Lake Forest, Ill.– When the NFL’s legal tampering period opened on Monday morning, first-year Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles wasted no time dishing out offers to various free agents. Despite rumors that the Bears were in on a number of players, Chicago’s lone signing during the legal tampering period was defensive lineman Larry Ogunjobi who spent the 2021 season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ogunjobi’s, Poles biggest acquisition to date, has drawn some mixed reactions among the Bears fanbase. On one hand, first-year head coach Matt Eberflus gets the coveted three-technique defensive tackle needed to ensure that the defense flourishes. On the other hand, many are confused as to why Poles opted to trade defensive superstar Khalil Mack and then make a splash signing on the defensive side of the ball less than a week later.
The final numbers, including cap hits are still unavailable but the expectation is that the Bears will ink Ogunjobi to a three-year deal $40.5M, with $26.35M in guaranteed money. Since entering the NFL in 2017 as a third-round pick by the Cleveland Browns, Ogunjobi has logged 63 starts and totaled 21.5 sacks. Besides just experience, the Bears believe Ogunjobi is the right fit in Eberflus’ defense.
Adding Ogunjobi to the Bears roster isn’t about making a splash move. Adding Ogunjobi to the roster is about giving Eberflus’ defense a critical piece needed to succeed. Despite having offseason surgery to repair his foot, an injury sustained during the 2021 playoffs, the Bears are banking on Ogunjobi to replicate his 2021 production, a stat line that included seven sacks, 49 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 16 QB hits.
Just hours after signing Ogunjobi, the Bears opted to release veteran DT Eddie Goldman, ending a seven-year run with the team. Adding Ogunjobi to the defense means the Bears’ transition to a 4-3 defense is fully underway with Eberflus and Poles looking to quickly rebuild a unit that was inconsistent at times throughout the 2021 season.
The New York Knicks could be losing a top assistant coach for the second straight season.
Kenny Payne could be next after Mike Woodson left midway last season to coach his alma mater, Indiana University. The Louisville Cardinals have reportedly narrowed down their list with Payne emerging as the top candidate to replace Chris Mack.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde, Payne could be introduced as the new coach of the Cardinals as soon as Thursday if talks between the two camps progress over the next 24 hours. But the report noted that there is no job offer yet.
Payne was part of the Cardinals’ NCAA championship run in 1986. He has the backing of the Louisville black community and has emerged as the favorite in all three editions of the WDRB U of L Coaching Hot Board. He could also make history as the first black coach of the program.
Payne is in his second season with the Knicks after spending a decade with Kentucky under John Calipari, where he shaped his reputation as one of the top college recruiters and a big man’s coach. Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Davis credited Payne’s mentoring in their development to become the top overall pick of their NBA Draft class. Miami Heat’s All-Star center Bam Adebayo, current Knicks forward Julius Randle, and other ex-Kentucky players in the NBA also swore by him.
In January, New York coach Tom Thibodeau gave Payne a ringing endorsement for the Louisville job.
“I think [Payne] has great comfort in the college game because of the great success that they had at Kentucky,” Thibodeau said. “I think for him, the Louisville job is obviously appealing because it’s his alma mater.”
After playing as a freshman reserve during the Cardinals’ national title run, Payne grew into a double-digit scorer in his junior and senior years and left the program as part of the 1,000-point club. Philadelphia 76ers selected him in the first round of the NBA Draft in 1989.
Payne played four seasons averaging 3.5 points and 1.2 rebounds in the NBA before going overseas with stops in Italy, Japan, Brazil, Philippines, Cyprus, China, Argentina, and Australia. After his playing career was over, he worked as an assistant coach for the University of Oregon from 2004 to 2009 before joining the Wildcats.
“He’s come into the league. He played in the league,” Thibodeau said. “And obviously having been in college, he studies the game, great with players. But he’s fit in seamlessly.”
“He’d be ideal for [Louisville]. “He’s strong on both sides of the ball. He’s strong with individual development. And he’s been around. He brings a lot of experience to any situation that he goes.”
