New York Giants: Eli Apple the team’s worst draft pick since 2006?

The New York Giants, like every NFL team, have made some slipups in the draft during the past 15 years. The Giants have perhaps made more of these mistakes than other teams, as they’ve had several high draft picks end up making little impact in the grand scheme of things. While other teams during the same period are known for drafting well and converting their first round picks into longer term starters, the Giants have partly stayed in the rebuilding phase for as long as they have because of their drafting.

But out of the players they’ve missed on during the past fifteen years, which of them is the worst? This question was asked not just about the Giants, but about every team in the league by Pro Football Focus.

In the case of the Giants, the pick that was named the worst was Eli Apple. That might surprise some, not because of any feeling that Apple was a good draft pick but rather because the name chosen wasn’t ninth overall pick Ereck Flowers.

NEW YORK GIANTS: CB Eli Apple, Ohio State (No. 10 overall in 2016)

Apple lasted only two and a half years in the Big Apple before he was dealt midseason to New Orleans for a fourth- and seventh-round pick. His tenure with the Giants was marred by reported maturity issues. He allowed a passer rating over 100 in both seasons as a starter.

Is Apple really the Giants’ worst pick in 15 years?

Apple did have plenty of issues which brought him criticism, ranging from his on the field play to getting into locker room disputes with teammates to his mother’s overbearing presence rubbing some the wrong way.

But it’s hard to argue that Apple, at any point, had the same kind of dislike directed towards him that Ereck Flowers received for his awful performances at tackle. It’s also hard to argue that he had as big of a negative impact on the team’s overall performance.

Furthermore, many of the same narratives about Apple ended up applying to DeAndre Baker, who the Giants would select in the first round years later at the same position. While these narratives were never as dramatic as Baker compared to the ones around Apple, they do make Apple’s case less distinct.

What do you think? Is Eli Apple really the worst pick the Giants have made in the past 15 years, or is another under the radar player more deserving of the title? And can Apple really be called the worst when DeAndre Baker spent less time with the Giants after being drafted in the first round to play the same position?

Mets Three Run Seventh Inning Chases Woodruff in 4-2 Win

The Milwaukee Brewers were one of the hottest teams in baseball and came in winning 11 out of their last 12 games. Meanwhile, the newly healthy New York Mets came off a good weekend in the Bronx and rode the momentum to beat another tough pitcher. After getting shut down for six innings by Brandon Woodruff, the Mets put up three in the seventh inning for a 4-2 victory.

In those first six innings, Woodruff showed why he deserved his All-Star selection. He held the Mets to just one run on one hit and had a very low pitch count. In the seventh, Francisco Lindor battled through a walk then the rest of the order continued their aggressive attack early in the count. The next four batters saw just seven pitches but manufactured three runs.

Dominic Smith moved Lindor to third with a single, and Pete Alonso‘s double drove them both in to make it a 3-1 game. After Jeff McNeil‘s ground out moved Alonso to third, Michael Conforto drove him in with a single. The early attack was the same tactics they used against the New York Yankees, and it paid off against a strike-thrower like Woodruff. Brandon Nimmo continued to be a sparkplug at the top of the order with two more hits and is 7-for-16 since coming off the IL.

Megill Is Here To Stay

Tylor Megill impressed for a third consecutive start as he adjusts to the big leagues. He pitched a gritty five innings, allowing two hits, striking out seven, and his only blemish came on Omar Narvaez‘s solo-home run. Megill has the stuff to pitch in the big leagues, but his biggest improvement will come in his ability to limit his pitch count. He needed 92 pitches to get through his start, but otherwise, Megill has given the Mets everything they could have hoped.

Aaron Loup, Seth Lugo, and Trevor May combined for three shutout innings to bridge the gap to Edwin Diaz. He bent but did not break after allowing a run and the first three runners to get on base. Diaz rebounded and retired the last three guys he faced to pick up his 18th save of the season.

With the Atlanta Braves losing, the Mets NL East lead will be either 4 or 4.5 games depending on the Washington Nationals’ outcome. Brett Anderson will face Jacob deGrom in game two of their series, which is another 7:10 p.m. ET start from Citi Field.

