Mets: Javier Baez ‘would like to play with Francisco Lindor’

Chicago Cubs’ shortstop Javier Baez is a free agent at the end of the season, so there is a non-zero chance he gets traded before Friday’s deadline if the Cubs want to get something in return rather than losing him for nothing. But it appears he is eager to test the market, and he would definitely consider playing for the New York Mets according to his recent comments.

“If I go to the free agency, I would like to play with Francisco Lindor,” Baez said during an interview with Mega 106.9 FM (link to SNY article here). “I loved playing with him in the World (Baseball) Classic. It is the only option I would take to play second base if it is to play with him, otherwise I stay playing at shortstop.”

Baez is a fantastic defensive shortstop who has already won a Gold Glove last year. He was also worth 31 DRS (defensive runs saved) at the position in 2019. He could have a strong market at short, so the fact that he would sacrifice his preferred spot on the diamond to play with his friend is noteworthy. The Mets have some infield depth, but are surely taking notice of his comments.

What will the Mets do at the deadline?

The Mets remain focused on bringing an additional arm to their roster before Friday’s deadline, but they are also reportedly interested in Kris Bryant. Could they take the discount and pay a little more to get Baez too? It seems unlikely, as they haven’t been connected to Baez, but anything can happen.

Whether he is acquired by the Mets via trade or signed as a free agent after the season (a much more likely scenario), having a double play combo of Lindor and Baez would be really something, as both men are elite with the glove.

The Mets would have to find new positions for Jeff McNeil and/or JD Davis, plus they have several infield prospects, most notably Ronny Mauricio, Brett Baty, and Mark Vientos, knocking on the door.

Baez is batting .245/.289/.483 with 22 homers in 90 games for the Cubs this campaign.

Should Knicks trade for Cam Reddish as Atlanta looks to deal?

cam reddish, knicks

The Knicks are desperately trying to trade up in the 2021 NBA draft, as they can possibly host four new rookies on a team looking to take a step forward next season. Trading for an established player could be on their radar, and one player who could become available is Atlanta Hawks small forward Cam Reddish.

According to Jonathan Givony of ESPN, Hawks’ small forward Cam Reddish could be on the chopping block:

“The Hawks may look to restart the cycle by moving one of their rookie scale contract players, such as Cam Reddish, for a first-round pick, as it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to pay all of their young players.”

Reddish has struggled to find his footing in the NBA, averaging 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and shooting 36.5% from the field last season. He also connected on just 26.2% of his shots from range, but at 21-years-old, he has plenty of developmental progress left to realize.

With Reggie Bullock expected to hit the free-agent market, there’s no guarantee the Knicks will be able to fend off competitors. Atlanta could ask for a first-round pick in a Reddish trade scenario, but his inability to shoot efficiently stands out.

One of the primary reasons that Reddish has struggled is due to injury (played in just 26 games last season). While his offensive production has struggled, he has developed into a quality perimeter defender, averaging 1.3 steals per game, interrupting passing lanes. With one year left before a club option in 2022, the Knicks have plenty of time to develop him. However, the lack of shooting/scoring production stands out when looking at his statistics, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem for a coaching staff that elevated their entire roster last season.

Would you consider trading for Cam Reddish? Comment below!

After being edged out at UFC Vegas 32, what’s next for Cory Sandhagen?

This past Saturday in the main event at UFC Vegas 32, we saw an instant classic in the bantamweight division. Former champion TJ Dillashaw (17-4) made his return as he took on the surging top contender Cory Sandhagen (14-3).

Heading into UFC Vegas 32, this was one of the most highly anticipated main events of the year. Dillashaw’s return combined with the rise of Sandhagen created a lot of intrigue around this main event.

Before the fight, I was expecting Sandhagen to pick up the win, but in a razor close fight. I just figured that he would be a bit sharper with having fought so much and I also just figured it was his time to shine.

TJ Dillashaw proved to be just as good as he was when he was champion on Saturday night. At UFC Vegas 32, Cory Sandhagen definitely did more damage overall when it comes to the striking.

However, Dillashaw did a great job of exploding when he needed to and utilizing a lot of control along the fence. Heading into the final round, it was truly anyone’s fight. I gave the final round to Dillashaw, but in reality, nobody lost at UFC Vegas 32.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 32?

