New York Giants: Joe Judge confusingly praises Nate Solder’s progress this season

nate solder, new york giants

There’s bad news, for New York Giants fans that were hoping for a change at the tackle position. Despite mounting pressure from fans, the media, and even former players to give more snaps to Matt Peart rather than Nate Solder, it seems that Solder has received a vote of confidence from Joe Judge.

That vote of confidence came on Wednesday when Judge addressed the media and was asked point blank why Nate Solder is playing at right tackle rather than Peart.

New York Giants “pleased” with Nate Solder’s progression

“We’re pleased with the way Nate’s really progressed throughout this year and how he’s playing for us right now. He’s a guy who comes out and works tirelessly,” Judge said.

Based on the rest of Judge’s answer, it doesn’t look like making Peart the starting right tackle is in the team’s plans for now. It looks like his role is as more of a situational player, for whatever reason.

“We’re using Matt in a lot of jumbo tight end type of situations. He’s expanded on his roles there. We’ve worked with him early in the year in terms of some guard stuff. Really, his home at tackle is where he’s progressing, but he’s given us contributions along the way as we go. Talking specifically about Matt, we do expect him to play throughout different situations and different games,” Judge further explained.

While Judge says that Peart is still in the team’s plans, his low snap counts seem to contradict that. Peart only played 5 offensive snaps against Tampa and 9 against Philadelphia.

It’s unclear if Peart is the right player for the job, but at this point, many would like to see him get a shot as the Giants can’t go much lower at the position.

Despite receiving praise from Judge, Solder has played like one of the worst tackles in the league this season and is clearly below a starting level at this point in his career.

It’s clear that Judge doesn’t just want to throw his players under the bus and acknowledge merit in the criticisms of Solder, but at this point, the response comes off as another tone deaf statement that fails to account for the team’s poor play compared to its expectations.

Whether or not Judge’s management of situations like these will come back to bite him when his job status is reviewed in the offseason remains to be seen.

Nobody roots for Goliath: Shaq tells Knicks’ Randle to stop whining

In a game, they lost by only two points, New York Knicks‘ All-NBA forward Julius Randle rued the lack of calls on his strong drives to the basket.

In his postgame presser following a Knicks’ 112-110 loss to crosstown rival Brooklyn Nets, a visibly pissed Randle vented his ire on the officiating crew of Scott Foster, Mark Lindsay, and Jason Goldenberg.

The 6-foot-8 and 250-lb Randle scored 24 points but only made two trips at the foul line. In contrast, the Nets’ superstars Kevin Durant and James Harden combined for 19 free throw attempts and hit 18. Overall, the Nets had 13 more free throw attempts than the Knicks.

The Nets are sixth in the league in free throw attempts averaging 21.3 per game. The 11th-ranked Knicks are not that far behind, attempting 20.7 free throws per game.

Randle was hit with a technical foul for incessant complaining over a non-call in the game’s crucial moment. He felt James Harden fouled him in a tough fadeaway jumper that he missed in the previous play. With 1:37 left in the game, Durant hit a jumper and the technical free throw that gave the Nets a three-point cushion.

“I don’t know what they’re watching or what they’re seeing. As aggressive as I played, attacking the paint, I can’t be penalized for just being stronger than people. And that is an answer that I got today. “[The referees] said because certain contact doesn’t affect me like it affects other players. Because I am stronger, they miss the calls,” Randle said.

“It pisses me off even more. To be honest with you, because that is not how you officiate the game. With basketball, usually, [when] the smaller players are guarding bigger players, they get away with a lot more, but certain things are a little bit more blatant. You just slap a guy. I don’t care who it is, [but] it’s going to affect him.”

New York coach Tom Thibodeau sympathized with his All-NBA big man.

“I don’t care how the game is called,” an irate Thibodeau said. “I really don’t. You call it tight, call it loose. But it’s got to be the same.”

“I want to watch the film. But something’s not right. I’m watching what’s going on both ways. [Brooklyn’s] a good team. But I know Julius was driving the ball pretty darn hard. And I’m pissed. Thank you,” said Thibodeau as the postgame presser was cut short abruptly.

