Month: May 2017

5/21/17: Yankees End Road Trip 3-3 as They Salvage Finale Against Rays 3-2

Quick Recap

CC Sabathia battled through five innings today and only gave up one earned run. He didn’t have his best stuff, but he pitched well enough to give the Yankees a chance. The Yankee’ bullpen then came in and held the Rays scoreless for the remaining four innings. Dellin Betances picked up his second save of the season and looked dominate while doing it. This is a good sign as last year Betances struggled in the closer role, but so far so good this year, hopefully he can keep it up until Aroldis Chapman comes back in about a month. The Yankee’ offense did not look great today, Chris Archer basically shut them down as he struck out 12 Yankees in six and 1/3 innings pitched. However, Didi Gregorius delivered a big RBI single and Brett Gardner delivered what ended up being the game winning two run home run in the second inning. With the starting pitching going through a bit of a slump right now the Yankees are going to have to lean on their offense and bullpen more than they have.

Biggest Offensive Play of the Game

This one is pretty obvious as there was not a lot of offense to speak of in this game. Brett Gardner’s two run homer in the second inning was the difference in this game. Gardner has been on fire in the last couple of weeks and he continued that today with another home run. This has been huge for the Yanks because when a lead off guy is getting on base he sets everyone else up in the lineup. It is also nice to see Gardner’s power surge this year, that was already his eighth home run of the year, he only had seven all of last year. A couple of weeks ago I thought Brett Gardner was done and oh man was I wrong he has really come alive and looks like his old self again.

Biggest Out of the Game

The Rays never really threatened in this game so I am going to go with Aaron Judge’s unbelievable catch in the sixth inning. Judge made a game saving diving catch in the gap to rob Evan Longoria of an RBI double that would have tied the game. Corey Dickerson was on first base and saw RBI double all the way so he was off to the races so he could score. Then out of nowhere Aaron Judge made one of the best defensive plays of the year and was able to double up Dickerson in the process who was rounding third when Judge caught the ball. Judge continues to prove he is an all around ball player and one that can stick in right field for years to come. He didn’t have a great day at the plate today, but still impacted the game with his glove as if he had not caught that ball the game would have been tied. So, in essence Judge saved the game with this play because as I mentioned earlier the Yankees were really struggling at the plate today.

Questionable Move of the Game

Not much to question in this game, but one thing that stood out to me was when Girardi brought Dellin Betances in in the eighth inning to relieve Tyler Clippard who got two quick outs and looked fine. Of course Betances didn’t give up any runs and got the last out quickly, but it’s moments like this where you can try to save bullets in his arm. The Yankees are in the middle of a stretch of games where they do not have an off day until June fifth so these relievers are going to need as much rest as possible. This is especially true with how the Yankees’ starters have been throwing of late as they have given very little length in the past few games. Keep an eye on how Girardi uses Betances in the next few games and how Betances performs. If Girardi is forced to use him three days in a row, which he doesn’t like to do, and Betances blows a lead and looks tired think about this game and how maybe saving a few pitches could have helped him down the road.

What is the Giants Strongest Position Group?

The Giants have a good team there is no doubt about that and what comes with a good team is good position groups. Just look at the Seattle Seahawks and the Legion of Boom or the Green Bay Packers and their wideout group. I feel the Giants might be able to best these two teams in each of their respective strengths. The Giants secondary was one of the team’s major strengths last year and while the offense had a down year the wide receivers are still a very good group. The Giants main wide receivers this year will be Odell Beckham Jr, Sterling Shepard, and Brandon Marshall and they have the potential to be the best in the league. The Giants secondary or the New York Pass Defense, NYPD, already boasts three pro bowlers in Dominique Rodgers Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, and Landon Collins. They also have up and coming star Eli Apple who played his way into the starting rotation last season and solid players like Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson.

It is really difficult to say which group will be better, but I am going to go with the wide receivers. The main reason I am going to go with them is because the NFL is geared toward offense and more importantly passing offense. It is just too difficult to sustain success in a secondary and that can be seen around the league as there really isn’t a team quite like the Seattle Seahawks, but not for the lack of trying. I think the Giants have a chance to be in the top five in pass defense this year, but I just don’t see them developing into an elite group. That does not mean I don’t think they will be great as I expect big things out of this group, but I just don’t think they will be good enough to gain the recognition that other secondaries get. They will also be overshadowed on their own team by another position group, the wideouts.

