Knicks 99, Hawks 90: Alec Burks leads Knicks past red-hot Atlanta team

alec burks, knicks

The New York Knicks stepped up against the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday evening, toppling them by the score of 99–90. After falling to the Phoenix Suns in a disappointing loss at MSG, the Knicks bounced back with physicality and elite defense, despite playing without Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose.

Thankfully, the starting team posted a far more efficient performance against Atlanta, despite power forward Julius Randle recording just eight points over 31 minutes. However, Evan Fournier and RJ Barrett recorded 18 and 15 apiece, knocking down a combined five 3-PT shots. In the absence of Walker, reserve Alec Burks picked up the start, having one of his most dominant games of the season with 23 points, two steals, three assists, and seven rebounds.

Burks, who has played an instrumental part with the second team, helped secure the win, and his presence might’ve been even more beneficial than having Walker in the first place. However, the reserves for New York also played a significant role, as Obi Toppin contributed 13 points and Immanuel Quickley 9. Toppin was fantastic in transition, hitting 5-of-8 shots from the field and all three of his free-throw attempts. Quickley acted as a facilitator in this contest, posting 7.0 assists, a season-high for the second-year player.

Head coach Tom Thibodeau indicated that the team lacked effort against Phoenix, but they showed nothing but maximum energy against Atlanta, especially on defense. The Hawks hadn’t dipped below 100 points since before they began a seven-game win streak against the Milwaukee Bucks on November 14.

The Knicks needed a fantastic defense performance to get back on track, and despite giving up 33 points to Trae Young over 39 minutes, they limited some of their more prominent scorers to minimal performances. John Collins posted just 12 points, and Clint Capela recorded 16, but no other player on the team record a double-digit production.

The Knicks will now look ahead to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening at 7:30 PM, and coming off a dominant win over Atlanta, they will hopefully be able to roll over their performance. They are going to need every ounce of defense against a Nets team that is on fire as of late, relying on Kevin Durant and James Harden to carry the load.

New York Giants set up for bright future with two first round draft picks

new york giants, iowa, tyler linderbaum

The New York Giants are a bad football team. The Giants are 3-7, just fired their offensive coordinator, and have not sniffed the playoffs since 2016. Thankfully for the Giants, the Chicago Bears are awful, too.

In the 2021 NFL Draft, the Giants traded down in the first round amidst a blockbuster trade with the Bears. The Bears gave the Giants a slew of draft picks (including their 2022 first-round selection) to move up to 11 overall and select Justin Fields.

Most fans recognize that it is time to turn some of their attention toward the draft. The Giants’ possession of the Bears’ first-round pick makes the anticipation for the draft that much more intense. With the Giants at 3-7 and the Bears at 4-7, the likelihood of New York holding two top-ten picks is seemingly high. Holding two first round draft picks sets the Giants up for a bright future (as long as they have a competent general manager to make the selections).

Top targets in the 2022 NFL Draft

Evan Neal

If the Giants want to add a bookend to the other side of their offensive line, they should look no further than Alabama tackle Evan Neal. Granted, Neal could end up being a top-three selection, but if the is on the board for the Giants, pairing Evan Neal with Andrew Thomas would be a home run.

Evan Neal has only given up 3 sacks on over 1,100 career pass-blocking snaps (PFF). Having Evan Neal and Andrew Thomas as the team’s two starting offensive tackles would set the Giants up with a long-term plan on the offensive line.

Aidan Hutchinson

Twitter lit up on Saturday afternoon as Aidan Hutchinson, one of the NFL Draft’s top prospects this year, put together a dominant performance for Michigan. Hutchinson broke a record, recording his 13th sack of the season, which is the most sacks in season by any Michigan defender, ever (PFF).

The Giants have a clear need for a top-end pass-rusher. If they could land Aidan Hutchinson, that need would be more than satisfied. Hutchinson won’t last long, though. At this point, he appears to be a top-five lock. But if the New York Giants are lucky enough to draft Aidan Hutchinson, they would be transforming their defense for a long time.

