New York Giants: Kadarius Toney doesn’t practice Thursday, Saquon Barkley limited

At this point, many of the top playmakers for the New York Giants are synonymous with being injury prone. Just about all of their main skill position players on offense have spent time on the sidelines due to injuries in 2021, and some have been there more than others.

Promising rookie Kadarius Toney has battled injury from week to week, and that trend continues headed into the Eagles game. After playing on Monday Night Football and receiving 12 targets for 7 catches and 40 yards, Toney did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday according to the team injury report. The cause is a quad injury.

Another notable name dealing with an injury right now is Saquon Barkley. Barkley still isn’t completely over his ankle injury from earlier in the season, and was limited in practice on both Wednesday and Thursday.

It’s easy to see why the Giants believe Barkley is still hurt, given his performance coming back against Tampa Bay. Barkley had 6 carries in that game for 25 yards, and while he also had 6 receptions, he was far from the kind of impact player the Giants were hoping to get with his return.

Barkley has only played in 6 games this season and, before the Bucs game, was out since week 5.

Sterling Shepard rounds out the group of big-name playmakers to be limited or sit out. Shepard, who has only played 5 games this season and hasn’t taken to the field since week 8, did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

The New York Giants have one of the most injury prone offenses in the league

With the firing of Jason Garrett, many fans are considering the future of the offense. The problems, however, aren’t just in the realm of playcalling. While scheme and tactics are important, it’s equally important to have top talents that stay on the field and play consistently.

Every NFL team contends with injuries, but it would be a lie to say that every player is injured at the same rate. Some teams manage injury risk better than others, and the Giants appear to have built their offense on a house of cards that depends on specific players defying trends and staying healthy.

At times, the offense has even been lackluster after getting “offensive weapons” back – even as these players take the field again, they are often out of form and require more time before they can play to their potential.

This is undoubtedly an issue of roster construction. And when the team owners review Dave Gettleman’s performance this offseason and decide whether to keep him, the injury problems faced by the team right now should definitely be one o the topics brought up.

Chicago Bears: Losing streak ends in Turkey Day snoozefest

andy dalton, bears

Detroit, MI– For the first time since October 10th, the Chicago Bears have won a football game. In what was a Thanksgiving Day snoozefest in Detroit, the Bears defeated the Detroit Lions 16-14 on the heels of an 18-play, 69-yard drive that lasted 8:30. The Bears are ready to head home and enjoy Thanksgiving after a tumultuous week that included reports saying week 12 would be head coach Matt Nagy’s final game with the Bears.

Key contributors throughout the afternoon included veteran quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver Darnell Mooney, tight end Cole Kmet, cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and pass rusher Robert Quinn, all of whom made an impact at various points in the game.

Lions QB Jared Goff, who made his first start since week 10 went 21-for-25, throwing two passing touchdowns to wide receiver Josh Reynolds and tight end T.J. Hockenson. Despite the Lions striking first, the Bears would score 13 unanswered points in the second quarter, taking a six-point lead at halftime.

From there, the third quarter would be all about the Lions, who rattled off a seven-play, 79-yard drive in just over three minutes as Goff connected with Hockenson for the score. But the Bears would remain in the game, fighting, with the defense continuing to give the offense a chance.

The key moments that defined the Bears’ victory on Thursday afternoon all came on the game’s final possession. Back-to-back timeouts at 1:54 by the Lions have the Bears free yards, and then just two plays later, the Lions would burn their final timeout, giving the Bears an opportunity to run the clock down to just one second remaining in the fourth quarter before Kicker Cairo Santos would hit a game-winning 28-yard field goal.

For the Bears, snapping a five-game losing streak is a positive as are Dalton’s 317 passing yards and one touchdown. Chicago now has just about 10 days to prepare for the Arizona Cardinals, who will be visiting Soldier Field on Sunday, December 5th.

Devin Booker will cut short Thanksgiving Day to prepare for Knicks

The red-hot Phoenix Suns will visit the New York Knicks on Black Friday, and there’s no one more excited than Devin Booker.

The Suns’ leading scorer, Booker, is looking forward to playing in one of his favorite arenas– the Madison Square Garden, where he once shot a game-winner in 2017.

Booker has turned the Knicks homecourt into his playground with career averages of 30.1 points on 51.2 percent shooting in six games since entering the NBA in 2015.

“That’s always my first thought. It’s a business trip,” Booker said after his 35-point game Wednesday night in Cleveland. “I’m gonna sit down with some family and friends and enjoy the day, but I’m gonna cut Thanksgiving [Day] a little early and get ready for this one (against New York).”

