Thursday, March 23, 2017

Boston Red Sox 2017 Preview

In this episode of the Open Mike Program, I welcome Chris Hogan of 27 Outs Baseball to talk about the Boston Red Sox.

The Red Sox won 93 games and the AL East last season, before succumbing to the Cleveland Indians in the Divisional Series. The Sox had a busy off-season retooling their bullpen, and adding veteran Chris Sale to the rotation. The expectation level for Boston is pretty high this year, with some even thinking they could go to the World Series.

I talk about those expectations and more with Chris.


The Open Mike Program  is live on Monday's and Fridays at blogtalkradio.com.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Atlanta Braves 2017 Preview

I had the pleasure to talk to baseball broadcaster and 27 Outs Baseball host Ben Poplin about the Braves 2017 campaign.

We talk about Atlanta's chances this season in the NL East, as they have loaded up on veteran talent to try to push this team in a winning direction as they move into a new ballpark in Cobb County. Can the Braves compete with the Mets and Nationals? We talk about it.

Ben broadcasted games for the Rome Braves for two years, and we trade our broadcasting baseball stories in the show as well.


The Open Mike Program is live Monday's and Friday's on BlogTalkRadio.com!

Kansas City Royals 2017 Preview

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure to speak with Max Reiper of Royals Review to preview the upcoming season for the Kansas City Royals.

The Royals are two years removed from their run to a World Series title, and hoping to bounce back from a disappointing 2016. Kansas City still features plenty of star power from Eric Hosmer to Salvador Perez, but the question this year for KC will be its pitching.

Check out the podcast right here...


The Open Mike Program is heard live on Monday's and Friday's on BlogTalkRadio.

Didi Gregorius Injured in WBC, Will Be Out Til May

The World Baseball Classic took its toll on another everyday major league player this week, as word came down that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will miss the first month of the season because of a strained right shoulder he suffered while fielding his position for the Netherlands.

The injury is a big blow to the Yankees, who were hoping to have Gregorius at short stop to build upon last year's success where he led the Bombers in batting average, .276, and came around with the power late in the season to produce 20 homers and 70 RBI. Now the Yankees are forced to look at either former Met, Ruben Tejada, or prospects Ronald Torreyes, or Tyler Wade. By all accounts, neither Torreyes nor Wade are ready for the Majors at this point.

The injury underlines a concern that Major League clubs have with the World Baseball Classic in general for years. Just this season alone, a number of quality starters have gone down to injury. Kansas City's Salvador Perez hurt his knee. Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera hurt his back. Marlins short stop Martin Prado pulled a hamstring, and Diamondbacks pitcher Silvino Brancho also suffered a hamstring injury.

Four years ago, Mark Teixiera went down with a wrist injury in the World Baseball Classic for Team USA. He would miss most of the 2013 season.

While none of the injuries this season are as serious as the one sustained by Gregorius, the fact is teams are crossing their fingers when the players they are paying millions of dollars to do not get hurt.

However when there is a tournament in the middle of spring training that is pumped up to the level of postseason baseball, it is hard for players not to want to go all out. It is in their nature to go out there and play hard. Playing half way is never an option, even in preseason games.

This is not to say that injuries can't happen in regular exhibition games, but what has always been a troubling fact about the WBC is that is seems like it is too much pressure-packed baseball played way too soon. Most players are still trying to get their bodies in baseball shape at this point of the year, especially pitchers.

Granted this year's WBC has been fantastic. It has drawn high television ratings, and stadiums are getting sold out. The run by team USA, notwithstanding has been a huge boon to the tournament. There just has to be a better way to do this tournament, rather than take players out of Spring Training. Perhaps moving the WBC to the end of the season should be an option.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Jets Sign Veteran McCown to Lead Young QBs

The Jets signed their quarterback for the 2017 season, and it wasn't Tony Romo or Jay Cutler.

The Jets signed journeyman, veteran Josh McCown to a one-year deal worth $6 million. While on the surface McCown, who is 18-42 lifetime as a starter is not going to turn heads, this move was never about winning hearts and minds and football games this year.  This was a move by the Jets that was strictly about playing for the future.

