With the signing of Asante Samuel, the Eagles have a full secondary. They have three quality cornerbacks, and only two can be starters. Lito Sheppard may be the odd one out, according to NFL Network. Rumors are circulating that the Eagles are fielding calls for Sheppard, although there is no word on what teams are interested, and what they would have to offer.
Don't count on Larry Fitzgerald, but the Eagles could get quite a haul for the two-time Pro Bowler. I wouldn't mind seeing Lito stay, as that would give the Eagles the best secondary in the league. He would only make 2 million next year, so moving him wouldn't free much money up. If the Eagles are blown away with a deal, of course, they should pull the trigger.
Friday, February 29, 2008
With the signing of Asante Samuel, the Eagles have a full secondary. They have three quality cornerbacks, and only two can be starters. Lito Sheppard may be the odd one out, according to NFL Network. Rumors are circulating that the Eagles are fielding calls for Sheppard, although there is no word on what teams are interested, and what they would have to offer.
Randy Moss has been a free agent for almost a full day. He reportedly is not happy with the deal that the Patriots are offering him, so he has begun listening to other teams. Even though he seems happy to be a Patriot, Moss feels like he is worth more than the Pats are offering him.
Should the Eagles pursue? First of all, the Eagles must figure out if they can afford another hefty contract. After signing Asante Samuel to a huge deal, can the Eagles afford to pay another top free agent? Not likely. That is also why the Larry Fitzgerald trade situation won't pan out. You can't allow two players to take up 20% of your cap space and expect to field a competitive team. If the Eagles signed another free agent to a 8 or 9 million dollar contract, massive cuts would have to take place.
Of course, there is the question as to whether the Eagles would want to deal with Randy Moss. Moss seems to have changed his attitude since joining the Patriots, but that is probably due to all the winning and the numbers he was putting up. Moss feels like the Patriots are trying to sign him on the cheap right now, and he thinks he should get paid coming off a record-breaking season. Although I anticipate the Eagles being a good team next year, if they were to sign him, then somehow struggled and Moss wasn't getting enough catches, we could have a T.O. situation on our hands. This team can't handle something like that again.
Don't count on Randy Moss being an Eagle. While he would be a phenomenal player for the Birds, and he and McNabb would put up amazing numbers, he is not financially nor behaviorally an option. He would cost too much, and the potential problems would not be worth the trouble. Let's just hope that Moss doesn't sign with the Cowboys, because him teaming up with T.O. would be scary good. Maybe we shouldn't worry, though, because we do have the secondary that could handle that if it should happen!
With all the Eagles news today, it’s easy to overlook the other Philly sports teams. The Sixers made a small move today, waiving Gordan Giricek. Giricek was acquired from the Utah Jazz in the Kyle Korver trade, and never really made much of an impression with the team. He only played in 12 games with the Sixers and averaged 3.1 points per game. There is talk that Giricek will sign with another team, possibly the Suns, for the remainder of the season.
Giricek was never supposed to be much of a contributor, but this move does make the Kyle Korver deal look a little worse. I know that the move was all about freeing up cap space, but it would have been nice to get a usable player in return. When acquired, Giricek was hyped up as an above average shooter, but he never got the chance to show it in limited minutes.
What has Korver done since the trade? Upon arrival in
The Sixers currently have no three point shooters on their squad, so they will need to address that in the offseason. Hopefully that shooter won’t end up costing them more than they gained in cap space from the Korver trade.
The Eagles are answering Donovan McNabb's call for playmakers. After hours of speculation, the Eagles have finally signed Asante Samuel to a contract. The deal, pending a physical, is reportedly worth 54 million over six years, which is actually a little more affordable than was originally speculated.
Samuel is an instant difference maker on the defensive side of the ball. While I am not crazy about the Eagles using this much money on one player, this definitely shows their commitment to winning. The Eagles appear to be gearing up for a return into the upper echelon of teams in the NFL, and this move shows they are willing to spend the money it takes to get star players. It is a change of philosophy over their recent offseasons, where they have shied away from the big name players.
Landing arguably the best free agent available is a major coup for the Eagles, but what happens next may be even more important. They appear to be set on the defensive side of the ball after they sign defensive end Chris Clemons, but what will they do on offense? McNabb will need at least one more weapon, and since it appears Larry Fitzgerald is no longer an option, who will it be? Is there still an interest in Javon Walker?
It's not a big loss, but former Eagle Thomas Tapeh signed a contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He will re-join former Eagle Offensive Coordinator and current Viking Head Coach Brad Childress.
The Eagles had no interest in re-signing Tapeh, who had been with the Eagles since 2004. They will be looking to sign, acquire or draft a new fullback.
It looks like the Eagles are making more moves on the defensive side of the ball. The Eagles are reportedly going to sign free agent defensive end/linebacker Chris Clemons. Clemons started his career with the Redskins, and played for the Raiders last season. He had a career year last year, accumulating 8 sacks. It appears that Clemons will be the guy that replaces Jevon Kearse at defensive end.
Also in the article linked to above, it reports that the Eagles have inquired about Larry Fitzgerald, but found the Cardinals asking price to be too high. The Eagles look to be loading up on defense, what will they do to address the offense?
Two reports from ProFootballtalk.com this morning:
Larry Fitzgerald won't be traded The guy Philly fans want the most is probably not an option. ProFootballtalk.com says that Fitzgerald won't be traded because the Cardinals don't want to and no team would want to take on his huge salary. Even though Garry Cobb is reporting it like it's a fact, I think the dream scenario of trading Lito Sheppard for Fitzgerald is out the window at this point. There is no way the Eagles can afford to take on Fitzgerald's contract if they sign Asante Samuel to a 10 million plus dollar contract.
Donovan McNabb expects to be back We all assumed this by now, but McNabb went on ESPN radio and confirmed that he expects to be back with the Birds next year. McNabb said it "would be a shock" if he didn't play for the Eagles in 2008. I think at this point, with the Eagles getting ready to sign a premium free agent, the Eagles will need McNabb next year. It would make little sense to sign top talent on defense and then go with an unproven quarterback on offense.
Looks like the lure of going home might drive free agent Safety Gibril Wilson back to the Bay Area. Wilson, who was born in San Jose, is close to signing a deal with the Oakland Raiders. The deal is reportedly worth around 6 million per year.
Wilson had been closely linked with the Eagles for the past several days, but with the Eagles prepared to break the bank with Asante Samuel, there wouldn't be room for both in the same secondary. Of course, I would have preferred the Eagles save a little money and sign Wilson, who is nearly as good as Samuel. They could have saved around 4 million a year if they signed Wilson, and that money could have gone to a playmaker on offense or a defensive end to replace the recently released Jevon Kearse.
Nothing is official yet, so we will have to wait and see what happens next.
