Philadelphia Eagles: 5 Bold Predictions For 2014-15

September 3rd, 2014 by Sam Shipley | No Comments | Filed in Eagles, General, Sports, TalkSportsPhilly, TSP Radio, Twitter

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

A year ago, the Philadelphia Eagles were a team with a lot of questions. They were a team with a brand new head coach named Chip Kelly, who had an offense that was supposed to be nothing we have ever seen before. They were a team with a brand new defense, both scheme wise and player wise. They were a team who had a quarterback competition throughout training camp. Nobody really really knew what to expect from the Eagles.

One year later…

The Eagles are a team who have an identity. Chip Kelly’s offense is as good as advertised, if not better. The defense actually has promise with a lot of young talent in their front seven. The only quarterback competition in training camp was for the third string job. The city of Philadelphia expects not only a second division title in as many years, and some even expect a playoff win.

Here are my five bold predictions for the Philadelphia Eagles this season:

1. Jordan Matthews Will Win Offensive Rookie of The Year

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Montgomery Takes Medical Leave, Amaro On The Outs?

September 2nd, 2014 by Ryan Waterman | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies, Sports, TalkSportsPhilly, TSP Radio, Twitter

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Thursday was yet another sad day for the Phillies organization. Not even a week following the death of owner “Sally” Buck, the team announced that President David Montgomery is taking an indefinite medical leave of absence, to focus on his recovery from jaw cancer. During Montgomery’s absence, the team announced that former Phillies GM Pat Gillick will oversee the team’s day-to-day operations. If Montgomery does not return before the start of the offseason, it may be up to Gillick to determine the future of organizational employees, both on and off the field. Since Montgomery’s surgery for his cancer back in May, concerns have arisen that he may eventually step down, sooner rather than later. If he was to take a permanent leave, one would assume that Gillick would take over as the Phillies’ president. Montgomery, who has been a co-owner of the team since 1981, could be in for a bit of a change when/if he returns. While Montgomery has made it clear, that Amaro is “not in the hot seat”, it remains to be seen what Gillick’s feelings towards Amaro are.

Amaro, who took over as GM for Gillick just days after the 2008 World Series, has not exactly used Gillick’s team building skills as a blueprint for his tenure in Philly. Gillick was never one for making “flashy trades”, and “free-agent splashes”, as he was more focused on “home-grown talent” making their mark in the organization. Gillick and Amaro took different paths in their tenures, based on their organizational moves. During Gillick’s tenure, the team essentially remained the same every year. Gillick never truly made a “blockbuster move”, as his transactions were primarily to provide team depth, and make way for younger, up-and-coming players like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino.

Meanwhile, Amaro has made his name off of “blockbuster moves”, acquiring the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence. While some of those moves worked out well, Amaro did his best to distance himself from Gillick’s blueprint of growing talent from within. It wasn’t until just recently, that Amaro re-adopted that blueprint. Due to the constant shuffling within the clubhouse, the team was never really able to build much “team chemistry”, and hasn’t been able to reach the pinnacle of baseball, since Gillick left.

The takeaway from this article, is that Montgomery’s absence, could make for a bigger storyline going into the winter, and possibly even further down the line. If Gillick is to become Montgomery’s successor as team president, I foresee significant organizational changes, starting at the top. Whether it be Montgomery or Gillick at the helm this time next season, I strongly feel that we’ll have a new General Manager not named Ruben Amaro Jr.

 

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Fall Ball Notes

September 1st, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, Phillies

This week, the Phillies announced some winter league roster moves. Phillies that will be represented in the Arizona Fall League include pitchers Colton Murray, Ryan O’Sullivan, Nefi Ogando, Ethan Stewart, catcher Logan Moore, and center fielder Roman Quinn, who is slated to get significant playing time. The Phillies have one more roster spot open to them should they wish to use it. Phillies representatives will be playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions this year.

Third base prospect Maikel Franco is currently slated to play in the Dominican Winter League again.

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Mayberry Traded

September 1st, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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This one gets filed under W for Why? On the last day of being able to make a trade of significance, Ruben Amaro Jr spent the afternoon haggling with Alex Anthopoulos over how to save $250k this season. The Phillies traded Mayberry to Toronto for minor league third baseman Gustavo Pierre. Outside of saving the money, the Phillies gain nothing moving forward. Pierre, 23 in December, is a career .247/.282/.378 hitter who has never seen double digit home runs in any season.