Tyler Linderbaum

The Giants not only have issues at right tackle, they also have issues along the interior of their offensive line. Tyler Linderbaum is an interior offensive line prospect that has gathered a bunch of attention.

Linderbaum possesses the natural movement skills and functional athleticism to be a high-end starting center in an outside/wide zone Shanahan-style offense. The quickness in which Linderbaum gets out of the blocks is super impressive and you can see his wrestling background shine with his ability to win leverage points and successfully claiming gaps even if he’s leveraged at the snap. – The Draft Network

As the Giants look to replace Jason Garrett and rebuild their offensive scheme, some consideration must be given to the Shanahan-style wide zone offense that has proven to be so successful for many teams. If that is the direction the team decides to go in, then Tyler Linderbaum should be near the top of their list of targets in April.

Pressure mounts as shorthanded, out of sync Knicks face soaring Hawks

The embattled New York Knicks will go into last season’s playoff rematch severely shorthanded against the soaring Atlanta Hawks.

The Knicks will be without Kemba Walker (rest) in the second night of the back-to-back schedule. Walker will join Derrick Rose (sprained right ankle) and Taj Gibson (sore groin) on the sidelines. Nerlens Noel, who limped Friday night in their 118-97 loss to the red-hot Phoenix Suns, could join them as he is listed as questionable to play with a sore right knee.

The Hawks are coming off a 132-100 rout of the Memphis Grizzlies also on Friday night. It was their seventh consecutive win after a 4-9 start.

“You don’t win seven games in a row without playing good basketball and being connected,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said after the game.

It’s a stark contrast to the Knicks’ current temperament.

When Evan Fournier and Walker joined in the offseason, there was an inflated expectation that the Knicks would be better than the team that Hawks tossed in the first round in just five games. But so far, the Knicks’ current 10-9 record suggests otherwise.

The starters had their moments in their last few games, but their inconsistencies have been perplexing even to Tom Thibodeau, whose hallmarks of defense and disciplined play can’t be found in this current team.

“Overall, we didn’t play well. So, it’s on all of us. It’s not on any one particular person so we have to do a lot better,” said Thibodeau of their lackluster performance against the Suns.

Thibodeau sounds like a broken record with this answer.

In the Knicks’ dispiriting loss to the Suns, it was clear that the gap between them and the elite teams in terms of talent and cohesiveness is so wide.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with the Knicks.

Julius Randle only shot eight attempts and finished with a season-low nine points. Randle, the hub of the Knicks’ offense last season, was not in his element despite having no lingering health issues.

“I feel great. My body, legs,” said Randle, who kept his answers to short, one-liners.

In contrast, the Suns’ star Devin Booker torched the Knicks with 32 points and cooked early with 21 first-half points. Randle’s trainer Tyler Relph shared an interesting observation on Booker’s fourth 30-plus point game at the Garden.

“27 shots — got involved early and often… [The Suns] got their best player in great rhythm,” he replied on Twitter.

The Knicks had lost their edge when they entered the season with high expectations. But is it fair to wonder if Thibodeau is also losing grip of this team?

Earlier in their struggles, Randle said the intentions and their hearts are in the right place. But their execution isn’t.

Does Thibodeau’s read and react offense need more structure to sync their staring unit and make everyone happy? Or do the Knicks need a shakeup?

In their second loss to the Eastern Conference’s worst team, Orlando Magic, last Nov. 17, Randle had an interesting postgame interview when he said it felt like a bit of weird out there on the court.

When asked why they had lost last year’s identity under Thibodeau, Randle said he was clueless.

“I don’t know, man. It’s just me being completely honest with you. I have no clue,” Randle said. “Thibs still comes in and does a great job giving us game plans and all that different type of stuff. I really think it’s just the details. Maybe it’s the little things that are hurting us right now.”

Since then, the Knicks remained inconsistent, alternating wins and losses in the next four games.

Fournier, who openly talked about his gripes of not playing in the fourth quarter and the lack of ball movement, was consciously and heavily involved in the offense early in the games to get him going but with mixed results. He had double-digit shot attempts in three of their last four games, averaging 12.3 shots in that span. When Fournier was hot, the Knicks rolled with two wins in their previous four games. But when he’s not, it ended up with losses. 