Led by superstar Odell Beckham Jr this group of wide receivers has a chance to be one of the best ever. I don’t think I am exaggerating either, if Sterling Shepard can make a leap from his first year to his second then the Giants will have three superstars. If you have followed football at all over the past ten seasons or so you would know that Brandon Marshall was a legitimate number one wider receiver. He is only two years removed from a 10+ touchdown, 1000+ yard season and last year he was injured. I believe he still is a number one and now playing for a winning team with a solid quarterback I could see him giving us another 10 touchdowns. The only reason I see him not reaching this is if he or Eli get hurt or if Odell Beckham wins the MVP because he caught 20 touchdowns and had over 2,000 yards receiving. Now of course I am banking on Shepard having a big second season, but last season he showed no reason not to believe in him as he caught eight touchdowns as a rookie. Now that he knows the offense better and has some better players around him he could be due for a huge leap. If all of these receivers stay healthy I don’t see why they can’t be the best trio in the league. This will also make them the best position group on the team. It’s really not a knock on the Giants’ secondary, but more of a knock on defense in general and how hard it is to sustain success in that area.

As an honorably mention I thought about throwing the defensive end group into this conversation as the Giants boast two of the best in the league. Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are two star defensive ends, but I think there are too many questions around them to consider them the best group on the team. JPP got hurt late last year and is still learning to play with three fingers on his right hand and he just signed a huge four year deal so he has a lot to prove this year. Vernon doesn’t produce the sack numbers like some of the elite pass rushers in this league, I know he constantly delivers pressures, but to be considered the best in this league you got to sack the QB.

With all that being said the wide receiver position group is the best group on the New York Giants. If all goes as planned this year I feel we could see three 1,000 yard receivers, something Eli’s brother Peyton had a couple of years back. Sadly, we still have a long way to go before any group can prove they are the best, but right now they can really focus on making each other better in OTAs and training camp.

Do the Yankees Need to Trade for a Starting Pitcher Now?

This may seem like a simple answer to most people, but I actually find it to be a very difficult question. The Yankees’ starting staff has struggled of late and looked over matched against a good Houston Astros team. There is no doubt that either someone will have to step up or the Yankees will have to go get someone if they want to compete this year.

In this statement lies the true dilemma, are the Yankees true contenders? They didn’t look like ones against the Houston Astros, I know they played hard and battled and were in every game, but that was after they got Houston’s starters out of the games. There is no doubt starting pitching wins championships and it is definitely an area where the Yankees struggle. The logical answer to this problem is go trade for someone that would be an upgrade to your rotation. Some names that have been thrown around are, Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole, and Jason Vargas. These are all guys that would be an upgrade in the Yankee rotation. However, as much as I despise waiting until the trade deadline to make a deal, because prices go way up around that time of year just look at what the Yankees got for two relievers last year, the Yankees should wait until then to decide if they should trade for a starting pitcher.

Trading for a pitcher now will cost a couple of good prospects and may or may not push the Yankees to where they need to go. I still need to see more from this Yankee team to see if they are true contenders as they have played a lot of good teams, but have not played a lot of teams quite like Houston. Trading for one starting pitcher can only make a team so much better and when some of the guys in the batting order start to come back to earth, one good starter will not carry the Yankees to the promise land. The Yankees need to see Masahiro Tanaka get back to form because he has over a five ERA and looks nothing like himself so far. Pineda and Severino are still question marks in my book as they have been up and down so far this year and need to start showing some consistency. CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery have also been up and down, but Montgomery has shown a lot of potential however, it is hard to predict how he will work out once people start to figure him out. If you trade for a front end guy right now like Cole or Archer then you are going to have to give up premier prospects as they both have more than one year of control left on their contracts. The Yankees do have the prospects to pull a trade like this off, but I say do not do it as the Yankees have to prove they can contend with the team they have now. They can wait until the trade deadline to pull the trigger on one of these guys as by that point they will know if they have a team that can compete for a World Series. As I mentioned earlier this logically makes sense because in order to contend in the post season you are going to need at least three starters that can give you a complete game shut out on any given night and right now the Yankees don’t have any. Adding one guy might push them to the postseason, but if the other starters continue to struggle then it may not be a very long visit in October. As I mentioned earlier having only one great starter makes it very difficult to make a deep postseason run, so why mortgage the future before you know if this team is truly a contender?

