Sunday, August 31, 2008

Phillies Weekend in Review: Werth helps Phils earn split with Cubs, Benson released

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
After a rough start to the series against the Cubs, the Phillies finished out strong this weekend, winning a pair of games against the best team in the National League. They were helped on Sunday by the late scratch of Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, but the Phillies played some good baseball to earn both victories.

Jayson Werth was the story of the weekend, going a combined 5 for 8 at the plate with 3 homers and 7 runs batted in. Werth's red-hot bat single-handedly carried the offense and he is starting to put together some great numbers on the season. He now has 21 homers and 56 RBI to go with a .282 batting average. Pretty good numbers for a guy who doesn't play every day.

The pitching staff also deserves credit for a solid effort this weekend. On Saturday, Brett Myers continued his dominating ways in striking out 8 batters and earning his 5th win since his return to the majors. Myers looks better than he ever has and is still sporting an ERA well below 2 since his return. The bullpen was huge as well, with J.C. Romero getting the Phillies out of a big jam on Saturday and Brad Lidge saving both games in perfect 1-2-3 fashion.

The Phillies remain 1 game behind the Mets for first place but they now get a break with a series with the Nationals starting Monday. The Mets, on the other hand, will face a tough Brewers team before welcoming the Phillies to New York for a big series next weekend. With 25 games left, every game is huge from this point forward.

Benson gone Sorry, Anna Benson fans, the Kris Benson era is over in Philadelphia. Benson signed a minor league deal with the Phillies with the hope that he would be the first player called up should they need rotation help but he took so long to get healthy that several better options emerged. Benson didn't fit into the Phillies plans for the rest of the year, so the team simply released him. This isn't really that big of a loss considering the Phillies simply took a flier on Benson and he didn't pan out. Perhaps he'll catch on with another team desperate for pitching, or desperate for Anna.

Eagles moves: LB Daniels claimed, Boiman released, McDougle a Giant

The Eagles finalized their 53 man roster yesterday but that doesn't mean they are done tinkering with it. The team claimed a former Eagle, linebacker Tank Daniels, and added him to the roster. To make room for Daniels, LB Rocky Boiman was released.

Daniels, who played 6 games for the Eagles in 2006, was released by the New York Giants. Daniels knows the system and is a good special teams player, so he is a good addition to the team. He's not a star player, but he knows his role and he will play it well.

Boiman is now looking for a job. I was surprised he even made the team initially, considering how poorly he played in the preseason. They were looking for Boiman to be a special teams leader but it never happened.

McDougle to the Giants Meanwhile, one former Eagle has found a new job. Defensive end Jerome McDougle, who had an outstanding preseason, was signed by the New York Giants to help them replace Osi Umenyiora, who they lost for the season. While it hurts to see the Eagles help out a division rival, McDougle isn't going to be the Giants savior. McDougle was a bust for the Eagles for the last few years, so just because he had a couple of good games against back-ups from other teams doesn't mean he's going to be a stud. Seeing as how he's probably the 5th defensive end in New York, he might not even suit up most games for the Giants. Don't mourn the loss of McDougle until he actually does something on the field in the regular season.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Your 2008 Philadelphia Eagles Roster

The Eagles made their final cuts today, releasing 12 players and placing 2 more on Injured Reserve. Offensive linemen King Dunlap and Mike Gibson were both placed on IR and the following 12 players were cut:

FB Jed Collins
FB Jason Davis
WR Michael Gasperson
WR Shaheer McBride
TE Kris Wilson
G Scott Young
DE Jerome McDougle
DT Mike Marquardt
DT Montae Reagor
LB Justin Roland
LB Andy Studebaker
CB Kyle Arrington

McDougle is the biggest surprise here after a great preseason, but the Eagles didn't really need a 7th defensive end. McDougle will make someone else's team, let's hope it's not the Giants. The cutting of Davis and Collins means that Tony Hunt is your starting fullback. Let's hope he learns the job quick.

A few of the guys cut should make the practice squad, like Andy Studebaker, Shaheer McBride and Michael Gasperson. I would also expect the Eagles to keep a cornerback or two considering they are keeping only four on the actual roster.

Over the last few weeks, I have been making my own projections of the Eagles rosters. Here is the Eagles actual roster, with changes from my final version in bold:

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Lorenzo Booker

FB(1): Tony Hunt

WR(6): Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis

TE(3): L.J. Smith, Brent Celek, Matt Schobel

LT(1): Tra Thomas

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Mike McGlynn

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Shawn Andrews, Max Jean-Gilles

RT(2): Jon Runyan, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Victor Abiamiri, Bryan Smith

DT(4): Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(6): Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays, Rocky Boiman

CB(4): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Joselio Hanson

FS(2): Brian Dawkins, J.R. Reed, Quintin Demps

SS(3): Quintin Mikell, Sean Considine

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

As you can see, I was only off at a couple of positions. The Eagles decided to go with the rookie Bryan Smith at defensive end instead of Jerome McDougle. I was also surprised to see Rocky Boiman make the team considering how ineffective he was on special teams, but I guess the Eagles feel like they need a veteran presence with their linebackers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Eagles cut 8, roster now at 67

The Eagles have until tomorrow at 6 pm to finalize their 53 man roster. Today, they cut 8 players to get their roster down to 67, meaning there are still 14 more cuts to go.

The following players were cut:
RB Ryan Moats
WR Bam Childress
WR Jamal Jones
G Stefan Rodgers
LB Pago Togafau
CB Therrian Fontenot
CB Nick Graham
S Marcus Paschal

None of those players are a surprise. Moats is the biggest name listed there, but his days have been numbered for a while considering he was the 5th best running back in camp. He showed some promise as a rookie a few years ago but hasn't shown much improvement since. Childress and Jones both showed some flashes of potential but the Eagles already have too many receivers. Paschal also looks like he might have a future in the NFL but the Eagles are too deep at safety and there is no way they would keep more than 5 on the roster.

There are still 14 more cuts to go. Click here to see how I predicted the Eagles 53 man roster would look.

Phillies acquire Matt Stairs

With the waiver deadline looming on August 31st, the Phillies have been searching for one more bat off the bench, and they have finally acquired one. Left-handed hitter Matt Stairs was recently designated for assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays, and now the Phillies have acquired him for a prospect. As of now, the identity of that prospect is unknown, but it won't be a top-end guy.

Stairs is 40 years old, but he still has some pop in his bat. With Geoff Jenkins out for a little while longer, Stairs will bring a lefty bat to the bench and could fill in at the corner outfield positions if necessary. He's also under contract for next season at 1 million dollars, but I can't see him being a Phillie for an entire season when he doesn't really play any position well. He's meant to be a DH.

Good move by the Phillies. He's a typical Phillies power hitter: he won't get a ton of hits, but when he makes contact it's got a good chance of going out of the park.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cole-lossal bullpen meltdown for Phillies

(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Phillies wasted a Cole Hamels start. Hamels cruised against the Cubs for 7 innings, striking out 6 batters and giving up only 1 run. With the Phillies up 4-1, Hamels was relieved in the 8th inning by Ryan Madson, and the floodgates opened for the Cubs. Madsen failed to get an out, giving up a homer and a pair of hits before he gave way to Chad Durbin. Durbin proceeded to load the bases and then give up a grand slam to Aramis Ramirez, giving the Cubs a 6-4 lead that they held on to for the win.