Payne was also linked to Georgia, who went with Mike White from Florida to replace Tom Crean. Missouri is the other SEC school that will reportedly look at the Knicks assistant coach.
Last season, Payne received strong interest from De Paul. But he opted to stay with the Knicks. This time, if the Cardinals pressed their bid, Payne might have a hard time turning his back on his alma mater.
The New York Giants finally signed their backup quarterback in Tyrod Taylor, who is preparing to turn 33 years old this upcoming season.
After the Giants rolled with Mike Glennon over the past few seasons, it was about time they found a quarterback that could at least supplement the same skill set as Daniel Jones. Glennon was a statue in the pocket, offering no mobility and downfield prowess.
Taylor offers solid movement in the pocket and the ability to extend plays with his legs. This past season with the Houston Texans, Taylor was given an opportunity to start and prove his worth. He posted 966 yards and five touchdowns over six games before going down with an injury.
The former Texan signed a two-year, $17 million deal with $8.5 million guaranteed, according to ESPN insider Adam Schefter.
Some may argue that the Giants overpaid Taylor, but after witnessing how little Glennon offered the team last season when Jones went down, finding a competent backup was essential to the Giants’ plans. At the very least, Tyrod is capable of winning games in the NFL and providing legitimate talent at the quarterback position, which is something that must be factored into his price.
Taylor spent the 2017 season with Buffalo, the same year that Joe Schoen became the team’s assistant general manager. During that campaign, he recorded 2,799 yards and 14 touchdowns, so there was obviously a connection that impacted the probability of him joining Big Blue this off-season.
Overall, he’s a pricey signing for the Giants, who have minimal salary to work with, but he can compete with Jones and push him to become his best version, which is exactly what he needs going into his fourth season in the NFL.
It seems as if former New York Yankees relief pitcher Adam Ottovino is still a bit sour after the team traded him to the Boston Red Sox back in 2021. The Yankees don’t normally execute deals with rivals, and Ottavino mentioned how odd it was when the deal evidently went down.
“I think that’s what surprised me the most today, just that it was this type of trade,” said Ottavino. “I feel like I’m going to end up a trivia question one day. When [Yankees general manager Brian] Cashman told me Red Sox, that was not the name I expected. I knew I could be traded, but I definitely didn’t expect that. It’s kind of fun to be a part of something a little out of the ordinary.”
The Bombers were simply trying to get rid of his salary since the team owed him $8 million for the 2021 season. Boston needed a bit more support at the back end of their bullpen, and luckily for them, Ottavino fit the bill nicely.
Last season, he posted a 4.21 ERA over 62 innings, recording a 40% ground ball rate and 73.3% left on-base percentage. While Ottavino has struggled the past few seasons after a dominant campaign with the Yankees back in 2019, he is preparing to join the Bombers’ crosstown rival, the New York Mets.
At 36 years old, Ottavino will play an important part in their bullpen, but he took a family shot at his former team on Tuesday, indicating it was great to join the “good team in New York.”
"I get to sleep in my own bed. It's great that there's a good team in New York."
“I get to sleep in my own bed. It’s great that there’s a good team in New York.”
Otto would be smart to take a look at the standings from last season and where the Mets landed. His current squad failed to make the postseason, and despite the Yankees being knocked out in the Wild Card by Boston, neither team justified the lofty expenditures they accrued during the 2021 off-season.
This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 50, Song Yadong (19-6-1) had his biggest test to date. He was taking on former world title challenger “Magic” Marlon Moraes (23-10-1). Moraes was coming into the fight desperate for a win which made him even more dangerous.
It’s crazy to think that UFC Vegas 50 was already Yadong’s tenth fight with the promotion. What’s even crazier is the fact that he’s already at 26 professional fights including 10 in the UFC all before he has turned 25-years-old.
The young contender was ready to show the world that he can beat some of the best. As mentioned, Marlon Moraes entered the contest on a three-fight losing streak and desperately needed a win. However, Yadong was ready to meet Moraes head on.
