The Yankees came into the offseason seemingly determined to spend huge on a closer, and as a result, they’ve handed out by far the largest reliever contract in baseball history. Aroldis Chapman is back! The hard-throwing closer reached agreement to return to the New York Yankees last night- an $86 million deal for five years. There’s an opt-out after the third year. The deal includes a no-trade clause for three years, and the Yankees can’t trade him to a team in California. A little odd, but what ever.
That Chapman was able to score himself this kind of contract isn’t that surprising. In a season split between the Yankees and Cubs, the 28-year-old Cuban lefthander struck out 90 men in 58 innings, and posted a 1.55 ERA with 36 saves. That marked Chapman’s fourth year out of the last five with an ERA of 2.00 or below, and since becoming a full-time closer in 2012, he has posted a strikeout-per-nine rate of 14.0 or higher every year. Featuring a fastball that routinely breaks 100 mph and a wipeout slider, Chapman is borderline unhittable at times, and after being acquired by Chicago at the trade deadline, he was a key piece of the team’s World Series run.
All those stats are well and good, and Chapman will pair with fellow flamethrower Dellin Betances to give the Yankees an enviable 1–2 punch in the later innings that will be hard for any team to counter. But he’ll be doing so for a team that, unless everything breaks right, likely won’t have much need for a shutdown closer. Mired in .500-level mediocrity throughout the first half of 2016, the Yanks chose to sell and rebuild, dealing Chapman, fellow elite reliever Andrew Miller and veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran; that tack continued this winter, with the team trading catcher Brian McCann to the Astros for two minor leaguers. All those deals have brought back a plethora ( I love that word…lol) of good prospects—Chapman returned top young shortstop Gleyber Torres from Chicago—but all of those players are at least one or two years away from making a real impact.
I do have a concern. $86 million is a lot of money for a guy who’s real impact won’t be felt for a season or two. There’s also the question of how much longer you can expect a pitcher who throws 100 mph over and over again to hold up. We all know how often Joe Giardi loves to go to his bullpen. By the end of the postseason, Chapman was clearly gassed; he blew Chicago’s eighth-inning lead, and in his final frame of the World Series, he abandoned his fastball and threw his slider almost exclusively.
It was said that Hal Steinbrenner liked the “buzz” that Chapman brought to Yankee stadium. I think what he really meant is, he will help fill seats while the youth movement develops into quality major leaguers, making the Yankees legitimate contenders again. While that sounds good, the Yankees Must work on starting pitching. Without rebuilding the rotation, it will be more than one or two years away that the Bombers get beyond a wild card game.
The big news from the baseball winter meetings is the trade executed by the Red Sox and White Sox. Lefty Chris Sale goes to Boston to give the Red Sox the best 1-2-3 rotation in the American league. The kneejerk reaction might be “oh no, now we don’t have a chance”. Stop. The Yankees are in the middle of this transition phase and the Sale trade doesn’t change their short-term outlook much. The Yankees and Red Sox are playing for two very different things right now, like it or not. The Yankees have a clearly defined goal. They want to develop a new young core while getting under the luxury tax threshold in the near future to create payroll flexibility, so when those young players are ready to win, they’ll be able to spend and spend big.
The Bombers are re-tooling. Your argument might be that they are trying to re-sign Chapman. They are, but for 4 or 5 years. I believe that Brian Cashman and staff believe they will be competitive, but the 2018 season is the goal (see above). 2017 will be the year they give the young baby bombers a chance to play every day and develop into quality major leaguers.
The pickens are slim in the Free Agency market and trade possibilities. We all know for the Yanks, to make a legitimate run, they need pitching. Especially starting pitching. There isn’t much out there, now that Sale (trade) and Rich Hill (free agency) are off the block. There is one I can think of - Chicago’s Jose Quintana. He’s not Chris Sale, but he’s really good, and he’s signed affordably for another four years (owed $37.85M total). Brandon McCarthy is being shopped around by the Dodgers, but he’s 33 and a year removed from Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees have lots of young talent to use in a trade or develop for the future. Patience is the key. Accept that this year won’t be a run for the World Series. Maybe if we’re lucky, they qualify for the playoffs. Maybe they play better than a retooling team. One thing I do know… watching Sanchez take Sale deep over the Green Monster will be fun as hell next summer.
