Just when you thought the Flyers goaltending situation was all settled, with Sergei Bobrovksy settling in as the starter and Brian Boucher the backup, a former playoff hero is almost ready to return to the mix. Michael Leighton, who backstopped the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Finals, has recovered from back surgery and is going to play 6 games for the Phantoms in a rehab stint.
What happens to the goaltender situation when Leighton returns to the NHL is anybody's guess. The Flyers have said that they would be willing to carry three goaltenders but the salary cap likely doesn't allow them to do that. Instead, the most likely scenario is for the Flyers to either trade Boucher or dump him into the minors and let Leighton and Bobrovksy battle it out for the starting job. Look for the Flyers to ride the hot hand until one of the two distinguishes themselves as the starter.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Just when you thought the Flyers goaltending situation was all settled, with Sergei Bobrovksy settling in as the starter and Brian Boucher the backup, a former playoff hero is almost ready to return to the mix. Michael Leighton, who backstopped the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Finals, has recovered from back surgery and is going to play 6 games for the Phantoms in a rehab stint.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Apparently not having Asante Samuel on the field turns the Eagles defense into one of the worst in the league. Despite a late rally by Mike Vick and the offense, the defense put the Birds in too big of a hole as they fell, 31-26, to the Bears. It was a tough loss for the Eagles as it drops them back into a first place tie with the Giants.
The lack of defense was the story of the game for the Eagles as the Bears consistently shredded them for big plays all game long. From huge gains on the ground by Matt Forte to Jay Cutler slicing up the secondary to Devin Hester and Danieal Manning returning kicks for big yardage, the Eagles simply had no clue how to stop Chicago. They couldn't tackle, couldn't keep up and, somehow, couldn't get Jay Cutler, the biggest turnover machine in the league, to turn the ball over. Despite the 4 sacks they racked up, it was a day to forget for the Eagles defense.
The Eagles offense played well but didn't exactly light up the scoreboard. With Michael Vick constantly feeling pressure from the Bears four man rush, he struggled to find anyone open and held on the ball for longer than he has in recent weeks. Vick even threw his first interception of the season, which happened at the worst possible time as the Eagles were closing in on the endzone and looking to take the lead in the second quarter. It took the Eagles until the 4th quarter to realize that the Bears were basically playing prevent defense for the entire game and they finally started going underneath on shorter routes. Unfortunately, it was all too little, too late for a comeback after the Eagles failed to recover an onside kick in the final minutes.
With a quick turnaround to Thursday's game against the Texans, things aren't going to get any easier for the Eagles. While the Eagles certainly aren't in must-win mode yet, if they lose another game and drop to 7-5, they are going to have a hard time earning a playoff spot in the crowded NFC. Of course, if they continue to play defense like they did today, you can forget about the playoffs.
Doom and gloom aside, though, the Eagles are still a good team that is capable of beating anyone in the league. Expect the defense to come out looking for redemption against a Texans team that will probably be without their best offensive player.
The Eagles haven't even kicked off yet against the Bears but they may soon be getting some good news about their game next week. Due to the epic fight you see below, there is a good chance that Texans wideout Andre Johnson will be suspended for his next game, which just so happens to be against the Eagles next week. With the Eagles secondary dealing with their share of injuries, not having to deal with a beast like Johnson would be a huge break for the Birds.
The Eagles and Bears have announced their inactive players for their Week 12 matchup:
Eagles: WR Chad Hall, T Austin Howard, CB Brandon Hughes, QB Mike Kafka, TE Garrett Mills, DE Juqua Parker, CB Asante Samuel, G Reggie Wells
Bears: RB Kahlil Bell, TE Desmond Clark, QB Caleb Hanie, CB Joshua Moore, S Craig Steltz, DE Barry Turner, OL Edwin Williams, DE Corey Wootton
As we found out yesterday, Asante Samuel is out and Joselio Hanson will start in his place at cornerback. With DE Juqua Parker also out, rookie Brandon Graham will get another start. Antonio Dixon was another question mark heading into this game but he is healthy enough to start at defensive tackle.
With the Bears solid defense, expect a tough, low-scoring game in Chicago. If the Bears watched any film from the Giants game, they will be putting pressure on Michael Vick early and often so we will have to see what adjustments Vick will make. That said, I like the Eagles to win this one by a touchdown. GO BIRDS!
Not only have we probably seen the last of Ellis Hobbs in an Eagles uniform, we've likely seen him play his last game of football. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Hobbs may be leaning towards retiring after he has his second neck surgery in the last year. Hobbs is only 27 but clearly doesn't want to risk any further injuries that could cripple him for life.
While Hobbs was slowly being phased out of the Eagles plans in the secondary, it's always a shame when an athlete has to call it quits at such a young age. Hobbs was going to be a free agent at the end of the year and wasn't likely to come back to the Eagles, so his retirement doesn't affect the teams plans for next season.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
After not practicing all week, it was clear that Asante Samuel wasn't going to play against the Bears on Sunday. The Eagles made it official today, announcing that Samuel won't even make the trip to Chicago after suffering a knee injury against the Giants last week.
Starting in Samuel's place is Joselio Hanson, with Trevard Lindley stepping into a nickel role. With Samuel out for this week and Ellis Hobbs out for the season, the Eagles are getting pretty thin at cornerback. Against a Bears team that has some pretty speedy wideouts, the Eagles front 7 is going to have to create a ton of pressure so the secondary doesn't get burned.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
It's time for some Thanksgiving football! It would be nice if the games were a little better but there is nothing like stuffing your face and then watching some football. Here are my Week 12 picks. Remember, picks this year are made against the spread and I'll be using the spread values that ESPN uses in their Pigskin Pick'em game. I'm coming off my best week of the season so let's see if I can build on that momentum!