New York Liberty: 3 stars from Monday’s win vs. Dallas

The New York Liberty won consecutive games for the first time since May, beating the Dallas Wings in a Monday thriller.

Thrilling athletic contests between New York and Dallas are no longer limited to Sunday afternoons and evenings in the fall.

Sabrina Ionescu earned a double-double on a record-setting evening, as the New York Liberty earned a 99-96 win over the Dallas Wings on Monday night at Barclays Center. The Liberty (10-9) earned consecutive wins for the first time since May 23-24 and set a franchise record with 15 three-pointers in a single game.

Five players from the Liberty reached double figures, paced by 26 from Sami Whitcomb and 18 more from Betnijah Laney. Jazmine Jones would add 17 more off the bench. Dallas (9-10) enjoyed a game-high 23 off the bench from Isabelle Harrison. New York has won each of the first two matchups and will face the Wings one last time on September 11.

ESM has three game balls to bestow from the victory…

3rd Star: Reshanda Gray

11 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals 

Gray once again made her prescience felt in the interior and came up big as the game reached its dying stages, once again proving herself more than worthy of her newly attained full-season deal.

As Dallas inched their way back into the game, Gray helped preserve the Liberty lead, first earning a crucial rebound after a missed Harrison free throw that soon became Laney’s record-tying triple. After an Ionescu miss on the other end, Gray wrenched the rebound away from a Dallas pursuer to put it back in and preserve the seven-point advantage. When Dallas had one more shot after Jones missed a free throw, Gray kept the ball in the air to round out the clock and avoid a foul.

2nd Star: Sabrina Ionescu

13 points (5-of-9 FG), 12 assists

Ionescu’s rediscovered shooting touch couldn’t have come at a better time for New York. The Liberty are now 5-0 when she shoots at least 50 percent from the floor, and she has now done so in consecutive games. Going up against former Oregon teammate Satou Sabally, Ionescu earned her first double-double since May 23, uniting with fellow Pac-12 alumna Gray once again for some big baskets.

1st Star: Sami Whitcomb

26 points (10-of-16 FG), 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals

Whitcomb, whom many have credited as being the heart and soul of this Liberty roster…as well as its biggest All-Star snub…did it all on Monday night. She helped the Liberty get off to a strong start with 15 first half points and finished in with some crucial daggers, including the triple that not only broke the team record but gave the Liberty a sizable six-point lead with just under a minute remaining.

Though Whitcomb is best known for her outside endeavors…she was one triple short of tying the single-game record she shares with five others…her rebounding and interior work has come up huge for a Liberty squad that’s still treading water while Natasha Howard heals. Whitcomb has averaged over seven rebounds a game over her last four games and Monday marked the seventh time in the last eight games where she had at least six.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The Yankees’ most reliable bullpen arm might surprise you

New York Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga

The Yankees have put together one of the best bullpens in baseball. Top-tier arms like Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, and Chad Green lead the pack. However, none of them have been consistent enough to be the main guy. The man that has been was definitely not predicted to be. 

Jonathan Loaisiga has been the Bombers’ most reliable pitcher so far in 2021. He’s turned into an all-star caliber player and a fantastic option for the Yankees. Loaisiga has been pitching at the big league level since 2018. 

Since his rookie season, his numbers have only improved. In 2018 he appeared in nine games and finished with a 5.11 ERA. In 2019, he appeared in 15 games and finished with a 4.55 ERA. Then last season, he had a 3.52 ERA in 12 appearances. New York noticed his improvement and made him a regular bullpen arm.

Now in 2021, he has improved yet again. This time, he is putting up all-star numbers. He has thrown a career-high 45 innings and has put up a career low 2.20 ERA. His SO/9 is sitting at 8.6, the lowest in his career. However, he’s had a career year in SO/W ratio, WHIP, hits per nine, and home runs per nine. 

What made him improve so much?