It was a disappointing loss for the Phils, who not only wasted Hamels' start, but they also missed an opportunity to jump back into a tie for first place with the Mets. It's also a bad sign for the Phillies that the one constant that they have had all year, a solid bullpen, is starting to fail them at a critical time in the year. Whether it's that they've been overworked or not, the bullpen simply hasn't been as dominating over the last few weeks.

The Phillies have three more games with the Cubs, let's hope they haven't wasted their best chance at knocking off the best team in the NL.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sports Illustrated Predicts Eagles vs. Patriots in the Super Bowl

Just got my Sports Illustrated Football Preview in the mail, and the first thing I did was flip to the predictions page. To my surprise, SI picks the Eagles to win the NFC East with a 12-4 record. The Cowboys have been a near-unanimous selection to win the East by most national publications, but SI picks them second at 10-6. I was even more surprised when I glanced at the magazine's predictions for the playoffs. They have the Eagles over the Cowboys in the Divisional Round, then the Eagles over the Vikings in the NFC Championship, setting up a rematch of Super Bowl XXXIX! They do pick the Eagles to lose to the Patriots, but I am stunned that SI thinks that much of the Eagles!

Don't get me wrong, I think the Eagles will have a strong year, but I have a hard time seeing them beat out the Cowboys for first place. As the preseason has continued on, the Eagles have looked better and better, going from a 9-7 team in my eyes to more of a 10 or 11-win team. Let's hope Sports Illustrated is right and the Eagles make a serious run this year!

Of course, some of the other predictions in SI are questionable. The Vikings at 13-3? I think they are a great sleeper team, but Tarvaris Jackson is still their quarterback. The Raiders at 3-13? Seems a little low to me. I also don't see how the Panthers will go 9-7, although they do have an easy schedule.

Projecting the Eagles 53 man roster, version 3.0

Three games into the preseason, the Eagles roster picture is beginning to clear up. The Eagles played one of their better all-around games against the Patriots, dominating on special teams while showing some encouraging signs of improvement on offense. Here is my third attempt at predicting who will make the Eagles final roster. There aren't too many changes from last time, but anything that is new is listed in bold.

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Lorenzo Booker

FB(1): Tony Hunt

WR(6): Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis

TE(3): L.J. Smith, Brent Celek, Matt Schobel

LT(2): Tra Thomas, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Mike McGlynn

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Shawn Andrews, Max Jean-Gilles

RT(2): Jon Runyan, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Victor Abiamiri, Jerome McDougle

DT(4): Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(5): Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays

CB(4): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Joselio Hanson

FS(2): Brian Dawkins, J.R. Reed, Quintin Demps

SS(3): Quintin Mikell, Sean Considine

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Will start season on injured list: Jack Ikegwuonu
Ikegwuonu won't play this season, he's getting himself healthy for 2009.

Could to start the season on injured list: Victor Abiamiri, Bryan Smith
Abiamiri still thinks he has a shot at being ready, but with all the depth the Eagles have along the defensive line it's possible he will go on IR.
Either Abiamiri or Smith has to go to IR, because there isn't room for that many DE's.

Most likely to get cut/traded: Darren Howard, Lito Sheppard
With McDougle's emergence and his large salary, Howard is a prime candidate to get cut. Lito probably won't be traded at this point, escpecially with how thin the Eagles are at CB now.

Players on the bubble:
RB: Ryan Moats
Moats is done. The Eagles would rather slide Tony Hunt back to running back than have Moats get any carries, making him the 5th RB. His career could be over, although some desperate team might give him a shot.

FB: Jed Collins, Jason Davis
Tony Hunt won't be the best fullback in the world, but the Eagles are doing what they can to give him a roster spot, leaving Collins and Davis out. Collins would have the edge over Davis if Hunt makes the team as a running back instead.

WR: Michael Gasperson, Shaheer McBride, Jamal Jones
Even with the Kevin Curtis injury, the Eagles won't be keeping these guys. They would rather only have 5 receivers on the roster, anyway.

TE: Kris Wilson
Wilson has had a terrible camp and has done nothing to prove he should make it ahead of Schobel. Schobel at least knows the offense even though he doesn't have a ton of talent.

OL: Scott Young, Mike Gibson
I think McGlynn has done enough to earn a spot over Scott Young. Young is versatile and can play a few positions along the line, but the promise of McGlynn is too much to keep stashed away. Gibson will likely be on the practice squad.

DL: Montae Reagor
Reagor had surgery on his knee so he could be stashed on the IR. There are rumors circulating that he will be cut.

LB: Rocky Boiman, Andy Studebaker
Boiman was brought in to be a veteran presence amongst the linebackers and a big special teams contributor but he has been a disappointment on special teams and has yet to show much at linebacker. Studebaker will be stashed on the practice squad.

CB: Nick Graham, Kyle Arrington
Graham and Arrington were battling for the 5th cornerback spot but neither of them will win the job. The Eagles will go with only 4 corners and move Demps if they need a 5th.

S: Marcus Paschal
Keeping only 4 corners allows the Eagles to keep J.R. Reed. Reed was too good down the stretch last year to simply cut. Paschal is good on special teams, but there's no room for him.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

What a win for your FIRST PLACE Phillies!

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
The Phillies won a wild one late Tuesday night, overcoming a 7 run deficit in one of the greatest games in recent memory, an 8-7 victory of the Mets in 13 innings. This game had it all. An unlikely hero in the bottom of the 9th with two outs in Eric Bruntlett. Continued redemption by Jimmy Rollins. A near-complete emptying of the bench (only Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick didn't get on the field). A silly at-bat by Brett Myers. And, of course, a game winning single by Chris Coste in the 13 inning that drove in Shane Victorino, who tripled to lead off the inning.

This was a huge game that was made even bigger given that it was against the Mets, their biggest rival and the team they have now chased down and overtaken for first place in the NL East. This Phillies team is now starting to have some of the magic moments that last years team experienced. They are turning back into the team that you can never count out, a team that always finds a way to battle back. They will look for the sweep against the Mets tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eagles roster down to 75, 22 more cuts to go!

The Eagles made a pair of moves to bring their team roster down to 75, and neither one was a surprise. As expected, Jack Ikegwuonu, a fourth round pick in the 2008 draft, was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. Ikegwuonu tore his ACL this winter and he is expected to spend the year re-habbing and getting prepared for 2009.

The Eagles also cut kicker/punter Richmond McGee. McGee was never really an option to make the team, he was simply camp fodder. While David Akers hasn't exactly lit the world on fire with his kicking lately, the Eagles would need to find someone much better than McGee to replace Akers.

The Eagles will make their final cuts sometime before Saturday at 4 pm, the deadline for teams to have their rosters set at 53. To see my predictions for who will make the team, click here.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sweep Revenge for the Phillies

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Two weeks ago, the Phillies started a four game series against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. All four games were close, but the Phillies got swept by Manny and the Dodgers. Fast forward to today, and the Phillies rode Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins to a 5-0 win to complete a four game sweep of their own over those same Dodgers in Philadelphia. Most of the games in this sweep were not even close as the Phillies got great pitching and finally found their missing bats.