Record Last Week: 10-6, .625
Overall Record: 81-79, .506
Patriots (8-2) @ Lions (2-8, +6.5)
This is the first of three likely Thanksgiving blowouts. I like the Patriots to win by at least two touchdowns. At what point can we take away the Thanksgiving Game from the Lions, anyway? My pick: Patriots
Saints (7-3) @ Cowboys (3-7, +3.5)
Sure, the Cowboys have looked better since Wade Phillips was fired, but their schedule in the coming weeks is going to make it very difficult to continue their upward swing. Somehow, the Saints have gone from Super Bowl winner to under the radar contender. My pick: Saints
Bengals (2-8) @ Jets (8-2, +9.5)
Given that the Jets never beat anyone by more than 7, this is the one Turkey Day game that I think will be within a touchdown. Of course, I doubt anyone will be watching this one after a full day of football and food. My pick: Bengals
Sunday Day Games:
Packers (7-3) @ Falcons (8-2, -2.5)
This game and the Sunday Night game are the two best games of the week. With these two teams and the Eagles battling to be the best in the NFC, expect a close game with a lot of points. I expect this game to go to whoever gets the ball last. My pick: Packers
Steelers (7-3) @ Bills (2-8, +6.5)
As impressed as I've been with the Bills in recent weeks, there is no way they hang with the Steelers. My pick: Steelers
Panthers (1-9) @ Browns (3-7, -10.5)
How bad has the Panthers season gotten that even the Browns are more than 10 point favorites against them? Despite how terrible they have looked, I like the Panthers to lose by just a touchdown. My pick: Panthers
Jaguars (6-4) @ Giants (6-4, -7.5)
As long as Eli Manning finds a way to not be a turnover machine, expect a nice bounceback game for the Giants. Still, even though I am no believer in the Jaguars, a 7.5 spread is a bit high. My pick: Jaguars
Vikings (3-7) @ Redskins (5-5, -2.5)
Can a new coach give the Vikings the same bump that the Cowboys got? Maybe, though I don't think anyone can make Brett Favre look 10 years younger. I have so little faith in the Redskins, though, that I have to go with Minnesota. My pick: Vikings
Titans (5-5) @ Texans (4-6, -6.5)
At first glance, I was going with the Titans because the Texans are just terrible right now. Then, I remembered that Rusty Smith is starting at quarterback. Even the Texans crappy defense can figure out a way to keep the Titans team off the board. My pick: Texans
Chiefs (6-4) @ Seahawks (5-5, +1.5)
If the Chiefs intend to hold off the Chargers and get themselves a playoff spot, they need to beat teams like the Seahawks. My pick: Chiefs
Dolphins (5-5) @ Raiders (5-5, -3.5)
The Dolphins schedule has been brutal and they don't catch any breaks as they go into Oakland and play a decent Raiders team. Then again, with how bad their offense has looked, it doesn't really matter who the Dolphins play. My pick: Raiders
Eagles (7-3) @ Bears (7-3, +3.5)
This will be a tough one for the Eagles, who have to go on the road and face a solid Bears defense. If the Bears watched even a second of footage of the Giants against the Eagles, expect Mike Vick to see plenty of blitzes. Still, I don't see the Bears doing anything on offense, so I like the Eagles to win a low-scoring game by a touchdown. My pick: Eagles
Bucs (7-3) @ Ravens (7-3, -7.5)
The reason the Bucs have 7 wins has been their easy schedule. Sure, they can beat teams like the Panthers, Bengals and Rams, but when it comes to playing good teams like the Steelers, Saints and Falcons, they just haven't been able to keep up. The Ravens area a good team so I expect the Bucs to lost but not by more than a touchdown. My pick: Bucs
Rams (4-6) @ Broncos (3-7, -3.5)
The Broncos defense is just brutal. Expect Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson to go off and for the Rams to pull off the win on the road. My pick: Rams
Sunday Night Game:
Chargers (5-5) @ Colts (6-4, -3.5)
The Colts certainly have had a tough schedule this year and things don't get any easier this week. With how things are shaping up in the AFC this year, it's looking like one of these two teams won't make the playoffs, so this is a huge game. I like the Chargers to at least keep it close. My pick: Chargers
Monday Night Game:
Niners (3-7) @ Cardinals (3-7, +1.5)
Oh, man, what an awful Monday Night Game. Who's going to watch this? My pick: Niners
Those are my picks for Week 12 of the NFL Season. Check back every Thursday during the season for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
As expected, the Eagles have officially placed Ellis Hobbs on IR with a neck injury. To fill his roster spot, the Eagles have signed CB Brandon Hughes off the Giants practice squad. The signing allows the Eagles to keep 6 corners on the roster.
Hughes, a former 5th round pick by the Chargers in 2009, has never played in an NFL game. He played his college ball at Oregon State and spent all of last season on IR after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. While I wouldn't expect Hughes to see any action on the field, he could be a valuable source of information from the coaching staff because he will know plenty about the Giants defensive scheme. That should definitely come in handy when the two teams meet again in December.
You've come a long way, Michael Vick. He will be on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week and featured in a story about his rehabilitation and resurgence into an elite quarterback. Cool cover, but let's hope there is no SI cover jinx!
Monday, November 22, 2010
If you saw the hit yesterday, this news should come as no surprise: we've seen the last of Ellis Hobbs this year. Hobbs, who was crushed on a kick return attempt against the Giants, will be placed on IR due to a neck injury. Given how bad the hit looked, Hobbs is fortunate he doesn't have any extensive injuries.
Since he already lost his starting cornerback spot to Dimitri Patterson, the Eagles won't miss Hobbs too much. They can use Jorrick Calvin on kick returns and Joselio Hanson will be just fine in nickel formations. In terms of Hobbs and his future with the Eagles, he will be a free agent at the end of the year and I wouldn't be surprised if we've seen his last game in an Eagles uniform.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
It wasn't nearly as pretty as last week but the Eagles will take it just the same. In a classic, back-and-forth NFC East showdown, the Eagles edged the Giants, 27-17, and took over first place in the division.
The Eagles were certainly the better team in this one but had to fight tooth and nail to the finish after they settled for field goals in the first half and committed a number of bad penalties throughout the game. Michael Vick wasn't nearly as good as he was last week but he was certainly good enough to win, eluding the Giants pass rush to the tune of 258 yards passing and 34 yards rushing. Vick did commit his first turnover of the season when he had a costly fumble in the 4th quarter but still has yet to throw an interception on the season.
