Sports Blog 3-16

NEW YORK FOOTBALL GIANTS

It is 3 days after the huge blockbuster trade of Odell Beckham Jr to the Cleveland Browns and this topic is still very hot.  Giant fans are split on this trade.  Brown fans are talking Super Bowl, more on that later.  And the Giants are getting destroyed on all fronts from the media.  Or most of them.  Let’s look into this a little further.

There are 2 numbers I want you to remember.  102 & 25.5.  These 2 numbers represent the # of points the Giants scored in their last 4 games and the average across 4 games.  Mind you I have to count the game the Giants got shut out which is more of an abolition then the norm.  If you throw out the shutout, then the average goes up 9 points to 34 points a game.  This was all without Beckham playing and also against 3 defenses that were playing in the playoffs.  Since those 4 games were played the Giants offense has improved greatly.  Golden Tate was signed to a reasonable 4-year contract (something I suggested in my last blog) and also added a very good offensive lineman and there is talk they could add another one too.  All without utilizing any of the assets they received in the Beckham trade.

 

No one is going to argue that Beckham isn’t a great talent.  You would be foolish to.  It’s also foolish to argue against actual facts which those numbers are.  Put this into perspective.  Beckham became an immediate star with that one handed acrobatic catch against the Cowboys in his rookie year.  He has great numbers but the biggest number any Giants fan should care about is the win total.  Whether that is Eli’s fault or Beckham’s fault who knows.  The Giant defense was horrible last year blowing games that the offense had given them the lead late in the game 4 times.  The NFL has changed over the last 10, 15 20 years.  The Giants have won 4 Super Bowls since 1986.  The main ingredients to those seasons were:

  1. Playing great defense especially in the pass rush.
  2. The ability to run the ball when needed. In the first 2 super bowl wins the Giants had monster running games.  The last two it was making big running plays when needed.
  3. Great quarterback play. 3 of the 4 Super Bowl wins resulted in the Giant QB (Phil Simms & Eli Manning) winning the game MVP.  While OJ Anderson deserved to win the MVP in SB25 you can argue that Hoss played great in the playoffs and especially in the big game when he orchestrated two drives back to back resulting in touchdowns that bled the clock.

Did you notice something that was missing?  The Giants won 4 Super Bowls without an elite wide receiver.  The last of those wins came in 2011.  But the game has changed a lot since then.  Has it?  The Patriots just won the Super Bowl 2 out of the last 3 years.  Who was the receiver that is on the level of Beckham?  It is not Julian Edelman.  So it is not important to have an elite wide receiver to win a Super Bowl.

Now as for Dave Gettleman having a plan that no one seems to know what it is?  Of course he has a plan and he does not have to tell anyone what that plan is.  We need to not pass judgement on this until we see the finished product.  I will stress this again.  If the Giants turn the 3rd round pick they received from the Browns in the Beckham trade into Josh Rosen how does that trade look now?  In essence they would have traded Beckham for 3 first round picks as Jabril Peppers was picked in the first round just two years ago and Rosen last year.  This is a scenario I could see happening very easily.

However, I would not trade that second first round pick for Rosen and instead spend the 2 first round picks getting building the defensive.  The second round pick could be used on offense.  Let’s not forget that having 12 draft picks means the Giants can move all around the draft board if they see a player they really want.  But make no mistake about it.  Gettleman needs to hit this draft big.

The criticism of Gettleman and it is entirely fair to do so is the lack of a real plan and flipping back and forth for the year plus he has been the Giants GM.  He had his chance of getting a potential franchise quarterback and instead he chose to pick Saquan Barkley who proved he was worthy of the second overall pick in the draft.  Perhaps Gettleman did not like Sam Darnold or Josh Allen or Rosen for that pick.  Especially when compared to Barkley.  Still there was a lot of people not high on any of those quarterbacks and calling any of them including Baker Mayfield a franchise quarterback after one season is crazy.  Ask this question after 5 years and we will see how these quarterbacks are doing.

He tried to rebuild the offensive line and make one last run with Eli Manning and he failed miserably.  In fact, Gettleman had a bad year signing free agents.  But he had a good draft with all of his picks looking like they can be contributors for years to come specifically Barkley and Offensive Guard Will Hernandez.