NBA Hall of Fame big man Shaquille O’Neal though, wasn’t as sympathetic as Thibodeau.

The 7-foot-1 O’Neal had his fair share of non-calls against smaller and lighter defenders during his playing days. Speaking from his experience, O’neal gave Randle unsolicited advice during the Inside the NBA postgame show on TNT.

“Listen, Mr. Julius (Randle). Nobody roots for Goliath. Nobody cares,” O’Neal said. “Play through it, big man.”

O’Neal said Randle is correct that he is strong. He felt the same way throughout his 19-year career. But O’Neal quickly added, “[The referees] are not going to slow down the game for us.”

“What you’re going to do, big dawg, is just make [your defender] call the foul. When you got [smaller guy] on the block, punish him. When somebody is reaching, just take this elbow right here,” said O’Neal motioning to elevate his elbow to a 90-degree angle, “just lift it up three to four inches. And you just got to keep playing.”

“Remember, nobody roots for Goliath. Nobody cares. The little guys don’t care about us, big guys. But you can do it. Other big guys did it,” O’Neal said. “Stop whining. Stop complaining.”

Randle is averaging five free throw attempts per game this season. On Thursday, the Knicks will face the Chicago Bulls, whose star DeMar DeRozan is one of the best in the league in getting to the line. DeRozan averages 7.5 free throw attempts per game, third in the league behind Jimmy Butler (8.6) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (10.1).

Harden and Durant are tied for fourth with seven free throw attempts per game.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

 

New York Giants receivers will be tested by man-coverage-heavy Dolphins

new york giants, kenny golladay

The New York Giants earned a huge victory over the Philadelphia Eagles this past Sunday. The Week 12 win kept the Giants alive (barely) in the playoff race. In Week 13, the Giants will face another team racing from behind to make the playoffs: the Miami Dolphins.

New York’s defense has been playing lights out in recent weeks and propelling the team to victory. However, the same could be said for the Miami Dolphins’ stellar defense. The Dolphins are running a man-coverage-heavy defense that is getting the job done and earning victories. This matchup will test the New York Giants receivers in Week 13.

The Giants receivers vs. the Dolphins defense

The Miami Dolphins utilize the most man coverage in the NFL. They have utilized man-coverage on 48% of their defensive play-calls. When the Giants have faced man coverage this season, the wide receiver target share is as follows:

  • 45% — Sterling Shepard
  • 24% — Kenny Golladay
  • 22% — Darius Slayton
  • 21% – Kadarius Toney
  • 11% – Evan Engram (19% vs. zone)

The most notable name on this list is Sterling Shepard. Shep sits atop of the list as the primary target against man coverage. This is a bit concerning considering Sterling has not played since Week 8 as he has been dealing with a quad injury. At Wednesday’s practice (12/1), Shepard was listed as a non-participant. His status looks bleak for Sunday.

The Giants will need Kenny Golladay to step up versus the Dolphins. Kenny Golladay signed a mega-contract with the Giants this offseason to be the team’s primary wide receiver. The expectations have not been met, though, as Golladay has dealt with lingering injuries all season long as New York’s offense continues to struggle mightily. If there was ever a time for KennyG to have his breakout game and score his first touchdown, it would be this Sunday.

All eyes, however, will be on quarterback Daniel Jones this week. The Giants’ third-year starter suffered a neck sprain last Sunday that is expected to keep him out of this week’s contest. However, Jones did participate in practice on Wednesday in a limited fashion. Regardless of who is behind center for the Giants on Sunday, it will be a difficult matchup for the offense as they face the red-hot Miami Dolphins defense in Week 13.

Anthony Smith is the UFC’s odd man out at light heavyweight

Anthony Smith

There appears to be an odd man out in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Former title challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (36-16) now finds himself in a difficult spot after suffering a recent injury. There were advanced talks to have Smith face Aleksandar Rakic in December.

However, Smith had to pull out of the fight due to knee surgery and the UFC decided to move in a different direction. While the fight with Smith could happen a few months later, the UFC pivoted and booked Rakic in a main event against former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz.

Smith is currently ranked fourth in the light heavyweight division. The only men above him are Rakic, Jiri Prochazka, Blachowicz, and the champion Glover Teixeira. Jiri Prochazka is expected to face Teixeira for the title sometime during the spring.