Against the Suns, Fournier was 4 of 15 after a torrid start. He did not see action in the fourth quarter for the ninth time under Thibodeau. It marked the most fourth-quarter benching in a single season in his career. 

Meanwhile, Walker will miss his second game this season due to rest. The New York native is averaging career-low numbers across the board except for shooting percentages.

Fournier and Walker were brought in to ease Randle’s burden. But it has become a bigger burden for Randle to co-exist with them.

When Randle was asked if there’s extra motivation in facing the Hawks, his answer was short but not sweet.

“No, it’s just another game,” Randle said, “another game on the schedule of 82 (games).”

But it’s not just another game. It’s a critical game for the Knicks as they enter the 20th game with chemistry issues still compounding their injury woes. It’s still early in the season, but as Randle said: “NBA games come fast.”

Thibodeau will be reminded of his remarks after their 12th game of the season.

“You know what they say — when it’s 10 games, you say we need 20. When you get to 20, you say 30. When we get to 30, you say 40, and then before you know it, the season’s over,” said Thibodeau referring to how much time do his starters need to gel. “So, that’s a bunch of bull—t.”

Win or lose, Thibodeau will have another interesting postgame presser for sure.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

The New York Yankees could have $58 million to spend, but when?

robbie ray, yankees

The New York Yankees, with their free agents, players dumped, and those that might be dumped could potentially present over $58 million to spend this offseason. So far, they have done little, so the question is, when will they start spending? And will there be any worthwhile options when they decide to make moves?

The simple answer is not until the Collective Bargaining Agreement is settled, which doesn’t look like it will be anytime soon even though the present CBA expires this coming Wednesday.

The Yankees have quite a bit of money to spend and still remain below the Luxury tax threshold. But that money will go quickly if they pursue some of the big names available. Even though some players will get long contracts, the trend this season is for shorter contracts that don’t bog down teams for years to comSuppose

Suppose the Yankees will shore up the team and build one that can compete for a World Champions. In that case, they are going to need pitching help, a new shortstop, a first baseman, backup in center field, and even a new utility player to replace Tyler Wade.

Starting pitching:

Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery. The Yankees have a pretty strong core in the starter pitching department, even with the loss of Corey Kluber to free agency. Of course Gerrit Cole will be the ace in the third year of his contract. Beyond that they have 2018 ace Luis Severino and Domingo German. It should be pointed out that the Yankees don’t really know what they will get from both of those pitchers that did not pitch a full season last year.

Therein lies the problem, they really don’t have a bonafide number two pitcher to start in the postseason. The bottom line is that the Yankees need to add that number two starter. With the loss of a couple of bullpen pieces they will also have to do some shoring up there as well.

Max Scherzer would be the perfect match for the Yankees, the biggest drawback is how much it will cost to sign him. He will be 37 years-old during 2022. It is doubtful that any team will give him a long term contract. If the Yankees could get him for 3 or 4 years for about $100 million over the turn they would be lucky. But that would use up almost half of their available funds.

Kevin Gausman of the San Francisco Giants would cost about a third less than Scherzer. He was 14-6 last season, was an All-Star and came in sixth in the Cy Young voting. Still costing less is the Jays’ Robbie Ray, who would likely need $10 million and a contract of three or four years. He would be a bargain for the Yankees if he could go 13-7 for the Yankees, as he did for the Jays last season. He would also leave quite a bit in the bank for the other Yankee needs.

Shortstop:

The Yankee plan for a new shortstop is a bit cloudy. At the beginning of the postseason general manager Brian Cashman made it clear he would go after a big name shortstop. But it seems he has wavered from that promise in favor of a stop gap measure to allow Anthony Volpe or Oswald Peraza to make their debut in 2023 or 2024.

The perfect guy for that job would be Carlos Correa, but he carries with him some Houston Astros baggage, and would be very costly. Marcus Semien would also be a good fit, but after his 45 home runs last year would also be quite costly. Corey Seager would be the least expensive of the three big shortstops on the market.

If the Yankees want to go cheap and put considerably more money into bullpen upgrades, they could look to Javier Baez.