I am sure Brian Cashman will not make any crazy decisions right now as it seems like the Yankees are completely content with the way the team is playing right now. However, if the team begins to struggle in the next month or so and their starting pitching is to blame, don’t be surprised if one of these guys becomes a Yankee. I think that move would be foolish as the Yankees would have proven they aren’t true contenders, but maybe it inspires the team and creates a little more competition in the rotation and someone will start pitching better. Of course that is all speculation, but something to keep an eye on.

If the Yankees were to go against everything I just said they shouldn’t do and go after a pitcher now an interesting name to watch for is Jason Vargas. The Yankees just played the Royals tonight and have six of their next nine games against them. They should also see Vargas, who is leading all starting pitchers with a 1.01 ERA, twice in those six games so they will get a good look at him. Vargas is also a free agent at the end of this season and is 34 years old, so maybe the Yankees could get him for a couple lesser prospects. If the Yankees can get a bargain with him then I can live with it, but if we have to give up a top prospect I say wait and see what this team truly is first. Only time will tell, so for now let’s just enjoy all this winning and all this offense and worry about the pitching when the time comes.

5/12/17: Yankees Offensive Struggles Continue as They Fall to the Astros 5-1

Quick Recap

The Yankees just cannot beat the Astros, it seems they have been losing to them ever since the 2015 wild card game. Tonight the Yankees struggled to score as they only scored one run even though they had multiple opportunities. Starter Jordan Montgomery pitched an average game as he went six innings and gave up four runs. Certainly not his best outing, but he gave the Yankees a chance. However, a disturbing trend is developing with the Yankees and that is that they only score when they hit home runs. This can work, but it usually works in bunches and it looks like we are in the middle of a dry streak. The Yankees will have to find other ways to score, whether that is with more stolen bases or hit and runs remains to be seen. I think the Yankees will eventually have to find better more creative ways to score because Yankee teams in the past have relied heavily on the home run ball and it gets them through the regular season, but rarely the postseason. Especially when the Yankees starting staff is horribly average, they will either have to add some better pitching or find new ways to score in order to compete with teams like the Astros.

5/11/17: Yankees Comeback Attempt Falls Short, Lose 3-2 to the Astros

Quick Recap

The Yankees simply cannot hit Dallas Keuchel, they struggle whenever they see him. Keuchel shut the Yankees down for six innings as he did not give up an earned run and struck out nine Yankees. Going forward the Yankees are going to have to find way to hit guys like this as these are the types of pitchers they are going to have to beat if they want to contend. Michael Pineda did his best to try to match Keuchel as he pitched six and 2/3 solid innings, only giving up three runs. However, two of those runs came off the bat of Carlos Correa who hit a two run homer in the first. I have a hard time with this as he is the Astros best player and you can’t let him beat you. Hopefully Pineda learns from this and realizes that is okay to pitch around guys and walk them. As I mentioned the offense struggled against Keuchel again and this game never really felt close while he was in the game. It was nice to see the Yankees battle in the ninth as they scored one and had the tying run thrown out at the plate for the final out. This team never quits and that can go a long way ┬ábecause as long as the team believes they can win they can. Of course as long as the Yankees don’t have to face Dallas Keuchel, down the stretch though I feel they can compete with anyone.

5/9/17: Post Draft and Free Agency do the Giants Finally Have Enough to Win a Superbowl?

I have written articles in the past saying the Giants did not have enough to win a Superbowl, however I think after the draft they may finally have enough. That being said two players are crucial to the Giants success and will ultimately determine if the Giants can win a Superbowl. I say if Ereck Flowers and BJ Goodson can step up and prove to be quality starters the Giants will be Superbowl bound.

