Thursday, July 31, 2008

Who needs deadline help? Phillies win 5th in a row

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
After doing nothing at the trade deadline today, the Phillies did plenty on the field as they swept the Nationals, winning their fifth game in a row. Thanks to homers by Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins and Kyle Kendrick's second good outing in a row, the Phillies were able to beat the Nationals 8-4. The Phillies got a complete team effort on offense with every position player in the starting line-up getting a hit and scoring or driving in a run.

The final score makes the game seem much closer than it was. With a 6 run lead, Rudy Seanez came into the game in the 9th inning and had troubles, giving up a pair of runs before he was pulled from the game. Seanez has quietly been terrible since the beginning of July, seeing his ERA rise from 2.46 to 3.58 in just a few weeks. Seanez's days on the Phillies are likely numbered. If Flash Gordon ever comes back or if the Phillies can pick up some relief help before the August 31st waiver deadline, then Seanez would have to be the first guy to go.

The Phillies will now have to face a real team again as they travel to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals. The Phillies will send their three "aces" to the mound for the series, Cole Hamels and two Opening Day pitchers, Joe Blanton and Brett Myers. The Cardinals will also send former Phillie Kyle Lohse to the mound for tomorrow's game against Hamels.

Sorry, still no game highlights. Redlasso is still non-functional and I am looking for another way to get highlights.

Finally! Louis Williams signs with the Sixers

The Sixers have finally taken care of one of their restricted free agents, Lou Williams, by signing him to a 5 year contract. Williams had been rumored to be talking to a few other teams, including the Golden State Warriors, but the Sixers were able to get a contract worked out. The terms for the deal have not yet been announced, but it is rumored to be worth 25 million. Williams will join recently signed Royal Ivey and Kareem Rush along with Andre Miller and Willie Green in a crowded Sixers backcourt.

Next item of business for the Sixers: sign Andre Iguodala.

How Manny to the Dodgers affects the Phillies

Manny Ramirez has been traded and it could negatively affect the Phillies in their stretch run. After all the rumors that Manny was going to be traded to their NL East rival the Florida Marlins, instead he was sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately for the Phillies, they will play the Dodgers 8 times in August, meaning Manny can have a significant role as the Phillies chase the playoffs. You can believe that Manny will be on a mission to prove the Red Sox were foolish to trade him.

Here are the details of the trade:
Dodgers get: Manny Ramirez
Red Sox get: Jason Bay
Pirates get: Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche, Bryan Morris and Brandon Moss

The deadline comes and goes, and the Phillies do nothing

The 4 pm trade deadline is upon us, and it appears that the Phillies, and most of the rest of MLB, won't be making moves. While there is still time for a deal to happen since teams often can get extensions past the deadline, it appears that after all the speculation and rumors about all those pitchers being moved amounted to nothing. By my count there have been two deals today, Ken Griffey Jr. going to the White Sox and Arthur Rhodes going to Florida.

Can't say I'm surprised that the Phillies didn't do anything. Gillick must think he can get something done before the August 31st waiver deadline, but deals are harder to get done in August. Oh well, I guess we should be happy he didn't unload a bunch of prospects for some mediocre reliever.

UPDATE: Manny is on the move! Si.com is reporting that Manny Ramirez is going to the Dodgers, with Jason Bay going to the Red Sox in a three team deal. It looks like the Dodgers just replaced the Marlins from the original three team deal.

2 hours left until the deadline and the Phillies are quiet

With the MLB trade deadline looming at 4 pm Eastern, the Phillies have been very quiet. There have been plenty of deals and rumors going on throughout the league, but the Phillies have not been in the middle of anything. Speculation is that they will make some sort of deal for left handed bullpen help, but they could very well do nothing and wait until the August waiver deadline to get something done. GM Pat Gillick is known for making deals in August so he could be betting that the available talent then will be just as good as what is out there now.

In the rest of the NL East, only one team seems intent on making deals. The Marlins, right in the thick of the Manny Ramirez talks, have already made one deal today, for reliever Arthur Rhodes. Thank goodness the Marlins got him so Gillick didn't try to get him. The Manny deal, which has been off again and on again for the last 24 hours, appears to be off again. The Mets, on the other hand, have been just as quiet as the Phillies, with MLB Trade Rumors speculating that they won't be making any deals today. For as desperate as they are for outfield help, I am surprised the Mets won't try to get something done.

There are 2 hours left for the Phillies to get something done. Forget about Manny or Maddux or any other big name coming to Philly. Expect a decent lefty pitcher to be coming here for some mid-level prospects. I'll keep you posted if anything happens.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Phillies back atop the NL East

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Rumors of a Chase Utley injury are greatly exaggerated. Utley hit a homer for the second day in a row and the Phillies got a strong outing from Jamie Moyer to lead them to a 8-5 victory over the Nationals. It was their fourth straight win, and with the Marlins beating the Mets today, it moves the Phillies back into first place in the NL East by a half game.

Utley hit a two run homer in the 5th inning as part of a 5 run inning that lead the Phillies to the win. Shane Victorino also had a great game, getting 3 hits, scoring 3 times and even driving in 3 runs. Brad Lidge also got his 26th save in as many chances this year. I am stating the obvious here, but Lidge has been awesome this year. It's nice to have someone that reliable in the back of the bullpen. He did have that rough outing last week against the Braves, and at some point he will probably blow a save, but that doesn't take away from the amazing stability he has provided to the back of the pen.

The Phillies will finish up their series with the crappy Nationals tomorrow and then they will play the Cardinals this weekend, a much tougher opponent. More importantly, the trade deadline is tomorrow, and with the Marlins rumored to be pulling off a huge deal for Manny Ramirez, the Phillies better do more than simply getting a left handed reliever if they want to stay on top of the division.

Phillie rumor round-up: Maddux won't come to Philly, Werth on the block?

With the trade deadline about 24 hours away, two new Phillie rumors have surfaced, both come via MLB Trade Rumors:

Maddux won't come East The Phillies are still searching for pitching and asked the Padres about Greg Maddux, who has the right to refuse any trade. Maddux has repeatedly said he will only accept a trade to a West Coast team, so he has declined to go to Philadelphia. This rumor won't amount to anything, but it does show the Phils are still interested in bringing in a starting pitcher.

Werth being scouted Here's a new one that seems odd. The Tampa Bay Rays are scouting Jayson Werth, who apparently could be had in the right deal. Trading Werth would be a curious move for the Phillies, unless they plan on bringing in another outfielder. And, no, this isn't a sign that Manny Ramirez is coming to Philly. After speculation picked up again that the Phillies were his likely destination, most "in the know" once again think Manny isn't going anywhere.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Nationals: the cure for all that ails the Phillies

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Playing against the last-place Nationals brought the best out of two Phillies who have been struggling lately. Both Brett Myers and Chase Utley played there best game in quite a while in leading the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Nationals on Tuesday.

