Blanton has problem ab problem

Big Joe Blanton may have a big problem on his hands. Or just a minor one.

Either way with the regular season less than a week away this is not the time for injuries to start popping up.

It is being reported that Blanton injured an abdominal muscle during a bullpen session today. He will be examined by a team doctor on Thursday. Even if the injury is deemed minor it is unlikely Blanton would make his scheduled exhibition start against the Pirates on Saturday.

If Blanton needs to go on the DL the team will at least be comfortable with his replacement as Kyle Kendrick would be the obvious choice to fill the void.

As we wait for the results, and hope for the best, cue the irony of the heaviest pitcher on the staff having a problem in his abdominal region.

After all, they say laughter is the best medicine.



Halladay makes last Spring start

Against his former team with a chance to show just what they will be missing, Roy Halladay threw a stinker.

Throw in the towel. Call off the season.

He stinks. It’s all over.

OK, back to reality now.

Halladay made his last start of the Spring, giving up four runs in the first inning to the Toronto Blue Jays and finishing with the same total after three inning of work. His line means nothing, of course. What means everything is that the next time Phillies fans see the Doc on the mound it will be Opening Day!

So smile baseball fans, the long days of spring training and longing for the season to start are nearing a close. In five days the games will count.

And that’s when you can count on Halladay whipping some Nationals tail!



Carcillo punished for being Carcillo

Driving to work today I got a flashback to 2004. Stopped at a red light I noticed a bumper sticker on the Honda Accord directly in front of me.

That bumper sticker read: “Vote Kerry/Edwards.”

Do people even check what they put on the back of their cars these days? How can I vote Kerry/Edwards, when the election has been over for more than five years?

These people need to get with the times. Heck, they’ve won now as a democrat is in office. The great dream team (sarcasm on) of Kerry/Edwars will never be together again.

Get over it Accord driver.

Now on to what is really grinding my gears.

A couple of weeks ago my PSB colleague Jason Weisbecker posted a blog about the inconsistencies coming from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s office. His points were dead on — except in one case it seems.

When it comes to the Flyers’ Dan Carcillo, Bettman and his axman are always handing out the same thing: A bunch of crap.

For the fourth time in two seasons the NHL’s disciplinarian Colin Campbell has suspended Carcillo, this time for two days after a cross check made during the team’s win over the Devils.

For the cross check Carcillo received a match penalty and a game misconduct. A match penalty — which is  given for intent to injure — comes with a mandatory hearing with the NHL’s discipline committee.
Carcillo said it was an accident and replays lead me to believe him. But he has been a bully in the past and that alone is enough for the NHL to make it’s move.

For his part, Carcillo saw it coming.

“I didn’t mean to do it. But knowing me, I’ll probably be suspended,” Carcillo said to Philly.com.

Carcillo is not being penalized for the check; he is being penalized for being Dan Carcillo.

This is the way the NHL has always done things and it needs to stop.

Just once I wish the league would dish out punishment for the plays on the ice and not the names on the jerseys.



Phillies name Jamie Moyer #5 starter

The old man gets the nod.

The Phillies officially named Jamie Moyer the team’s fifth starter today.

Bellow is an excerpt from philly.com

“We think it’s the right way to go,” (pitching coach Rich) Dubee said. “Jamie proved that he’s healthy. That was the biggest question coming into spring training, how he’d come back from the surgeries. He’s throwing the ball well. He’s functioning well. And again, this guy has a tremendous track record of being a winning pitcher.”

Dubee looked at the situation in a different perspective for Kendrick.

“He won a job,” Dubee said. “He didn’t lose the starting job. In my mind, it was going to be a tough thing to do if Jamie was healthy to win that job from Jamie Moyer. Kyle won a job on our roster.”

Given the fact that Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero will begin the season on the disabled list and the way Jose Contreras and Antonio Bastardo have struggled this spring, Kendrick’s role in the bullpen could be significant. Moyer, 47, isn’t able to bounce back as quickly as Kendrick can after a relief outing.

You can read the whole article here.

This is not surprising news to Phillies fans. When the Phillies gave Moyer a 2-year deal at the end of the 2008 season, it was viewed as a reward for helping the team win the World Series. A man of his word, Charlie Manuel will give Moyer a chance to finish his career in the starting lineup.