Last season, Booker torched the Knicks at the Garden with 33 points as he and Chris Paul carried the Suns to a 118-110 victory that snapped New York’s nine-game winning streak. Paul scored Phoenix’s final seven points, which gave the Suns enough cushion to fend off the Knicks’ late push.

New York coach Tom Thibodeau points to Chris Paul’s leadership playing a massive role in Booker’s career, and in turn, helped the Suns to their stirring NBA Finals run last season.

“When you have veterans that have been through the wars when you can couple that with a young star like Booker, I think that’s very beneficial,” Thibodeau said after Wednesday’s practice. “You want your vets to help lead the way with the young guys and it has someone that can still play and has the respect of everyone.

“I think [Chris] is the perfect guy for that when you look at how dynamic their backcourt is with those two. It’s why they have the record that they do.”

The Suns are the hottest team in the league right now, with a 14-game winning streak after a rocky 1-3 start. Meanwhile, the Knicks evened their record at home at 5-5 after a galvanizing 106-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Tuesday.

The Suns have remained steady despite the ongoing investigation on Suns’ governor Robert Sarver on allegations of racism and misogyny.

The Booker-Paul backcourt has a lot to do with that.

Booker takes care of scoring with team-high 23.1 points and 4.8 assists. On the other hand, Paul leads the Suns and the entire league in assists with 10.4 per game and 14.1 points.

Knicks’ third-year wing RJ Barrett will have his hands full against Booker. The Suns’ high-scoring guard holds a career average of 27.7 points on a 48/39/92 split against the Knicks.

One of Leon Rose’s favorite clients when the Knicks president was still an agent, Booker has scored 30-plus points in three of his last four games at the Garden.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

New York Yankees not doing much, how about their rivals?

anthony volpe, yankees

After the World Series the New York Yankees created a lot of excitement, seemingly committing to spend money and sign a big name short stop to replace the failed experiment with Gleyber Torres. They also indicated that securing a number two type starter would be a priority as well. There was also plenty of talk about backup strength in centerfield.

Now weeks out from those proclamations the Yankees have done practically nothing with their priorities, even rolling back thoughts of signing a big name shortstop. They have now decided it appears that a stop gap measure might be preferable, while they wait for Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza to become major league ready. It’s beginning to sound like the 2022 Yankees may not be that much different than the team that lost division to the Tampa Bay Rays and the wild card game to the Boston Red Sox.

The Yankees did replace third base coach Phil Nevin with ex-Mets manager Luis Rojas. The also made a play for starting pitcher Justin Verlander, who ended up signing with the Houston Astros, the team that turned his career around. The Yankees offered the same $25 million on a one year contract, the Astros bested that with the same amount for two years.

Boston Red Sox changes:

Luckily for the Yankees, their other rivals haven’t done much either. Possibly because a lock out seems likely when the Collective Bargaining Agreement runs out on December 1st. The Red Sox lost a key pitching element when Eduardo Rodriguez signed with the Detroit Tigers.

Back on the fifth of November the Sox scooped up Yankees Tim Locastro off waivers. Kyle Schwarber elected for free agency and the Sox as of now have not resigned him. He was big for the Sox going down the stretch with his 31 home runs on the season.

Tampa Bay Rays changes:

From a Yankee perspective it was not good news when the Rays inked an 11-year contract with their star infielder Wander Franco. The Rays will now have there cornerstone for the rest of the decade. Earlier in the month the Rays exercised Mike Zunino’s contract option, keeping him as their primary catcher.

Toronto Blue Jay changes:

The Blue Jays only big splash is that they signed starting pitcher Jose Berrios to a seven year contract extension, keeping him with the Blue Jays through the 2028 season. They also acquired Off Waivers From San Diego right hand pitcher Shawn Anderson.

Baltimore Orioles changes:

After a 110 game losing season and sitting at the bottom of the American League, the Orioles have done nearly nothing, other then acquire to two players off waivers. They selected right hand pitcher Cionel Perez from the Reds and shortstop Lucius Fox from the Kansas City Royals.

If there is no owner lock out after December first, expect the hot stove to heat up.

Yankees News: Aaron Judge shows off facial hair, swiss army knife free agent to target

jonathan villar, mets, yankees

The New York Yankees are preparing to negotiate with Aaron Judge and his representatives regarding a future extension, but the star slugger may be pushing the team to bend a few rules after appearing with facial hair early this off-season.