Myers had his best outing since early June as he went 7 innings and only gave up 1 run on 4 hits. Again, it was against the Nationals who can't hit, but it just might give him the confidence to return to form.

Utley supplied all of the Phillie offense in tonight's game, hitting a 2-run homer in the 3rd inning, his first homer since July 7th and just his third of the month. Utley nearly blew the game with a costly error in the 8th inning, but at least he had a good night with the bat. Perhaps his hip isn't bothering him anymore, or maybe it never really did, like Charlie Manuel said.

Anyone worried about the Phillies chances in staying at or near the top of the NL East will be happy to know the Phils will play the Nationals 11 more times this season. Washington is just awful. The Phillies will need to get the bats going a little more than they did tonight, but they could easily win 8 or 9 of those 11 games.

Phillies Notes: Happ re-called, Feliz to the DL, Mahay deal?

Some Phillie news just before they start their 3 game series with the Nationals:

Happ is back As had been speculated since Adam Eaton was sent to the minors and he was pulled from his last start, J.A. Happ was called up today. He will be the second lefty option out of the pen. There is also a chance that sometime down the road the Phillies will put him in the starting rotation and allow Brett Myers to return to the bullpen to be a set-up guy. That time could come soon if Myers is rocked again today.

Feliz to the DL Pedro Feliz hadn't played since July 24th with a bad back so the Phillies placed him on the 15 day disabled list. They also called up infielder Mike Cervanek to take his place on the roster. This isn't really a huge blow; expect Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett to split the playing time at third until Feliz comes back.

Mahay rumors The Phillies have been the subject of some rumors involving Ron Mahay of the Royals. The lefty reliever, who is having a great season (1.81 ERA), was rumored to be traded to the Phillies for minor leaguer Jason Donald. Some sources even believed the deal was done. Unfortunately, Jayson Stark and Todd Zolecki both believe that nothing is immenent, so the Phils will continue their search for a left handed reliever.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Sixers sign Kareem Rush, "3 point specialist"

After signing Royal Ivey last week, the Sixers continue to build their team around Elton Brand, although they still have yet to take care of their two restricted free agents, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams. Ever since they traded Kyle Korver to the Utah Jazz last season to get salary cap space, the Sixers have been in desperate need for a 3 point shooter. They may have shored up that need with today's signing of shooting guard Kareem Rush. Rush played last season with the Indiana Pacers and has also played for the Lakers and the Bobcats in his 5 year NBA career. He also spent one year abroad playing in Lithuania.

Rush is not a star player by any means, but he did shoot a respectable 38.9% from beyond the arc last season. His career 3 point shooting percentage is 36%, which isn't going to set the world on fire, but it's an improvement for the Sixers who shot just 31.7% as a team last year. Rush also averaged 8.3 points per game last year and should fit nicely into a "shooter off the bench" role with the Sixers.

The signing of Rush makes for a bit of a crowded guard position on the Sixers. They now have Andre Miller, Royal Ivey, Willie Green and Rush under contract with Williams and Iguodala likely to be signed soon. Iguodala will spend some time at small forward but there might not be enough playing time to go around for all these guards. Hopefully it doesn't mean the Sixers don't plan on signing Lou Williams, but it appears someone might have to go. My vote would be for Willie Green.

Click here for Rush's career stats.

Manny to Phillies update: Gillick says no

Rumors flew around the internet yesterday about the Red Sox wanting to part with Manny Ramirez and how the Phillies were his personal number one option. There has been plenty of speculation that the Phils have at least discussed going after him and that the Red Sox have inquired, but, according to The New York Times (article found via MLB Trade Rumors) GM Pat Gillick was quick to shoot down the possibility, saying "at this point, there’s no interest on our part, we have no place to play the guy."

Gillick is right, with Pat Burrell manning left field, the Phillies have no room for Manny. They can't move one of the two to right field and make the worst defensive outfield in major league history. So, despite FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal's rumor of the Phillies swapping Geoff Jenkins and prospect Lou Marson for Manny (which I would do in a heart beat), it looks like the Phils won't go after Ramirez. They will likely re-visit pursuing him in the off-season to replace Burrell, who will likely bolt via free agency.

Just for fun, here's what the Phillie line-up could look like if they got Manny:

Rollins
Utley
Ramirez
Howard
Burrell
Feliz
Victorino
Ruiz
Pitcher

That's scary.

Eaton demoted, Happ called up?

Apparently 24.5 million doesn't buy as much as it used to. That's how much Adam Eaton, who was just sent down to the minors, will make over his 3 year deal with the Phillies. Eaton was removed from the starting rotation when the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton but was even worse when coming out of the bullpen. The Phillies offered to send him down to the minors and Eaton accepted, making him the second Phillie to accept a minor league assignment to work on his pitching this month. Eaton has no future in the rotation so hopefully he will work on becoming a reliever. I doubt we see him up again before September.

The rumored replacement for Eaton on the roster is J.A. Happ. Happ started yesterday for Lehigh Valley and was removed from his start in the 3rd inning despite pitching well. Happ has been working as a starter so the question remains as to whether he will be in the bullpen and be the Phillies missing second lefty option out of the pen or if he joins the starting rotation and bumps Brett Myers back to a set-up role. It probably depends on what the Phillies can get done before the trade deadline since they have been rumored to be seeking a lefty reliever and another starting pitcher.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Finally, a Philadelphia sports champion!!

(Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images North America)
Okay, so it's just Arena Football, but the Philadelphia Soul have won Arena Bowl XXII over the San Jose SaberCats 59-56. I am not going to pretend like I watch Arena Football or really know anything about the team, but it's nice to see Ron Jaworski and Jon Bon Jovi bring a champion to our city.

The Soul held off a late charge by the SaberCats to knock off the defending champs. Hopefully you had quarterback Matt D'Orazio in your fantasy arena football league because he put up 302 passing yards and threw for 7 touchdowns and ran in another on his own. He was awarded with the Arena Bowl MVP award.

Congratulations, SOUL!

Manny being shopped, possibly to Phillies?

The Red Sox seem to finally be fed up with Manny Ramirez's antics and rumors are spreading that they are willing to trade him before the July 31st trade deadline. It's a tricky situation, though, because Manny can refuse any trade to a team he doesn't want to go to because of his 10 and 5 rights (10 years of service, the last 5 with the same team). The number one team on Manny's list that he would accept a trade to, according to The New York Post? The Phillies, who "have the best chance to trade for Ramirez because Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel has perhaps the strongest relationship with him of anyone in the majors." If he goes anywhere, Manny wants to be re-united with his old hitting coach from when he was with the Cleveland Indians.

