Sunday, July 31, 2011

Report: DeSean Jackson to end holdout, report this week to Eagles

That didn't last long. After missing the first few days of training camp, reports from 6ABC are saying that DeSean Jackson will end his holdout and report to the Eagles on either Monday or Tuesday. He will return to the Eagles despite not getting the big contract he is after.

As Mark Trible pointed out earlier this week in his post, Jackson deserves a contract extension and he will get one sooner or later. I'm not sure what the point was of his holdout if he is willing to come to training camp without getting what he wanted but he probably isn't enjoying getting fined $30,000 for every day he misses. Jackson was trying to make a statement but with the "Dream Team" assembling, its time to get to work. The money will come later.

Eagles sign G Evan Mathis

Now that the defense is loaded, the Eagles turned their attention to the holes along the offensive line, signing Guard Evan Mathis to a one year deal. Having played for the Panthers, Dolphins and most recently the Bengals, Mathis has a bunch of experience in his 6 year NFL career but his signing is likely a depth move for the Eagles. Mathis started 12 games for the Bengals last year.

With rookie Danny Watkins still not signed, Mathis is insurance at guard should Watkins not be ready to start in Week One. Mathis will be a fine fill-in but he isn't someone the Eagles should be excited about starting for more than a few weeks.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Eagles deal DT Bunkley, re-sign LB Jordan

UPDATE: Bunk refused to go to the Browns so he was instead dealt to the Broncos for a conditional pick.

With the signing of Cullen Jenkins, the writing was on the wall for former starting DT Brodrick Bunkley. The Eagles moved quickly to deal Bunkley, shipping him to the Browns for a 5th round pick in 2012. The move re-unites Bunk with the man that drafted him, Tom Heckert, and gives the Eagles a whopping 11 picks already in the 2012 draft.

In other Eagles moves, the Birds re-signed Akeem Jordan. Jordan has experience at all three linebacker positions so he could challenge the man currently penciled in as the starting middle linebacker, rookie Casey Matthews. I still hope the Eagles further upgrade their linebackers but they might be content with a mediocre group given the strength of the rest of the defense.

Getting richer: Eagles sign DT Cullen Jenkins

I'm starting to feel bad for the other teams in the NFL. In yet another surprising move, the Eagles have signed arguably the best free agent defensive lineman, DT Cullen Jenkins, to a 5 year, 25 million dollar contract. Jenkins is coming off a solid year with the Super Bowl Champion Packers where he recorded 7 sacks.

Jenkins figures to slide into one of the starting defensive tackle spots, likely replacing Brodrick Bunkley, who could get traded or released. He will have some learning to do as he has played in a 3-4 system with the Packers for the last several years but his talent will allow him to make an immediate impact for the Eagles in their 4-3 defense.

The Eagles are clearly going all in in this season, particularly on defense. While they still have a few more moves to make, the team has gotten much better in both the secondary and along the defensive line. Adding Jenkins up front should help the line create more chaos which in turn should make things even easier for an a ridiculously talented secondary. All that is missing now is a middle linebacker and this team will be completely stacked.

Super Bowl or bust.

Phillies send Domonic Brown to the minors

With the addition of Hunter Pence to the roster, the Phillies had to make a move to clear up space. That move turned out to be the demotion of Domonic Brown to the minors, which means the Phillies will play the struggling Raul Ibanez every day in left field for the foreseeable future.

While Brown probably isn't happy to be sent to the minors it will be good for him down the road. With Pence in the fold for the next few seasons, right field, the position Brown is most comfortable playing, is locked up. The Phillies plan to play Brown in left field at Lehigh every day and let him get comfortable in the position with the hopes that he takes over in left next season when Ibanez is gone. Brown can also continue to develop at the plate in the minors and hopefully be a solid bat when he is called up again no later than September.

In other Phillies news, Placido Polanco was activated and the team sent Andrew Carpenter to the minors. The lineup is now stacked 1-8 and ready to roll. Can't wait for October.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Phillies acquire Hunter Pence for prospects

The Phillies have finally acquired that right handed bat they have been looking for, getting Hunter Pence from the Astros for two of their top prospects, pitcher Jarred Cosart and outfielder Jonathan Singleton, pitcher Josh Zeid and a player to be named later. While he had been rumored to be a part of the deal, the Phillies thankfully were able to hold on to Dominic Brown. The Phillies also received cash in the deal.