From the opening bell, Yadong moved forward and he was throwing serious heat. He never gave Moraes a chance to get comfortable at UFC Vegas 50 and then just over two minutes in, he ended the fight. With a beautiful combination that featured a devastating uppercut, Yadong cemented himself as a top contender.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 50?
When the fight ended, Yadong actually had one specific name in mind for his next fight. It’s a man that he says he respects tremendously and it’s a man that has a ton of history with Yadong’s camp, Team Alpha Male.
That man is former UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz. Cruz is currently ranked seventh in the bantamweight division just a couple of spots ahead of Yadong. He’s also on a two-fight winning streak.
Given the name recognition and the position in the division, it’s a perfect callout for Yadong. However, I don’t think that’s in the cards for the UFC. My gut says that Dominick Cruz is going to be fighting Jose Aldo next.
Another good potential opponent would be Sean O’Malley in a battle of the top young prospects. However, I think O’Malley is likely to fight Adrian Yanez next which would make him unavailable.
I think the logical next opponent for the UFC to book Yadong against is Merab Dvalishvili (14-4). Merab is on a five-fight winning streak and he’s also coming off of a win against Marlon Moraes.
However, Yadong looked even more impressive than Merab did in his win. I think the UFC should pair these two up with the winner being guaranteed a top five guy next. It’s time to see who is ready to take that next step towards title contention at 135 pounds.
This past Saturday in the co-main event of UFC Vegas 50, we saw a matchup in the bantamweight division. Former title challenger Marlon Moraes (23-10-1) was looking to right the ship as he took on surging young contender Song Yadong (19-6-1).
Entering UFC Vegas 50, Marlon Moraes had lost three fights in a row and four out of five. In all four of those losses, Moraes had been stopped by TKO. Many, including myself, also thought he lost the fight to Jose Aldo at UFC 245.
However, two of the judges gave the fight to Moraes. Had one judge voted another way, he would’ve entered UFC Vegas 50 on a five-fight losing streak. A steep fall from grace for a guy who was once considered arguably the best bantamweight in the world.
This fight against Song Yadong was an opportunity to reset against a younger contender. However, Yadong didn’t give him any chance to reset. From the opening bell, Yadong was all over Moraes and he was throwing heat.
Moraes landing some good shots here and there, but Yadong was just walking him down. Just two minutes into the first round, Yadong landed a brutal uppercut and combination that put Moraes out cold. UFC Vegas 50 marked the fourth straight TKO loss for Moraes.
Is his UFC run over?
After the fight was over, Mores was viewed taking his gloves off inside the octagon. He didn’t lay them down in the center which is the mark of someone walking away, but he sadly looked down as he held his UFC gloves in his hands.
As mentioned, Moraes was once considered the most dangerous bantamweight on the roster. After losing his UFC debut by split decision, Moraes went on an incredible four-fight winning streak which included a knockout win over current champion Aljamain Sterling.
In an 18-fight stretch between various promotions and the UFC, Moraes went 17-1. He looked like a destroyer who was bound to become the UFC’s bantamweight champion. He had that shot against Henry Cejudo and through one round he dominated.
However, when Cejudo started to fight back, Moraes started to break. Cejudo would go on to finish Moraes and really “Magic” Marlon hasn’t been the same since. So now, he’s 1-5 in his last six and he’s been finished five times. Is the 33-year-old’s UFC run over?
I tend to lean towards yes, but there is one more fight that could be made. That could be a fight with former UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (12-5). Like Moraes, Garbrandt was once considered one of the best in the world. He actually won UFC gold.
However, he’s also just 1-5 in his last six fights. It’s weird how similar their paths look. Garbrandt dropped to 125 pounds and was knocked out in his flyweight debut. The future is cloudy for him just like it is for Moraes. Perhaps the UFC pairs them together and the winner stays while the loser is let go.