We are about an hour into the NFL free agency period, and there have been no Eagle signings announced as of yet. However, ProFootballtalk.com and Fox Sports are reporting that the Eagles will meet with Asante Samuel in Philadelphia on Friday. My guess is if the Eagles really want him, he won't be leaving town without a contract.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
A few days ago, the Eagles appeared to have the inside track to sign free agent Asante Samuel. Then, the Saints were the rumored destination for the Pro Bowler. Now, as free agency is about to begin, the Eagles appear to have the inside track again.
According to GCobb.com, whose site has crashed, the Eagles have a verbal deal in place to sign Samuel. ProFootballtalk.com confirms the story, however they warn that nothing is set in stone until Samuel actually signs the contract. The site reminds us of LeCharles Bentley back in 2006, who the Eagles thought they had a verbal deal with, only to watch him sign with the Browns.
We should get word within a few hours that will confirm or deny this report. Part of me hopes that the Eagles don't shell out the dough for Samuel, and instead use it wisely on a few other solid players.
No one cares about the outcome of exhibition games, but they are useful for veterans to get tuned up for the season, and for rookies to get used to big league opponents. The Phillies lost 11-6 to the Pirates today, and while a few veterans are showing they might already be prepared, one rookie floundered.
Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the exhibition season and Pedro Feliz got two more hits to bring his average up to a lofty .800. The Phillies starters had another big inning, netting five runs in the third inning. Kyle Kendrick started the game and did respectable, giving up one run in three innings.
The Phils number one pick in the draft last year, Joe Savery, didn't do as well in his debut. Savery gave up five runs in his one inning of work. He showed that he has some quality stuff, as he managed to strike out two batters in his one inning, but if a pitcher gives up five runs in one frame against the Pirates, they aren't ready for the big leagues. We can rule him out as an option for the No. 5 starter spot this year.
The Phillies play two games tomorrow against the Pirates. Their number one starter Brett Myers is scheduled to pitch one game, while J.D. Durbin will pitch the other.
The Eagles made two minor moves as they prepare themselves for free agency. Safety and kick returner J.R. Reed was re-signed to a one year contract, and corner Joselio Hanson was tendered an offer sheet worth 1.47 million for next year. Other teams have seven days to make an offer to Hanson, which the Eagles can match. If the Eagles choose not to match an offer, they would receive a second round pick as compensation.
The moves are small, but somewhat significant. J.R. Reed will be trying to make the club as a returner again next year. The Eagles should be looking to bring in some competition for him, and I had heard the name Andre Davis brought up as a possibility, although he just re-signed with the Texans. Bringing Hanson back would provide some depth in the secondary. Hanson finished last season as the third (nickel) cornerback, but hopefully he is being planned on as nothing more than a fourth next year.
It's worth noting that if the Eagles pay Hanson 1.47 million, that is already more than half of the money the saved from cutting Kearse.
As was speculated, Jevon Kearse has been cut by the Philadelphia Eagles. Cutting him clears up cap space for the Eagles to pursue some top fee agents.
According to Philly.com, cutting Kearse gives the Eagles about 2.5 million more in cap space. Kearse has a contract worth 6.5 million, but cutting him is a 4 million dollar penalty against the cap.
On the field, losing Kearse doesn't effect the Eagles too much, although they will likely be looking to sign or draft another defensive end for their rotation next season.
Read my previous post on Kearse for more of my take on this situation.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
We are almost ready to move out of speculation mode and into some real signings, but here is another rumor courtesy of Derrick Gunn of Comcast Sportsnet. The Broncos are likely to release oft-injured Javon Walker, and the Eagles are looking into signing the veteran wide receiver. Other teams who might be interested in Walker are two division rivals, the Cowboys and Redskins.
Walker is not a big time receiver along the lines of a Larry Fitzgerald or Randy Moss, but he would be just the type of moderately priced talent with lots of upside that the Eagles could bring in. Walker has a history of injuries, with ACL and knee problems causing him to miss numerous games in the last few years. Walker played in eight games last year, and only had 26 catches. In his last full season in 2006, Walker had 69 catches for 1,084 yards. In 2005, Walker only played in one game.
The Eagles better bring Walker in for a full physical before they consider signing him. If healthy, he would be a great option for Donovan McNabb. However, he is just as likely to get hurt again and miss significant time.
Free agency finally starts Friday, so the time for talk and speculation is about to be over. The Eagles have room under the cap to make a couple of moves, but they should proceed with caution. Just because they have money to spend, doesn't mean they should spend it recklessly on whatever talent is out there. I am sure the Eagles are evaluating their needs, and they have identified several options that can be had at reasonable prices. Let's hope they have more success in free agency this year than they have in the past few offseasons.
The team I proclaimed as the lone bright spot in Philly sports just keeps on winning. The Sixers beat the Orlando Magic 101-89 for their 8th win in their last 10 games. The outcome was never in doubt, as the Sixers had a 20 point lead as early as the second quarter. The win also moves the Sixers past the idle Nets and into the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Sixers were finally able to beat the Magic, who they lost to twice earlier in the season, behind another all-around effort by Andre Miller. I am beginning to sound like a broken record, but this guy can fill up the box score with the best of them. He finished with 26 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds. The Sixers look very smart for not moving Miller at the trade deadline. He is the kind of veteran presence that is beneficial to have on a team as young as this one.
The only negative for the Sixers was how bad the bench looked tonight. Rodney Carney, Reggie Evans, Calvin Booth and Louis Williams shot a combined 2 for 16, and managed only 10 points. Evans played a good hustle game so he is excused, but the Sixers need better play from their second team.
Up next for the Sixers is a trip to the Bay Area for a matchup with the Golden State Warriors.
A couple of quick news items about the Flyers as they gear up for tomorrow's game with the Ottawa Senators, who surprisingly just fired their coach.
*Holmgren hints more was in the works Flyers GM Paul Holmgren was on WIP yesterday and hinted that on Deadline Day the Flyers had a more significant deal on the table that fell through. Holmgren would not confirm who he was after, but he did say it was an option he will look to revisit in the offseason. It is possible that Holmgren was working on a deal for Olli Jokinen, Brian Campbell or Brad Richards, and he will try to sign or acquire them in the offseason.
*Modry Out It didn't take long for Jaroslav Modry to fit in with the rest of this banged up club. He will be out for 1 to 2 weeks with a rotator cuff strain.
*Denis Gauthier Up? There is talk that defenseman Denis Gauthier will be called up to replace Modry. This is a tricky move because Gauthier would have to clear waivers before re-joining the Flyers. He could easily be claimed and the Flyers would have to look to someone else to fill in on the blueline.
