New York Giants: Saquon Barkley reacts to the firing of Jason Garrett

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are quickly approaching a division game with the Eagles, but the biggest story right now is still the changes in the organization. Jason Garrett is out as offensive coordinator, and the reactions have been trickling in. The Giants haven’t yet announced who will call plays in place of Garrett, but various members of the organization have given their remarks about the firing this week.

That includes Saquon Barkley, who was asked about it on Friday. Based on what Barkley said, it looks like the players are taking the firing as a sort of wake up call too.

“Obviously with JG getting fired, as an offensive player, you feel like you take some responsibility,” Barkley told reporters. “Obviously, we know that he’s the one that got fired, but we’ve still got seven games left and we’ve got to take responsibility about knowing that it wasn’t just only him.”

His comments are similar to those from Daniel Jones earlier in the week. Like Barkley, Jones acknowledged his own part in the outcome for Garrett.

Barkley’s comments are especially relevant this season as the running back is having a down year. Despite coming back with big expectations, Barkley has only played in 6 games at this point and has 220 rushing yards.

But of course, the poor offensive performance that got Garrett fired runs far deeper than Barkley. Against the Eagles, many eyes will be on the offense to see if that downward trend continues after Garrett. Barkley also spoke on the matter of what to expect the offense to look like on Sunday.

What will the offense look like on Sunday?

The Giants moved on from their offensive coordinator, but it’s unclear how much will change for the rest of the season. Many have pointed out how even if the playcalling is different, the offense is still limited by Garrett’s playbook. During the season, there’s no time to train for a complete revamp. Barkley’s comments on the subject echoed that idea.

“I mean, when you’re in Week 12 or Week 13 in the NFL, there isn’t really much more you can have. Obviously, you could have new wrinkles here and there, but you’re not really going to have much, the terminology is not going to change,” Barkley said.

We can perhaps expect more creative playcalls and better management on offense. But based on everything that’s been said this week by coaches and players, don’t expect any drastic changes. As much as the fans would like to see an instant leap forward in offense, the logistics of a drastic shift just aren’t possible at this point in the season.

Suns 118, Knicks 97: Youngsters get tons of playing time as starters disappear

The New York Knicks fell to the Phoenix Suns on Friday evening by a score of 118–97. The starting team completely disappeared as Julius Randle contributed just nine points, four-assist, and six rebounds. Having played in 32 minutes, Tom Thibodeau needed his best player to step up and provide a sufficient performance, but he was unable to get going and was pulled early in the game.

The highest scorer of the game for the Knicks was point guard Kemba Walker, who contributed 17 points over 23 minutes. While Walker was their best offensive player, his defense was lackluster, as was the entire starting unit. Not a single starter earned a positive +/-, allowing Phoenix to post an absurd stat line.

One of the keys for the Knicks was to limit Devin Booker, the Suns’ top scorer. Over 35 minutes, Booker recorded 32 points, hitting 14-of-27 shots from the field and picking up three assists. Chris Paul added 14 points and 10 assists, in line with his season average. Every single starter from Phoenix scored double digit points, which allowed Thibodeau to give his youngsters some added minutes in the loss.

For the first time this season, rookies Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride earned some playing time. Grimes featured in 16 minutes, picking up three points and four rebounds. McBride posted two points over four minutes, while second-year guard Immanuel Quickley added 16 points over 20 minutes, hitting 50% of the shots from deep. Quickley has been on a tear recently, justifying starter-level minutes.

The Knicks are trending down as of late, especially with the starting team struggling to produce on a regular basis. Randle had posted 20 or more points over his last two games, but this was his first outing of the season, where he earned single-digit points.

The team needs more for their All-Star power forward if they want to be a top team, and this disappearing act cannot be a frequent occurrence. Thibodeau will undoubtedly have a few critical words for his squad after an embarrassing performance against Phoenix, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier as the Knicks prepare to take on the Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets, and Chicago Bulls consecutively in the coming days.

New York Giants Injury Update: Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard trending down

kadarius toney, giants

The New York Giants have faced significant injuries at the wide receiver and offensive line positions this season. In fact, the Giants have only featured the majority of their playmakers with a handful of snaps, which may point to a bigger problem with the training staff.

The Giants are preparing to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, and they are expected to be without several starters on both sides of the ball. Logan Ryan contracted Covid last week, missing Monday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and will likely be ruled out against Philadelphia over the weekend.