Now it’s time for the veteran to make his coach look good.



Nationals claim old friend Chris Coste

Our old friend Chris Coste is on the move again — although not outside the NL East. Coste was placed on waivers by the Mets yesterday and quickly scooped up by the Nationals. Hopefully they can find a use for the veteran catcher as he certainly became a fan favorite in his time with the Phillies.

The following is an exert from the Washington Post

The Nationals claimed catcher Chris Coste off of waivers from the New York Mets, a minor move aimed at shoring up their catching depth. With Jesus Flores still rehabbing his shoulder injury, the Nationals needed an extra catcher in their organization behind Ivan Rodriguez and Wil Nieves.

Coste, 37, played 88 games last season for the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros, hitting .224 with a .618 OPS. He also won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and provides a reliable solution in case of emergency.

The Mets have a glut of catchers in their camp, which made Coste expendable in their eyes. But he has an option remaining, so the Nationals will be able to send him to Class AAA Syracuse without the risk of losing him.



Raiders closing in on McNabb

It looks like the Donovan McNabb era in Philadelphia will truly be coming to an end.

ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Raiders have emerged as the front runner for the quarterback and have all of the ingredients for the trade in place.

You can read the entire article here.

After reading this report there is only one thought in mind: Only the Raiders.

Oakland appears willing to deal away its second round pick (No. 39 overall) for McNabb even if he does not sign a contract extension before the deal is completed. This means they would be giving away a top pick for a one-year rental. Does anyone believe the Raiders will contend next year even with McNabb? Of course not. They are several years away from contention, but with Al Davis running the ship this news is not all that surprising.

If these reports do turn out to be true I would have to laud the Eagles for making the move. Knowing that the team does not intend on bringing McNabb back after next year, the ability to get a high second round pick in a stocked draft this season is a good bargain.

The only losers in this deal would be Oakland.

And that’s something Raiders fans are quite used to now.



Phillies risking losing their Werth

You can call this Operation Save Jayson Werth.

Speculation about the Phillies being unable to retain Werth’s services after this coming season have been going on since Werth established himself All-Star last season. With contracts already given out to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Shane Victorino and company, and the Phillies front office setting a cap to its spending, many fans believe this will be it for Werth in a Phillies uniform.

Of course a lot can happen between now and the start of free agency next season, but if Werth continues to take his game to new levels, the dollars in his next contract will also head north.

More bad news came out this weekend when the New York Post reported that Werth had an hour-long lunch with Yankees Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Philly.com is reporting that “The strong implication was that Jackson was doing some early recruiting since Werth can be a free agent at the end of the season.”

As if the Yankees need to recruit. Their method of recruiting involves hiring a truck driver to unload a U-Haul full of cash at a free agents door. That type of negotiation tactic speaks for itself.

For his part, Werth said that Jackson is an old family friend and that the two were just catching up.

I believe him.

But that won’t stop the rumors that will persist throughout the season, particularly if Werth puts up monster numbers again.

I understand that the Phillies  have a budget and plan to stick to it. I also understand they sell out home stand after home stand. If they want to charge $7 for a beer, the least they can do is put some of that money into a “Save Jayson Werth Fund.”

If Werth hits the open market the Yankees, Red Sox and whoever else is in need of, and can afford, a guy who hits over 30 home runs and has a strong arm in the outfield will come calling.

As much as it pains me to say it, this is the time for the Phillies to take after the Yankees. Just open up that check book baby.

Werth’s value is only going to get higher and fans shouldn’t be forced to cringe every time he has a two-homer game, knowing that it just became even harder to re-sign him.



We now cut away to a terrible view

I can recall many times during my younger years, getting a new sports video game and checking it out for the first time. One of my favorite things to do was check out all of the different camera angles that the game had to offer. I would typically flip through the seven or eight options (or two or three back in the Sega days) and try each out for about 10 or 15 seconds. That’s all it took for me to realize that the original angle was set as the default for the game for a reason. The other angles either cut out part of the game or made me dizzy. In other words, they stunk.

Either way it was a lesson I learned early: There is no need to change a camera view when the one you got gets the job done.

I only wish the major networks would pick up on that clue.