So, Manny wants to come to Philly. Do the Phillies actually want Manny? It would take a lot, probably Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson and someone significant from the major league roster. The Phillies would also want him to sign a long term deal that would keep him in Philly if they gave up that much to get him. Plus, where does Manny play? Ramirez is a left fielder and the Phillies already have Pat Burrell in left, unless they ship Burrell to the Red Sox in the deal. You can't move Manny to right and have an outfield with both him and Burrell because that would the worst defensive outfield in the majors. Manny would be a good replacement for Burrell if Pat leaves at the end of the season as a free agent, which looks likely, so maybe the Phillies should wait and try to sign Manny after he becomes a free agent this off-season.

The final thing to consider in this situation is whether the Phillies want to put up with "Manny being Manny". There is a reason the Red Sox want to trade him: he's a pain in the ass. He's a phenomenal hitter, still one of the best in the game, but he comes with so much baggage, he would completely disrupt the Phillie clubhouse. Plus, he's 36 years old and definitely on the tail end of his career. If the Phillies sign him to a three year deal, by the end of it he would simply be a shell of his former self.

It's an interesting situation to follow because if the Phillies don't acquire him you can bet the Mets will make a strong push for Manny. The Mets are in desperate need of a corner outfield bat and Manny can supply that. If the Phillies can find a way to keep Manny under control, which seems like an impossible task, they should pull the trigger on a deal. Manny has been linked with the Phillies before, so there seems to be some interest from the team, but let's see if they are willing to risk everything to get the eccentric superstar.

Click here for an update on the rumors, including Pat Gillick's thoughts.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Phillie bats come alive to bail out Hamels

(AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)
The one constant in the Phillie rotation, the one thing that was supposed to be solid in an otherwise mediocre pitching staff, failed the Phillies today, but for the first time in a long time, the offense picked up the slack. King Cole Hamels looked more like a pawn when he gave up 9 runs in the 3rd inning of Saturday's game, luckily the offense that had been dormant for so long woke up to put up a huge inning of their own, notching 7 runs in the 5th inning to lead the Phillies to a 10-9 win over the Braves.

Hamels was hit hard as he gave up the 9 runs, but only 4 of them were earned thanks to a pair of errors by Chase Utley and Hamels himself. Fortunately for the Phillies, the Braves did all of their damage in one inning, as the combination of Rudy Seanez, Adam Eaton, Ryan Madsen, Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero and Brad Lidge combined to shut the Braves out for the rest of the game.

Offensively, the Phillies didn't completely rely on the home run to pick up their 10 runs, although Greg Dobbs did hit a 3-run shot. The Phils got hits from each player in the starting line-up except Eric Bruntlett, with Chris Coste leading the team with 3 hits and 3 RBI.

This was yet another win that showed how this Phillie team never gives up. No lead is safe when you have the offensive fire-power that the Phils have, it's just a matter of getting everyone going. The Phils won't score 10 runs every night, though, so something still needs to be done to fix the pitching if they want to go anywhere come October.

Sorry, no highlights this time. The program I usually use, Redlasso, has temporarily shut down due to legal issues.

Asante Samuel injures hamstring

This wasn't the instant impact the Eagles hoped they were getting when they signed Asante Samuel to a 57 million dollar contract this past off-season. On the first morning of full-contract drills at training camp, Samuel limped off the field with a hamstring injury. It doesn't appear serious and he was able to walk it off, but hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger for a while. Let's hope he's a fast healer.

On the bright side of this situation, Lito Sheppard gets to run drills with the first team defense again! Don't get too comfortable on the left side, Lito, Asante should be back out there soon enough.

Friday, July 25, 2008

ESPN Summer NHL Power Rankings: Flyers ranked third in the East

ESPN.com released some incredibly early NHL Power Rankings and have the Flyers ranked third in the Eastern Conference, behind the Penguins and Canadiens. I can see why the defending Eastern Conference Champion Penguins are ranked higher than the Flyers, but what have the Canadiens done to prove they are better than Philly? Acquiring Alex Tanguay is enough to vault them past the team that worked them in the playoffs? Isn't Carey Price still their goalie? Anyway, at least the Flyers are getting some respect, although the rankings are done by Scott Burnside, whose predictions during last years NHL Playoffs were laughable.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Phillies can't overcome Perez's pitching, Rollins' benching, fall into second place

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
With no help from a benched MVP, the Phillies offense completely wasted a solid pitching performance. Jamie Moyer pitched 7 strong innings and gave up only one run, but the Phillies couldn't solve Oliver Perez, who pitched 7 and 2/3rds innings, struck out 12 and also gave up only one run. The Mets rallied to win in the 8th inning when Carlos Delgado doubled in a pair of runs in the 8th inning off of J.C. Romero, dropping the Phillies into second place after the 3-1 loss.

Jimmy Rollins was a late scratch from the game, getting benched for showing up late to the game. Rollins got to the game one hour before it started, breaking Charlie Manuel's rule about showing up on time. It was the second time this season Rollins has been benched by Manuel, he was previously benched for not hustling. Rollins really let his team down at the worst possible time, considering the Phils were playing without their team leader against their biggest rival. Rollins did pinch hit late in the game and grounded into the final out.

The second place Phillies will now come home for a three game series with the Atlanta Braves. Think J-Roll might hear some boos for his benching?

Highlights of today's game:

Sixers sign Royal Ivey, "Nut-puncher"

The Sixers have yet to take care of their two restricted free agent guards, Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, but they are still working to fill out their roster, signing guard Royal Ivey to a 2 year contract. Ivey spent last season with the Milwaukee Bucks after starting his career with the Atlanta Hawks and has developed into a solid defensive player off the bench. He doesn't put up great offensive numbers (he averaged a career-high 5.6 points per game last season) but he is a decent role player.

Of course, Ivey is a little more well know for his "nut-punching" abilities. Take a look at what he did last year to Aaron Gray of the Bulls:


Click here for Royal Ivey's career stats.

Not a bad depth signing, but how about signing Iggy and Lou now?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Eagles showing interest in Brett Favre?

I honestly don't know what to make of this story. The Eagles, who already have Donovan McNabb and his heir apparent Kevin Kolb at quarterback, have reportedly been in contact with the Green Bay Packers about the availability of Brett Favre, according to ESPN and Sporting News. Apparently, the Packers called the Eagles to see if they had any interest in trading for the possibly unretired quarterback. There is no word on whether the Eagles actually want Favre, but it's hard to see what his role would be in Philly.