Pence is a solid bat and should slide nicely into the 5th spot in the lineup. While he doesn't have a ton of power, the two-time All Star is hitting over .300 this season and driven in 62 runs on a terrible Astros team. He does strike out too much and doesn't have a great on base percentage but Pence should help to balance out the Phillies lineup with another threat from the right side of the plate.

As for where Pence will play, he has been a right fielder for most of his career. The Phillies will likely let him play every day and rotate Dominic Brown and Raul Ibanez in left, though I fear that Brown may be relegated to the bench more often than not, something that won't help his development.

It was a stiff price to pay for Pence as Cosart and Singleton where the best the Phillies farm system had to offer, but Pence does fulfill a big need for the club. While I would still like the Phillies to go grab another bullpen piece, picking up Pence, who will be with the team for several years, gives the lineup an extra boost heading down the home stretch. Does Pence guarantee that the Phillies get past the Giants this year? No, but he certainly will help. With the window of opportunity always closing for this aging Phillies team, this was a trade that needed to happen.

Eagles land Nnamdi Asomugha

Whoa. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Eagles have landed one of the best cornerbacks in football, signing Nnamdi Asomugha to a 5 year, 60 million dollar contract. Widely regarded to be the best available free agent this offseason, the Eagles swooped in seemingly out of nowhere and significantly upgraded their secondary with one of the best cover guys in the league.

With Asomugha joining Asante Samuel and the recently acquired Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary, the Eagles suddenly have the best set of corners in the league. With three receiver sets becoming more and more common these days, having three Pro Bowl caliber corners will make things very difficult for opposing teams to move the ball through the air. You could argue that having three corners on that level is overkill but its hard to argue with grabbing a corner that can take half of the field away from the offense.

The Eagles secondary has gone from a big question mark to probably the best around. With the addition of Jason Babin to aid the pass rush and a secondary now filled with playmakers, the Eagles defense as a whole has taken a major step this offseason. First the Kevin Kolb trade and now this; the Eagles have executed an absolutely masterful plan this offseason. To come almost out of nowhere to grab Nnamdi is their second brilliant move. More to come?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Vince Young to sign with Eagles

UPDATE: It's official, Vince Young will sign a one year deal with the Eagles tomorrow.

As one backup quarterback departs, another enters: according to a report from, Vince Young is expected to sign with the Eagles. After getting officially released by the Titans earlier today, Young is a lock to join the Eagles and backup Michael Vick.

I'm completely on board with this move. While Young wasn't exactly a great starting quarterback in the NFL he will be the perfect backup for the Eagles. Not only does he have tremendous athletic ability but he also has 47 starts under his belt and can be trusted should Vick miss time due to an injury. In some ways, Young might be a lateral move from Kevin Kolb and certainly is a better fit for an offense designed around a scrambling quarterback like Vick.

Signing Young, despite his past locker room issues, is a no-risk move for the Eagles. He will learn the offense under Vick and not force the Eagles to completely change their scheme when the backup QB enters the game. So far, the Eagles deserve high marks for the moves they have made this offseason. Now if they can only get DeSean Jackson locked up....

Guest Post: Eagles must show Desean Jackson the money

The great Mark Trible gives his thoughts on the Eagles front office and DeSean Jackson:

With the trade of Kevin Kolb for a second round pick in next year’s NFL draft and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the Philadelphia Eagles front office continued to improve their reputation as one of the finest in the league. They’ve earned the reputation in part with their understanding of when to let older players go, drafting well, and most importantly, extending their best young players early in their contract.

When they do the latter of those things, they often end up with a successful player that makes far less than he is actually worth. In the past, this has caused problems with contract renegotiations and fair market value from the player’s point of view. Sheldon Brown is one of the most recent cases of such a strategy and consequential conflict. But, in fairness to the franchise, Brown and players like him have the option of not extending early in their contract.

The payoff can be huge down the line if they continue to stay healthy and exceed expectations on the field. However, the cushion of falling into a large sum of money at an early age and having security seems to win out. Most players aren’t successful enough in their first couple years to make a significant dent in the Eagles’ checkbook. It works for the franchise the majority of the time, yet this year they’re in a different ballpark playing a different ballgame. DeSean Jackson has finally become the aberration that throws the front office’s intention out the window. Already a two-time Pro Bowler in just three NFL seasons, he’s due for a gigantic payday, and he knows it.

