Can rookie Dane Belton steal a starting spot in the New York Giants secondary?

dane belton, giants, iowa

The New York Giants have a few interesting battles brewing ahead of training camp. New general manager Joe Schoen has stepped in and quickly overturned the roster to rebuild toward a brighter future. One of the position groups that was most significantly changed was the defensive secondary. The Giants lost multiple starters in the secondary, including safeties Jabrill Peppers and Logan Ryan and cornerback James Bradberry. In turn, they added a couple of young bucks through the draft, like Cor’Dale Flott (CB, LSU) and Dane Belton (DB, Iowa). Dane Belton is a rookie that could surprise and steal a starting spot this season on the Giants’ defense.

The Giants drafted Dane Belton in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Belton played a lot of nickel cornerback in college and filled a “cash” role as a hybrid linebacker/safety. Xavier McKinney will be one of the Giants’ starting safeties in 2022, but there is a position battle brewing at the other safety position. Dane Belton is one of the players that could be competing for that role.

Dane Belton could compete for a starting spot in the Giants’ secondary

Dane Belton will be competing with Julian Love for one of the Giants’ starting safety spots. He could steal this position, or he could also steal the nickel corner spot. It is a crowded room in the slot as Aaron Robinson, Cor’Dale Flott, Darnay Holmes, and Dane Belton are all in the mix.

Where Dane Belton has an edge over the rest of the slot cornerbacks he is competing with is his ability to play all over the defense. Belton is incredibly versatile:

“In our base defense [at Iowa], I played a 2-high safety but any time the offense came out in 11 personnel, 10 personnel, basically passing formation, I went down to a nickel what we call cash, and really just a versatile player that has to guard slot receivers and play in the box, blitz off the edge, doing multiple things,” Belton said.

New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to get creative with his blitz packages. Defensive backs and linebackers alike will be involved in pressuring the quarterback. This scheme could put Belton on the field frequently.

Pro Football Focus named Dane Belton the Giants’ “Biggest Draft Gem” from their 2022 class. Making plays is what Dane Belton was all about during his collegiate career. He totaled 5 interceptions and 7 passes defended in 2021. Belton was constantly popping up around the football, being a pest to opposing quarterbacks.

Where does Dane Belton fit in the Giants’ defense?

In all likelihood, Dane Belton will begin his career on special teams. But he should see plenty of playing time when the Giants’ defense calls for nickel personnel. Playing as a safety in the slot is where Dane Belton will fit best in the New York Giants’ defense.

Playing as Iowa’s “cash” defender, Belton thrived as a slot safety, allowing a 66.0 passer rating across 315 coverage snaps. He packs a powerful punch at 6-foot-1 and has shown an ability to thrive in a zone coverage slot role when given the opportunity (89.4 zone coverage grade in 2021). – Pro Football Focus on Dane Belton

Yankees Post Game: Toronto snaps winning streak, pitching implodes, offense fights on

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees faced off against the Toronto Blue Jays in the final game of a three-game series on Sunday afternoon. The Bombers had won the first two games of the series by a combined score of 16–3 but allowed 10 runs to Toronto on Sunday, who were in dire need of a victory, having lost four of their last five games.

Yankees starter Luis Severino was on the mound, lasting 5.0 innings but giving up three hits, four walks, and five earned runs over 102 pitches. Severino gave up two homers, one in the 1st inning to Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and another in the 5th to George Springer. Manager Aaron Boone pulled Severino in favor of Miguel Castro, who gave up a grand slam two Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

Overall, the Bombers gave up 10 earned runs on seven hits and eight walks. It was only a matter of time before the pitching imploded, especially since the bullpen has picked up a lot of the slack over the past few weeks with injuries arising.

Unfortunately, Severino suffered arguably his worst game of the season but has been solid over his past few appearances. He gave up just one earned run over his last 13 innings prior to Sunday’s game.

The Yankees fought offensively:

Offensively, the Yankees tallied 11 hits and nine earned runs, with Gleyber Torres curating three RBIs and three hits. Overall, the Yanks fought valiantly to climb back from a tough pitching performance, but it simply wasn’t enough. The biggest variable was Toronto’s walks, getting on base easily with the pitchers struggling to locate. The Yankees will look ahead to a three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays starting on Monday in Tampa.

Gerrit Cole will get the start against Shane McClanahan, who the Yankees recently beat earlier this past week thanks to a Kyle Hgashioka three-run homer. Cole currently hosts a 3.33 ERA and is coming off a solid outing against Tampa, pitching 6.0 innings without giving up a run.

Report: Nets unlikely to match full mid-level offer to Nic Claxton

The Brooklyn Nets are reportedly unlikely to match a standard mid-level offer to Nic Claxton, who is set to become a restricted free agent.

Houston Chronicle’s Dan Feigen listed Claxton as one of the potential free-agent targets for the Rockets after trading away Christian Wood.

“The free-agent class at center is considered unusually deep with players that might be available to teams, including the Rockets, that are over the cap but can offer the full mid-level exception, starting at $10.5 million.