Obviously, Favre would be an excellent fit because he knows the West Coast offense, but where would he fit in on the depth chart? He would be great insurance if/when McNabb gets injured, but until that happens he would ride the bench, something he didn't want to do for the Packers. And, where would this leave the development of Kolb, who would see his growth stunted by having two star quarterbacks playing ahead of him?

I am not sure what the Eagles are thinking, but they are now on the list of teams that have expressed interest in Favre. Atlanta, Washington, Tampa Bay and Carolina are the other teams that want Favre, and they would all install him as their starter.

Don't count on Favre being an Eagle, but it's interesting that the Eagles would even talk to the Packers about him. It would probably take a 2nd and 3rd round draft pick at most, which isn't a hefty price to pay, but Favre simply doesn't fit in on this team unless McNabb's shoulder is bothering him worse than he's been leading on.

One other theory: the Eagles are looking to acquire Favre and ship him off to the Vikings. The Vikings are the team that wants Favre the most but the Packers won't trade him to their rival. Enter the Eagles, who could trade for Favre and then send him to Minnesota and turn a small profit off the deal. I would bet that the Packers would want assurances from the Eagles that they wouldn't trade Favre before they made any deal, so this doesn't seem likely either.

Eagles place Laws, two other rookies on PUP

The Eagles training camp is under way, and already three rookies are dealing with injuries. Recently signed defensive tackle Trevor Laws, defensive end Bryan Smith and cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu were all placed on the physically unable to perform list. Laws is dealing with a minor foot injury that should only sideline him for a few days. Smith will also only miss a little bit of time with a hamstring injury. Ikegwuonu will likely miss the entire season as he recovers from a knee injury.

All three players were placed on the PUP list but that doesn't necessarily mean they will miss any regular season games. As long as the players are removed from the list before the start of the regular season, they can suit up starting in Week One. If they stay on the list until the first game, then they must sit out at least six games. I expect Laws and Smith to be taken off before the season starts so there is no reason to worry.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Phils take over first place with big come-from-behind win over Mets

Charlie Manuel called out his hitters and their ability to hit in the clutch, and the Phillies responded. Down 5-2 entering the 9th inning, the Phils took advantage of some poor Mets fielding and got timely hits in a 6 run inning that gave them a 3-run lead that they hung onto for an 8-6 victory. The key hit in the 9th came from the most unlikely source: So Taguchi. Taguchi, who doesn't really have a role with the Phils and rarely sees any playing time, came up with the bases loaded and the Phillies down by 2 and delivered a clutch double that tied the game. Jimmy Rollins would then follow with a double of his own to score two more runs and put the Phillies ahead for good. Brad Lidge gave up a run in the 9th but held on to earn his 22nd save of the season.

Joe Blanton made his Phillie debut and failed to impress, going 6 innings and giving up 5 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks. I'll give Blanton a pass for now because he was put into a difficult situation in his first start with the Phils, but Adam Eaton could have done what he did. Johan Santana had a good start for the Mets that was wasted by the bullpen that was without closer Billy Wagner who is out with a shoulder injury. The Mets are talking about trying to acquire another bat before the trade deadline but after tonight it's clear they need some help in the pen.

Game Two in the series is tomorrow, with Brett Myers returning to take on John Maine. With Florida winning tonight against the Braves, the Mets have fallen back into a tie for second place, but the NL East is still tight all around.

Highlights from the game, including interviews with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino:

With the division lead on the line, the Phillies take on Mets

The Phillies' hold atop the NL East is in jeopardy starting tonight when they travel to New York to take on the Mets. This should be a great series filled with interesting storylines, including how Joe Blanton will do in his Phillies debut and how Brett Myers will fare in his comeback. The Mets will be sending their ace to the mound tonight in Johan Santana and he will try to show why the Mets made the deal for him in the first place.

Enjoy the game, and enjoy another picture of the Phillies Statue of Liberty that was in New York for the All Star Game:

Monday, July 21, 2008

John Stevens = Hockey News Coach of the Year

John Stevens, head coach of the Flyers, was snubbed by the NHL when they gave Bruce Boudreau of the Washington Capitals the Jack Adams Award for Coach of the Year, but he was rewarded today by a well-respected hockey media source: The Hockey News. Stevens, who took the Flyers from the worst team in the NHL to the Eastern Conference Finals was recognized by the Hockey News as their Coach of the Year.

That Stevens didn't win the Jack Adams Award and Boudreau did was suprising, considering Boudreau coaches a team the Flyers beat in the playoffs. It was even more shocking that Stevens wasn't even a finalist for the NHL award. Stevens, along with GM Paul Holmgren, were instrumental in the incredible turnaround the Flyers had this past season. Holmgren gave him all the pieces but it was up to Stevens to fit them all together and make things click.

Congrats John Stevens, you deserve it!

The Warriors are interested in Lou Williams

The Golden State Warriors have some cap space to play with, so they are honing in on a Sixers guard who is a restricted free agent. No, they don't want Andre Iguodala, but, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, they apparently are looking into signing Louis Williams to an offer sheet.

While the Sixers have publicly said they would match any offer sheet given to either Williams or Iguodala, the Warriors might have enough cap space to offer Williams a bloated contract that the Sixers would think twice about matching. Williams makes plenty of sense for the Warriors due to the instant offense and no defense he provides, sort of like a very poor man's Baron Davis.

Expect the Sixers to hold on to Williams if the contract offer is reasonable. Williams is a key bench player and could eventually take over at point when Andre Miller leaves.

Phillies upset on their off-day

The Phils have an off day after dropping back into a first place tie with the Mets, but there is still a ton of news and information to pass along:

*Manuel upset Charlie Manuel is upset with the hitters after not coming through with more offense to support Cole Hamel's good outing yesterday. He was especially upset with the clutch hitting, noting that the Phillies "situational hitting is absolutely terrible". The Phillies offense has been inconsistent all year, exploding for 20 runs at times and looking feeble at other times.

*Burrell also upset Any chance that Pat Burrell was going to come back to Philly next year is probably being ruined by Charlie Manuel. Manuel still insists on sitting Burrell in the late innings of any game where the Phils have the lead and Pat isn't happy about it, saying " "I'm upset, absolutely. I'm upset, and I have been for a long time. It's not personal. I don't want to ever come out of close games." Burrell is continually being taken out of games where he could have been up in a key situation later on so I can see why he is upset. While I understand the reasoning of removing a bad fielder during the late stages of a close game, Manuel is too quick with the hook in one run games. Losing Pat's bat is sometimes a bigger loss than any mistake he could make in the field.