Myers was huge in tonight's game, just like he has been since his return to the majors. Myers pitched 7 shutout innings and struck out 8 batters. He did allow a bunch of runners on base, but he got some timely strikeouts and ground balls that turned into double plays that helped keep the Dodgers off the board. Including his performance tonight, Myers now has 4 wins and an ERA of 1.66 in his 7 starts since returning from the minors. He has also struck out 38 batters in 48 and 2/3rds innings. Those are impressive numbers and prove that Myers is back to the ace he once was.

Jimmy Rollins also had a big night that should, at least temporarily, silence all the boo birds. J-Roll fell a homer short of the cycle, going 3 for 3 with a single, double and triple to go with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Rollins drove in a pair of runs and also scored once himself. He also hustled his butt of to get a triple when Manny Ramirez lazily went after a ball in left field. When Rollins hustles like that, good things always happen.

The Phillies remain a half game behind the Mets, who they will play in a short two game series on Tuesday and Wednesday. The pitching match-ups favor the Mets, who will send Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana to the mound to face Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick. Moyer versus Martinez is the battle of the old pros who either lost their velocity or never had it. Santana has a big edge over Kyle Kendrick who, besides his last start, has been pretty terrible in his past few outings. It's a big series for both teams, hopefully we will have a new division leader after Wednesday.

Bryan Berard is coming to Flyers Camp

The Flyers have added yet another defensemen to their camp roster. Bryan Berard, a veteran who has played for six NHL teams, will be attending the Flyers training camp on a try-out basis. Berard is 31 and played for the New York Islanders last season, suiting up for 54 games and notching 5 goals and 17 assists. Berard has always been known as an offensive defenseman who can do some great things with the puck, but he is also known as someone who has issues defending his own net. He has also had numerous injury issues throughout his career, including a serious eye injury back in 2000 that nearly ended his career.

If Berard is healthy and can still play effectively, he has a good chance to make a case to be on the Flyers roster. The Flyers have a bunch of defensemen set to compete for a spot on the team, but no one is guaranteed much after Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn and Randy Jones. Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Ryan Parent and Lasse Kukkonen will all fight over the remaining three spots, so there could be room for a guy like Berard. Derian Hatcher figures to be placed on injured reserve so we won't be seeing him for a while.

If he plays well, I could see Berard sticking around as a veteran presence and a strong contributor on the power play. Berard is not under contract and wasn't invited by the Flyers, so he is also showcasing his skills for other teams. If the Flyers don't sign him then someone else surely will.

Feliz the hero in Phils win

(AP Photo/H. Rumph Jr.)
Pedro Feliz didn't even enter the game until the 7th inning, but he ended up being the hero of the game, getting game-tying and game-winning hits for the Phillies on Sunday night as they beat the Dodgers for the third time in a row, 5-2. Greg Dobbs started the game for the Phils at third, but Feliz came into the game in a double switch in the 7th, and from there he was Mr. Clutch. With 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th and the Phillies down 2-1, Feliz hit a single to score Shane Victorino from second base and send the game into extra innings. Later, in the 11th inning, with the score still tied at 2, Feliz hit a 3-run homer to win the game. In all, Feliz had 4 RBI and carried the Phillies to victory.

Shane Victorino had a big part in the win, too. He hit a would-be single to left field but turned on the jets and made it to second base, beating out a weak throw by Manny Ramirez. Victorino finished 2 for 4 in the game, and scored the game-tying and game-winning runs.

Ryan Howard was a dud at the plate, going 0 for 4, but he had one of the best catches I have ever seen him make in the 6th inning. Russell Martin of the Dodgers hit a foul ball along the right field line and Howard hustled and dove to make a spectacular catch. I will post highlights if I can find them.

Not to be lost in the dramatic ending of the game, Joe Blanton pitched well for the Phils. He had some early trouble, but only gave up one run in 6 innings in a quality start. He allowed way too many base runners, but he pitched out of most jams, and didn't give up a run after the first inning. If the Phillies could have gotten anything going offensively, Blanton would have easily eanred a win.

The Phillies look to complete their sweep revenge tomorrow against the Dodgers. After losing 4 times to the Dodgers last week, the Phillies can return the favor tomorrow with possibly their best pitcher right now, Brett Myers, taking the mound. Let's hope the Phillies can score some early runs so they won't need late heroics to beat the Dodgers again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Eagles cut 3, roster down to 77

By Tuesday, the Eagles need to cut their roster down to 75 players. The Eagles started that process on Saturday by releasing three players: WR Frantz Hardy, FB Luke Lawton and G Cameron Stephenson. None of these three cuts are surprising, although Lawton was acquired in June from the Colts for a conditional draft pick. Hopefully the condition was that if he didn't make the team, no draft pick would be given to the Colts. Lawton was expendable in the battle for the starting fullback, especially with the recent transition of Tony Hunt into the role. Now, Hunt, Jed Collins and Jason Davis will fight over the spot, with Hunt probably given every opportunity to grab the spot if he can learn where and when to block.

Hardy and Stephenson were not expected to make the team and they likely aren't even fodder for the practice squad.

The Eagles need to make two more cuts in the coming days and there have been some rumors that Monte Reagor might be on his way out. Reagor is dealing with injuries but is lost in the shuffle at defensive tackle. Even if he isn't cut by Tuesday, there is little chance of him being on the team, unless they place him on the injured list.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Myers finally gets his complete game, shuts out Nationals

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Two starts ago, Brett Myers publicly displayed his dismay with being taken out of a game he thought he could finish himself. Tonight, Myers got his chance to complete a game as he struck out nine Nationals in a 4-0 Phillies win. It was his first complete game of the season, and his first since September 20th, 2006.

Myers didn't dominate the game but fought his way through several jams. He gave up nine hits and wasn't helped by some terrible defensive plays, including a bad misplay by Pat Burrell. Burrell gets a pass, though, for throwing out Ryan Zimmerman at home in the first inning. I think we can officially call Brett Myers back now, considering he hasn't given up more than 3 earned runs in any start since he came back to the big leagues on July 23rd. By my calculations, Myers has a 1.94 ERA (9 earned runs in 41 and 2/3rds innings) since his return, showing that he is rounding back into the form of an Opening Day starter.

Offensively, the Phillies didn't get much, but they didn't need much. Greg Dobbs homered and Chris Coste had a pair of singles and a pair of runs. Jimmy Rollins had a rare caught stealing, his second of the season, as he over-slid at second base and got tagged out.

The Nationals have lost 12 games in a row, and the Phillies will look to push them to 13 straight tomorrow night. The 4 game set with the Nationals starts Friday, so the Phils better pad their record while they can.

Kevin Curtis is out, Eagles need recieving help

The Eagles have yet another reason to pursue Anquan Boldin. Kevin Curtis, the Eagles number one wide receiver, will be out for "quite a while" according to head coach Andy Reid. Curtis will undergo surgery on Thursday for a sports hernia and is expected to be out for at least part of the season.

This is a pretty big blow to the already thin Eagles receiving group. Number two wideout Reggie Brown has been out the last week as he deals with a hamstring injury, leaving mostly unproven players and mediocre veterans as the only healthy wide receivers. Brown is expected to be healthy enough for the first game of the season, but he certainly won't be 100%.

