A Month of Fundays

A New York Yankees, Giants, Knicks, Rangers and other stuff blog.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yankees Call Up Bryan Mitchell

Tonight, the Yankees have called up Preston Claiborne from AAA and Bryan Mitchell from AA.   Claiborne you know about.  Mitchell you may not.   He's one of the Yankees best starter prospects and the reason he's being called up is probably that he is already on the 40.  Now, I hope to god, that Cash isn't thinking about turning him into another power reliever.  The kid can start, and K'd 12 in his last start.  He's got a great arm, and I have to wonder if he'll be taking Nova's starts.  It's unusual for them to call a guy from AA, but I'm for it as long as they're not turning him into more cannon fodder for the pen.

Nova Leaves With An Injury

Ivan Nova gave up 4 homers tonight and that was unusual for him, even given his extreme inconsistency.    What's worse is he left the game shaking his arm.   We'll have to find out what that is, but in any event I am sure they will DL and rehab him down in Florida.  Perhaps even giving him his annual lesson on how to pitch.  Whenever he does come back, I am pretty sure his Yankee career will end up with his being traded someplace while he still had value.   They must have learned something from hanging onto Hughes and Joba after they were ruined.

Giants Draft: It's Less Than 3 Weeks Away

Three weeks from now we'll be in Day 3 of the Giants All-Important 2014 Draft.   They are picking 12th and they desperately need to have a good one.   Why are they so desperate?  You've seen them play and looked at the roster.   You've watched them replace a bunch of assistant coaches.  You've watched their free agent spending spree.   Does any of that scream stability?  Of course, but the Giants are a team that values stability a great deal more than say, the Cleveland Brown,s who change coaches annually.   It's probably a good value to hold as an NFL team.    Free agents probably like coming to stable franchises, and you don't end up paying a bunch of coaches that are no longer working for you.   So the Giants want to get back to stable as quickly as possible.

They've also been a fairly mediocre regular season team during the Coughlin era. In fact, they haven't made the playoffs since they won Super Bowl 46.  Further, their Coughlin and Eli windows may be starting to close.   TC is heading toward 70 and Eli just had surgery.  What's more, Kevin Gilbride says Eli's had other procedures that haven't been publicized.

Thus it just behooves the Giants to try to get back in the playoffs and see if they can make a run this year.   With all they did in free agency, they only really signed a few guys who are more than bandaids.  One of them is Geoff Schwartz.   JD Walton is pencilled in as the starting Center next year, but he's basically coming out of retirement.   Jerry and Brown are bad at football.  So the OL still requires an upgrade.  Jennings should help at RB.

DRC was the big ticket and Thurmond is good, too, but on a one year deal and the rest are bandaids.  They did pick up some good return guys, and that should help.

Anyway there are jobs and starting jobs to be had from the draft this year.  And that brings me to my next point, and the reason why I think they will probably go OL instead of DL in round one.    Right now a lot of people are projecting Aaron Donald to the Giants.  I really like this player, but for this year and maybe his career, he's going to be a third down, passing down pass rush 3 tech.  The Giants are going to most likely start Johnathan Hankins at Nose or Over tackle, and I really doubt they will start a rookie next to him.   Especially not while they still have Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson rotating there.   Btw, whatever team takes Donald should be able to dress him right away because he runs well enough to cover kicks on specials and could be used in a bunch of the subs as a joker or inside rusher.

An OL at 12 will play a lot more.   OL's aren't rotational,  and as long as they don't take a tackle only, but a T-G, they should get a much needed building block for the line.  

There are several more 3 techs that could be available as the draft moves on like Tuitt and Easley, and I'm pretty sure they'll take one.  But I think they will get a guy who can be a 7 year or more every down  solution at 12.

Yanks: Cesar Cabral DFA'd Matt Daley On The Way

After last night's meltdown the Yanks DFA'd Cesar Cabral and called up Matt Daley.  Daley is not what we'd call a "canonical" Yankee, which is to say, he was not drafted into the organization  nor was he signed as a teenaged free agent.   Daley, who is from Queen and went to Bucknell, had been a Rockies prospect and reliever until he tore his rotator cuff.   The Yankees were happy to give him a chance, as the injury market is another place the Yanks seem to be finding relievers.  Anyway Matt had 13K's in 5.1 innings so far this year, why not give him a shot.   Could be a great story.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Giants Draft Fallacy: We Can Coach Him Up

After teams make selections, the GM, the Coach and the Head of Scouting usually take turns extolling the brilliance of their latest move.   They can say a lot of things, like "He's versatile," or "He can really get after the quarterback," or "He won't be caught from behind," or stuff like that.   What you don't want to hear them says is "We can coach him up,"  or "We can clean that up."  When they say that, you should worry that they've just wasted a pick.