*Big Mets series starts tomorrow The Phillies and Mets are once again locked into a tie for first in the NL East, but a three game series that starts Tuesday will give us a division leader, at least for now. Pedro Martinez is injured so he will miss his next start, so the pitching match-ups look like this for the series:

Tuesday: Joe Blanton vs. Johan Santana
Wednesday: Brett Myers vs. John Maine
Thursday: Jamie Moyer vs. Oliver Perez

Two interesting starts for the Phillies, with Blanton making his debut facing off against Santana and Myers making his return against a hot Mets team.

*Holliday rumors still circulating I think it's a bit of a non-story because everything I have read said the trade talks are off, but the Phillies have been rumored to be going after both Matt Holliday and Brian Fuentes of the Rockies in a possible blockbuster deal. The deal would gut the Phillies farm system, forcing them to give up Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson and other top prospects, plus Shane Victorino. Seems like a bad deal unless the Phils can get Holliday to agree to a contract extension since he will be a free agent at seasons end.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Flyers extend Lupul for 4 more years

Joffrey Lupul, who would have been a restricted free agent following the 08-09 season, signed a contract extension with the Flyers that will keep him in Philly for four more years. Terms of the deal have yet to be announced, but expect Lupul to get a raise from the 2.3 million he will make this season. Lupul has been a key member of the Flyers offensive attack ever since he was acquired from Edmonton last off-season with Jason Smith for Joni Pitkanen and Geoff Sanderson. Lupul finished his first season in Philadelphia with 46 points in 56 games and had several key goals in the Flyers playoff run, including the one that vaulted them past the Capitals and into the second round.

While the amount of money he will receive has not been announced, this is another good move by the Flyers, who now have their core forwards of Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell and Lupul locked up through the 2010-2011 season. As long as the Lupul deal averages out to about 3 million a year, the Flyers made an excellent move.

UPDATE: Lupul's contract is reportedly worth 4.25 million a year, making him the 6th highest paid Flyer. That's quite a bit of money for an oft-injured player, but Lupul is still young so the Flyers will be getting his best years.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Moyer fries Fish again, Phillies re-take first place

(AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
The young Marlin line-up simply can't figure out what Jamie Moyer is throwing. Moyer once again baffled the Marlins in a 4-2 Phillies win on Friday night to move his career record against Florida to 10-0. Moyer went 6 innings and gave up 2 runs before turning it over to the Phillies bullpen, who shut the door on the Marlins. Brad Lidge quickly got over his All-Star Game loss and pitched a perfect 9th inning to get his 21st save in as many chances.

Offensively, Ryan Howard continued the tear he was on leading right up to the All-Star break and hit his 29th homer of the season. Geoff Jenkins also added a homer of his own.

The Mets finally lost a game tonight after winning 10 straight which means the Phils moved into sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Highlights of the game:

Phillies officially demote Eaton to the bullpen

With the acquisition of Joe Blanton and the return of Brett Myers, Adam Eaton figured to be the odd man out of the Phillie rotation. The Phillies made it official today, announcing that Eaton has lost his spot in the rotation and will now pitch out of the bullpen.

While many Phillie fans wish Eaton was traded or taken off the team altogether this is at least a step in the right direction. Eaton is known for having terrible innings in the early stages of games, so who knows how he will perform coming out of the bullpen, something he has only done twice in his major league career.

Eaton currently has a record of 5-8 and an ERA of 5.71.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Phillies get their arm: Joe Blanton

After the Brewers and Cubs made major moves to bolster their rotations, you knew it was only a matter of time before the Phillies responded. While the Phils weren't able to pick up a top line starter, they were able to acquire Joe Blanton, a serviceable pitcher, from the Oakland Athletics. The Phillies gave up three prospects in the deal: infielder Adrian Cardenas, pitcher Josh Outman and outfielder Matt Spencer.

Blanton has been below average this year, accumulating a 5-12 record and sporting an ERA of 4.96. He was much better last year when his ERA was below 4, so the Phillies are hoping a change of scenery can help him return to form. Blanton is more of a number 3 starter than the top flight starter the Phils hoped to acquire, but he is an innings eater and he will be a big upgrade over Adam Eaton, who looks to have lost his spot in the rotation with Brett Myers returning next week.

While the Phillies were able to hold on to their best prospect, Carlos Carrasco, A's GM Billy Beane always seems to come out on the better end of these deals. Cardenas has the most upside of these players and Outman was seen as a possible option for the rotation down the road. That's a pretty big price to pay for a pitcher having a terrible year but it was one the Phillies thought they had to make to go for it all.

On the surface, it looks like the Phillies gave up way too much for a slightly above average pitcher, but if Brett Myers can come back and be the number 2 starter we all thought he could be and Joe Blanton assumes the number 3 role, then the rotation might actually round into something pretty good. That's a big "if", though. Blanton is under contract until 2010, so we will have plenty of time to find out if he is worth the price the Phillies paid.

Click here for Blanton's complete career statistics.

Flyers 08/09 schedule released

It doesn't have the same fan anticipation as the NFL schedule release, but the NHL released their full 2008/2009 regular season schedule today. The Flyers season is bookended with home games against the New York Rangers, beginning on October 11th and ending on April 12th. In between, the Flyers play their division rivals six times each and they will play every team at least one time.

Click here to see the full Flyers schedule.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Welcome back, Brett: Myers to return to the rotation July 23

After spending about three weeks in the minors, Brett Myers thinks he is ready to return to the Phillies, and apparently the team agrees. Myers will make his final minor league start on Friday and return to the major league rotation July 23rd against the Mets.

The return of Myers likely means J.A. Happ's time in the rotation is over. Happ was sent down to the minors after two good starts to keep him on a normal pitching schedule but is probably the odd man out, although the Phillies could do everyone a favor and take Adam Eaton out of the rotation instead.

Welcome back, Myers, let's hope you've got your head on straight.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chase hates booing

Chase Utley let New York know what he thinks of their booing at the Home Run Derby:

Monday, July 14, 2008

Phillies enter All-Star Break clinging to First Place

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
It took some late heroics, but the Phillies were able to hold on to their slim lead in the NL East heading into the All-Star break. With the Mets streaking, winning 9 straight, the Phillies have watched their NL East lead dwindle as the team played inconsistently.

After a poor performance on Saturday that I had the unfortunate opportunity to see first hand, the Phillies needed a late Pat Burrell homer to get past the D-backs, 6-3, on Sunday. With the game tied 2-2 in the 8th inning, Burrell connected on a three-run shot to put the Phillies up for good. Cole Hamels had another solid outing and the Phillies are able to go into the break on a solid note, although they are only 1/2 game up on the Mets:

So why isn't Pat Burrell in the All-Star Game??