At the beginning of his career, Loaisiga was very reliant on his 4-seam fastball. In 2018, he used it 55.8% of the time, and in 2019 he used it 47.7% of the time. last year, he was less reliant but still used it on 42.6% of his pitches. 2021 is when he made the big change. This season, Loaisiga has only thrown his 4-seam fastball 5.1% of the time. His sinker, however, is being used at 54.9%. There was a slight improvement in usage among his curveball and changeup. However, the sinker has clearly been the difference.

In terms of Whiff% and PutAway%, his changeup and curveball have been the best. However, his sinker has allowed him to mix in those pitches late in counts. The stats show that Loaisiga has not only been a top pitcher for New York but in all of baseball. Multiple advanced statistics place him in the top 2% of the league. He has developed into a fantastic option for the Bombers. 

Jonathan Loaisiga didn’t make the all-star game. However, his numbers are right up there with some of the great relievers in the league. He doesn’t get enough recognition which is why he won’t be in Colorado for all-star weekend.

Tune in tomorrow night as Jonathan Loaisiga, and the Yankees make a trip to Seattle to face the Mariners! That game will begin at 10:10 pm EST!

New York Giants: Versatile pass-rusher Ifeadi Odegnibo will give the defense a boost in 2021

ifeadi odenigbo, New York Giants

The New York Giants defense was a top-ten unit in the NFL last season. However, the defense was not perfect and the Giants made sure to tidy up some weak spots this offseason. New York fixed its secondary cornerback problem by signing Adoree’ Jackson in free agency. But the Giants also had a lack of depth and talent at edge rusher, another position they addressed this offseason.

The Giants drafted edge rusher Azeez Ojulari out of Georgia in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fans are looking at this move as the one that will fix the Giants’ pass-rushing problems. Ojulari does have the potential to have a major impact on this defense as early as his rookie season. But another under-the-radar move that the Giants made in free agency could also have a significant impact: the signing of Ifeadi Odenigbo.

Ifeadi Odenigbo stats and highlights

The New York Giants made a few big splashes in free agency, primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Many of their signings were overshadowed by the monumental acquisitions they made like Kenny Golladay, Kyle Rudolph, and Adoree’ Jackson. One of the signings that flew under the radar was that of edge rusher Ifeadi Odenigbo.

To call Ifeadi an edge rusher seems to be a bit constricting and partially inaccurate. Using a more broad, general term like pass-rusher makes more sense for the former Minnesota Viking. Ifeadi Odenigbo is a pass-rusher with the ability to play on the interior and on the edge. In Minnesota, he frequently played on the edge as a 5-tech in the Vikings’ 4-3 defense. But he has the size and ability to move inside as well and could potentially play some 3-tech or 4i with the Giants.

Odenigbo is expected to kick outside to the edge with the Giants this year, playing outside linebacker. That is something that Ifeadi has not done in a while, but as he told us in an exclusive interview on Fireside Giants, he is really excited to get back in a two-point stance.

In 32 career games (15 starts), Ifeadi has registered 10.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 28 quarterback hits, one safety, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and one defensive touchdown to go with his 59 tackles (34 solo). Odenigbo’s best season came in 2018 when he played in a reserve role for the Vikings in all 16 games. Odenigbo picked up seven sacks that year, along with 13 quarterback hits, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries (Giants.com).

According to Pro Football Focus, the Giants’ top four pressure producers in 2020 all played on the interior, which is highly unusual. Odenigbo will fit right into the scheme, helping generate pressure as an interior pass-rusher. But he will also improve one of the team’s weaknesses by contributing as an edge rusher. This versatility and solid pass-rushing ability that Ifeadi Odenigbo brings will give the Giants’ defense a nice boost in 2021.

New York Jets receivers will surprise everyone in 2021

The New York Jets completely revamped their offense for the upcoming season. Rookie Michael Carter and veteran Tevin Coleman joined a running back group that will surely be by-committee. As for the passing game, that’s where it gets really, really fun.

Obviously, the team drafted BYU product Zach Wilson to be their quarterback of the future. However, he can’t throw the ball to himself. The receiving group the Jets built around Wilson is truly one to be excited about.

Well, for some people it is.