Here's why:  when they say they can coach a guy up, it means they are sort of desperate and reaching.      This usually indicates they've reached for an athlete and not a player.   I talked about this a bit yesterday,  but it's better to just take players.   And if you are going to take a guy who is more athlete than player -- there still has to be production.  Because if a guy doesn't really know how to play, but is still making plays, you have a chance.   But if he's just a good combine guy who "flashes" on tape because he can run down the field.  Watch out.

Then there are guys who are both athletic and instinctive but raw, and sometimes coaching them up can backfire.   Remember Gibril Wilson?  He played really well when forced into action as a rookie who'd gotten few reps in camp -- and then never really played well again after they "coached him up."

It's weird.  What makes it even moreso, is that football has become far more complicated (notice I'm not using complex) from a down to down x and o's standpoint.  There's a lot more substitution with 3, 4 and 5 WR sets on O and various zone schemes, nickels, dimes, big nickels, NASCAR fronts, etc on D.   So getting the guys who don't need coaching up organized is challenging enough, without finding time for the remedials.

This is true of position switches as well, especially under the new CBA which severely limits practice time in the offseason and from week to week in the regular season.   A team has to be a moving vehicle and there's no long or enough reps to teach a guy a new positions.  Especially one that requires him to cover or go backwards when all he's ever done has go forwards.    This has been a big problem with the Giants linebacker selections as we talked about earlier.  So if one of your buddies is pitching the Giants draft an impressive athlete that they can convert to another position, feel free to smack some sense into him.

So in a few weeks,  when the picks start happening, and Jerry, TC and Marc Ross start talking about them,  dread those coaching words, there's no time for coaching like that anymore and it has always implied a reach.    Btw, "'just scratching the surface," isn't too bad, because there's usually a bunch of production with that.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yanks Clobber Rays

Well, a Yankee starter finally gave up another earned run.  But it wasn't until the 7th inning of a laugher in Tampa.  Earlier, CC, who had benefited from both a double and triple play behind him, had given up an unearned run on a passed ball.   Soriano, McCann, and Solarte all homered.   Ellsbury tripled, and Roberts, back in the lineup,was a homer short of the cycle.  They still need to walk more, but it was a 10-2 final and there's not much to complain about.   Dellin Betances pitched a scoreless 8th and 9th.  The 8th was an adventure as PitchFX showed the home plate umpire squeezing Dellin into two walks.   But he got out of it,  then worked a 5 pitch 1K 9th.    He still has no ERA.   Yanks might be on a bit of a roll and Kuroda cannot drop the baton tomorrow.  Let's go, Yanks!

Rangers Explode in 3rd to Take a 1-0 Series Lead!

Actually, Brad Richards exploded in the third, but I can't find my pics of him so here's one of the other goal scorers, Derek Stepan.    The game was tied 1-1 after a Mats Zuccarello goal (from Pouiot and Staal) after 1.

Then things got dicey as the Rangers dominated the second period but had nothing to show for it.  We've all seen games like this where a sudden odd man rush costs the game.    It was starting to look like possible overtime as the 3rd period progressed, but a double minor on a bad high stick to Carl Hagelin's head lead to two PPG's.   Richards scored the first from St. Louis and Nash (nice use of budget for the night).   Then Stepan scored from Richards and St. Louis.   And the it was all over but the shouting.

Hagelin was able to continue playing and scored the Rangers 4th goal, this one from Richards and Fast, playing in his first NHL Playoff game.

In all, a great effort after the rust was shaken off.   3 more and we advance!   Let's go, Rangers!

Yankee Pitching

Yankee pitching sure looks a lot better with Tanaka and Pineda, two 25 years olds, pitching like aces. If they are indeed top of the rotation guys, the Yanks can really set up a dominant pitching staff in the next season or two.  First, off, the bullpen will be set as guys like Betances, Burawa, Ramirez and Montgomery will assume big roles in the coming months and seasons.    Secondly, the 2014 offseason pitching market should feature Scherzer and Lester, either of whom would slot in with Tanaka and Pineda.  And finally, the Yanks have some high upside arms like Mitchell and DePaula who could start flying soon.  They've both had impressive starts already.   The biggest question mark is Nova.   He hasn't solved his inconsistency yet this year, and hasn't been able to get his whole arsenal working either.   If he clicks, he'll stick. Otherwise we'll have to replace him.    We'll probably have to replace Kuroda next year in any event.  But Scherzer or Lester should do the trick.    CC still has 2 or three seasons to go.   If he ever bounces back all the better.

