Brian Cashman discusses Yankees’ slow start to the season

New York Yankees, Brian Cashman

The Yankees are off to the worst start since 1997. They currently sit at 5-10 on the season, which is an American League worst. There have been many things that have led to this slow start. The offensive has been horribly inconsistent, and the pitching staff hasn’t been anything to brag about. Everyone not named Gerrit Cole has had trouble finding any sort of consistency. 

Many have concerns regarding the start of the 2021 season. How can you blame them? The Yankees have one of the best all-around rosters in the MLB. That’s what’s so frustrating about their recent performance. At this point, New York should not be one of the bottom feeders in the AL.

So, where do you toss the blame?

Considering the Yankees didn’t make many changes this offseason, the recent decline is very dumfounding. This has some pointing at guys like Aaron Boone (manager) and Marcus Thames (hitting coach) for the recent struggles. As much as I would like to defend the coaching staff, I can’t put a pin in it either.

The recent struggles led Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman to schedule a conference with the media. He started by saying that they are “disappointed” at where they stand and that the most “troubling” thing so far has been their record. He also addressed the offensive and how right now, “they’re not a strength of ours” and that they’re a team “that opposing teams would want to face.” But he said that throughout the season, “they will” become a huge strength. 

Cashman also talked about the defensive and base running errors. Saying that “when the offense is not thriving,” then the “smaller stuff gets magnified.” He makes a good point by stating they need to be as “clean” as possible in the field and on the bases as the offense “finds its stride.” 

Cashman was also not pleased with the fans throwing stuff onto the field. Saying that, “if someone wants to throw something on the field, then they should expect to be arrested.” He understood the frustration from the fans but said there is “no place” for that at any time. 

Lastly, Cashman was asked about Aaron Boone’s performance thus far. He said that he’s “doing everything he needs to do” and is, most importantly, “supporting our guys.” It seems as though Cashman is putting little blame on Boone and expects everything to flatten out over time. He also expressed support in Boone’s decision to talk to the team with a stronger tone. 

Cashman and the Yankees are obviously not happy with their performance. With that said, they’re still very confident. They know that they can play. They’ve expressed time and time again that this 15-game stretch in no way defines who they are. 

Only time will tell whether the Yankees can pull it together. Fifteen games is a very small sample size to go off. This team is good enough to compete late into the year, they just need to show it. Tune in tomorrow as the Yankees begin a two-game set against the Braves. It might be the series where the Bombers turn things around! 

The New York Rangers sign 2020 Second Round pick Will Cuylle

The New York Rangers announced today that the team has agreed to terms with forward Will Cuylle on an entry-level contract. Cuylle was selected by the Rangers in the second round, 60th overall, of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Prior to the draft, eliteprospects.com described Cuylle as one of the most naturally gifted one-touch scorers in this year’s draft. Put the puck on his stick, and he’ll do the rest. Cuylle is a technically gifted shooter. He’s got so much upper-body strength on that 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame of his, and he puts it to good use generating quick-release wrist shots explode off his stick’s blade.

Cuylle, 19, has skated in 13 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, registering two goals and three assists for five points, along with 26 penalty minutes. He tallied his first career AHL goal/point while making his AHL debut on Feb. 7 vs. Bridgeport, and he recorded his first career AHL assist while skating in his second career AHL game on Feb. 11 at Providence. Cuylle posted his first career multi-point game in the AHL by registering two points (one goal, one assist) on Apr. 10 vs. Providence.

The 6-3, 212-pounder skated in 62 games with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) last season, registering 22 goals and 20 assists for 42 points, along with 37 penalty minutes. He established OHL career-highs in several categories in 2019-20, including assists, points, and shots on goal (200). Cuylle tied for third on Windsor in power-play goals (seven), ranked fourth in shots on goal, and ranked fifth in goals last season. Cuylle skated in 125 career OHL games over two seasons (2018-19 and 2019-20), both with Windsor, registering 48 goals and 35 assists for 83 points, along with 87 penalty minutes. He was named to the OHL’s Second All-Rookie Team in 2018-19, as he ranked fifth among OHL rookies in goals (26) and ranked seventh among OHL rookies in points (41) during the season. Cuylle was one of only four OHL players in their U18 season or younger who registered at least 20 goals in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. He helped Windsor advance to the 2019 OHL Playoffs and tallied three points (two goals, one assist) in four playoff contests. Cuylle was originally selected by Peterborough with the third overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection Draft.