Ultimately, two judges gave the fight to Dillashaw and he got the split decision win. However, as I said, there really wasn’t a loser on Saturday night. Yes, Sandhagen walked away with a loss on his record.

However, the match makers have already told him that he’s still only one win away from a title shot. While Dillashaw is getting the title shot next, Sandhagen is in virtually the exact same position as he was in before UFC Vegas 32.

So with that in mind, what’s next for The Sandman? To me, there’s only one fight that makes sense and it’s the fight the UFC should make. Cory Sandhagen needs to fight Rob Font (19-4) next.

Font has won four fights in a row and he’s ranked in the top five. Like Sandhagen, Font appears only one win away from earning a UFC title shot. The easy answer here is to have these two fight and the winner would get a title shot sometime in 2022.

Yankees could be targeting Twins slugger, as Joey Gallo rumors fade

max kepler, yankees

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has made a few bewildering moves in recent days. Trading relief pitchers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson for a player to be named later with the Cincinnati Reds undoubtedly creates a bit of confusion. Cessa has been performing well this year, hosting a 2.82 ERA over 29 games.

Considering the lack of bullpen depth, trading away two players doesn’t entirely scream efficiency, but Cashman must have a strategy in mind to replace them in the near future. With the trade deadline on Friday, the Yankees still have a few days to make additional moves, but one big lefty that could be on his way to the Bronx.

This time around, it’s not Joey Gallo who’s found himself in limbo between contract extension talks and a potential trade to an alternative club. The rumors have died down regarding the Yankees’ interest in Gallo, as Minnesota twins outfielder Max Kepler has emerged as a target.

Kepler signed a five-year, $35 million deal in 2019, and he’s heading into the third season of his contract. He is set to earn $6.5 million next year, a solid number that wouldn’t hurt the Yankees long-term. This season, he’s hitting .215 with 13 homers and 39 RBIs. He’s currently striking out 21.1% of his at-bats, which is his highest since the 2017 campaign.

Traditionally, Kepler is a solid power bat, hitting 36 homers in 2019 with a .252 average, the highest of his career. He doesn’t offer much regarding contact hitting and getting on base, but he does hover around the 10% walk-rate range, an adequate number. He’s an average defender but would provide depth at centerfield and diversity in the batting order as a lefty.

Kepler is 6’4″ and 225-pounds, providing another big body to help put runs on the board. He fits the Yankees’ slugger addition and has remained relatively healthy throughout his career. At this point, the best ability is availability for the Yankees, and they need players who don’t struggle with injury issues.

Yankees trade two major league relievers to Cincinnati in salary dump

luis cessa, yankees

If you thought the New York Yankees would pass the luxury tax threshold at the trade deadline in an effort to improve the team’s chances of making the playoffs, that doesn’t appear to be the case after their most recent transaction.

We all woke up on Wednesday with the news that the Yankees traded relievers Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later, in what should be effectively viewed as a salary dump in the mold of the Adam Ottavino trade with Boston in the offseason.

The Yankees’ angle appears to be getting rid of some salary with the anticipation of making another move prior to Friday’s deadline, presumably for Texas slugger Joey Gallo, Rockies’ star Trevor Story, or Marlins dynamic outfielder Starling Marte.

What does this tell us? It seems like the Yankees are trying to fit another piece but won’t be surpassing the soft cap in doing so. They want to avoid being taxed at all costs, even if it means trading a good reliever.

The Yankees lost a good reliever in Cessa

The left-handed Wilson hadn’t been reliable at any point this season for the Yankees, even hitting the injured list a couple of times. However, Cessa had evolved into a good reliever, a piece capable of contributing to a team with playoff aspirations.

Perhaps the Yankees wanted to get rid of Wilson’s salary and had to sacrifice Cessa to find a trade partner.

According to NJ Advance Media, “the wheeling and dealing, which included the Pittsburgh Pirates trading right-hander Clay Holmes to the Yankees for two minor leaguers on Monday, saves $1.08 million towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold. According to Cots Baseball, the Yankees’ luxury tax number now is $207,631,173, which computes to $2.369 million under.”

