Possible QB Solutions for the Jets

Going into the 2017 offseason, the Jets will likely be in search of a quarterback through either free agency, the trade market, or even the NFL draft.  There are multiple options the Jets have to be their starting QB next season.  One key factor that could effect who they go after on the trade and/or free agency market would be what the organization thinks of Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg.

Petty was given the role of starting QB in the middle of last season due to the poor play of Ryan Fitzpatrick.  Behind an offensive line mainly composed of backups, Petty struggled and was constantly under pressure from opposing teams.  He ended up throwing for 809 yards, with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions before his season was cut short due to a chest injury suffered in a loss against the Dolphins.  While there were a few times in which Petty seemed to show some potential in games, he doesn’t seem like he is ready to be the Jets starting QB next season.  He has trouble reading the defense, doesn’t seem to scramble enough to allow time for his receivers to get open, and has a lot of trouble when under pressure.

We never got a chance to see Christian Hackenberg play in the 2016-17 season.  Reports from the Jets coaching staff said that while he has potential to be a very good QB, he isn’t ready to take snaps in an NFL game yet.  Like Petty, the Jets must soon decide whether or not Hackenberg will be the QB for the franchise in the near future.  One worrying sign is a recent report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter saying that he was told by an anonymous coach for the Jets that Hackenberg had regressed during the season.  Other sources have said that Hackenberg had been struggling during practice when taking his reps.  Regardless of what kind of player he turns out to be, it doesn’t seem as though Hackenberg will be ready to be the Jets starting QB next season.

There are a couple players that may be on the trade market that I feel the Jets should pursue.  The first player is Tony Romo.  He is likely to be moved this offseason, considering the strong performance by his replacement, Dak Prescott.  There have been rumors of the Jets willing to offer Sheldon Richardson for Romo.  Romo will be 37 years old in April, is prone to injury, and is making around $18 million annually through 2019.  However, he has still shown that when he’s healthy, he is still a very talented and intelligent QB.  The Jets need to ask themselves whether or not he is worth the money and risks.  They could also hope for the Cowboys to release him if they can’t find any trade to their liking.  This would allow for the Jets to get him at a much cheaper price.  The other QB I feel the Jets should consider trading for is Philip Rivers.  Rivers is still putting together strong numbers for a San Diego team that has been so bad that they lost to the Cleveland Browns.  At this point, San Diego is in a state of rebuilding.  The Jets could offer some draft picks for Rivers.  Like Romo, Rivers is owed a lot of money over the next few years.  His average salary is $20,812,500 through 2019.  Rivers will be 36 years old in December.  However, unlike Romo, Rivers isn’t as prone to injury, making him a little more appealing.

On the free agent market, the one name that sticks out to me is Kirk Cousins.  He is coming off of a strong season with the Redskins, in which he threw for 4,917 yards, with 25 touchdowns and a completion percentage of 67%.  He is much younger than Romo and Rivers, turning 29 in August.  The problem the Jets face with Cousins is that he will be a hot commodity, allowing for his price to rise.  The Jets would have to be committed to having Cousins as their starting QB for the long term.  This would basically mean giving up on Petty and Hackenberg.

Since the 2013 draft, the Jets have drafted 3 quarterbacks in the early rounds.  These players are Geno Smith, Bryce Petty, and Christian Hackenberg.  If the Jets use their 6th overall pick on a QB in the 2017 draft, it may be on one of three QBs.  In the unlikely event that they haven’t been drafted yet, the Jets may choose either Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina or DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame in the first round.  So far this season, Trubisky has thrown for 3748 yards, with 30 touchdowns and just 6 interceptions.  Kizer has thrown for 2925 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions.  If these players are already off the table, the Jets may want to consider Deshaun Watson of Clemson.  Watson has thrown for 4173 yards, with 38 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

Just by seeing how many quarterbacks the Jets have drafted in the early rounds in recent years, one can see how much of a gamble it is for an organization like the Jets to put the faith of the franchise in the hands of a young quarterback straight out of college.  Many talented college quarterbacks have failed in the NFL.  In their desperation for a sustainable QB, the Jets could very well use their first round pick to draft their 4th quarterback in the last 5 years.  If it comes to this, both the fans and the organization will hope that the 4th time is the charm.