 

 

 

 

Two New York Rangers Garner Weekly NHL Awards

Coming off a four-game sweep of the New Jersey Devils, two New York Rangers have been named as winners of weekly awards.

Igor Shesterkin was named on Monday as the NHLPA player of the week. The NHLPA stated that Shesterkin continues to be a cornerstone player for the New York Rangers as the rookie earned an NHL career milestone while posting back-to-back shutouts to lead the league with three wins.

Shesterkin went 3-0-0 for the week and posted a 0.99 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage. After returning from a groin injury on March 25, Shesterkin has been one of the top goalies in the league, posting a 7-2-2 record along with a 2.24 GAA and a .929 SV%. Over that span, he leads goalies with 326 saves and two shutouts while sitting tied for second in wins.

“Igor’s been great,” Mika Zibanejad said about his teammate. “He was unbelievable last year as well. We know what kind of goalie he is and I feel like he gives us a chance to win games every night. He comes up with saves at the right times and that’s huge for us.”

The NHL also announced that Artemi Panarin was the second star of the week. Panarin led the NHL with four goals and six assists for 10 points and a +8 rating in four games.  The league cited this for helping the Rangers sweep their four-game series against New Jersey.

Dustin Tokarski of the Buffalo Sabres was named the first star of the week. Tokarski led the League with 128 saves last week while also earning his first NHL win since Dec. 12, 2015.

Panarin has been one of the biggest factors in the Ranger’s success this season.  The Ranger’s record in 2020-21 when Panarin is in the lineup is 19-9-6. When he tallies a point it is 17-3-4 and when he scores a goal the Rangers record is 9-1-3.

 

 

 

 

Julius Randle caps Knicks’ best stretch with Player of the Week honors

julius randle, knicks

Four monster games. Four wins.

Julius Randle capped off the best week of his career and the New York Knicks‘ best stretch since 2014 with his first NBA Player of the Week award.

Randle became the first Knicks player since Kristaps Porzingis in November 2017 to be named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

The first-time All-Star averaged 35.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.0 steals with an efficient 48/45/84 shooting splits during the past week. The Knicks won all their four games, part of a six-game winning streak currently tied with the Boston Celtics for the hottest in the league.

In what became a “revenge tour” for Randle, he started the week by dropping 34 points, and 10 rebounds against the team that originally drafted him, the Los Angeles Lakers, in a resounding 111-96 Knicks win.

Two nights later, Randle beat his other former team, New Orleans Pelicans. He outdueled Zion Williamson coming away with 32 points, eight boards, and five assists in a 116-106 victory.

Last Friday night, Randle went back home to Dallas and outplayed Luka Doncic and Porzingis, the former Knicks franchise player before him. Randle tied his season-high 44 points on 16-of-29 shooting and a near triple-double (10 rebounds and seven assists). The Knicks won, 117-109.

Randle became the first Knicks player since Carmelo Anthony in 2013-14 to have recorded multiple 40-point games in a single season. His historic night didn’t end there as he also became the first Knicks player with 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists in a single game since Bernard King did it on March 22, 1985, in a win against the Pacers.

In yesterday’s rematch against Williamson and the Pelicans, Randle bucked a scoreless first quarter to finish with 33 points, 10 assists, five boards, and five steals to become the first Knicks player to have recorded at least 30 points, 10 assists, and five steals since Nate Robinson in 2009. The Knicks repeated over the Pelicans, 122-112, in overtime thanks to Derrick Rose and Reggie Bullocks’ late-game heroics.