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Phillies win in exciting fashion over the D-backs

(AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)
What more could you ask for? Ryan Howard homered. Shane Victorino pulled back a homer to save a run and later tripled in a pair of runs to send the game to extra innings. And, of course, the Phillies won on a Jayson Werth single in the 12th inning. Great win for the Phils!

Highlights of the exciting game:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Burrell fails to make All-Star game, doesn't like what the Phillies are offering

While his numbers show he should be an All-Star, in the end, Pat Burrell didn't get enough fan support and therefore won't be participating in the All-Star game. Burrell finished third behind the winner, Corey Hart of the Brewers, and the second place finisher, David Wright of the Mets. Evan Longoria of the Rays won the final spot in the American League.

There is no word on how far behind Burrell finished but Hart did receive 8 million votes. Here is a comparison of Burrell and Hart's numbers through July 10th, you tell me who deserves to be on the All-Star team:

Burrell: 22 HR, 54 RBI, .279 AVG, .412 OBP, .581 SLG, .993 OPS
Hart: 15 HR, 57 RBI, .292 AVG, .332 OBP, .510 SLG, .842 OPS

While Hart has the higher batting average and a few more RBIs, Burrell is better in every other category. I guess the fans in Milwaukee did a better job stuffing the ballot boxes than the fans in Philly.

In other Pat the Bat news, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, this will be Burrell's last year in Philadelphia. After Brad Lidge signed an extension with the Phillies last week, Stark had this to say:

"...don't expect the Phillies' other impending free agent, Pat Burrell, to be the next to sign. We're hearing that the Phillies' extension conversation with Burrell's agent, Greg Genske, was short and not real sweet. It's hard to envision the Phillies offering more than two years and around $20 million to Burrell. And that's not even close to what Burrell and Genske have in mind. "

Sound like this will be Pat's farewell tour in Philly.

Red-hot Howard powers Phils past Cardinals again

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
For everyone who has been criticizing Ryan Howard's play this season, you can stop now. Yes, he strikes out too much. Yes, he isn't going to hit for a high average. But, man, is he destroying the ball right now. He was the offense today, hitting his major-league leading 26th and 27th homers today to lead the Phillies over the Cardinals, 4-1. Howard had 3 RBIs to increase his Phillie record for ribbies before the all-star break to a league-leading 83. He's also hitting .234, a 30 point increase over his average a month ago. In the month of July, Howard now has 7 homers in 10 games. In short, while the rest of the Phillie line-up continues to scuffle, Howard continues to tear the cover off of the ball and keep the Phillies atop the NL East.

Jamie Moyer put together a quality start, scattering 7 hits in 7 innings, giving up only one run. Ryan Madsen and J.C. Romero combined to close out the game, giving Brad Lidge a day off.

The Phillies got a nice series win, taking 2 out of 3 from the Cardinals. The Phillies will close out the first half of the season with a three game series with the Diamondbacks that begins tomorrow.

Highlights of the game, including Howard's homers and Chase Utley's great defensive play in the 1st, from ESPNEWS:

Phillies send Happ to the minors, call infielder Cervenak up

J.A. Happ, coming off the best start of his major league career, was sent to the minors today. It seemed like a curious move at first, but with the all-star break coming up, Happ wouldn't get another start until late July, so sending him to the minors will keep him on a regular pitching schedule. The Phillies will likely re-assess their starting rotation after the all-star break and call Happ back up, or bring Myers back if he's ready to return. Hopefully we see Happ again soon because he has proven he deserves a chance.

Mike Cervenak, career minor leaguer, was called up to replace Happ on the roster. He's a non-prospect who can play third, first and in the outfield. His career minor league batting average sits just below .300. He probably won't get a ton of playing time but can be a late inning defensive sub.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Phillies use late homers to snap 4 game losing streak

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
The Phillies offense has been in a funk lately but they did just enough to squeak past the Cardinals, 4-2, and earn a victory that snapped their four game losing streak. The game was tied 2-2 in the 8th inning when Ryan Howard hit a homer to break the tie and Pedro Feliz followed three batters later with a homer of his own to give the Phils a 2 run cushion. For Howard, it was his 25th of the season and that ties him with Chase Utley for the league lead:

As it says in the clip, that homer also gives Howard 80 RBIs on the season which breaks the Phillies team record for most RBIs before the All-Star break. Howard also got a pair of hits in the game, raising his average to .231, the highest its been since April 5th, the 5th game of the season! Howard has really started to turn things around this month, hitting .361 with 5 homers and 12 RBIs in July.

J.A. Happ put together a solid start, going 6 and 1/3rd innings and giving up only 2 earned runs. Happ walked 4 batters and gave up 5 hits, but he managed to pitch his way out of most of the jams. Seeing Happ go deeper into the game was a welcome sight, one that shows he may develop into a reliable starter sooner rather than later.

Brad Lidge made things interesting in the 9th, but he was able to continue his perfect streak of 20 saves in 20 attempts.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Elton Brand is a Sixer!!

The Sixers appear to have pulled it off. After trading away Rodney Carney and Calvin Booth to clear up cap space, the Sixers have lured the best available free agent, Elton Brand, away from the Clippers. According to ESPN, the Sixers have offered Brand a 5 year deal worth a reported 82 million dollars, and Brand is going to accept it.

The move makes the Sixers an instant contender in the Eastern Conference, where everything is up for grabs behind the Celtics. Ed Stefanski appears to have pulled off a major move in his first off-season as the Sixers GM, one that will help the team continue it's rise to the top.

Brand's career stats:

Year Team G MPG FG% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG BPG TO PF PPG
99-00 CHI 81 37.0 0.482 0.685 4.3 5.7 10.0 1.9 1.6 2.81 3.20 20.1
00-01 CHI 74 39.3 0.476 0.708 3.9 6.2 10.1 3.2 1.6 2.96 3.30 20.1
01-02 LAC 80 37.8 0.527 0.742 5.0 6.6 11.6 2.4 2.0 2.16 3.20 18.2
02-03 LAC 62 39.6 0.502 0.685 4.6 6.8 11.3 2.5 2.5 2.60 3.30 18.5
03-04 LAC 69 38.7 0.493 0.773 3.9 6.4 10.3 3.3 2.2 2.80 3.30 20.0
04-05 LAC 81 37.0 0.503 0.752 3.7 5.9 9.5 2.6 2.1 2.26 3.00 20.0
05-06 LAC 79 39.2 0.527 0.775 3.0 7.0 10.0 2.6 2.5 2.19 2.90 24.7
06-07 LAC 80 38.5 0.533 0.761 3.4 6.0 9.3 2.9 2.2 2.53 3.00 20.5
07-08 LAC 8 34.3 0.456 0.787 2.6 5.4 8.0 2.0 1.9 2.13 2.60 17.6
Career -- 614 38.3 0.505 0.738 3.9 6.3 10.2 2.7 2.1 2.52 3.10 20.3

Flyers lose Thoreson to Europe

When the Flyers signed Arron Asham earlier this week, my first hunch was it meant that Patrick Thoreson would not be a Flyer next year, and I was proven correct today. Thoreson, a restricted free agent, refused a contract offered by the Flyers and accepted a deal to play in Europe next season. The Flyers apparently only offered him a 2-way deal, one that meant he would likely split time between the NHL and AHL and Thoreson would only sign a 1-way deal that would ensure he would spend the entire season with the big club.

