Full Training Camp now underway

The veterans are all in. Eagles Training Camp has officially begun.

As the Birds usher in a new era with the likes of Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Sheldon Brown no longer on the roster, this camp has a feel unlike any other in the last decade. For the first time there is a bit of uncertainty as to what to expect from this team. Will the youth movement result in the Eagles taking a step forward or back? Is Kevin Kolb the real deal at QB? What can we expect from the Eagle’s defense in Sean McDermott’s second season?

Over the next few weeks phillysportsblogs.com will examine those questions and many more.

But for today, here is a look at some highlights from last season as football fans get pumped up for their favorite time of year.

Oswalt to Philly a done deal

The Roy-to-Roy combo is about to get underway. Various media outlets are reporting that the Phillies and Astros have completed  a deal that will send Roy Oswalt to the Phillies in exchange for J.A. Happ and two prospects.

Bellow is an ESPN.com report:

Roy Oswalt has officially accepted his proposed trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, the right-hander told KRIV-TV in Houston.

A baseball source said after considering his options and speaking with friends familiar with the Phillies’ situation, the Houston Astros‘ staff ace waived his no-trade clause in order to be dealt to Philadelphia.

“It feels pretty good actually to have al of this stuff out of the way and I can concentrate on baseball,” Oswalt said, according to the report.

Oswalt, who said he will pitch for the Phillies on Friday, said he loved his time in Houston but felt it was time to do make a change.

“I love the city of Houston and the Astros fans,” Oswalt said, according to the report. “They have been great to me and the Astros are a great organization. I think it’s time for us to separate and do something different.

“Philly has a great team with a chance to go to the World Series. I wanted this deal to be good for both the Astros and me and I think it is,” he said, according to the report.

The Astros will pay $11 million of the approximately $23 million that the 32-year-old right-hander is guaranteed through 2011, sources said.

Oswalt did not demand that his 2012 mutual option for $16 million be picked up by the Phillies, a baseball source told ESPN.com’s Amy K. Nelson. Instead, if either he or the Phillies chose not to pick it up, his $1 million buyout will increase to $2 million.

If Oswalt or the Phillies decline to exercise the option, then the pitcher will make $18 million next season. But both Oswalt and the Phillies must agree on the option for 2012 for him to stay with the team that season, the source told Nelson.

In return for Oswalt, the Astros would get back left-handed starter J.A. Happ and two prospects, according to sources.

With the Phillies already riding high on a 7-game win streak, this move is certainly a game changer. If the Braves haven’t already started feeling the pressure coming from the Phillies, this move will certainly do it. I’ll take my chances with Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels in a three-game series against anyone.

Trade more than just a rumour now.

It is looking more and more like the Phillies will acquire a new pitcher.

With Victorino, Rollins and Utley on the DL, and Moyer apparently done forever, the Phillies are trying to shore up a roster that looked a lot deeper and stronger at the beginning of the year then it does now.

Roy Oswalt may be the missing piece.   Oswalt has not yet waived his no trade clause but appears very unhappy with his standing as the staff ace for the Houston Astros, who, at  42-59 look to have no chance at the post season for 2010.  Oswalt, a very capable pitcher has seen his numbers drop to match the team, with a 6-12 record and a 3.42 ERA so far this season.

OswaltSince breaking into the big leagues in 2001, Roy Oswalt has 143 victories — 28 more than any other NL pitcher. And his 1,593 strikeouts are the most for any NL pitcher with 100 starts since 2001.  The combination of Oswalt and Halladay would give the Phillies their first authentic 1-2 punch in a generation.

Halladay held similar records in the AL prior to the trade to Philadelphia and despite a lack of run support in all his starts, he still is second in the league in ERA and 3rd in victories, and in both these categories he leads the Phillies.

The Astros, in turn, are looking to acquire Happ and Singleton as well as a prospect to be named later from the Phillies.   While Happ has not yet lived into his potential, Oswalt is a proven commodity.  And Singleton IS a hot prospect for the Phillies at a farm league level, but right now, if the Phillies are going to stay in it for the rest of the year and make a run at the Braves, they need pitching.

Wow.  It seems like every time we evaluate this team, it needs pitching.

Fielding is covered; the hitting; comes and goes, that is the nature of the game.   Pitching, has long been the area in which the Phillies have lacked world championship caliber players.  Consider 2008, their World Series winning season.  They had 4 pitchers with 10 or more victories. 

Moyer led the team with 16, then came Hamels with 14, Kendrick with 11 and Myers with 10.  The team ERA was 3.88 and the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher was Hamels at 3.09.   So when the possibility exists the Phillies may end up with 2 pitchers who can record 20 wins with an ERA in the 2′s, fans can sense the excitement.   If we can win the world series with the above rotation, imagine how much better we can be with a starting group including Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, and Kendrick 

Missing man is Joe Blanton who had several strong years but is posting a 4-6 record with a 5.86 ERA after 16 starts this year.   If we can’t trade back for Lee, I say let Happ go and acquire the veteran that has proven he can fill the staff ace role.  Let the 2 Roys, Halladay and Oswalt fight it out to determine who will be ace #1, and who will be ace #2.

