Why James Daniels should be a top target for the Giants in free agency

james daniels, bears

The New York Giants are in desperate need of reinforcements along the offensive line. The Giants are strapped for cash but will need to make room for upgrades in free agency this offseason. Once they clear enough cap space, New York should head to the open market to find offensive linemen. Among their options, possibly the most compelling of the bunch is Chicago Bears offensive lineman James Daniels.

James Daniels should be one of the Giants’ top targets in the 2022 free agency period. Daniels is an offensive lineman that has experience playing all three interior positions. Additionally, he will be only 25-years-old when the 2022 season begins. Considering his positional versatility and age, James Daniels could be a long-term starter for the Giants if they sign him.

Why the Giants should target James Daniels

James Daniels started all seventeen games at right guard for the Chicago Bears in 2021. Daniels bounced back from a 2020 season that was cut short by injury with a career year this season.

James was a top-10 player from Week 4 on according to PFF’s grades. He earned a career-high 71.0 PFF grade in 2021 as he played 1,121 snaps and allowed only 3 sacks and 40 pressures on the season. The Iowa alum has peak athleticism at the guard position that makes him a perfect fit in a zone-blocking scheme. Daniels is young, athletic, and would be an instant-upgrade at guard for the Giants in pass-protection. He also has experience starting at both left and right guard, giving him the positional versatility that the Giants need.

“From Week 4 through the end of the season, Daniels’ 75.8 overall grade ranked 12th among guards. His 71.8 pass-blocking grade ranked 27th among players at the position, and his 76.3 run-blocking grade ranked 17th.” –PFF on James Daniels in 2021

Pro Football Focus projects a contract of five years, $50 million ($10M per year, $24M total guaranteed) for James Daniels in free agency. This might not be a bargain-bin option, but Daniels could be a long-term starter for the Giants. If the New York Giants are able to free up some cap space for this offseason, James Daniels might be the perfect target to help revamp their offensive line.

Giants select two surprise players in Daniel Jeremiah’s NFL Mock Draft 2.0

travon walker, georgia, giants

The New York Giants can’t afford to pass on offensive line talent in the first round this year, even if it means landing the third-best option with the 5th or 7th overall selection. One way or another, the Giants need an upgrade at right tackle and have voids at both guards spots and center.

With that being the case, either Ikem Ekwonu or Charles Cross should be high on the priority list for new general manager Joe Schoen, who has already pointed out the need for talent in the trenches.

NFL analyst Daniel Jeremiah put together a mock draft this week, completely passing on OL talent and going after a pass rusher and wide receiver, a strange turn of events.

Daniel Jeremiah Mock Draft 2.0 (link):

5th overall: Travon Walker, EDGE, Georgia

Walker is a unique talent because of his size, athleticism and versatility. The Giants need more playmakers on defense.

There is no question that Travon Walker is a solid player at 6’5″ and 275 pounds. He’s capable of playing inside and on the edge, using his rare athleticism and power to provide a pass rush. With long arms and quality speed, he could be a fantastic selection in the 1st round, but Jeremiah has the Giants passing on Kayvon Thibodeaux, who falls all the way to the 8th pick by the Atlanta Falcons.

Walker finished the 2021 season with 6.0 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, and 33 tackles in total. Looking purely at statistics, Florida State pass rusher Jermaine Johnson might be a more productive player as a rookie.

7th overall: Drake London, WR, USC

The Giants seem very committed to giving Daniel Jones a fair evaluation in 2022. London has inside/outside versatility and he’ll be a monster in the red zone.

The Giants spent a 1st round pick last year on Florida receiver Kadarius Toney, not to mention the massive contract they offered to Kenny Golladay in free agency. Jeremiah has the Giants drafting Drake London out of USC. London recorded 1,086 yards last year and seven touchdowns, but the Giants’ need at receiver is far outweighed by their desperate need for offensive line talent.
Overall, this draft completely misses the mark for what the Giants need but rather takes a desired approach, given Jeremiah’s opinions on upper management. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this is a “best player available” model by any means.

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson asks for help to find his missing father

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson III isn’t only worrying about his next contract and his team’s disappointing performance before the All-Star break. On top of his work-related problems is the ongoing search for his missing father.

Robinson shared on his Snapchat and Instagram story Monday about his missing father. According to Escambia County Sheriff’s office, Mitchell Robinson, Jr., the Knicks center’s father, has been missing since February 11.

Robinson’s father is based in Pensacola, Florida, where the Knicks center played his first two years in high school before moving to New Orleans. For any information about his father’s whereabouts, the ECSO asks to contact them at 850-436-9620.