This leaves Smith as the odd man out at 205 pounds. Smith said this week that he would be frustrated if the UFC gave Rakic the fight against Blachowicz after Rakic has turned down multiple fights. In the end, the frustration wasn’t enough and the promotion booked that fight anyway.

What does the UFC do with Lionheart?

As mentioned, Smith is currently working his way back from a staff infection and knee surgery. Smith told MMA Fighting this week that he would be frustrated that he wouldn’t get the fight with Blachowicz after Rakic has turned down multiple fights while Smith has turned into a gate keeper.

Smith took on up and coming contenders and dominated three of them in his last three fights. Those wins snapped a losing streak which featured a loss to Rakic. The UFC likely gave Rakic the nod due to the fact that he won a head to head battle with Smith. Nevertheless, Smith has a point about Rakic’s inactivity.

The next two guys behind Smith, Magomed Ankalaev and Thiago Santos, are booked to face each other in March. Those two would make the most sense for Smith, but now the only fight out there for him might be a battle against a fellow former UFC title challenger.

In looking at the division, the only opponent that makes real sense is Dominick Reyes (12-3). Reyes has been taking some time off after suffering three straight defeats. Granted, two losses came in title fights and one came in a title eliminator against Jiri Prochazka.

Reyes is likely going to be looking for an opponent soon and Smith needs one. On paper, one might wonder why someone with three straight losses would fight someone with three straight wins. Simply put, these are the two best guys not booked in the top ten, and it would be a great fight.

Time will tell what the UFC decides to do. Perhaps Smith becomes the alternate for the title fight with Prochazka and Teixeira. Nevertheless, he’s in a very tough spot and is likely going to be in limbo for the short term.

UFC books headliner between Jan Blachowicz and Aleksandar Rakic

Corey Anderson

The UFC has finalized a big time main event in their light heavyweight division. After Ariel Helwani first reported the possibility yesterday, the UFC finalized a headliner between former light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz (28-9) and Aleksandar Rakic (14-2).

The matchup will headline a Fight Night on March 26th. In all likelihood, this matchup will be a title eliminator at 205 given where both men stand in the division. Back in 2017, Rakic made his UFC debut and he’s been close to perfect.

Since debuting, he’s gone 6-1 with the lone loss coming to Volkan Oezdemir. However, most believe that Rakic won that fight but was the victim of a bad decision by the judges. Since that loss, he’s won two straight.

Those two straight wins came over former title challengers Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. There was talks of Rakic fighting Smith again in December, however, that fell through after Smith pulled out with an injury.

Rakic last fought at UFC 259 when he took on Thiago Santos. When we see Rakic next, it would have been just about a year away from the cage. After the layoff, he’s going to have a massive challenge in front of him.

Former UFC Champion Returns

After struggling early in his UFC career, Jan Blachowicz completely turned things around over the past few years. The Polish Power went on an incredible run that saw him go 9-1 and he captured the light heavyweight title.

The biggest win of that stretch was when he handed Israel Adesanya the first loss of his professional career back at UFC 259. Recently, Blachowicz took on Glover Teixeira at UFC 267 in Abu Dhabi.

Blachowicz really never got going in the fight and was ultimately stopped by the 41 year old Brazilian. Now, Blachowicz will try to get back and get to his UFC light heavyweight title. To do that, he will need to defeat a man who could say that he’s truly never been defeated in the octagon.

At this time, there’s no timeline for the potential title fight between Teixeira and top contender Jiri Prochazka. However, that fight is likely going to take place around this same time which sets this fight’s winner up perfectly to be the next in line barring injuries.

Three talented, accomplished pitchers could be traded today: Should the Yankees be interested?

Multiple reports suggest that the Cincinnati Reds are still fielding trade calls for their three best starters: Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Sonny Gray. Ever since they opted not to pay Wade Miley $10 million and sending him to the market instead, their intentions were clear: save money first, try to compete second. The New York Yankees, looking for additional starting pitchers, should closely monitor the situation because MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that a trade could occur today.