Center field:

Center field should be taken care of with a healthy Aaron Hicks, but the big question is if he can stay healthy, something he has not proven in six years with the team.

The Yankees could have options with a returning Brett Gardner, but his offense fell off dramatically in 2021. There are some names available in free agency. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are one of several teams in pursuit of Baltimore Orioles star outfielder Cedric Mullins. Mullins for the O’s, hit 30 home runs and notched up a .291 batting average in 2021. Because he doesn’t strike out he would be an immediate fan favorite. Although he earned next to nothing last season, his 2021 performance will bump up his annual salary into the millions.

Some other considerations now that Starling Marte has signed with the Mets in center, would be Chris Taylor or Kevin Pillar, both upgrades to Hicks. However, it is doubtful with the other needs the Yankees won’t be looking to spend big at that position, with Hicks already in place.

First Base:

If the Yankees want to do nothing at first base, they will tender an offer to Luke Voit, save some money, and hope he can stay healthy. The only problem with that, is that Voit has had near-constant issues with his knees and feet, causing him to hobble around the bases when his gets a hit.

The Yankees could resign Anthony Rizzo who has make it clear that he would like to stay in New York. Rizzo would be expensive, but likely due to his age and diminished hitting; he might be open to accepting less to stay in the Bronx. If the Yankees want to spend some money, Freddie Freeman would be the perfect choice. With his .300 batting average and 31 home runs it would be exciting. but an expensive addition to the team.

Here are my choices: Pitcher Robbie Ray $12 million. At short Corey Seager $20 million. Bring back Gardner to back up Hicks $2 million. Freddie Freeman at first $22 million. Total cost $54 million. That would leave a few million to shore up the bullpen and obtain a bench utility player, and still stay below the luxury tax threshold. Obviously if these players wouldn’t accept these amounts my choices would have to be overhauled.

Pitching: Gerrit Cole, Robbie Ray, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, and Jordan Montgomery. Backups Domingo German, Luis Gil, and Clarke Schmidt. Lineup: RH DJ LeMahieu, RH Aaron Judge, LF Freddie Freeman, RH Giancarlo Stanton, SH Aaron Hicks, LH Corey Seager, RH Gio Urshela, RH Gary Sanchez, and RH Gleyber Torres. Joey Gallo and Stanton alternating as DH.

Once, and if the CBA is agreed upon and there is no work stoppage the Yankees will have act at lightning speed. I’ll end the article saying, one can wish!

UFC books headliner between Islam Makhachev and Beneil Dariush

The UFC has booked a massive lightweight main event that has big title implications. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report this morning that the promotion has finalized a main event between Islam Makhachev (21-1) and Beneil Dariush (21-4-1).

The lightweight showdown will headline a UFC Fight Night on February 26th. Dariush is going to be looking to pick up his eighth straight win when these two meet in February. The last time we saw Dariush was back in May at UFC 265.

Dariush was in the co-main event and took on former interim champion Tony Ferguson. He completed dominated Ferguson on his way to winning a unanimous decision. That win put Dariush third in the UFC lightweight rankings.

While he wanted a title shot, it wasn’t in the cards and the promotion has been looking for a fight for him for months. Well, the perfect fight materialized and whoever wins will not be able to be denied a title shot.

UFC’s next Dagestani champion?

We just saw Islam Makhachev back at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi when he took on Dan Hooker. Makhachev was able to get Hooker to the ground early in the first fight and everything was over after that. Makhachev got to a dominant position and submitted Hooker.

This was the ninth straight win for Makhachev since suffering his first career defeat. Many in the UFC believe that Makhachev deserves a title shot, however, after Justin Gaethje’s win over Michael Chandler, it’s apparent that he will get the next shot.

With that, Makhachev was forced to take another fight. This is going to be a very stiff test for Makhachev who will be taking on an elite grappler in Dariush. For the first time in his UFC career, we are going to see how Makhachev does against someone who is just as good on the mat. This is a fantastic fight and should provide a new number one contender.

