With Black Friday upon us, the shopping season has officially been ushered in.
There might be a bit more of a reliance on buying our holiday gifts online rather than in-store, but ’tis the season for thinner wallets; all for the people we love.
For New York’s professional sports teams, a lengthy list of wants and needs would make Black Friday shopping pretty easy — if only their desires were found on the shelves.
Alas, that’s not the case. But the top decision-makers at each of the eight professional teams could make some key purchases or investments in the near future to turn the fortunes of their teams around.
Here is one thing (or player) to buy for each franchise on Black Friday:
Mets- George Springer
The Mets have a bevy of needs to fulfill this offseason ranging from starting pitching and bullpen help to a true No. 1 catcher behind the plate. While they are expected to be major players in the free-agency market, the depth of talents available is a bit more plentiful on the mound or behind the plate as compared to what is available in center field.
George Springer is far and away the best natural center fielder available for a Mets team that hasn’t had a well-rounded option patrolling the position since Carlos Beltran. Granted, starter Trevor Bauer or catcher JT Realmuto would be impressive consolation prizes, too.
Yankees- Starting pitching
The Yankees are one of Major League Baseball’s powerhouses, yet their Achilles heel — starting pitching — continues to derail their all-elusive quest for championship No. 28. Gerrit Cole was initially believed to be the arm to put the Yankees over the top, but depth is needed to create a well-rounded rotation behind the ace.
Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton are free agents while Luis Severino’s health will be a question mark. Bauer would certainly be an option along with Tampa Bay Rays ace Blake Snell, who has suddenly been made available for trade.
Giants- Help for James Bradberry
When looking back at the most successful Giants teams, a stifling defense was always an overarching theme. This year’s Giants are nowhere near that, but a pass rush that has struggled mightily for years now currently ranks a respectable 12th in the league in sacks.
While their run defense is sixth-best in football, their pass defense is 11th-worst and a lot of it derives from the uncertainty at the cornerback position behind the sterling James Bradberry, who has impressed during his first season with the Giants.
Jets- A new head coach
You could jot down almost any position — both on and off the field — and the 0-10 New York Jets would probably need an upgrade. But if the Jets do the somewhat impossible and go 0-16, they’ll have an opportunity to draft a generational talent in Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Hopefully, for them, head coach Adam Gase will be out of the picture as he has only derailed quarterbacks that he’s worked with; most recently Sam Darnold, whose days with Gang Green could be numbered after just three seasons.
The Rangers’ rebuild has been catapulted by the signing of Artemi Panarin and the drafting of Alexis Lafreniere with the No. 1 overall pick this summer. Their offense is one of the most fearsome units in hockey on its day and Igor Shesterkin is widely regarded as the second coming of Henrik Lundqvist. Their defense, however, leaves plenty to be desired.
Often leaving their goalies out to dry, the Rangers allowed 222 goals in 70 games last season. Only seven teams in the NHL allowed more. If they shore up the blue line, this is a scary team.
Islanders- A sniper
Their defense is among the best in the league and their goaltending situation only bolsters that with Semyon Varlamov set to mentor the highly-touted Ilya Sorokin. But the Islanders still need that front-line scorer that can add the extra offensive punch needed to get them to that next level as Stanley Cup contenders.
Their run to the Eastern Conference Final this summer was memorable, but the team lacked the firepower to properly keep up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Finding a first-line scorer looks to be out of the question considering the team’s cap situation and in-house needs to address, but finding a sniper that can at least boost an inconsistent power play would do wonders.
You can’t buy this in stores, or with money, but it’s something that Knicks fans need just a bit more of and the media should probably practice, too.
Leon Rose has built a young core to build the team on that — at least on paper — doesn’t look poised to challenge for the postseason. That suddenly has people speculating the fit of first-year head coach Tom Thibodeau, who has been labeled as a “win-now” kind of coach. It’s a silly notion to suggest a problem could be brewing there considering the veteran boss knew what he was getting into when signing up to coach the Knicks.
RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson have shown promise. Obi Toppin could be something special, too. Just hold on a bit longer and wait for Rose’s plan to really start taking shape.
Nets- James Harden
Is this a legitimate possibility? I don’t know.
Is this the smartest thing for the Nets to do? Probably not, considering the assets they would have to give up to acquire the Houston Rockets’ superstar.
For selfish reasons, however, who wouldn’t love to see a “Big 3” of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden?
When it’s right, the basketball would be some of the best the city has seen in 30 years. When it’s not right, we could see the kind of drama that will fill the tabloids and have Brooklyn buzzing.