Speaking of turnovers, Eli Manning was a turnover machine for the Giants, throwing three interceptions and fumbling the ball away at the end of the game. While the Eagles didn't manage to sack Eli in the game, they did force Manning to make quite a few questionable throws. His biggest mistake of the game proved to be a fumble while diving head first on a crucial 4th and 6 instead of sliding and giving the Giants a huge first down.
Another big play in the game happened as the Eagles trailed by 1 and were faced with a 4th and 1 at the 50 yard line. After a poor play call on 3rd and 1, Andy Reid made the perfect playcall as Vick pitched the ball to LeSean McCoy who burst to the outside for a 50 yard touchdown. Though Vick bobbled the ball on the snap, it was the perfect play at the perfect time.
It wasn't anything like the destruction of the Redskins last week but the Eagles are exactly where they want to be, positioned atop the NFC East with a favorable schedule down the stretch. They proved tonight that they can win games pretty or they can win games ugly, a true sign of a good team. With another big game against the Bears coming next week and another showdown with the Giants looming in the coming weeks, the Eagles may have to win a few more ugly ones if they want to make the playoffs.
The Eagles and Giants have announced their inactive players for their huge Sunday Night showdown:
Eagles: CB Jorrick Calvin, WR Chad Hall, T Austin Howard, QB Mike Kafka, CB Trevard Lindley, TE Garrett Mills, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, G Reggie Wells
Giants: OL David Diehl, LB Alex Hall, FB Madison Hedgecock, DT Linval Joseph, C Sean O'Hara, WR Darius Reynaud, WR Steve Smith, LB Gerris Wilkinson
No surprise inactives for the Eagles as they are fully healthy. With Calvin inactive, that means that Ellis Hobbs is likely returning kicks.
For the Giants, former Eagle Shawn Andrews will be making his return to Philadelphia. I'm sure there will be plenty of boo's for the talented but troubled offensive lineman.
With the division lead on the line, it doesn't get much bigger than this game. Given how they played last week, you have to like the Eagles chances of knocking off the Giants. GO BIRDS!
The Flyers made a minor move today, re-acquiring former Flyer Danny Syvret along with center Rob Bordson for a pair of Phantoms forwards, David Laliberte and Pat Maroon.
I'm not sure why the Flyers felt they needed more defensemen, but Syvret returns to the organization he spent 2 seasons with from 2008 to 2010. In total, Syvret played 23 games for the Flyers before being waived by the club back in February. Given the logjam of defensemen already in the NHL, Syvret will likely spend the rest of the season with the Phantoms.
As for Bordson, he is a young forward who has played 15 games in the AHL this season, netting just 1 goal and 2 assists. He had considerable success in college (40 points in 40 games) with Minnesota-Duluth so he does have some upside.
The deal finally sees a resolution to the Patrick Maroon situation. Maroon, who was sent home by the Phantoms back in October, will get a fresh start with a new club. I always liked David Laliberte's upside, as he had a few good seasons with the Phantoms and even played 11 games in the NHL last season, but apparently the Flyers were comfortable moving him.
In terms of talent, the Flyers certainly gave up more than they received in this trade, as you would expect in any deal where you ship out a headcase like Maroon. While I'm not all that impressed with anything the Flyers acquired, I'm sure they are just happy to have Maroon out of the organization.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
In a wildly entertaining game between two heavyweights in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers downed the Capitals, 5-4, in a game decided by a shootout. This one certainly had a playoff feel to it with two good teams battling from start to finish, neither one willing to concede two points to the opposition. In the end, after letting a two goal lead slip away, the Flyers managed to hold on in overtime and then win on a Danny Briere shootout goal.
The Flyers offense continues to feature a balanced attack as 8 different players ended up with points. The usual suspects of Claude Giroux, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter all scored goals and Andreas Nodl even chipped in his 5th goal of the season.
Brian Boucher got the start in net for the Flyers, his first since October 25th, and he was just good enough to keep the Flyers in the game. At times, Boucher was brilliant, making some key saves for the Flyers down the stretch. At other times, Boucher looked rusty, giving up a few questionable goals that allowed the Capitals to stay in the game. While Boosh may be the odd man out when Michael Leighton returns to the ice, he is certainly still talented enough to be a quality backup goaltender in the league.
With the win, the Flyers still remain atop their division and second in the Eastern Conference in points. They have positioned themselves as one of the best teams in the league through both their offense, which has scored a league-high 75 goals, and their defense, which, Thursday night's game against the Lightning notwithstanding, has been lock-down, as evidenced by their league high goal differential of +22. With a game against the Canadiens on Monday, the Flyers string of entertaining games figures to continue.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
With the bye's all done for the year, we've finally reached the second half of the NFL season. With December right around the corner, that means the playoffs are soon to follow! Here are my Week 11 picks. Remember, picks this year are made against the spread and I'll be using the spread values that ESPN uses in their Pigskin Pick'em game. I finally made it over .500 for the season!