How does a 38-year old quarterback play into the future of the Jets? It's simple. McCown is known as a good clubhouse guy, and has been credited for being a mentor to younger players throughout his career. In fact this is a guy who has coached high school football when the NFL wasn't ringing up his phone.

The Jets have two young quarterbacks in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg that not only need playing time, but need a veteran voice to guide them. That is why McCown is here.

Sure McCown has a good arm, and can make all the throws when he needs to, but this season was never about winning 8 or 9 games and competing for a playoff spot. This entire season was about rebuilding the franchise, and finding the next foundation players to lead it into 2018 and beyond.

Had the Jets settled for Cutler, or even Colin Kaepernick, they never would have gotten the veteran-savy quarterback who was willing to teach players. Cutler or Kaepernick would have come into New York feeling that the starting job was their's for the taking and would never relinquish it. That is not what the Jets need. They already had that with Ryan Fitzpatrick the past two years.



If you really want to know how valuable McCown can be to a young team, this is what former Jets receiver Brandon Marshall had to say about him:

“That was our leader,” Marshall said in October. “He’s a stud. He led up; he led down. When he wasn’t starting in Chicago, he kept all the guys together, defense and offense. We had some big personalities there, including myself. At times we had egos. And he was the guy that kept us rolling.”

That's a mighty impressive recommendation from a guy who is now playing across the hall at MetLife Stadium for the Giants.

While Jets fans are upset that McCown isn't Tony Romo, the bigger question that fans should concern themselves with is whether Mike Maccagnan can have a competent draft this spring. Thus far after two years, the Jets GM has turned over mediocre results in the draft, including reaching for Petty and Hackenberg. Now he is stuck with those two young quarterbacks and has to find a way to get the most out of them. 

Tim Tebow to play for Mets' Class-A Columbia

Tim Tebow's pursuit of a highly unlikely baseball career will now take him to Columbia, South Carolina to play for the Mets Class-A affiliate, the Columbia Fireflies.

Inspite of his struggles at the plate, he's hitting .200 (4-for-20), with three of those hits barley clearing the infield, and continued scrutiny for opposing scouts and teams, the Mets continue to let the Tebow saga play out. Most players who struggle the way Tebow has would likely see a pink slip, but Tebow's celebrity, personalty and desire are carrying him forward.

For the Fireflies having Tebow in town will bring them a lot of attention, and will undoubtably sell a lot of seats. There is nothing wrong with that for a minor league team -- any minor league club in that position would want to have a celebratory name in the building on a nightly basis. Tebow's infectious personalty, as well as his ties to the South Eastern Conference (SEC), which the nearby Gamecocks play in against Tebow's alma mater, Florida, will also be a huge selling point.

While Tebow has received just criticism from baseball people for his lack of experience, sending him down to Class-A is the right move for the Mets. If Tebow is indeed serious about a full-time baseball career, the Mets should leave him in South Carolina for the entire season and not feel the need to promote him in order to succumb to outside pressure.

The worst thing the Mets could do to not only Tebow, but to other minor leaguer players in their farm system is to quickly promote the former Gator through the system and bring him to the Major League's this year. Such a move would make the Mets look like a circus.

Playing and living baseball at the lowest level of affiliated ball is what Tebow needs. He needs to know what it is like to be a professional ball player. There are guys he will meet in Class-A that have been playing the game for well over a decade, if you count high school or college.

He will see guys get promoted and leave the clubhouse.

He will meet guys who have been demoted.

He will meet guys who have an axe to grind.

He will meet guys who don't like the fact that he is in their clubhouse.

He will ride the bus for hours at a time, cramped up in a seat with either a teammate or his bags next to him.

He will be exhausted.

He better be good at playing cards.

He will play day games after night games in 90 degree heat. (Especially those 11 a.m. games -- brutal).

He'll get benched if he doesn't hit lefties.

He'll play when the manager says he can play.

This is what Tim Tebow needs. There should be no free lunch. No circumventing of the system for Tebow because he was a Heisman Trophy winner and former NFL quarterback with a playoff win under his belt.

