New York Giants’ nonexistent pass-rushing killing the defense

New York Giants, Oshane Ximines

The New York Giants got embarrassed at home on Sunday afternoon. The Giants got blown out by the Los Angeles Rams 38-11. New York’s defense struggled tremendously, especially in the pass-rushing department. The New York Giants’ nonexistent pass-rush is killing their defense.

While the Giants came away from the game with 2 total sacks, Rams quarterback Matt Stafford stood in the pocket generally untouched. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams recorded both of the Giants’ sacks, but the team’s edge rushers failed to make an impact on Sunday.

New York Giants lack of edge pass-rush

The New York Giants’ edge rushers are failing on every level. Azeez Ojulari, Lorenzo Carter, and Oshane Ximines are not showing up on Sundays. Not a single one of them recorded a pressure versus the Rams. All three of the Giants’ top edge rushers recorded ZERO pressures on Sunday.

In the last two weeks, Ojulari, Carter, and Ximines have one pressure in 100 combined pass-rushing snaps. The New York Giants will not win games until they get a boost in the pass-rush department from their edge rushers.

Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines have both failed to record a single sack so far this season. Azeez Ojulari has three sacks on the year, but he has not recorded one in the past three weeks.

The New York Giants defense is struggling in 2021. The pass-coverage and run-defense both look far worse than they did last season, and it is likely related to the team’s lack of a pass-rush. The Giants’ failure to get after the quarterback is ruining their chance of winning games.

Robert Saleh on the Jets’ offensive struggles, team identity after the bye

robert saleh, jets

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh laid out what’s to come in his first public statements since taking off for the team’s bye week.

The New York Jets enjoyed one of the most lucrative Sundays they’ve had in a long, long time. By perhaps no coincidence, Gang Green didn’t play a down, as they embarked on their annual bye week.

Gridiron affairs tilted in the Jets’ favor for a change during Sunday’s action: their divisional rivals from Miami and New England each lost heartbreakers while further misfortune in Carolina and Seattle allowed New York to shoot up the draft board through imported picks. Entering Monday night action, the Jets own four slots among the first 46. MetLife Stadium might as well be painted green for the time being, as the Jets (1-4) are the kings by default after the Giants’ humiliating showing against the Los Angeles Rams.

Robert Saleh is hoping the Jets can start to make their own luck as they make their return.

The Jets’ head coach made his first public comments since departing for the league-mandated break on Monday, unofficially beginning preparations for their Week 7 showdown against the New England Patriots. Sunday’s visit to Foxboro (1 p.m. ET, CBS) will conclude the annual season series between the two; the first meeting was a listless 25-6 loss on Sept. 19 at MetLife Stadium. That defeat was one of two games where the Jets failed to reach the end zone over their five-game, pre-bye slate , the other being a 26-0 shutout shellacking in Denver.

The bye week was anything but a break for Saleh, who spent time with his staff trying to solve the team’s offensive problems. A 1-4 start has been granted life through slow offensive efforts that take too much time to find their footing. The Jets have scored only one first half touchdown over the first games and have held a lead in only one: their Week 4 contest against Tennessee eventually won in overtime.

“(Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur) and his staff did a really good job digging in deep in terms of what the offense is having success at, what we’re not having success at, what the quarterback is having success at versus what he’s not having success,” Saleh said on Monday, per notes from the Jets. “I feel really good about the soundness of the things that we’ll be doing over the course of the week. The one thing that I thought was very important was that we didn’t just make things up and do things just to do things.”

The Jets’ offense has made some progress after the depressing doldrums of the Adam Gase era: Alijah Vera-Tucker has vindicated the faith bestowed in him when the Jets sacrificed one of the picks gleaned from the Jamal Adams trade to get him while fellow freshman Michael Carter has started to establish a hold on the primary carries in the run game.

But, perhaps unfairly, the offensive progress from a broad perspective will be primarily judged by new franchise quarterback Zach Wilson’s results. While Wilson has shown flashes of brilliance, his four-touchdown, nine-interception output has left much to be desired.

Saleh, however, spoke highly of the rewatch value Wilson’s mistakes can hold.