Record Last Week: 5-9, .357
Overall Record: 71-73, .493
Thursday Night Game:
Bears (6-3) @ Dolphins (5-4, -1.5)
It doesn't matter who the Dolphins start at quarterback, it could be Tyler Thigpen, Dan Marino or even Ronnie Brown, they will win this game by at least a field goal. My pick: Dolphins
Sunday Day Games:
Bills (1-8) @ Bengals (2-7, -5.5)
Anyone that has watched these two teams over the last few weeks knows that the Bills are the better team. The Bengals may still win but I expect a close game. My pick: Bills
Lions (2-7) @ Cowboys (2-7, -6.5)
The loser of this game should give up their Thanksgiving Day Game forever. As bad as the Cowboys are, I think they still find a way to beat the Lions by a touchdown. My pick: Cowboys
Ravens (6-3) @ Panthers (1-8, +10.5)
The Ravens are a lock to win this game but it's hard to see them going on the road and beating anyone by two scores even with extra time to prepare. The Panthers may stink but I think they keep this one close. My pick: Panthers
Browns (3-6) @ Jaguars (5-4, -1.5)
This is one of the tougher games of the week to pick. With the spread at 1.5, you are basically picking who you think will win the game between two evenly matched teams. With the way the Browns have been playing the last few weeks, it's tough to pick against them. My pick: Browns
Raiders (5-4) @ Steelers (6-3, -7.5)
I like the Steelers to win but the upstart Raiders to get the cover on the road. Winning, let alone winning by more than a touchdown, is suddenly difficult against the Raiders. My pick: Raiders
Redskins (4-5) @ Titans (5-4, -7.5)
For Donovan McNabb's sake, the Redskins better show up for this one. I do like the Titans to win the game but I see Washington bouncing back and keeping it close. My pick: Redskins
Cardinals (3-6) @ Chiefs (5-4, -7.5)
Another big spread but this time I think the home team covers. The Cardinals are just terrible, having lost 4 in a row to some pretty bad football teams. And to think, Arizona beat the Saints back in October. My pick: Chiefs
Packers (6-3) @ Vikings (3-6, +3.5)
These Brett Favre vs. his old team matchups have really lost their luster. With how the Vikings have played the last few weeks, I'm shocked that the line is only 3.5. What exactly does Brad Childress need to do to lose his job? My pick: Packers
Texans (4-5) @ Jets (7-2, -6.5)
The temptation is there to go with the Texans, who are beyond due for a win after losing three straight. The Jets are simply the better team, though, and they won't need overtime to prove it this week. My pick: Jets
Falcons (7-2) @ Rams (4-5, +3.5)
It's looking like we are headed for an all-Bird NFC Championship Game between the Falcons and Eagles. Look for Atlanta to win this one by a touchdown. My pick: Falcons
Bucs (6-3) @ Niners (3-6, -3.5)
Winners of 3 of their last 4 and in the worst division in football, we still can't write off the Niners. Despite their records being mirror images, I think the Niners are simply better than the Bucs right now. My pick: Niners
Seahawks (5-4) @ Saints (6-3, -11.5)
Seattle is the worst team with a winning record in the NFL. The Saints had an extra week to prepare. Enough said. My pick: Saints
Colts (6-3) @ Patriots (7-2, -3.5)
Ahh, the annual Colts/Patriots game. While the Patriots are riding high after their big win against the Steelers, I like the Colts to get up for this one and win outright. Remember when you couldn't count on Peyton Manning in a big game? My pick: Colts
Sunday Night Game:
Giants (6-3) @ Eagles (6-3, -3.5)
Before the season even began, I predicted that the Eagles and Giants would split their 2 games, with each team winning at home. Given how the Eagles played last week, I might be leaning towards the Birds winning both times these two teams play. Expect the speedy Giants defense to slow Michael Vick down a bit but the Eagles will still win by a touchdown. My pick: Eagles
Monday Night Game:
Broncos (3-6) @ Chargers (4-5, -9.5)
Because the Chiefs are actually a decent team, the path to the playoffs is going to be much harder for the Chargers this season. Given how strong the rest of the AFC is, we're almost to the point where the Chargers need to win out to make the postseason. My pick: Chargers
Those are my picks for Week 11 of the NFL Season. Check back every Thursday during the season for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
As expected, in a unanimous decision, Roy Halladay has won the 2010 NL Cy Young Award. Halladay was the obvious choice in the NL as he led the league in wins (21), complete games (9), shutouts (4), innings pitched (250) and also had the best strikeout to walk ratio. Add a perfect game and a playoff no-hitter to those statistics and you clearly have the best pitcher in the game.
Congratulations to Roy Halladay on a season for the ages. While I'm sure he would gladly give back all of the individual accolades for a World Series ring, if it wasn't for what Halladay was able to accomplish, the Phillies wouldn't have had such a successful regular season. Rarely does a superstar player acquired in the offseason live up to all of the hype that surrounds him but that's exactly what Roy Halladay did in the 2010 season. Just think, we get to watch this guy for at least three more years.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Where to begin with this one?
The Eagles exploded right out of the gate and never looked back, riding a nearly perfect effort by Michael Vick to a 59-28 beatdown of Donovan McNabb and the Redskins. From the opening 88 yard touchdown bomb to the defense shutting down the Redskins on every 3rd down opportunity, the Eagles drubbing was historic on a number of levels. Of the many team and NFL records the Eagles set in the game, perhaps the most impressive was the team record 593 yards of total offense the Birds piled up.
Vick was the story of the game by far as he put together possibly the best performance by a quarterback I've ever seen. Vick was sharp with his arm, completing 20 of 28 passes for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns, and with his feet, rushing for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Not only was Vick the best player in this game, he also made a case for being the MVP of the entire league with how he dominated the game from start to finish. You can't say enough about the transformation that Vick has undergone in the last year from simply a running back who occasionally throws to a quarterback with tremendous speed. Now that Vick is a legitimate pocket passer, he has become even more dangerous when he can't find an open man and decides to make things happen with his legs. He has truly turned himself into a dual threat as the most dangerous weapon in the game. Now, about that contract that ends following the season....
As for the rest of the Eagles team, there were plenty of other offensive players who stood out for the Eagles as they racked up the second most points in team history. From DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, who were really only needed on one play each, to LeSean McCoy, who had nearly 100 yards of total offense, the Eagles once again proved they are loaded with playmakers. Add in the recently acquired Jerome Harrison, who rushed for 109 yards on just 11 carries, and the Eagles offense is an embarrassment of riches.
Making the beatdown even sweeter was the fact that Donovan McNabb was standing on the opposite sideline. Fresh off his huge contract extension, McNabb had a miserable night, throwing 3 interceptions while getting sacked twice. Sure, the Redskins defense is to blame for not even attempting to slow down the Eagles offense, but McNabb didn't do himself any favors with his usually array of questionable decisions and erratic throws and his inability to convert a single 3rd down in the entire game.
With the win against the Colts last week and this nearly perfect effort, the Eagles have made their case for being the best team in the NFC. With a huge NFC East showdown against the Giants next week, the Birds will have their chance to make another statement. If Michael Vick continues to play like he did tonight, that statement could be that they are the best team in the league.
(Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
One of the most important bullpen pieces for the Phillies will be back next year: Jose Contreras has signed a 2 year contract (with a team option for a third year) worth 5.5 million dollars to remain in Philly. Contreras, who is 38 going on 60, was very reliable out of the pen last year, posting a 3.34 ERA and 1.22 WHIP while striking out 57 batters in 67 innings of work. Although some will be annoyed by Contreras getting a two year deal, if he can put up numbers anywhere close to that in the next two seasons, he will be more than worth 5.5 million dollars.
The re-signing of Contreras is just one of several bullpen signings the Phillies are expected to make in the coming months. With J.C. Romero recently shown the door, the team is in the market for a lefty or two. They also will be looking to re-sign Chad Durbin, who is currently a free agent, though several teams have apparently shown interest in signing Durbin.
Add the needed bullpen pieces to whatever the Phillies plan to do with their rotation and in right field and you have the makings of another interesting offseason. Ruben Amaro better get to work.
After nearly 30 years, the Phillies finally got Ryne Sandberg back. Sandberg, who played in 13 games for the Phillies in 1981 before being dealt to the Cubs, was hired by the team to be the manager for Triple A Lehigh Valley. He has had several years of experience managing in the Cubs minor league system and was thought to be in the running for the Cubs manager job before they hired Mike Quade.
Sandberg was originally drafted by the Phillies back in 1978 and was part of the most lopsided trade in team history, as the Phils shipped him and Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus. A Hall of Fame career by Sandberg later and you can bet the Phillies wanted a do-over.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Get used to seeing Jeff Carter in a Flyers uniform. According to Bob McKenzie of TSN, Carter has signed an 11 year contract extension that will keep him with the Flyers through 2022. The huge deal is worth 58 million and will cost the Flyers a cap hit of 5.27 million per year.
While Carter is a polarizing figure to many fans, one can't argue that the Flyers just locked up a great player for a reasonable price. For at least the next few years, Carter will be the 4th highest player on the team, a good deal for a player that is entering his prime and is capable of putting up 40 goals a season.
Love him or hate him, Jeff Carter is here to stay. Sure, he isn't exactly responsible in his own end, but if Carter can average 35 goals a season for the next decade, I don't think many will care about his defensive shortcomings. While it also would be nice if he weren't such a streaky scorer, Carter doesn't miss many games due to injury and will be a weapon the Flyers offense can rely on for years to come.
The Flyers have done well to lock up the core of their team, with Carter, Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger all under contract through the 2013-14 season. Up next for the Flyers will be extending Ville Leino, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. With the reasonable contract the Flyers gave Carter, there should be plenty of room under the cap for a solid contributor like Leino.
Yeah, so the Sixers pretty much suck. All the talk in the preseason about a new team culture and how Doug Collins was going to turn things around was just talk. While another season seems to be going down the drain, at least Andre Iguodala is still posterizing fools:
Thursday, November 11, 2010
When Jeff Carter scores, two things usually happen: he scores in bunches and the Flyers win. Such was the case on Thursday night as Carter, in his 3rd multi-goal game of the season, picked up a hat trick as the Flyers embarrassed the Hurricanes, 8-1. The win also moved the Flyers record to 4-0 when Carter scores a goal.
For Carter, it was a great game at the right time considering all of the talk about a possible contract extension. After a slow start, Carter now has 8 goals on the season and is on pace to score 40 on the year. While he doesn't seem to score the big goals in low-scoring games, Carter does have a knack for finding the back of the net against weaker teams, as all of his goals this season have come against teams in the bottom ten in goals against this year. Whether that's enough to merit big money in a contract extension is something the Flyers will have to figure out.
Four other Flyers scored goals against Carolina, including Danny Briere, who scored twice, and Mike Richards, Scott Hartnell and Nikolay Zherdev, who all scored once. With the way the Flyers offense is clicking, as Ville Leino and Claude Giroux are making beautiful setup passes to guys like Briere, Zherdev and Hartnell who are consistently finding the back of the net, few teams will be able to slow them down. Add in one of the best defenses in the league and the stellar play of Sergei Bobrovsky in net and you have the makings of a team that is destined for another deep Cup run.
Thursday Night football is here! While it seems to start earlier and earlier every year, Thursday Night NFL games are always a welcome sight, especially when it's a game like Atlanta vs. Baltimore. Let's get right to the Week 10 picks. Remember, picks this year are made against the spread and I'll be using the spread values that ESPN uses in their Pigskin Pick'em game. I finally made it over .500 for the season!