Stephen Curry joined Randle for the best player of the week’s honors as the Golden State sharpshooter got the nod in the West after steering the Warriors to a 3-1 record while averaging 43.8 points.

Randle bested Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Atlanta’s Clint Capela, Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Charlotte’s Terry Rozier, and Washington’s Russell Westbrook in the East.

Meanwhile, Curry beat Phoenix’s DeAndre Ayton, Los Angeles Clippers’ Paul George, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic in the West.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Giants: Mel Kiper considers Andrew Thomas third best against 2021 OTs

New York Giants, Andrew Thomas

The New York Giants went with a safe pick at a position of need last year and brought on Andrew Thomas in the draft, and this year, they may draft another such lineman. According to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr., however, Thomas is hardly better than the tackles coming out right now despite having a year of experience in the league.

The names that are being thrown around as top prospects at the tackle position are Penei Sewell and Rashawn Slater. The Giants are believed by some to be in a position to draft Slater at number eleven, while Sewell is expected to be off the board before then.

According to Mel Kiper, those two players are also better than Andrew Thomas and would be taken higher if Thomas was on the draft board.

Thomas did have one of the rougher starts to a season out of the highly drafted rookies from his class. However, despite that run of form causing many concerned comments that the Giants might have chosen wrong, his play started to pick up throughout the season.

To his credit, he would have to undergo surgery during the offseason for an ailment that was previously undisclosed. It’s safe to say that might have affected his play. Also, Thomas was faced with some very tough pass rushers and without much time to get his career on its feet. That was a definite factor in his slow start, but expectations will still be high going into next season.

After all, the Giants spent a top five pick on Thomas. It won’t reflect very well on either him or the team if the top rookies from this year are able to jump into the league and immediately perform better without the same experience.

Mets: Marcus Stroman is showing his most dominant version

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets have gotten excellent performances from most of the members of their starting rotation. Jacob deGrom is, as usual, leading the way, but David Peterson and Marcus Stroman have also stepped up and delivered masterpieces.

Stroman, in particular, has been extremely impressive. On the weekend, he had yet another excellent start, dominating the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field, a notorious hitters’ park, for eight innings in which he allowed only three hits, a run and a walk, with five punchouts.

For the season, he has started three games for the Mets, covering 20.1 innings in the process. He has a 3-0 record and a microscopic 0.89 ERA and 0.69 WHIP.

“This is the best version of him that I’ve seen,” said manager Luis Rojas, per the Mets’ official site. “I mean, when he came in he was very impressive. … We got to know the stuff and know how impressive he was. But this year is the best version. I saw him in ’19. I saw him in Spring Training last year. Right now, he’s throwing the ball the best I’ve seen him in three years that we’ve known each other.”

The Mets are getting ace-like performance from Stroman

Mets’ outfielder Michael Conforto was very impressed with Stroman’s weekend start. “Just his attitude, the ultimate confidence in himself and I think that can be contagious sometimes,” said the outfielder.

At one point, Stroman retired 12 straight Rockies hitters in the altitude of Coors Field.

“I think my stuff plays well here,” said Stroman. “I don’t change my game plan, to be honest with you. I think because I throw an elite sinker, I think I do a good job to keep the ball on the ground no matter what park I go to.”

“I mean, you guys saw the pitch count,” said Rojas. “He had like 40-some pitches in the fifth. That’s what he is going to do when he establishes. Guys are going to swing, guys are going to put balls in play, and they are going to be on the ground. The defense is on their toes and we are going to be able to make plays. I think that’s what happened early to let him go the eight innings.”

The Mets are definitely going to be a problem for the rest of the league if Stroman keeps pitching like an ace.

New York Jets bring back veteran TE Daniel Brown

The New York Jets announced the return of the veteran tight end Brown, who will embark on his third year in green.