The New York Yankees’ rotation has several question marks after Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery. Can Nestor Cortes Jr. keep up his high performance level of 2021? Will Jameson Taillon be healthy to start the season after fall surgery? Can Domingo German show any consistency? Will Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt be factors?
“There are some other guys that are coming off different surgeries and things like that and some other guys that are a little slow-moving,” Boone told reporters at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Monday. “But I think most of the guys on our roster and stuff are pretty good.”
The Yankees will have Taillon back on time to open the season
Speaking specifically about Taillon, who had a procedure to repair a torn right ankle tendon in October, he said: “I think Jamo should be on time. Jamo is in a good spot.”
This qualifies as excellent news, given that Taillon was initially expected to miss the first month of the season.
There are, however, bad news to report on two pitchers: one of them is a starter and the other one is a reliever.
Domingo German, who suffered shoulder problems in 2021, experienced some issues in January. Boone said that he is “definitely going to be behind” the other pitchers, as he just started his throwing program and won’t be ready to ramp up to a regular starter’s workload before the opening series on April 7 against the Boston Red Sox.
Stephen Ridings, a Yankees’ flamethrower who impressed in limited action last year, will also be out of action for the foreseeable future, as he hasn’t been throwing lately as he deals with “some shoulder and back stuff,” per Boone. “We’ll see where that leads.”
It was a little bit of a head-scratching move, but it makes some sense. The Yankees were ready to move on from Gary Sanchez and they needed a shortstop. In Josh Donaldson, they feel like they upgraded at third and upgrading across the board was worth taking on the Donaldson salary.
Yesterday, we saw one of the Yanks biggest offseason targets come off the board. From the moment the offseason began, there was chatter that the Yankees really wanted to make a trade with Oakland for superstar first baseman, Matt Olson.
However, the prospect haul would have to be big and Cashman seemed resistant. Well, the Atlanta Braves were willing to do it and they secured the start lefty. Now, the Yankees are still trying to figure out the first base position.
They are in on Freddie Freeman. However, most believe it’s going to be a steep hill to climb to get him. A reunion with Anthony Rizzo could be in the cards, but there’s something that’s struck me in the last couple of days about the Yankees approach this offseason.
Yankees Prospects and Holding on Too Long
A few years ago, Gary Sanchez could’ve been the centerpiece of a trade that brought a legit star to the Yankees. Clint Frazier, Chance Adams, and Miguel Andjuar were requested by the Pirates a few years ago for Gerrit Cole.
Deivi Garcia and Estavan Florial were asked about in trades for proven MLB starting pitchers. Gleyber Torres was asked about in many trades that could’ve brought stars back to the Yankees that could’ve drastically helped this club potentially win a World Series.
Brian Cashman turned down major trades over and over again to hold onto these prospects out of the fear of missing out. In the last few years, there’s really only been one prospect Cashman has held onto that’s turned out to be a star and that’s Aaron Judge.
Remember Greg Bird? Look, I absolutely love the fact that Brian Cashman truly believes in his guys. However, he has really developed a horrible habit of holding onto guys until they virtually have no value at all.
You will not find a bigger fan of Anthony Volpe than me. I also love Oswald Peraza and Jasson Dominguez. They all are sensational prospects. However, all three of them are far from guarantees and Yankees fans have to hope they pan out.
The Prospect Problem and Hopium
Let me ask you, if you were told that Jasson Dominguez and Oswald Peraza were traded for Matt Olson, but the Yankees won a World Series next year would you do it? I would hope many if not all would say yes.
Cashman has behaved like a GM who is half in and half out. Half of him wants to build for the future while the other half wants to win now. You can’t have it both ways and the Yankees are 13 years removed from a World Series as a result.
If Anthony Volpe turns out to be the next Derek Jeter and Dominguez turns out to be the next Mickey Mantle, Cashman is a genius. However, if they both flame out, Yankees fans will once again be left wondering, what if?