However, the team’s receivers are once again being plagued by the injury bug during the second half of the season.

Four offensive players likely to miss Week 12 for the New York Giants:

Kadarius Toney: Quad

Toney started the season with an ankle injury that hampered him early on, but he proved to be a focal point on offense against the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he has made a minimal impact as coordinator Jason Garrett failed to incorporate him into their strategy. Toney picked up a quad injury against the Buccaneers, and if he’s unable to practice on Friday, it is extremely unlikely he’s able to suit up on Sunday.

Sterling Shepard: Quad

Another playmaker who has missed time this season is Sterling Shepard, having played in just five games. Shepard showed solid chemistry with quarterback Daniel Jones, picking up 324 yards and a score on 32 receptions. Shep, though, suffered a quad injury against the Kansas City Chiefs and has been unable to practice since. He is almost guaranteed to miss Sunday’s game.

Kaden Smith: Knee

Reserve tight end Kaden Smith has been dealing with a knee injury all season long, and while he has appeared in most games despite the injury, he is still working through it on a weekly basis. I wouldn’t expect Smith to suit up, but his role is insignificant at this point.

Kyle Rudolph: Ankle

The Giants lost free-agent signing Kyle Rudolph against the Buccaneers due to an ankle injury. The expectation is that Rudolph will miss Sunday’s game as well, so the Giants will be without two tight ends and two of their primary receivers.

The Mets are facing a lot of competition for Marcus Stroman’s services

New York Yankees, New York Mets, Marcus Stroman

The New York Mets badly need to add at least two or three top-tier pieces to their rotation during the offseason. Their overall depth has been severely hit by injuries and free agency: Noah Syndergaard unexpectedly signed with the Los Angeles Angels, Rich Hill and Marcus Stroman are free agents, and there aren’t any assurances about the health of Jacob deGrom’s elbow. In addition, Joey Lucchesi won’t be available in 2022 as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery.

The situation has created a severe need for pitching in the Mets’ organization. In particular, New York should do whatever it takes to re-sign Stroman, as he showed this past season that, with the added split-change to his repertoire, his ceiling is higher than it used to be.

In 2021, Stroman started 33 games and pitched 179.0 innings. His ERA was 3.02, his FIP 3.49, and he finished with 3.4 Wins Above Replacement, or WAR. He already played last season under the qualifying offer for the Mets, so he is not eligible to do so again.

Several clubs are interested in the Mets’ righty

The problem with re-signing Stroman is that the Mets are facing a lot of competition, which could ultimately end up driving the price up. According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, at least five teams are interested in the right-hander: the Boston Red Sox, the San Francisco Giants, the Chicago Cubs, the Los Angeles Angels, and incumbent Mets.

Additionally, per Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Seattle Mariners could be another potential suitor for Stroman.

The Mets recently bid for Steven Matz, who pitched all of his career, except for the 2021 season, with them. However, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals.

At the moment, deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, David Peterson, and Tylor Megill are all the Mets have as far as starters concern.

The offseason is still young, but pitching appears to moving off the market quickly. The Mets need to act now if they don’t want to see all their options disappear.

3 keys for the New York Knicks to take down red-hot Phoenix Suns

The New York Knicks are preparing to take on the red hot Phoenix Suns on Friday evening, who have won 14 games straight, with recent wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs. While Phoenix has enjoyed somewhat of a light schedule up to this point, the Knicks have an opportunity to end their impressive streak.

However, it is going to take every player at the top of their game to dismantle the Suns, who’ve been lethal offensively this season.

Three keys for the Knicks to take down Suns:

1.) Limit Chris Paul

Limiting Chris Paul is easier said than done, as he’s averaging 14.1 points, 10.4 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. He is still an elite point guard and is incredibly intelligent with a ball in his hands. When he’s not scoring, he’s facilitating, so finding ways to keep him at bay is a priority for New York.

“It’s just incredible,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said this week when asked about Paul. “I think he’s always been a great player. His career speaks for itself. He went through a stretch where he had injuries, but the way he’s taking care of his body and he’s sort of just navigated that and he’s been healthy, I think you see what his leadership has done for that team. He’s brought the best out of them.”

I would love to see Immanuel Quickley have a chance to guard Paul with his aggressive press style, they should put more full-court pressure on the star PG.