If you have caught much of the NCAA Tournament you have surely seen some of the camera angles in question. For ninety-nine percent of the time they give you the same view, the one your eyes are used to and have come to admire. Then for one or two possessions each half we get a special view, one flipped around from what we have been looking at the whole time, and quite frankly distracting. I don’t need an aerial view, I really don’t.

The NCAA is not the only sport hurt by production. Flip on CSN and check out a Flyers game and you will surely see what I have dubbed “The Goal Cam.” They go to this behind the net view during power plays. To be fair the angle isn’t as bad as the result. I swear every time they flip to that view the other team scores a goal. Check it out. I’m not lying.

For what it’s worth I do believe there is a place for new camera angles. The NFL gets it right. A few years ago they introduced cameras that glided on a wire over the center of the field. However, they introduced it the right way. The vast majority of the time this view is used simply for replays. It gives the fan a different angle of a play that they saw from the original viewpoint.

By doing this they add to the viewers experience, rather than take away. I would applaud them for their use of their cameras but this is “Grinding My Gears” not “Making My Day.”

So get with it NCAA and NHL production directors. Sometimes the simplest view, is the right one.



In case you missed it …

With all of the excitement in the NCAA Tournament this past weekend you may have missed some of the things that took place here in Philadelphia. Heck you may missed things because you had a family commitment or simply were out boozing with friends. We don’t discriminate here. Whatever the reason, Philly Sports Blogs has you covered. In what will become a Monday tradition, we unveil the first “In Case You Missed it.”

Because even though you are not always watching, we are.

Playing goalie for the Flyers might be the most dangerous position in all of sports right now. Johan Backlund, the latest victim of the injury bug, never even got a chance to show his worth. Making his first start in place of the injured Michael Leighton, who was in for the injured Ray Emery and the slumping Brian Boucher, Backlund left Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Penguins in the second period after aggravating a groin injury. Taking Backlund’s place on the roster is Carter Sutton, who was called up from the Phantoms. Sutton only appeared in four games for the Phantoms, going 1-2-1 with a 2.70 goals-against average.

The Flyers salvaged the weekend. The news wasn’t all bad for the Orange and Black as they put together their best effort in the month of March with a 5-1 thrashing of the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. It was a much needed win as it moved the Flyers into a 6th place tie in the Eastern Conference with Montreal and four points ahead of 9th place Atlanta.

The Sixers (yes they are still playing) actually put together a nice win on Friday, defeating the Atlanta Hawks, 105-98. It was the second-straight win for Philadelphia, something that could be cause for celebration they way the team has played. One of the recent revelations has been Jason Kapono, who has stepped into the starting lineup and produced. He scored 14 points against Atlanta, and 10 in Wednesday’s win against the Bucks. Who knew that putting an actual shooter on the floor would force opposing teams to lengthen their defense, thus creating more space for the other Sixers on the floor?

Donovan McNabb is still here. Nothing more to be said.

— Ryan Madson will open the season as the Phillies closer. With Brad Lidge set to start the season on the DL, Charlie Manuel elected to go with Madson over the newly-acquired Danys Baez. Madson struggled in that role last year, saving 10 of 16 games and posting a 5.82 ERA, but gets a clean slate to work with. So what happens if Madson starts the season on fire saving 6 of 6 games? Does Lidge still come back and take over?Likely, but it sure will be fun debating about it.

So there’s your Philly weekend in a nutshell, just in case you missed it.



Backlund gets start for Flyers, it’s chicken wing time!

Look out for the Chicken Wing, Penguins!

OK, if you have no idea what I am talking about check out this clip here. Bob Backlund was a famous wrestler for the WWF and his special move, the chicken wing, was one of the best in the business.

 Tell me it wouldn’t be great to see Sidney Crosby locked into this move.

Back to seriousness now. The Flyers will be turning to their latest net-minder today, Johan Backlund when they take on Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins at 1 p.m. While he is not a household name, Backlund was having a solid season in the AHL, posting a 2.79 goals-against average, with a .906 save percentage with the Adirondack Phantoms.

For complete details on Backlund read Philly.com’s article.