“(He has to) continue to grow from the things (that), not only that he’s done well, but the things that he did not do very well,” Saleh said. “It’s not easy being a rookie quarterback, but at the same time, there are steps that we can be taking every single week to get better so we can be there in the second half looking for a play or two to win a football game.”

An early bye, often granted to those who partake in the NFL’s international games (as the Jets recently did, losing to the Atlanta Falcons in London), means that the young Jets must now play a dozen games uninterrupted. But Saleh believes that the required time off did both Wilson and the team some much-needed good. He encouraged his young quarterback, a notorious film buff, to temporarily step away from practice, review, and game prep, if only for a short while.

“I was like, ‘Hey dude, just make sure you go to sleep. Just relax, just lay off a little bit and just relax.’ He’s such a competitor, he’s just constantly thinking about it,” Saleh said. “I think coaches, players, the organization, even for you guys, to step away and watch somebody else for a minute. It’s a good refresher and a chance to come back and see if we can finish this thing strong.”

The bye week also gave Saleh a chance to ponder what sort of identity the Jets are trying to establish as they work through yet another new chapter in the seemingly perpetual rebuild. He expressed solidarity with general manager Joe Douglas in defining green endeavors in how they play in the trenches upfront. While the offensive line’s veteran acquisitions have struggled, the Jets’ defense has been a pleasant surprise thanks to the efforts of a potent pass rush that has tallied 13 sacks so far. The rate of 2.6 per game is the sixth-best tally in the league.

“I think we all stand in lockstep with Joe (Douglas), in terms of we’re going to be identified upfront,” the first-year head coach said. “Our o-line has played very well here over the last few weeks, and we anticipate them to continue to play well. Our d-line has been extremely effective, very, very good playing with a lot of energy, a lot of just overpowering teams, overpowering their opponent.”

“I think it’s starting to get established,” Saleh said of the team’s evolving identity. “I know it’s hard to see right now, but I think in the trenches, I feel like we’ve been the better team, with the exception of those first couple of weeks, but it’s been coming along, and I think our guys are starting to understand where we’re going to make hay and where we’re going to win football games.”

Saleh used his public availability to provide updates on some of his injured players: defenders Jarrad Davis and Marcus Maye were labeled “day-to-day”. He cautioned that further updates could come later in the week, but labeled their medical progress “promising”. Blocker Mekhi Becton, on the other hand, remains a “few weeks away” from returning.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants haven’t lost locker room according to Logan Ryan

new york giants, logan ryan

To say the New York Giants are having a bad season would be an understatement. The team’s current 1-5 record contrasts sharply with the offseason talk from coaches and organization leaders about building something and improving from last year, and the most recent loss erased most of the optimism gained from the Giants’ sole win.

However, according to safety Logan Ryan, the Giants haven’t yet lost the locker room.

Ryan was the first player to take accountability for the loss on Sunday when he came out in full uniform after the game to address the media. During those comments, he remarked on the state of the locker room.

“So yeah, I don’t think morale is great, I think that’s natural. I think when you’re competitive and you lose, you get really mad and it’s not always the best, but at the same point I just don’t feel like we have that type of cancerous locker room where guys are starting to break away,” Ryan told reporters.

On paper, not losing the locker room is a good thing. Mathematically, based on the number of games left this season, the Giants still have a chance to turn things around and compete.

But thanks to their track record since 2017 and their performances this year, you’ll be hard pressed to find even diehard optimists who believe a miracle turnaround is in store for this team.

It may not matter in the long run whether the Giants throw in the towel early this season or not. The division race, after all, and even a .500 record, are getting further away from the team every week.

With that being said, it’s good to see Ryan stepping up as a leader and face of the team. So far this season, accountability has been a hard thing to come by.

Arguably, Ryan’s honest assessment about the locker room mood and his comments about the performance being unacceptable are more valuable than any of the remarks from Joe Judge about competing for 60 minutes or approaching every week as a new game.

Of course, fans would prefer to see accountability from the organization’s leaders, such as John Mara, rather than individual players. But if this season is anything like previous ones, we shouldn’t expect much.