The hungry Texas Rangers, who are fresh off spending $500 million on two middle infielders in Corey Seager and Marcus Semien (plus the additions of outfielder Kole Calhoun and pitcher Jon Gray) are one of the teams interested in one of the Reds’ arms.

Castillo is by far the prize of the bunch. The Reds, however, have repeatedly said they would prefer not to deal him. He overcame a brutal start to post a 2.73 ERA and 3.34 FIP over his final 135 1/3 innings in 2021, and the Yankees have asked about him in the past.

Does a Gray-Yankees reunion make sense?

Gray has a history in the Bronx: he pitched for the Yankees in the Larry Rothschild era, and had clear differences with the pitching coach, who wanted to impose a certain pitch. He ended up struggling to a 4.90 ERA in 2018. Now, however, he could make sense because the Bombers have a forward-thinking head of pitching in Matt Blake.

Mahle broke out in the last couple of years: during his last 227 2/3 frames at the MLB level, he has a 3.72 ERA with a fantastic 28.1% strikeout rate. His 8.9% walk rate isn’t elite, but it’s passable.

Any one of those pitchers could represent an upgrade for the Yankees’ rotation, as there isn’t much certainty after Gerrit Cole. They don’t seem to be particularly interested in any of the three at this point, but they should be following the situation closely, as they have let several talented pitchers go by in free agency.

Yankees: Free agency heating up as stud first baseman linked to Bombers

freddie freeman, yankees

With the December 1 lockout preparing to commence, the New York Yankees are heating up with free agency talks at the final moment. While shortstop remains a major concern and need, it is likely that both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story will be available when teams are able to negotiate once again.

However, it depends on the MLB and Players Union to come to an agreement on several pressing issues, most of which deal with the financial security of the players and retention for owners.

However, general manager Brian Cashman indicated he had a bit of flexibility this off-season monetarily, and it seems as if the Yankees have been contacting the representatives of star first baseman Freddie Freeman.

The Yankees would be gaining a bonafide star, but at what cost?

Adding a player like Freeman would be an exponential upgrade, despite Anthony Rizzo performing well after the trade deadline this past year. Freeman is coming off a World Series victory, posting a .300 average with 31 homers and 83 RBIs during the regular season. His 15.4% strikeout rate would be a welcomed statistic within a Yankees batting order that strikes out far too often.

While it is believed that Freeman statistically ends up signing a new deal with the Atlanta Braves, it is possible the Yankees offer him a long-term contract that allows him to settle. As a lefty hitter, he would add much-needed diversity to the batting order, and at 6’5″ and 220 pounds, he contains incredible power.

Nonetheless, Freeman is 32-years-old, and if the Yankees offered him a deal that stretches beyond five years, he would be approaching 40 by the time it concludes. However, you can’t put a price on elite-level talent, and Freeman represents that at first base. Ultimately, it boils down to how much Cashman is willing to spend and if Freddie is willing to leave Atlanta in the first place.

The Yanks may have to offer Freeman a 6-year deal worth $30M per season.

Knicks’ Julius Randle has legitimate beef with officiating Vs Brooklyn

knicks, julius randle

The New York Knicks lost a shoot-out with a Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday evening 110-112, but it wasn’t without its controversial takes. Even the Knicks were disappointed with the officiating in the defeat, specifically regarding power forward Julius Randle and the lack of calls that went his way despite barreling toward the rim, looking to score from close range.

However, the contact Randle received in the process went unnoticed, as players like James Harden and Kevin Durant enjoyed 10 total trips to the free-throw line.

Despite enduring incredibly light contact, Brooklyn received star treatment while Randle was forced to fight through defenders committing obvious fouls on the former All-Star.

“Got to ask them,” Randle said of the officiating Vs Brooklyn. “I don’t know what they’re watching or what they’re seeing. As aggressive as I played, attacking the paint, I can’t be penalized for just being stronger than people. And that is an answer that I got today.”

“They said because certain contact doesn’t affect me like it affects other players,” Randle said. “Because I am stronger, they miss the calls.”

The justification by the officiating crew makes no sense. Indicating that Randle is simply stronger and therefore impervious to fouls is hard to comprehend. In fact, he suggests that being weaker and reacting more emphatically to contact is preferred if a player is looking to get to the free-throw line — AKA flopping.