3 keys for the Knicks to take down red-hot Atlanta Hawks

New York Knicks, RJ Barrett

One day after being embarrassed by the Phoenix Suns, the New York Knicks are back at it against the Atlanta Hawks down south. The Suns completely demolished New York at home, with Devin Booker posting 32 points and every single starter hitting double digits thanks to poor defensive play by the Knicks.

With the starters struggling to play cohesive basketball and produce offensively, the team is in shambles trying to pick up the pieces. Atlanta presents a formidable challenge, given they are on a seven-game winning streak after losing six games consecutively before turning their season around completely.

During this recent stretch of success, Atlanta has scored 110+ points in every single game, finishing with 132 against the Memphis Grizzlies in their most recent victory.

Three keys for the Knicks to take down Atlanta:

1.) Limit Trae Young

One way or another, the Knicks have to find a way to limit Trae Young, who is one of the best point guards in basketball. He’s averaging 25.6 points per game, 9.2 assists, and 3.6 rebounds over 33.5 minutes. He’s averaging nearly 10 points more than the team’s second-leading scorer, John Collins.

Young is hitting on nearly 39% of his three-point attempts this year and 46.5% from the field, showcasing incredible efficiency at a high clip. If New York can utilize some of their press defenders on Young, like Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, and potentially even Miles McBride, they may have a bit more success defending him.

2.) The Knicks need more energy

The Knicks have lacked energy this season at times, as multiple players have indicated they’ve been outpaced. Against the Suns, they weren’t just out-hustled, they were completely outmatched. Head coach Tom Thibodeau stated after the game that their energy simply wasn’t where it normally is, which has been a reoccurring issue this year.

“I didn’t think our energy was where it normally is,” Thibodeau said. “You got to keep your edge. Overall we didn’t play well. It’s on all of us. It’s not on one particular person.”

If the Knicks don’t come out guns-blazing and showing sufficient energy, Atlanta will take advantage with ease.

3.) Physicality inside

One of the primary reasons Atlanta pushed past the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs last season was due to their physicality inside. Having Collins and Clint Capela dominating in the paint certainly poses a significant challenge for New York.

Luckily, they will have Mitchell Robinson back to help assist in that category, as he was missing in the postseason last year. Robinson is having a solid campaign thus far, averaging 7.1 points, 1.6 blocks, and 7.6 rebounds. They will need him to be at the top of his game, especially against Young and his elite floater.

Yankees could strike blockbuster deal for young All-Star outfielder

cedric mullins, yankees

The New York Yankees are keying in on several free-agent players but don’t rule out a blockbuster trade to bolster a spot of weakness on the roster. With GM Brian Cashman and the coaching staff electing to release Clint Frazier, the Bombers need to begin thinking about a solution in the outfield, especially with Aaron Hicks proving to be a liability.

With Starling Marte signing with the Mets on Friday in their big Black Friday spending spree, the Yanks are waiting patiently for the right opportunity to arise. That opportunity may have just presented itself, as All-Star outfielder Cedric Mullins is reportedly being placed on the market by the Baltimore Orioles.

According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the Yankees are one of several teams in pursuit of Baltimore Orioles star outfielder Cedric Mullins:

Word has gotten out that the Orioles would listen on star CF Cedric Mullins, and teams are lining up to give it a shot knowing it’s a long shot. Asking price is understandably extremely high. All these teams (and more) could use a CF: Philly, Rangers, Astros, Giants, Mets, Yanks.

Mullins is coming off his best season yet, hitting .291, 30 homers, and 53 RBIs this past season. Mullins posted an offensive master-class, but a lone season of production should scare off potential suitors who may be looking for a bigger sample size of numbers to work off of.
The Orioles’ young stud posted an 18.9% strikeout rate and 8.3% walk rate, sufficient numbers that showcase patience at the plate and discipline. At 27-years-old, Mullins has years left on his deal before he becomes a free agent in 2026. Defensively, Mullins played 1264 innings this past season in center-field, logging a .985 fielding percentage with 6 errors. If he can make gradual improvements as a defensive player, he could develop into an elite balanced outfielder.
Natural regression could impact his performance in the future, but given his price tag will be so cheap, a team can continue to develop his talents, and if he pans out, they’ll have one of the best up-and-coming outfielders in baseball reaching his prime.
According to Steamer projections, Mullins will hit .259 with 25 homers and 74 RBIs in 2022, a solid state-line — better than most Yankee players this past year. A potential deal for Cedric would have to include several top-end prospects, which may be worth it for a proven player with an upward trajectory.