In the draft the Giants added two maybe three immediate impact players in my eyes, Even Engram, Dalvin Tomlinson and maybe Wayne Gallman. However, these guys mainly replace starters from last year, aside from Engram who is definitely an X-factor. Tomlinson replaces Johnathan Hankins and Gallman replaces Rashad Jennings, Gallman may be a bit of an upgrade over Jennings, but he is not nearly as experienced. Engram is one of the reasons why I think the Giants have a better chance at making a Superbowl run as he provides the offense with a weapon that can operate in the middle of the field. He will also open up space in the run game as he will force teams to respect the pass more when he is on the field. However, him alone is not enough to push the Giants over the top. That responsibility falls on two other players, one most of us know and one most of us may not.

Ereck Flowers is most likely going to be the Giants starting left tackle again this year and that will make many Giants fans cringe. Flowers’ play over the past two seasons has been suspect at best. He constantly allows pressures and gives up way too many sacks. At this point in Eli Manning’s career he needs better protection in order to do what he wants, he is not as agile and has lost a little arm strength over the years. Flowers is heading into his third year in the league which is often a critical year for offensive tackles. He is still very young at only 23 years old so hopefully he is starting to reach his peak strength and is starting to mature into a player that takes coaching. From the reports I’ve heard he is working hard this off season and is working on his pass protection. The Giants will need this to transfer onto the field if they want to have a chance this year. If you look at the two Superbowl teams from this year they both had quality left tackles, the Patriots had Nate Solder and the Falcons had Jake Matthews. If and this is still a big if, Ereck Flowers can step up this year and play like the player the Giants imagined when they drafted him then their Superbowl chances will be helped. Now I do believe Flowers is the most important piece remaining in the puzzle, but there is one more player that could bring it home for the G-Men.

BJ Goodson is a second year linebacker out of Clemson and is a guy that needs to step up. Goodson was more of a special teams player last year, but got to see a little time at linebacker down the stretch. When the Giants did not select a single linebacker in this years draft it showed me that they believe in Goodson as they are relatively thin at the position. Goodson can play any of the three linebacker spots and is a guy that specializes in stopping the run. I feel he can also be a guy that can develop in pass coverage as well, which is an area where the Giants could certainly improve. Most of you will probably say, we already have three stating linebackers in Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas and Devon Kennard. I agree those guys may be ahead of Goodson on the depth chart right now, but I think if Goodson steps up he can challenge any three of them for their spots. I also feel he can become the most complete linebacker of the bunch. Robinson specializes in pass coverage, Kennard is more of a pass rusher and run stopper and Casillas is average in pass defense and run defense. Goodson could put the Giants defense over the top as he can develop into a three down linebacker that can lead the defense. This is something the Giants have not had in years as Jerry Reese just does not invest in linebackers. I have no problem with this as the Giants have won Superbowls with average linebackers, but having a good three down linebacker certainly will make the run a lot easier. Again you can look at the two Superbowl teams, they both had game changing linebackers that can affect the outcome of any game. The Patriots had Dont’a Hightower and the Falcons had Deion Jones, the Giants don’t have any players on their roster like these two. However, I think they could have one coming in BJ Goodson and if they do the league, mainly Tom Brady, better watch out because the Giants may just be on their way to putting that fifth trophy in the case.

5/9/17: Yankees Finally Come Back to Earth, Lose 5-3 to the Reds

Quick Recap

CC Sabathia had one horrible inning in this one as he gave five runs in the bottom of the second inning. That proved to be enough as the Yankee offense really never got anything going in this one. Didi Gregorius hit his first home run of the year in the second inning and Gary Sanchez hit his first home run since coming back from the disabled list. These are both good signs for the Yankees going forward as they are crucial pieces to this lineup. Sabathia has now struggled for a couple of starts in a row, hopefully he is just going through a funk and will break out of it going forward. If he doesn’t this could mark the end of Sabathia as a starter as the Yankees need better. They could easily turn to Chad Green who almost beat out Jordan Montgomery for the fifth starter spot, we will have to see if Sabathia can straighten himself out going forward. The Yankees have a much needed off day tomorrow before heading back home to face the red hot Houston Astros.