“It pisses me off even more,” Randle said. “To be honest with you, because that is not how you officiate the game.”

Randle has a solid argument and will likely be fined nonetheless by the NBA for his reaction toward the officiating. The Knicks’ best player finished the game with 24 points, eight assists, and nine rebounds. He just marginally missed a triple-double, but the impact of new point guard Alec Burks has bolstered the starting unit tremendously. Randle did his best to step up and lead the team to victory, coming up just short of a much-needed win.

New York Yankees News 12/01: All you need to know in one place

New York Yankees, James Paxton

Second ex-Yankee pitcher goes to East rival

The New York Yankees may be haunted this season when they face ex-Yankee pitchers. Just over a week, ago the Tampa Bay Rays picked up 2021 Yankee pitcher and two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. The move by the Rays was made after the Yankees failed to offer the no-hitter pitcher a contract for the new season.

ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that a second ex-Yankee pitcher would be playing for another AL East rival. James Paxton, who pitched for the Yankees in 2020, has been picked up by the Boston Red Sox. Paxton was 16-7 in 2019 and 2020 for the Yankees. The injury-prone pitcher’s contract was not renewed, and he moved on to the Seattle Mariners, where he started only one game. But the Red Sox will take a chance with the pitcher who had Tommy John surgery last season. The contract is for one year at $10 million with a club option for 2023. He will not start the season, but the Yankees can expect to see him on the mound at Fenway Park at some point in the future.

Gary Sanchez remains the Yankee catcher for 2022

At the end of every season, the Yankees contemplate Gary Sanchez’s future, who hasn’t had a good year with the Yankees since 2017. This past season, Sanchez handled the backstop job a bit better than in 2020, but with very inconsistent hitting, and a degraded arm, the Yankees again considered non-tendering him. Sanchez has his supporters, but most fans would like to see him gone.

In previous articles, I have said that Sanchez would not be going anywhere, mostly due to the Yankees’ need to upgrade other positions and the lack of catcher options on the market. Last night many fans were wondering if the Yankees would tender him by the deadline. The Yankees did indeed tender him, so the duo of Gary Sanchez and Kyle Higashioka will man the backstop for the upcoming season. Sanchez was given a 27% raise, worth an estimated $8 million.

Yankee non-tender candidates sticking around

The Yankees not only tendered catcher Gary Sanchez but all of their non-tender candidates. First baseman Luke Voit and third baseman Miguel Andujar will be hanging around as well. The caveat doesn’t necessarily mean they will be playing for the team, but it does mean the Yankees will have something to fall back on should they be unsuccessful in free agency or in the trade market. Tonight the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. The Yankees will at least know they still have some options at those positions.

The Yankees also cleaned up some loose ends by giving contracts to Gio Urshela ($6.55 million), Domingo German ($1.75 million), and Lucas Luetge $905,000.

Chris Gittens won’t be playing for the Yankees

The Scranton Wilkes/Barre sensation, Chris Gittens, who got to play in a few games at Yankee Stadium last season, is no longer a Yankee and will be playing in Japan this season.

With the RailRiders, he hit .301 with 14 home runs in just 45 games. In this writer’s opinion, he was mishandled on the major league level, getting only 36 at-bats in 16 games that were scattered during the season, which never allowed him to get into his groove. He ended up hitting just .111 with just one home run. The Yankees released him.

Will the Yankees trade for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa?

With the Yankees losing out on Marcus Semien and Corey Seager, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic wrote that New York is expected to contact the Texas Rangers inquiring about shortstop Kiner-Falefa. Andy Martino echoed the report on Tuesday, saying that the Yankees had already contracted the Rangers.

With the acquisition of Cory Seager, the Rangers no longer need their 2020 shortstop. Should the Yankees work out a deal with the Rangers, make no mistake about it, the Rangers went after Seager to replace Kiner-Falefa, who is not the greatest shortstop, but for the Yankees would certainly be an upgrade from Gleyber Torres. Kiner-Falefa is a very good defender but not great offensively.