Jets 2016-17 Season Retrospective

The 2016-17 New York Jets season was one to forget.  Coming off an impressive 10-6 season in 2015-16, there were high expectations from the fans for a playoff birth.  While they lost Damon Harrison to the Giants, the Jets were able to lock up Muhammad Wilkerson for the long term and eventually able to re-sign QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was coming off the best year of his career, after a lengthy standoff.

Unfortunately for the Jets, injuries and poor performances contributed to a disappointing season in which the team went just 5-11.  Future Hall of Famer Darrelle Revis began to show his age, constantly getting beaten by the receivers he was assigned to shut down.  He performed so badly that questions arose as to whether or not he would soon retire.  By next season, we could very well see Revis move from cornerback to safety.  Muhammad Wilkerson, coming off arguably the best season of his career in which he registered 12 sacks, struggled to stay healthy and effective throughout the 2016-17 season, registering just 4.5 sacks.  Perhaps the biggest culprit for the disappointing Jets season was Ryan Fitzpatrick.  After being acquired by the Jets in a trade with the Texans in the 2015 offseason, Fitzpatrick was promoted to the team’s starting QB when Geno Smith got his jaw broken by then-teammate I.K. Enemkpali during a dispute over money.  Fitzpatrick ended up throwing for 3,905 yards and a franchise record 31 touchdowns.  After a long holdout last offseason, Fitzpatrick and the Jets finally reached an agreement on a 1 year, $12 million contract on July 27, 2016.  However, Fitzpatrick struggled in the 2016-17 season, especially after losing one of his favorite targets, Eric Decker, for the season after just 3 games due to a shoulder injury that required surgery.  In the 2016-17 season, Fitzpatrick threw for just 2,710 yards, with 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

Due in large part to Revis’s regression and Wilkerson’s poor season, the 2016-17 Jets defense regressed mightily throughout the season.  After being ranked as the 4th best defense in the NFL in 2015-16, the defense dropped to 11th.  The Jets went from 30 takeaways, tied for third in the NFL, to just 14, tied for last in the NFL.

As poor as the season has been for the Jets, there have been some strong performances by a few players.  Bilal Powell and Quincy Enunwa seemed to be the best performers this past season for the Jets on the offensive side while Leonard Willams continues to show promise for the Jets defense.  As the season went on, it felt as if Powell was used more often.  While he did show in the 2015-16 season that he could do a good job as a receiver from the runningback position, he also showed that he could run the ball too in 2016-17.  While he only had 131 rushing attempts, he ran for 722 yards, giving him an average of 5.5 yards per carry.  He also tacked on 58 receptions for 388 yards.  He would end up scoring a total of 5 touchdowns for the Jets.  Powell could very well be a huge threat for opposing defenders in the near future thanks to his improving ability to run the ball as well as getting open for passes and turning them into big gains.  Quincy Enunwa seemed to be much more dangerous early in the season, when the Jets still had Decker.  Regardless, Enunwa still had a very good offensive season for a lackluster offensive team.  He totaled 58 receptions for 857 yards, reaching the endzone 4 times.  Assuming Decker and Marshall are back and healthy next season, and the Jets find a decent quarterback, Enunwa would present a huge threat to an opposing team’s defense that may overlook him for Marshall and Decker.  Leonard Williams showed no signs of a sophomore slump in 2016-17.  Williams tallied 7 sacks this past season, while also forcing two fumbles.  While 4.5 of those sacks occurred in the first 5 games of the season, he nonetheless continued to provide pressure on the opposing team’s offense.  He has shown the ability to be extremely dangerous when he’s hot.  If Wilkerson can come back healthy and perform up to expectations next season, the Jets would have a powerful 1-2 punch on the defensive line.

There is still a lot of work to be done by Jets management over the upcoming offseason if they want a chance to be competitive next season.  Another option that management has is to just rebuild the team over the next couple seasons.  In the meantime, Jets fans need to follow their mantra: “Just Endure The Suffering.”

10 of the Biggest Sports Moments of 2016: Part 2

#5: Bart Ruth

When the Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a 2 year deal before the 2014 season, they viewed him as a mentor to the young, talented pitching prospects.  Over time, Colon became a folk hero to Mets fans, through his solid pitching and comical at-bats.  Before signing with the Mets, the only time Colon spent in the National League, where the pitchers would take at-bats, was when he was traded to the Montreal Expos shortly before the 2002 trade deadline.  The 5’11, 285 pound Colon was viewed by fans as an out-of-shape, middle-aged man who could keep up with these other athletes.