Now, all of this being said, we do not want to be the `90s era Braves and not have enough fire power to win multiple titles if it turns out we have dominant pitching.  So Cash or whoever, will still have to find bats.   It would be nice if the Farm started yielding a few.  

Giants Draft: The Production Model

This seems like a no brainer, but apparently it isn't.  When the Giants draft well, they draft players who played all the time for their teams and produced.   When they don't draft well, they trade up for guys they fell in love with at the Senior Bowl practices like Sinorice Moss.  Other teams have been known to fall in love with guys at the combine who weren't terribly productive in college.   It's often the same mistake.

And I think those mistakes happen most often when the coaching staff gets involved.   NFL Scouts spend their weeks traveling around the country attending collegiate games and practices, looking at tape of the games they didn't attend, and writing up scouting reports.    NFL Coaches spend their weeks getting ready to play 1 game.

In fact, NFL coaches don't get involved in the draft process until after the season is done.   And that usually starts with them attending all-star games like the Senior Bowl.   That's where Tom Coughlin reportedly fell in love with Sinorice Moss.

Here's the other thing, and probably why the Moss error happened.    Remember how I told you that Bill Belichick can teach people off the street to play solid zone defense in about 15 minutes?   That's because he was once a great DB's coach.   Well TC was once a great WR's coach, so when he speaks about a WR, like a Sinorice Moss or a Ramses Barden, you should probably give a listen.   I assume that's what went wrong with Moss who was not productive in college.

Barden was a different case.  Barden was massively productive at a lower level of competition.  And if you're going to draft from small schools like that, what you have to have see if NFL measurables and dominant production.  The Giants have scored over the years grabbing guys just like that.   Unfortunately, Barden arrived at the same time as Nicks, and promptly got hurt and kept getting hurt. Plus, being as big as he was he wasn't a return guy, so it was hard for him to get healthy and get active.

I think they actually drafted him because they had lost Plax and Barden was big like Plax and in some ways a better athlete.   Plax was a way better football player.

That brings us to an important distinction about production.   Some guys will be massively productive in college, then test out as average athletes at the combine.  Guess what?   You should always take those players over the ones who test great but weren't productive in college.   And here's why: guys who aren't great athlete but still manage to produce at college are instinctive, and you can't teach instincts.

Malcom Gladwell could probably show us how long it would take a player to develop instincts, but teams don't have that kind of time.    Thus, drafting from a production model at least protects you from getting uninstinctive players -- unless they come from such a low level that they can dominate without instincts.  Barden may have been a little bit like this.

Anyway, falling in love at showcases and the combine is the real problem here.  I don't think it threatens the league like falling in love with guys who have potential  but don't know how to play is ruining basketball, but it's a good way to get bad fast.

The Raiders, for example, love to draft speed and guys who blow up the combine.   And they go through coaches like Madonna used to go through men, because even a great coach can't teach people who have athletic talent but not football talent.

When Al Davis was alive, Oakland used be a great second stop for players because Al would see where they could still be productive.  They don't have a guy like that anymore.

But getting back to the Giants, they make mistakes when they go for athletes over players.   They hit home runs when they grab players who are athletes and tend to avoid busts when they pick guys who know how to play.

As I've said earlier the Giants have gone to a default system where they take sort of productive players from major schools like Phil Dillard, Greg Jones and Tyler Sash.  They were all productive in college, though Dillards numbers correlated with the presence of Suh at Nebraska.   Even good production should be vetted to make sure it was the province of the compiler and not the teammates or systems.   Interestingly enough, all three of those bad picks were from the Big 10.

Right now, if I was running a team, I would only take the top players from the Big 10, the vast majority of college talent now seems to be in the SEC, the PAC 12 and the ACC.    That seems to be where most of the players are.  The Giants might favor the Big 10 because they play in weather, but the talent just isn't as deep as it used to be there.