The Giants have proven that if they are anything as an organization, it is slow to change. For any major changes, we’ll all likely have to wait for another offseason.

Until then, it appears performance will be measured in small milestones such as competing for 60 minutes or avoiding the loss of the locker room in the middle of a lost season.

Wayne Selden completes Knicks opening night roster

wayne selden, knicks

NBA veteran Wayne Selden Jr. made the final cut for the New York Knicks‘ opening night roster.

Selden, a 6-foot-5 wing out of Kansas Jayhawks, will be playing for his fourth NBA team after going undrafted in 2016. He holds career averages of 7.3 points on a 42/34/72 shooting split, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists over 19.1 minutes in 124 career games, including 27 starts, with New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. His best year in the league came in the 2017-18 season when he put up 9.3 points and 1.9 assists (both career-highs) in 35 games, with the Grizzlies highlighted by a career-high 31 points in a 111-104 loss to his former team New Orleans Pelicans.

For the final roster spot, Selden beat Dwayne Bacon, Brandon Knight, Brandon Goodwin, Aamir Simms, M.J. Walker, and Myles Powell. All waived players will likely see action for the Westchester Knicks, New York’s G League affiliate team.

Knicks Tom Thibodeau had been hinting at Selden making the final cut throughout the training camp. Thibodeau raved about him even when reporters were asking about other players.

Signed to a training camp deal in August after playing for the Knicks Summer League team, Selden caught Thibodeau’s eye for his professional approach even when his spot and minutes are not guaranteed.

“Well, he’d been here all summer and been here in the fall and then training camp and just [brings] a lot of the intangibles,” Thibodeau said after Sunday’s practice.

“[Wayne] got experience. He’s played in the league and he’s a great practice player. That’s what we’re looking for — someone who could move the group forward. He’s been terrific in practice and we felt like it’s another wing and it’s a wing-driven league.”

Selden averaged 6.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 1.7 assists over 16.4 minutes in the NBA Summer League but never saw action during the Knicks’ undefeated run in the preseason. And that will likely continue unless the Knicks’ wings get hit by an injury bug.

While Selden figures to be an end-of-the-bench player for the Knicks, Thibodeau raved about his professional approach to work. He was impressed most with Selden’s work capacity, concentration, and ability to fill in when necessary.

“He will do anything that you ask him to do. Basically, his practices are his games,” Thibodeau said, “and so when you have guys like that, it helps everyone move forward and brings the best out of his teammates. So that’s important to us.”

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Justin Pugh’s success highlights Dave Gettleman’s narcissistic tendencies

Man, I really hate being right when it comes to the New York Giants, these days.

Namely because I’ve been on the right side of history when it comes to (very unfortunately) the New York Giants inevitably becoming a laughingstock under the guidance of GM Dave Gettleman. Early on, I noticed that he let his massive ego become heavily involved in his decision making process – especially when it had to do with any player that was brought in by former GM Jerry Reese.

Predictably, that became a fatal flaw as, obviously, the entire roster he inherited was put together by Reese who oversaw the New York Giants for a decade. You may say something to yourself like, “Well, the 2017 Giants were a disaster. So, why wouldn’t we want to get make wholesale changes.”

And, while you may be correct in the basis of that statement, there is a huge difference between making wholesale changes to a depleted roster and jettisoning quality players for the sake of adding to a narrative you created, that was centered around you having a lot more to do with the New York Giants‘ two Super Bowl’s under Jerry Reese than you did.

That’s exactly what Dave Gettleman did from the start, and in the end, it cost the New York Giants franchise dearly. Obviously, any GM that was brought in by John Mara (let’s not kid ourselves, bringing in Gettleman was 100% a Mara move) was going to shake a ton of things up. And yes, maybe, Justin Pugh would have been part of that shakeup, regardless.

It’s worth noting that Pugh had a tough time staying on the field as a New York Giant — that may have been the driving force behind this particular move of letting a former first-round Jerry Reese offensive lineman walk at age 27, before paying him big money. However, in my mind, when Gettleman has demonstrated in countless other cases to make moves based on his emotions rather than the evidence and data at hand, I am not inclined to give him any benefit of the doubt, whatsoever.