The New York Jets announced the re-signing of tight end Daniel Brown on Monday morning. Terms and figures of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Brown, set to turn 29 in May, will return for a third metropolitan season, having signed with the team as a free agent in March 2019. His previous NFL endeavors came in Baltimore and Chicago after going undrafted out of James Madison. He is mostly known for his special teams efforts, partaking in a career-high 76 percent of such snaps last season.

In his listed position of tight end, Brown has been used as a blocker but has earned 103 yards on 13 receptions over his first two years in New York as well. His most notable box score contribution came in a November 2019 visit to Washington, when Brown opened scoring in a 34-17 Jets win with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Sam Darnold. It was his first NFL touchdown in nearly three full calendar years.

Last season, Brown was part of the Jets’ final roster cuts but was brought back to the active roster shortly after. He earned a pair of receptions, one each in the final two games of the season, for 31 yards.

Back in the New York fold, Brown will reunite with special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, a rare holdover from Adam Gase’s staff, as well as a tight end room that also welcomes back Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, and Trevon Wesco. The Jets also signed former Buffalo Bill Tyler Kroft earlier this offseason.

With the signing of Brown, the Jets still have several free agents from the 2020 roster that remain up for grabs. Among the notables still available are secondary defenders Brian Poole and Bradley McDougald, as well as linebacker Neville Hewitt.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Yankees: Is Aaron Boone to blame?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees are quickly digging themselves into a hole that they won’t get out of unless things change dramatically and quickly. The most troubling thing is that it doesn’t seem to be in of offing.

For all those Aaron Boone fans, I fully realize that Boone has done a mostly great job with the Yankees with back-to-back 100 win game seasons and doing it under the worst of circumstances. But there is one flaw the Yankees have not been able to get to a World Series game and last season even lost the division to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Now, this season the Yankees are off to their worst start since 1997. They are 5-10 but seem even worst than that stat. Yes, it’s not the end of the world, but with every game the Yankees lose, it will impact the season record and whether they go into the postseason. The Yankees have got to improve, but there doesn’t seem to be the inspiration to do that. The pitching situation presents its own problems, but right now, a lack of hitting is the biggest issue.

During yesterday’s game, I watched the batters carefully; the Yankee batter seemed to be standing at the plate just waiting for the ball to come to them, while Ray’s batters seemed almost ready to jump out of their skin to get a hit. The Yankees seem to lack energy, and that I lay on Aaron Boone’s doorstep. Joe Girardi would not allow this lack of energy while Boone seems to be painting a rosy picture saying that he is sure things will get better. The question is when?

The New York Yankees are last in the American League and 28th in all of baseball. The Yankees have not particularly played well against the Blue Jays, but it appears the Tampa Bay Rays have gotten into the head of the Yankees. They seem to be resigned to lose against them. This season and last, the Yankees have lost 15 of 18 games against the Rays. This season they are off to a bad start winning only one of six games played. Even Gerrit Cole, the Yankee’s $324 million pitcher, couldn’t save the Yankees yesterday.

After far too many losses, manager Boone finally had a team meeting; according to Giancarlo Stanton, in that meeting, the usually rosy Boone seemed angry. The question is, was he inspiring? Apparently not; the Yankees surely did not come into yesterday’s game ready to play; the game was a mess. A game that the Yankees could only muster up 3 hits in the game while committing a multitude of mistakes, some that you wouldn’t see in a high school game. It’s not understandable that a team with a $134 million payroll advantage cant win games against that team. You would have to assume the Rays are more prepared and better managed.

Those mistakes resulted in only one official error but still impacted the game negatively. Gio Urshela overthrew to first base, Aaron Hicks double, and triple bobbled, resulting in an error. Clint Frazier, upon catching a fly out and trying to throw to second airmailed, the ball, halfway between pitcher Cole and first base. These are mistakes that should not be made in major league play.

The New York Yankees entered the game yesterday in last place in the American League, 23rd in the majors in on-base percentage, 24th in runs, 25th in total bases, and 28th in OPS, and they responded with a grand total of two runs on three hits in the 4-2 defeat. In the 3 games set against the Rays, the Yankees only averaged 2.1 runs per game.

