The Rise And Fall Of The Philadelphia Phillies

August 23rd, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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September 14, 2007…..a day that changed Philadelphia Phillies history. Entering that fateful day, the NL East leading Mets were seven games up on the Phillies, who were heavily favored to win the NL East and were dubbed as “the team to beat in the NL East” by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. On this day, the Mets began an epic collapse,( that eventually gave the Phils the East) with a 3-2 loss to the Phils. Over the next 16 games the Phillies went 12-4, while the Mets blew a major division lead behind a horrible 5-11 record. That was the start of the most exciting period of Phillies baseball in franchise history.

With their newly won NL East crown, the Phillies rode major momentum into Coors Field to face the Colorado Rockies. That’s where we met a buzzsaw, losing 3 games to 1 to the eventual National League champs. Despite the lack of playoff success that year, the Phillies fan base knew bigger things were on the horizon. Just not sure of how big though. Entering the 2008 season, the Phillies-Mets rivalry was at another all-time high. Mets Outfielder Carlos Beltran had declared the Mets “the team to beat in the entire NL” that season. The Mets were in a similar position entering the final 17 games of the 08′ season, up 3 1/2 games on the Phillies. Yet, they neglected to hold that lead, once again giving their enemies down I-95 a division title to celebrate. Little did Met fans know what that was going to do.

With the Phillies riding a 13-3 record in their final 16 to back to back NL East titles, they once again entered the playoffs with red-hot momentum. This time, things would turn out differently, as the Phillies went on to bring home the first World Series championship this city had seen since 1980. They made quick work, going 11-3 in the postseason, breezing their way to the world title. As one can imagine, this just added fuel to the fire of the Phillies-Mets rivalry.

Following a surprising World Title victory, the Phillies coasted to 3 years of regular season dominance, yet 3 years of postseason decline. The trade deadline of 2009 saw the Phillies take a major step forward and acquire ace Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians for prospects. Behind Lee’s arm, the Phils once again reached the Fall Classic, this time losing to the Yankees in 6 games. That following offseason, the Phils swapped one ace for another by dealing Cliff Lee in a three-team trade that netted them longtime Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay.

The following season, the Phils netted the best record in all of baseball behind the arms of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and mid-season acquisition Roy Oswalt. During the offseason, the Phils brought back Cliff Lee, after emerging as a late mystery team. This gave them arguably the best rotation in baseball, entering the 2011 season. Going into the 2011 season, the Phils expectations were high. Those same expectations grew even higher due to the acquisition of Hunter Pence. Once again, the Phillies had the fans buying into the hype, only to come up short in the NLDS to eventual champions; the St.Louis Cardinals. Entering the offseason, the Phillies faced a large amount of problems, including the losses of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to injury, and the uncertainty of Ryan Madson’s skill as closer. The latter of the two was solved with the pinstripes signing of Jonathan Papelbon, the highly coveted closer from the Boston Red Sox.

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Reports: Sixers trade Thaddeus Young to Timberwolves, acquire Shved, Mbah a Moute & first-rounder

August 22nd, 2014 by Sam Shipley | No Comments | Filed in Basketball, General, Sixers, Sports

Thad Young After a month of back and forth reports about the exact details of the blockbuster trade that will send Kevin Love to Cleveland, and 2014 first overall selection Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota in return, things are now beginning to shape up.

It was reported on August 8th that the Sixers would be sending veteran forward Thaddeus Young to the Minnesota Timberwolves for 2013 first overall pick Anthony Bennett. However, after two weeks of uncertainty reports surfaced yesterday that the Sixers would not be acquiring Bennett after all.

Today, more news came out regarding a trade including the Sixers and Young. 

According to Jerry Zgoda, Minnesota Timberwolves reporter for the Star Tribune, the Sixers will be acquiring guard Alexey Shved and veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute, and a top-10 protected first-rounder from the Heat via the Cavaliers. Both Shved and Mbah a Moute are expiring contracts. For now it seems like this trade will be a part of the blockbuster trade referred to above, which means that this trade cannot be completed until Sunday at the earliest, as the deal cannot happen until Wiggins has been signed for 30 days.

Schved, a 6-foot-6 combo guard, averaged 4 points, 1.3 rebounds and 10.5 minutes in 63 games with Minnesota last year. He’s under contract for $3.2 million.