So, yes, I’m now going to crush Dave Gettleman for the end result of letting Justin Pugh walk to the Arizona Cardinals. Pugh is now a centerpiece of the one of the best offensive lines – and overall offenses/teams, in general – that is the last undefeated football team standing. For a kicker, his salary cap hit is just $6.9M in 2021 and he has yet to allow a sack this season.

In turn, Gettleman chose to bring in Patrick Omameh who was an utter disaster. Omameh collected over $10M in what amounted to just six starts for the 2018 New York Giants before he was cut the same year he was signed. Every GM misses on free agent signings, but, it is really actually difficult to miss that badly.

The biggest unrest amongst Big Blue fans when Jerry Reese was fired (when it came to the roster) was how he had handled the offensive line over the years and the current state it was in. Yet, somehow, even that putrid offensive line seems like it was in a better place than the current one is — despite all the (failed) investments Gettleman has made to it and how many times we were preached to about ‘hog mollies’ (I still don’t know what those are).

There are many other examples of ‘Jerry Reese guys’ that Dave Gettleman let go of that went on to have success – sometimes for pennies on the dollar – with other teams. ‘DG’ then brought in just about the same many number of players to New York that flopped terribly. Again, when you understand the full context and how Gettleman badly wanted/wants to be remembered as having been an integral part of the Super Bowl wins in 2007 and 2011, it is clearly apparent that malpractice took place.

It was all in the name of Dave Gettleman’s narcissism.

After Bellator 268, does Corey Anderson have an argument for the best light heavyweight?

Corey Anderson

This past Saturday at Bellator 268, the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix resumed. In the co-main event of the evening, Ryan Bader (28-7) took on Corey Anderson (16-5). Bader was the former light heavyweight champion and is the current heavyweight champion.

This fight had a ton of hype behind it as both men have had similar paths to get to where they are today. After never quite reaching the mountain top in the UFC, both men have seen a tremendous amount of success in the Bellator cage.

Bader became a two-division champion and Corey Anderson has looked like a world-beater since making the jump last year. While this fight had a ton of hype behind it, the fight itself wasn’t very competitive and it didn’t last long.

In the opening minute, Anderson was able to catch Bader with a beautiful shot that put the heavyweight champion down. Anderson followed up with big shots and ultimately got the stoppage win and punching his ticket to the Bellator Grand Prix finals.

Is Bellator’s Anderson the best?

After the fight was over and Anderson had his hand raised at Bellator 268, many were saying that Anderson had an argument as the best light heavyweight. Not just in Bellator, but in the entire sport.

This argument was met with objection from the UFC light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz. Blachowicz took to Twitter today to remind everyone that he knocked out Anderson last year which was Anderson’s final fight in the UFC.

It’s worth noting that the fight between Anderson and Blachowicz was a rematch. Their first fight took place back in 2015 with Anderson getting the win. Anderson also holds a victory over Glover Teixeira who is challenging for the light heavyweight title in a couple of weeks.

We might very well be seeing the best version of Corey Anderson in Bellator. However, we have also seen the best version of Jan Blachowicz in the UFC as of late. Given that MMA is a, “What have you done for me lately?” kind of sport, my opinion is the best is still Blachowicz.

The resume for The Polish Power is just much better than Anderson’s over the last year. However, Anderson is at the very top of that list as well. He’s not just potentially the best light heavyweight in Bellator, he does have an argument for the best in the world regardless of promotion.

Chicago Bears: Week 6 takeaways, tidbits, and week 7 preview

justin field, bears

With the Chicago Bears losing to the Green Bay Packers at home, it’s time to recap week 6 and look ahead to week 7.

1) The Bears opened up the offense more for rookie quarterback Justin Fields and the numbers show it. Fields went 16-for-27, threw for 174 yards, and one touchdown while averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. The last two weeks, Fields passed just 37 times total. The improvement from Fields was noticeable but there is still a long way to go.

2) Let’s talk about rookies. Sixth-round pick Khalil Herbert hand himself a nice starting debut with 19 carries for 97 rushing yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Herbert had a nice 25-yard run in the first quarter and had 12 yards rushing the Bears’ first drive of the game, capped off by a one-yard touchdown.