Let's hope that the Eagles are doubling their efforts in trying to pry Anquan Boldin away from the Arizona Cardinals, because all of the sudden the wide receivers look really weak. The Eagles never really did have a true number one receiver, but Curtis was effective at stretching the field and making big plays. With this sports hernia injury, even if he comes back sometime during the season, Curtis won't have the same breakaway speed he uses to get open.

The Eagles should now be scouring the league for another receiver. They can't start the season with DeSean Jackson, Greg Lewis and Jason Avant as the only healthy wideouts. Whether it's pulling off the rumored trade for Boldin or signing a veteran like the recently released Joe Horn, the Eagles need to get a dependable, healthy wideout on the team. If they can't, then this team could be closer to an 8-8 team than a playoff team.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Werth saves Phillies on "Campaign Cheer" Night

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Tonight was "Campaign Cheer" night at the ballpark, a creation of the guys over at We Should Be GM's, and the Phillies woke up just in time to give the home crowd a win over the Washington Nationals. Joe Blanton had a short, unsuccessful outing for the Phillies which left the team in a 4-1 hole in the top of the 5th, but the Phillies fought back to tie the game and then eventually win it on a Jayson Werth homer in the 8th inning. Brad Lidge then came in and did what he does best and slammed the door on the Nationals to give the Phillies a 5-4 win.

It was an interesting night at the ballpark, to say the least, in Jimmy Rollins' first game at home since his "frontrunner" comments. I wasn't at the game, but from what I heard during the television broadcast, Rollins was pretty heartily booed for most of the night, although there were occasions when you could hear some faint cheering. He got booed loudly each time he got out in his first three trips to the plate, but in his fourth at-bat, after he hit a long, loud out deep into the outfield, you could hear plenty of cheering. Other than the booing for Rollins, the crowd didn't sound too different from a normal game, so it will be interesting to hear whether the "Campaign Cheer" group feel like their efforts were successful or not.

Anyway, back to the game. The Phillies did pull out a win, but it ended up being a pretty tough game considering how bad the Nationals are. The Nationals do always seem to play the Phils tough, so hopefully there is no one looking past them at the Dodgers series looming for this weekend. Seeing as how the Nationals have lost 11 straight, even this offensively challenged Phillies team should be able to make short work of them.

Sixers bring back Theo Ratliff

Theo Ratliff, who played for the Sixers from 1997 to 2001 and has since played with five different franchises, is coming back to Philly after signing a one year deal with the Sixers. Ratliff is 35 years old, but is still a decent big man with good shot blocking abilities. While this isn't an earth shattering move, signing another big man became a necessity after the Sixers learned they may be without Jason Smith for the year, and Ratliff makes a good veteran compliment to Samuel Dalembert at the center position.

This signing completes your 2008-2009 Sixers roster. Here is the team that will take the floor next season:

Starters:
PG Andre Miller
SG Andre Iguodala
SF Thaddeus Young
PF Elton Brand
C Samuel Dalembert

Bench:
PG Louis Williams
SG Kareem Rush
SG Willie Green
SG Royal Ivey
PF Reggie Evans
F/C Marreese Speights
C Theo Ratliff
F/C Jason Smith (Inj.)

Ed Stefanski has built the deepest Sixers team I have seen in a long time. Every player on the roster is useful, every player has a role. The only problem I see is that there are too many guards on the roster, so we might see Willie Green traded for a draft pick or cash.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Anquan Boldin still demanding a trade, Eagles fans continue to dream

Okay, so I'm gonna stir up the rumor pot again. Way back in March, I speculated about the possibility of Anquan Boldin demanding a trade from the Cardinals, citing his unhappiness with his contract for the reason he wants out. The story came on the heels of the Eagles missing out on Randy Moss, so immediately rumors flew that the Eagles would try to bring Boldin to Philly. The Cardinals publicly stated they wouldn't trade Boldin, and the story died there.

Well, fast forward to August, and the story remains the same. According to Chris Mortenson of ESPN, Anquan Boldin still wants to be traded. Boldin will make only 2.5 million dollars this season, a number that pales to the 10 million a year his counterpart, Larry Fitzgerald, will make. Boldin isn't threatening to hold out or stop practicing or anything, he just wants to get paid.

Of course, the Cardinals still haven't put Boldin on the market, and all indications are that they won't. As long as Boldin keeps playing, Arizona has no sense of urgency to get something done. However, it's unlikely that they will step up and pay Boldin because it's not exactly feasible to have two wide receivers making 10 million dollars a year, so at some point they may be forced to trade him.

The moment that the Cardinals put him on the market, you can bet the Eagles will be the first team in line asking for Boldin's services. The Eagles made it no secret in the offseason that they were trying to bring in a top flight receiver, finally realizing what we all knew, that Kevin Curtis and Reggie Brown are not number one wideouts. The Eagles also have one big trade chip, Lito Sheppard, and the Cardinals aren't exactly known as a team with a stellar secondary. The second team in line for Boldin would have to be the Cowboys, who seem interested in bringing in any star that's available.

So, to sum it all up, Boldin wants a trade out of Arizona if the Cardinals won't pay him, but the Cardinals have made it clear that they won't deal him. The Eagles would be interested, but the chances of Boldin actually being made available are slim to none. So, the while the likelihood we will see Anquan Boldin in an Eagles uniform is very small, it's still something that Eagles fans should keep an eye on.

UPDATE: Here's an article from Adam Schefter of NFL.com that outlines Boldin's issues with the Cardinals. The Cardinals have already come out and re-iterated that they won't trade Boldin, which only makes Boldin more unhappy. Hey, Cardinals, how about we trade our problem (Lito) for yours?

Tony Hunt, starting fullback?

When I made my projections for who would make the Eagles 53 man roster, I left Tony Hunt off because the Eagles don't have room for another running back on the roster. Despite how well Hunt played against the Panthers, the Eagles simply don't need another running back after Brian Westbrook, Lorenzo Booker and Correll Buckhalter.

But what about at fullback? According to PhiladelphiaEagles.com, Hunt will be practicing with the first team offense today as a fullback. With neither Jed Collins nor Jason Davis stepping up and grabbing the starting fullback spot, it makes sense for the Eagles to give Hunt a shot at it. At 6 foot 1 and 227 pounds, Hunt is lighter than a normal fullback, but if he bulks up a bit he could thrive in the role.

Credit Andy Reid with seeing a deserving player and giving him a shot to make the team. I don't know how good a fullback Tony Hunt can be, but there is no way to know until they try him there. Reid has also been impressed with Hunt's special teams play, so that could give him an edge over the other competitors at fullback.

Projecting the Eagles 53 man roster, version 2.0

Two games into the preseason, the Eagles still have some tough decisions to make with their final roster. Given how well the back-ups played last week, some of the players "on the bubble" may have done enough to make the squad. Here is my second attempt at predicting who will make the Eagles final roster. Changes from last time are listed in bold.

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Lorenzo Booker

FB(1): Jed Collins

WR(6): Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis

TE(3): L.J. Smith, Brent Celek, Matt Schobel

LT(2): Tra Thomas, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Scott Young

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Shawn Andrews, Max Jean-Gilles

RT(2): Jon Runyan, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(6): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Bryan Smith, Jerome McDougle

DT(4): Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(5): Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Joe Mays

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Joselio Hanson, Kyle Arrington

FS(2): Brian Dawkins, Quintin Demps

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Sean Considine

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Will start season on injured list: Jack Ikegwuonu
Ikegwuonu won't play this season, he's getting himself healthy for 2009.