The 29-year-old Cessa is 3-1 with a 2.82 ERA in 29 relief appearances this season for the Yankees.

Knicks Final Mock Draft: Trade up fails, targeting a point guard, shooting guards

tre mann, knicks

The New York Knicks are trying to find a trade partner in the 2020 NBA draft. Having explored the idea of moving up with the Golden State Warriors, the team is trying to package their first-round picks together to move up into the late lottery.

Teams simply aren’t interested in moving back into the 20s, as several quality prospects reside in the top 15 selections. As for the Knicks, they sit tight and stick with their guns in this scenario, spending their picks on several different players.

Final Knicks Mock Draft:

Pick 19: SG Trey Murphy

The Knicks have been connected to shooting guard Trey Murphy recently. Murphy presents a fantastic physical profile as he prepares to transition to the NBA. At 6’8″ and 206 pounds, he has a 7-foot wingspan that resembles similar measurements to Jayson Tatum.

As a solid defensive player and scorer, he fits the 3-and-D mold perfectly for Tom Thibodeau. Having spent three seasons at the collegiate level with Rice and Virginia, Murphy has plenty of experience. Murphy averaged 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and shot 50% from the field this past season. An even more exciting statistic, he connected on 43% of his shots from three, showcasing his prowess as a shooter.

Some of his weaknesses include a lack of physicality, but that is something he can improve on as his frame fills out. Murphy is 21-years-old, presenting a younger option than Chris Duarte, who will be turning 24.

Pick 21: PG Tre Mann

Knicks need a point guard desperately in the draft and one that preferably can create shots for others and himself. Tre Mann could be the perfect fit for the Knicks with the 21st overall pick.

Mann is a smooth ball handler that creates space, which inevitably forces defenders out of position and opens up shots for his teammates. He is a purebred scorer, shooting over 40% from three and ranked in the 90th percentile in pull-up jumpers last season.

While his defense lacks physicality and aggressiveness, he’s a player Thibodeau can depend on to open up the floor and offer scoring process. If Mann can improve defensively and add more court vision to his game, he could develop into a solid starting PG.

Pick 32: C Day’Ron Sharpe

The Knicks struggled considerably in the paint during the postseason due to a lack of physicality. Rolling with Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson, they could use another center who plays with aggression. North Carolina big man Day’Ron Sharpe fits the bill perfectly.

Traditionally, physically imposing big men aren’t necessary in the NBA anymore, but having one as a reserve center could pay dividends against more disruptive interior defenders. Having played just one season with UNC, the 6’11”, 265-pound center is a bruiser and is solid around the rim. He’s a traditional low post scorer but doesn’t offer much as a shooter. The Knicks don’t depend on their centers to offer much in the scoring department but rather contribute consistent defense.

His strengths include rebounding, shot-blocking, but struggles with on-ball defending. If he is still available with a 32nd overall pick, he would be a great fit behind Robinson, adding a physical presence the Knicks don’t have.

Pick 58: PF Santi Aldama

Having addressed the center and guard positions, the Knicks take a flyer on Santi Aldama out of Loyola with the 58 overall pick. Standing at 6’11” and 215 pounds, Aldama averaged 21.2 points, 2.3 assists, and 10.1 rebounds this past season. He connected on 51% of his shots from the field and nearly 37% from range.

Aldama has the potential to become a stretch-four player, showcasing solid scoring abilities in the post and from the field. Overall, he seems to be an average player all around with potential but does have streaky moments with his shooting. He hasn’t enjoyed many games against top-tier college teams but dominated with Loyola, giving him some ground to stand on.

New York Yankees: 3 takeaways from Yankees nail-biter win over the Rays

luis cessa, yankees

The New York Yankees entered last night’s game with the Tampa Bay Rays with a certain urgency to get a win so they would have a chance to win a series, after losing one to their other rival the Boston Red Sox. Although it was a nail-biter late, the Yankees came away with the 4-3 win.

Montgomery pitches a gem

As he has so many times before, although having early game struggles, Jordan Montgomery kept the Yankees in the game. The Tampa Bay Rays hitters made Monty work hard through the first two innings. He used 51 pitches to get through the two innings. But from then on through the fifth inning, he pretty much breezed through the Rays lineup using 102 pitches. In the end, Monty didn’t give up a run and finally got a run of support.