3) As someone who was very high on Center Sam Mustipher coming into the season, it’s clear that the Bears need to make a switch at the center position. Simply put, Mustipher was beaten multiple times on Sunday and hasn’t shown the ability to get the job done. The Bears need to experiment with the offensive line, likely switching Cody Whitehair back to center, while Alex Bars gets the nod at right guard.

4) Return of the Mack continues. Khalil Mack totaled four tackles, one sack, and one tackle for loss on Sunday afternoon. Mack, despite not practicing all week found a way to get the job done and is just three sacks from tying his entire sack total from last season, which was nine sacks.

5) The Bears had zero turnovers, marking the third time all season the defense has failed to create any turnovers. The other two occasions were week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams and week 3 against the Cleveland Browns. Turnovers have become an important piece for the Bears’ defense, so this is a category that needs to see an increase going forward.

6) This was supposed to be a game where the Bears came out and proved the 2021 squad was different compared to years past. Instead, that wasn’t the case. The Bears are still lightyears behind where the Packers are, both in terms of talent at the quarterback position, and as a team in terms of execution, game planning, and coaching. Aaron Rodgers may make all the difference in the world for Green Bay but the Packers’ running game and offensive line also showed out on Sunday. The Bears did not.

7) Regardless of whether or not you thought Justin Fields played well, you can’t deny his commitment and effort towards getting better everyday. Fields was sacked four times on Sunday, none of which where his fault. The Bears still need to figure out the offensive line, which looked above average. The returns of rookies Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom should provide a big boost.

8) The Bears need to figure out what’s going on with Safety Eddie Jackson, who hasn’t been the same since signing a four-year deal worth $58M back in 2020. For those wondering, the Bears can’t get out of Jackson’s contract anytime soon and Jackson’s cap hit jumps to $15.09M in 2022 and $17.09M in 2023. The goods news about 2023 is Chicago can designate Jackson as a post-June 1st cut in 2023 and create $13.1M in cap space with $3.9M in dead cap, per Over The Cap.

9) Mario Edwards Jr. earning an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty isn’t the kind of mistake that needs to be made in a rivalry game. The seventh-year pass rusher has become the subject of disciplinary issues throughout the course of his Bears tenure and needs to understand that a 20-yard penalty against Aaron Rodgers is the kind of mistake that can cost a team the game.

10) The Bears have not yet scored in all four quarters in any game this season. With tough teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, and Arizona Cardinals looming on the schedule, the Bears need to get the offense going and be in a position where the entire offense can score at will, rather than scoring in random spurts. That means figuring out how to be consistent.

Speaking of Tampa Bay….

The Bears will head down South next week, traveling to Florida for a nice little weekend getaway as the cold weather continues to slowly enter Chicago. The Bears beat the defending Super Bowl champions at home 20-19 last season on primetime television.

This is a different year for both teams. The Bears are developing Justin Fields on the fly while the Bucs are trying to defend their Super Bowl championship and become the first team since the 2003-04 New England Patriots to repeat and win back-to-back Super Bowls.

The Bears will need to watch out for wide receiver Antonio Brown, who’s having a bounceback season after a rough few years in the NFL. Brown has played in two career games against the Bears, both as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, averaging 9.5 receptions and 153 receiving yards, and 1.5 touchdowns, per Pro Football Reference.

The Bucs are playing at a high level once again, so the Bears will have another tough matchup against another top NFC team that will be in the playoffs. It may be just week 7 but the Bears have now lost to the Rams and Packers, both teams that are locks for the playoffs. A loss to the Bucs only put the Bears in a deeper hole.

New York Yankees: All the Yankees news in one place

anthony rizzo, yankees

The New York Yankees lost the wild card game to the rival Boston Red Sox and are sitting back watching other teams reach for their dreams, while they are still licking the wounds of another failed season, not advancing in the postseason. But baseball goes on for four teams. The Atlanta Braves lead the Lost Angeles Dodgers two games to none as they travel back to Los Angeles to play the next three games if necessary. The Houston Astros travel to Fenway Park where they are 1-1 in their seven-game contest with the Red Sox.