Does trading Beckham mean this team is in full re build mode?  Everyone thinks that because of the 39-year-old quarterback who should be playing in his last season with the Giants. You could argue the point that last year should have been his last year leading the Giants.  I have heard the same thing since Tate was signed.  How can we be in re build mode and sign a 30-year-old receiver?  Maybe the Giants are not rebuilding.  In reality NFL rosters turn over so much year to year that from a certain point of view every team is always rebuilding.  If Eli can be protected does he have one more year in him.  With a much improved offensive line and that great running game a receiver like Tate is a huge help for Manning.  Now the defense needs a lot of work and the recent signings are low cost and low risk and I do feel the first round picks will be for defensive players.

Now the question being asked is if you were going to trade Beckham why was he signed to a contract and not traded last year.  These are all legitimate questions that can be answered in a few different ways.  The real answer has to come from the Giants which they are not obligated to do. As for me I think it is a combination of a few things. He was paid the money he wanted.  He still goes on ESPN with Little Wayne and embarrasses the organization by saying he is not happy here.  He clearly wanted a new quarterback and if he just kept quiet and was patient the Giants will have to eventually move on from Eli.  Instead he talked publicly about him.  Even though the Antonio Brown situation was different the Steelers got nothing back from him and maybe John Mara finally took back control of his franchise and said enough already and get rid of him.  You can argue the Giants should have gotten back more for him and that is a valid point to make.

The Giants will still have 100 million in cap space next year and could possibly have their QB still on his rookie contract as well as Barkley.  With that being the case Gettleman needs to make the right choices not only in free agency but with this year’s draft.  Beckham has already asked the Browns to re do his contract and he has not played a game with them yet.

 

CLEVELAND BROWNS

Cleveland Browns

I don’t want to throw cold water on whet the Cleveland Browns are doing.  From 0-16 to 7-8 to having a great off season bringing in new players the expectation level is as high as it ever was probably since the days of Bernie Kosar.  I have seen Browns fans make ridiculous predictions of 13-3 and a Super Bowl appearance.  Let’s relax with this.  Having a great off season does not mean anything until the games are played.  The Browns are not the hunter anymore but the hunted.  That is a big difference.  The rest of the NFL will have gone to work studying the film of Baker Mayfield.  This is how the NFL works.

My biggest question is how will Freddie Kitchens handle this team?  He was never a coordinator until the mid-season of last year and he is only the head coach because Baker Mayfield wants him to be.  How will he handle all of these personalities?  Beckham wants to restructure his deal which the Browns will do.  Baker wanted Kitchens to be the coach and he got his way.  Who is running this team?

Also I saw where Mayfield said we shouldn’t try to tame Beckham and just let him be.  Good luck with that.  Beckham is a me first player and will complain whenever he does not get his way.  No player should be bigger than the team.  If there ever was year where I wanted to see the Browns in Hard Knocks it is this year.

NEW YORK YANKEES

I have been saying it since mid-season last year.  The New York Yankees don’t have enough starting pitching to win a championship.  I know the bullpen is great.  It was great last year and I thought it was better last year too.  You can’t tell me that Adam Ottavino who never pitched in New York before is better that David Robertson who already pitched good for the Yankees as their closer.  Luis Severino is hurt and won’t be back to at least May.  Sabathia is already hurt and he is good for a few stints on the DL in what is his last season in the majors.  Masahiro Tanaka has a bad elbow that could explode at any moment.  JA Happ is a solid but not spectacular pitcher and James Paxson has not proven he can pitch a full season.  Unless you’re going to use these bullpen pitchers for multiple innings every game the Yankees need to sign Dallas Keuchel or Gio Gonzales.

NEW MLB RULES

So looking over these new rules and potential rules some look interesting and some just are ridiculous.  As someone who worked for MLBAM the very first year they started to track the Pace Of Games I do believe I am extremely qualified to talk about some of these rules.  Since I worked there and know what was said about the process back in 2015.  So let’s go over them one by one.

2019 Rule Changes

Inning Breaks:  The reduction of time between innings is a good idea.  This definitely will speed up the game but the sponsors and advertisers of the national games would not be happy to lose 25 seconds of commercial time.

Mound Visits:  I like the reduction of mound visits from 6 to 5.  Does that also include the number of times the catcher goes out to talk to the pitcher?