Likely to start the season on injured list: Victor Abiamiri
Abiamiri still thinks he has a shot at being ready, but with all the depth the Eagles have along the defensive line he's likely to go on IR.


Most likely to get cut/traded: Darren Howard, Lito Sheppard
With McDougle's emergence and his large salary, Howard is a prime candidate to get cut. The likeliness of Lito getting traded seems to be diminishing, but don't be surprised if he just goes AWOL because he's unhappy with his playing time.

Players on the bubble:
RB: Tony Hunt, Ryan Moats
Hunt played the game of his life against the Panthers, but it still might not be enough to make the team. Anyone playing behind Westbrook, Buckhalter and Booker won't get any carries, so there is no point in the Eagles keeping four RB's. Hunt probably has some trade value now, so ship him out for a draft pick. Moats has no shot.

FB: Jason Davis
Collins still has the edge over Davis because of his strong special teams play. Davis may still make a late charge for the spot, but if the Eagles had to decide today, Collins would be the guy.

WR: Michael Gasperson, Shaheer McBride, Jamal Jones
Simply not enough room for a 7th wide receiver. I doubt the Eagles will even keep six, they might part with Greg Lewis or Hank Baskett, but both have played well in the preseason.

TE: Kris Wilson
Wilson has had a terrible camp and has done nothing to prove he should make it ahead of Schobel. Schobel at least knows the offense even though he doesn't have a ton of talent.

OL: Mike McGlynn, Mike Gibson
Simply a numbers game with these two rookies. With the way King Dunlap has been playing, he seems assured of a spot, leaving the two Mike's out. Both will likely find their way to the practice squad, although there is still a chance Scott Young would get cut to make room for McGlynn.

DL: Montae Reagor
Reagor had surgery on his knee so he could be stashed on the IR.

LB: Rocky Boiman, Andy Studebaker, Justin Roland
Boiman was brought in to be a veteran presence amongst the linebackers and a big special teams contributor but he has been a disappointment on special teams and has yet to show much at linebacker. Studebaker will be stashed on the practice squad. I mention Roland here because he made that great play in the Panthers game, but he's not going to make the team.

CB: Nick Graham
Graham and Kyle Arrington appear to be battling for the 5th corner back spot. Arrington made more plays in the Panthers game, so he gets the nod for now.

S: J.R. Reed, Marcus Paschal
Reed is a tough guy to cut considering how well he played at the end of last season. The Eagles could choose to go with 4 corners and keep Reed, but with the Eagles not desperate for help in the return game, Reed could be gone. Paschal is good on special teams, but there's no room for him.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hamels dominates, Phillies offense explodes for two runs

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
On Sunday, the Orioles scored 16 runs, the Yankees and Blue Jays racked up 15 and the White Sox plated 13 runs. But, the true offensive heroes of the day were the Philadelphia Phillies, who managed to score a whopping 2 runs in their 2-1 victory over the Padres. San Diego sent Cha Seung Baek and his 5+ ERA to the mound but he was no match for the Phillies' sluggers.

Ok, enough with the sarcasm. The real reason the Phils won this game is Cole Hamels. Hamels cruised through the game, throwing 8 strong innings and giving up only 1 run. While Hamels didn't strike out a lot of batters (only 3 K's), he was around the plate all day, throwing 73 of 97 pitches for strikes and let the Padres hit it right to his defense. Hamels got just enough runs from the offense for once and earned his first win since July 3rd.

While the offense has been embarrassing, the Phils at least managed to pull out a series victory over the Padres to save some face from an otherwise disastrous west coast trip. The Phillies now go home and, after a day off on Monday, have another softie on the schedule in the Nationals. Another 4 game series with the Dodgers looms for next weekend, so the Phils need to take as many games from the Nationals as possible.

Let's hope that the Phillies can figure out something to jump start this offense. It's frustrating and frankly it's getting old to talk about the same issue over an over again. This team is missing something, whether it's a competitive drive or an urgency to win, but whatever it is, they better find it soon. There is no big acquisition coming in the next few months that's going to kick start this team, so someone has to take on the responsibility themselves. The Mets, winners of 6 straight, are peaking at just the right time. How will the Phillies respond?

No offense, the Phillies stink

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Now the Phillies can't even hit off of a minor league pitcher. The Padres tossed Chad Reineke out to the mound to make his major league debut, and even he had very little problem slowing down the "mighty Phillie offense". Reineke allowed 3 runs in 5 innings and then the Padres bullpen took it from there as the Padres beat the Phillies 8-3.

Of course, the Phillie offense wasn't the only culprit in the loss. Kyle Kendrick got two quick outs in the 4th inning but ran into some serious problems when trying to get the third. Not only did he let the pitcher, Reineke, get an RBI single, but Kendrick then gave up two more hits and walked another batter before being yanked from the game. In total, the Padres scored 5 runs in the inning, all with two outs.

The frustration continues with this Phillies team. The Mets continue to roll, winning their 5th straight to give themselves a 2 game lead in the NL East. The Phillies, on the other hand, have lost 8 of their last 12 and are slipping closer to third place. The offense continues to fail the Phillies, who now rely on their starting pitchers to have great games to even give themselves a chance to win. They will be on national television tomorrow night with Cole Hamels on the mound, so hopefully they can save face and at least take two of three from this weak Padres team. The Phils will be facing Cha Seung Baek and his 5.20 ERA. Look for Baek to throw a complete game shutout.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Despite lack of offense, Moyer's gem helps Phillies break four game losing streak

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
The Phillies finally found a team that is more inept with the bats than they have been lately and the bullpen actually held on to a lead as the Phillies beat the Padres 1-0. Two oldies but goodies, Jamie Moyer and Greg Maddux, put on a clinic on how to get batters out without throwing 90 miles an hour. Moyer allowed only 3 hits in 7 shutout innings while Maddux allowed just one run in his 7 innings on a Pat Burrell homer in the 7th. The Phillie bullpen, which welcomed Brad Lidge back, finally managed to close out a game, with Lidge earning his 29th save of the season.

The story of the night was definitely Moyer, who looked brilliant. He never really got into any trouble until the 7th inning when he allowed two runners to get on base, but he pitched his way out of any real problems. Moyer has been quietly consistent this season, with tonight's game being his 13th straight start allowing no more than 3 earned runs.

After getting swept by the Dodgers in a four game series, the pitiful Padres were a welcome sight on the schedule. The Padres have a terrible offense that averages less than 4 runs per game so the Phillie starting pitchers, who have actually pitched quite well recently, should have no problem continuing to shut San Diego down.

The Phillie offense is another story. When you look at the statistics, the Phillies have one of the best offenses in the National League. They are 5th in runs scored and have three hitters in the top ten in home runs and two in the top eight in RBIs. Yet they continue to struggle putting runs on the board. They are a feast or famine offense, putting up runs in bunches when they manage to get the ball out of the park. They are maddeningly inconsistent from one game to the next, and even from one inning to the next. Take Wednesday's game against the Dodgers as an example. The Phillies scored 6 runs in the first two innings on a trio of 2-run homers only to get shut out for the remaining 7 innings and lose the game in the bottom of the 9th. The Phillies average close to 5 runs per game, but there are too many instances where they put up 10 runs in a game and then only 2 the following night. Against the Dodgers they did well to score 6 runs in a pair of games, but when they really needed that extra run or that big hit to get back into the game, the offense continually came up short.