*Brian Boucher Era Ends, Again Former playoff hero Brian Boucher, who had been playing with the Phantoms, was given away to the San Jose Sharks, who have guaranteed him an NHL contract. The Flyers want to give the goaltender a chance to play for an NHL team again, so they didn't ask for anything in return. Boucher played for the Flyers from 1999 to 2002. He was originally traded in 2002 to the Phoenix Coyotes for Michael Handzus and Robert Esche. That turned out to be quite a deal for the Flyers.
The Phillies started off their quest for the 2008 World Series in strong fashion by defeating the Reds 8-1 in their first Grapefruit League game. The Phillies showed off their offense by scoring seven runs in the 5th inning, led by a Greg Dobbs 3-run homerun. On the pitching side, Jamie Moyer started the game and gave up only one hit in three innings, while Rule 5 pickup Travis Blackley followed and also gave up only one hit in three innings.
The Phillies sported their probable opening day line-up, which was very similar to last years order, except with Geoff Jenkins batting 6th and Pedro Feliz batting 7th. The Phillies were allowed to use a DH, so Wes Helms batted 8th to start the game.
Of course preseason games mean absolutely nothing, but it is always nice to come out of the gate with a convincing win. The Phillies offense should be a force all season long, they just need the pitching to be this effective when the real games start.
The Phils next game is tomorrow, against the Pirates. Kyle Kendrick will get the start, unless the Phillies trade him to Japan again. Joe Savery, a first round pick last season, will also pitch. It should be interesting to see how he does against major league hitters.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
According to ProFootballTalk.com, Asante Samuel has agreed to a deal with the New Orleans Saints. The Saints and Samuel have reportedly verbally agreed to a deal that would pay Samuel the 10 million dollars plus per year that he wants. The former Patriot, who the Eagles have been rumored to be interested in, can't officially sign a contract with the Saints until free agency begins in a few days, so nothing is set in stone.
This could be good news for the Birds. Signing Samuel would eat up a huge chunk of the Eagles salary cap space and might not allow them to fill other holes. This could lead to the Eagles signing a guy like Gibril Wilson, who Rotoworld predicts the Birds will sign, and also be able to get a few other playmakers on offense.
It looks like Brett Myers will go from closer to number one starter. In a somewhat surprising move, the Phillies announced that Myers will be their starting pitcher on Opening Day against the Nationals. Most people assumed that Cole Hamels would start on Opening Day because he is widely considered the Phillies best pitcher. Analyzing the rotation it becomes clear that making Myers the first pitcher in the rotation allows the Phillies to alternate their lefties and righties a little more. Putting lefty Cole Hamels as the second pitcher and lefty Jamie Moyer as the fourth allows the Phillies to play with the match-ups a little more, and it breaks up the right-handed pitching.
This could also be a question of loyalty. Charlie Manuel could be showing Myers that he appreciates the way Myers put the team first in making the move from a closer to a starter. This will also be the second year in a row that Myers is the Opening Day starter for the Phils.
Beerleaguer has a great take on this situation, and points out that this will actually give Cole Hamels the ball in some key games in the first month, including a possible matchup against Johan Santana and the Mets.
*Minor Move The Phillies also claimed infielder Ray Olmedo off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates. There is no way this guy is going to make the team, so he will be an emergency call-up that will stay in AAA most of the year. Baseball Prospectus describes Olmedo as a marginal utility infielder.
The NHL trade deadline is always a crazy day filled with numerous swaps of big name talent, and today was no exception. There were 25 total trades, with 45 players changing teams. Some big names were moved, including Brian Campbell, Brad Richards and Marian Hossa.
The Flyers were not one of the teams that made a big splash. After acquiring Vinny Prospal last night, the Flyers were not a participant on deadline day. It wasn't for a lack of effort, however, as GM Paul Holmgren said the team looked for a top defenseman, but after Brian Campbell was moved to the Sharks, there weren't any left. The Flyers also were looking into dealing for another former player, Ruslan Fedotenko, but nothing got done there.
I would say it is a slight disappointment that the Flyers were unable to land another defenseman, especially given the health issues they are having now that Jaroslav Modry suffered an injury against Buffalo yesterday. It isn't a huge shock that the Flyers stood pat, because it made very little sense to make any move that would hurt the Flyers in the long run. This team is a few years away from playing its best hockey, so there was no reason to go for broke this year. Jeff Carter was the player that every team wanted, and with the way he stepped up in the Buffalo game, now was not the time to move him.
So who were the big winners of the day? With the exception of the Flyers, every other team within the Atlantic Division made a deal, with the Penguins making by far the biggest move. The Penguins got Marian Hossa, but had to give up a ton of young talent and a first round pick. The Penguins also acquired defenseman Hal Gill. The Devils made the first move of the day, which turned out to be their last, acquiring defenseman Bryce Salvador from the Blues. The Rangers made two minor deals, picking up Christian Backman in a deal with the Blues, and picking up three young guys, Fredrik Sjostrom, David Leneveu and Josh Gratton from the Coyotes. The Rangers gave up their former goalie of the future, the 6th overall pick in the 2004 draft, Al Montoya. The Islanders did a bit of selling, giving up Chris Simon and Marc-Andre Bergeron for draft picks. They also picked up Rob Davison from the Sharks.
The Penguins pickup of Hossa makes them the favorite in the Atlantic Division, and maybe even in the entire Eastern Conference. He is a tremendous talent, and putting him with Malkin and Crosby makes for a scary offensive punch in Pittsburgh. None of the rest of the moves the Atlantic Division teams made will have a major impact. Across the rest of the league, the Sharks and Stars made the other two impact moves, with the Sharks getting Brian Campbell and the Stars acquiring Brad Richards.
The Flyers sat back while a flurry of moves were made today. In the short term, the team may continue to struggle, but in the long term, not giving up their youth or draft picks will be a great benefit to Flyers teams for years to come.
The trade deadline is starting to kick into high gear. The Flyers had been rumored to be interested in Brad Richards, but the Dallas Stars have jumped in an acquired him.
Richards is likely the biggest name that will get traded at the deadline. With Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle and Alex Tanguay all refusing to be moved, and Dan Boyle signing an extension with the Lightning, there are few other superstar talents out there to be had. I will be happy if the Flyers can get one more defenseman with some solid upside, like Ryan Suter.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Welcome back, Vinny! After finally notching a win, the Flyers got more good news, as they announced they had acquired former Flyer Vaclav Prospal from the Tampa Bay Lightning for minor league defenseman Alexandre Picard and a draft pick. Prospal was in a feud with the Lightning coaches over his playing time, so the Flyers might have gotten a bargain. Here is a hilarious interview he did after a recent Lightning game:
Prospal has 29 goals and 28 assists in 62 games this year. His 29 goals are 6 more than any other Flyer has scored this season. Prospal was originally drafted by the Flyers, and played 2 1/2 seasons with them before being traded to Ottawa for the lousy Alexandre Daigle.