At last night’s Jets-Colts game the loudest cheer was heard when 2 shirtless idiots ran out on the field and a state trooper who was a former high school football star, made the best tackle of the night. The second loudest cheer was when Bryce Petty entered the game. Final score 41-10 Colts.
It was bad…Ryan Fitzpatrick presumably has thrown his last pass as a Jet. He only completed 5 passes. Sheldon Richardson’s biggest contribution might have been the personal foul penalty he took. Darrell Revis was once again torched all game long and seemed like he could care less. Todd Bowles finally showed some emotion, when he chewed out his offense on the side line, it didn’t help. This was as ugly as it gets. Next week its Buffalo and Rex must be licking his lips in anticipation.
Sunday the Yankees addressed one of their major offseason needs and landed a new DH. The team agreed to sign veteran Matt Holliday to a one-year contract worth $13M. Once he takes his physical and all that — I guess that’s something less than a formality considering a broken thumb effectively ended his season in August — the deal will be official. Holliday will also serve as back up at first base. He’s a great spray hitter with some pop in his bat.
My quick personal take: I like the signing. I don’t love it and I don’t hate it. It’s a solid, reasonable move. I would have preferred Carlos Beltran on a one-year contract myself but he decided to return to Houston, so the Yankees moved on to the next best thing. Edwin Encarnacion simply wanted too mush money for a player over 30. At least they didn’t sign the arrogant Jose Bautista.
After months of debate and 14 weeks of games, the NCAA committee came down with its final decision Sunday- No. 1 Alabama will play No. 4 Washington in the Peach Bowl. No. 2 Clemson and No. 3 Ohio State will face off in the Fiesta Bowl. Penn State at 11-2 was left out as the fifth choice of the committee. The Nittany Lions won their last nine games, including defeats of Ohio State and Wisconsin, to capture the Big Ten title.
The Buckeyes are the first non-conference champion to make the playoff in the three years of the current system. We could quibble — and probably should — about Washington’s terrible nonconference schedule of Rutgers, Idaho and Portland State. Maybe it’s time to consider an expansion to 8 teams. The Nittany Lions deserve to be in, but so do the four that are.
Last week I caught a lot of flack for my comments concerning the Giants. I said they were the most mediocre 8-3 team in history. Yesterday proved my point. Oh yeah, the Giants now 8-4, were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers, 24-14.
First off, the offense was bad. No, it was terrible (just 234 yards). As usual they flashed hints of what they could be capable of if they ever managed to play up to their potential, but that was it. There was a nice fake hand-off , to fake reverse, to screen pass to Rashad Jennings for the touchdown. A great run from Paul Perkins and a “WOW” throw from Eli Manning to Sterling Shepard to pick up a third down. A torrid garbage time touchdown to Shepard. Mostly it was Eli to Odell (not one throw to Cruz). It was slipshod, mired in bad execution, drive-killing penalties, and predictable play-calling — a special shout-out to the decision to trot Larry Donnell (who?)out, who hasn’t played in weeks, in the red zone.
Over and over on Sunday, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger held the football behind the line of scrimmage waiting for a receiver to break open. With the exception of Olivier Vernon’s two sacks there was no pressure. Roethlisberger (284 yards and 2 touchdowns). must have been wearing a Cheshire cat’s grin. When there were no open receivers, he dumped off short passes or gave the ball to Le'Veon Bell who had over 100 yards rushing. To make matters worse, JPP left the game with an injury.
The Steelers were clearly a step up in competition, one the Giants weren’t ready to handle. Their previous five opponents had a combined 14-40-1 record heading into this week. Pittsburgh (7-5) was a different beast, much better as are the remaining 4 opponents. Next Sunday’s divisional matchup with the Cowboys now becomes more survival mode for the Giants than anything else. They still need to find at least two more wins against mostly winning opponents to grab a wild-card spot.
Fate remains in the Giants' hands. They're in the lead for the NFC's first wild-card spot. But after an 8-3 start, they need to make the playoffs. The season would be a colossal failure and embarrassment if they didn't. It would be an indictment on Manning and McAdoo and Beckham.
Dak Prescott had a career-low for passing yards, Jason Witten didn't have a catch, Ezekiel Elliott had his lowest rushing output since week 2, and the Dallas Cowboys had their lowest scoring game of the season. They also won their 11th in a row. And,yet again, a marquee prime-time NFL game ends with an officiating controversy.