Judge wore the beard well, but certainly could be a villain origin story if they fail to come to an agreement on a future contract. Judge is coming off one of his best seasons as a professional, playing in 148 games and alleviating concerns that he is an injury-prone player.

Judge finished the 2021 season with a .287 average, 39 homers, 98 RBIs, and a career-low 25% strikeout rate. He has developed into not only a consistent player, but an elite offensive and defensive threat. With one of the best arms in the outfield, Judge could find himself starting in centerfield this upcoming season with Joey Gallo and Giancarlo Stanton on the roster.

However, Judge may be the only one capable of forcing ownership to change the facial hair rules.

One underrated free-agent target the Yankees could pursue:

The Yankees have been distracted by the shortstop market and starting pitching free agents, but one Swiss Army knife that could fit the bill is Jonathan Villar. Villar is coming off a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Mets, and he represented one of their more consistent players. At 30-years-old, Villar is capable of playing multiple infield positions, including shortstop, second base, and third base.

With Tyler Wade being traded to the Los Angeles Angels, general manager Brian Cashman is in need of another utility player, and Jonathan fits the bill perfectly. He hit .249 with 18 homers and 42 RBIs this past season but had his best campaign in 2019 when he posted a .274 average with 24 homers and 73 RBIs.

Villar likely wouldn’t be a pricey acquisition, and he could fill multiple spots if needed. He also has experience playing in the outfield, specifically in center. He may not be guaranteed a starting role, but his type of versatility is valuable for a team that has dealt with significant injuries in the past.

Yankees News: Two Bombers make All-MLB team, top pitching free agent makes sense

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

With movement quiet on the free agency front, the New York Yankees are waiting patiently for the price tags of multiple free agents to lessen in the coming days. In the meantime, two Yankees were named to the 2021 All-MLB team on Tuesday, including Aaron Judge and Gerrit Cole.

First Team: Aaron Judge, Yankees

This season was a strong reminder of what Judge brings to the Yankees when he’s able to post up for a full season. After missing 142 games combined in 2018-20, Judge had a .916 OPS, 39 homers and 98 RBIs in 148 games to earn his first All-MLB selection.

First Team: Gerrit Cole

Cole is now a perfect 3-for-3 in making the All-MLB Team, and this is his second First Team selection (also 2019). With a 3.23 ERA, 243 strikeouts and AL-best 5.93 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 181 1/3 innings, he finished second in the AL Cy Young voting.

Both players had fantastic seasons, and with Judge featuring in 148 games, he proved that he can remain healthy over the course of an entire season. That is a massive step forward for the big slugger as he eyes an extension in the near future.

General manager Brian Cashman already indicated he is preparing to connect with Judge’s representatives over the winter about his future deal, so any free agency moves have to incorporate the financial commitment he will garner.

Cole, on the other hand, had a dominant first half of the year but struggled at times in the second half, especially in the postseason. The Yankees are paying him an exorbitant amount of money to be a dominant pitcher when they need him most, and he failed to accomplish that.

In his lone outing against the Boston Red Sox in the Wild Card game, he posted a 13.50 ERA, giving up four hits and three earned runs over just 2.0 innings. The bullpen did their best to keep the Yankees in the game, but lackluster offense saw them fall before making a real postseason push.

The New York Yankees need to add to the starting pitching rotation this off-season:

As stated above, free agency is rather quiet at the moment, but the Yankees are willing to spend big money to acquire a great starting pitcher. Cashman had $25 million on the table for Justin Verlander on a one-year deal, so we know they are willing to spend.

One option is Toronto Blue Jays ace Robbie Ray. Ray featured a 2.84 ERA this past season, posting a career-high 90.1% left on-base percentage and adequate 37.2% ground ball rate. He featured an 11.54 strikeout per nine rate and walked just 2.42 batters per nine, the lowest of his career.

Having his best season in Toronto, it begs the question of what changed?

Ray’s fastball elevated 94.6 mph, a full mile per hour faster than during his 2020 season and 2 mph faster than his 2019 campaign. He threw his fastball the most in his entire career at nearly 60% and utilized his slider as his primary, secondary pitch.

It is clear a change in strategy aided in his campaign, and the Yankees might see even more potential with the 30-year-old lefty.

Knicks: Just how much better is Immanuel Quickley playing this season?

Quickley, Knicks

The New York Knicks have relied heavily on their second unit to supplement the starting team in recent days, but without the stellar play of second-year guard Immanuel Quickley, the Knicks might be in a state of peril.