The Nets are considered unlikely to match a mid-level offer to Nic Claxton,” Feigen wrote.

Claxton, who threw away his dreadlocks for a cleaner, cropped hairdo, is determined to bounce back after an injury-riddled season. He was limited to 47 games but posted decent numbers (8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds). When healthy, he was a decent rim protector and a constant lob threat for the Nets. But his poor free shooting (58.1 percent) could be a turn-off to potential suitors.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CLAX (@nicolasclaxton)

In May, one Eastern Conference general manager told Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney that Claxton “is looking at something like three years, $35 million.” The Nets have Claxton’s Bird Rights, so they could match any offer and go over the cap. However, what could hold them back is the staggering cost of bringing back the roster that flamed out in the first round.

Nets’ owner Joe Tsai paid $266 million in salary and luxury tax this past season, second behind NBA champion Golden State Warriors. But with Alibaba, Tsai’s primary source of income, bouncing back in the stocks market, there is hope that the Nets ownership would likely keep footing the costly bill of retaining the core that is expected to compete for the championship when all are healthy. That includes keeping Claxton, one of the bright spots in the Nets’ first-round sweep at the hands of eventual Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics.

The Nets are expected to tender a one-year qualifying offer to Claxton ($2.3 million) to make him a restricted free agent on June 29.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

Yankees Injury Updates: 3 important bullpen arms making a comeback

yankees, aroldis chapman, zack britton, jonathan loaisigia

The New York Yankees’ bullpen has been stellar the past few weeks, despite facing adversity in the injury department. Losing Aroldis Chapman to an Achilles tendinitis issue, Jonathan Loáisiga to shoulder inflammation, and still battling without Zack Britton, recovering from Tommy John surgery, the unit has played above expectations.

However, the team is expected to return all three players at some point over the next few weeks, with Britton’s return likely coming in August.

Zack Britton:

“He’s trending in a really good direction,’’ Boone said of Britton recently.

Britton pitched 18.1 innings last year before being shut down and undergoing Tommy John surgery. He was clearly bothered by his elbow, hosting a 5.89 ERA, the highest in his career by a significant margin. Britton is expected to throw a bullpen session this week in Tampa and will then take a few days off to give his arm rest, according to Randy Miller of NJ.com.

The expectation is that Britton will be ready to make his first appearance this season in August or September, just in time to ramp up for the postseason.

Aroldis Chapman:

Chapman is working his way back from Achilles tendinitis, enjoying a few bullpen sessions over the past few days. He threw to live hitters on Saturday down in Tampa and is expected to do the same this week against the Rays. If no problems arise, he could be back with the squad by next week.

According to the New York Post:

Aroldis Chapman is expected to throw another live bullpen session, likely at the team’s player development complex in Tampa, perhaps on Tuesday. Chapman is recovering from left Achilles tendinitis that has kept him out since May 24.

Jonathan Loaisiga:

Loáisiga was placed on the 15-day injured list on May 25 with right shoulder inflammation. He has begun his throwing program down in Tampa and should be back soon with the Yankees. Prior to the injury, Loáisiga posted a 7.02 ERA over 16.2 innings pitched. He has been struggling considerably throwing his sinker. Batters are hitting his sinker at .333 clip, giving up two homers and 13 hits over 39 at-bats.

Jonathan has thrown a sinker at a career-high 59.1% this season, which is in line with Matt Blake’s strategy for the bullpen. However, his location has been off. When he’s playing at the top of his game, he’s as good as any relief arm in baseball.

New York Giants move on from Daniel Jones in 2023 PFN Mock Draft

daniel jones, new york giants

There is a probable chance that the New York Giants will move on from quarterback Daniel Jones after the 2022 season. Entering the first year of a true rebuild, odds are stacked against Jones to revitalize his career and earn a contract extension beyond 2022. With a newly structured offensive line and scheme changes on both sides of the football, Jones will have to play at an elite level to justify an extension, which means more than tripling his statistics from 2021.

Daniel Jones needs to elevate his game significantly:

Jones finished with 10 touchdown passes and seven interceptions this past year, earning 2,428 yards through the air. He was sacked 22 times over 11 games as the Giants once again hosted a bottom-three pass-blocking OL. The expectation is that Jones will have more time in the pocket to operate and manufacture production with screen passes.

Nonetheless, new management usually likes to roll with their choice of quarterback. The 2023 NFL draft could present an opportunity for Joe Schoen and Brian Daboll to find “their guy.”

Oliver Hodgkinson of Pro Football Network released his way too early 2023 mock, and some Giants fans might be happy:

7) New York Giants: Bryce Young, QB, Alabama

After making additions to their WR room and offensive line this spring, if the New York Giants are selecting in the Top 10 again next April then we may finally have the answer to whether Daniel Jones is the long-term future of the franchise. There’s only so many consecutive seasons of failure that you can file away under “giving him a fair chance to succeed.”