Ranger Playoffs Tonight

Hank will be in net and Ryan McDonagh will return.   Not sure if Miller or Fast will play, but I'd play Miller against the physical Flyers.  Looks like we'll be facing their back up.  And though we've had a history of making backups look like Dryden in the regular season, everything can be different in the playoffs and that's one thing that has to be.  No stupid penalties, and don't let the Flyers get under your skin.   Play for 60 minutes.    That top line of Nash, Stepan and St.Louis has got to be productive.   And we need the Brassard line to be as well.  Screw it.  All 4 lines have to be flying.   Let's go, Rangers!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Pineda Holds Serve

Pineda was also outstanding in his start today, going 6 ip allowing no runs, 4 hits and a walk.   He struck out just 3 -- and managed to wriggle out of danger in the 5th.   They limited him to 89 pitches, and it looked like he might have been squeezed a bit on Pitch FX.    Still, he has been terrific thus far and we must remember he is coming off of both injury and inactivity and had his rehab shutdown last year.   So this has been really impressive and needed.   And these two young 25 year old horses are calling for other upgrades.   No point in wasting dominance.

Girardi continued to challenge his relievers in this one, throwing Phelps in for 4 outs and Thornton in for two.  When Thornton gave up a hit to start the ninth, Adam Warren came in and closed it.   He may be finding a home in the pen.  And though I usually like to keep starters as starters, an extra starter who can be a plus reliever is a conversion I can support.

The Yanks still need another infielder or two.  But this team can pitch.

Knicks: Signing Odom

Phil Jackson is making his first move as Knicks czar.   The team is finalizing deal with former everything and reality TV star Lamar Odom.   Odom will sign a deal for this year, which has one game left, with an option for next year.   This allows the Knicks to monitor Odom over the summer and see if they want to keep him around.  Sort of like an ankle monitor deal for Odom.  He may or may not be used to them, given his colorful off court antics.   I guess he knows the triangle and that seems to be where we're headed.  So there could be some value in this, other than the pure entertainment he intentionally and unintentionally provides.   I do hope it's part of a happy recovery for Lamar.  It would be nice to see him end his career on an upswing.

Giants Draft: A Bad Habit

Last year, the Giants spent 2 picks to move up in the 4th round and draft Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib.  The jury's still out on Nassib, but trading up is a move that has literally never paid off for them in the last 10 years.

Before you say, "What about Eli?"  That was not a trade up.  The Giants didn't acquire the #1 pick, they acquired Eli after picking Philip Rivers with their own pick, and then swapping Rivers and picks to get Eli.     So that was not a trade up.   And for the record, I think Rivers would have been a disaster playing in Giants stadium wind and weather and with the New York Press.

So here are the guys the Giants have traded up for:

2006:  Sinorice Moss

2008:  Bryan Kehl

2009:  Ramses Barden

2013:  Ryan Nassib.

Moss required trading up in the second round.  Barden required trading up in the third.   Kehl and Nassib required moving up in the 4th.   So Moss was the worst use of resources, Barden the second worse and so on and so forth.

So now, we know at least 75% of the time the Giants have done that they have wasted 2 picks.  Essentially, that means that the Giants felt passionately about the three players who have already failed.  Obviously players they didn't like as much and who have gone onto much better careers whom the Giant brain trust just didn't recognize.   That argues pretty heavily against the notion of a scouting advantage I thought they possessed when we were winning Super Bowls.  

It's perplexing when this happens.   Especially when  it happens under Jerry Reese who was a notably good scout when that was his job.    The Moss disaster took place under Ernie Accorsi.     Sinorice Moss was an underproductive player at Miami, who was fast, but had tight hips, and no specials value.    In doing so, the passed on Daryn Colledge, Marcus McNeill, Ryan Cook, Greg Jennings, Anthony Fasano, Andre Whitworth, Devin Hester and Maurice Jones Drew, among other who could have really helped them.

Usually drafts have one small pool of blue chip prospects, then a much bigger pool of red chip players.  Red chip players are usually red chip because they have a presumptive flaw in size, speed, development or level of play.  All this being said, there are more former red chip players than blue chip players in the hall of fame.  A blue chip player busts for you, it's far more costly than a red chip player busting, but you build you team by finding the red chip players who can perform for you.

So when you trade two picks after the first round, you are invariably giving away the chance to get two red chips that fit you for 1 red chip you have a "conviction" about.   Paying 2 for 1 for anything is bad business.   I think that's clear.  Even if you think draft picks aren't worth much, they are worth what they are worth, and if your trade up nets a player who is not as good as a bunch of players you didn't take, you've screwed the pooch.