Trade Deadline:  On the surface this is the same rule we have now.  July 31st is the non-waivers trading deadline.  With no trading allowed after this date all you can do is waive a player.  If a player gets claimed there is no compensation awarded to his previous team.  I always felt just make the trade deadline mid-August giving the fringe teams two more weeks to decide if they want to compete or trade off high priced players or pending free agents.  Every year the amount of trades getting made after July 31st has gone up so I am not sure what this rule is trying to prevent.

All Star Game Rules:

  1. Voting: To me this is always a popularity contest.  Which sucks because players have bonuses in their contracts for making the all-star team.  Having voting online only allows some people to vote numerous times to see their favorite players get voted into the game.  I personally would rather see the voting broken out in thirds.  One third is the fan vote, the second third is the players and coaches vote and the last third is the sports writer.  It still has flaws but this way the fan vote does not water down the results.
  2. Bonus Payments: I really don’t care about this since I think most players already have this built into their contracts.  If you are going to tell me this bonus will be removed from their contracts, then yes I am okay with it but not with how the voting is currently set up.  I do think out of all the all-star games in the 4 major sports the baseball one is the game that mostly resembles a real game.  In the other sports no defense is played and the NFL pro bowl had several stars playing out of position.
  3. Home Run Derby: I could care less about the batting practice contest. Which is what this really is.  I like to watch it but it is not real baseball.  Just someone throwing fat pitches.  If now giving out bonuses for the players competing makes it better for the fans to see the best players the sport has to offer, then so be it.
  4. I like the 10th inning rule about starting the inning with a runner on second base. It is the same rule the ASA uses for co ed softball games.  No one wants to see a marathon 15 inning game.  Especially when dealing with the pitchers.  You want to get everyone in the game that you can depending on when the starting pitchers last pitched but also make sure they don’t get hurt or tired.  Ending a game quickly in extra innings is a good thing.

Now for the proposed 2020 rules

  1. The roster rules allowing one extra player is fine. One player is not a big deal and is necessary for double headers.
  2. Eliminating the 40-man roster in September and making it only 28 players. This the real roster rule that needs to be changed.  To allow an extra 13-14 players on your team for the stretch run is killing Major League Baseball.  Buck Showalter is correct about this.  40 is way too many players especially when you can just trot out new pitchers all game long.  Mike Francesa said it best on this.  Make September just like the NHL rules.  You can carry 40 players on your roster but you have to scratch players before each game.  Then you can carry 2 extra players when you almost certainly will scratch the previous game’s and the next game’s starting pitcher.  In addition, you can scratch a player who is nursing an injury.  Since it is September you won’t put him on the injured reserve most likely just scratch him and dress a player that plays his position.
  3. The number of pitchers a club can carry rule is a two-part rule. You must designate each player as a pitcher or position player.  The Ohtani rule.  There are some exceptions for this rule change and I say just leave it as is.
  4. Minimum number of batters for pitchers: I hate this rule change.  Basically any pitcher has to face 3 batters before being removed.  The only exceptions would be if the end of an inning occurs before the 3 batters are faced or an incapacitating injury or illness.  Well who decides how serious the injury is.  MLB is stating it has to be a severe injury.  This definitely affects the strategy the managers have to use during the game.  I know they are trying to speed up the game but this is a little crazy.

Through-out the half year I worked at the BAM the simplest thing to do was keep the batters in the box.  Players step out of the box after every pitch and fix their gloves and grab the dirt and take practice swings and this drags the game so much.  We tracked this time and saw a lot of players break the supposed rules and when we came up with our reports not one player was fined like we were told they would.  While no one who worked there would ever complain about that because let’s face it.  It’s a job.  The BAM had to hire a lot of people to keep track of this time.  Keep the players in the box and this will speed up the pitchers too.  The pitchers should be tracked too.  Some pitchers take way too long to throw the ball to the plate.  While you can’t limit how many times they throw over to first base, the pitchers only start their routine when the batter gets in the box.  Baseball is a game that changes pitch to pitch and your strategy changes after each pitch.  It is also the only sport out of the 4 major sports where it is not timed.   Anyway we can get this game shorted is welcomed.

Do you agree or do you want to debate

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