If he was just a serviceable receiver at this point in his career, the Eagles likely would have extended him by now. Obviously, that’s not the case and the aftermath of Jackson’s aberrational ways is now a quandary that the team must deal with. The first option is to reach deep into their wallets and pay the man what he’s worth. While biting the bullet will certainly cost them, it will get everything taken care of and keep number 10 in green for a while.

Behind door #2 is the option of waiting the receiver out when it comes to his participation in training camp. At this point, there’s no indication that Jackson will show up, yet under the brand new collective-bargaining agreement, he’ll be fined extensively for each day he misses. He may miss a week to send a message, but it’s unlikely that he holds out forever. He simply can’t afford to, he doesn’t make enough money. There’s some irony.

Jackson’s agent is Drew Rosenhaus, a man who has tried to call the Eagles bluff before and found out the hard way how they respond to such treatment. It’s safe to assume that at some point the two sides will get together and hammer something out. The lifting of the lockout and the pressure packed few days afterward certainly didn’t make things easier for either side to work on an extension.

In the span of a couple of days, the Eagles found out that there would be a new season, signed 10 of 11 rookies, signed undrafted rookies, began training camp, and completed a blockbuster deal for quarterback Kevin Kolb. In the scheme of things, signing DeSean Jackson to an extension should fall beneath those on the priority checklist.

From the franchise’s point of view, Jackson must be signed not only for production and roster reasons, but also because he can quickly let his frustrations show. For a team that places significant value on players being ‘company men’, there’s no room to let a malcontent rub off on the rest of the roster. This is especially true in Philadelphia because they have such a large contingent of young players.

In the end, it would be shocking if the Eagles failed to negotiate an extension for Jackson in the near future. Over time they have found a way to avoid the big payday and pinch some pennies through early extensions. Yet, their most successful pick recently is standing with his hands open and a burlap sack that’s empty. He’s deserved the money and while the Eagles may regret having to fork it over, it’s tough to complain about the results they see on the field.

Follow Mark on Twitter (@Mtrible) for more great Flyers and Eagles thoughts.

Eagles finally deal Kolb to Cardinals for DRC, pick

Earlier today, the Eagles finally pulled the trigger on the Kevin Kolb trade, dealing him to the Cardinals for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick. While it had been rumored to be happening for weeks, I'm still shocked the Birds pulled this one off.

No matter how you look at it, the Cardinals were robbed. Not only were the Eagles able to get a second round pick for their backup quarterback but they were also able to pry away a Pro Bowl cornerback? Sure, Kolb isn't your average backup quarterback, but he has only 7 career starts and already has a concussion on his resume. He was the Eagles quarterback of the future just one year ago but we have seen enough of him on the field to know there is more than a decent chance he isn't a franchise quarterback.

Rodgers-Cromartie (DRC) will immediately step into the starting cornerback spot opposite of Asante Samuel and give the Eagles one of the best 1-2 corner combos in the league. While DRC hasn't fully lived up to his potential in his three years in the league, he's only 25 and he has already shown plenty of playmaking ability. At the very least, DRC should solidify the second corner spot that was so shaky last season.

The Eagles front office deserves a ton of credit for pulling off such a lopsided trade. Kolb may yet be a stud quarterback but he wasn't going to have any impact on the Eagles as long as Michael Vick stays healthy. Turning him into a Pro Bowl corner and a lottery ticket in the draft is nothing short of a brilliant move.

Eagles cut Leonard Weaver, 4 others

Cuts have begun around the league and the Eagles have announced that the following five players have been cut: DL Jeremy Clark, DB Gerard Lawson, DT Jeff Owens, FB Leonard Weaver, WR Jeremy Williams.

Obviously, the biggest name on the list is Leonard Weaver, who was released because he failed his physical. Weaver suffered a nasty injury in Week 1 last season and has been working hard to rehab the injury but clearly isn't healthy enough to play this season. In fact, he may work his tail off in rehab but I doubt Weaver ever plays again. Owen Schmitt will likely retain the starting fullback spot for another season.

As for the other 4 players cut, both Williams and Owens also failed their physicals.

Eagles bring back Jason Babin

The Eagles made their first unrestricted free agent signing of the offseason, agreeing to a 5 year, 28 million dollar contract with a familiar face in defensive end Jason Babin. Babin, who spent 2009 with the Eagles, was the best pass rusher on the market as he notched 12.5 sacks with the Titans last season. He should make an immediate impact on the opposite side of the line to Trent Cole.