Record Last Week: 8-5, .615
Overall Record: 66-64, .508
Byes: Chargers, Packers, Raiders, Saints
Thursday Night Game:
Ravens (6-2) @ Falcons (6-2, -1.5)
What we have here is a possible Super Bowl preview. These two teams are pretty similar, as each has a solid young quarterback, a stud running back and an above average defense. With how they played against the Eagles still fresh in my mind, I can't put the Falcons quite at the level of the Ravens. My pick: Ravens
Sunday Day Games:
Lions (2-6) @ Bills (0-8, -2.5)
It's your time, Bills! Okay, so I said the same thing last week, but with the Lions hurting at quarterback, the Bills have to finally win one, right? My pick: Bills
Vikings (3-5) @ Bears (5-3, +1.5)
Things are a mess in Minnesota but the Bears, despite their record, are just not a good football team. It wouldn't surprise me if Chicago finished with just 6 or 7 wins this year. My pick: Vikings
Jets (6-2) @ Browns (3-5, +3.5)
Do I dare pick against the Browns again? After whipping the Saints and the Patriots, you would have to be a fool to think the Browns would have any problem against the Jets. Then again, this is still the Browns we're talking about and they don't have two weeks to prepare this time. My pick: Jets
Bengals (2-6) @ Colts (5-3, -7.5)
Peyton Manning doesn't lose two games in a row and the Bengals are coming off a short week. Next. My pick: Colts
Titans (5-3) @ Dolphins (4-4, +0.5)
This was a tough game to pick until the Dolphins made their quarterback change from one Chad to another. Look for the Titans to get Randy Moss involved early which will open things up for Chris Johnson to run wild. My pick: Titans
Panthers (1-7) @ Bucs (5-3, -7.5)
Okay, so the Bucs aren't the best team in the NFC but the Panthers certainly are the worst. What a mess in Carolina, all that's left to watch now is how many quarterbacks they are going to go through. My pick: Bucs
Texans (4-4) @ Jaguars (4-4, -1.5)
Both of these teams could really use a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. While Matt Schaub hasn't exactly been playing great lately, I think he will do just enough to lead his team to a win. Of course, the Houston defense is going to have to make some stops, too, something they have failed to do all season long. My pick: Texans
Chiefs (5-3) @ Broncos (2-6, +0.5)
I'm really surprised that this line isn't higher. I know they are at home but have people not been watching the Broncos the last few weeks? My pick: Chiefs
Cowboys (1-7) @ Giants (6-2, -13.5)
With the way the Giants are clicking and the way the Cowboys have given up, this one should get ugly. My pick: Giants
Seahawks (4-4) @ Cardinals (3-5, -3.5)
This could be the toughest game to pick this week. On one side, you have a Cardinals team that has lost three straight; on the other, a Seahawks team that just got annihilated by the Raiders and Giants in back to back weeks. Since they basically did everything but beat the Vikings last week, I'll lean towards Arizona. My pick: Cardinals
Rams (4-4) @ Niners (2-6, -5.5)
I like the Niners to continue their uphill climb and win this game but not by anything more than a field goal. My pick: Rams
Sunday Night Game:
Patriots (6-2) @ Steelers (6-2, -4.5)
This one is easily the game of the week and could go either way. Since the Patriots offense looks broken without a deep threat like Randy Moss, you have to think the Steelers defense is going to keep Tom Brady off the board just enough to win. My pick: Steelers
Monday Night Game:
Eagles (5-3) @ Redskins (4-4, +3.5)
The NFL went three for three this week in their primetime games. Even though you may think I'm a homer, I don't see how anyone could pick against the Eagles given the way their offense is clicking and the ugly situation happening in Washington. Sure, the Redskins beat the Eagles back in Week 4, but if Michael Vick had played that entire game the outcome surely would have been very different. My pick: Eagles
Those are my picks for Week 10 of the NFL Season. Check back every Thursday during the season for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!
The Phillies have filled the spot on their coaching staff vacated by Davey Lopes with a familiar face: former Phillie Juan Samuel has been hired to be the new third base coach, while Sam Perlozzo will move from third base to first base coach.
Samuel, who played seven years with the Phillies back in the 80's, has bounced around in various coaching positions since he retired back in 1998, including being a third base coach for the Tigers and Orioles while also managing the Mets Double A team. Samuel also spent some time as the interim manager for the Orioles last year.
As a kid, Juan Samuel was one of my favorite Phillies. While he didn't exactly put up great offensive numbers, he was a three-time All-Star and was one of the more exciting players on some mediocre Phillies teams. It'll be nice to see him back in a Phillies uniform for the first time in over 20 years.
With a practice squad spot opened up due to the release of DE Pannel Egboh, many assumed that the Eagles were making room for the recently released Joique Bell. After Bell was claimed by the injury-depleted Colts, however, the Eagles were forced to go in another direction. Enter former Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram, who has been signed to the practice squad.
Ingram, who spent all of last year on injured reserve and failed to make the final roster this year, is a player with immense talent that has never been healthy enough to make an impact in the NFL. Given that no other team bothered to pick him between when the Eagles cut him and now, it's safe to say his knees are still a big problem.
With the Eagles already set at tight end with Brent Celek, Garrett Mills and Clay Harbor, who doesn't even suit up on Sunday's, it's highly doubtful that Ingram will make his NFL debut this year. Still, the Eagles must see there is some value in giving the kid one more chance to get healthy and put it all together.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
You're kidding, right? According to the Denver Post, former Flyer Peter Forsberg, who has been out of the NHL since 2008, is making one last comeback attempt. Forsberg, who has had chronic foot problems for years now, is apparently ready to give it one " last, last, last try" at playing in the NHL. Haven't we heard this all before?
Thankfully, this time around, don't count on rumors linking Forsberg to playing with the Flyers, who are already incredibly deep at center. Besides, the Flyers already have Claude Giroux, who is basically a younger, faster version of Forsberg.
Good luck, Peter Forsberg; I can't wait until your next comeback attempt!
The baseball awards season is upon us and the Phillies figure to be bringing home some hardware. Besides the lock that Roy Halladay is winning the Cy Young, you have to figure Charlie Manuel will at least be in the discussion for Manager of the Year given the job he did with the injury-riddled Phillies roster. Announcements for those awards will happen in the coming weeks.
The first Phillie to get an award was Shane Victorino, was picked up his 3rd straight Gold Glove award. While Victorino may be winning the award every year simply based on reputation, he has certainly been a solid outfielder for the Phillies the past few years. Jimmy Rollins, who had won three straight Gold Gloves, didn't pick one up this year because of all of his injury issues.
The complete NL Gold Glove list:
P Bronson Arroyo (Reds)
C Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
1B Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B Brandon Phillips (Reds)
3B Scott Rolen (Reds)
SS Troy Tulowitzki (Rockies!)
OF Michael Bourn (Astros), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) and Shane Victorino (Phillies)
With the injury to Nate Allen and the release of Joique Bell, it was only a matter of time before the Eagles added a safety. According to a report out of KPAX in Montana, the Eagles have signed Colt Anderson off the Vikings practice squad. Anderson, who went undrafted in 2009, has spent the last two seasons with the Vikings and has never played a snap in the NFL.
Given that Anderson likely has no knowledge of the Eagles offense, I would expect him to play exclusively on special teams for the Birds until Nate Allen is healthy. With Kurt Coleman and Quintin Mikell set to start at the two safety spots, Anderson will only see time in an emergency situation.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Joique Bell, we hardly knew you.
According to Adam Caplan of Fox Sports, the Eagles have waived running back Joique Bell. Bell, an undrafted rookie who was signed by the Eagles back in September, only suited up for 3 games with the Birds and never had a carry. In the preseason with the Bills, Bell showed a ton of promise but was stuck behind Eldra Buckley and the newly acquired Jerome Harrison. We may not have seen the last of Bell, though, as the Eagles also released DE Pannel Egboh from the practice squad, which opens up a spot to stash Bell away.