I am surprised that the Flyers weren't willing to offer Thoreson a 1-way deal considering how well he played down the stretch. I thought Thoreson did enough to earn a spot on the fourth line for next year but the Flyers apparently didn't agree. Losing Thoreson isn't a major blow to the Flyers although it will hurt their depth. The Flyers likely signed Asham with the idea that he would replace Thoreson although each one brings different things to the table.

Here is the lasting memory we will all have of Thoreson. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the team:


Flyers lines:
Here are the likely Flyer forward lines for next year updated with the latest transactions:

Gagne/Briere/Hartnell
Lupul/Richards/Giroux
Upshall/Carter/Knuble
Asham/Metropolit/Downie

Extras: Cote, Kane

Knuble and Giroux are interchangeable on the second and third lines. I put Giroux higher because he will need to play with more skill players. I put Asham ahead of Cote simply because he has more experience and the Flyers gave him a bigger contract.

Sixers deal Carney, Booth to clear salary for Brand or Smith

According to Yahoo Sports, the Sixers have made an interesting trade that helps clear cap space to sign a big-time free agent. The trade can't be announced until tomorrow, but the Sixers have agreed to trade Rodney Carney, Calvin Booth and a future 1st round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a 2.8 million dollar trade exception.

While this trade looks extremely lopsided on paper, and giving up a first round pick is never a good thing, the Sixers have now positioned themselves to make a serious run at one of the two big free agents out there, Elton Brand or Josh Smith. The trade clears up an extra two million dollars that can then be built into a salary offer for either player.

It has been speculated that Brand was going to go back to Los Angeles to team up with the newest Clipper, Baron Davis, but as more time passes, the Sixers have gotten increasingly aggressive in going after Brand. ESPN's Marc Stein reports that the Sixers are a "serious threat" to lure Brand out of Los Angeles. The Sixers initially didn't think they could compete financially but with the trade they are right in the mix.

Elton Brand is probably Plan A, making Josh Smith, who visited the Sixers last week, Plan B. Smith, a restricted free agent, is in a different situation from Brand, who is an unrestricted free agent. Any offer the Sixers make to Smith can be matched by the Atlanta Hawks, so it makes sense that the Sixers would first pursue the player they have more control over signing.

Losing Rodney Carney, and to a lesser extent Calvin Booth, won't hurt the Sixers too much, but it does affect their depth. Carney showed flashes of potential but struggled to find his place on the Sixers. With the immediate impact that Thaddeus Young made on the team, Carney became expendable. Booth was a bit player who could block shots but made little impact when he was on the floor.

The Sixers have now lined themselves up to sign a big-time free agent that can have a huge impact on the team. Let's hope the extra money is enough incentive to lure Brand or Smith to play for this up-and-coming Sixers team.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Arron Asham signed by the Flyers

Arron Asham, a 205 pound tough guy who played for the New Jersey Devils last season, signed a one year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. As of now, the Flyers have not announced the value of the contract, but it will push the Flyers even further over the salary cap. Asham did earn 700,000 last season, so he likely signed for somewhere close to a million dollars.

Asham is your typical agitator, doing whatever it takes to get under the opponents skin. He is the type of guy everyone hates unless he is playing for your team. He is not a strong offensive player, scoring a total of 135 points in 498 career games in the NHL. Asham started his career with the Canadiens and has since played with the Islanders and the Devils.

I question this move by the Flyers because it seems a bit redundant. The Flyers just re-signed Riley Cote to a three year deal and then they decide to bring in yet another tough guy? Is there really room in the new NHL for a team to carry two agitators? I also wonder how well Cote and Asham will get along, considering they have been in a few scraps in the past:



*Update: Asham actually signed a two year deal with the Flyers, worth 640,000 per year. Seems about right.

Flyers extend Holmgren for three more years

After completing the amazing turnaround of a franchise that had it's worst season ever, the Flyers have rewarded the GM that helped make it happen. According to the Delco Times, Paul Holmgren, who made a number of significant deals last off-season that gave the team an influx of talent, was given a three year contract extension that will keep him as the GM until 2012.

In his short time as Flyers General Manager, Holmgren has proven that he knows how to build a winner. He makes smart trades and knows when it is time to unload a player to get maximum value. This off-season, he has made a number of smaller moves to bolster the defense, the teams biggest weakness last year.

Flyers fans have complete confidence in Holmgren and he is definitely deserving of this extension. He is quickly rising amongst the ranks of the best GMs in the game and the Flyers were smart to lock him up now. He has definitely been a huge improvement over the man he replaced, Bobby Clarke.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Flash Gordon to the DL, C.C. to the Brewers

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Tom Gordon has been struggling recently, giving up a run to the Mets on Saturday that helped raise his ERA to 5.16 for the season, but it appears that injuries have been the reason for his poor pitching. On Sunday night Gordon was placed on the 15 day disabled list due to elbow inflammation. In his absence, expect Ryan Madsen and J.C. Romero to take over the 8th inning set-up duties. Perhaps Brett Myers could come up and be the set-up guy?

There is no word yet on who will take Gordon's spot on the roster, but it won't be C.C. Sabathia. Philadelphia had been a rumored destination for the 2007 AL Cy Young winner, but the Milwaukee Brewers appear to have won the C.C. sweepstakes. The Brewers have agreed to trade stud prospect Matt LaPorta and probably a few other minor leaguers in exchange for the big lefty. How serious the Phillies actually were in talks for Sabathia we will never know, but the Phils will have to turn their sights now to Erik Bedard or another lesser pitcher, like A.J. Burnett, if they want to shore up their pitching staff.

Utley, Lidge are in, Burrell needs our help to go to the All-Star Game

The All-Star teams were announced today, and two Phillies are going to New York: Chase Utley and the man with the new contract, Brad Lidge. Utley was voted in by the fans to start at second base and Lidge was selected by NL manager Clint Hurdle. Both are very deserving all stars who are at the top of their respective positions.

Another Phillie having a standout year, Pat Burrell, was chosen as one of the "Final Vote" players, meaning the fans get their say on who will fill out the roster. Burrell goes up against Corey Hart, Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand and David Wright for the honor. Click here to go and vote for Pat the Bat.

