Here is what we know for sure at the moment. Pitchers and catchers will report on February 17, with the rest of the players following the 21st. The regular season will start on April 1 and be 162 games with no universal DH and no expanded playoffs. July 11-13, 2021, will be the MLB Draft. July 13th will be the 91st All-Star Game; it will be held at Truist Stadium, the Atlanta Braves home. July 25th will be the Hall of Fame induction ceremony that will see Derek Jeter and others inducted after the ceremony was canceled last year. August 12th will be the Field of Dreams game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. And on August 22nd will be the Little League Classic between the Los Angeles Angels and the Cleveland Indians at Williamsport, PA.

Those are the only things we know for sure, or do we? Like it or not, the coronavirus will still be the deciding factor on dates, whether fans will be allowed in stadiums, and what health protocols will be in place for players, staff, and fans alike.

Right now, the owners want a 154 game season starting almost a month later, the players have rejected that. The owners would like to see a universal DH, the player on second after nine innings, and an expanded postseason. The players have rejected that as well. As it stands now, the players are firm on returning to the rules for 2019.

The Players Association released this statement:

“Late last week the MLBPA for the first time this offseason received a proposal to delay spring training and the opening day for approximately one month.

Under the proposal the end of the season would be delayed by one week, the regular season would be shortened to 154 games, and all 30 teams would be required to play several doubleheaders. Players would also be required to accept previously rejected proposals that link expanded playoffs with expansion of the designated hitter.

Although players salaries would not be innitially prorated to a 154-game season MLB’s proposal offers no salary or service time protections in the event of further delays, interuptions or cancellation of the season.

The MLBPA Excutive Board and player leadership reviewed and discussed the owner’s proposal over the weekend and today. The clear-cut result of these deliberatons is that the players will not accept MLB’s proposal, and instead will continue preprations for an on-time start to the 2021 season and will accept MLB’s commitment to again direct it’s clubs to prepare for an on-time start.

We do not make this decision lightly. Players know first-hand the efforts that were required to complete the abbreviated 2020 season, and appreciate that significant challenges lie ahead. We look forward to promptly finalizing enhanced health and safety protocols that will help players and clubs meet these challenges.”

The owners and Major League Baseball countered with:

“In light of the MLBPA’s rejection of our proposal, and their refusal to counter our revised offer this afternoon, we are moving forward and instructing our Clubs to report for an on-time start to Spring Training and the season, subject to reaching an agreement on health and safety protocols,” said the league.

Bob Nightengale and others have said that 7 inning doubleheaders and the universal DH will be back in 2021. How they came to that conclusion, I have no idea. So as it stands now, the baseball rules will be as they were before the pandemic in 2019. But like with everything else, everything is subject to change before the season actually starts. Stay tuned.

 

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