Montgomery got his first win since June 2nd. Although the Yankee lineup has let down most of their pitchers, Monty has been the poster boy for no run support. He has given up an average of just 1.8 runs per game in his past seven starts while getting absolutely no run support. His command and control seem to be getting better with each start.

Concerning takeaway from Yankee win

After a devasting loss to the Boston Red Sox in the last game of that series, the Yankees needed to get a good start to this Tampa Bay series so they could have a chance to take the series. They did that with a 4-3 win last night. But, make no mistake about it, Monty won that game, not the Yankee lineup. The Yankees did get 10 hits in the game but went 3 for 16 with men in scoring position, leaving 11 Yankees on base. Twice they hit into double plays and lead all of baseball in that stat. The Yankees blew several opportunities to blow the game wide open.

Another concern was the Yankee bullpen

At the start of the season, industry sources said that the New York Yankees had one of the best bullpens in baseball, but in July, that has been disproven. Several relievers had pitiful outings. Last night after Montgomery pitched a solid five innings, the usually efficient Chad Green entered in the sixth inning, gave up two runs, and took 32 pitches to get through one inning. Zack Britton game up another run in the eighth.

In the ninth inning and Montgomery’s win almost blown, Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the ninth. Although he got the win, it was another nail-biting inning for the pitcher and fans. Chapman has struggled since the end of June, and last night was no different. First, he gave up a walk, and it took him 19 pitches to get out of the inning.

Yankees trade away long time reliever

In a puzzling move, the New York Yankee front office announced that they had traded long-time long-haul reliever Luis Cessa to the Cincinnati Reds at the end of last night’s game. Also included in the trade was Justin Wilson, and they got back nothing except a player to be named later.

Cessa has been the go-to long reliever for the last two New York Yankee managers. In his eleven seasons, he has a 55-54 record and an ERA of 3.74, which is very good for a reliever that usually enters the game with runners on base and has to give the team several innings of long relief.

This season has been his best with the Yankees. The 29-year-old is inducing ground balls at a massive 56.8% clip this year. Statcast shows he’s been among the top twenty percent of pitchers in suppressing opponents’ average exit velocity, hard contact, and barrels. In 38 1/3 innings, this season he has earned a career-best 2.82 ERA.

The only explanation I can come up with to get rid of Cessa involves Justin Wilson, who has not pitched well for the Yankees; he has an ERA of 7.50 in 18 innings of work and a contract that costs the Yankees close to $3 million. This amounts to a Yankees salary dump; unfortunately, the Yankees lose Cessa in the deal. Yankee fans can only hope that the salary dump brings something good to the team later this week.

It must have been quite a shock to Cessa, who has spent his last six years in the majors with the New York Yankees.

After huge win at UFC Vegas 32, what’s next for TJ Dillashaw?

This past Saturday at UFC Vegas 32, we saw the return of the former bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw (17-4). Dillashaw was taking on arguably the best bantamweight in the division in Cory Sandhagen (14-3) in his return.

Sandhagen stumbled against UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling (20-3), however, he bounced back strong. Back-to-back knockouts had everyone believing that Sandhagen was on a war path to the UFC bantamweight title.

TJ Dillashaw never lost the bantamweight title inside the octagon. Dillashaw relinquished the belt after he tested positive for EPO and was suspended for two years. In reality, nobody really knew what to expect from the former UFC champion.

Given Dillashaw’s talent and skill, I figured he’d give Sandhagen a very good fight. However, I figured that Sandhagen would be a bit sharper and edge Dillashaw in a close one at UFC Vegas 32.

For the most part, that prediction looked really good. Through four rounds, I had the fight even. I leaned every so slightly towards Dillashaw in the final frame, but there’s no questioning the fact that Sandhagen did more damage over five rounds at UFC Vegas 32.

There was going to be no robbery either way in this one. Ultimately, two of the three judges gave the fight to Dillashaw and the former UFC champion successfully returned to the octagon.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 32?

After his win on Saturday night, TJ Dillashaw jumped right to the top of the UFC rankings at bantamweight. The only men ranked above him are the champion and the former champion, Petr Yan (15-2).

