Posted tagged ‘philly’

Flyers Win 2 on the Road

October 5, 2009
Flyers Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Matt Carle (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Flyers Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Matt Carle (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The Flyers started off their season with 2 big wins on the road.  The Flyers shut-out Carolina on Friday night and clearly beat-up the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.  The team got great play from most players, including excellent goaltending from Ray Emery.  The only disappointing part of both wins was the exorbitant amount of penalties the Flyers took.  They had to kill 8 penalties on Friday, including a 2 minute 5 on 3 power-play for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Of course, one could question how good are the Hurricanes and Devils?  Last season, the Devils finished the season with 107 points and the Hurricanes made it to the Eastern Conference finals.  Both of these teams have their nucleus back, so there shouldn’t have been any drop off in play.  For the Flyers to come out and win both of those games on the road should help the Flyers with their confidence and hockey instinct.  

The Flyers open their home portion of the season, tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals and then follow-up with the Penguins on Thursday.  These two games will be a real test to this surging Flyers team.  However, if the Flyers continue to get passionate play from their fourth line, especially Blair Betts and Ian Lapierrerre and excellent goaltending from Ray Emery, these two games this week could catapult the Flyers season or send the Flyers back to the drawing board on how to beat the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.

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Jeremiah Trotter with the Eagles – Again

October 2, 2009

We all know Jeremiah Trotter went to work-out for the Eagles.  Now he is signed and an official member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Jeff Garcia – not needed any longer – was released to make space.

Trotter brings a big body and strong linebacker against the run.  He definitely provides more power and strength to Joe Mays and Omar Gaither.  We also know that Trotter is quite capable of playing a downhill Philadelphia style defense.  The big unknown is – can Jeremiah still play?

I think Trotter can still play.  A few years back, the Eagles brought in an aging Levon Kirkland to play the middle.  He was serviceable.  Comparable to Trotter, Jeremiah has Kirkland beaten in everyway.  Assuming that Trotter’s knees are healthy, which I think they are or the Eagles wouldn’t have signed him, Trotter will be a strong presence in the middle of the defense.  Of course, Trotter will also be a force in the locker room.  

I guess the only question remaining is – what number is he going to wear?  Will he have to wash Tracy White’s car, similarly to washing Nate Wayne’s car when he came back to the Eagles nest?  We’ll find out.

Phillies Clinch

October 2, 2009
Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

Philadelphia Phillies Clinch the N.L. East

It should feel great that the Phillies clinched another playoff birth.  Though, for some reason, I’m just a little anxious.  I guess the only thing that would make me feel great is if I was confident in the Phillies winning a playoff series.

I have significant questions about the Phillies, specifically, their starting pitching and closer slot.  The Phillies boast a solid roster of starting pitchers, especially on paper.  However, the likes of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Pedro Martinez aren’t really pumping out the dominating performances we need to get over the playoff hump.  Lee has been mediocre at best since his strong start here in Philadelphia.  Hamels is wildly inconsistent and hasn’t gotten any run support.  Pedro has pitched ok, but he doesn’t have the ability anymore to crush opponents and win games on his own.  Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ both have looked good, but aren’t top of the rotation guys right now.  In fact, Happ is battling a little bit of the injury bug.  Further complicating things is that the old stand-by, usually good for a solid start and long relief, Jamie Moyer is done for the season with some groin and hamstring issues.  They key to this situation is that the starters need to pull it together.  We need the dominating performances out Lee and Hamels.  Pedro and Blanton need to step it up.  There is nothing else that can be done.  We have to rely on our starting pitching.  If these guys want it bad enough and they should, I think that Lee, Hamels and the crew will prove they are capable of providing dominating playoff performances.

Even scarier is the closer situation.  Brad Lidge, Tyler Walker, Ryan Madson and even Brett Myers will be on the post-season roster.  Yet, we’re not sure who will show up as the closer.  As discussed in previous posts, we think Ryan Madson should be handed the role and be able to prepare like the closer.  Keep Lidge off the post-season roster and let Walker and Myers battle it out for the set-up role.  Whatever happens, the Phillies post-season relies on the bullpen, specifically the closer role.

As I look forward to the playoffs and the determination of the match-ups, I sit and wonder – which Phillies pitching staff will show up for the defense of the World Series title?

Trotter in for a Workout?

September 25, 2009
Jeremiah Trotter, last seen in an Eagles Uniform in 2006

Jeremiah Trotter, last seen in an Eagles Uniform in 2006

I was shocked to see the late afternoon blog headlines on philly.com yesterday proclaiming that Jeremiah Trotter worked out for Coach Andy Reid.  Really?  Jeremiah Trotter was cut during training camp two seasons ago.  He went on to play for Tampa Bay in a reserve roll and then was entirely out of football last season.  I don’t get it.

However, we all know that Eagles are having problems at the middle linebacker spot since Stewart Bradley went down with an injury.  Trotter manned the position successfully over two stints for the Eagles.  With Trotter’s knee issues – the reason he has been out of football – I don’t think he could come back in and contribute at a top level.  Trotter claims he had been working out with a trainer and with some of his former teammates, while continuing his current gig as a sports personality at 610 WIP.  Also, he has been in contact with Coach Reid since Bradley went down with an injury, so from Trotter’s perspective, the workout wasn’t entirely out of the blue.

Here is the PhilaTude take:

Coach Reid brought Trotter in for a workout to almost “threaten” Joe Mays and Omar Gaither to get their acts together.  I don’t think there is any intent to sign Trotter.  Also, Coach Reid brought in Trotter for the workout to appease, what I think is repeated requests, Trotter’s insistence to Coach Reid that he can still play football.  This workout turned out to be a motivator for the current linebackers and a wake-up call to Trotter that his on the field football career is probably over.