Dallas (11-1) beat Minnesota (6-6) in an ugly game, 17-15. The Vikings had a chance to tie with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter after scoring a touchdown, but quarterback Sam Bradford airmailed his intended receiver on the two-point conversion try while apparently getting hit in face. On the same play, the Cowboy left tackle should have been called for a false start. No call, game over.
Good teams win when they take advantage of opponent’s mistakes. They also take advantage of miscues by the officials. The Cowboys didn’t play a great game, but they were the better team and in the end, they won. There was no guarantee that if the 2 pointer was made that the Vikings would have won. Still, we need better officiating.
Seems to me calls are being missed left and right and most of the officials are too slow and can't keep up with the pace of play, or just not focusing on their specific area of responsibility. Naysayers will say that you don't want to officials to determine the outcome of the game, but one could argue that they are determining the outcome of a game by not making calls as well. At times it appears they throw too many flags for small infractions like pass interference where you see little or no contact, and then they miss the obvious, like the hit on the head in last night’s biggest play of the game.
The Commish should get off his overpaid ass and do something. Every week it is the same story...2 or 3 missed calls causing a team a game. This the worst year ever for NFL officiating. Something has got to change. Fans are already not watching for various other reasons. They don't need another. I just hope the crew for the Giants-Cowboys game is better than we saw last night.
Baseball’s unprecedented streak of labor peace will continue. According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association have agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new deal covers five years. Baseball has not had a work stoppage since the 1994-95 strike, and it took the game a few years to truly recover from that. Think Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa , PEDs and corked bats.
The current CBA was set to expire at midnight last night. That was not a hard deadline but neither MLB nor the MLBPA wanted to drag this out longer than necessary. The owners floated the possibility of a lockout. I couldn’t imagine another lock out. I for one love baseball way too much.
There were a few minor changes including the luxury tax threshold, which will now be set at $195M for 2017, so an increase of $6M from 2016. The threshold will then rise to $197M, $206M, $208M, and $210M in subsequent years. The tax rate is 20% for first time offenders, 30% for second time offenders, and 50% for third time offenders. Teams with a payroll in the $250M range will be taxed at upwards of 70%. (I hope I got that right) This is good for teams like the Yankees who have the cash to spend. Another change is no more international draft. Instead, teams will have a hard cap of $5M to $6M for international players each signing period.
Two more changes worth noting…Turns out there will not be a 26th roster spot or any other roster changes after all. There will still be 25-man rosters and full September call-ups. I do which they would have limited the call up amount. A team plays April to August with 25 men and the last month their allowed 40. Doesn’t seem right. And last but not least, Starting in 2018, the season will begin midweek to accommodate more off-days during the summer. That will mean of course starting the season a bit earlier, like the Wednesday or Thursday a week earlier. More snow on opening day?
Thier will be baseball. 73 Days till Spring Training!
OK, time to talk all Met fans off the edge. Your guy is not leaving. The Mets have re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, bringing him back to New York on a four-year, $110 million deal with a full no-trade clause. The Mets had made him a qualifying offer for 2017, and despite rumors that he might be heading to San Francisco or even Washington, he lands right back at Citi field. It is the largest free agent deal in team history and the $27.5 million average annual value would match A-Rod for seventh-highest in MLB history and is the highest for an outfielder on a multi-year deal.
Cespedes was bound to command a premium in what is a lackluster free-agent market. He was arguably the best hitter available this offseason. Edwin Encarnacion (33) and Jose Bautista (36) are both older, while Justin Turner and Ian Desmond don't boast the same body of work.
He is good, but not THAT good. He has obvious flaws. In addition to his hitting dropping slightly (He is prone to striking out, and his on-base percentage across two recent seasons — 2013 and 2014 — was about .300.) from 2015 (101 RBI’s to 85), his defense fell off a cliff in 2016. His defensive runs saved fell from 11 to minus-three. He can be an above average defender when he feels like it. Sometimes he doesn’t.
On a less quantifiable level, Cespedes' behavior off the field can leave a little to be desired. During the season, the Mets had to tell him to refrain from golfing while he was on the disabled list after it created negative media attention. Also, it was reported that he didn't celebrate with his teammates after the team secured an NL wild-card spot. Imagine if Derek Jeter did that?
Keeping Cespedes is risky; a return to his less impressive Boston Red Sox days isn't out of the question. The past year demonstrated that the Mets can't afford to assume its young, often unhealthy starting rotation will guarantee continued title contention. The front office needs to do everything it can to capitalize on its World Series window, and signing Cespedes sends the message the team is willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve that goal. He ensured himself a high-paying job in a city that undoubtedly needs his services. Now Met fans have to hope he can play more than 140 games a season instead of hanging out on the golf course.