The Giants have done this at least 3 times in the last ten years, and may have done it again last year.  It's on Nassib to break the streak,

Tanaka Triumphant

Masahiro Tanaka was tremendous in the first game of today's day/night doubleheader.    He worked 8 scoreless inning walking one, striking out 10, and allowing 2 measly hits, both of which were bunts.   He was really mixing his pitches, throwing more curves and sliders than in his previous starts.    His stuff was obviously great, but it seemed like was he was varying the speed of his fastball, too.  He didn't have to reach from anymore today as they just couldn't square him up.   He is really looking like the real deal, and at just 25, a foundational pitcher for the franchise.   He is already on the El Duque/Godzilla side of the International Veteran talent signings ledger.   Let's see if Pineda can match him in the nightcap.   The bar has been set!

Btw, Kelley pitched a scoreless 9th and the Yanks won 3-0.  But the story was Tanaka.   I think we're about to have Tanakamania.

Giants Sign Josh Freeman

Today, the Giants signed former Buc/former Viking  QB Josh Freeman to compete for a back up spot.      I think this is indicative of the fact that Eli's needing surgery on his ankle came as a surprise to them.    With a presumably healthy Eli, they were content to re-hire Curtis Painter and might have had him compete with Nassib if they were going to have one back up.  But with the Eli uncertainty they had to add more talent,  and, at least early in his career Freeman had that.  So ultimately this is bad news for Painter, unless Freeman plays so well in the preseason that they find they can trade him.   We'll see.  I don't think this is a comment on Nassib, whom they haven't been to look at yet this year under the terms of the new CBA.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Yankees: Two For Tomorrow

Tonight's game was rained out and scheduled as part of a day-night double header tomorrow.   And that's a double header worth attending.  For the first time in forever the Yankees are starting two dynamic 25 year old pitchers.   In fact, Tanaka and Pineda have been the best pitchers on the staff so far.  Tanaka's had trouble in the first two innings, and Pineda is still stretching himself out from his two long lay offs.   The Cubs are in for a long day tomorrow.  I'm putting the over/under for Cub K's at 15.   And I'm betting the OVER!   Go Yanks!

Rangers Land Union College D Mat Bodie

The Rangers grabbed another sought after collegiate FA by signed left shot offensive defenseman Matt Bodie out of Union.   Bodie scored a point a game playing D for a great program against other great programs this year.   He's also the kind of great skater the Rangers love on D. That's the hot sauce.  The 2 challenges before him are, first, that he has to add muscle, and second that he is already 24.   The age thing he can't do anything about, but he has to hit the gym and take good care of himself.  I guess one other thing he must prove to us Rangers fans is that he's not a member of the Gilroyalty.    You know what I mean.

Giants: Drafting DB's

I have no inclination about doing an article on the Giants and Kickers/Punters, so this will be the end of this series, but we'll probably have a lot more draft stuff leading up to Christmas in May.

Appearances would suggest the Giants are set at corner and safety. and any drafted CB or S this year would mean cutting someone they might not want to cut.   However, Prince Amukamara will be a free agent next year as will Rolle, so it won't be a shock if they do draft a cb or a safety or both, next month.

The Giants have generally liked big corners who can play press, and man.   Prince is like that, T2 was like that, Corey Webster was like that.  You get the picture.   The problem with drafting press/man corners has been teaching them how to play zone defense.  

The Parcells Giants were able to play a very frustrating Cover-2 all the livelong day.   This is because Bill Belichick can teach anyone off the street how to play good NFL zone defense in about 15minutes.  It's really amazing.

When he left, the Giants lost that ability and haven't regained it.    In the Coughlin era, especially there has been a hold in the intermediate middle of our zone -- and I don't know if that's the safety's fault or the Mike's fault, but if Jason Witten makes it to the Hall of Fame, he should thank that hole in his speech.   I'm joking about it now, but it has put me on edge during the actual games.

So the Giants like these big guys and the hitch is teaching them zone.   I remember a game against the Eagles in 2007 when a lot of the regulars were dinged up, so it was left to, I think Sam Madison and Aaron Ross to play corner, with Michael Johnson and Craig Dahl playing safety.   It could have been a nightmare, but those 4 guys played immaculate cover 2 and the Giants won.   Craig Dahl's knees then blew up, and Johnson got hurt, too, but man could the play zone!