With the log jam of players who either are third basemen, Cody Asche, Maikel Franco, etc., and guys, like Jake Fox, who can play third base, why acquire another third baseman. Worse yet, the way this guy projects, he’s going to end up a career minor leaguer who can play first base, third base, or be a designated hitter. Don’t get me wrong, Mayberry had zero value in the trade market. I probably would’ve been happier having him traded for Low A relief pitcher that had even a remote shot at potential.

I guess this one falls “under making a trade, just to make a trade.” Whatever. All we can do is hope this is the last (non-) move Ruben Amaro Jr. is allowed to make as general manager of the Phillies.

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Done Deal

August 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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It amazes me to say that Ruben Amaro Jr. ACTUALLY made a deal as a seller that impressed me. Not that it’s franchise altering or anything, but Amaro showed that it was possible for him to buy low and sell high. Last December, Amaro signed Roberto Hernandez to a one-year, $4.5M deal with another $1.5M in performance bonuses. Hernandez, who hadn’t been anything special since he stopped being Fausto Carmona, actually put up solid numbers as a Phillie and Amaro moved him to the Dodgers for two players to be named later.

Hernandez left for Hollywood on August 7th and it took roughly three weeks to finalize the deal. Jesmuel Valentin was the first player the Phillies chose. Valentin is a 20-year-old second baseman who was drafted 51st overall in 2012. He struggled at Clearwater offensively after hitting .280/.349/.430 for the Dodgers’ equivalent to Lakewood. The second player was Victor Arano, a 19-year-old right-handed pitcher. Don’t let that 4+ ERA fool you, there’s definitely potential there. In 20.1 innings as a reliever, Arano has a 1.31 ERA with an 18:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Like I said, these two guys are probably not going to hear fans complain about anyone blocking them and Hernandez has continued pitching well for the Dodgers. The fact of the matter is that the Phillies acquired two players that ranked between 11 and 20 in an organization that was a borderline top ten system. If anything, the Phillies have acquired bullpen depth and infield depth at the minimum.

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September Call: Russ Canzler

August 30th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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I’m gonna refer to Canzler as Star-Lord because I know many of you will have the same reaction as Korath did when hearing his name. Who? Russ Canzler has been a minor league journeyman, having played for six different organizations since being drafted by Chicago in the 30th round of the 2004 draft. Like Star-Lord, I wonder if there’s more to him if given the chance. Philadelphia is his second organization this season after being let go by the Yankees affiliate.

In the 57 games (197 at bats) since joining the Iron Pigs, Star-Lord has hit to the tune of a .299/.376/.579 line with 20 doubles, one triple, and 11 home runs. There are two things that really intrigue me about Canzler. One is he fills a huge bench need by being a right-handed hitter with pop that plays all four corner positions. The other is he absolutely has been destroying left-handed pitching to the tune of .368/.455/.737.

Look, I’m not saying that Canzler is going to become the next Jayson Werth or Brandon Moss, but he is definitely an upgrade over John Mayberry Jr. I would expect Canzler to get the call, but having witnessed the blatant dismissal of Brandon Moss for John Bowker, it really wouldn’t surprise me to see the Phillies over look another guy with potential.

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September Call: Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

August 29th, 2014 by Mike H. | No Comments | Filed in Baseball, General, Phillies

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned this summer it’s that the bullpen is shifting from a liability to a strength. Led by young guns Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, and Ken Giles, the bullpen is slowly but surely being filled with strikeout artists that paint with gas. With it becoming clearer by the day that Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo will be moved either by Sunday or in the off-season, the Phillies will have an opening in 2015. One nominee will most likely be Cuban import, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

Granted the Phillies could attempt to stretch out Gonzalez, or MAGs, in an attempt to add him to the rotation, but why not leave him in the position he’s succeeded in all season. MAGs has thrived in the bullpen so far. Granted the 27-year old has been feasting on more inexperienced competition over three levels to the tune of a 2.36 ERA, a 11:4 strikeout to walk ratio, and a WHIP just over 1.00. While he may not hit triple digits like Giles, MAGs has been sitting in the mid-to-upper 90s.

The Iron Pigs’ season comes to close on Monday, so it’s very possible MAGs could be a Tuesday addition. MAGs has two years of team control remaining after signing a 3 year, $12M contract last summer and it looks like his debut isn’t too far off.

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