Phillies Bullpen Woes

September 25, 2009
Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

Brad Lidge, the perfect closer from last season, has 11 blown saves.  Yet, Charlie Manuel keeps giving him opportunities to regain his form, because there isn’t anyone else to fulfill the role.  Ryan Madson has thrived as a set-up man last season and currently.  Brett Myers isn’t healthy enough to perform the closer role that he successfully manned a few years back.  Tyler Walker, a former Giants closer, could hold down the fort, but I really haven’t seen him close a game or pitch a tight inning since he has been with the Phillies.  None of the other relievers on the roster have the mentality or the power to close out games.  In fact, there is a rumor flying around that J.A. Happ could be the closer.  I’m sure Happ can close games, but a promising starting pitcher with some nagging injuries doesn’t the mental games that being a closer would bring. The hole at the closer position is going to be a huge problem come playoff time.

Quite frankly, the pressure is now heavily upon the starting pitching to provide at least 7 full innings of work.  Also, the offense will feel the pressure to provide significant run support for the starting pitching knowing that their bullpen is faltering.  Conversely, the opposing teams will do everything they can to get to the much maligned Phillies bullpen.  Having this glaring weakness on this Phillies team could not only be an issue dealt with each game, but could be extremely detrimental to entire psyche and mental state of this Phillies baseball team.

A simple solution, that I am not sure is the right one, would be to install Madson as the closer.  I think he could easily handle this duty if he is afforded the opportunity to prepare like a closer from the physical to mental aspects of the game.  Each game the Phillies go out and play without a designated closer, it supports each member of the bullpen to NOT have the mentality to close a game.  By designating Madson the closer, he’ll know and the rest of the team will know that Madson is their guy and each player can prepare for their roles appropriately.  Will it happen?  I doubt, I think we are stuck with some significant bullpen issues heading into a tough playoff field.

An Eagles Conspiracy Theory

September 25, 2009
Kevin Kolb on his way out?

Kevin Kolb on his way out?

After the Eagles defense dominated Carolina in week 1, one would expect a decent performance against a much better team, the New Orleans Saints.  Wrong.  The defense and special teams came out flat.  Their game plans were awful.  The offense looked decent as can be with a high school quarterback, Kevin Kolb.  Kolb didn’t play badly, but didn’t help the Eagles cause for scoring points.  I have some thoughts, but try out this conspiracy theory:  The Eagles coaches didn’t game plan appropriately for the Saints in an effort to prevent Kolb from having a solid game to validate their future decision to dump Kolb if Michael Vick performs.  Yep, I said it.  The Eagles don’t want to see Kevin Kolb do well – not for McNabb’s sake, but to save face when it comes to making roster decisions.  I think they already lost of the battle when it comes to the 2nd round draft choice.

Here’s some proof:

The Eagles rarely blitzed.  Ok, Drew Brees can read the blitz and get rid of the football.  However, if you blitzed even half as much as you did at Carolina, there would have been at least a few plays Brees threw the ball away or even would be sacked, especially on 3rd and long plays.  Also, the Eagles played a safety up in the box to prevent the run, when we all know the Saints’ passing attack is virally potent.  Why wasn’t the safety playing over top?  Ok, maybe the Eagles were trying to hide their linebacking deficiencies with a safety, but still.  Finally, the special teams decision makings and schemes were not designed for optimal efficiency.  In fact, if I am the special teams coach, I would remind players before the play to remember when to field and not field punts. 

Yes, these are all blunders that the Eagles coaching staff made last weekend against the Saints.  The reason I think they could have been intentional is because these same examples were executed flawlessly in week 1.  I don’t think a team regresses that much from week to week.  I don’t think the Eagles coaches planned to lose the game, just make it bad enough to prevent Kolb from performing well.  It back fired, because Kolb played decent and the rest of the Eagles units were terrible.

We’ll see how the Eagles respond this week, knowing they need a big win heading into the bye.

Phillies Get Two More Wins

September 17, 2009
Jayson Werth's Grand Slam (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jayson Werth's Grand Slam (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the Phillies, led by a complete game from Cliff Lee, shut out the Washington Nationals.  Last night, led by an impressive performance from Joe Blanton and a grand slam from Jayson Werth, the Phillies again defeated the Nationals.  Of course, the only real coverage of this game was the little girl who threw the foul ball back.  It was cute. 

While it’s important to note that the Nationals are a terrible baseball team, the Phillies still played very well.  They scored runs and got great pitching from two starters and a host of bullpen arms.  It’s good to see the Phillies win games they are supposed to, especially while putting up runs and getting strong pitching.  Hopefully, this will continue into tonight’s game and the 20 or so games remaining in the season.

I am concerned that the Phillies might clinch the playoffs soon and potentially take the rest of the season “off.”  I’ve read a few different opinions regarding teams that cruise into the playoffs have a tougher time winning their first round series.  In fact, teams who have to struggle to make the playoffs have fared much better.  I think this makes sense.  It is important for a team to get to the playoffs while in their stride and playing top level baseball.  If the Phillies were to clinch and rest their big time players and pitchers, I would be concerned that they would have a hard time staying in a focused, game playing mentality.  While I hope the Phillies clinch and guarantee their spot, I want them to be able play real and focused baseball in the remaining games as a primer for the playoffs.  Charlie Manuel needs to ensure his players understand the importance of routine and consistency – otherwise, I worry about a repeat performance against the Colorado Rockies from 2 years ago.