But I digress. I fully expect the Giants to take a big, athletic corner at some point in the draft, though I would be somewhat shocked if they took one in the first.

This particular draft -- as far as cb's are concerned -- is shallow at the top, but then gets really interesting in the middle rounds.    The first round guys seem to be Justin Gilbert, who also adds dynamic specials value,  Darquez Denard,  Kyle Fuller, and maybe Bradley Roby, there have also been some injured guys mentioned in the first round mix, but I wouldn't pick them in the first, even if I thought we needed a cb, which we don't right now.

Gilbert, Fuller,  and Roby are good players and intriguing, but will cost a high pick, so I don't expect them.  Denard is controversial, but intriguing.  I'm concerned that his hips are tight for a smooth transition from backpedal to forward running in coverage.   Thus, he uses his hands on receivers to get his feet organized.  That could create a rain of flags at the next level.   He's also got short arms.  But I think his success in the NFL will be determined by the team he goes to (more so than many more versatile guys).   For example, if Belichick gets him, he'll have a terrific career.  If a team that relies heavily on man gets him, he could draw too many penalties.

Oh, and another side point about Belichick, he is a master at teaching pass interference and there must be some sort of deal between he and the refs that it won't be called.  Go check out Super Bowl 46 and those old Pats/Colts playoff games to see what I'm talking about.  Not saying they do this, but one of the easiest ways to fix a football game is to let one team interfere, while making the other team play properly.

So anyway, I think the Giants will take a big corner, hopefully with good hips and feet, but maybe on day 3.  As soon as they pick him, check his three cone.   Also, there are some small school guys who could be interesting like Kendall James of Maine.   He's got small hands, but NFL numbers everywhere else.   The Giants have been going with big corners for awhile, and Seattle's success with them will surely reinforce their bias.   And Holsey is going to have a though time making the team unless he really picks it up.

Onto safeties.   The Giants have had interesting luck with safeties.   They spent a first on Kenny Phillips and he looked great, before having his knees blow up and his career ruined.  Then they took another big safety, Chad Jones, a really intriguing Football/Baseball athlete out of LSU, who was tragically injured in an auto accident then never made it back.   Then they took Tyler Sash, a scrappy little safety from Iowa who's AA just didn't translate.

Where they finally got lucky was with Will Hill.  When he's not suspended for pot, which is now legal in many places, he's better than the whole lot of them, and the best Giant safety to come along in years.

Will Hill should be the new model the Giants use for drafting safeties.  Now, I'm not saying they should only go after spleef monsters, but they should look for guys who are better players than prospects.   Hill has good size and was a prized recruit in HS, but he's not some athletic freak.  He just knows how to play football and make football plays.  He's got great instincts.

Last year, they took Cooper Taylor, who is even bigger, but, before getting injured, he really looked like he had some ideas out there.  It will be interesting to see what happens with him.   They also re-signed Stevie Brown who has a nose for the football, if not for anything else in the playbook, and Antrelle is at his best when not asked to do too much.

I think safety is on the verge of being loaded for us, mostly thanks to Rolle, Hill and Taylor, so there is room for one more guy if we come across a BPA S at some point, though I really don't expect us do spend a first on a safety.   After the pick, I want to see Will Hill like instincts on tape from whoever it is.

Ha Ha Clinton Dix is the player most mentioned as being in our window at 12.  I don't think we'll take him, though we do love Alabama guys and have been wanting to take one most years.

So that wraps up our positional talks.   We'll get into some other stuff in the coming days.  The Giants need a BIG DRAFT.

Yanks: Cervelli to the 60 Day DL, Sizemore Recalled

The Yanks today put Francisco Cervelli on the 60 day DL, which allowed them to make a move with the 40 man roster.   They did so by adding Scott Sizemore.   Sizemore was going on in AAA, and had a May 1 opt out in his deal.  As we talked about yesterday JR Murphy was also called up, and with Cervelli gone for 2 months, he will really get a good shot.    They must be tired of Cervelli's injuries.   They had some other guys of less seeming import they could have moved to the 60.  I wouldn't be shocked if Cervelli gets traded in when he's healthy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Yanks Call Up JR Murphy

The Yanks are apparently calling up John Ryan Murphy to take Cervelli's place on the DL.   Murphy and Gary Sanchez were the reasons I didn't want to sign McCann.  I'm glad it's not Romine, because his O is inconsistent and I'd rather he just try to establish trade value in AAA than show he has none in ML.   Murphy has also played the corners a bit in the minors and was a 3B before the Yanks made him a catcher.    He might not hit well coming out of the box, but he has hitting talent which has even been apparent as he's greatly improved his catching skills.   He should be a good hitting catcher eventually glad this was the move.