The move for Prospal came out of the need for more healthy bodies, and it shows the Flyers won't sit tight at the trade deadline. Now if they could just go out and get a defenseman......
Danny Briere got the last laugh. After being booed all evening by the Buffalo fans that used to root for the former Sabre, Briere scored the clinching goal in the shootout to lead the Flyers to a 4-3 victory over the Sabres. The loss finally stops the Flyers 10 game losing streak.
It was a great come from behind win for the Flyers, who were down 3-0 in the first period and looked clueless. The defense played sloppy and gave the Sabres a ton of chances. The Flyers didn't give up like they had so many times during their losing streak, though. They showed their resiliency with goals by Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell that made the score 3-2 at the end of the first period. A goal by R.J. Umberger in the third period forced overtime. After a scoreless overtime, Briere won the shootout with a slick double move, and the celebration began. To see the goal, plus highlights from the rest of the game, click here.
The game really turned on the play of Carter and Umberger. Every time they were on the ice, they made plays and both had a ton of good scoring opportunities. Amidst all the trade rumors, I hope this effort by Carter proves that he should stay with the club.
With the NFL free agency period beginning Thursday, the rumors continue to fly. It seems like nearly every big name player who might be available has been linked with the Eagles at some point. Let's sort through the latest rumors:
*Asante Samuel ready to sign? Definitely the hottest name out there, a number of sources are reporting that the Eagles will sign Samuel, with Peter King of Sports Illustrated reporting the deal will be around 5 years, 55 million. King warns that the Eagles might be making a mistake signing Samuel to such a large deal, however. He points out that Samuel is a finesse corner who doesn't like contact. King also says he was exposed by the Giants in the Superbowl when the Patriots couldn't get pressure on Eli Manning. The Jets have reportedly dropped out of the running, so besides the Eagles, the only other team rumored to be willing to spend the money it would take to get Samuel is the Saints.
*Gibril Wilson in the mix I posted on him earlier in the day, and if the Eagles want a cheaper option that will be productive in their system, Wilson is their guy.
*Lito Sheppard to the Patriots? With the parting of Asante Samuel, the Patriots will need some secondary help, and rumors are floating that the Pats want Lito Sheppard. This doesn't make much sense to me, because Lito wants a new deal, and if the Patriots aren't willing to pay Samuel, why would they want to give Lito a big contract?
*Guard Alan Faneca a possibility? Although not a playmaker, I am sure Donovan McNabb would welcome this guy to the Eagles. According to SI.com, the Eagles might be interested in signing the top guard on the market, Alan Faneca. If they signed him, Jon Runyan would probably be released, and Shawn Andrews would move to tackle. Although I would hate to see Runyan go, this makes sense if the Eagles need to clear up more cap space.
*Javon Walker to the 'Boys? He was rumored to be a trade possibility for the Eagles, but it looks like a division rival might snatch him up. The Cowboys are working on a deal that will bring Walker to Dallas, costing them only a fifth round pick.
*Chad Johnson to the 'Skins? Another division rival, the Redskins, are looking to swing a trade for Johnson. Of course, the Bengals have been denying that they will trade him at all.
So, it looks like the Eagles will get some secondary help, possibly signing either Samuel or Wilson. But, what receivers will they go after? It might take a trade to get a player of any significance, as the free agent options are pretty slim. Expect rumors to continue to swirl right up until the start of free agency.
Well, so much for a return to Philadelphia. In what might make Flyers fans breathe a sigh of relief, the Colorado Avalanche signed Peter Forsberg for the remainder of the season. The oft-injured forward will attempt to make his comeback on the team that he began his NHL career with.
This is a fitting end to this story. Most Flyers fans were initially excited about the possibility of Forsberg returning, but as time went on, and it became clear that Forsberg was far from healthy, they began to sour on the idea. At this point, with all of the issues the Flyers have, a hobbled Forsberg wasn't going to be their savior. Let the Avalanche deal with the daily issues as to whether he will play, and how many shifts his foot will be able to take.
It would have been nice to have the Peter Forsberg of three years ago back in Philly. Too bad that's not the Foppa that will be playing with the Avalanche this year.
The rumor wheel just keeps on turning. The Eagles have long been rumored to be pursuing Asante Samuel, but with his astronomical price tag, they may look to a more feasible option. Speculation from today's Philadelphia Inquirer says that the Eagles will make a strong attempt to sign Giants Safety Gibril Wilson.
Wilson is much less flashy than Samuel, but he is probably the better fit. Wilson is especially attractive to the Eagles because he knows Jim Johnson's defensive system, as the Giants ran it last year. The Eagles will also need someone to replace Brian Dawkins very soon, and Wilson could be that guy. More importantly, he is in the Eagles price range, meaning he could be had for much less than Samuel.
Gibril Wilson might make more sense for the Eagles, and he won't break the bank. If the Eagles really want to get a solid receiver and a good secondary guy, then a cheaper option like Wilson is the way to go. Asante Samuel would look great in an Eagles uniform, but not for the amount of money he wants.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Not that he was going to be a Flyer anyway, but the hottest commodity at the NHL trade deadline is now off the table. Mats Sundin of the Toronto Maple Leafs refused to waive his no trade clause, meaning he will stay with Toronto for the remainder of the season. It was widely speculated that Sundin, who will be a free agent after this year, would be traded to a contender and then re-sign with the Maple Leafs for next season. I actually really respect Sundin for this decision, he is showing an old school attitude in that he wants to finish his career with the team he started with.
This means little to the Flyers, because they were never interested in him. What it does mean is that all the teams in the Sundin sweepstakes will turn their attention to Brad Richards, who the Flyers were rumored to have an interest in. This will drive up his price, making it even more unlikely that he will end up in Philly.
This is shaping up to be a crazy trade deadline in the NHL. We know the Flyers will make some kind of move, but what will it be?
We can all exhale now. Following knee surgery, Brad Lidge will be out 3 to 6 weeks, meaning he might still be ready for opening day. The Phillies should still have a back-up plan ready, just in case Lidge takes a few weeks to get his velocity back. Tom Gordon will do as a temporary replacement, but like I said yesterday, if it's any longer than a few weeks, we won't be able to count on Flash.
Despite this good news, signing either another reliever who could close in a pinch, or another starter so Brett Myers can be moved back into the bullpen, would be the smart, safe move at this point. I doubt the Phillies will spend the extra money to make it happen.
So Mike Richards went down, he'll be out three weeks with a torn hamstring. These are the types of kick-us-when-we're-down injuries that seem to only happen in Philadelphia. Well, as soon as Richards was knocked out, Hockeybuzz re-started our favorite rumor: Peter Forsberg is coming to Philly. From Hockeybuzz.com:
Forsberg: The Flyers, Sens, Wild, and Rangers are all in Peter, however I was told again today that a team may very well have already worked out a deal with Peter and that team may very well be Philadelphia.