How to fix all of this is beyond my pay grade, but the hitters, pitchers, and coaches will have to do their jobs and turn this around quickly, and Aaron Boone has to lead that charge.

 

After his loss at UFC Vegas 24, where does Kelvin Gastelum go from here?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 24, Kelvin Gastelum (16-7, 1 NC) had a golden opportunity. Entering 2021, Gastelum was not looking great in terms of being a top contender at middleweight.

The former interim title challenger had lost three fights in a row heading into 2021. Gastelum was scheduled to take on Ian Heinisch earlier this year and it was a fight that was pivotal for Gastelum moving forward.

The two fought at UFC 258 and Gastelum went back to his wrestling roots to snap his losing streak. With taking no damage in the Heinisch fight, Gastelum told the UFC that he would be ready to fill in if someone fell out of the upcoming middleweight main events.

Robert Whittaker (23-5) was set to headline UFC Vegas 24 against Paulo Costa. However, Costa ended up sick and had to pull out of the fight due to his inability to train. With that, Gastelum volunteered to step in.

Originally, Gastelum was supposed to face Whittaker at UFC 234 for the middleweight title. However, Whittaker had to pull out of that fight after having to undergo emergency surgery the day of the fight. If Gastelum was able to pull off a victory, he would’ve been right back in title contention.

However, that didn’t happen at UFC Vegas 24. Gastelum did have moments where he hit Whittaker clean, but overall he was a step behind all night. Whittaker rocked him a couple of times and ended up with a clean sweep on the judges scorecards.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 24?

With this loss at UFC Vegas 24, Gastelum is just 1-4 in his last five fights. A couple of years ago, Gastelum looked like he could be a middleweight champion, but it’s really hard to imagine that scenario now.

So where does Kelvin Gastelum go from here? Well, I personally would love to see Gastelum attempt to cut back to 170 pounds. I truly believe that if he did it the right way, Gastelum could be a force in the UFC’s welterweight division.

However, I don’t believe that’s likely. In looking at the middleweight division, I think a perfect next opponent would be Kevin Holland (21-7). Holland was 5-0 in 2020, but has come back down to earth in 2021 with headlining losses to Marvin Vettori and Derek Brunson.

Still, The Trailblazer is still ranked 12th at middleweight. He’s talked about moving to welterweight as well, but if he stays at 185 pounds, I think he would be the perfect opponent for Gastelum’s next UFC fight.

Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone: “We’re getting punched in the mouth right now”

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone, Brian Cashman

The New York Yankees dropped the series finale on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Their struggles are ongoing, and they are ugly enough that some fans are asking for manager Aaron Boone’s dismissal.

Defensive miscues and a curious decision to leave Yankees’ ace Gerrit Cole to start the seventh after he already had 98 pitches contributed in the loss, but once again, the offense (or lack thereof) was the main reason the Bombers dropped yet another game.

“Good things are on the horizon, but I don’t have the magic wand,” Cole told the Yankees’ official site. “I don’t know when it’s going to turn. Right now when you’re going through it, you’ve just got to keep grinding and play hard baseball.”

“We’re frustrated,” DJ LeMahieu said. “They (Tampa) have good pitching, but I feel like we have a better lineup than we showed this series, and we’ve showed this year so far. No one’s going to feel sorry for us; no one’s going to throw softer or throw easier for us. We’ve got to find it within ourselves to continue to get better and play the way we’re capable of.”

The Yankees still have the worst record in the AL

The 5-10 Yankees have the worst record in the American League. People in the organization have confidence that the turnaround will start soon, but they are dropping costly games.

Boone said the better: “We’re getting punched in the mouth right now,” he said. “We’ve got to swing the bats better, period. We’ve got our ace on the mound today and just couldn’t mount enough.”

The last place Yankees will have a series against the Atlanta Braves to start the week. The season is still extremely early, but pressure is starting to build up as the team gets into a bigger hole with each passing day.