Oh well, take tonight's victory as a step in the right direction, a bounce back game after a terrible series in Los Angeles. The Phillies needed a team like the Padres to re-build some of their confidence; hopefully the bats can come alive in the next two games. With the first place Mets playing the crappy Pirates, the Phillies will need to sweep the Padres to keep up. Of course, with the Washington Nationals coming up next on the schedule for the Phils, there will are plenty more confidence-building games on the horizon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

All wet: Eagles offensive starters flop while back-ups shine

(Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Well, that was an ugly game. In a game marred by rain and a lengthy lightning delay, the Eagles pulled out an impressive 24-13 come-from-behind win over the Panthers. While wins and losses in preseason NFL games doesn't really matter, the way the team plays does. And, from what I saw, the Eagles offensive starters did a lot more bad than good while the back-ups stole the show.

Positives:

- The Carolina Panthers aren't an offensive juggernaut, but you still have to be impressed with how the first team defense played for the Eagles, holding the Panthers to under 100 yards in the first half. They started the game with a pair of 3 and outs, showing a big improvement over how they started last week. The defense put pressure on the quarterback, stepped up to make solid tackles and Asante Samuel made a nice play to break up a pass in his first game as an Eagle. The Panthers did manage to put together one good drive, but the Eagles did well to keep them out of the end zone. Back-up cornerback Lito Sheppard even stepped up for an interception that could help out his trade value.

- The first team offensive line looked great, giving Donovan McNabb all the time in the world to move around and find open receivers. McNabb only had to rush his throw one time, so credit has to be given to the big guys up front for doing a great job protecting their starting quarterback.

- DeSean Jackson again showed a ton of promise in the passing game, catching 7 balls for 71 yards while playing the entire game. He really showed his versatility, catching some balls in traffic as well as along the sidelines. He even helped Tony Hunt find the end zone on a long run by making a few blocks. I doubted how effective the little guy could be as a wide receiver in the NFL, but so far he has really proven he could be a solid number two receiver.

- I called out Kevin Kolb's play last week, but he showed definite improvement this week. He showed off his strong arm and made some beautiful passes, including the 33 yard touchdown toss to Greg Lewis. He also showed poise in leading the Eagles to two late touchdowns to win the game. He just might have a bright future as an Eagle quarterback.

- Jerome McDougle recorded a sack and forced a fumble in his second straight good preseason game. He was all over the field and was seemingly involved in every play. When I made my projections for the Eagles 53 man roster, I didn't include McDougle on the team. That will probably change when I make my next projection. McDougle looks like a man determined to make the team, or at least make himself attractive to another team in a trade.

- Another guy I left off the projected Eagle roster was Tony Hunt, who made a strong case that he deserves a spot on the team tonight as he rushed for 79 yards on 5 carries. Most of his yards came on an impressive 51 yard touchdown run, but if you take that run out of the equation, he still averaged 7 yards per carry. He is still a longshot to make the team because there is virtually no room on the roster for 4 running backs, but he just made Andy Reid's job a little tougher as he makes cuts.

Negatives
- Despite a strong start, the first team offense failed to score a single point. After completing four straight passes to start the game, Donovan McNabb finished only 11 of 24 in the passing game, although he did manage to spread the ball around to seven different receivers. He seemed to get worse the longer he played, overthrowing several receivers and nearly throwing it right to the Panthers several times. Of course, it didn't help that the receivers kept dropping the ball. Early on in the game (before the lightning), the Eagles were racking up the yards, making it even more concerning that they weren't able to punch it in the end zone when they got close, a problem they had last year. Of course, they easily would have had six points if it wasn't for a missed David Akers attempt and a lame fake field goal attempt.......

- The fake field goal attempt by the Eagles was stupid. I don't know whose idea it was or why they did it, but obviously it wasn't a bright move. What's the point of using a fake play in preseason, anyway? If the fake was any good, you wouldn't be wasting it in a meaningless game. Thank goodness this wasn't a regular season game or Andy Reid would have a ton of explaining to do. On the positive side, at least we won't be seeing that play again.

- It didn't take long for Reggie Brown to get hurt again, did it? Brown missed last weeks preseason game against the Steelers with Achilles' tendinitis, and he left during the first drive of tonight's game with what looked like a hamstring injury. With the way DeSean Jackson is playing, Brown is already in danger of seeing a reduced role and these nagging injuries aren't helping him get ready for the season.

- The Eagles brought in DeSean Jackson and Lorenzo Booker to help fix their return game, but both had some real problems holding on to the football. Jackson really showed his explosiveness on a great punt return of over 25 yards but got stripped right before he fell to the ground. Booker looked even worse, muffing two kickoff returns and averaging only 6.7 yards per return. I know the ball was wet, but the Eagles have to hold on to the football in the return game or we might see Reno Mahe suiting up soon, and no one wants to see that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Flyers news: Stevens extended, Therien on the radio, TV schedule announced

I haven't done a post about the Flyers in a while, so I thought it was time to get caught up with what's going on with a team whose players don't think we're front runners.

Flyers extend Stevens John Stevens, the Hockey News Coach of the Year, received a much-deserved contract extension from the Flyers. Stevens is now under contract through the 2010-2011 season. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Stevens was instrumental in the quick turnaround of the Flyer franchise, and he deserves to stay with this team for several years as they develop into a perennial Cup contender.

Therien as color analyst The Flyers have announced that Brian Propp will no longer be the color analyst on the Flyers radio broadcast and he will be replaced by former Flyer player Chris Therien. Therien, who last played with the Flyers in 2005-2006, was an analyst for Post Game Live on Comcast SportsNet, and he will now transition into announcing games with Tim Saunders on WIP. Propp resigned but will likely still have some role with the team.

The Flyers on national TV The NHL announced it's national television schedule, and the Flyers are well represented. In the U.S., NBC and Versus will continue to carry the NHL with the NHL Network also televising 75 games. NBC will broadcast 10 games, but they will rely on "flex scheduling" to feature the best games, like rivalry games between the Flyers and Rangers or Penguins. Starting with October 14th against the Penguins, Versus will carry seven Flyers games while the NHL Network has yet to announce what games they will braodcast. Other games of note on Versus include the Winter Classic between the Red Wings and Blackhawks in Wrigley Field on January 1st as well as the All-Star Game on January 25th in Montreal. Click here for the complete listing of all nationally televised games.

One picture says it all

(Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
UGH. I've got nothing to say about the latest Phillie loss, 7-6 to the Dodgers, won on a Nomar homer in the bottom of the 9th. The bullpen blew it again.