Colon’s at-bats became must-see TV, as he would wildly swing at pitches, no matter where the ball was located, with his helmet occasionally flying off his head.  His at-bats became hits on the Internet, especially during the times in which he would get hits.  The Internet was even going crazy during batting practice in spring training when it was reported that Colon hit a homer that knocked a tree branch off a tree.

On the fateful day of May 7, 2016, at PetCo Park in San Diego, Big Sexy stepped into the box against James Shields with a runner on second and two outs.  Colon belted the 1-1 pitch 365 feet, well past the leftfield wall, for a two-run homer.  The crowd, Internet, and even teammates, went crazy as Colon rounded the bases.  At 42 years, 349 days, Bartolo Colon surpassed Randy Johnson as the oldest player to hit his first career MLB homer.  As Colon finished rounding the bases, SNY announcer Gary Cohen summed up the moment, saying “This is one of the great moments in the history of baseball.”

#4: Tavares, Greiss, Lead Islanders to End Drought

The New York  Islanders entered the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Florida Panthers having not won a playoff series since 1993.  John Tavares and the Islanders were looking to end this drought.  The Islanders would be playing the series without their starting goalie, Jaroslav Halak, who had been sidelined with a groin injury.

Thomas Greiss ended up stepping up in a big way, playing solid goaltending throughout the entire series.  The Islanders, thanks in large part to overtime victories in games 3 and 5, entered game 6 at the Barclays Center with a 3 games to 2 lead in the series.  Jonathon Huberdeau put the Panthers on the board when he scored with just over a minute left in the first period.  It would remain 1-0 going late into the third period.  With a little over a minute left in the period, and the Islanders net empty, it looked as though the Panthers were about to make the empty-net goal, but Vincent Trocheck’s shot was blocked by Nick Leddy, who then brought the puck down the ice, setting up Nikolay Kulemin for s great opportunity.  Kulemin’s shot was stopped by Luongo, but the puck squirted out from under him, allowing Tavares to poke it in for the equalizer with 53.2 seconds remaining in the third period.  The game would remain tied 1-1 after the first overtime period came to a close.  With just over 9 minutes remaining in the second overtime period, Tavares took a wrist shot from deep in the right circle, but was stopped by Luongo.  Tavares picked up his own rebound and wrapped around the net, beating Luongo for the series-clinching victory, ending 23 years of playoff ineptitude.

#3: The Death of Muhammad Ali

When people are asked as to who they believe the greatest boxer who ever lived was, the odds are that most would answer with Muhammad Ali.  Ali was more than just a boxer.  Ali was an advocate for Civil Rights.  He refused to serve in the war with Vietnam after being drafted, citing religious reasons.  He even went on to make social commentary on the war, saying “I got nothing against no Viet Cong.  No Vietnamese ever called me a nigger.”

Ali was known for being very outspoken, even during matches.  He was a wordsmith as well, coming up with many mottos and terms, such as “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and the “Rope a dope” strategy.  Despite being unable to box during his prime years, due to being suspended for refusing to participate in the Vietnam War after being drafted, Ali finished his boxing career with a 56-5 record, with 37 wins by knockout.  He fought in some of the most thrilling matchups, such as the “Thrilla in Manila” against Joe Frazier, often considered the greatest boxing match ever, or the “Rumble in the Jungle” against George Foreman.  Ali won both of these fights.

Unfortunately, boxing took its toll on Ali over the years.  He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome in 1984 as a result of all the blows he took while boxing.  By the time he lit the Olympic torch for the 1996 summer games in Atlanta, Georgia, he was a shadow of the man he once was.  For the rest of his life, he would be constantly shaking as a result of his illness.  The man who would never shut up was barely able to speak in his later years.  The world lost the man known as the greatest on June 3, 2016, at the age of 74. There may never be a more dominant, charitable, and entertaining athlete to live more than Muhammad Ali.

#2: Cleveland Finally Wins a Championship

The city of Cleveland, Ohio is home to many sports teams, including the Browns, Indians, and, of course, the Cavaliers.  However, the city of Cleveland hadn’t had any of their sports teams win a championship since the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964, when they defeated the Baltimore Colts.  Despite being home to LeBron James, arguably the best NBA player since Michael Jordan, even he couldn’t win a title for Cleveland.  Fans became outraged when James announced that he was leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat in 2010, ruining their best hopes at ending their drought.  However, when James returned to the Cavs in 2014 after winning two titles with the Heat, he announced that his goal was to bring a championship to the city of Cleveland.