While the signing of Babin is a little uncharacteristic for the Eagles considering his age (31) and the fact that he's only really been great for one year, it does re-unite him with Jim Washburn, the new Eagles defensive line coach who turned him into a pass-rushing stud in 2010. If anyone can make sure the Eagles get the most out of Babin, its Washburn, who is widely regarded as the best line coach in the game.

Signing Babin to a lengthy 5 year deal clearly shows the Eagles were desperate to upgrade their pass rush that was so bad at the end of last season. He should be a great addition to the Eagles defensive end rotation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Eagles sign 8 draft picks, 3 remain unsigned

Despite not trading Kevin Kolb (yet) and not coming to terms with any unrestricted free agents, the Eagles were still plenty busy today, signing 8 out of 11 of their draft picks to contracts. The Birds acted quick to get these guys signed so they could practice with the rest of the team starting tomorrow. Only first round pick Danny Watkins and 7th round picks Stanley Havilli and Greg Lloyd remain unsigned. I bet Watkins gets taken care of pretty quickly as the Eagles expect him to be the starting right guard.

Here is a complete list of Eagles draft picks and their contract status:

Danny Watkins, G: No contract yet
Jaiquawn Jarrett, S: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Curtis Marsh, CB: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Casey Matthews, LB: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Alex Henery, K: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Dion Lewis, RB: 4 years, 2.14 million, $188,000 signing bonus
Julian Vandervelde, OL: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Jason Kelce, OL: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Brian Rolle, LB: 4 years, unknown salary, unknown signing bonus
Greg Lloyd, LB: No contract yet
Stanley Havill, RB: No contract yet

I will continue to update this list as more players are signed and the salaries are announced.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chase Utley's inside the park home run

In case you missed it, here is Chase Utley's inside the park home run from Tuesday night:

Hmm, that play at the plate sure looked close....

Updated: Eagles add 10 rookie free agents

Let the free agent bonanza begin! While they can't officially sign unrestricted free agents yet, the Eagles can sign undrafted rookie free agents and they have worked quickly to add a bunch to the roster. Expect most to be among the first cuts at training camp but there could be a few in this group that have a role on the team. Here are the undrafted rookies the Eagles have signed so far:

Perry Baker, WR, Fairmount State

DeAndre Brown, WR, Southern Mississippi

Graig Cooper, RB, Miami

Noel Devine, RB, West Virginia

Chas Henry, P, Florida

Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M

Brandon Pequese, LB, Hampton

Cedric Thornton, DL, Southern Arkansas

Terrance Turner, WR, Indiana

Martell Webb, TE, Michigan

I don't know too much about these guys but there might be an opportunity for a few to crack the roster. With Sav Rocca reportedly not being signed back, Henry, the best punter in college last year, could be the Eagles punter. Devine is also an incredible talent who put up some crazy numbers at West Virginia last year. With Jerome Harrison also possibly gone, he could stick as a backup running back.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eagles free agents: Who stays and who goes?

Now that the lockout is over, the Eagles have some work to do in free agency, starting with what they will do with their own free agents. With the removal of the transition tag on David Akers, the Birds now have 15 players set to be unrestricted free agents:

K David Akers
LB Stewart Bradley
G Nick Cole
LB Omar Gaither
S Antoine Harris
RB Jerome Harrison
CB Ellis Hobbs
G Max Jean-Gillis
LB Akeem Jordan
DE Bobby McCray
S Quintin Mikell
CB Dmitri Patterson
P Sav Rocca
LB Ernie Sims
G Reggie Wells

As for which of these players the Eagles will bring back, I wouldn't be surprised if they signed Rocca and let the rest leave town. The other player with the best chance to sign back is Bradley given how well he knows the system and how effective he has been when healthy. Jerome Harrison would be someone I hope the Eagles sign for another season but I can see him looking elsewhere so he can have a bigger workload. The only other player on the list that has any value to the Birds is likely Dmitri Patterson, who could be a nice depth piece in the secondary.

Given the linemen the Eagles drafted, the three offensive linemen, Cole, Jean-Gillis, and Wells are as good as gone. Akers will also be kicked to the curb with the drafting of Alex Henery. None of the linebackers besides Bradley will have a role with the Eagles, so Gaither, Jordan and Sims better look elsewhere for jobs.