The Knicks, currently 12th in the Eastern Conference and 3.5 games outside the play-in, will need everyone, including Robinson, to lock in for their last 23 games, the fourth toughest remaining schedule, per Tankathon. It will kick off with a home game against the Eastern Conference’s best team, Miami Heat on Friday.

Robinson is averaging 8.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in the final year of his rookie-scale contract. He is eligible to sign a contract extension up to four years, $55.6 million before the end of the season. Robinson will become an unrestricted free agent this summer if both parties can’t agree to a new contract.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees will retire number 21 in August to honor star outfielder of the late-90s dynasty

The New York Yankees announced they will retire Paul O’Neill’s number 21 in a ceremony on Sunday August 21, 2022. This way, they are honoring one of their top outfielders of the late nineties dynasty.

O’Neill’s number 21 will finally enter Monument Park, and he is fully deserving of the honor after playing more than half of his career in the Bronx, since 1993 until 2001. He retired after the World Series loss that year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and finished his MLB tenure with a .288/.363/.470 slash line, a 120 wRC+, 281 home runs, and 1,269 RBI. He won four World Series with the Yankees and one with the Cincinnati Reds.

Per NJ Advance Media, all guests in attendance that day will get a commemorative “Paul O’Neill Day” game ticket.

23 Yankees have had their numbers retired

The Yankees made O’Neill the 23rd player or manager to have his number retired, the first one since Derek Jeter in 2017. Some of O’Neill’s former teammates such as Jeter, Jorge Posada, Joe Torre, Mariano Rivera, Don Mattingly, Bernie Williams, and Andy Pettite have received the honor.

O’Neil received a plaque in Monument Park in 2014, but his number was in limbo for a long time.

Currently working as a game analyst for the YES Network, he was a true difference-maker with the Yankees: he had a .303 batting average, 304 doubles, 185 dingers, 858 RBI, a .377 on-base percentage and an .869 OPS with them. He was a four-time All-Star and the 1994 batting champion.

These Yankees have had his number retired:

1 Billy Martin August 10th, 1986

2 Derek Jeter May 14, 2017

3 Babe Ruth June 13th, 1948

4 Lou Gehrig July 4th, 1939

5 Joe DiMaggio April 18th, 1952

6 Joe Torre August 23, 2014

7 Mickey Mantle June 8th, 1969

8 Yogi Berra July 22nd, 1972

8 Bill Dickey July 22nd, 1972

9 Roger Maris July 22nd, 1984

10 Phil Rizzuto August 4th, 1985

15 Thurman Munson September 20th, 1980

16 Whitey Ford August 3rd, 1974

20 Jorge Posada August 22nd, 2015

21 Paul O’Neill August 21, 2022

23 Don Mattingly August 31st, 1997

32 Elston Howard July 22nd, 1984

37 Casey Stengel August 8th, 1970

42 Mariano Rivera September 22, 2013

44 Reggie Jackson August 14th, 1993

46 Andy Pettitte August 23rd, 2015

49 Ron Guidry August 23rd, 2003

51 Bernie Williams May 24th, 2015

Mets could target two sluggers after the lockout: one of them is an old friend

kris bryant, yankees

After adding Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar, plus the pending return of Robinson Cano, one would think the New York Mets’ lineup could be set: after all, they also have Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, JD Davis, James McCann, Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, and star shortstop Francisco Lindor, among others.

The Mets’ biggest need is on the pitching staff. Yes, they added Max Scherzer on a three-year, $130 million deal, but they also lost Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Joey Lucchesi, the latter due to a long-term injury and the first two via free agency.

Yet, SI.com’s Pat Ragazzo reported that the Mets have their eye on two sluggers and that they remain potential fits to their 2022 plans. One of them is Kris Bryant, a player they have coveted for a long time, capable of playing both infield and outfield corners while boasting an above-average bat.

The Mets have their eyes on two competent bats

Bryant hit .265/.353/.481 with 25 home runs between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants last season, and is a former Rookie of the Year, MVP, and World Series champion.

On the other hand, the Mets have also been linked to Michael Conforto, who started his career with the Mets in 2015 and reached free agency after last season. The right fielder wasn’t good in 2021 (.729 OPS) but has a career .824 OPS and has surpassed .900 two times, in 2017 and 2020.

Conforto is the kind of left-handed bat that most contenders should be coveting in free agency, but he didn’t sign before the lockout. Per Ragazzo, the Mets remain in play for his services.