By the way, the Phillies are now tied for first place with the Mets. UGH

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Phillies injury update: Gordon, Seanez, Feliz, Benson

Plenty of Phillies are dealing with injuries, so it's time to update how they are doing:

Gordon's Phillie career over? We may have seen the last of Flash in a Phillies uniform. Tom Gordon got a second opinion on his faulty elbow, and it wasn't good news: Flash is likely done for the year. Gordon has chosen to try to rehab his arm rather than have surgery, but there is very little chance he will return to the Phillies this year, if ever. The Phillies have the option to buy out Gordon for 1 million dollars rather than pay him 4.5 million next year, so it looks like we have seen the last of Flash in Philadelphia. This also could be the end of his career, considering his age and the fact that he might have Tommy John surgery if the rehab doesn't go well. Flash hasn't been great over the last year, so many Phillie fans won't be shedding any tears, but when healthy and effective, he made a great late inning option.

Seanez close to returning Rudy Seanez is one reliever not facing such dire circumstances. Seanez pitched in a rehab assignment on Monday and appears ready to come back to the Phillies on Saturday. Seanez was pitching terrible when the Phils put him on the DL, hopefully he just needed to get healthy and he will be useful again. His return will likely force Les Walrond back into the minors, which isn't really a bad thing.

Feliz not ready yet Pedro Feliz has been on the DL since late July, but he still isn't ready to return. Feliz has had back issues, and while he has taken some swings in batting practice, he is still at least a week away from returning. Hopefully he can get back on the field soon, the flailing Phillie offense could really use his bat back in the line-up, and his defense is always excellent. His return would send Mike Cervenak back to the minors where he belongs.

Benson is set, but there's no room Kris Benson may finally be ready to return to the majors, but the Phillies don't need him. Benson has had several good starts in a row for the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, but the Phillies, who would have been desperate for Benson's services about a month ago, have no room for him now. For once, the Phillies may even have a surplus of starters. The Phillies have been happy with the way their five starters are pitching, plus they have J.A. Happ ready to step in at any time, and they even have Adam Eaton waiting in the wings along with Benson. So while Benson might be poised to return, don't count on him suiting up for the Phillies this season.

Once again, the Phillies fail to win one for Hamels

(Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Cole Hamels has some terrible luck. Hamels pitched 7 innings, struck out 7 batters, gave up only two runs and still didn't get a win. Hamels hasn't won a game since July 3rd, and his record still sits at 9-8 after the Phillies blew a late lead in a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers.

While Hamels hasn't been dominating in every start since early July, it was his second straight outing where he deserved to earn a victory. Anytime a pitcher allows only two runs and has an offense like the Phillies backing them up, a win should nearly be automatic. Unfortunately, nothing has come easy for the Phillie offense lately.

Not even a line-up shake-up helped the offense tonight. Charlie Manuel switched things up by dropping Jimmy Rollins to third in the order and batting Shane Victorino lead-off and Chase Utley second, but it had little affect on the outcome. Utley did homer, but there was no one on base, and Rollins and Victorino combined for just one hit. Victorino also left the game with back stiffness, which doesn't help things when someone like So Taguchi replaces him.

The bullpen also didn't help Hamels out tonight, allowing a run in both the 8th and 9th innings to blow the game. The usually reliable Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero came up small as the Dodgers won on a walk-off single by Andre Ethier.

The Phillies continue their west coast trip with another game against the Dodgers tomorrow night. Prior to this road swing, I said that the Phillies needed to split the games in L.A. and take 2 of 3 against the Padres for it to be a successful trip. Well, after dropping the first two to the Dodgers, that means the Phils have some tough work ahead of them. With the Mets within one game of first place, the Phillies had better shape up quick.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Iguodala stays a Sixer with 6 year deal

The Sixers appear to have taken care of their last piece of off-season business: ESPN.com is reporting that they have signed Andre Iguodala to a 6 year, 80 million dollar deal. Iguodala was a restricted free agent, and no team really had enough money to pay him, so it was only a matter of time before he re-signed with the Sixers.

While 80 million does seem like a ton of money, Iguodala is a crucial part to the Sixers future. In the last few years he has proven that he might not have what it takes to be a number one guy on a contending team, but he definitely can play second fiddle behind a guy like Elton Brand. The team will go as far as Iguodala and Brand can take them, and with both signed for at least the next five years, the future of the team is in their hands. With 160+ million dollars tied up between the two of them, they better deliver.

This move caps a busy off-season for Ed Stefanski. He has signed free agents Elton Brand, Royal Ivey and Kareem Rush to contracts while re-signing restricted free agents Louis Williams and Iguodala. Stefanski certainly deserves high marks for all of these moves; the Sixers had a ton of salary cap space and Stefanski used it wisely.

Late night action: Phillies comeback falls short against Manny, Dodgers

(Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
I don't blame you if you turned off the TV after L.A. scored 6 runs in the 3rd inning in a late west coast game, but the Phillies actually made things interesting before falling 8-6 to Manny and the Dodgers.

Kyle Kendrick got hit all over the park in his 3 and 1/3rd innings, giving up 9 hits and 7 runs in an ugly outing. Considering how good Kendrick looked in his last three starts, giving up only 3 runs in 18 and 2/3rds innings, today's appearance was a letdown. After Kendrick got pulled, Les Walrond and Clay Condrey pitched the remainder of the game and fared pretty well. They each allowed a bunch of baserunners, but combined they only gave up one run. In all, the Dodgers got 23 runners on base (16 hits and 7 walks), so it's really a miracle the Phillies didn't give up more runs.

Offensively, the Phils took a while to get going, but they managed to eek out a few runs late in the game to give themselves a shot at winning. They were down 8-4 heading into the 9th and managed to load the bases, thanks to some great hustle by Shane Victorino to beat out a slow chopper up the middle. Chase Utley then doubled in a pair of runs to cut the deficit to 2 runs, but Ryan Howard failed to drive in any more runs and the Phillies lost the game.

The Dodgers big problem all year had been scoring runs, but since their recent acquisition of Manny Ramirez, they have become a much better team with the bats. Manny went 2 for 3, drove in a pair of runs, walked twice and scored a run on the night. He continues to destroy National League pitching at a .475 clip and electrifies the ballpark every time he steps to the plate. Sigh, he would have looked good in that Phillie line-up.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Projecting the Eagles 53 man roster

With the Eagles first preseason game in the books, I thought I would take my first stab at predicting who will make the 53 man roster this season and who could potentially be left off. This is by no means the final roster, it's just my current guess as to who will make the team. Below the roster list I have given some of my justifications of why certain players won't make the team. Feel free to agree or disagree, plus let me know if I left anyone off:

Offense:
QB(3): Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb, A.J. Feeley

RB(3): Brian Westbrook, Correll Buckhalter, Lorenzo Booker

FB(1): Jed Collins

WR(6): Kevin Curtis, Reggie Brown, Jason Avant, Hank Baskett, Greg Lewis, DeSean Jackson

TE(3): L.J. Smith, Brent Celek, Kris Wilson

LT(2): Tra Thomas, King Dunlap

LG(2): Todd Herremans, Scott Young

C(2): Jamaal Jackson, Nick Cole

RG(2): Shawn Andrews, Max Jean-Gilles

RT(2): Jon Runyan, Winston Justice

Defense:
DE(5): Juqua Parker, Trent Cole, Darren Howard, Chris Clemons, Bryan Smith

DT(4): Mike Patterson, Broderick Bunkley, Trevor Laws, Dan Klecko

LB(6): Chris Gocong, Stewart Bradley, Omar Gaither, Akeem Jordan, Rocky Boiman, Joe Mays

CB(5): Asante Samuel, Sheldon Brown, Lito Sheppard, Joselio Hanson, Nick Graham

FS(2): Brian Dawkins, Quintin Demps

SS(2): Quintin Mikell, Sean Considine

Special Teams:
K(1): David Akers

P(1): Sav Rocca

LS(1): Jon Dorenbos

Likely to start the season on injured list: Victor Abiamiri
Abiamiri's dislocated wrist might force the Eagles to put him on the IR.