The lockout is over, Football is BACK!

YES!! Finally, the NFL Lockout is over! With the owners and the NFLPA finally both approving the proposed CBA, football can finally get into full swing. Teams are opening their doors to the players tomorrow, with training camp starting Wednesday and free agency will start on Friday.

Highlights of the agreed 10 year deal include a 120 million dollar salary cap with a salary floor, 4 year rookie contracts and more money going to veteran players. The salary floor will likely have the most immediate impact on the league as several teams are forced to spend big money to get themselves compliant with the rules.

The first order of business for the Eagles will be to trade Kevin Kolb, who has been linked to the Cardinals for weeks now. Andy Reid has said all along that he has a plan in place once free agency begins so we'll see what that entails and whether the new salary cap has any affect on what the Birds can accomplish. Expect Kolb to be dealt immediately tomorrow.

It's so good to talk about football again. These next few weeks are going to be crazy as teams quickly ramp up for a season that is just over a month away. With only the Hall of Fame game being cancelled, the Eagles schedule will go ahead as planned with the first exhibition game on August 11th and the regular season opener against the Rams on September 11th.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rumor: Eagles interested in Brett Favre. Wow.

Say it ain't so.

Normally, I don't put much credence into what Howard Eskin puts out there, but this rumor is just too insane: once they trade Kevin Kolb, the Eagles might look to sign Brett Favre to be the backup quarterback. Let that sink in for a minute.

According to Jeff McLane of, the Eagles didn't deny that they were interested, so this story might have some legs. Andy Reid and Favre go way back and he certainly knows the offense, so it actually makes some sense, except for the fact that Favre is 41 and supposedly retired again. There is no word right now if Favre wants to play in Philly or if he is even willing to be a backup quarterback.

The Eagles have brought the circus to town just for a backup quarterback before, so who says they won't do it again? There is no denying that Favre knows the offense but how much of a glutton for media attention must this team be to bring in the ol' gunslinger? I know the Eagles need a proven backup quarterback who can step in for the oft-injured Michael Vick but this is pretty ridiculous.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Phillies activate Lidge, kick Baez to the curb

The moment we have all been waiting for has finally happened! No, not the activation of Brad Lidge, which also happened today, but the Phillies finally rid themselves of Danys Baez, designating him for assignment to make room for Lidge on the roster.

Baez has been nothing but awful for the Phillies the last two seasons, posting an ERA well above 5 while being completely unreliable in the late innings. Baez had become so useless that Charlie Manuel only called on him to pitch three times in July, his most recent appearance coming against the Mets when he got shelled for 4 runs in an inning of work. So long, Baez, I can't say you'll be missed.

Lidge's return to the Phillies shouldn't be overlooked. He won't be stepping back into the closer role any time soon but Lidge could turn into a useful 7th or 8th inning setup man. He should help alleviate the workload of Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes, who have been busting their tails in the late innings this season. Lidge isn't the most consistent guy so it will be interesting to see what role he works himself into.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Phillies sign Aaron Heilman to minor league deal

The Phillies will be adding at least one former Met to their organization this July as Aaron Heilman has signed a minor league contract with the team. Heilman was recently released by the Diamondbacks after putting up a 6.88 ERA this season in 32 appearances. Expect Heilman to remain in the minors unless he somehow figures out how to be an effective reliever again.

Heilman was a Met for 6 seasons earlier in the decade and was a quality reliever. At age 32, the Phillies aren't counting on him to be what he once was but he's worth taking a flier on. Best case scenario is that he puts up great numbers at AAA and then replaces Danys Baez on the major league roster down the stretch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Offensive assault, Worley's gem help Phillies crush Cubs

The heat in Chicago didn't slow the Phillies down this time. With temperatures in the mid to upper 90's throughout the game, the Phillies offense took charge early as they crushed the Cubs, 9-1.

The offense jumped all over Cubs starter Ryan Dempster, knocking him around for 7 hits and 6 runs in the first three innings. It was a team effort, with every Phillies starter except Shane Victorino picking up a hit. Jimmy Rollins provided the power for the Phils, hitting a pair of solo shots from each side of the plate in the later innings while scoring 4 runs in the game. When you get a big contribution from a guy like Michael Martinez (2 hits, 2 runs, 2 steals), you know the Phillies are going to be tough to beat.