After losing to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals in 2015, the Cavs were set up with a rematch the following year.  The Cavs were huge underdogs to the Warriors, who went 73-9 in the regular season, the best regular season record ever recorded by an NBA team.  After trailing 3 games to 1, the Cavs went on to win games 5 and 6, forcing a game 7 in the Warriors home wood.  Thanks in large part to a key block by an exhausted LeBron James and a three-pointer by Kyrie Irving late in the game, Cleveland completed their epic comeback with a 93-89 victory, ending the drought in Cleveland.

#1: Joy in Wrigleyville

Every sports fan knows about the how the Chicago Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1908.  The Curse of the Billy Goat is one of the most notorious curses in the history of sports.  The curse was put on the Cubs when a bartender’s goat wasn’t allowed admission to the 1945 World Series.  The Cubs lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers in 7 games.  This was the last time the Cubs were in the World Series.  From  the black cat crossing the Cubs dugout’s path at Shea Stadium as they blew their division lead over the Mets in 1969, to Leon Durham’s error in the 1984 NLCS, to the infamous Steve Bartman incident in the 2003 NLCS, to them getting swept by the Mets in the 2015 NLCS, the Cubs have been within reach multiple times of returning to the Fall Classic, only to choke it away.

Coming into the 2016 season, there were high expectations for the Chicago Cubs.  Led by a solid starting rotation consisting of Jon Lester, 2015 Cy Young award winner Jake Arrietta, and Kyle Hendricks, and bolstered by a strong lineup consisting of players like Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, and 2015 N.L. Rookie of the Year award winner Kris Bryant, the Cubs steamrolled their way to a division title, with a 103-58 season.  The Cubs defeated the Giants in the NLDS in 4 games before beating the Dodgers in the NLCS in 6 games, winning their first pennant since 1945.

The Cubs, like the Cavs, fell behind in the series 3 games to 1 against the Cleveland Indians. After winning game 5 at Wrigley, the Cubs dominated in game 6 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, thanks in large part to a grand slam by Addison Russell.  Game 7 started on a good note for the Cubs, with Dexter Fowler leading off the game with a homer.  The Indians tied it up in the third on an RBI single by Carlos Santana.  However, the Cubs struck right back in the fourth, scoring on a sac fly by Addison Russell and a two-out RBI double by Wilson Contreras.  The Cubs scored two more runs in the fifth, thanks to a homer by Javier Baez and a two-out RBI single by Anthony Rizzo, putting them ahead 5-1.  The Indians answered by scoring twice in the bottom of the fifth on a wild pitch.  The Cubs answered again in the sixth thanks to a solo homer by David Ross in his final game of his career.  However, in the bottom of the eighth, the Indians were able to rally against Aroldis Chapman thanks two a two-out RBI double by Brandon Guyer and a game-tying, two-run homer by Rajai Davis.  The game remained tied 6-6 after 9 innings.  As if the game couldn’t have any more suspense, there was a 15 minute rain delay before the start of the tenth inning. The Cubs were able to pull ahead in the tenth thanks to an RBI double by Ben Zobrist, before tacking on an insurance run on an RBI single by Miguel Montero.  The Indians didn’t go quietly in the bottom of the tenth, scoring once on a Rajai Davis RBI single.  However, the Cubs were finally able to end 108 years of suffering on a groundout by Michael Martinez.  For the first time since 1908, the Cubs were World Series Champions.

10 of the Biggest Sports Moments of 2016: Part 1

Many would agree that 2016 has been a very difficult year.  From all the celebrity deaths to the U.S. presidential election, many people just can’t wait for the year to end.  But through this difficult year came many fascinating moments in the world of sports.  Here are 10 of many notable events that occurred in the world of sports in 2016.

#10: The Rio Olympics

Many were expecting the Olympic Games in Rio to be a disaster, given the troubles facing the country, from pollution in the water to the high crime rates to the fear of the spread of the Zika virus, many athletes were hesitant to participate.  The Olympics went surprisingly well (unless your name was Ryan Lochte).  Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt continued their utter dominance in their respective categories.  Phelps broke an Olympic record dating back over 2,000 years when he won his 13th individual Olympic medal, passing Leonidas of Rhodes for the most by any Olympian.  Leonidas won 12 individual Olympic medals from 164 B.C. to 152 B.C.