It actually might make some sense now. The Flyers need another center after losing Richards. They also have lots of cap space now that Simon Gagne is off the books. The only thing that might keep Forsberg from coming here is that the Flyers aren't really a Stanley Cup contender, one of Foppa's original demands. Maybe now he is willing to come here and be a savior, the guy that breaks the losing streak and leads the Flyers back into the playoffs.
The only other question is, do we want all of the drama that Peter Forsberg brings to the team? It actually could be a good thing for all of the young guys who are feeling the pressure to win. Forsberg could deflect a lot of that pressure onto himself. Or, he could just end up causing more trouble. Forsberg has only two more days to decide if he is coming back. Let's hope the Flyers know what they are doing.
Lost in the haze of 10 straight losses, injuries (Lidge, Richards) and arrests (Patterson), is the fact that the Sixers just keep rolling along, having won 7 of their last 9. Yes, they only beat the terrible Miami Heat (9 wins?!?), and it did take overtime, but a win is a win. The Flyers would take it any day.
The Sixers scored the final ten points in overtime to secure the victory, 101-96. The Andre's continued their solid play, as both finished with 24 points. Iguodala added 12 boards, while Miller added 9 assists. The Sixers were unable to slow down Dwyane Wade, who tallied 33 points, but no one else on the Heat did any damage.
The win keeps the Sixers in the 8th seed in the weak Eastern Conference. To give you an idea of how crummy the East is, if the Sixers were in the Western Conference, they would be in the 12th seed, and would be sitting 9 games out of a playoff spot.
So let's try to focus on the lone bright spot in Philadelphia sports: a team that is overachieving, yet is still seven games under .500. That's the best we got, and that's depressing.
Here is the latest Phils commercial, featuring J-Roll, Shane Victorino and the already-injured Brad Lidge talking about their manager, Charlie Manuel. Talk about some terrible acting.
So, who are the worse actors? The Phillies, or Mike and Mike?
Saturday, February 23, 2008
This is getting ugly. The Flyers lost their tenth straight game tonight, tying their franchise record they set last season. They also lost the services of Mike Richards, their best player and lone all-star forward, for at least three weeks with a torn hamstring. This brings to mind one of the favorite sayings of Philadelphia fans: when it rains, it pours.
The Flyers keep finding new ways to lose. After a second period goal by the slumping Danny Briere, the Flyers shut the Panthers down and looked like they were going to snap their losing streak. Instead, with 3.7 seconds left, Jay Bouwmeester tied the game at 1-1. The Panthers then won the game 2-1 in overtime on a powerplay goal by Olli Jokinen. It was a tough loss, especially considering the Flyers managed only 1 goal against the mighty Panthers goaltender, Craig Anderson.
The worst part of the game was the injury to Mike Richards, who has easily been the most consistent Flyer and is one of the leaders of the dressing room. Late in the third period, as Richards was hustling in on net, his leg and ankle twisted in a way they aren't supposed to. According to GM Paul Holmgren, he will miss at least three weeks with a torn hamstring. Judging by the way the injury looked, it could be longer:
(Video courtesy of 700level)
That's about it for this Flyers season. The injuries are mounting and they are digging a hole so deep, they may never get out. Look for the Flyers to stand pat at the trade deadline; any moves that sacrifice the future to win now would be foolish. Perhaps the Flyers will consider moving some veterans for cap space and draft picks.
There are 36 more days until the Phillies play real games. It's going to be a long month.
This certainly is a better campaign than last years' "Goosebumps". The Phillies latest commercial features Charlie Manuel, Brett Myers, Geoff Jenkins and Shane Victorino, and is a take-off on Reservoir Dogs. Watch it here:
Bugs and Cranks has more on this, including the original Reservoir Dogs scene.
In the hockey world, at this time of year, trade rumors swirl around every team. Things are starting to heat up with the trade deadline right around the corner: next Tuesday, February 26th. Unlike most other sports, the NHL does come through with dozens of trades leading up to the deadline, so look for nearly every team in contention to make a move.
What will the Flyers do? A few weeks ago, when they sat near the top of the Eastern Conference, they figured to make a couple of small moves to gear up for the home stretch. Now, as they slip out of playoff contention, they could either go for broke and make some big moves, or do absolutely nothing. I would bet the Flyers do the latter. They have plenty of developing players who will be even better down the road, so there is no reason to think this year will be their best shot. They should have no motivation to unload a truckload of players and prospects to get a star player who will only help them get a round or two into the playoffs.
Regardless of what the Flyers should and shouldn't do, here are the names that are being rumored to come to Philly, and the odds of them being a Flyer:
*Tomas Kaberle, D, Toronto Maple Leafs This one is not going to happen. Apparently Flyers GM Paul Holmgren had a trade in place that would have sent Jeff Carter and a draft pick to the Maple Leafs for Kaberle, but Kaberle refused to waive his no-trade clause, so this deal is dead. Odds: Off
*Ryan Suter, D, Nashville Predators The Flyers are interested in this young defenseman with the great lineage. No word on what it would take to get him, but it probably would involve Jeff Carter. Odds: 8-1
*Dan Boyle, D, Tampa Bay Lightning Boyle has also been rumored for weeks, but there has been no indication of what the Flyers would have to give up. Odds: 25-1
*Brad Richards, C, Tampa Bay Lightning The Philadelphia Inquirer says there is no chance he is a Flyer, while Hockeybuzz.com says they are still in the running. The Flyers would have to give up Carter and several other young players and picks to get this superstar. Odds: 100-1
*Phil Kessel, RW, Boston Bruins Holmgren turned down a deal that would have sent Jeff Carter to Boston for Kessel. Kessel is only 20 years old, and I have no idea why the Bruins would even look to trade him. Odds: 50-1
*Mats Sundin, C, Toronto Maple Leafs Just throwing it out there, because it isn't going to happen. The chances that Sundin actually gets moved are remote, and the chances he waives his no trade clause to come to Philly are even more remote. Odds: 10,000-1
You'll notice that all rumors begin and end with whether the Flyers will give up Jeff Carter. He definitely seems to be on the trading block, and for the right return, I wouldn't mind the Flyers shipping him out. Truthfully, though, the Flyers are probably more likely to bring Peter Forsberg back than they are to acquire any of these guys.
Brad Lidge was brought in this offseason to solidify the back end of the Phillies bullpen and allow Brett Myers to move back into the starting rotation. He can only do that if he can stay healthy. Lidge, already recovering from offseason surgery on his knee, injured himself during batting practice today. He threw a pitch and limped off the field. The Phillies have given no indication as to the severity of the injury.