2.) Devin Booker can’t be given space to shoot

Phoenix’s top scorer this season is Devin Booker, who is averaging 23.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. Booker has once again elevated his play, facilitating efficiently but also scoring at an incredibly high clip. He’s connecting on nearly 40% of his three-point attempts and 45.1% from the field.

The Knicks have had trouble guarding the perimeter this season at times, and if they give Booker too much space and open looks at the basket, he will make them pay. Having aggressive perimeter defense is essential to limiting Devin coming off a 35-point performance against Cleveland.

3.) Knicks’ starters need to step up

The Knicks’ starting unit can’t have another deficient game, not against Phoenix. The Suns currently have the third-best defensive rating in basketball, as the Knicks sit at 16th, a big increase from just a week ago.

If the starters are unable to contribute significantly, they will have to once again rely on their second team, who don’t have the capacity to match the offensive production of Phoenix. Luckily for New York, Julius Randle is coming off two consecutive games, posting 20+ points, and he’s finally finding his groove.

The team needs more from starting point guard Kemba Walker, who has scored single-digit points in his last four contests with a minimum of 18 minutes. For New York to be a competitor in this matchup, they need Walker to be an offensive threat, knocking down his 3-PT attempts consistently.

New York Yankees: Will the Yankees miss Tyler Wade or Andrew Velazquez?

The New York Yankees lost a couple of fan favorites this offseason, the heartthrob Tyler Wade and the kid with the great local story, Andrew Velazquez. Two players that most Yankee fans are not happy to see gone. But looking deeper will the Yankees miss them now that they are gone?

The answer if you do some soul searching and stats checking, is probably not. Wade always thought of a a real cute guy to Yankee female fans, spent his entire 9 year career, including the minors with the Yankees. But in all that time he was never a stand out player, mostly known for his versatility and base running and stealing. He never was a power hitter, but looking deep into his 2021 season when he played the most, he had some career lows.

On the surface he was coming off his best season in the majors. Wade slashed .268/.354/.323 in 2021 with a 92 wRC+ and 0.9 fWAR over 103 games. You have to admit those a pretty good numbers for his role on the team. Wade last week turned 27-years old.

Concerning, is that he saw a big drop in his hard hit balls, that was low to begin with. His average exit was 82.2 mph with only a 13.8-percent hard hit rate were both career lows. He got the most at bats last year of his major league career. But the more at bats you have, it shows more of the type of player you really are. Wade also experienced a career low in barrel percentage with 1.1 percent.

This past season his batting average was quite a bit better compared to previous seasons, but his career lows suggest that he could easily go back to his previous numbers that were less than exciting.

We never expected Wade to be an over the fence guy or a hard hitter. His role has been mostly coming off the bench to run or provide defense. Therein lies another problem, looking at the numbers his defense was nothing to rave about either.  He had -4 defensive runs saved at shortstop and -5 DRS at second base in only 63.1 innings, which was the worst of anyone that played second base last year. Even worse than Gleyber  Torres. The only way he could really contribute is with his base running while costing the Yankees with his poor defense. Looking at the whole picture he really wasn’t an asset for the Yankees.

Andrew Velazquez was an entirely different story. Looking back, it was more about his story than his play. Born and raised in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, being the only home town boy to play for the Yankees, made him and his story really popular without doing a thing.

Sadly for the hometown boy, looking at the stats, his story may be interesting but his hitting and defense was nothing to write back home to his parents, that also live in the Bronx. Velazquez hit .224/.235/.358 with a .594 OPS and 57 wRC+. He was a non-factor at the plate, especially with his 33.8-percent strikeout rate.

But similar to Wade his job was not to be a big time hitter, but to provide base running and defense, something else he was not that good at. At short he committed three errors, when you factor in the innings played that could actually have been worse than Torres who was among the worst in the majors.

Going forward neither of these players contributed much to the Yankees. They actually may have cost the Yankees. Now we just have to wait and see if Brian Cashman replaces them with upgrades. Hopefully both Wade and Velazquez will play better with a new environment, and Yankee fans wish them well.

 

 

 

UFC booking Edson Barboza – Bryce Mitchell

Edson Barboza

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and the UFC gave us a fun featherweight matchup to be thankful for. MMA Junkie was the first to report that the UFC had finalized a matchup between Edson Barboza (22-10) and the undefeated Bryce Mitchell (14-0).