Ah, it seems so long ago that Flyers fans were pumped up for the season, with hopes of a Stanley Cup and faith in newly-acquired Ray Emery in net. Now fans are just hoping the team can sneak into the playoffs. Things can change in a hurry in the NHL, so maybe the Flyers will do another 180 in the final month of the season and catch fire. Maybe Jeff Carter comes back for the playoffs, healthy and on a mission. Maybe Backlund is a hidden gem that will be the next Ron Hextall.

Or maybe they will end up like one of Bob Backlund’s opponent when the chicken wing gets locked in – limp and lifeless.



A weekend free of McNabb trade rumors

Good news fans, you can watch the NCAA Tournament with ease today not having to worry if you’re going to miss anything in the Donovan McNabb rumor train.

At least that’s what our friends over at Profootballtalk.com are thinking.

The rate of Donovan McNabb news should slow down for a few days. We promise.

That’s because Eagles leadership is heading out on vacation this weekend. Andy Reid is in Utah and team president Joe Banner is headed to Florida.

The pace of rumors was set to ease up anyway. We’ve still got nearly a month to go before the draft, and there is little reason to think anything will happen until we get closer to April 22.

So for two day we should be free of any Raiders, Bills or Vikings news. But does anyone really belive nothing will pop up this weekend? I don’t.



Boucher a better fit with Union

Two Philadelphia sports teams had problems last night and a contributor to these boards, King Ed found a solution to both of them.

Problem No. 1: Brian Boucher can’t save a shot to save his life. This was evident yesterday in the Flyer’s 4-3 loss to the Wild where the team squandered 2-0 and 3-1 leads.

Problem No. 2: The Philadelphia Union are lacking goal scorers. In the team’s debut, offensive chances were few and far between in a 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders.

King Ed’s solution: Trade Boucher to the Union. For those of you wondering why that would make any sense check out the game clip here from nhl.com. The moment comes at the very end of the clip. In overtime Boucher had a shot go off his glove and behind him. When he went to slide back into his crease he inadvertently kicked the puck in the net. That’s right he scored on himself.

 The way Flyers fans feel about Boucher right now I don’t think they would mind one bit if he got shipped off to a team that could use better use his goal scoring touch – or should I say, kick.



Philadelphia Union make debut

Welcome to the MLS, Union. Many lumps will be taken ahead.

The Philadelphia Union had its first game as an MLS franchise Thursday night and looked every bit the part of an expansion team, losing to the Seattle Sounders, 2-0, in Seattle.

The Union had very little going for them offensively and even less when a player was sent off the field with a second-yellow, red card in the 40th minute. That took away any chance Philadelphia had of making it a game. Bellow are a few thoughts on the Union’s debut.

The team is not sure to do with it’s No. 1 pick Danny Mwanga: In this year’s MLS SuperDraft the Union took Congo native Mwanga with their first pick. This kid is a pure goal scorer having once scored 53 goals in a nine-game stretch at a Portland High School. He later scored 14 goals in 18 games at Oregon State. The problem is Mwanga is a pure forward and for whatever reason Union coach Peter Nowak started him in the center midfield position. He looked out of place on the field for the half that he played. Hopefully they put him in his natural position as the team is to weak in too many areas to waste his talents.

Fans are interested: Did you see the crowd in Seattle? It was a great sight for the MLS as over 36,000 fans filled Seattle’s stadium. While Philadelphia does not have the die hard soccer fan base that Seattle does, it should have good showings this season. The Union have already sold 10,000 season tickets and are expecting 20,000 for the home opener. That crowd may not look large as they are starting the season with a couple of games at Lincoln Financial Field, but once they start playing in their much smaller stadium in Chester the crowd will look much stronger. Philadelphia waited a long time to get a team and it’s good to hear that the fans are supporting it.

Start of season will be rough: Because the Union’s home stadium in Chester is not yet completed, Philadelphia will have to get used to playing on the road a lot to start the season. Eight of the team’s first 10 games are away from home putting the expansion team in a very tough position. Just learning how to play as a team will be tough enough during the early going, but doing so on the road makes it that much harder.

Waiting for Fred: Many Brazilian soccer players go by just one name. You may have heard of Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. Well, it’s time to meet Fred. Yes Fred. The one named Brazilian soccer player was a key acquisition in the offseason, but was suspended for the season opener. I don’t know much about Fred. Honestly, I know nothing about his skill set. I do know I want a jersey, though. Fred, just Fred.