Pro Football Focus seems to feel differently. They ranked receiving groups for the upcoming season, keeping every addition and subtraction in mind for each group. The Jets landed at number 28. I may be biased, but that just doesn’t seem right.

Mark my words: the New York Jets receivers will surprise everyone in 2021.

The upgraded group starts with new addition Corey Davis, the former fifth overall pick and four-year vet from Tenessee. After an underwhelming first three seasons, Davis had an underrated 2020 season. Although missing two games, he posted career-highs in yards (984) and touchdowns (5) and tied his career-high in receptions (65).

According to PFF, he also posted a career-high grade of 86.9, along with his career-highs in recorded stats. Davis is a guy who does most of his damage in the intermediate level of the passing game, but can cause serious problems for defenses after the catch as well. The clear-cut number-one receiver is a big addition to this exciting, young offense and may very well make the Titans regret letting him leave.

Second-year wideout Denzel Mims has the ability to be a future number-one target, but he should be the number-two if things go as hoped. Personally, I have very high hopes for Mims. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, he is the big, outside target that pretty much every quarterback loves to have.

His ability to go up and win 50/50 balls, along with making guys miss after the catch, is a beautiful combination to see. However, having the ability isn’t enough. He needs to put it together over the course of the season.

Mims did earn a PFF grade of 70.4 last season and averaged 15.5 yards per reception, but only played nine games. If he stays on the field, he should take a big jump forward for the Jets this season.

Next comes Elijah Moore. The rookie has a lot of hype around him already, reportedly “turning heads” within the team. The ever-explosive slot receiver had a great junior season at Ole Miss, totaling 86 receptions for 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games.

Moore earned 2020 All-American and All-SEC First Team selections and the Jets were able to get him in round two of the draft. Being the best slot receiver in the draft, he may end up being a major steal compared to the other receivers drafted. Moore will be more than a regular rookie option. He’ll have a major impact going forward.

Rounding out the top-six receivers on the team are Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole and Braxton Berrios. Crowder should be competing for slot time with Elijah Moore, and should still be a productive option on offense. If nothing else, he could mentor Moore as well. Berrios, who would probably be most productive as a slot guy as well, will have his work cut out for him to earn meaningful time on the field.

Keelan Cole is a bit of a mystery. Across his first four seasons in the league, he had over 500 yards twice and five touchdowns once. He won’t be one of the top-target options, but he’ll easily provide capable depth for the group.

For a New York Jets team that ranks 29th in receiving grades since 2018, the only place to go is up (for the most part). Even though the group is drastically improved as a whole, the question remains if the young players can improve on the field. They should be expected to and the group should be expected to be good.

The problem is, they aren’t expected to do that, clearly. As a result, the receivers will end up surprising people this upcoming season.

 

How do you think the receiving group will be this season? Let me know and keep the conversation going by tweeting me @brendancarpESM!

Yankees’ Chad Green stepped up when the team needed him the most and made history on Sunday

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

The New York Yankees hadn’t won since Tuesday and dropped the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader after closer Aroldis Chapman once again dilapidated a save chance. But just when the team needed him the most, an unsung hero made his appearance on Sunday night to help secure the victory in the last game of the series against the New York Mets.

Right-handed reliever Chad Green threw three perfect innings and one immaculate one, the seventh, as the Yankees won 4-2 and finally went home happy after a rough week full of heartbreaking defeats.

Green struck out six batters in his outing, and culminated him with the immaculate frame that included nothing but strikes.

“We’ve had some pretty devastating losses the past few games, games we should have won that we just weren’t able to get done,” Green told MLB.com. “I think that was a very important game for us.”

The Yankees’ immaculate inning, courtesy of Green

Green struck out Michael Conforto, Jeff McNeil, and Jonathan Villar, and according to STATS, became the first pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) to pitch three perfect innings, strike out six batters and have an immaculate inning in the same game.

“He had terrific command, throwing the ball how and where he wanted to,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I was a little reluctant to send him out there for a third inning, but he wanted the ball. He was dominant and efficient. That was just a huge effort for us.”