The matchup will take place on March 5th. For Barboza, he’s going to be looking to get back in the win column after he lost his last fight. In his last fight, Baboza headlined a UFC Fight Night against Giga Chikadze.

Entering that bout, Barboza had won two fights in a row in the featherweight division. A win over Chikadze would have put the Brazilian in an excellent position. However, Barboza couldn’t find much success and was stopped in the third round.

Now, Barboza is looking to reset and the UFC isn’t doing him any favors in booking him against ‘Thug Nasty’. That said, this matchup is going to be equally challenging for Mitchell. This is your stereotypical striker versus grappler matchup.

Will Thug Nasty stay unbeaten in the UFC?

Bryce Mitchell made his UFC debut back in 2018 at the Ultimate Finale where he picked up a win. Since then, he’s gone a perfect 4-0 which includes a victory where he pulled off a twister.

Thug Nasty has a sick ground game and you can imagine that he’s going to try and get the fight with Barboza down to the mat. However, doing that might not be very easy.

In his last fight, Mitchell picked up a big decision win over Andre Fili. That was the first big step up in competition for Mitchell since he joined the UFC. Now, Mitchell is going to take another step up in facing Barboza.

It’s been over a year since we’ve seen Mitchell as he’s been recovering from some injuries. This is not an easy fight to come back to, however, Mitchell wants challenges and the UFC is willing to give them.

Yankees News: Team could lose top-20 prospect to Rule 5 Draft, more

Josh Breaux, yankees

Top New York Yankees links:

MLB rumors: Yankees could lose top-20 prospect in Rule 5 Draft – NJ.com

The Yankees could lose catching prospect Josh Breaux to the Rule 5 Draft this off-season if they don’t elevate him to the active roster. At 24-years old, the former 2nd round pick ranks as the Yankees’ No. 18 prospect.

Similar to Gary Sánchez in terms of his offensive and defensive profile as well as his build, Breaux is enticing because he has well above-average raw power and an arm that was once clocked up to 100 mph when he took the mound at McLennan (Texas) CC. The 2018 second-rounder still needs to polish his hitting and receiving, and he batted .249/.298/.503 with 23 homers in 90 games between High-A and Double-A.

Yankees Bold Offseason Prediction: New York Trades For Willson Contreras – SI.com

The Yankees are on the fence about Gary Sanchez and his future with the team, and with one year left of arbitration until he lands on the free agency market, GM Brian Cashman has to make a big decision. Either they can extend him, which is unlikely based on his production, or they can find a supplement. It’s possible the Bombers trade for Willson Contreras, but what would it take to acquire him?

Yankees could lose top free-agent options to Chicago – NJ.com

The Yankees are in need of starting pitching help and a premium shortstop, but the Chicago White Sox are looking to gain several high-profile free agents as well. Pitcher Robbie Ray is on their wish list, who may be a great option for the Bombers after losing out on the Justin Verlander sweepstakes. Ray is coming off his best season as a professional, and as a lefty, he would add more diversity to the starting rotation. Chicago also has eyes on Marcus Semien, who would be a solid stopgap before Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are ready to make the leap.

Knicks: Has Evan Fournier Lived Up to His Contract Expectations Early in the Season?

Following their first playoff berth in eight seasons, the New York Knicks decided to build on their foundational groundwork this summer by investing in key players on their roster and tacking on more talent over free agency.

After they resigned point guard Derrick Rose to a three-year, $43 million-dollar deal and granted Julius Randle a contract extension of $117 million over the next four years, the Knicks also acquired point guard Kemba Walker to a two-year deal worth $17.9 million.

However, the biggest and most volatile acquisition the Knicks pulled off over the summer, was the sign-and-trade deal they made with the Boston Celtics for shooting guard Evan Fournier. Coming off an impressive Olympic performance with the French national team over the summer, the Knicks decided to pay Fournier the big bucks, signing him to a four-year deal worth $78 million dollars.

Until Randle’s contract extension kicks in next season, Fournier is currently the highest paid Knick on the roster, a reality that hasn’t been matched just yet by the performance level he’s managed to produce this season.

In 18 games, Fournier is averaging 12.8 points per game on 41.7% shooting from the field to go along with 2.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Mind you, he’s also averaging 28.9 minutes per game and is shooting just 37.9% from 3-PT range, tying his career average. Considering Fournier’s strengths are more offensively oriented, particularly with his ability to score from the perimeter and penetrate inside, his slow start is not a good sign for the Knicks and has become a growing concern.