Ryan Lochte became one of the most hated Americans when he, along with some swimming teammates, vandalized a gas station bathroom after getting drunk.  He later claimed that he and his friends were robbed at gunpoint.  Shortly after this incident, he got on a plane and went back home to America.  While in America, it was revealed through security footage by the gas station that Lochte was lying.  Lochte’s teammates were detained while they were still in Rio.  Lochte’s lies and his abandonment of his teammates led to him being scorned by many in the world.

#9: A Cespedes for the Rest of us

When Yoenis Cespedes was traded to the Mets at the 2015 trade deadline, nobody would have expected him to carry the team as much as he did.  Cespedes ended up batting .287 while hitting 17 homers while driving in 44 runs in his two months with the Mets.  At one point, there was even talk of him being considered for the N.L. MVP despite the fact that he had only played two months in the N.L.  He quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his clutch hits and ability to perform under the bright lights of New York.  While many Mets fans wanted him back for 2016, the ownership and management didn’t expect to get him.  Luckily for them, Cespedes fell into their laps late in the offseason.  The Mets signed him to a 3 year, $75 million contract with an opt-out after the first year.  Cespedes continued to entertain Mets fans.  In spring training, he made daily headlines thanks to his tricked out rides that he would take to the field.  At one point, he and Noah Syndergaard even rode Cespedes’s horses around the spring training facility.  When the season began, Cespedes was able to prove to fans as well as players around the league that he wasn’t a one-trick pony, batting .280 while hitting 31 homers and driving in 86.  Cespedes was rewarded by the Mets this offseason with a four year, $110 million contract, with a no-trade clause.  Ceaspedes will be sticking around in Flushing for quite awhile.

 

#8: The Rise Of Lugo and Gsellman

Nobody doubted that the Mets starting rotation entering the 2016 season was one of the best, if not, the best in the MLB.  The Mets had Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Bartolo Colon, with Zack Wheeler scheduled to return around July.  Unfortunately, the Mets 2015 run to the World Series appeared to have a hangover effect on many of the pitchers.  Harvey struggled in 2016 before being diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in July.  His season ended when he elected for surgery to fix it shortly after the diagnosis.  Syndergaard and Matz were both diagnosed with bone spurs in their pitching arms, with Matz’s being large and requiring surgery at the end of the season.  While Syndergaard was able to pitch through the season with little to no effect on him from the bone spur, Matz struggled to pitch as well as he did before the diagnosis, as well as to stay healthy.  Matz was eventually shut down in late September.  DeGrom had issues with his velocity early in the season.  While he eventually recovered from this, he was eventually shut down in September when he needed surgery to repair an ulnar nerve.  The 43 year old Colon would end up being the healthiest and most consistent of the Mets starting rotation in 2016.

Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman were eventually brought on to try to replace Harvey and Matz.  From the moment that they joined the rotation, they shined brightly.  Many fans had not even heard of these two pitchers before they were brought in as reinforcements.  Gsellman ended up going 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA while Lugo went 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA since joining the starting rotation.  Both pitchers were key reasons as to why the Mets clinched a playoff birth for a second straight season for only the second time in franchise history despite all of the injuries that the team suffered.

#7: The Sanchize?

Gary Sanchez burst onto the scene with the New York Yankees in 2016 after making his season debut with them in early August.  In 53 games, Sanchez batted .299 with 20 homers and 42 runs batted in.  He tied Wally Berger as the fastest player to hit 20 homers to begin his career, at just 50 MLB appearances.  Yankees fans consider him a catalyst for the upcoming youth movement for the franchise.  The fans and organization hopes that Sanzhez will continue his strong play in 2017, and that some of the other top prospects in the organization can show promise just as Sanchez did in 2016.

 

#6: The Farewell Tours of Kobe and Big Papi

2016 saw the end of an era in Los Angeles and Boston.  Kobe Bryant announced that his 20th season in the NBA, all of which were with the Lakers, would be his last.  Bryant won 5 NBA championships as a member of the Lakers, winning MVP in 2 of the finals.  He was an 18 time NBA all star, including 4 all star game MVP awards.  He won the 2008 NBA MVP award.  Throughout the 2015-16 NBA season, he was greeted cheerfully by opposing players and fans in opposing arenas.  Kobe added to his hall of fame career in his final game when he led the Lakers to a victory over the Utah Jazz by scoring 60 points in the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  He ended his career with one last legendary performance, cemented his status as one of the greatest to ever play the game.