Mets secure some Black Friday deals: Three signings in one day!

New York Mets interested in trading for Starling Marte.

The New York Mets, heavily criticized for their inactivity during the free agency period, made a huge statement on Friday and signed three players to bolster their lineup: outfielders Starling Marte and Mark Canha, and infielder Eduardo Escobar.

Marte was the prize among free agent outfielders, and he will be going to the Mets in a four-year, $78 million deal. The 33-year-old is coming off his best season, slashing .310/.383/.458 with 12 home runs and 47 stolen bases between the Miami Marlins and the Oakland Athletics. He remains a good center fielder, and that’s the position he will play in New York while Brandon Nimmo slides over to a corner.

Canha is known as a fantastic on-base threat with some power and versatility. The 32-year-old is very capable: he hit 17 home runs in 141 games to go along with a .746 OPS last year, and it was a somewhat down season for him. He owns a career .244 average and a .344 on-base percentage, and has averaged 20 homers per season over his last three full campaigns, per the Mets official site.

The Mets added experience and versatility; now they will seek pitching

Escobar is a good solution for the infield. He is an All-Star, has experience playing both second and third base, and hit 28 homers and drove in 90 runs last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Milwaukee Brewers. He hit a career-high 35 homers while tying for the Major League lead with 10 triples in 2019.

With those three pieces, the Mets’ lineup is dramatically improved over what they had to finish the season.

The Mets are now focused on adding some pitching. At the moment, they have only five viable starting pitchers in Jacob deGrom, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker, David Peterson, and Tylor Megill, and they would like to add at least a couple of names to the mix before the expected lockout date of December 1.

New York Yankees lose another center field option, The Hicks story

New York Yankees, Aaron Hicks

For the 2022 season, the New York Yankees still have questions in center field. The biggest one is if Aaron Hicks can stay healthy this season. Hicks missed most of the 2021 season due to wrist surgery. For the Yankees, Hicks has been an on and off again player, but received a contract extension much to the surprise of many Yankee fans.

After coming from the Minnesota Twins, Hicks has spent the last six years with the Yankees, only playing over 100 games in two of those seasons. Hicks has suffered from several injuries during his time with the Yankees, making who will be playing in center a near constant question. Last year they rehired bench player Brett Gardner who played 140 games for him.

The Yankees have been looking for options in case Hicks can’t stay healthy. One is bringing back Gardner yet again. They also have been scouring the free agency markets. Starling Marte has often been mentioned to play center, but he has been removed from the market when the Mets signed him to a four year contract this past week.

Let’s take a look at Hick’s story. The New York Yankees other Aaron is Aaron Michael Hicks, the Yankees center fielder. Hicks was born on October 2, 1989, in San Padro, California.  Hicks played baseball as a child and for Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California.  He ranked No. 72 among Top 100 Prospects by MLB.com entering the 2012 season. Ranked as the fourth-best prospect, best defensive outfielder and best outfield arm in the Minnesota Twins’ system by Baseball America following the 2011 season. … Selected by the Twins in the first round (14th overall) of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.

Hicks stayed in the Twins system for five years until he made his major league debut on April Fools Day 2013.  He was the starting center fielder for the Twins.  He did not impress and was sent down to AAA on August first.  But despite his underwhelming 2013 performance at the plate, he was back up in the majors in 2014 due to his excellent outfield defense. However, his battles at the plate continued, and he was again sent down, this time to AA.  2015 would show a dramatic improvement hitting .256 with eleven home runs and 33 RBIs in 97 games.

After the 2015 season, Hicks was traded to the New York Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy.  The Yankees citing an aging Brett Gardner wanted Hicks due to his excellent defense and better than average throwing arm.  The Yankees wanted Hicks for his switch-hitting ability, something the Yankees were sorely lacking  at the time.

