Monday, March 30, 2015

Joe Girardi should name Andrew Miller as Yankees' closer

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When the Yankees signed Andrew Miller to a four-year, $36 million contract this offseason, most assumed he would settle in behind Dellin Betances as a highly paid setup man. With Betances struggling to duplicate his 2014 velocity so far in spring training, however, Joe Girardi would be wise to turn to Miller to close games early in the season while Betances tries to recover the 100 mph fastball that fueled his 1.40 ERA last season.

Many managers prefer to avoid using left-handers in the closer’s role for two reasons: Most lefties have poor platoon splits, which makes protecting a small lead against multiple right-handed hitters in the ninth inning a risky proposition. In addition, many bullpens have only one left-handed reliever to use as a specialist, and most are used before the ninth inning.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Grading the New York Jets' Offense

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The New York Jets were extremely busy this offseason, as was expected with copious salary cap space thanks to departed general manager John Idzik. First-year GM Mike Maccagnan wasted no time upgrading the team's secondary, re-signing veteran linebacker David Harris and adding multiple pieces on offense.

The big move on offense was trading a fifth-round pick to the Chicago Bears for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a seventh-round pick. This led to the expected release of Percy Harvin, which cost the Jets a sixth-round pick as a result of last year's trade, a pick the Jets came close to replacing by getting one back with Marshall.

The Jets also traded a 2016 seventh-round pick to the Texans for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the pick can become a sixth-rounder based on playing time. In addition to signing guard James Carpenter away from the Seahawks and re-signing Willie Colon, the Jets didn't completely ignore the offensive side of the ball despite their big defensive upgrades.

Now the question becomes: How will these moves improve their offense and where do they stack up within the division? Things could always change after the draft, but let's take a look at the four major position groups.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Three New York Jets Post-Free Agency Mock Draft Scenarios

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Posting mock drafts before the beginning of free agency generally proves to be an exercise in futility. After all, team needs can drastically shift in a matter of days. Just look at the Jets' offseason.

Before free agency began, the Jets' top three corners were arguably Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle and Marcus Williams. It was an obvious need that could be filled at some point in the draft.

Fast forward a week later, and cornerback turned from a deficiency into a strength. Enter Darrelle Revis (5 years, $70 million), Antonio Cromartie (4 years, $32 million) and Buster Skrine (4 years, $25 million). These additions, along with the chance that Milliner or McDougle stays healthy, make the Jets unlikely to be in the market to draft a corner.

Let's take a look at the Jets needs before free agency, and their needs after.

Pre-Free Agency Needs: QB, CB, WR, OG, S, OLB, ILB, RB
Post-Free Agency Needs: QB, OG, OLB, RB, WR

One week makes a huge difference, doesn't it? The Jets also signed safety Marcus Gilchrist (4 years, $22 million) to pair with 2014 first-round pick Calvin Pryor, making safety an unlikely spot to address in the draft.

Re-signing David Harris (3 years, $21.5 million) eliminates a need at ILB, and trading a fifth-round pick for Brandon Marshall shores up the Jets' top three receivers. The team still lacks a deep threat at the position, which is why it's still a need.

The Jets can go a few different ways with the No. 6 overall pick, and that choice will shape the rest of their draft and the team's future. Trading down is certainly an option, but the Eagles' trade for Sam Bradford has muddied the waters a bit on a potential move up for Marcus Mariota. These scenarios assume the Jets stay at No. 6.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

New York Jets Free Agency Roundup

The Jets made their share of noise towards the end of last week, trading a fifth-round pick for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and re-signing linebacker David Harris for three years and $21.5 million, with $15 million guaranteed in the first two seasons. The team also retained two of their restricted free agents, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett.

After adding to their offensive weaponry and stabilizing their linebacking corps, the Jets are now likely to focus on upgrading their secondary and interior offensive line, in addition to bringing in competition for Geno Smith. New York missed out on guards Orlando Franklin and Mike Iupati, the top two guards on the market, and had to settle for ex-Seahawks first-round pick James Carpenter (four years, $4.75 million).

Who's on the radar for the Jets heading into Tuesday's official start to free agency?

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

What Would the Eagles Give the Jets for Pick No. 6?

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This game of connect the dots is reasonably simple. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota is arguably the top quarterback in this year's draft. Assuming the Bucs take Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and the Titans pass on Mariota for somebody like Leonard Williams, he is likely to be available for the Jets at No. 6.

While the Jets need a quarterback, so do the Eagles. Philadelphia head coach Chip Kelly recruited Mariota to Oregon and it's easy to see that his offense would run far better with Mariota at the helm. With Mariota, the Eagles are a playoff team. The Jets, on the other hand, lack the roster depth to make the playoffs even with a new quarterback, especially one who isn't exactly viewed as "pro-ready." This looks to be a match made in heaven.

The main question becomes: If Mariota slips out of the top five, what would the Eagles need to give the Jets to acquire his services?

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