Ravens

Yankees, Cashman pleased with offseason success

Yankees, Cashman pleased with offseason success

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) Brian Cashman feels so good about the Yankees' offseason, he decided to rapel down a building.

After spending the previous few days retaining veteran starting pitchers Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda as well as closer Mariano Rivera, New York's general manager made some practice jumps down the side of Stamford's Landmark Building on Friday. The workout was in advance of a charity event Sunday.

But the talk afterward was on pitching, and Cashman is confident the Yankees are already offseason winners. Pettitte, Kuroda and Rivera were given one-year deals that will cost the Yankees $37 million..

``I think Pettitte is a big thing,'' Cashman said. ``Kuroda was a big thing. I think we're having a successful early campaign to our winter because we've able to retain some high-end, high-caliber starting pitching and if you look at the marketplace, I'm not sure if anyone is doing better than us right now.''

The Yankees won the AL East last season and defeated Baltimore in the division series, then were swept by Detroit in the AL championship series.

``I think that we're doing really well early in the process,'' he said. ``I'm real happy about how our winter program is currently going.''

Cashman is also formulating a plan for next week's winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and that trip will begin after he officially ropes down the 22-story building on Sunday night. This year, for the benefit, he will be joined by former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, a Stamford native.

Cashman is to fly to Nashville on Monday. Among his priorities there will be testing the waters for a new catcher after Russell Martin finalized a $17 million, two-year deal Friday with the Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as filling an expected vacancy in right field as Nick Swisher is likely to head elsewhere.

Martin was offered a $20 million, three-year deal by Cashman in spring training and did not accept it.

``I like Russell Martin,'' Cashman said. ``I'm a big Russell Martin fan. But ultimately we have a lot of holes to fill and we have to be very careful how we spend our money. The market for Russell was aggressive as it should have been and again our focus has been our pitching.

``After that, I've got a lot of different holes to fill. We need to be careful how we allocate our remaining funds to make sure that we can fill all the holes.''

The moves may not be splashy - free-agent outfielder Josh Hamilton, for instance - but Cashman believes that doesn't preclude the Yankees from making a significant move. Cashman said that the catching vacancy could be filled internally, though he might seek an offensive upgrade. He also indicated that finding a right fielder is more of a priority than signing or acquiring a catcher.

``We're capable of doing a lot of different things,'' Cashman said. ``We are not out of the multiyear market. We are not out of thinking big, looking at something big. But despite everything that we have, if you look at our numbers, we can still make certain things work.''

The Yankees haven't been major players in free agency since the 2008-09 offseason. They had the contracts of pitcher Mike Mussina, outfielder Bobby Abreu and first baseman Jason Giambi come off their payroll then, and that enabled them to commit millions to starters CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

``That was perfect timing for us to be aggressive and we can make a lot of things fit,'' Cashman said. ``That scenario still exists despite the limitations, 189 if you want to call it limitations. Even if we did the $189 (million), we still have the highest payroll in baseball and so if you follow the math and look how things can unfold and come off the board and stuff like that, you can see how things can fit.

``We will be aggressive when we want to be, under the right circumstances. But it's in our best interests to stay as flexible as possible given a lot of reasons and that's obviously a big one.''

Shortstop Derek Jeter will enter the final year of a three-year contract that was finalized before Cashman's first appearance at this event in December 2010. Jeter is recovering from a broken left ankle suffered in Game 1 of the ALCS, and Cashman said the healing process is going well.

Even still, Jeter cannot work out until January.

``He had a checkup a few weeks ago in North Carolina and everything is going really well,'' Cashman said. ``He's going to be ready for us by opening day. He'll be a restricted player early in camp but all indications are very strong for a healthy recovery.''

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Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

Baltimore Ravens Week 6 awards after shutout win over Titans

The Baltimore Ravens went into the Tennessee Titans' home and completely robbed them in a 21-0 shutout win.

Here are the players and plays that stood out from the afternoon.

PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME: Ravens Defense

The Ravens defense had a historic afternoon recording a franchise-record 11 sacks. Yup, you read that right. 11 sacks.

Za'Darius Smith led the way with three, followed by Patrick Onwuasor with two and Matthew Judon, Terrell Suggs, Tony Jefferson, Kenny Young, Anthony Levine Sr. and Chris Wormley with one apiece. The 11 sacks tied for the second most by a team in league history and the most in a game since 2012.  It was so historic, the Ravens changed their Twitter name to included 11 S's. 