Vance Worley threw yet another gem for the Phillies, striking out 7 while giving up just one run and four hits in 8 innings of work. He was solid early, allowing no hits until the 5th inning, and lowered his ERA on the season to a miniscule 2.02. Worley has turned into quite the asset for the Phillies and has more than adequately filled in for the injured Roy Oswalt. When Oswalt is healthy, Worley will certainly bump Kyle Kendrick out of the rotation. The Phillies will have an interesting decision to make with their rotation when Joe Blanton returns. With his value at as high of a point as it ever will be, could now be the perfect time to trade Worley?

With an off day tomorrow and a series with the Padres starting on Friday, the Phillies continue to find themselves in a great position. While the Braves are nipping at their heels, the Phils are in virtually no danger of not making the playoffs. Once they get there, we know this team is built for a deep playoff run.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Phillies reportedly pursuing Carlos Beltran

The baseball trade deadline is under two weeks away so you know how rumors fly this time of year. With the Phillies reportedly looking around the league for some extra help in the outfield, Ken Rosenthal presented this little nugget today: the Phillies, along with the Red Sox, are the most aggressive suitors for Carlos Beltran of the Mets.

While Beltran, who will be a free agent after this season, isn't the player he once was, he has put up decent numbers this year, including a .287 average and 14 homers and 59 RBI. If he could remain healthy, he would be a great piece to add as an everyday corner outfielder, likely forcing Raul Ibanez and Domonic Brown into some kind of strange lefty-only platoon situation.

Of course, there are a number of questions that surround this rumor. Would the Mets even trade Beltran to a rival? What prospects would it take? Can the Phillies, who have repeatedly said they are out of money, afford to add his salary? How much, if any, of his salary will the Mets eat? My guess is that the Phillies would have to overwhelm the Mets with a few of their better pitching prospects to make it work, a price that might be too steep for someone who isn't a huge improvement over what they already have.

Prepare yourselves for the onslaught of rumors to come. Expect every outfielder and every relief pitcher to be linked to the Phillies in the coming weeks.

Sixers release 2011/12 schedule

Even though the chances that the 2011/12 NBA season starts on time (or even starts at all) are slim, the Sixers released their schedule today. The schedule includes a handful of nationally televised games, including 3 on ESPN and 2 on TNT. There aren't many surprises but here are a few key dates:

Season Opener: November 2nd, at Toronto
Home Opener: November 4th, vs. Timberwolves
Thanksgiving Game: November 24th, at Atlanta
New Years Day Game: January 1st, at Lakers
All-Star Break: February 23rd-27th
Last Game: April 18th, at Miami

Click here for the complete schedule

Monday, July 18, 2011

It was a rough night for Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay isn't a machine after all. The usually unflappable Halladay had a rough night in Chicago, laboring through just 4 innings of work before having to exit due to heat. With game time temperatures in the 90's, Halladay was visibly struggling with the heat, sweating and turning red as he tried to work through it. With the Phillies fearing exhaustion and dehydration, they removed their ace pitcher after he gave up a single in the 5th inning and then threw two pitches to the next batter.

In all, Halladay gave up 7 hits and 3 runs in his 4 innings of work. His streak of lasting in at least 6 innings in his last 63 consecutive road starts is over. That's a pretty arbitrary stat, anyway.

After the game, Halladay already made it clear that he wouldn't miss his next start. While it didn't look pretty for him, this can probably be chalked up to a one night thing. Expect Roy to come out with a vengeance against the Padres in his next start this coming weekend.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Good news: Madson is back. Bad news: Polanco to the DL

As one Phillie returns, another exits. It has been a year filled with injuries for the Phillies, and that continues today as Placido Polanco has been placed on the disabled list with back problems. The move is retroactive to July 5th, so there is a chance that Polanco misses just a few more games. I wouldn't be surprised if he missed several weeks waiting for his back to get 100%.

With Polanco's return, the Phillies activated closer Ryan Madson, who has missed a month with a hand injury. I would expect Madson to step right back into his 9th inning role, bumping Antonio Bastardo, who did an admirable job as the closer, back to the 8th.

Polanco joins a long list of Phillies on the disabled list, including Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Comcast-Spectacor has sold the Sixers

The long awaited deal is finally done! No, not the NFL or NBA lockouts; Comcast-Spectacor has finally completed their sale of the Sixers, for 280 million, to a group of investors led by billionaire Joshua Harris. The new ownership group will own 90% of the team with Comcast retaining 10%.