Even with all this on-field action still going on, don’t think for a minute that the Yankee front office is dormant, it’s not. Although many of the players are back home watching games from their couches the front office is full steam ahead planning improvements for the upcoming 2022 season.

The Yankees make coaching changes

The New York Yankees, even before the end of the World Series have already made some major changes to the staff. Hitting coach Marcus Thames will not be returning in 2022. Also highly thought off third base coach Phil Nevin, will also not have his contract renewed, after a very bad mistake ushering Aaron Judge home and being called out by at least twelve feet. ESPN has also reported that Assitant Hitting Coach P. J. Pilittere’s contract will not have his contract renewed either.

It’s no secret that the Yankee players hitting was darn right awful this year, except for Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. Everyone wondered what was going on with one of the most powerful lineups in baseball, that went through long periods of lackluster hitting. At the end of the season, fans wondered who would be held responsible, Cashman, Boone, or Thames; it appears the hitting department is paying the price.

The Yankees may trade some major players

Since the end of the Yankee season, several names have come up as being possibly traded including Gleyber Torres, Gary Sanchez, Luke Voit, and Joey Gallo, mostly due to not performing as expected. The Torres and Sanchez situation has gone on for more than one season. Neither has grown as a Yankee and their performance is still suspect. Voit is a different situation, he can’t stay healthy, and now with the addition of Anthony Rizzo is more of a loose end than anything else. Joey Gallo is still a different scenario. He has batted under the interstate and many fans want to see him go.

Will the Yankees re-sign Anthony Rizzo?

When the Yankees acquired Anthony Rizzo at the trade deadline, they did so knowing that he was a free agent at the end of the season. Now the question is, did he play well enough for the Yankees to be re-signed. Two things are evident, Rizzo wants to play for the Yankees, but the question is; if the Yankees want to pay him enough to stay around.

Few players play for one historic franchise to play for yet another. Rizzo thought he would play out his career in Chicago, after all, he played for the Cubs for a decade and won a World Series ring with them, as he blossomed into one of the best players to play the game. But, then he came to the Yankees. Upon his arrival, he played better than anyone would have guessed, but as the season wore on he wasn’t as good. Nevertheless, he is an elite first baseman with some pop that the Yankees haven’t seen since Mark Teixeira. Now the Yankees have to decide if they want that defense and production that they have been missing for years.

To keep Rizzo on the team, it will probably cost the Yankees in the neighborhood of $12-20 million a year, according to the length of the contract. Rizzo is 32 years old. He has made it clear in interviews that he would like to end his career in the Bronx.

Yankee minor leaguers to get major upgrade

Anyone that follows baseball knows that there have been some big changes in the minor leagues. A complete re-aligning of the teams themselves, drastically reducing the number of affiliates, and upgrades to remaining locations. Minor leaguers also got a pay raise from $290 a week to $500 a week for the most junior players. This is far from a living wage causing six or more players to rent one apartment with many of them sleeping on mattresses on the floor, and sharing expenses. For some that run out of money they find themselves sleeping in their cars while they juggle second jobs just to get by.

Living in situations like this causes both physical and mental problems that could also cause problems with their on-field performance. Luckily, this problem will mostly go away for the 2022 season. MLB, with the agreement of all 30 major league owners will now provide either lodging or stipends to cover housing expenses for most minor leaguers. The Houston Astros on their own rewarded their minor league players during the 2021 season. Over the years obtaining affordable housing has been the major problem facing these young players while they pursue their dreams of playing in the majors.

Some abritation eligible players will make big money in 2022

The New York Yankees have a boatload of players that are now abritation eligible, some are going to bring in the big bucks. According to MLBTradeRumors.com; 19 Yankees are eligible for raises after this season. They have also provided the project amounts of those new raises. Here are some of the most notible:

  • Aaron Judge: $17.1 million
  • Joey Gallo $10.2 million
  • Gary Sanchez $7.9 million
  • Gio Urshela $6.2 million
  • Gleyber Torres $5.9 million
  • Luke Voit $5.4 million
  • Jordan Montgomery $4.8 millon
  • Chad Green $4.7 million
  • The other 11 are less, all the way down to Tyler Wade @ $700K.