The release of Bell from the active roster frees up a spot for the Eagles to bring in a safety. With an injury to Nate Allen likely to keep him out for the Monday Night game against the Redskins, the Eagles are left with just two safeties, Quintin Mikell and Kurt Coleman, on the roster. Look for them to add someone familiar with the system, like Quintin Demps or Macho Harris. There have also been rumors that the Eagles are kicking the tires on Al Harris, the former Eagle who had recently been released by the Packers. If the Packers didn't think he was healthy enough to contribute, though, I wouldn't count on him coming to the Birds.
Monday, November 8, 2010
We will be graced with the presence of Claude Giroux in orange and black for at least a few more years. After a hot start this season, the Flyers have smartly signed Giroux to a contract extension that will keep him with the team for three more years for 11.25 million, a cap hit of 3.75 million per year.
For the Flyers, this is the right signing at the right time for the right price. Giroux has been incredible this season, using his slick passing skills and his incredible vision on the ice to pick up 7 goals and 7 assists through 15 games. To get a player of his skill wrapped up for a few years for such a reasonable salary is a smart move no matter how you look at it.
One has to wonder what the signing of Giroux means for the Flyers plans with Jeff Carter, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season and will command a much higher salary. You can bet the Flyers will now be hard at work trying to wrap up Carter, if they can even afford him.
Holy cow, Andy Reid was one gigantic 13 year old. Look at the size advantage he had in this Punt, Pass and Kick competition:
I don't know how he couldn't win considering he was twice the size of the competition.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Andy Reid's perfect post bye-week record remains intact! Despite the best efforts of the referees, the Eagles held on to edge the Colts, 26-24, giving Reid a perfect 12-0 record after a bye.
Michael Vick deserves much of the credit for the win as he was the best player on the field for most of the game. While Vick didn't put up great passing numbers (17 of 29 for 218 yards), he was a serious weapon with his legs, repeatedly gouging the Colts for big yards on the ground. Vick also continues to be nearly unstoppable on third downs, even converting two 3rd and 10's late in the game when the Eagles were trying to melt the clock. At this point, I think we can safely bury the Eagles quarterback controversy. The difference between the Eagles offense in this game and when Kevin Kolb was behind center is night and day; Vick makes the offense look explosive while things seem to plod along with Kolb.
The Eagles defense also should get a lot of credit for having to overcome some terrible calls by the refs while managing to slow down the Colts offense. After the Colts offense hit its stride in the second quarter, the Eagles defense responded in the second half by nearly keeping them off the scoreboard entirely. While Peyton Manning was still able to put up some solid numbers, the Eagles did hurry and hit him often, even forcing him to throw a pair of interceptions. The Birds young secondary deserves a ton of credit for not allowing any big plays by the Colts receivers.
One of the biggest stories in the game will inevitably be about how the refs nearly stole the game from the Eagles with two very questionable calls. First, there was the legal hit by Kurt Coleman that was flagged in the second quarter, then there was the ridiculous roughing the passer penalty called on Trent Cole for barely batting the back of Manning's head with his hand late in the game. While the Coleman hit on Collie happened so fast I could see why it was called, there would have been hell to pay had the weak call against Cole cost the Eagles the game.
All in all, what a huge win by the Eagles in a game everyone had penciled in as a loss since the day the schedule came out. The Birds really needed this one, especially after the way they collapsed against the Titans. Suddenly, with a record of 5-3 and a second half schedule that looks not nearly as difficult as it once did, the playoffs seem like a very real possibility. If Michael Vick stays healthy and they continue to play like they did today, the Eagles might even win a round or two.
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
In the second quarter of the Eagles/Colts game, there was an ugly collision between Colts receiver Austin Collie and Eagles defensive backs Kurt Coleman and Quintin Mikell. On the play, the Eagles drew a penalty though the announcers and the CBS halftime crew all agreed that it was a clean hit. Here's the hit:
To me, I see an unfortunate injury on a clean hit. I know the league is trying to crack down on big hits but Coleman wasn't leading with his head. What say you?
The Eagles and Colts have announced their inactive players for Week 9:
Eagles: RB Joique Bell, T King Dunlap, WR Chad Hall, TE Clay Harbor, CB Ellis Hobbs, QB Mike Kafka, DE Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, G Reggie Wells
Colts: RB Joseph Addai, TE Brody Eldridge, RB Mike Hart, DT Antonio Johnson, CB Jerraud Powers, S Bob Sanders, LB Clint Session, CB Justin Tryon
A few firsts for the Eagles this week as RB Jerome Harrison and LB Keenan Clayton will take the field for the first time. Harrison, who was acquired a few weeks back from the Browns, must finally know enough of the offense to contribute as the backup to LeSean McCoy. Dunlap and Hobbs are both nursing injuries this week while Hall finds a seat on the bench with DeSean Jackson back.
The Colts are dealing with a number of injuries, with starters like Addai, Sanders and Sessions out this week and Dallas Clark out for the year.
Andy Reid's record after the bye week is going to be put to the test in this one. With the way the Eagles secondary has looked in recent weeks, it's hard to have too have much confidence that they will slow Peyton Manning down.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
While he isn't a Phillie anymore, the news is still sad: while pitching winter ball in the Dominican Republic, Jamie Moyer has suffered another elbow injury. Early reports from Moises Alou, the general manager of Moyer's Domican team, are that the injury could end the career of the 24 year MLB veteran.
Given his status as a free agent, Moyer decided to pitch in a winter league to test out his arm and show that he can still pitch in the majors. While it's still early and we don't really know the true extent of his injury, given his age, it's doubtful that Moyer would continue rehabbing if he had a major setback in his comeback attempt.
If his career is indeed over, what a sad way for the Old Man to go. While it was going to be tough seeing him pitch for another team next year, no fan of the Phillies or any team in baseball wanted to see things end like this for a guy like Jamie Moyer.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Let's get right to the Week 9 picks. Remember, picks this year are made against the spread and I'll be using the spread values that ESPN uses in their Pigskin Pick'em game. Inching closer to .500 on the season!