What if Gerrit Cole was traded to New York instead of Houston? What if the Yankees acquired Jose Ramirez or Francisco Lindor a couple of years ago for a package headlined by Gleyber Torres.
Yesterdays trade will be another what if? What if the Yankees had made the prospect package needed to acquire Matt Olson. Time will tell, but it’s a risky game that has burned Cashman more times than not in recent memory. I truly hope he’s right this time.
The New York Mets got some bad news to start the week, and they have to do with their best pitcher, Jacob deGrom. No, it doesn’t have to do with any physical ailments (thankfully!), but instead, with his contract situation.
Before the 2019 season, deGrom signed a contract extension for five years, worth $137.5 million. That deal included an opt out after the 2022 campaign, which the pitcher, according to his own words in the last few hours, intends to use.
“As a player, you build in opt-outs and that’s the business side,” he said, per SNY, pretty much confirming he will exercise his opt out after this season.
However, before Mets’ fans freak out (understandably, of course) over deGrom’s comments, he did say his desire is to stay in the franchise for the long term.
“For me, I don’t want that to be any distraction,” he said. “I’m excited about this team, and I’ve said it before, I love being a Met. Think it would be really cool to be one for my entire career. The plan is to exercise that option and be in constant contact in the offseason with the Mets and Steve Cohen and the front office.”
The Mets will need to pay him more to make him stay
After seeing the Mets pay Max Scherzer $43.3 million per year for three seasons at 37 years old, it’s understandable that deGrom, who is 33, wants to bet on himself to get a larger deal.
“It’s exciting. To see what ownership’s doing and going and getting guys, this is going to be an exciting place to be,” deGrom said.
The Mets’ ace had an injury-riddled 2021, in which he suffered shoulder, side, and elbow issues. Team president Sandy Alderson talked about a partial elbow ligament tear that “healed itself,” so deGrom will hope to stay healthy and cash in over the offseason.
Last year, he could only make 15 starts, but that was enough to put a 4.9 WAR: he pitched 92 innings, struck out 45.1% of hitters, and had a minuscule 1.08 ERA.
This is another New York Yankees Top 10’s. This one looks back through history to reveal my top 10 Yankee first baseman. This is, of course, subjective. In selecting my top ten, I valued time with the club, performance as per Baseball-Reference.com. Peak career performance and performance in postseason play were also a factor. Special situations like changing career positions were also a consideration. In the next days and weeks, I will be examining all the position players, including the pitchers and catchers.
#10: Nick Etten (1943-1946)
Anchoring this list of best first basemen is Nick Etten. There are several similar players, but I choose Etten. The rest of the Yankee’s first basemen of the period are relatively unremarkable. I picked Etten even though he only played 4 years for the Yankees because he had a huge impact in his first year with the Yankees. He was a champion in the 1943 World Series; although he didn’t hit well, he was a formidable hitter for the Yankees during the mid-’40s. He had a .275 batting average and was an MVP candidate for three of his four years with the Yankees.
#9: Joe Pepitone (1962-1969)
Joe Pepitone was a bit of a character but was an excellent defender at first base for the Yankees for seven years. The Yankees signed him in 1958 at age 17. In four years, he was called up to the majors. He was the three-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glover. During 1963 he hit 27 homers with 89 RBIs. The following year he hit 28 homers with 100 RBIs. Pepitone was very aware of his appearance and was a bit of a lady’s man. He was the first every Yankee to bring a hairdryer into the clubhouse.
#8: Wally Pipp (1915-1925)
For almost a decade, Wally Pipp manned first base for the New York Yankees; the famous Lou Gehrig replaced him. When he started on first base, he was just 22 years old. Back during a time when the game was not known for home runs, he led the league in home runs with 12 in 1916 and nine in 1917. But the best was yet to come. Pipp amassed 833 RBI and 1,577 hits in 11 seasons in the Bronx. He was an important part of the Yankee’s first World Championship in 1923.