Rangers Recall JT Miller

I think I've written a version of this story more often then I wrote "Giants Win" last season.    Yeesh.  So, after AV kicked him in the teeth last time he was sent down, they have now recalled JT because Kreider isn't ready yet, and maybe AV feels like toying with him some more.   Let's hope he has a great run and shuts up AV.

Giants: Drafting RB's

Though the NFL can currently be classified as a passing league, teams that can also run the ball will always have an advantage.  Running the ball allows teams to control the clock and wear out the other team's D.   In three of their 4 SB wins, the Giants have been a very good running team.  In 2011, the line had already declined and Jake and Bradshaw were really banged up all year.  Though, the Giants did run well in the playoffs.

The Giants will have a new offense under Ben McAdoo.   However, McAdoo is coming to the Giants, who have featured a fullback and power running, from two of the other teams that still use a fullback and power running: the Saints and the Packers.  So I think, in the run game, we can assume that the Giants will get back to being fundamentally sound, and then build on top of that with more screens and swing passes.

This draft does not have any round one backs.   In fact, you rarely see RB's drafted in the first anymore.  15 or 20 years ago, you'd see that all the time.  But the pass first tilt, and the realization that you can find RB value later in the draft has changed that.

Also, teams are getting away from using one back and more are using a two back system or even a three back system -- you remember when the Giants had Earth, Wind and Fire, don't you?

The Giants are currently putting their new committee together.   Currently it features Rashad Jennings, and big 230 pounder who can run, catch and block and is dedicated to film study.  They also have David Wilson, who is as explosive as they come, but has a neck issue that could ruin his career at any moment.    They also have Michael Cox,  a kid they took last year who seems physical but uninstinctive when he got chances.  Thus the Giants are probably going to pick another back this year.

In general, there are several kinds of backs,  big backs, small backs, in-between backs, quick backs, one cut backs, guys who can catch, guys who can't, third down backs, etc. etc.

The valuable guys in this draft, as far as the Giants are concerned, fall into 3 groups.    Power backs, like Carlos Hyde, Jeremy Hill, and Andre Williams; and more all purpose 200-210 pound guys like, Lache Seastrunk, Bishop Sankey, Charles Sims, and Ka'Deem Carey.   Finally, there is a smaller group of all purpose guys featuring Tre Mason and  Jerick McKinney.  Most of the other guys like DeAnthony Thomas, are third down backs.   For our rotation we need a guy like the ones listed above

I'm actually not that high on Andre Williams, though he has some good tape. But, he did go to BC and does sort of seem Gianty.  

There are also some small school guys, like Towson's Terrance West and Toledo's David Fluellen who could be decent rotation pieces for the Giants.

Ultimately, though, I'd like them to get one of Hyde, Hill, Seastrunk, Sanky, Carey, Mason or McKinney.

I don't expect them to draft a fullback, since they have done well finding them on the waiver wire and in UDFA.

But, before we install our new running game, we still have to fix the OL.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nova Wins as Yanks Take Series

Ivan Nova still didn't seem to have all of his stuff, but he had enough to hold the Red Sox to two runs into the 8th.   Phelps and Kelly did the rest.  Beltran had another homer and he, Ellsbury and McCann are really starting to contribute.   On the downside, Cervelli got hurt again.  Of course this is one of the major reasons I've been hot to trade him, now it's too late.    Got a scare late in the game when Solarte seemed to twist his ankle crossing first.  Like a trooper, he came stayed in the game so Jeter who has a quad didn't have to come in.   It would be nice if the rest of Nova's stuff would arrive from Florida or wherever he left it, but he gutted out his second win tonight, and that was just fine.  I think they finally have a day off tomorrow.   But they go into their first off day over .500.   Hope that's true of every off day.

Giants: Drafting TE's

During the Coughlin Era that began in `04, the Giants have almost always had a guy who could make plays.  Shockey, then Boss, then Ballard, then Bennett.   That broke down last year with Meyers.  But it had really been put in Jeopardy with the selection of TE Travis Beckham in 2009 who was undersized and unproductive, and TE Adrian Robinson in 20012, who had the size and sick measurables, but just couldn't get on the field.