What the Yankees should do with Gleyber Torres moving forward | Off-season brings big questions

New York Yankees, Gleyber Torres

The New York Yankees have a big decision to make at shortstop this off-season, and that will not include homegrown talent, Gleyber Torres. Torres spent 108 games at shortstop this past season, delivering a .952 fielding percentage and 18 errors over 915.2 innings. Eventually transitioned over to second base after his inconsistencies forced the Yankees to make an unfortunate decision, plucking Gio Urshela from his normal third-base spot to take over at SS.

Torres spent the final 19 games of the season at 2B, logging a .986 fielding percentage and one error over 170 innings. It is clear he’s far more proficient at second base, and an MLB scout confirmed that reality.

“Torres’ best position is second base,” a scout told SNY’s Anthony McCarron. “You can see it — he looks more comfortable there. His offense won’t rebound at shortstop. But what do you do with LeMahieu then? The question is, do you trade Torres? But what would you get for him right now?”

The most troublesome aspect of Torres’s development is his batting. Even the fans knew that Torres would likely fail at the shortstop position, but his hitting has been extremely inconsistent ever since posting an impressive .271 batting average in 2018 and hitting 24 homers.

Torres took a step in the right direction this past season, but his power has fallen off dramatically, hitting just nine homers two years after logging 38 in 2019.

“It seems like he was a more confident hitter previously and confidence has a lot to do with it,” the second scout said. “I think he was thinking about those errors at shortstop. Then he was hurt and I think it all contributed to it. I think he was reading the newspapers. You start trying to hit three home runs in one at-bat, try to do too much.”

Confidence is an essential part of hitting in the MLB, and Torres seems to be in his own head. Putting him in a position where he can thrive and limit his mistakes would likely benefit him offensively. Torres posted a 20.2% strikeout rate this season and his lowest WAR excluding the abbreviated 2020 campaign.

The Yankees need to make the executive decision to maximize Gleyber instead of putting him in deficient spots. They have done him no favors forcing him to play shortstop, but with a strong market this off-season, we should expect the Yankees to be active in finding a replacement, moving Gleyber to second base permanently. This could shift DJ LeMahieu into a full-time first base role.

Knicks’ Evan Fournier brushes off pre-season shooting woes, Thibs drops wisdom

evan fournier, knicks

The preseason is essential for players to begin building chemistry, especially ones trying to adapt to a new team. The New York Knicks brought in two high-profile free agents this off-season in Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker, and while it will take a bit of time for them to gel with their new teammates, utilizing their existing skills is all management expects.

During preseason play, Fournier struggled to get going, averaging 25.5 minutes over four games. He shot 35.5% from the field and only 30% from three-point range, a number the team expects to increase during the regular season and a larger sample size.

Knicks’ head coach Tom Thibodeau stated that Fournier needs to focus on being himself rather than trying to adapt to his new teammates and find his role within the team. The front office signed him to be a lethal shooter from range and to curate more opportunities from himself, which Reggie Bullock struggled to do last season.

“I was just told that actually, which makes sense,” Fournier said after practice Sunday. “The season is kind of my first time being the new guy on the team. But I have no [concerns] at all.

Luckily, the Knicks didn’t need higher efficiency scoring from Fournier to extract victories during preseason play, but the regular season is a different beast with more intensity. The Boston Celtics aren’t going to be rotating their reserve players in to help mitigate fatigue prior to the start of meaningful games.

“Preseason is preseason. It’s actually made to make mistakes and to learn from your teammates and plays and stuff. Once the season starts you start to get into a rhythm. The main thing is to be yourself.”

The Knicks are already expected to be without starting center Nerlens Noel for opening day against Boston, thrusting Taj Gibson and Mitchell Robinson into more prominent roles to start the year. However, they will need more production from the former Celtic, who contributed 17.1 points last season, adding 3.4 assists, 3.0 rebounds, shooting nearly 46% from the field and 41% from three-point range.

Once Fournier is in rhythm with his teammates, the Knicks could have one of the more potent offenses in the league, especially if they can maintain a high rate of three-point shooting and efficiency above 39%.