#7: Chris Chambliss (1974-1979) (1988)
In his time with the Yankees, Chambliss had an All-star and Gold Glove Award to his name. From 1975-to 1979, Chambliss turned into an important part of two Yankee World Series championship teams. In 1975, he hit .304 with 38 doubles. The following three years, he had a cumulative AVG of .285 and averaged 15 HR and 92 RBI per season, earning an All-Star selection in 1976 and a Gold Glove award in 1978. Chambliss is most known for his walk-off homer in the 1976 ALCS, causing the Yankees to win the pennant. In a famous video, the Yankees fans poured onto the field.
#6: Jason Giambi (2002-2008)
Jason Giambi could have been higher on this list if he had stayed longer with the Yankees. He had a .404 on-base percentage with the Yankees, fourth all-time. He had 209 homers over six years with 604 RBIs. In his first season as a Yankee, he won a Silver Slugger Award, batting .314 with 41 homers and 122 RBIs. Giambi could have been an even better player for the Yankees, but he had several injuries from a tumor to parasites. In game 7 of the Boston 2003 ALCS, he set up Aaron Booneâ€™s pennant-winning homer.
#5: Mark Teixeira (2009-2019)
During his time with the Yankees, he hit 206 home runs over the nine-year span. Yankees fans were amazed at some of the plays he made at first base. His best years with the Yankees were his first three years. He won World Championship in 2009. In 2009 he was also an MVP candidate, an All-Star, Gold Glover, and Silver Slugger. In 2010 and 2011, he was again a Gold Glove and MVP candidate. After 2012 his production was sapped with several injuries, but his defense at first remained first class.
#4: Tino Martinez (1996-2001) (2205)
Tino Martinez could easily be number 3 on this list if he played longer for the Yankees. He is fourth all-time in RBIs (739) among Yankee first basemen. He appeared in four Yankees World Series. During his Yankee career, he had 192 home runs batting .276. His most productive season was 1997 when he batted .296 with 44 home runs and 141 RBIs, better stats than he had with his other four teams. That year he also was a Silver Slugger and won the home run derby.
#3: Bill “Moose” Skowron (1954-1962)
The “Moose” was a seven-time All-Star and a four-time World Champion while with the New York Yankees. His World Series performances during his career resulted in seven home and 26 RBIs. Skowron became the starting first baseman in 1958 and remained there for the next four years. Besides being an excellent defender, his muscular physique appearance at the plate made opposing pitchers tremble.
#2: Don Mattingly (1982-1995)
You can argue with any of my placements, but my number 2 and number 1 first baseman leave little room for argument. “Donnie Baseball” is one of the all-time great baseball players in any position. He manned first base for the New York Yankees for 14 years. To this day, he remains one of the most popular Yankees of the modern era. He won nine Gold Gloves and would be in the Hall of Fame if it wasn’t for his back injury at age 29 that held back his power at the plate.
#1: Lou Gehrig (1923-1939)
Lou Gehrig is undeniably the best New York Yankee first baseman of all time, possibly the best first baseman to ever play the game. From 1925 to 1939, he played in 2,130 consecutive games, a Yankee record. Lou Gehrig may have been the Yankee’s most durable player ever. The great defensive first baseman drove in at least 100 runs a season for 13 straight seasons.
In 1931 he recorded an American League record of 185 RBIs. His lifetime batting average of .340. He had two MVPs and the Triple Crown in 1934. The power hitters’ career was cut short in 1939 when he came down with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which later became known as Lou Gehrig disease. In a matter of just months, Gehrig could play no more. On July 4, 1939, he made one of the most famous speeches in baseball history, telling the jam-packed Yankee Stadium fan that he was “the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” It would be the last time Yankee fans would see their favorite first baseman.
The “Iron Horse’ as he was known, died just eighteen days before his 38th birthday on June 2, 1941. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. The hall set aside the waiting rules to immediately induct him. Derek Jeter in 2009 passed his record hits of 2,721, but Gehrig still holds the record for most consecutive games played and the most triples in franchise history with 163 over his career.