On the surface, not much will change for the Sixers; they will still play in the Wells Fargo Center, though they will now be tenants. It isn't known at this time if any front office changes will be made, though given all of the changes over the last few years, the new owners might want some continuity. Let's hope this new group of owners is more interested in the on-court product and less interested in making a profit.

This deal has nothing to do with the Flyers, who Comcast-Spectacor also owns. Don't count on them being sold off as long as Ed Snider is alive.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Carlos Ruiz on the cover of Sports Illustrated

Yet another Phillie is on the cover of Sports Illustrated! It's only a regional cover, as Derek Jeter gets the national cover, but its quite a cover. CHOOOOOCH!


Monday, July 11, 2011

Roy Halladay will start for NL in All-Star Game

Even though basically everyone in baseball has made the All-Star team at this point, at least the best pitcher in baseball will be starting: Roy Halladay has been named the starting pitcher for the National League. Expect him to pitch an inning or two before exiting the game.

Halladay could end up being the only Phillie to play in the game. Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino are injured and won't play and Cole Hamels has already been replaced after pitching yesterday. There is a chance that Cliff Lee will pitch in the game but he did just pitch Saturday and would likely prefer to rest.

Even though this game "counts", it's nice to know I can turn it off after the second inning and likely not miss any of the Phillies in action.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Phillies pound Braves, enter All-Star break with best record in baseball

You couldn't have scripted a better way for the Phillies to enter the All-Star break. After two nail biters against the Braves, the Phillies demolished Atlanta, winning 14-1 to maintain their 3.5 game lead in the NL East.

It was an offensive explosion for the Phils, who knocked out 20 hits against Derek Lowe and the rest of the solid Braves pitching staff. It was a complete team effort as every starter had at least one hit and one run, with most scoring twice and picking up multiple hits. Raul Ibanez had a huge game, driving in 6 runs while hitting his 12th home run of the season. Michael Martinez and John Mayberry, both filling in for injured All-Stars, also were key contributors, combining for 7 hits, 4 RBI and 3 runs scored. When Martinez and Mayberry have games like that, you know things are going well.

Cole Hamels also put together one last dominant start before the All-Star game, giving up just 3 hits while striking out 6 in 8 innings of work. He picked up his 11th win, tying Roy Halladay for most wins on the team.

The Phillies now enter the All-Star break with the best record in baseball. After crushing the second best team in the NL, they have to feel pretty good about their season so far. They've positioned themselves in such a way that all they need to worry about is getting healthy for the playoffs. With their starting pitching, they are built for another deep playoff run as long as they get even league average offense. If they hit even close to how they did today, they might not lose another game.
(Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Friday, July 8, 2011

No All-Star Game for Victorino, who lands on DL

Even though he won the Final Vote yesterday, Shane Victorino won't be playing in the All-Star Game. The Phillies have announced today that Victorino has been placed on the disabled list due to his injured thumb. Replacing Victorino on the roster will be Pete Orr, who was called up from Lehigh Valley.

Victorino had been confident that he would still be able to play in the All-Star game but apparently it wasn't worth risking further injury. He will be placed retroactively on the DL, starting on July 4th, so Victorino might just miss a few more games before he returns. In his place, John Mayberry and Michael Martinez will get the bulk of the playing time in center.

With the big Braves series starting today, this is certainly bad timing but nothing the Phillies can't overcome. They've gotten pretty used to dealing with injuries so I'm sure they'll take this in stride. No word yet on who replaces Victorino on the All-Star team, though Andrew McCutchen is certainly the most deserving.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Once again, Shane Victorino wins the Final Vote

Shane Victorino OWNS the Final Vote. For the second time in three years, Victorino has made the All-Star team by winning the Final Vote by getting over 9 million votes. If he's healthy enough, he will be the 5th Phillie going to Arizona.

Hopefully he can make the most of the one at-bat he is going to get.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Four Phillies named to 2011 All-Star Game, Victorino needs our help

The best team in baseball is sending four players to Arizona for the All-Star Game: Placido Polanco, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Polanco was voted in as a starter while Halladay, Lee and Hamels were no-brainer additions to the NL pitching staff.