Shortly before the start of the 2016 baseball season, Red Sox star David Ortiz said that this would be his final season.  He then went on to have one of the greatest final seasons by an athlete.  Ortiz batted .315, hitting 38 homers, and leading the league in doubles with 48, runs batted in with 127, slugging percentage at .620, and OPS at 1.021.

In his 14 seasons as a member of the Boston Red Sox, Ortiz was a 10 time all star, 7 time silver slugger award winner, and 3 time World Series Champion, winning World Series MVP in 2013.  Ortiz played a critical role in ending the curse of the Bambino in 2004 when he led the Red Sox to a comeback to beat the Yankees after trailing them 3 games to none in the ALCS.  Ortiz hit the walk-off homer in the 12th inning of game 4 that extended the series, and hit a walk-off single in the 14th inning of game 5.  In the 2004 ALCS, Ortiz became the first DH to win the ALCS MVP award, batting .387 with 3 homers and 11 runs batted in.

Ortiz became the face of the Red Sox franchise in his years there.  It was only fitting that he give a powerful speech in the first Red Sox game at Fenway Park following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013.  He concluded his speech as any Bostonian would- by swearing like a sailor.  He told the fans “This is our fucking city, and no one is going to dictate our freedom.  Stay strong.”  Ortiz and the Red Sox would face off against the Detroit Tigers in the 2013 ALCS.  Ortiz had another dramatic moment in him when he stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the 8th inning of game 2, representing the tying run.  Ortiz belted a game-tying grand slam homer that was just out of reach of the leaping Torii Hunter in right field.  The image of the ball landing in the bullpen and the raised hands and joyous expression of a Boston police officer in the bullpen became very iconic for the city of Boston.  The Red Sox would go on to win the game, and later, the series against the Tigers, before beating the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

David Ortiz established himself as one of the most clutch hitters in postseason history.  He finished his career with a .289 batting average in the playoffs (including a .455 average in 59 plate appearances in the World Series), with 17 homers and 61 runs batted in during the playoffs.  He transformed the Red Sox from a team that was cursed into one of the most dominant franchises of the 21st century.

 

 

Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of this list.

 

Halak Jam in the Net

Many Islander fans have been surprised to hear that the Islanders put Jaroslav Halak on waivers.  While it is no secret that the team has been looking to trade Halak due to the fact that they have three goaltenders on the active roster, this move still comes as a shock.  Halak is a very good goaltender.  Islanders general manager Garth Snow knows that a good goalie would be very valuable to competing teams.  One would assume that rather than just waiving Halak, Snow would at least trade him for talented young forwards or draft picks.

One possibility as to why Halak was waived could be that Snow was having a hard time finding good trade partners.  Many teams may have been turned off by Halak’s contract.  He is owed $4.5 million this year and next year.  Halak also supposedly has a reputation of being a negative presence in the clubhouse, which could explain why the Islanders are the third team he has played for since 2013.  Earlier in the season, Halak’s agent criticized the Islanders organization for carrying three goalies on the roster.  As a result of these comments, the Islanders put Halak on the trade block, but haven’t found any good suitors to their liking.

The Islanders organization thinks very highly of Jean-Francois Berube and Thomas Greiss.  Greiss took over the starting goaltender spot last season after Halak suffered a groin injury that sidelined him for the rest of the regular season.  Greiss ended up playing very well for the Islanders for the rest of the season, including some of his best play occurring in the first round of the playoffs when the Islanders beat the Florida Panthers in 6 games.  Greiss has continued his strong play so far this season, splitting playing time with Halak.

While Halak has been placed on waivers, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the Islanders won’t trade Halak.  In fact, this may increase the likelihood that he gets traded, assuming another team doesn’t claim him first.  Clearly, the organization views Halak as the least valuable of their three goaltenders.  With Halak gone, Berube will be able to get much more playing time behind Greiss.  This will also open a roster spot for the Islanders to add a forward or defenseman.

I strongly believe that Halak should be traded for some young forwards.  The Islanders have been lacking in the scoring department.  While Andrew Ladd has begun playing better, the Islanders are still in need of more forwards that can help move the puck around.  We’ll see if Halak can get the Islanders a player of this caliber.

What Should the Mets do About Their Bullpen?