Most likely to get cut/traded: Darren Howard, Lito Sheppard
Howard's salary and ineffectiveness makes him a prime candidate to get cut. I left Lito on for now, but we all know about Lito's situation.

Players on the bubble:
RB: Tony Hunt, Ryan Moats
With the acquisition of Lorenzo Booker, it makes these two guys expendable. I only list three running backs on the roster and I would bet the Eagles want to keep four, but both Moats and Hunt have shown little or nothing to prove they should make the team. Moats probably has a better shot than Hunt.

FB: Jason Davis
Only one fullback will make the team and Jed Collins is currently working with the first team.

WR: Michael Gasperson
Simply not enough room for a 7th wide receiver. I doubt the Eagles will even keep six, they might part with Greg Lewis, although he played well in the first game.

TE: Matt Schobel
I'm simply guessing that off-season acquisition Kris Wilson will make the team ahead of Schobel, although there is no guarantee.

OL: Mike McGlynn, Mike Gibson
Simply a numbers game with these two rookies. With the way King Dunlap has been playing, he seems assured of a spot, leaving the two Mike's out. McGlynn was a 4th round pick so the Eagles might try to figure out a way to stash him on the practice squad.

DL: Jerome McDougle, Montae Reagor
I just can't see the Eagles keeping any more defensive linemen. McDougle's days have been numbered for a while, although he did play well against Pittsburgh.

CB: Kyle Arrington
Nick Graham and Arrington appear to be battling for the 5th corner back spot. I gave it to Graham for now.

S: J.R. Reed
Numbers game again. Reed is no longer useful in the return game so he will lose his back-up spot to Demps.

That's the team as I see it. Did I leave anyone off? Who needs to be cut? Discuss in the comments section.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Utley's homer helps Phillies win series against Pirates, Lidge sidelined

(AP Photo/H. Rumph, Jr.)
The Phillies offense "exploded" for 6 runs today, getting timely hits from Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley to help them win 6-3 and take the series against the Pirates. The Phils offense finally appeared to wake up, considering it hadn't scored more than 5 runs in a game since July 31st when they scored 8 runs against the Nationals. Entering today's game, the Phils were only averaging 2.6 runs per game in August, so seeing them plate 6 was a welcome sight.

With the Phillies down 3-2 in the 7th inning, Dobbs, the pinch hitting master, doubled to tie the game and three batters later Utley homered to give the Phillies the lead.

Jamie Moyer pitched adequately for the Phillies, giving up 3 runs in 6 innings. The Phillies seem to finally be getting consistent performances from their starting pitchers. By my count that's the 8th straight outing where a Phillies starting pitcher has pitched well, with even some really good performances by Blanton and Myers mixed in. It seems like the pressure is now on the hitters to make the most of this great pitching streak.

Scott Eyre made his Phillie debut today, earning himself a phantom win for getting one batter out on four pitches. He did exactly what he was brought in to do and got a left-handed hitter out and just so happened to be in the game at the right time to earn himself a win.

The Phillies will now go west for a 7 game road trip out to LA and San Diego. They will play Manny and the Dodgers four times (starting tomorrow night in an ESPN game), and then play the lowly Padres three times next weekend. A split with the Dodgers and 2 out of 3 against the Padres will make for a successful road trip. Anything less will be disappointing.

Lidge injured And now for some bad news. Brad Lidge, who has been Mr. Dependable as the Phillies closer, has been benched for the last two games as he deals with "bicep soreness". Lidge thinks he can be ready to play again as soon as Monday, so this isn't something to panic about, although any type of injury to a key player at this point in the season could spell trouble. If Lidge continues to miss games, expect the trio of Ryan Madsen, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero to close games, depending on the situation.

Eagles News: Andrews still at home, Asante's back, Kimo cut

A pretty busy day of news today out at Lehigh. First of all, Shawn Andrews has been cleared to return to the Eagles, yet he did not show up this morning for practice. Andy Reid didn't seem too concerned, and he thought that Andrews would arrive sometime later today.

Asante Samuel made his return to the practice field today for the first time since late July when he injured his hamstring. Samuel's return forces Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown to rotate at the other cornerback spot again, something that I am sure makes Lito very happy. No word yet on whether Samuel will suit up for Thursday's game against the Panthers.

The last bit of news to come from the Eagles is that they released veteran defensive tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen. von Oelhoffen spent last season with the Birds, racking up a whopping two tackles in limited action. The 15 year veteran's career is likely over and he will probably always be best known for injuring Carson Palmer with a low shot to the knee in the 2005 playoffs. The Eagles signed rookie free agent Mike Marquardt to replace von Oelhoffen. Marquardt, a defensive tackle, went to Arizone State and was recently cut by the Cincinnati Bengals. He's a long shot to make the team.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Comeback effort falls short as Eagles drop first preseason game to Steelers

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
It's only preseason, so I spent most of my night watching the Phillies, but I thought I would share some positives and negatives from the Eagles first preseason game against the Steelers, which, despite a last ditch effort by A.J. Feeley, they lost 16-10.

Positives:
-Donovan McNabb and the first team scored on both of their drives to account for all of the Eagles' points. McNabb looked pretty sharp, completing 10 of 13 for 97 yards and hooking up with fullback Jason Davis for a touchdown. McNabb spread the ball around, hitting 7 different receivers, and the offense looked good early even without newly rich offensive MVP Brian Westbrook. More important than all the numbers, though, is that McNabb looked healthy and didn't get injured.

-Lorenzo Booker ripped off several good runs. On the second drive of the game, Booker had two runs of 6 yards where he looked really good. Booker finished with 16 yards on 4 carries, and he further solidified his spot as Westbrook's back-up.

-DeSean Jackson, who has been dealing with a hamstring injury, looked great in the passing game, catching 5 passes for 51 yards. He didn't make an impact in the return game, but he showed flashes of being a quality third or fourth receiver option for the Eagles.

Negatives:
-The first team defense was very porous on the Steelers first drive, giving up multiple big yardage plays, including runs of 7 and 11 yards and two 19 yard passing plays, including the touchdown. It was the only time the Eagles defense faced the Steelers first team, and they weren't impressive. Once Charlie Batch entered the game, things changed as the Eagles managed a pair of 3-and-outs in a row.

-The running game as a whole was pretty weak. The Eagles were without their top running back, but the backups should be able to do better than 61 yards on 18 carries. Tony Hunt in particular didn't look good, making it even more likely that he will be the odd man out in the backfield.

-Kevin Kolb looked like the third string QB. With A.J. Feeley nearly leading the Eagles to a last minute win, Kolb looked like he took a step back. With the running game not doing much, it was up to him to do something through the air, but after starting strong and completing 10 of 13 passes, he faded to finish 12 of 21 for only 81 yards, leading the offense to no points. If Kolb is supposed to unseat McNabb any time in the next few years, he's going to have to play better.