In Aaron Hicks, six years with the Yankees, they have not been able to consistently enjoy his abilities in centerfield or at the plate.  During his time back and forth between the Stadium, Trenton, and Scranton Wilkes/Barre, he has shown signs of power behind the plate and excellence in a cannon of an arm in the outfield.

The main obstacle to Hicks showing his stuff is his injury history.  After an injury-plagued 2017 season when he hit .266, he started the 2018 season on the IL with a right Intercostal Muscle Strain. In 2018 he played in 133 games after being reinstated from the DL on April 12 and hit an inside-the-park home run against the Detroit Tigers on the next day. Hicks would hit another inside-the-park-home run against the Kansas City Royals on May 19, becoming the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle in 1958 to hit two inside-the-park home runs in a single season. On July 1, Hicks hit three home runs in one game against the Boston Red Sox which endeared him to Yankee fans. Hicks ended the season with 27 home runs, 79 RBIs, and 119 hits, all career highs.

2019 would be another season marked by three injuries, both back and elbow problems. Those injuries caused him to play in only 59 games.  The elbow became the main issue that caused him to have Tommy John Surgery immediately after the season concluded.  The Yankees decision to keep Brett Gardner on the team reaped its rewards as Gardner had a career year. The absence of Hicks did not hurt the team as a whole, Although his switch-hitting was missed in the lineup.

During the offseason of 2018/2019, the Yankees signed Hicks to a seven-year $70MM contract extension.  They did have Brett Gardner for another season as he signed a one year deal with a 2021 option.  They did this as they need a back up if things don’t go well for Hicks upon his return.  Hicks has been quiet regarding his rehab on his Twitter account.

In a Zoom call in 2020, New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said Hicks will be back in center field in 2020 if he doesn’t encounter any setbacks. He did an played in 54 games. His healthy 2020 was short-lived as he missed most of the 2021 season and in the games his played he could only muster up a .194 batting average and four home runs. In his career with the Yankees over six years he has hit .237 with just over 10 home runs a season.

Like many New York Yankee players, Hick is pretty tight-lipped about his personal life.  We do know that he is supposedly unmarried, but has been going out with a beauty named Jessica Knoles for some time.  There are unconfirmed rumors that they may have been married and had a child together. Photos on the Internet seem to confirm that.

Yankees could bring back fan-favorite shortstop as stopgap

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees have been reportedly monitoring the shortstop market this off-season as they wait for the astronomical price tags of several players to decrease. General manager Brian Cashman has had a positive experience waiting patiently for the right option to reveal themselves, and that often comes with a reduced price.

However, even the second-tier options like Marcus Semien are asking for a boatload of money, so Cashman could look to take a more cost-efficient route this off-season instead of targeting one of the biggest names on the market. In fact, trading for a familiar face might not be a terrible idea.

Former Yankee Didi Gregorius spent last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .209 with 13 homers and 54 RBIs. This was by far his worst season to date, but his performance may open the door for the Bombers to swoop in and acquire him at a lesser cost.

The Athletic stated that the Phillies may be willing to trade Didi Gregorius after a tough 2021 season:

After his poor, injury-filled 2021 season, the Phillies might be willing to chalk that up as a mistake and shed as much of the $14 million left on his contract as possible. His defense has slipped below average at age 32, but Gregorius is one season removed from an .827 OPS and has a track record of 25-homer power.

Gregorius signed a two-year, $28 million deal in 2021, and given he’s owed $14.5 million in base salary this upcoming season, the Phillies could look to eat some of his cap hit and trade him to a different team.

Didi is only one year removed from hitting .284 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs back in 2020. He posted a .968 fielding percentage during that season with seven errors over 470 innings. Gregorius represents an average defender with a solid lefty bad, and as a fan favorite, it is not out of this realm that Cashman could inquire about his services once again.

Relying on Didi for a few seasons until the team’s star prospects are ready to make the jump could be a cost-efficient solution to a serious liability in the infield. However, it is not normal for this many star free agent shortstops to be available, and Cashman would hate to miss out on one of the top names and the opportunity to plug the vulnerability once and for all.