One question invariably arises next: Who would be the Phillies closer if Lidge can't go? I say it depends on how long he is on the shelf. If he would only miss a few games, then Tom Gordon could easily slide into the role. However, if Lidge proves to be out for months, then the Phillies may have to look to Brett Myers again. Myers is preparing to be a starter this season, so only an extreme emergency should send him back to the pen. Lidge being out for a long period of time would count as that emergency, because Flash Gordon has proven he can't stay healthy for long enough to lock down games, either. Of course, if Myers returns to the closer role, the Phillies would likely need to sign another starting pitcher. I hear Kyle Lohse is still available!
Friday, February 22, 2008
In a move to free up more cap space, the Eagles will cut defensive end Jevon Kearse. NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports that Kearse was offered a pay cut by the Eagles, which he refused, so the Eagles will release the 9 year veteran and his hefty 6.46 million dollar salary. Kearse's production has declined over the years as he has struggled with injuries. He recorded only 7 total sacks in the last two years combined, a far cry from the 14.5 sacks he had back in 1999 as a rookie.
This move comes as no surprise to those that have been following the Eagles offseason. They are going to be serious players in the free agent market, and this move helps them to secure more money to make a run at the high end available talent, like Asante Samuel. The Eagles will need a ton of money if they want Samuel, so this move is a start. The Eagles were previously only 12 million under the cap, so dropping Kearse gives them 18 million to work with. More moves to free up even more cap space may be coming soon. Will Darren Howard be the next to go?
See ya Freak, and thanks for helping us to the Super Bowl. It's too bad you couldn't stay healthy for more than a season.
The Eagles offseason starts with some bad news. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson was arrested for possession of marijuana. He was found sitting in his car on the side of the road with his brother, Tyrone, at 6 a.m. when police smelled pot and arrested both Pattersons. Mike admitted that the pot was his. According to police, Tyrone, who has several outstanding warrants, resisted arrest.
This could be bad news. Patterson is a key player along the front line, and, although it is unlikely, he could face a suspension. He was found with less than 50 grams of marijuana, so that is better than the alternative. The arrest happened last Saturday, so it is odd that the news took so long to get out. Also, what were they doing driving at 6 a.m. anyway?
Not the best source of information, but Rotoworld has been putting up Free Agency Primers the last few days. Today, they previewed the top free agent wide receivers, and speculated where each one will sign. Surprisingly, the Eagles were not projected to sign any of them. Here are the top 5 free agent receivers, and who Rotoworld says they will sign with:
D. J. Hackett: Redskins
Bernard Berrian: Raiders
Jerry Porter: Vikings
Donte' Stallworth: Titans
Bryant Johnson: Bears
So what to take from this? Absolutely nothing. Rotoworld is a decent source, but they are just throwing darts here. I can see the Redskins signing one of these players, but I haven't heard that the Raiders are in the market for a receiver.
No, it's not Randy Moss or Donte' Stallworth. The Eagles signed wide receiver Brandon "Bam" Childress, who has been on the Patriots practice squad for the last few years, to a two year contract. This is not the move for a playmaker that we have been waiting for, as Childress has only 3 career receptions. He may also have some kick return ability. He went to Ohio State, where he won a national championship in 2002.
Maybe we are looking to get a little bit of the Patriots magic here in Philly? The better question is, will he tell us any of their taping secrets?
This isn't the big acquisition we have been waiting for. In another minor roster move, the Flyers claimed forward Patrick Thoreson off waivers from the Edmonton Oilers. Thoreson is small, but he is a playmaker that can play on the wings or at center. He's 24, and according to TSN he has the potential to be a top-six forward some day. He has played 85 career NHL games, and scored 6 goals and added 13 assists.
With Claude Giroux going back to his junior team, the Flyers had to make a move to ensure they would have enough healthy bodies. This is not an earth shattering move, but it had to be done, and at least the guy is young and has some upside. It's not the move for Michael Peca that is making the rounds on the internet, but it's still something. As the losses mount for the Flyers, it's looking more and more like they will just stand pat.
The losses keep mounting. The last place Flyers lost their ninth straight game against the San Jose Sharks, 3-1. They lacked energy and any will to actually win the game. The Sharks played the night before, and still had much more jump than the rested Flyers, who were out-shot and out-hit. The only highlight for the Flyers was a fight between Riley Cote and Jody Shelley, where Cote pounded Shelley at the start of the fight, although Shelley fought back and got some good punches in at the end. Watch the fight below:
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Don't get your hopes up, Eagles fans. Even though I wrote ten days ago that the Eagles would be interested in Randy Moss if he was available, it appears that the New England Patriots won't be placing the franchise tag on Moss because they have agreed to a multi-year deal with the receiver. The deal can't be announced until free agency starts, so I am sure there will be much speculation up until that time.
Three weeks ago, the Flyers sat at the top of the Atlantic Division. Eight straight losses later, they have dropped all the way to the 8th seed in the East. They welcome the Sharks to town tonight, another top team that has been struggling lately with 5 straight losses of their own. Here are some things to look for today:
*Jeremy Roenick Returns The Sharks signed the former Flyer this offseason, and he has had a respectable season for San Jose. He has 22 points in 53 games, and notched his 500th goal of his career back in November. The Flyers will be doing a short celebration for Roenick and his 5ooth goal tonight before the game.
*Last chance to watch Giroux Tonight will be the last time Cluade Giroux will be allowed to play with the Flyers before he has to go back to his junior club. We won't be seeing him again until next year, when he may be asked to step into Simon Gagne's spot on the top line.
*Jaroslav Modry suits up tonight Modry will play his first game with the Flyers tonight, and he will wear number 25. He will possibly take Jim Vandermeer's spot alongside Kimmo Timonen.
*Tonight's Lines As always, courtesy of Bill Meltzer:
Hartnell - Richards -Giroux
Umberger - Briere - Kapanen
Upshall - Carter - Knuble
Cote - Dowd - Kukkonen/Ruzicka
Smith - Parent/Kukkonen
With the way Lasse Kukkonen has been playing, he deserves to dress for the game.
Billy King's legacy in Philly would have been very different if he didn't chicken out of a deal back in 1999. King, an analyst for ESPN, said on the air that he had a deal in place with Toronto that would have sent the Raptors Larry Hughes, and the Sixers would have received Tracy McGrady and a first round pick. King said that after Stephen A. Smith broke the news, he got cold feet and backed out of the trade.
Just another reason to hate Billy King, and Stephen A. Smith for that matter. To have such a sweet deal in place, where the Sixers not only get future superstar Tracy McGrady, but they also get a first round pick!? Granted hindsight is 50/50, and, at the time, Hughes was actually the better player, but McGrady always had the higher upside. This would have been an absolute steal, and we might have seen that 2001 Sixers team actually win two or three games in the Finals. Knowing Billy King, though, he would have traded McGrady in the deal to get Toni Kukoc instead of Hughes.
By the way, the irony of Billy King being an analyst on ESPN should not be lost on anyone.