Click here for the complete All-Star roster.

Phillies extend Lidge for 3 more years

The Phillies acquired Brad Lidge in one of the best trades in their history this past off-season, and now they have him locked up until at least 2011. Lidge, who would have been a free agent at the end of the season, signed a three year deal worth 37.5 million dollars. The deal also includes a team option for 2012.

Lidge has been basically perfect this season, converting all 19 of his save opportunities and posting an ERA of 0.77. After struggling through his last few seasons with the Astros, he has come to Philadelphia and re-established himself as an elite closer, and now he is going to get paid like one.

This is a great deal for the Phillies and for Lidge. It solidifies the back end of the bullpen for the foreseeable future. This also means that Brett Myers won't be the closer for the Phillies anytime soon, so he had better learn how to be a starting pitcher again.

I applaud the Phillies for breaking their usual mold and deciding to extend a contract during the season. Will they do the same for their other big upcoming free agent, Pat Burrell?

Friday, July 4, 2008

Phillies beat Mets on Victorino's walk-off single

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Highlights for now, details to follow:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

King Cole leads Phillies to sweep

(AP Photo/John Bazemore)
It's amazing how quickly things can turn around. Heading into this week, things looked grim for the Phillies, who had lost 11 of their last 14 games and were losing their grip on first place. Now, following a three game sweep of the Braves, everything seems right again.

Cole Hamels was the story of tonight's win, nearly shutting out Atlanta in a 4-1 win. Hamels was able to go 8 and 2/3rds innings without giving up a run before running into some trouble in the 9th that forced Tom Gordon to have to finish off the game. Hamels ended up giving up only 5 hits and 1 run while striking out 7 batters. It was good to see him have is first truly dominating performance since he struck out 13 Marlins back on June 11th.

Offensively the Phillies relied on the longball, with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz all hitting homers. Howard and Utley continue to be near the top of the league in both RBIs and homers, with Howard leading in RBIs and Utley leading in homers.

The Phillies now set their sights on a four game series with their biggest rivals, the New York Mets. The series begins tomorrow with a tough pitching match-up as newly anointed starter J.A. Happ will take on Johan Santana. It should be an interesting series, with the Mets looking to get back in the race and the Phillies looking to put them away.

Highlights of Thursday's win:

Happ it is. J.A. to start for the Phils tomorrow

The Phillies have announced their replacement for Brett Myers: J.A. Happ will join the rotation, starting tomorrow against the Mets. There is no word yet on who will get sent down to make room for Happ, although recent call-up R.J. Swindle is the likely candidate.

Happ has started one major league game, last season against the Mets. He went four innings, gave up 7 hits and 5 runs. Let's hope he does better this time around.

Brett Myers also made his minor league debut last night, and with the way it went, we might not be seeing Myers in a Phillies uniform for a while. Myers pitched for Triple A Lehigh Valley and gave up 5 hits and 3 runs in 5 innings, striking out 6 batters while walking a pair. Not exactly the sparkling numbers you would expect from a star major league pitcher pitching in the minors, but it is an improvement over what he was doing with the Phils.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Winning streak!! Phillies win two in a row!

REUTERS/Tami Chappell (UNITED STATES)
I haven't been posting as much about the Phillies lately, with their poor play and the NHL and NBA free agency periods, it has been hard to get excited about the Fightin' Phils. Now that interleague is over, however, the Phillies appear to be right back on track, winning again tonight over the Braves, 7-3. It was the second win in a row for the Phillies, the first time they had won two straight since June 12th and 13th. The win also guarantees the Phillies a series victory after losing six straight series.

There was a bit of a scare in the 9th inning when Ryan Howard had two errors that helped load the bases, but other than that the Phillies got out to an early lead and never looked back. Homers by Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell lead the way for the Phils offensively and Adam Eaton pitched his way out of enough jams to earn the win.

The Phillies wrap up the series with Atlanta tomorrow when Cole Hamels takes the mound against Jair Jurrjens of the Braves. Brett Myers' spot in the rotation normally would pitch tomorrow, but since the Phils sent him to the minors, they have bumped up Hamels. They still haven't announced who will be the replacement pitcher for Friday's game against the Mets, however. Count on either Chad Durbin or J.A. Happ to make the spot start.

Highlights of the win:

Flyers fill out their roster by signing Jones, Cote

Amidst all the free agent signings and trades, the Flyers also found time to sign a pair of restricted free agents yesterday, defenseman Randy Jones and forward Riley Cote. Jones signed a two year deal worth 5.5 million overall while Cote signed a three year deal worth 550,000 per year.

These signings likely round out the Flyers roster, which, if the season started today, would look something like this:

Gagne/Briere/Hartnell
Lupul/Richards/Giroux
Upshall/Carter/Knuble
Cote/Metropolit/Downie

Timonen/Coburn
Hatcher/Jones
Eminger/Parent

Extras: Vaananen, Kukkonen, Thoreson (?), Kane

The Flyers have plenty of defensemen but they seem to be one quality forward short. Patrick Thoreson is listed as an extra skater because he has yet to sign with the Flyers, although he is a restricted free agent. Signing him, if they have the money, would push Cote to a lesser role, meaning he could suit up only when an enforcer is necessary.

Barring a trade, the Flyers appear to be done making moves this off-season. There is still a possibility that Derian Hatcher could retire, which would free up 3.5 million dollars to sign another player, but that doesn't seem likely at this point. What you see above is probably what your 08/09 Philadelphia Flyers will look like.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Flyers add forward Metropolit and two minor leaguers

The Flyers continue to make moves and that's keeping this blogger busy. After making a trade with LA and signing Ossi Vaananen, the Flyers have added a pair of forwards to the mix, Glen Metropolit and Nate Raduns. They also signed another defenseman, Sean Curry.

Metropolit signed a two year deal with the Flyers for a million dollars a year. Metropolit is a solid defensive forward who will replace Jim Dowd as the Flyers fourth line center. He has played 262 career NHL games with 5 different organizations, including last season with the Boston Bruins. He scored 33 points last season with Boston but he is known as a hustle guy and a great penalty killer. He will be locked into the fourth line center spot with Danny Briere, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter ahead of him, but he can also play any forward position.

Raduns is a less exciting player. He played last season with the Worcester Sharks in the AHL, picking up 27 points in 56 games. He is 24 years old and figures to be a Phantom for the foreseeable future.

Curry is another player destined for the Phantoms. He played last year for the Providence Bruins of the AHL and has never played an NHL game in six professional seasons. He is huge at 6 foot 5 and 227 pounds, but slow.

What's next, Holmgren?