Over the course of November, Fournier is only averaging 10.5 points per game on 40.7% shooting from the field with a low 32.3% average from behind the arc. Although it’s still early in the season along with the fact that he’s on a well-balanced scoring team, Fournier has fallen well below his contract expectations and has struggled to find his groove with the Knicks. Despite putting together a great performance against the Lakers this past Tuesday where he dropped 26 points, this was only the second time Fournier put up 20 points or more this season.

Outside of his shortcomings and inconsistencies offensively, Fournier’s defensive woes haven’t helped his case. At the forefront of this issue, is the reality that Fournier is a flat-footed defender. Because he doesn’t stay on the balls of his feet, Fournier’s movement is clumsy, slow, and lacks agility, all too often resulting in his opponents taking easy advantage of isolation matchups against him.

In addition, Fournier has also struggled playing around screens, frequently getting stuck going over the top rather than working underneath in order to allow himself to get a hand up against his opponents. As a result, he’s become a defensive liability and has been a significant contributor towards the perimeter woes the Knicks have struggled with.

Aside from the drop in his game throughout the month of November, the greatest factor that magnifies the extremity of this issue is the company of players Fournier is a part of in terms of contractual value.

If you look at the current list of the NBA’s highest paid players, Fournier currently makes the same if not more money than Bulls shooting guard Zach Lavine, Pacers power forward Domantas Sabonis, and Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, all of which were All Stars last year. From numbers to career credentials, Fournier doesn’t nearly match the talent level of any of these three players, and as a matter of fact, has never been selected to an All Star game (yet somehow, he’s making roughly the same amount as they are).

Despite the semi-hot start to his season in October, Fournier has really come up short with the expectations of his new contract. Although it’s his first season with the Knicks and we’re less than 20 games in, this is certainly not what the Knicks paid for and his continuous shortcomings have become a large thorn in the side of their starting lineup.

In short, Fournier has failed to live up to his role so far since arriving in New York and has proven to be a costly investment the Knicks might regret. And if he doesn’t turn around his slump soon, it would come to no surprise if the Knicks removed him from the starting rotation indefinitely.

Yankees could pursue perfect utilityman to replace dropped players

jonathan villar, mets, yankees

The New York Yankees may be prioritizing a top shortstop and starting pitching addition this free agency period, but don’t discount the value of quality depth and reserve pieces.

The Yankees recently traded utilityman Tyler Wade to the Los Angeles Angels for cash considerations and a player to be named in the future. They also released Clint Frazier and Rougned Odor, two players who made an impact in 2021 in their own way. Frazier was unable to play the majority of the season due to migraine issues, while Odor featured in over 100 games. Allowing Wade, Frazier, and Odor to depart means the Yankees will be in the market for more depth pieces.

Wade served a significant purpose with his abilities to play multiple infield positions and outfield spots. Considering general manager Brian Cashman traded him away, he must have adequate replacements in mind.

The Yankees could target one solid free agent player:

One solid free-agent target could be Jonathan Villar, who spent this past season with the New York Mets. Villar has enjoyed a nine-year career, playing with Houston, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and the Mets. He played in 142 games this past season, recording a .249 average, 18 homers, and 42 RBIs. He posted a 26.1% strikeout rate, 9.1% walk right, and a .416 slugging percentage.

Villar is a quality offensive player, posting 75 singles, 18 doubles, and two triples to pair with his double-digit home run total. His best season came back in 2016 with the Brewers, when he hit .285 with 19 homers and 63 RBIs. He also recorded a career-high 11.6% walk rate that season.

He signed a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Mets for 2021, so the Yankees could likely get him on a cost-efficient deal and maximize his experience at multiple spots. This past season, he played primarily at third base, recording a .933 fielding percentage with 14 errors. While his defense at the spot was lackluster, he’s capable of playing shortstop and second base, where he posted more efficient numbers. Jonathan also has experience in the outfield, but he’s primarily an infielder.

While the 30-year-old switch hitter isn’t known for his defense, he is a quality offensive player that can fill a big hole without much drop-off in the batter’s box. In addition, the Yankees could use a bit more diversity within their depth ranks. Wade offered little power and poor hitting but featured average defense. Villar would be an upgrade without question, it’s just a matter of his price tag and if Cashman is willing to spend a bit on a quality depth piece.