The best and worst of Spring Taining

How do you view spring training numbers?

Spring Training is the time of year where all kinds of opinions get thrown out. A young player who comes up and gets six hits in their first 10 at-bats is referenced as the next Mike Schmidt.

Veteran players who struggle for a couple weeks get titles such as “washed up” and “over-the-hill”.

It’s all part of the baseball landscape. Judgments are made at a time of year when the players aren’t even judging themselves. A pitcher could give up six runs a 3 1/3 and be quoted afterwards as saying “It was a good day. I got my pitches over strikes and I think my command is coming along.”

But maybe you are a stat guy and Spring Training numbers matter to you. If that’s the case, here are the numbers that are the best and worst from Clearwater with 11 days to go until the real baseball starts.

The Best

Roy Halladay — 3 games, 10 innings 1-0 record, 0.90 ERA. He has been everything he was advertised to be. His 14 K’s have given fans a reason to be excited about Doc’s arrival.

Danys Baez — 7 games, 8.2 innings 6 K’s, 1-0 record, 1.04 ERA. The Phillies bullpen has been the most questioned aspect of this team this Spring. Baez was the only big acquisition to the group and could be the man in charge of the 8th inning. He could also close if the 2009 Brad Lidge shows up.

Placido Polanco — 39 at-bats, 16 hits, 1 SO and a .410 average. Like the two before him, Polanco is new to the team and has started strong. His ability to put the ball in play in 38 of 39 at-bats is just what the Phillies offense needs.

The worst

Cole Hamels — 14.2 innings, 10 runs, 8 earned, 4.91 ERA. Hamels hasn’t technically been the worst pitcher in camp, but he also hasn’t shown much to show he will bounce back from a bad 2009.

Raul Ibanez — 37 at-bats, 4 hits, .108 average. Ibanez insists he is fine and there is no reason not to believe him. This guy has been around long enough to know Spring Training stats are worth nothing. That said, fans would feel a lot better if he started swinging the bat like he did in the first half of last season.

Chase Utley
— 31 at bats, .258 average, 0 extra base hits. Utley was not himself the second half of last season as an injury held down his power. So far that power has not shown its face this Spring. Thirty-one at-bats is a long stretch for a player of Utley’s quality to go without an extra-base knock.

So there you have it, the best and the worst with 10 days to go. Do of it what you want.

Just remember, on April 5, everyone’s stats go back to zero.



Loud writer has lost touch with city

To be quite honest I’m surprised it took this long to bring my next guest into the woodshed.

He’s loud, obnoxious, and quite often out of touch with the Philadelphia fans he writes for.

Welcome Stephen A. Smith.

Smith made a name for himself nationally once he joined ESPN but has been known for his hate-spewed ramblings in Philadelphia for much longer.

Today Smith offered this observation on the whole Donovan McNabb trade drama:

McNabb should have demanded a trade by now. Who cares if it’s to the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, or one of 13 other teams, by my count, that could desperately use McNabb’s services this season? With the Eagles having adopted their new and improved turncoat mentality, the biggest mistake McNabb appears to have made does not involve interceptions or NFC championship/Super Bowl losses.

His biggest mistake was not demanding a trade years ago.

The treatment McNabb has received year after year has been disgraceful. What has taken place this off-season has surpassed betrayal. And for what, exactly? One quarterback (Michael Vick) who’s still shaking off the rust of prison, and the other (Kolb) a bit rusty from riding the pine for three seasons.

You can read the story in it entirety here: Just be warned, you might have a headache before you are done.

He references the Eagles likely future quarterback as Kevin (Corn on the) Kolb. Really Smith? What are you seven?

He then goes back into the well about McNabb only having two quality receivers in his whole career of any quality in T.O. and DeSeasn Jackson. Seriously, how does that well have any water left?

It’s fine to argue that the Eagles would be making a mistake by trading McNabb, some people still feel that way. But in typical Smith fashion he offers nothing to explain why trading McNabb would hurt the franchise.

Of course when the trade does go down and if Kolb becomes a star overnight Smith will be the first one in line to tell you how he saw this coming a mile away.

He will do it in a loud, brash manner. That’s just his style.

Hey any chance that when McNabb gets traded, Smith can be thrown in the deal?