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Report: Bennett not coming to Sixers?

August 21st, 2014 by Sam Shipley | No Comments | Filed in Basketball, General, Sixers

 

Anthony Bennett may not be coming to Philadelphia after all

Anthony Bennett may not be coming to Philadelphia after all

On August 8th there was a reported blockbuster trade announced that sends Kevin Love to join LeBron James in Cleveland and 2014 first overall pick Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota in return. The intriguing part for Sixers fans was that they would be involved, sending Thaddeus Young to Minnesota and receiving 2013 first overall selection Anthony Bennett in return. That all seemed set in stone.

Until today.

Jerry Zgoda, Minnesota Timberwolves reporter for the Star Tribune, tweeted out the following earlier today: Just a reminder: if you keep reading Bennett is headed to Philly for Young in forthcoming trade…don’t believe it.”

Other reports followed, stating that the Timberwolves may want to hang onto Bennett due to his controllable salary over the next two years, while Young can opt-out of his current contract next summer. If the Sixers do not land Bennett, they can still work out a separate trade to land expiring contracts while also acquiring a draft pick in return.

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Phillies Offseason Preview: Rotation

August 18th, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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With the remainder of the MLB season winding down, I will be previewing the upcoming offseason for our Philadelphia Phillies. Over the next set of articles, I will take an in-depth look at each aspect of the Phillies team, where they currently stand, and how/if they can make themselves better in the upcoming offseason. First up, is the Phillies rotation, which has been just dreadful this season. Now, let’s get started.

Entering this season, there was much hope for an aging rotation that consisted of a 35-year-old Cliff Lee, 37-year-old AJ Burnett, and a 30-year-old Cole Hamels. However, that hope quickly turned to dismay, as Hamels started out the season on the DL, Lee served a 2 month DL stint early on in the season, and Burnett quickly struggled in pinstripes. To top it off, back-end starters Roberto Hernandez and Kyle Kendrick struggled mightily as well.

Cole Hamels, arguably the Phils best pitcher, currently has a record of 6-6, with a 2.37 ERA. After starting the season in ugly fashion, posting an ERA over 3.50 in both April and May, Hamels has lit the NL ablaze since June. He has posted 2 1/2 months of baseball, with a sub-2.00 ERA, and a sub-.225 opposing avg. Compiling 100 SOs since the month of June, Hamels’ tally is now up to 144 on the season. However, with trade rumors swirling around him, Hamels’ future in pinstripes is uncertain-to say the least. If I had to guess if Hamels would be the Phils 2015 Opening Day starter, I’d say it’s highly unlikely.

Cliff Lee has struggled this season. Posting a 4-5 record with a 3.65 ERA, Lee has yet to find his “stuff”, finding himself on the DL for two months early in the season, and than once again just weeks ago. The latter trip to the DL has ended Lee’s bad season, and it remains to be seen whether Lee will ever appear in red and white pinstripes again. If Lee returns next season, he will be 36 years old and have many questions surrounding his performance.

AJ Burnett just never really seemed to find his feet in the city of Brotherly Love. Despite his horrendous 6-13 record with a 4.35 ERA, not all of this season can be blamed on AJ. He hasn’t really received great offensive support, an issue that I’ll tackle in a future article. I’m pretty sure that if AJ was provided with more offense, his record would look much different than it does now. However, at 37 years of age, Burnett’s clock is ticking with father time, and his career will eventually come to a close. Many are speculating that due to his terrible season, he’ll cut his losses and hang up the cleats.

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5 Takeaways From Birds-Pats Preseason Game

August 17th, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, Football, General

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Friday Night was the Eagles second preseason game, as they took on the New England Patriots in lovely Foxboro, Massachusetts. While it still only the preseason, this game opened some eyes and made me aware of some new concerns. Without further adu, let’s take a look….

1.) The officials are going to call EVERYTHING this season.

Oh man, is this season’s officiating going to be fun. They are calling everything, ticky-tack or not. The slightest little touch is now considered “illegal use of hands” If a receiver gets poked by a defender, it’ll be “illegal use of hands”. It’s ridiculous….the sport is football, not touch football, not flag football, not ballet….football! Let the men play, hits are hits, none of this “illegal use of hands” crap, just let them play the game. Ugh..