The four TE's the Giants have had success with could play inline, though Boss was just game there more than super solid.    Beckham and Robinson were more 'move' TE's.   Guys who can split out or motion or come out of the backfield on the snap.   It's hard to know if the Giants would find more use for the move TE in their new offense, but they haven't had any yet.

To be clearer, an inline TE can block as an extension of the OL, and you're lucky if a move TE can block downfield when being used as a decoy.   The Giants have literally never had much luck with these guys in the pass happy era.  And I'm not sure they can afford to take one right now.

That's why I'm not as high on Ebron to the Giants as I was back in January.   I'm not sure if my misgivings would have been allayed had Mike Pope still been the TE guru, but as the staff is not conducted we have an ex-TE coach at OC and a relative to Pope (who's actually a relative to Gilbride) tyro as the TE coach in Kevin Gilbride Jr.   Btw, I'm open to the idea that he's a great young coach, and not to any conspiracy theories that involve the Giants agreeing to keep Junior as long as Senior left.  Seems like TC brought in a layer of more experienced coaches, but still likes the idea of bringing some young, talented guys along.

Here's the deal with Ebron.  He is a very good athlete (hasn't shown great at the combine or his pro day) who can get down the field and make WR plays.  He also has some drops, but he can high point the ball and has big hands, so his drops are just ponderous.   He can be a weapon for the Giants or anyone who drafts him, but will be best utilized as a move guy since his inline work has been less than acceptable and he would need lots of development in that aspect.   He would be an intriguing pick, but I don't thin the Giants can go their, unless they see Ebron as a focal point of their new O.  In that case, take him and throw it to him 90 times.

No, what I think the Giants are more likely to do is draft a guy with receiving skills who can also play inline.   I liked Jace Amaro early in the process, and like that I've seen him getting in extra blocks on run plays or plays to other receivers.  I also like that he weighs 265 to Ebron's 250, and project to an easier transition to inline blocking.  But maybe not.  Texas Tech plays in a gimmicky O and, in general, players coming from these spread O's have had trouble making the transition to pro-style.  Also, he only has 9 inch hands.  I'd like a TE with mitts that are closer to or over 10.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins is three pounds lighter than Amaro and has 9 3/4 hands.   He's a smooth play maker who would need some work on his blocking and has DUI in his past.  He's also from Washington. That's a little reminiscent of Aaron Pierce (who could really play, btw, but couldn't get out of his own way).   Jenkins would be another intriguing pick.

Having said all that Troy Niklas seems like the best Giant pick to me.   And he's got 10 inch hands. He's bigger than the first three and can really block.  He's also made a lot of big plays in the passing game, even though he's no gazelle and has only been playing TE and offense for 2 years.  He went to ND after USC and Stanford all offered him -- and they all offered him at different positions!   This make sense because he is actually part of that Matthews NFL clan, that just mints football players.   I'm not sure if he will be in our 3rd round window, so we might have to move to get him, and I really don't want to move up in this draft, the Giants should be looking to move down and get more picks.

Some folks like Iowa's CJ Feidorowicz from Iowa, and he has big hands, too.  But I think his blocking is overrated and he's just a short area receiver in the passing game, who I don't think can get down the seem.   We'll see.

There are some more guys, like Georgia's Arthur Lynch who needs a little more weight and Joe Don Duncan who's a little overaged and would also need extensive instruction.

So I think the Giants should either take Niklas in the second or after a trade down that nets an extra pick, or find some small school gem and just use Robinson and Donnell as the move guys in the new O.

The Week on the Blog

This should be a pretty interesting week on the blog.

Yankees:  We'll have to see if their pitchers can knock off the sudden meltdowns as they get stretched out.   Also, will the pen still hold?   When's Jacoby gonna jack one?   When are they going to realize that both infield O and D are problem areas?

Rangers:  The Rangers will start their playoff run this week and Ryan McDonagh will return.  Don't know when Kreider will be back, but it's the Flyers, and I assume they'll rush him.   Should be a great one.  They've been doing this since the `70s.

Giants:  The draft is still 3 weeks away.  So I'll continue my series on drafting the various positions, and anything that comes up on the back-up QB front.

Knicks:  Wouldn't be surprised if Woodson gets fired this week.   We'll see if anything else starts to happen.  Could be a sign and tradey Summer.

Enjoy yourselves!