In a time in which Chapman has been struggling, Green’s success gives the Yankees a boost. He had two pitches in the first game before giving way to Chapman, who blew yet another save. But the second game helped the Bombers gain some redemption.

“Chad Green did an amazing job,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “That guy pitching both games, that’s something special. That doesn’t happen often now in baseball.”

Yankees News, 7/5: Gerrit Cole’s struggles raise serious problem after Subway Series collapse

yankees, gerrit cole

The New York Yankees walked away with one win in a three-game series against the Mets this weekend. While Game 1 was rained out and postponed for a later date, the Yankees have only won two of their last nine games, indicating one of the worst cold streaks in baseball. While they did emerge victorious in the second game of the doubleheader on Sunday, the pitching has been lackluster as of late. Against one of the worst offenses in baseball, the Yankees allowed 20 runs in two days (3 games).

One of the most disappointing performances came from starter Gerrit Cole, who only lasted 3.1 innings before being taken out by Aaron Boone. He gave up four earned runs, six hits, and walked three batters before handing the ball to Jonathan Loaisiga.

Cole has allowed as many earned runs in his last two starts as Jacob deGrom has allowed all season, which should give you a pretty clear idea of how poorly the ace has been performing.

Over his last seven games, Gerrit hosts a 4.69 ERA with 21 earned runs allowed and 12 walks. Ever since the MLB cracked down on using substances to improve spin rate and velocity, cole has seen his pitches slow and breaking ball flatten.

“I’ve got to take the positives from a personal standpoint, but obviously losing the lead and being responsible for that is first and foremost on my mind,” Cole said. Asked about being booed by these fans for the first time, Cole said, “It is what it is. You sign up for it when you come here.”

Ultimately, if the Yankees don’t have a star pitcher to help them win games regularly, they are going to struggle moving forward. In addition to Cole, closer Aroldis Chapman has been a liability the past few weeks since the crackdown.

Over Chapman’s last seven appearances, he hosts a 16.88 ERA with 10 earned runs and nine walks allowed. Clearly, both pitchers have been impacted significantly by the rule changes, and unless they can find a way to adapt in the coming days, the Yankees will be watching the postseason from their million-dollar couches.

New York Yankees: This week in Yankee history (video)

There probably isn’t a day that goes by that something in New York Yankee history hasn’t happened that is memorable in their 109-year history. So here is a look at this week’s happenings in that history. This week is particularly interesting.

July 4th, 1925:

On this Independence Day, Yankee pitcher Herb Pennock and the Athletics pitcher Lefty Grove had a game for the history books. The game went 15 innings, with the Yankees winning 1-0. Pennock had one bad pitch in the game. He struck out the first 18 in a row he faced and the last 21 in a row—quite a pitcher’s duel.

July 4th, 1932:

New York Yankee catch Bill Dickey punched Carl Reynolds in the face causing a double fractured jaw. Dickey was suspended for 30 days. It all happened after the Yankees lost the first game of the doubleheader 5-3. In the second game, Joe Sewell threw a ball to home with Reynolds on his way. The ball and Reynold arrive simultaneously, resulting in the collision. Dickey wouldn’t have it and popped him one; that is still a historical event talked about today.

July 4th, 1939:

In 1939 on Independence Day, Lou Gehrig delivered his famed address to the crowd at Yankee Stadium. The “I am the luckiest man in the world” speech is still one of the most iconic in all of baseball. But, unfortunately, Gehrig would die almost two years after his speech of  amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often called “Lou Gehrig disease.”

July 4th, 1960:

The famous Yankee Micky Mantle celebrated independence day by hitting the 300th home run of his career.

July 4th, 1983:

Legendary Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti got the first Yankee no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series. Righetti celebrated on the mound after no-hitting the Yankee’s most intense rival, Boston Red Sox. He was also the first lefty pitcher to do it since 1917 when George Mogridge accomplished the feat against the same Boston Red Sox. It was the first Yankee no-hitter for the young New York Yankees.

 

July 6th, 1941:

The New York Yankees dedicate a monument in center field to the last Lou Gehrig, honoring their deceased captain. Gehrig had died of ALS just a month earlier.