If you’re a Giant fan and you’re really, really honest with yourself, you know the Giants are the most mediocre 8-3 team in maybe the history of the NFL. It took the Giants till 5:10 remaining in the 4th quarter to finally put away the winless Browns. It was no walk in the park but they did win 27-13. It was your typical 2016 Giants victory. With only five regular-season games remaining, they’re starting to put distance between themselves and everyone else in the wild-card race, mediocre or not.
Again the offense struggled, but Eli did throw two touchdown passes to Odell. and JPP returned a fumble for a TD. Big Blue has now extended their winning streak to six. Manning had three TD passes in all. They don't overwhelm anyone, but the Giants (8-3) do just enough to win and are in position to make the playoffs for the first time since winning the Super Bowl in 2011.
Why would I say mediocre? -- The offense was mediocre on the whole, as it has been They managed just 65 yards on 24 combined plays on their first four offensive series, punting all four times The defense was stout against the run and in the red zone, coming up with a key takeaway and effectively rushing the passer. Jason Pierre-Paul scored that TD on a tipped pass that dropped into his lap, and linemates Olivier Vernon and Damon Harrison put crooked numbers on their stat sheets. At times they looked wobbly.
And the special teams had a handful of miscues -- a muffed punt here, a missed extra point there -- but nothing that caused much harm in the end.
It was way too close for comfort -- at least for a few moments. Cleveland cut the deficit to 20-13, with 8:17 to go. But the Giants quickly responded to pull away for good, with Eli Manning's 4-yard scoring pass to Beckham ending any thoughts of a stunning Browns rally.
The Giants are atop the NFC Wild Card standings with 8 wins, but, there’s still lots to correct, and little time to correct it as the toughest part of their schedule starts next week in Pittsburg, followed by games against four other NFC playoff contenders: Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia and Washington. A minimum 2 wins are needed to land a playoff spot. Mediocre won’t get it done.
The streaking Giants have NFL analysts confused. Are they really this good? If so, how did that happen? How can they keep winning with that under-achieving offense? Will they fall flat on their faces when their schedule gets tougher? Should they really be considered a contender?
It’s easy to dismiss the success of the 7-3 Giants. The team ranks 23rd in scoring, tied with the 49ers, and is 11th in points allowed; overall, the Giants have outscored opponents by only 4 points all year. In fact, the Giants haven’t won a single game by more than 7 points. In fact every single game went down to the final 2 minutes before victory was attained. Meanwhile, they rank 20th in yards per game and 16th in yards allowed per game and have benefited from a favorable schedule: The team has played only three true road games this year.
So the Giants are just an average team that has lucked into a good record, right? That’s an easy conclusion, but the Giants have a history of sneaking up on the rest of the NFL, as they did in 2007 and 2011. Yes, the Giants have taken advantage of a favorable schedule during their winning streak. Of the five teams the Giants defeated, the best records belong to the 5-5 Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles (5-5). So, the competition hasn’t been overwhelming. Yes, each and every game has been a nail-biter. Yes, you can find fault in some aspect of the Giants’ play in each of those games. But the fact is they have won 7 games, and poised to win an 8th this Sunday. I prey the Giants don’t fall into a trap. A stumble against the woeful Browns would be devastating. Let’s see if they can avoid that.
Thanksgiving is here. Time to be grateful for many things in life. Today is a day of family, feasting and of course, football. With that in mind, let’s be thankful that — for the first time in a while — the Giants are still playing meaningful games. The Yankees and Mets both had decent years. The Yankees found a way to be competitive with a youth movement, and the Mets made the playoffs, despite injuries and the usual shenanigans in Metville. Both the Rangers and Devils are relevant early on, and if you’re an NBA fan, the Knicks are better than they have been. As for the Jets, Nets and Islanders…well, you can’t have everything.
Hopefully, you the reader will be thankful for all the wonderful things going on in your life, have a great day of food, family and football. And then, at some ungodly hour, you will sleepily head out for Black Friday shopping.
Happy Thanksgiving and Thanks for reading!
WHAT IS THIS?
It's a somewhat tongue in cheek OPINIONATED sports blog that promises to cover baseball, football, hockey, basketball, and any other stupid, and absurd STORY related to sports.