“At least one industry source believes that the Mets realistically have 1-of-2 choices if they decide to add a significant hitter: bring in third baseman/outfielder Kris Bryant or re-sign right fielder Michael Conforto since both players are solid defenders and neither is tied to a QO,” Ragazzo wrote.

Will the Mets break the bank for another slugger?

Giants can plug left guard spot with dominant pass-blocking prospect in the 2nd round

zion johnson, giants

This off-season, the top priority for the New York Giants is to build a quality offensive line around Daniel Jones. Featuring one of the worst pass-blocking units in football the last two seasons, even general manager Joe Schoen indicated the trenches needed a significant boost in talent.

“I think everybody knows, the offensive line, and again, they had some injuries, unfortunately,” Schoen said. “Yeah, that’s going to need to be addressed. Because if you really want to see Daniel Jones put his best foot forward, he’s got to be on his feet. And if you want to see what Saquon (Barkley) can do, it would be nice if you block guys. So, yeah, the offensive line will be a priority.”

Andrew Thomas, the 4th overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, will be the only holdover. Nate Solder is hitting free agency, Nick Gates suffered a fractured leg early last season, Will Hernandez is a free agent, and the rotating Russian roulette at left guard will finally come to an end.

The Giants will look to the draft for talent acquisitions, especially with two first-round picks at their disposal. An offensive tackle stands out as an immediate need, especially on the right side. Ikem Ekwonu and Charles Cross are the best possibilities, with Alabama stand-out OT Evan Neal likely off the board.

However, the Giants also need an offensive guard, which will likely be a priority in the 2nd round. One option that stands out is Zion Johnson out of Boston College. Johnson was a second-year senior, standing at 6’3″ and 314 pounds this past season.

Johnson is ranked as one of the top interior linemen in this draft class, showcasing exceptional performances throughout the collegiate year in 2021. Multiple mock drafts have him in the 1st round, but if he’s available with the 37th overall pick, the Giants shouldn’t hesitate.

Johnson has a perfect frame for a guard, using his size and athleticism in the trenches to win regularly. His play strength is fantastic, but he lacks the width and size to be an offensive tackle, which is why his better position is inside.

Perfect for what the Giants need, Zion is known for his pass-blocking capabilities, showing solid anchor and football IQ to pick up stunts and unique blitz packages. That is not to say that Johnson isn’t a quality run blocker as well, but Big Blue is looking for protection in passing sets, something they’ve struggled considerably with in recent years.

Pairing Johnson with a rookie right tackle or next to Andrew Thomas is a fool-proof move for the Giants. It could end up being a fruitful combination that solidifies the right or left side of the trenches for years to come.

Yankees shortstop options dwindling after Rangers dealt injury blow

yankees, rangers, Isiah Kiner-Falefa

By the time the lockout officially ends, the New York Yankees won’t have many options at shortstop to consider. Currently, the best options on the market remain Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Andrelton Simmons. All three present vastly different players, but overspending on Correa and Story may not be preferable for general manager Brian Cashman.

Correa is looking for a 10-year contract, and Story would have to be overpaid on a stopgap deal over two or three seasons max. In that case, Simmons may present the best alternative, but his lack of offensive production is a big turn-off for a Yankee team that heavily relies on home run hitters.

In recent months, one name that has bubbled to the surface is Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who currently features with the Texas Rangers at both third base and shortstop. Last season, he hit .271 with eight homers and 53 RBIs, recording a 13.3% strikeout rate. With 136 singles, 25 doubles, and three triples, Kiner-Falefa presents solid contact hitting, which is a desperate need for the Bombers.

However, there’s a good chance that he is completely off the board after Texas Rangers infielder Josh Jung suffered an injury weight lifting.

According to NBC Sports, Rangers’ third baseman Josh Jung suffered an injury weight lifting, which could force Isiah Kiner-Falefa into a more prominent role:

Jung suffered a left shoulder injury while lifting weights at the team’s spring training facility earlier this month. He was examined by team physician Dr. Keith Meister last week and diagnosed with a labral strain.

With Jung out of commission for a while, Isiah Kiner-Falefa would appear to have a clear path to the Rangers’ third base job.

Kiner-Falefa would’ve presented a far less lucrative trade scenario compared to Matt Chapman. His solid production at the plate and great defense make him a perfect prospect for the Yankees in the short term, but now their options continue to dwindle, making the decision to pass on players before the lockout a bad one.