Polanco was the only Phillies hitter named outright to the team, and probably justifiably so. With Chase Utley missing a large chunk of the season and Ryan Howard not having a great year by his standards, it's hard to make a strong case for any Phillies hitter. Shane Victorino has a shot at making the All-Star team but, just like in 2009, he is a part of the Final Vote, so he will need our help! Click here to vote and get Victorino to the All-Star game.

As for other Phillies pitchers that could have made the team, Ryan Madson certainly has a case to be there, though his recent injury could have kept him out. Antonio Bastardo has had a great season but probably doesn't have the name recognition to earn an All-Star nod.

Click here to see the full rosters for both leagues.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Flyers deal Versteeg, lose out on Leino

Kris Versteeg sure wasn't with the Flyers for long. After being acquired from Toronto back in February, Versteeg played in just 38 games for the Flyers before being shipped out of town again. According to TSN, the Flyers have shipped Versteeg to the Panthers for a second round pick in either 2012 or 2013 plus a third round pick in 2012.

The trade of Versteeg was likely made so the Flyers could clear some cap space and go after another free agent forward. My first assumption was that the Flyers would finally re-sign Ville Leino, but that idea was quickly shot down once it was reported that Leino signed with the Sabres for 6 years, 27 million. At a cap hit of 4.5 million per year, I'm glad the Flyers passed on bringing Leino back. He's a great contributing player but he certainly isn't worth that kind of money.

As for Versteeg, the Flyers got decent return for a guy they dealt first and third round picks for originally. While I liked him, he had his shortcomings and probably wasn't worth his 3 million dollar salary. Given that he has only played in 250 games in the NHL and he has already been traded four times, there might be something more to the story on him.

As for what the Flyers plan to do to replace Versteeg, that's a complete mystery. Maybe we will see the return of Simon Gagne?

Flyers sign Max Talbot to 5 year contract

We stole another one from you, Pittsburgh! After taking Jaromir Jagr away from the Penguins earlier in the day, the Flyers announced they have signed former Stanley Cup hero, Max Talbot, to a 5 year, 9 million dollar contract.

Talbot is a high energy guy and is a solid penalty killer. He's one of those guys that fans love as he plays the game with passion and intensity. No, he won't score a ton of points, but he will hit a few people and play solid defense. Look for him to slide nicely into the 3rd line center role, though he can also play the wing.

At under 2 million dollars a year, Talbot is a great signing. While 5 years seems like a lengthy contract for a guy with minimal skills, Talbot is just 27 and is a perfect fit for his role.

In other free agency news, the Flyers have also signed defenseman Andreas Lilja to a one year deal. Lilja will be the 6th or 7th d-man and take the place of Sean O'Donnell, who signed with the Blackhawks today. He's 35 and is a stay at home defenseman with no offensive skills.

Flyers sign Jaromir Jagr to one year contract

This will certainly go down as the craziest Flyers offseason in quite some time. Start with the dealing of two franchise players, mix in a little Steven Stamkos insanity and then add in this lunacy: the Flyers have signed Jaromir Jagr to a one year contract reportedly worth 3.3 million dollars. Yes, you read that right, 39 year old former Penguin and Ranger, Jaromir Jagr, has joined the Flyers.

Jagr is a legendary scorer, having scored 646 goals in his career, but he hasn't played in the NHL since 2008. He has continued to skate in the KHL, however, and has been productive, averaging nearly a point per game in a league that is somewhat equivalent to the AHL. While he is old and hardly the player he once was, he should be able to contribute offensively, especially on the power play.

3.3 million seems a little steep for Jagr but the Flyers must feel he's worth the gamble. While he comes with plenty of baggage, he also comes with plenty of skill. At first glance, I'd say the Flyers paid too much but we'll have to wait and see how he looks back on the NHL ice. Should he be able to contribute 25 goals and spark a sagging power play, he is well worth the money.

With NHL free agency under way, one can only guess what else the Flyers have in store. This has been one insane offseason.

It could be a while before we see the Sixers again

Aren't professional sports great? Now, not only is the NFL locked out, but, as of midnight on July 1st, the NBA is also locked out. Unfortunately, things look pretty grim for a full NBA season for next year, so the Sixers might not take the floor again for quite a while.

Given how great the NBA was this year and how many fans tuned in just to see the Heat lose, the league is really shooting itself in the foot at the wrong time. Look for the NHL to gain major ground in the US if the NBA has a prolonged lockout.