Coming off an impressive victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, Quickley posted 14 points, the most off the bench and only fewer than Julius Randle and Evan Fournier. Quickley hit 50% of his three-point shots, attempting eight in the contest, picking up three assists and three rebounds in the process.

With veteran point guard Derrick Rose missing the game, Quickley was utilized more, earning 22 minutes of action. This season, Quickley is averaging 8.9 points, 2.2 assists, and is shooting 39.4% from the field and 37.5% from three-point range. However, his last few games showcase a player taking massive developmental steps forward.

The Kentucky product has produced double-digit points in four of his last five games, connecting on 50% or more from three-point range in four of them. In the month of November, Quickley is hitting 43.5% from the field and 43.1% from three-point range, picking up double-digit points in seven of 12 total games.

As the month has progressed, his minutes have also increased, showing Tom Thibodeau’s confidence and faith in the young guard. However, it’s not only his offense that has taken a step forward, it is his defense as well.

Quickley has portrayed fantastic press and full-court defense, making life far more difficult for teams looking to dominate the perimeter. His high-energy game and quickness give him a unique skill set that has translated to both sides of the ball this year. That was a major negative about his game during his rookie season, a lack of defensive positioning and understanding. Experience has done the young player well, and he is producing at a level that justifies starting minutes in the future.

Taking a look at his advanced metrics, Quickley has experiences increases in multiple categories. His percentage of points made through the three-point shot has risen from 48.4% to 55.9% the season. His points in transition have increased from 6.8% to 14.3%, and his two-point field goals have largely been off assists, running at a 50% rate compared to 19.8% last season.

Interestingly, Quickley has relied more on his teammates to feed him the ball inside the arc, but beyond, he’s seen a sizable uptick in unassisted three-point shots at 46.7% compared to 39% in his rookie season.

Quickley has gotten smarter with a ball in his hands, passing more efficiently and finding better spots on the floor to produce. His development has been a catalyst on offense for New York, but he has matched it with his energy on defense.

New York Yankees News: Yankee manager dead at 90 and more Yankee news

Bill Virdon passes away at 90

The New York Yankee family was saddened to learn of the passing of ex-Yankee manager Bill Virdon. Virdon was manager of the Yankees during 1974 and 1975 before being replaced in 1975 my the new manager Billy Martin. In 1974 he won 89 games for the Yankees.

However, Virdon’s claim to fame was bringing the Houston Astros to the postseason twice. Virdon remains Houston’s management leader in wins. He has 544 wins to his name. He was voted NL Manager of the ear in 1980 when he guided the Astros to the NL West title after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the playoffs.

After the late George M. Steinbrenner took over the ownership of the Yankees from CBS, he brought in several managers to right the ship and make the Yankees champions again. After Ralph Houk couldn’t do it, he brought in Virdon in 1974, he managed the Yankees to number 2 in the East, but when he won only two more games than losses in 75, the “boss” replaced him with Billy Martin who won a championship for the Yankees in 1977.

Tyler Wade thanks the Yankees and the fans

Last weekend the Yankees designated utility player and fan favorite Tyler Wade for assignment. At the time I said that he would be scooped up quickly, and I was correct, on Monday he was traded to the Los Angels for cash consideration or a player to be named later.

Wade spent his entire nine year career with the Yankees having his best year this past season, when he hit .268 in a career high 103 games. Wade not being the best hitter, was commonly used late in games to run and steal bases, something he did very well. He was also very versatile playing in both the infield and outfield.

Wade took to social media to thank the Yankees and the fans for supporting him.

@_tylerwade
New York, the last 9 years have been a dream. I can’t thank the fans enough for embracing me and making me feel apart of the city. To All my teammates I’m gonna miss ballin and competing with y’all! New York will always be apart of me!

Will the Yankees end up with a “turkey” at short?

Since the end of the World Series, the New York Yankee news has been all about replacing or finding a shortstop to replace the failed experiment with Gleyber Torres, who was moved late in the 2021 season back to second base.

First the news was that the Yankees would go big and make a splash with a big name like Carlos Correa or Cory Seager.  That seems to now turned to more of a discussion on the up and coming Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza. On this turkey day Yankee fans see a very cloudy picture as to who the 2022 Yankee shortstop will be. Joel Sherman has said the Yankees seem to no longer be participants in securing a top man to only being an observer. Meanwhile even ex-Yankee Nick Swisher has been praising the Yankee prospects. Stay tuned.