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!
When you’re a Giants fan you never root for the Dallas Cowboys, never. But tomorrow I just might have too. You see, the Cowboys are the talk of the NFL right now, racing out to the league's best record and a club-record winning streak behind pair of dynamic offensive rookies.
The Cowboys (9-1) haven't lost since the season opener (to you know who) way back on Sept. 11. It's a start that has everyone's attention, given the prominence of the franchise and the circumstances surrounding its unexpected dominance. And while Dallas is enjoying its lofty perch atop the league standings, the Cowboys are quite aware of what awaits Thanksgiving against longtime rival Washington at AT&T Stadium. The same Redskins who are a half game behind the Giants in the NFC East.
The defending division champion Redskins (6-3-1) are off to one of their best starts in years and are looking for revenge after losing to Dallas earlier this season. While I wait for turkey and all the wonderful trimmings and pumpkin pie, I’ll be rooting for the Cowboys. This contest has serious divisional implications down the road – for the Giants.
The Cowboys show no sign of collapsing, and the division title is within reach. So, the Giants must think Wild Card, a loss by the Redskins would drop them to 6-4-1, giving our guys just a bit of breathing room. Big Blue must play both of them down the stretch. Beating both will guarantee a playoff spot, but for now (just tomorrow), I root for the Cowboys while try not to choke on my turkey.
In their first game without injured center Mika Zibanejad and after two straight defeats, including Sunday night’s shootout loss to Florida, the Rangers had plenty of excuses to mail it in Monday night. After all, the Penguins came out hungry and rookie Jake Guentzel, playing on a line with stars Evgeny Malkin and Phil Kessel in his NHL debut, scored twice in the first period to send the crowd at PPG Paints Arena into a frenzy.
That “frenzy” subsided quickly as the Rangers came roaring back (from a quiet first 20 minutes) in the second period with three consecutive goals to erase the Penguins’ lead and Antti Raanta (24 saves) kept them in the game as the Blueshirts earned a 5-2 victory.
I had been wondering if this was just one of those surprising starts from a decent team who will eventually fall back to the pack or are the Rangers one of the elite teams of the NHL. Last night the answer is obvious. They are winning a lot of games so handily you’re no longer chewing your nails off when watching them. They’re, that Good!
The Blueshirts are good because they play a fast, up tempo game. They score. They check. Their defense has played much better and the goaltending has been pretty dam good from both goalies. Even when they start the backup and give up 37 shots, they can’t help but romp. This is a scorching team right now, simple as that. I know, it’s early, but Im starting to believe.
As the first half expired in yesterday’s Giants - Bears game, the word “trap” kept popping up in my head. Going into the game, I was concerned that Big Blue might play down to the 2-8 Bears. After an opening Giant scoring drive, the Bears started to dominant the game. The continued to make the Giants look like the 2 win team and they the 7 win team.
Going into the end of the 2nd quarter, there was a lot of trash talking by both teams. Most notably the Landon Collins spat with Chicago receiver Josh Bellamy. When asked about it, the second-year strong safety said it only motivated the Big Blue defense to dig itself out of a first-half funk that saw the Giants allow two touchdowns and a field goal on the Bears’ first three possessions. If it was that or whatever it was, the Giant’s D came out after the half shutting down the Bears and earning a fifth straight Giants win, 22-16, sealed by Collins’ fifth interception in the past four games.
It’s all about the defense in Giantland. This is going to have to be a Super Bowl defense the rest of the way, if the Giants want to make this five-game winning streak count for something in January. Because the offense’s ability to close out last Monday’s 21-20 win over the Bengals clearly was an anomaly, and this doesn’t feel like a sustainable recipe for success. You don’t want to keep winning nail-biters with the defense on the field. The good news is, for the second week in a row the Giants offense WAS on the field at game’s end which makes me believe that maybe this run might be the real deal. I just wish for once, they could win one going away.
Things are changing. You can finally feel some confidence from this team. Fact is the Giants are on their first five-game winning streak since winning six straight on the way to the Super Bowl XLVI in 2011. The offense still struggles at times, but their improving. The defense, on the other hand is to be reckoned with. Feels good, doesn’t it?