Record Last Week: 9-4, .692
Overall Record: 58-59, .496
Byes: Broncos, Jaguars, Niners, Rams, Redskins, Titans
Sunday Day Games:
Bucs (5-2) @ Falcons (5-2, -8.5)
The Bucs fade will start this week but I can't pick the Falcons to win by more than a touchdown. My pick: Bucs
Bears (4-3) @ Bills (0-7, +2.5)
It's finally your time, Bills. You've been getting closer and closer to that first win every week and you've got a bad Bears team coming to Toronto. It might be now or never. My pick: Bills
Patriots (6-1) @ Browns (2-5, +4.5)
The Pats haven't been great this year but they always seem find a way to win. The Browns are coming off a bye but that still isn't enough time for them to figure out how to beat New England. My pick: Patriots
Jets (5-2) @ Lions (2-5, +4.5)
After how the Jets played last week, this game is a tough one to predict. If they want to be a Super Bowl contender, the Jets must rebound. My pick: Jets
Cardinals (3-4) @ Vikings (2-5, -8.5)
Whoa, what exactly did the Vikings do to earn this spread? The Cardinals aren't good, either, but I can't see the Vikings winning by more than a touchdown. My pick: Cardinals
Saints (5-3) @ Panthers (1-6, +7.5)
The Saints are getting back on track. The Panthers have never been on track. My pick: Saints
Dolphins (4-3) @ Ravens (5-2, -5.5)
The Dolphins have had a rough schedule this season and things don't get any easier as they travel to Baltimore this week. My pick: Ravens
Chargers (3-5) @ Texans (4-3, +1.5)
I'm not sure what the oddsmakers are thinking on this one. The Texans are at home yet the Chargers, who have been maddeningly inconsistent, are the favorite? Maybe it's a trap but I gotta go with Houston. My pick: Texans
Giants (5-2) @ Seahawks (4-3, +5.5)
Coming off their bye, the Giants are looking to cement themselves as the best of the NFC. Seattle is a tough place to play but I say the Giants make a statement. My pick: Giants
Chiefs (5-2) @ Raiders (4-4, -2.5)
Who would have thunk that this was going to be a good game between two teams with a legitimate shot at making the playoffs? That the Chiefs are about to be 6-2 is nothing short of shocking. My pick: Chiefs
Colts (5-2) @ Eagles (4-3, -2.5)
This is another head-scratching line. I know the Colts haven't exactly been great this year but it's hard to justify going with the Eagles to win this game. Not with Peyton Manning ready to shred the Eagles shaky secondary. My pick: Colts
Sunday Night Game:
Cowboys (1-6) @ Packers (5-3, -7.5)
I wish I could actually feel bad for the Cowboys. Well, not really. My pick: Packers
Monday Night Game:
Steelers (5-2) @ Bengals (2-5, +4.5)
What a pathetic effort by the Bengals this season. What used to be a pretty good rivalry is going to get ugly this week as the Steelers whip Cincy for 60 minutes. My pick: Steelers
Those are my picks for Week 9 of the NFL Season. Check back every Thursday (or Friday) during the season for the latest predictions. Feel free to discuss, argue or make your own picks in the comment section!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
While I tend to be pretty negative about the Sixers (see Twitter), I'm definitely a big basketball fan and I've been patiently waiting for them to put together a team that is fun to watch and is competitive night in and night out. With every season brings the promise and the hope that this is the year the Sixers put it all together and turn into a serious contender.
The season is still young, but it's already painfully obvious this won't be that year. After losing their first four games, the Sixers managed their first win on Wednesday night, blowing out the Pacers, 101-75. While the Sixers were in full control throughout the contest, the game was more about how poorly the Pacers played rather than how the Sixers dominated the action. Elton Brand put together a nice performance, posting a 25 point, 12 rebound, 4 assist stat line. In all, 6 players finished in double digits in scoring.
Sixers head coach Doug Collins didn't get to see the end of his first win with the team, staying in the locker room after halftime as he dealt with a dizziness stemming from the concussion he suffered at the end of May. Assistant coach Michael Curry took over on the bench but the team didn't miss a beat.
With games coming up against the Cavaliers and the Knicks, the Sixers have a good chance at turning around from their early season misfortune. If the Sixers want to compete for a playoff spot, they need to beat the bad teams in the league. Even in their best nights, they won't be able to hang with the Heat and the Celtics, but if they can beat up on the dregs of the Eastern Conference, they could sneak into the playoffs. Of course, it's probably better that they bottom out to get another high draft pick rather than just get ousted from the first round of the playoffs.
With the Spectrum just days away from being demolished, Comcast-Spectactor has come up with a rather unique way to get memorabilia from the old stadium to the fans. This Saturday, fans can pay an admission fee of $25 and take whatever they can carry out of the stadium, including chairs, furniture and old televisions. There are a few catches, including that there is no re-entry and you can't use any equipment to help you carry things out, but it sounds like a pretty cool way to get your hands on a few seats for a reasonable price.
Even if you don't take anything, it still might be worth the price of admission to take one last look inside the stadium where many fans, including myself, saw their first professional game.
Monday, November 1, 2010
An integral member of the Phillies has left the organization. Due to a difference in opinion on salary compensation, first base coach Davey Lopes has walked away from the team. Apparently, the Phillies made a contract offer that Lopes deemed to be too low based on his perceived value to the team.
The impact that Lopes had on the club was huge, as he helped Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins become two of the most dangerous base stealers in the game. Lopes likely did a great deal behind the scenes, something he was hoping to be compensated for but the Phillies weren't willing to meet his salary demands. He will not be an easy person to replace.
It's a shame that the Phillies lost a key member of the coaching staff just because of money, but the front office must place only a certain value on a first base coach. Given how successful he had been with the Phillies running game, you would think that the Phillies would have done what it took to bring Lopes back, but apparently they weren't willing to open their wallet.
Lopes deserves plenty of credit for all he did with the Phillies, especially the contributions he made towards the 2008 title. Look for him to catch on with another team and be very successful.