Today at 3 pm Eastern is the NBA trade deadline. The Sixers currently are the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. The Atlanta Hawks, the 9th seed, made a move for Mike Bibby that will help their playoff cause. So, will the Sixers, fresh off their 40 point thrashing of the Knicks, make any moves today? Ron Artest, Jermaine O'Neal, Shawn Marion and Nene are all names that are rumored to be on the move. Andre Miller's name has been thrown out there as someone the contenders, like the Cavaliers, are interested in.
However, Sixers GM Ed Stefanski came out and downplayed any potential moves yesterday, saying "There's no deal on the table now that anyone should get excited about and think we're going to make". He said that the Sixers have no plans to move Miller, or anyone else.
Hopefully Stefanski sticks to his word. This team isn't going anywhere this season, so it would make very little sense for them to deal their future away for an Artest or O'Neal, knowing they won't be winning a title with those guys anyway. Moving Miller for some draft picks and youth would be an acceptable move, but Miller has been an integral part in teaching the Sixers youngsters the right way to play.
Making no moves might be the right move for the Sixers.
This is one that the Phillies might not mind losing. Ryan Howard won his arbitration case against the Phillies, earning the 10 million he asked for, instead of the 7 million the Phillies offered. That figure ties the record given to a player in arbitration. Alfonso Soriano also won 10 million back in 2006. This is also the first arbitration case the Phillies have ever lost, and the first any team has lost this year.
So, did the Phillies lose on purpose just to appease their slugger? I doubt it. They aren't the type of team that likes to spend any more money than they have to. I think this is simply a case of a special player deserving to win his case. I was listening to an interview with Jayson Stark the other day, and he was saying the only player did anything that compares to Ryan Howard's 127 home runs hit in his first 2 1/2 seasons would be Babe Ruth when he first became a hitter. If Ruth a comparable player, then Howard will easily earn his 10 million. Let's hope that any hard feelings Howard might have had for the organization are gone now, and he can focus on hitting. Another solid year this season should guarantee him that long term deal he is looking for.
You knew that Jimmy Rollins would respond, especially after Carlos Beltran mentioned the reigning NL MVP by name while making his claim that the Mets are "the team to beat". The Phillies as a team shrugged off responding to Beltran's claim, waiting for their team leader to fire back once he arrived at Spring Training.
Rollins, responding in a completely non-hostile way (which you can listen to here), was at first simply surprised that Beltran would have said something like that, since he is usually so quiet. After that, he got into the meat of the statement:
"Two things: One, there are four other teams that are going to make sure that (the Mets winning the division) doesn't happen, and two.......has anyone ever heard of plagiarism?"
Rollins would go on to say that the Phillies can play with anybody, stopping just short of saying they are the best team. He concluded by saying:
"What I said last year still rings true. My mind isn't going to change. My feelings aren't going to change about that. At the end of 162 games, we'll be looking to go win the next 11."Rollins knows exactly the right words to say. He took his shots, in a playful manner, and managed to come across as very confident, both in his teammates and in himself. He truly believes that the Phillies are the team to beat again this year, and he doesn't even have to say it again. His comment about winning the 11 games after the regular season was spoken like a guy who has had a taste of the postseason and wants more. Beltran fired the first shot, and Jimmy Rollins responded in the exact way you want a team leader to respond. We can all look forward to April 8th, when the Phillies and Mets can take this to the field.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The bad luck is coming in bunches now for the Philadelphia Flyers. Fresh off their 8th straight loss, the Flyers learned today that Simon Gagne, who hadn't played since he suffered a concussion on February 10th, will not play for the remainder of this season, including the playoffs. Gagne, who has had three concussions this season, met with the same concussion specialist that Eric Lindros once used, James Kelly. He was informed that playing again this season could lead to permanent brain damage.
Gagne may never be the player he once was, as he is starting down the Eric Lindros career path. The concussions are coming easier for him, with even smaller hits knocking the star player out. Let's hope that he can take the next few months to fully recover and come back at full strength next year. He never was healthy this season, but he still managed to notch 18 points in 25 games.
This is a huge blow to the Flyers chances this season. Gagne, when healthy, is a talented sniper that adds a lot of energy and offensive firepower to the club. Without him, there is a huge void in top line talent. This news might lead to the Flyers giving up their hopes of acquiring those last few pieces to make a Cup run, and instead hold on to their youth for next season.
This should also put to bed all of those on again/off again rumors about Peter Forsberg returning to the Flyers. One of the main draws for Forsberg to suit up for the Flyers was being able to play with Gagne again. With our Cup chances dwindling, he won't want to play for Philly, and we certainly don't need him now.
Well, the writing was probably on the wall for Jim Vandermeer. The fans had been calling for his benching, and Flyers coach John Stevens called him out for his sloppy play. We all got our wish today, as Vandermeer was traded to the Calgary Flames for a third round pick.
This move comes a day after the Flyers went out and got defenseman Jaroslav Modry, which made Vandermeer expendable. Vandermeer played in 28 games for the Flyers this season, tallying 6 points and a plus/minus of -1. His play had been under scrutiny lately because of sloppy passes and ill-timed turnovers. Most Flyer fans wondered why Vandermeer was logging so many minutes, maybe it was to keep his trade value high. As you may recall, the Flyers acquired Vandermeer for rugged Ben Eager earlier in the season. Eager has been out with a concussion since late December. This trade essentially becomes Ben Eager for a third round pick, which is a pretty good deal.
This is the second time the Flyers have traded Vandermeer. Back in 2004, the Flyers shipped him out to get Alexei Zhamnov to help with their Cup run that year. Let's hope we don't see Vandermeer suiting up for the Orange and Black ever again.
Today is Ryan Howard's arbitration hearing. Arbiters will be deciding whether the big slugger will earn 7 million or 10 million next year.
I have given my thoughts on the situation.
As always, Beerleaguer has a great take on it.
We won't hear the results of today's hearing until sometime tomorrow. My prediction? Given that no player has won his arbitration case this year, the Phillies are 7-0 lifetime, and receiveing 10 million in an arbitration case would be a record, I think the odds are against Howard. He is a special, unique player, but it's still unlikely that he we will win. Let's just hope it doesn't affect his play on the field. Howard needs to have another standout year, then the Phillies will be forced to give him the big contract he wants.
UPDATE: For all the updates on the proceedings of the day you can handle, go to this Phillies blog, done by Scott Lauber of Delaware Online.
Since when does coaching a team to a 96-127 record get you a contract extension? The Sixers are close to giving head coach Maurice Cheeks a new contract. He is currently on the last year of a three year deal. There is no word yet on how long the deal is, or for how much. Maybe Cheeks should only get paid if he can finally guide the Sixers to the playoffs.