2.) Curtis Marsh is a defensive liability

I never thought that one specific player could infuriate me so bad. Well, Curtis Marsh did just that. It’s like he’s just not football-smart and panics on every play. Tonight, he has taken at least 4 penalties that I know of, and got toasted for three touchdowns. Simply put, Marsh lacks the speed, size, and overall football I.Q to be anything more than a practice squad player. Cut ties now, while you still have the chance.

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How To Dismantle A Farm System In 5 Easy Years: The Ruben Amaro Jr Story

August 15th, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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Since Ruben Amaro Jr took over as Phillies GM back in 2009, Phillies fans have been accustomed to playoff appearances, division titles, top of the line players, and winning….lots of winning. However, now that the Phillies are struggling, and are likely to miss the playoffs for the third straight year, fans are starting to see the writing on the wall and are getting tired of RAJ. Most, including myself have labeled Amaro a “blind loyalist.” But, it dawned on me the other day, Amaro’s not being overly loyal, he just can’t dismantle the team like most of us want. Most that read this will ask why, simply put….we have no farm system to rebuild with.

Now, I understand that to rebuild an organization, you need to acquire prospects from trades. But, you also must have prospects of your own that are ready to take over. The Phillies do not have any. They also don’t have the players to be able to do a straight rebuild through trading their star players. The Phils highly overvalue their older, and under-achieving players, simply because they have to.

Their farm system has gone from one of the best in the majors, to one of the worst in four short years, courtesy of one Ruben Amaro Jr. Amaro sacrificed the future for the present. From 2010-2012, Amaro dismantled the farm system for instant prominence, that didn’t come to fruition. Let’s take a look at the deals that weakened the Phils prospect farm, shall we?

2009: Phillies acquire Cliff Lee, Ben Francisco from Indians for Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donaldo and Lou Marson

This trade was a no-brainer. While at the time, some of these prospects were highly regarded, most of them never panned out. Knapp and Marson were released by Cleveland after battling numerous injuries, Carrasco is still battling his way through the organization, and Donald never truly lived up to his potential, and fizzled out. Meanwhile, Lee was a pivotal piece to the Phils success.

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Phils Off to Rough Start on West Coast

August 14th, 2014 by AmyMac | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies
A.J. Burnett looks to split the series in Anaheim tonight.

A.J. Burnett looks to split the series in Anaheim tonight.

Jerome Williams, a right-handed pitcher claimed off of waivers from Texas, made his debut for Philadelphia last night in Anaheim.  The 32-year-old starter, whose pink glove is in honor of his late mother and her battle with breast cancer, tossed 5.1 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits.  His pitch count was only 72; however, it makes sense that Williams would appear tired after not having pitched for ten days.  (Sean O’Sullivan was designated for assignment in order to make room on the roster for Williams.)

With a 2-1 lead, one out, and a runner on first, Antonio Bastardo took the mound.  Surely, by now, we’ve all included “take a shot every time Bastardo walks his first batter” into our Phillies drinking games … and he delivered.  Bastardo walked Josh Hamilton on four pitches (not a typo), which prompted the downward spiral of the sixth.  After having pitched 0.1 inning and allowing five runs (again … not a typo), Ryne Sandberg called in Jake Diekman to stop the bleeding.  Mario Hollands pitched the seventh inning, and Cesar Jiminez handled the eighth without incident.  The damage, however, was already done: Bastardo earned the loss after a 7-2 final score.

What does this mean for Philadelphia’s pitching? For starters, Bastardo might need a one-way bus ticket to a little town called Out of My Sight Already.  As non-contenders, though, the Phillies could have certainly done far worse than Jerome Williams.  If he’s able to pitch a decently solid six or seven innings, with roughly 2/3 his pitches as strikes, I’ll be happy.  He’s not Cliff Lee, and you shouldn’t expect stellar performances.  At this rate, though, we’ll take what we can get.

Offensively speaking, there’s not much to say about last night.  Darin Ruf outhit DH Ryan Howard, and the Phils still have just three players (Byrd, Utley, and Revere) batting above .240.  You needn’t be good at math to realize that that’s a depressing statistic, and you needn’t know me personally to know that I hated typing it.  Philadelphia is bringing up the rear in a lackluster division – only Atlanta and Washington have records above .500 – and their record going into tonight’s game is a pitiful 53-67.  Q: What’s more depressing than being in the basement of the NL East? A: Being a full four games behind the Mets.  The Mets, folks.

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