Even with Texas landing Corey Seager and Marcus Semian, they still have a big need at third base, and luckily they have the support to fill it without skipping a beat. Theoretically, the Yankees could part ways with Gio Urshela in a trade for Kiner-Falefa, but it is unlikely.

WATCH: Yankees’ infielders train with Didi Gregorius, could he make a return?

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius

The New York Yankees face an uphill battle after the lockout finally comes to an end, specifically at the shortstop position where they still haven’t found a stopgap solution until Anthony Volpe and Oswald Peraza are ready to make the leap.

The idea of signing Carlos Correa has simmered for quite a while, but it seemed as if general manager Brian Cashman is keen on giving his youth prospects a chance to take over the starting gig over the next two seasons.

Correa is looking for a 10-year contract, which is likely a scary scenario for the Yankees considering they unloaded several big deals over the past few seasons and still have to extend Aaron Judge.

One option that makes plenty of sense is bringing back Didi Gregorius, who has one year left on his deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Gregorius had arguably his worst season to date last year, hitting .209 with just 13 homers and 54 RBIs.

At 31 years old, Gregorius has spent the last two seasons with Philadelphia, recording impressive numbers during the Covid abbreviated season in 2020. He hit .284 with 10 homers and 40 RBIs but was never able to revive the power he displayed wearing pinstripes.

Gregorius has spent the last few days training with Gleyber Torres and Gio Urshela, two players who are expected to play a significant role moving forward in the infield.

All three infielders posted similar videos highlighting their practice session and proactive approach despite facilities closed down and spring training being delayed.

Gregorious is set to earn $15.25 million in adjusted salary next season, and if Philadelphia is looking to unload his contract, the Yankees could easily bring back the fan-favorite who smashed 27 homers and recorded 86 RBIs during the 2018 campaign.

Acquiring didi from Philadelphia would likely cost pennies on the dollar given his contract and his poor 2021 season. He would be the perfect stopgap to give Peraza a bit more time in Triple-A to prepare for the big leagues.

Giants could steal underrated offensive lineman from Chiefs in free agency

andrew wylie, giants

When a team experiences a shift in coaching and management, oftentimes, they look to bring players from their previous organizations to provide consistency and familiarity. The New York Giants recently overhauled their entire front office, bringing in Brian Daboll from the Buffalo Bills as their new head coach.

There’s a strong possibility Daboll and Joe Schoen look to Buffalo in free agency to steal a few contributing players, but new offensive coordinator Mike Kafka could also do the same from the Kansas City Chiefs.

With the offensive line a significant need and the Giants desperately requiring more talent across the board, Chiefs’ offensive lineman Andrew Wylie could fit the bill nicely as an acquisition this off-season.

While he spent last season serving as Kansas City’s right tackle over 521 snaps, giving up four sacks to QB has and 23 hurries, he’s built a solid body of work to attract suitors.

Wiley isn’t known as an elite offensive lineman by any means, but he has experience at left guard, right guard, and right tackle, making him that much more valuable as a plug-and-play option at multiple positions. Wylie would theoretically give the Giants some flexibility if injuries occur next season, moving him around and supplementing deficiencies.

According to PFF, Wylie spent 874 snaps at right guard in 2020 and 574 at left guard in 2019. Having posted average grades, the Giants could rely on him to be a competent player who provides sufficient play without over-impression.

With the 6’6″, 309-pound former undrafted free agent preparing to hit the open market, the Giants could secure him on a multi-year deal for a cost-efficient price. A deal in the realm of three years, $15 million, might get the job done, and since the team lost Nick Gates to a broken leg last season, adding another versatile piece would be a productive move. Schoen and Co. currently have -$12 million in salary space, so finding good players at an efficient price-point is a necessity. Wylie fits that mold perfectly.

Big Blue also has plenty of draft capital to allocate toward the trenches in April, but finding familiar players who can offer substantial value is always a priority. Considering Kafka knows Wylie well during their time with Kansas City, the connection is there for a potential move.

New York Yankee Legends: Hall of Famer Richard “Goose” Gossage

goose gossage, yankees

The early years

The New York Yankee Richard Michael Gossage was born on July 5, 1951, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where at age 68, he still lives. He was one of six children that lived in a one-bedroom house as his father was an unsuccessful gold prospector. Every evening before dinner, his father Jake would take Rich out to the backyard for a game of catch. Goose would later say, after dinner, we would sit on the front porch and talk baseball and all the stars like Mikey Mantle, Willie Mays, and the like.