July 7th, 1937:

It was the All-Star Game, the fourth ever. Famous Yankee first baseman Lou Gehrig drove in four runs in the game with a homer and double. The American League beat the National League 8-3. It was the first time a U.S. President attended an All-Star game. Franklin Roosevelt threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

July 9th, 1937:

Yankee slugger Joe DiMaggio hit for the cycle, hitting two home runs, a triple, double and single in a win over the Washington Senators. He would hit for the cycle again in 1948.

July 10th, 1914:

At the time, the Yankees were playing at the polo grounds in New York City. The polo grounds had no lighting. The Yankees won the second game of a doubleheader with only one hit. The game had to be postponed due to darkness. The Yankee would never win another by just one hit until 2016 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

July 10th, 2001:

Derek Jeter hit the first Yankee home run in an All-Star game in 42 years. The last to do it was Yogi Berra in 1959.

 

 

Knicks Mock Free Agency 1.0: Balanced spending to improve the roster

new york knicks, derrick rose

The New York Knicks can execute a few different approaches during free agency. Either, they can target a high priced free agent that takes up the majority of their available funds, or they can spread the money around to hit different positions and bolster the roster as a whole. Being more balanced could end up having a greater impact than overspending on one elite player like Chris Paul, for example.

When considering the rumors that have bubble to the surface the past few weeks, a good portion of the players aren’t expected to make high and money in the future. Aside from Paul and the obvious Damian Lillard trade discussions, the Knicks have been connected to a variety of players who would help balance out the roster with specific talents to mask deficiencies.

Bringing in some experienced players mixed with youth should be a priority, as they can target a long-term impact rather than a short term situation that could end up blowing up in their faces at a high price.

Knicks mock free agency ($50 million available):

1.) Derrick Rose: 2-years, $24 million

One of the Knicks’ best players this past season was Derrick Rose, who they acquired from the Detroit Pistons at the trade deadline. Over 35 games in New York, Rose averaged 15 points, 4.2 assists, and shot a career-high 41% from downtown. He was one of the major reasons they finished as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference.

Considering how well Rose played and his influence on the rookies, he has proved his durability and deserves another contract. The Knicks reward him for his efforts last year in this scenario, electing to draft a high profile point guard to develop behind the veteran and help mitigate fatigue.

2.) Kelly Oubre Jr.: 3-years, $51 million

New York has been connected to Golden State Warriors’ small forward Kelly Oubre the past few weeks, who offers a decent 3-and-D option. As a left-handed shooter, Oubre is a solid defender who is also capable of connecting on three-point shots effectively. While he started off the 2020-21 season poorly in the category, which significantly hampered his statisticual output, he can hit over 35% of his shots from range averaging over five attempts per game.

This past season, he averaged 15.4 points and six total rebounds, indicating he can produce with adequate minutes, and pairing him with head coach Tom Thibodeau should allow him to realize his potential – especailly on defense.

3.) Jarrett Allen: 2-years, $25 million

The Knicks could use another big body behind Mitchell Robinson, especially with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson hitting free agency. Allen was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers this past year, and depending on who they draft, they could pass on his qualifying offer.

One of the Knicks’ biggest weakness is this past season was physicality in the paint during the playoffs. Allen is a 6’11”, 243 pound center, who also averaged double digit points per game. With Robinson dealing with injuries last season and on the last year of his rookie deal, having Allen as a long-term solution would create a sense of comfort at a position that could need an injection of talent sooner rather than later.

4.) Alec Burks: 2-years, $16 million

One off the Knicks’ most valuable and consistent players this year was Alec Burks, who represented instant offense off the bench. The former first round pick averaged nearly 13 points, 2.2 assists, and shot 41% from downtown. His veteran experience and ability to play forward and guard makes him a valuable utility piece off the bench. He supplements injuries well and represented one of the more clutch players in the fourth quarter for a team that struggled closing out games at times.

Bringing back Burks would be a positive move, and keep a bit of chemistry and familiarity with Thibodeau system.