With spring training less than two months away, the Mets are still in need of bullpen help.  With Jeurys Familia likely being suspended for at least the first 30 games of the season, the Mets are without a setup man since Addison Reed will be stepping in to the closer’s role for Familia.  While Sandy Alderson has expressed a desire to lower the Mets payroll to under $140 million.  As it stands now, the Mets payroll stands at just over $150 million.

It’s no secret that the Mets are currently trying to trade Jay Bruce for a good reliever or good prospect.  This would potentially allow for the Mets to get their payroll under $140 million while also solving their problem with relief.  Unfortunately, Jay Bruce’s value dropped due to the Jason Bay-like performance he had as a member of the Mets when he was acquired at the trade deadline.  However, I believe that his value will rise when the free agency outfield market gets thinner this offseason.  The Mets need to remind potential trade partners that Bruce hit over 30 homers last season while driving in 99.  In addition to this, Bruce will only be 30 years old by early April.  He is in the prime of his career.

I feel that the perfect trade partners for the Mets would either be the Orioles or the White Sox.  I feel the Mets should offer Bruce and Kevin Plawecki to the Orioles for Brad Brach, whom the Mets have already expressed interest in.  I would offer the same two players to the White Sox for David Robertson.  The issue for the Mets with Robertson is that he is making a little more than what Bruce is currently making.  The Mets would have to keep their payroll between $140 and $160 million.  Both the White Sox and Orioles are in need of an outfielder and a long term catcher.  In the White Sox’s case, they could flip Bruce at the deadline for high-level prospects assuming he raises his value.  I feel that, in the White Sox’s case, they could get a lot more at the trade deadline for Jay Bruce than they would for David Robertson.  In the case of Plawecki, while the Mets have just about given up on him, there are still other teams that may believe he can still live up to his potential.  This is evident in the fact that his name was brought up during the winter meetings.

Another option the Mets have for their bullpen would be to try to re-sign Jerry Blevins.  As it stands now, Blevins is demanding a 3-year deal, which Alderson doesn’t want to commit to with a reliever.  If I were Alderson, I would offer Blevins a 2-year deal in the $15-$25 million range.  He may be willing to accept this kind of offer since he doesn’t seem to be valued as highly by other teams due to the fact that he is still on the market.  Many teams, like the Mets, may be reluctant to give Blevins the third year.  I would love for the Mets to be able to hang on to Blevins.  He reminds me a little bit of Pedro Feliciano in that he has the ability to get both lefties and righties out.

As it stands now, it is probable that the Mets would have Zack Wheeler and either Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo pitching the 7th and 8th innings.  While these options aren’t bad, I feel that getting a more accomplished reliever would be a better option.  This would allow for more flexibility for the Mets in the back end of their starting rotation.  The 2016 season taught the Mets that they need as many good starting pitchers with them as they can get.  Gsellman and Lugo played key roles in getting the Mets to the playoffs in 2016.  The Mets may end up asking them to do the same thing again in a different way in 2017 if they can’t fill out the hole in their bullpen from external options.

Turning a new Leef?

While the 2016-17 New York Islanders season has been a disappointment so far this season, one of the few bright spots for the team has been the performance of Anders Lee.  His team-leading 13th goal of the season proved to be the difference last night in the Islanders 4-3 victory over Washington.  While Lee has experienced success in the NHL before, scoring 25 goals in his rookie season in 2014-15, 38 of his  42 points that season occurred during his first 63 games of the season.  Lee, like many of the Islanders current young players, has been very streaky throughout his career.

While it can be argued that Lee is just going through a hot streak right now, scoring 12 of his 13 goals of the season since mid-November, it can also be argued that Lee has changed his approach.  When Lee is at his best, he is usually found right in front of the opposing goaltender, screening them and deflecting shots.  Lately, Lee has been doing this, but he has also been handling the puck much better and getting himself in good positions to score.  His hot hand has been rewarded with some power play time alongside John Tavares.  Lee has 3 power play goals this season, and has been productive since being moved to the Tavares line.

Lee has also been playing with more grit.  Just last night, he fought through a strong check on a one-on-one break and was able to get a strong backhand shot to the net that went just wide of the post.  It is this kind of physical toughness that will allow him to get right in front of opposing goaltenders and be able to deflect shots past them.

If Lee is able to sustain success and prove that this is more than a hot streak, it could allow for the Islanders to finally have another consistently powerful offensive weapon for opposing teams to worry about other than John Tavares.  Maybe Lee’s strong , tough, and gritty playing can be the inspiration the team needs to go on a hot streak, and maybe even a playoff run.