A big plus with the 26-year-old is that he stays healthy and is very durable. He played in all but six games in the last two seasons. In 2021 he had a slash line of .271/.312/.357 with 8 homers and 53 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases. Compared to Gleyber Torres, he would be a solid addition to the team.

Yankees sign infielder Jose Peraza to a minor league contract

The New York Yankees guaranteed themselves a backup at shortstop with the signing of Jose Peraza. Peraza is also a utility player that can play just about anywhere, but don’t be mistaken, Peraza is no upgrade from Tyler Wade.

Between 2019 and 2021, Peraza played in just over 200 games with only 13 homers and a batting average of just over .225. His last good season was in 2018 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. He hit .288/.326/.416 with 14 homers. If he ever reaches the big team for the Yankees he will be a bench piece. For the time being, he will share the infield with another Peraza, Oswald for the Rail Riders.

Could Chris Taylor replace Tyler Wade?

The New York Yankee history shows that the front office loves players that can play multiple positions responsibly. In that end, they may target the former Dodger player Chris Taylor. Taylor is probably the most versatile player of all 2021 free agents.

In 2021 he played 33 games at second base, 9 at third base, 19 at shortstop, 16 in left field, 48 in center, and a few games in right field at Dodger Stadium. Although not above average at all positions, he is adequate wherever the Yankees might need him.

CBA expiration looming, will there be a lockout?

As of right now, it appears MLB will be in a lockdown when the sun rises tomorrow. Going into the last day of negotiations, the sides are still far apart on several issues. Two important ones to be resolved is that the players want more money earlier in their careers, and the owners want to keep that money. Yes, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is all about money.

Another sticky point, players for decades have generally been fine with a six-year path to free agency – but not when teams so blatantly manipulate the service time of budding stars to make it a seven-year slog suddenly. For the most part, in the last several agreements, the owners have pretty much had their own way. This time the players are not going to take it anymore, thus the likely hood of a lockout.

If there is a lockout, all transactions will cease. The last time there was a work stoppage, it was when the players refused to play. It was 1994 during August in a season without baseball, without a World Series that lasted until it delayed the start of the 1995 season. Ruffling fans, many left the game for other sports. Although a stoppage rewards neither side, it looks inevitable. The big loser is the fans themselves, especially if the issues can’t be hammered out by spring training.

Yankees News: Cashman eyes monster first baseman, Sanchez’s return is troubling

freddie freeman, yankees

Top New York Yankees links:

Yankees, Blue Jays Among Teams With Interest In Freddie Freeman – MLB Trade Rumors

The New York Yankees have been incredibly quiet this off-season, but one star free agent could be a target moving forward. The 2020 NL MVP Freddie Freeman represents arguably the best first baseman in baseball. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, Freeman was contacted by the Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, so there could be a bidding war for his services.

At 32-years-old, freeman remains a longshot to depart from the Atlanta Braves, but a team that is willing to push past five years on a potential deal could be the one to earn his signature. This past season, Freeman hit .300 with 31 homers and 83 RBIs. With a low 15.4% strikeout rate and 12.2% walk rate, Freeman is an incredible offensive player coming off a World Series with Atlanta.

Replacing Anthony Rizzo and Luke Voit with Freeman would be an incredible addition, and given his health history over the last four years, he’s also a reliable player they can count on daily. While his defense has been streaky at times, it is good enough for him to be the starter without question. In addition, his lefty bat makes him an intriguing prospect as well, given the short right porch in Yankee Stadium. Freeman could elevate his home run totals to close to 40, if not better in a home run friendly park.

Gary Sanchez’s return is just part of Yankees sad offseason – NY Post

The Yankees tendered three players on Tuesday, one of them being catcher Gary Sanchez. Sanchez has failed to develop into the star the Yankees expected him to be several years ago. This past season, Sanchez hit .204 with 23 homers and 54 RBIs. After recording a measly .147 average in 2020, his numbers didn’t elevate enough to justify keeping him as a long-term solution.

Nonetheless, the Yankees will avoid arbitration with Sanchez and pay him $8 million for the 2022 season. Worst case, he ends up being the primary catcher for one last year in hopes he can turn things around. Otherwise, the Yankees will have to be active next off-season trying to find a supplement.