For the fourth straight offseason and fifth time in the last six offseasons, the Yankees have traded a catcher. Brian McCann has been traded to the Astros for right-handed pitching prospects Albert Abreu and Jorge Guzman, both teams announced. The Yankees are paying $5.5M of McCann’s $17M salary in both 2017 and 2018. That’s $11.5M in savings each of the next two years.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old McCann has been on the trade market since the deadline, even before Gary Sanchez arrived in August and smashed 20 homers in 52 games. Sanchez is the clear cut starter going forward, so McCann’s role in New York would have been backup catcher and part-time DH. It’s no surprise then that he waived his no-trade clause to go to the Astros, who figure to be in contention and can offer him more playing time. The youth movement continues.
Going into last weekend, Alabama, Michigan, Clemson and Washington were undefeated, and as such destined to occupy the top seeds in the final College Football Playoff rankings. Bedlam has made its triumphant return to the championship race, courtesy of losses by the Wolverines, Tigers and Huskies. If that wasn’t enough, 5th ranked Louisville got smoked by Houston last night. Now, with two weeks left in November and three weeks left before the final Playoff rankings, the Power Five conferences prepare for a rush to the finish line.
What if more chaos ensues between now and selection Sunday? After what happened last week, it's irresponsible to think that it's impossible. With Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Michigan and Washington at the forefront, the playoff possibilities look pretty solid. But if more chaos ensues, things could get very ugly in the third edition of the College Football Playoff, and that should be fun.
A 42-year-old runner dressed as Elvis won the Las Vegas Rock `n' Roll Marathon on Sunday night, setting a record for the fastest marathon run by someone dressed as ''The King.''
Michael Wardian of Arlington, Virginia, finished in 2 hours, 38 minutes and 4 seconds late Sunday - a feat he accomplished while wearing a black wig in an Elvis-style pompadour, gold sunglasses and a white Elvis jumpsuit with gold sequins. The King’s legend lives on!
Jets fans got their first extended, regular-season look at Bryce Petty this past weekend in a devastatingly boring 9-6 loss to the Rams. The results were mixed.
Petty certainly did some things well. Despite throwing 32 times, he rarely forced passes, which allowed him to avoid turnovers for the better part of the game, something Ryan Fitzpatrick has struggled to do all season. The Baylor product completed 19 of those 32 attempts for 163 yards, one touchdown and an interception. All in all he had a good day. So why did head coach Todd Bowles tell the media he hasn’t decided on his starting QB for week 12 against the Patriots?
Bowles gave Petty the expected mixed review on Monday, praising him for his poise, understanding his reads and throwing some nice deep balls. The coach also pointed out some hurried throws and missed reads, typical of a player making his first start. Apparently he has not given up on the ineffective Fitpatrick. (scratching my head)
Is Bowles kidding!? Will that really matter who starts? It would be a major upset if the Jets beat the Pats. The Jets at 3-7 are going nowhere. The season is basically over. Why not look to the future? Why not admit that the much traveled Fitzpatrick is not the future of Gang Green. What is Jet management thinking? Starting Fitzpatrick can & should be a fireable offense. Give Petty a two-month audition to properly evaluate him before determining the best course of action in the offseason. This Jet team is NOT making the playoffs so let's see what they have in him.
This past season the Yankees did something that really had been a long-time coming. They committed to a youth movement. It actually started last season with the Greg Bird and Luis Severino call-ups, but this year the Yankees took it a step further by trading productive veterans for prospects at the deadline. We haven’t seen them do that in nearly three decades.
A result of those trades gives the Yanks one of the best farm systems in baseball. Depending what happens with Brett Gardner and Brian McCann this offseason, it’s entirely possible Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley will be the only players over 27 in the starting lineup come Opening Day next year. The Yankees could have youngsters all over the field. That’s exciting!
You know what else is exciting? Trading a whole bunch of those prospects for Mike Trout. Yes, I typed that, Mike f**king Trout!! Think about it, what better player is there to build around going forward than the best player on the planet, who himself turned only 25 four months ago? There isn’t one. Trout’s not just great. He’s well on his way to being in the inner circle of the inner circle of the Hall of Fame. A generational talent, indisputably. The Angels will ask for a king’s ransom. The Yankees are now in a position to satisfy the Angels who simply with Trout, aren’t a good team.
Anaheim has given zero indication Trout is available. Angels GM Billy Eppler, who spent all those years as Brian Cashman‘s right-hand man, said last year Trout “means too much to this clubhouse, community, organization,” to trade. And he’s right. It’d be like trading Derek Jeter. Take Trout away from the Angels and they’re in worse shape than any team we’ve seen in a very long time. Their situation is that dire.
But just for a moment think…What if? Only 2 months and 27 days 'til pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!
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