Yan and Sterling will run things back at UFC 267 at the end of the October. This rematch is occurring because of the controversary ending to their first fight back in March. Yan was dominating the fight, but a blatant illegal knee by Yan forced the fight to stop.

Sterling was awarded the title by DQ and now hopefully we will get some clarity. Dillashaw hurt his knee at UFC Vegas 32 and is going to have to have surgery to repair some damage. That said, it shouldn’t keep him out too long.

In fact, it should line up perfectly with fighting the winner of the UFC 267 main event. With that in mind, there’s only one thing that’s next for TJ Dillashaw after Saturday night: a shot at the bantamweight title that he never lost inside the octagon.

Dissecting Andy Dalton’s vision for the Chicago Bears offense

New York Giants, Leonard Williams

Chicago Bears starting quarterback Andy Dalton took a direct approach when speaking about what the Bears’ offense could accomplish throughout the 2021 season. Dalton, who spent last season with the Dallas Cowboys after spending nine seasons as the starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals has continued to command respect throughout the offseason in Chicago.

Despite Bears’ fans’ desire to see rookie Justin Fields start, something cannot be denied when analyzing Dalton: Experience. Dalton has started 142 games since 2011 and has been to three Pro Bowls. Despite never having won a playoff game, the 11-year veteran has seen enough football to know what the Bears offense is capable of.

“I feel like with this offense and the players that we have, I think we can be pretty versatile,” Dalton said via the Bears official YouTube Channel. “We can run the ball, tight formations, we can spread you out and throw the ball. So I that’s the different things. We don’t want to have one identity of this is exactly what we are, we want to be able to be multiple and do different things.”

Chicago does have versatility at its disposal. Between running back David Montgomery, wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney, tight ends Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham, along with speedsters such as Tarik Cohen, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd, Chicago can play multiple styles of offense.

The key aspect to keep in mind is whether or not Dalton will be able to ensure that the Bears offense executes at a high level, rather than resembling the 2020 Bears offense, which seemed to limp to the finish line at times.

“The best thing you can do is play,” Dalton said. “That’s the best experience you can get. You’re seeing new looks each week, you’re learning different defenses, learning different schemes, learning all the different pressures teams are going to be throwing at you. You’re going to know the offense. You’d better know the offense.”

As Dalton continues to help build the Bears offense, it’s clear that he’s got high expectations for an offense that underwent a major overhaul throughout the offseason, setting up for what should be an intriguing unit heading into 2021.

New York Giants: Even co-owner John Mara is more excited about the 2021 season than normal

New York Giants, John Mara, Dave Gettleman

With quarterback Daniel Jones’s rookie window offering an opportunity to spend in free agency, the New York Giants jumped at the chance this off-season.  Having spent upwards of $150 million on players like Kenny Golladay and Leonard Williams, kicking the majority of cap hits to 2022 and beyond, the Giants feel confident they upgraded the team sufficiently.

Even co-owner John Mara is confident his team will take a step forward this year. After giving the front office the green light to spend excessively, anything less than adequate would be a disappointment.

“I always look forward to it but maybe a little more so this year because of the prospect of having fans in the building again and because I think we greatly improved our team,” Mara told Steve Serby of the New York Post. “There’s always a certain amount of anticipation. I would say this year, I’m looking forward to it even more than I usually do.”

The team is preparing to gear up for a grueling summer full of progression and hard work with training camp starting on Tuesday. The Giants have one of the deepest teams they’ve had in years, bolstering the pass rush and wide receiver position, specifically this off-season. Even the secondary gained a few pieces, including Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson. But just because the unit has been upgraded doesn’t guarantee their success.

It is clear that Mara feels good about the personal decisions the team made this off-season, adding a few nice puzzle pieces to fit an otherwise incomplete board.

“I feel like we’ve got the right pieces in place, I feel like we’ve improved the team through free agency and the draft,” he said. “I’m very confident that we have the right coach in place, so I think we’re ready to start making a move, but until we start winning games, words are meaningless.”

Joe Judge has overhauled the locker room atmosphere and disciplinarian rules behind the scenes, demanding accountability and respect from his players/coaches. Everybody is on the same page; winning comes first, and if success is what the team desires, they are going to have to put the work in to achieve it.