But that wasn't the only impressive part of the Ravens' afternoon. Marcus Mariota was limited to 10 completions and the defense allowed just 51 passing yards  —  the fewest in franchise history  — and 55 rushing yards. The Titans finished the afternoon 1-for-10 on third down as well.

With the shutout, the Ravens defense cemented its place as one of the NFL's most elite units in 2018. A win that must have been extra sweet after a 12-9 overtime loss to the Browns the week prior and with former defensive coordinator Dean Pees staring back from the opposite sideline. The Ravens remain the only NFL team to not allow a second-half touchdown this season. 

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE GAME: Michael Crabtree

After dropping what would have been the game-winning touchdown Week 5 against the Browns, Michael Crabtree said his priority this week was to get back into the lab and correct his mistakes. Out the gate, the veteran receiver stayed true to his word finishing the Ravens' first drive catching three passes for 52 yards and one touchdown. Earlier in the week, Joe Flacco had faith his receiver would get over the hump of six drops in five games and was willing to stand by him until it happened.

"Besides just trying to give him the confidence that, you know, I'm still going his way when he calls for it and I still believe that it's going to be the difference...it's something that he'll definitely get over," Flacco said.

The patience worked as Crabtree finished the day with six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown leading all Ravens receivers.

But more importantly, the relationship between Crabtree and Flacco continues to grow.

"That’s trust. That’s what you need in football, you know," Crabtree said postgame. "Quarterback, receiver relationship. It’s only going to get better. It’s all about how much time you put in, how much work you put in. I’m new; this is my first year here so I got to do what I got to do."

STAT OF THE GAME: Flacco makes his way into the history books

With 25 completions Sunday against the Titans, Flacco became the third different quarterback in NFL history to complete 25 or more passes in nine consecutive games, per the NFL's communication department. Drew Brees sits atop the list with 11 and 10 consecutive games followed by Peyton Manning with nine. Flacco finished the 21-0 win 25-for-37 with 238 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

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Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

Wizards' preseason showed how Jeff Green can help bench score from inside and out

When Mike Scott left to join the L.A. Clippers, the Wizards replaced him as the backup power forward with Jeff Green and in doing so found a guy who is similar in many ways, albeit for a cheaper price. He is experienced, versatile offensively and even a local guy who roots for the Redskins.

Where they differ on the offensive end is the ways they like to score. Scott is more of a three-point threat, while Green is more comfortable operating in the post. 

Last season with the Wizards, Scott attempted only a third of his shots from less than 10 feet, while Green took 54.2 of his attempts from that range. Nearly a third of Green's shots (30.3) came within five feet of the rim.

Green's ability to score inside and with his back to the basket may end up complementing others in the Wizards' second unit quite well. Three-point shooting is more important than ever in today's NBA and his ability to draw the defense inside can open up the floor for others like Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers.

The Wizards did not have anyone on their bench last season with Green's level of skill in the post and Green showed in the preseason a willingness to pass from the paint.

Against the Knicks in the Wizards' fourth preseason game, Green had the ball in the post when he noticed Satoransky's defender was moving closer inside, perhaps anticipating a rebound. He fired the ball to Satoransky, who pump-faked a three and dribbled to his right before knocking down a jumper at the top of the key.

"It's just smart basketball. There are a lot of unselfish guys," Green said of the Wizards' bench. "I think we just work well together. We feed off each other. I think we know how to play the right way."

Satoransky led the Wizards with a 46.5 three-point percentage last season. He knocked down 51.2 percent off catch-and-shoot plays. Rivers shot 37.8 percent from three last year for the Clippers and 37.1 percent on catch-and-shoot looks.

Oubre shot only 34.1 percent overall from three, but that number dropped significantly towards the end of the year. He can get hot from three and is dangerous when cutting to the basket off the ball. Ian Mahinmi, though not highly skilled in the post, can make defenders pay for leaving him on double teams.

It's not only about threes for Rivers and Satoransky, as Satoransky showed on that one play in New York. Both are solid at catch-and-gos. Rivers is decisive and quick and Satoranksy has made noticeable strides since he entered the league and taking off once he gets a pass. 

Green, 32, is still learning their strengths.

"I try to use their attributes to our advantage and creating what I can create," Green said. "If they can shoot and I'm being doubled, I'm going to make the right play and get it to the shooter."

The Wizards made upgrading their bench a big priority this offseason and the net result may be the most versatile group they have had in years. They can shoot threes, run the floor and, with Green in the mix, work inside and out.

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