Alabama QB Bryce Young should give the Giants more than a fighting chance to succeed. While he’ll battle size concerns during the 2023 NFL Draft cycle, Young is a born leader who is more than up to the task of leading a team under extreme pressure. Young’s poise for his age is uncanny. Not only does he possess sufficient arm strength to drive the ball downfield, but his ball placement is frequently impeccable.

Resetting the rookie quarterback window:

Young is an elite quarterback prospect who threw for 4,872 yards last season and 47 total touchdown passes. As a sophomore at the collegiate level, Young is expected to have another dominant season in 2022.

Composed of stellar pocket presence and fundamentals, Young could end up being a long-term solution at quarterback for the Giants if they have a good enough draft pick. Of course, Big Blue could end up trading the farm to acquire a quarterback of their choice. Young has all the arm talent in the world paired with impressive athleticism.

Yankees News: Clay Holmes smashes insane Mariano Rivera record

yankees, Clay Holmes

At the start of the 2022 season, nobody thought Yankees closer Clay Holmes would find himself in the same conversation as Mariano Rivera. Rivera, who ended his career in 2013, hosted a career 2.21 ERA and 2.99 xFIP. His 80.4% left on base rate and 52.4% ground ball rate were impeccable numbers that showcased his dominance over the years.

However, the Yankees might have stumbled upon another elite closer in Holmes, who they acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates last year for next to nothing in comparison with his qualities. This season, Holmes features a 0.28 ERA, his best metric by far since joining the MLB in 2018.

The Yankees are experiencing something truly special with Clay Holmes:

Holmes broke one of Rivera’s elite streaks of 29 scoreless appearances. In Saturday’s win over the Blue Jays, Holmes broke a record that has stood since 1999, throwing 31 1/3 scoreless innings.

“Just for the fact that it’s Mariano Rivera makes it pretty special,” Holmes said after Saturday’s game. “He’s a guy I grew up watching. What he’s done in this game, it’s pretty amazing. So just to be in the same category of just one little thing he’s done, it’s pretty cool. The defense has been great. It’s been fun to pitch for this team and catchers. It’s been a fun little run. I think all of us hope to keep it up.”

Holmes has been elite in nearly every category this season, relying on a sinker that moves like a frisbee. Holmes generates 18.1 inches of movement with his sinker, which averages out at 96.7 mph. Opposing batters are hitting .159 against that specific pitch with a 27.8% WHIFF rate. He is throwing that pitch 18.1% of the time this season, with his slider incorporated at 18.6%. He has completely left his curveball by the wayside, focusing on those two pitches which have been elite.

“It’s been awesome,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We acknowledged that today in the postgame. He got the belt today because of that. You think about this storied franchise and you bring up the name Mariano, what more can you say? He’s been absolutely dominant and was again today.”

With Aroldis Chapman on the way back, Boone has a big decision to make at the closer spot. Holmes is capable of shutting down an opposing team over multiple innings, but in high leverage situations, he needs to be the first man called on.

Considering Pittsburgh was sitting on a gold mine with Clay, who hosted a 4.93 ERA last season before coming over to the Bronx, the Yankees are once again flashing their strength in the scouting department.

Yankees sign reserve infielder to minor league contract

Chris Owings, yankees

The New York Yankees’ dominance doesn’t mean the general manager Brian Cashman needs to stop finding quality reserve players who can mitigate fatigue down the road.

Every now and then, Cashman finds a gem that can serve a specific purpose. On Saturday, the Bombers signed infielder Chris Owings to a minor league deal, according to Conor Foley of the Scranton Times-Tribune.

What is Owings bringing to the Yankees?

At 30 years old, Owings has 10 years of MLB experience in the MLB. He hosts a career .239 batting average, .287 on-base percentage, and .366 slugging. His wRC+ (158) was incredible in 2021 over 21 games with Colorado, a small sample size.

This season, Owings has made 27 appearances for the Baltimore Orioles, slashing .107/.254/.143 in 68 plate appearances. Overall, his batting metrics have deteriorated significantly, but he’s been historically solid at getting on base. He has shown a bit more patience at the plate in recent years, earning a walk percentage of 14% or better.

Owings actually makes solid contact, with a 42.9% hard-hit rate in 2021 and a 14.3% barrel rate. If he can increase his launch angle a bit, there’s potential for him to find more power in his bat. He’s only hit a career-high 12 homers back in 2017 with Arizona, suggesting he’s not known for his slugging capabilities.

However, Owings did steal 21 bases back in 2016, displaying great running and athleticism. His real value comes in the form of defensive versatility, playing second base, third base, shortstop, and left field for Baltimore this year before joining the Yankees. Having utility men is never a bad move, especially when the team wants to mitigate fatigue down the stretch.

If Owings can increase his on-base rate to about 30% and maintain his walk percentage, he could be a valuable piece to help provide days off for DJ LeMahieu and even fill in as an outfielder from time to time.

This could end up being a valuable signing for the Yankees, especially if they go through any injury adversity in the coming weeks.