Tim Tebow, a 29-year-old former NFL quarterback, turned ESPN college analyst wants to be a true baseball player? Go out and prove it now.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Giants Give JPP Long Term Contract

The Giants and Jason-Pierre Paul have finally come to terms on a long term deal that will make the 7-1/2 fingered defensive end the second highest paid edge rusher in the league, according to NFL.com.

The deal calls for Pierre-Paul to make $62 million over four years, with $40 million guaranteed, and a $20 million signing bonus. (Not bad for sining a contract, eh?).

The Giants and Pierre-Paul had been looking to get a long term deal worked out for a long time. In February, the Giants slapped a non-exclusive franchise tag on Paul to keep him in town for a year at $17 million. Had the two sides not worked out a long term deal, that money would have been a poison pill to the Giants salary cap.


To be fair JPP had a lot to prove over the past year after he blew off part of his hand during a 4th of July fireworks accident in 2015. He was a shell of his former self during the 2015 season. Last year however, he adjusted to life with the blown up digits, recording seven sacks, three forced fumbles and 53 tackles in 2016.

While the Giants have JPP, Brandon Marshall, offensive lineman D.J. Flucker and for whatever reason, Geno Smith in tow, they now must focus on continuing to improve that offensive line. Flucker is a nice signing, but was a slight bust for the Chargers the past four years. Big Blue needs another veteran signing for the line, and they should use their first round pick on a tackle.

Giants Signing Ex-Jets Highlight Big Off-Season Moves

The New York Giants have been busy since free agency began just two weeks ago, taking risky gambles on ex-Jets and re-signing Jason Pierre Paul to a long term deal.

Big Blue started their off-season pursuits when they signed ex-Jets wide out Brandon Marshall on a two-year, $12 million contract. The signing was slightly surprising, considering the Giants didn't exactly have a major need a wide receiver, with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepherd already on the roster.

On the plus side, the Giants are not spending a ton of money to get a top flight talent of Marshall's caliber into town. The $12 million over two years is a bargain by all considerations. And Marshall gets to stay in New York to pursue his broadcasting career with Showtime's Inside the NFL. Everyone wins on the surface.

With Marshall on the squad the Giants, potentially have one of the most explosive pass-catching units in the NFL. Two years ago, when Marshall first came to New York with the Jets, he had one of the best seasons of his career, hauling in 14 touchdowns and putting up 1,502 yards receiving. However last season was a total nightmare for him. Not only did he have to deal with the Jets horrible quarterback situation, he found himself in the midst of a locker room spat with Sheldon Richardson.

What makes Marshall an even more attractive option is that he appeared to put his checkered locker room past behind him the last two years.  With the exception of Richardson, the Jets' players looked at Marshall as one of the leaders of the team.

That could be a good thing for someone like Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham has become a piranha of sorts after his bad behavior both on and off the field came back to bite him last season. Beckham could use the steady leadership of Marshall to calm him down, and steer him in the right direction. The Giants needed Victor Cruz to do that last year, but he failed miserably when he was caught partying with Beckham down in Miami before the playoffs.

On the field, Marshall gives quarterback Eli Manning a huge down field target, and an excellent red zone presence that he hasn't had since Plaxico Burress left. In 2015 alone, Marshall had 13 touchdowns from inside the opponents 20 yard line. His 6-foot-4, 230 pound frame is a lot for opposing, smaller cornerbacks to deal with. So fully expect Marshall's number to be called when the Giants are in a go-to-goal situation.

Meanwhile, the Giants weren't done signing former Jets. They inked ex-Jets bust Geno Smith to become the teams' back-up quarterback. This is a very odd signing for many reasons. Yes, the Giants needed a better back-up quarterback than Ryan Nassib, but there are other guys on the market that are 100 times better than Geno Smith.

Smith is a total bust. The guy was clueless when he was with the Jets, and his immaturity not withstanding was a black-eye. This is not the kind of player you want one snap away from becoming the starting quarterback. The Giants could have signed someone like Josh McCown or even Ryan Fitzpatrick (if they wanted to stick it to the Jets that badly) and they would have been better off.

While the contract is only for one year at $2 million, it feels like the Giants could have spent that $2 million elsewhere and still improved their back-up quarterback situation. Jerry Reese and company better hope the Giants leaky offensive line keeps Manning upright, or they're in big, big trouble.