All jokes aside, Cheeks has done enough to warrant an extension. He hasn't had much to work with, and he has done a good job transitioning the team from the Allen Iverson era to the Andre Iguodala era. He gets the team playing hard, and while a record of 23-31 this season isn't that impressive, with the talent he has been given it is better than expected. As long as he can keep the young guys playing hard, he deserves to be the coach of this team. The contract extension will also keep our old friend Larry Brown from swooping in and trying to snatch the job away.
UPDATE: Cheeks got a one year extension, with an option for a second year, worth up to 3 million.
*Sixers lose to Timberwolves I hope that GM Ed Stefanski watched tonights game and used it as leverage when talking about the value of Cheeks' contract. The Sixers looked lethargic and got blown out against the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves, who got just their 11th win of the season. Stat line of the night had to go to Willie Green, who in 19 minutes shot 3 for 10, and managed to record zero assists, rebounds or steals. They play the Knicks tonight, at home. Normally I would say it is a winnable game, but this is the Sixers.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
This comes via ProFootballTalk.com, and shows all 30 teams in the NFL and how much cap space they have. The salary cap is projected to be 116 million. The Eagles are currently sitting at 104 million. After they re-sign some of their free agents, the Eagles will only have a few million to work with. It might be hard for them to afford the top end free agents unless they make some cuts.
Other teams are in some trouble. The Panthers, Colts and Redskins are all over the cap. They will have to cut some players, or re-work some contracts. At least the Colts and Redskins made the playoffs, but what excuse do the Panthers have?
The teams with the most salary cap room are the Titans, who have 36.6 million to work with. The Dolphins are next, as they are 31 million dollars under the cap. The Titans did well to get themselves out of the salary cap hell they were in a few years ago and still remain competitive.
I hope everyone else is getting as sick of this story as I am. After Peter Forsberg's agent came out yesterday and said it looks "unlikely" that Forsberg will be healthy enough to play, Forsberg said today that he isn't ruling out the possibility of a return. Forsberg said the following in a Swedish television interview:
"The foot doesn't feel 100 (percent), but there is still one week left until the deadline"
Hockeybuzz has confirmed that Forsberg hasn't completely ruled out a return.
This all sounds like a guy who hasn't given up hope that he might come back. The only question I have is whether the Flyers can afford to sign him, what with the acquisition of Jaroslav Modry. Would that put them too close to the cap, and unable to sign Forsberg? And, at this point, does anybody really care anymore?
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren added his thoughts on the flip-flopping Foppa:
"He didn't close the door completely. It's still open a crack......we'll all have a definite answer in a week"
After yesterday, I thought we had closure. It looks like this story won't go away until the trade deadline, which thankfully is only 7 days away.
Seven straight losses. Think about it. Seven straight games with no points, not even an overtime tie! It’s a tough time to be a Flyers fan. The team has gone from penthouse to outhouse in record fashion. Yes, they have already won more games this season than they did last year, but with their solid start and scorching January, expectations began to rise for this club. After their recent performance, a few more losses might put the Flyers outside of the playoff picture.
Things don't get any easier for the Flyers this week, with the Senators and Sharks the opponents. The recent acquisition of Jaroslav Modry, while not a bad deal, is not enough to turn this around. The team needs to come together and fight their way out of this mess. Players that have been struggling lately, like Danny Briere and Jim Vandermeer, need to get out of their funks. Just one win can bring all of the confidence back. Another loss, and there might be no coming back.
*Roster Moves As I discussed yesterday, prospect Claude Giroux will be making his debut for the Flyers tonight. The Flyers are just going to get a glimpse of Giroux's potential for a few games, as he won't be with the club for long. Giroux will only be with the Flyers until someone comes back from an injury. He isn't the savior that this team is looking for, either. The Flyers also recalled Stefan Ruzicka from the Phantoms. Ruzicka is not much of a prospect, and has had 16 points in 53 career games with the big club.
*Tonights Lines Claude Giroux will likely be playing on the first line, which suits his playmaking abilities. Here are the lines projected by Bill Meltzer for tonights game:
Hartnell - Briere - Giroux
Umberger - Richards - Kapanen
Upshall - Carter - Knuble
Cote - Dowd - Ruzicka
Jones - Coburn
Smith - Parent
There has been some talk that Vandermeer will sit when Modry joins up with the team on Thursday, but Meltzer speculates that Jason Smith might rest because he is pretty banged up. Lasse Kukkonen may also play some as a forward tonight, which would mean Ruzicka wouldn't suit up.
The Flyers finally made a move to shore up their defense, acquiring Jaroslav Modry, age 36, from the Los Angeles Kings for a third round pick. According to TSN, Modry is a "quietly effective player in the offensive zone" and has "excellent instincts". Looking at Modry's stats the last few years, he doesn't put up big points, but he is usually on the positive side in the plus/minus department.
This is not a move that will get most Flyer fans excited. Coming off the heels of the news that the Flyers are interested in Tomas Kaberle, this move could be looked at as somewhat disappointing. However, the Flyers got a steady veteran who has some limited playoff experience. With Derian Hatcher out for a few more weeks, Modry makes a nice addition to a depleted back end. A third round pick seems like a reasonable thing to give up for a steadying presence.
There is an interesting article today at Philly.com by Todd Zolecki discussing Pat Burrell and his future with the Phillies. Burrell is in the final year of the $50 million dollar contract he signed back in 2003. Zolecki speculates that Burrell could be in for a big year as he looks to cash in as a free agent one last time, whether it is with the Phils or another team.
Burrell is overpaid, but he isn't useless. He made 13.25 million last year, and hit 30 home runs and drove in 97 runs. While he continues to strike out too much (120 K's last year), and hit for a low average (.258 lifetime), he had a career high OBP last season of .400. He's a bit of a stiff with the glove, and Charlie Manuel doesn't hesitate to pull him out of games in the later innings for a defensive replacement. Nonetheless, if the Phillies can get that kind of offensive production again from Burrell, they will be happy.
Pat Burrell might be the key to the Phils lineup. Burrell figures to get a ton of RBI opportunities batting fifth, after Ryan Howard and before the Geoff Jenkins/Jayson Werth combo. More importantly, Burrell figures to be the Phillies main source of power from the right side of the plate. That is why he is so important. Burrell is a streaky hitter, either crushing the ball like he did last July and August, or completely stinking up the joint, like in May and June of last year. If Burrell can find some consistency, it will help the Phils as a whole be consistent. When Burrell is on, Manuel will even bat him fourth against tough lefty pitching, which allows the Phillies to break up their left handed hitters.
While Pat Burrell is hardly a fan favorite, the guy has been here through it all. He's played for the Phillies since 2000, and he has been through the low points and been with the team as it rose to the top. In what will most likely be his final year with the Phillies, Burrell could make or break his legacy in Philadelphia. If he helps to lead this team to the World Series, it would go a long way towards silencing all of the boos.