Jake died in Rich’s junior year of high school. Even though he would not play in the field as well as some of his friends, his father always said that due to his strong arm, his son would play in the majors.  Mother Sue also played a key role in her son’s early development as a player. After one tough loss as a schoolboy, she sat with Rich on the bed and hugged him. She taught him to respect rival players.

Gossage’s career at Wasson High impressed the Chicago White Sox, who took him in the ninth round of the 1970 amateur draft. He was sent to the Sarasota White Sox and, after getting just 21 strikeouts on four walks, was promoted to the Appleton Foxes, and he didn’t fair very well. But as a starter the following year, he went 18-2, opening everyone’s eyes. He attributed his wins to an off-speed slerve he learned at Sarasota. In 1972 threatened by his manager that he wouldn’t make the team. Rich went out and struck out nine batters in a row while only throwing 2 balls.

One day while up north, the star player Dick Allen told Goose to be aggressive and move them off the plate. Let them know you mean business. In 1975 manager Tanner decided to move Goose from starting to the bullpen. Bullpen pitchers back then were unusual, and Tanner may have been ahead of his time. He figured after hitters hit to a Knuckleballer of a pitcher with a curve that putting Goose out there after six or seven with his grunting and snorting in 98 mph increments, it would set the hitter off, and it did. Goose began to pitch regularly out of the pen. By the way, when Goose would watch for signs, other players noticed he would stick his head forward like a goose, and you know the rest.

You really can’t compare today’s relievers, like Chapman or Rivera, to Gossage. For the most part, Pitchers today will pitch an inning or two. Back then, if the starter got knocked out in the fourth, Goose would come in and close the game, so you can’t really make stat comparisons. Many who study the game say that Goose was one of the earliest to be called a closer.

He would pitch five years for the White Sox and one in 1977 for the Pirates, mostly because Tanner moved to the Pirates. He really liked Tanner, and when he found out the Pirates were not going to extend his contract, he and his wife packed up their bags, their last stop was Three Rivers Stadium to clean out his locker. Tanner wished him the best. Goose went out to his car and just sat there crying while being consoled by his wife, Cornelia. He wouldn’t be able to be sad for long, for New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was trying to beef up his team by buying the best talent out there, and he signed Goose to a six-year contract on November 27, 1977.

Gossage becomes a New York Yankee

Gossage had a horrible start with the Yankees, blowing saves and making errors. He was so bad that one day Micky Rivers jumped on the hood of the car they used to transport pitchers to prevent him from entering the game. But despite blowing the save of the 78 All-Star game, he quickly found his form leading the American League with 27 saves. He helped the Yankees to come back after trailing Boston by 14 1/2 games in the American League East. He saved a one-run lead in the one-game playoff against the Red Sox. He went 2 2/3 rather rocky innings, finally getting Carl Yastrzemski to pop up to Graig Nettles to end the game. There was no way to measure pitch speed, but many guessed the pitch was over 100mph.

In 1978, Gossage got a win apiece in the AL Championship Series against Kansas City and the World Series against Los Angeles. In 1979, the Yankees didn’t win the World series; most think it was because Goose was out for three months with a torn ligament in his thumb. Gossage appeared in the postseason in two other years for the Yankees. In 1980, he lost one game as the Royals advanced to the World Series behind a booming George Brett homer off the Goose. In 1981, he recorded six saves against Milwaukee, Oakland, and the Dodgers.

The 1981 season was also when Gossage first grew a mustache. It soon became the Fu Manchu version that he still sports today. It was no secret that Goose and George didn’t get along very well, the mustache below the lip was just to irritate the “boss.” The clashes became more frequent. Finally, Goose had had enough and signed with the Padres.

After leaving the Yankees, he would pitch from 1984 to 1994 for seven different teams as a closer. Many say that the Goose was the greatest reliever of all time, during a time when there were few closers. In interviews, Gossage would say pitchers are babied today. Starters are taught to get the team through five or six innings and then be replaced by a reliever. When he pitched, the team didn’t care if your arm fell off, if you were out, there you were there to finish the game. He once pitched seven innings of a fourteen-inning game. He said of today’s relievers, if you don’t stretch them out, they will only pitch an inning.

Gossage inducted into the Baseball Hall Fame

Richard “Goose” Gossage ended his career-saving 310 games in 1810 innings pitched. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. Gossage remains active in youth sports in Colorado Springs. For several years, he has served as an instructor for the New York Yankees in spring training. When he pitches in the Old Timer’s Day games at Yankee Stadium, it sure looks like at age 68; he’s still got it.

To read about any of my other New York Yankee Legends, just enter New York Yankee Legends in the search at the top of the page.

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.