OK, I am impressed.

Domonic Brown made his first start with the Phillies in right field tonight and immediately made an impact.  With the ball.  In his first at bat he nailed a ball to deep right scoring Jayson Werth and getting his first hit and RBI in the same at bat. 

He didn’t miss becoming another major leaguer to enter the big leagues with a homerun by much, but his double was impressive enough given the Phillies recent offensive ups and downs.  Having another .300 hitting contact hitter with the potential to go deep at any time certainly wont hurt the team !    He later hit a sacrifice fly for a 2nd RBI in his first game. 

Halladay threw a quality start, the big guy has worked really hard so far this year to be the owner of a 12-8 record with a paltry 2.21 ERA.   He ended up with the win in a complete game 114 pitch effort that saw the Phillies win 7-1.

Werth went 3-4 with 3 runs scored, perhaps making a statement to the Phillies front office right before the trade deadline.

Ruiz remained hot with 3 hits and 3 RBI of his own.  

Overall a great effort by a team that still has a chance to make a run at the NL East.   And a great first game by a much touted farm league player in Brown.

The Domonic Brown era begins

For fans looking to take a glass-half-full approach there is a bit off good news that should result from the latest injury to a member of the Phillies, Shane Victorino. The Phillies’ center fielder strained his oblique Tuesday night and was placed on the 15-day DL. That has paved the way for two things:

1. Jayson Werth likely isn’t going anywhere now since they will need him to man center field for at least the next 15 days.

2. Domonic Brown is now on the big league roster and will start tonight for the Phillies.

Starting with Werth, I don’t see any way the team can trade away Werth for pitching now that Victorino is joining Utley on the DL. Even if it brought back a pitcher as mighty as Oswalt, it would be hard to imagine the Phillies trading away one of the healthiest bodies on the roster. Plus Werth has finally started hitting, highlighted by his first home run in 21 games last night.

As for Brown, this is a moment Phillies fans have been waiting to see for a year and a half. Brown has been tearing up the minor leagues, posting a .327 batting average with 20 homers, and 68 RBIs in 98 games for Double A Reading and Leihigh Valley. He is listed on the lineup card as batting sixth today — after Werth and before Ruiz.

In other Phillies news, Valdez will once again get the start at short as Jimmy Rollins is still not ready to return to action. That leaves Placido Polanco as the leadoff hitter and Greg Dobbs will hit second — not exactly the way the team drew it up in April.

Let the Brown era begin — even if it is just for a couple of weeks.

Oswalt a Phillie by the weekend?

If Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci is right, the Phillies will have the best 1-2 punch in baseball by the weekend.

The veteran baseball writer appeared on the Dan Patrick Show today and said:

“I wouldn’t be shocked to see Oswalt pitching this weekend for Philadelphia,” Verducci said. Verducci said although it’s not Oswalt’s first choice, he wants to go to a contender. Verducci explained there are some money issues, but they should figure them out.

You can read the full article on Dan Patrick’s web page.

It’s hard to take too much stock in what Verducci is saying because it sounds more like a guess than a source of information, but this is something that would bring a smile to Phillies fans – even at the price of depleting the system a little more. With just four days until the trading deadline Oswalt is the hottest name left on the market and the Phillies have been mentioned with him for a couple of weeks now.
It should be fun seeing how this all unfolds.

No punishment coming for Vick

For a change there is some good news regarding Michael Vick. According to an NFL spokesman, there will be no suspension forthcoming for Vick after his latest off-field issue.

Eagles coach Andy Reid is scheduled to have a press conference at 5 p.m. to provide further information.

Bellow is the Associated Press report:

An NFL spokesman says there has been no change in Michael Vick’s playing status, so the Eagles quarterback reported to training camp on Monday as expected.

When asked whether a league investigation of Vick has been completed, Greg Aiello tells The Associated Press in an e-mail the NFL would have no further comment on Vick at this time.
Vick reiterated on Monday that he has done nothing wrong.

The NFL and the Eagles have been looking into a shooting incident at a Virginia Beach, Va., nightclub, where Vick held his 30th birthday party on June 25th. Police say no charges will be filed in the incident because of a lack of cooperation by witnesses and the victim, who Vick’s attorney Larry Woodward identified as Quanis Phillips — a co-defendant in Vick’s federal dogfighting case.

Phillies win a close one

Even though I work and don’t get to watch much of the action, I still try to keep an eye on those Phitens.

They beat the Rockies 5-4 with Lidge on the mound to earn the save.  Yes I know, he gave up a two run dinger and made a 5-2 game a closer contest than it needed to be, but after all, we Philly fans are actually getting used to clutching our hearts in the ninth inning and hoping for the best.

Polanco remains hot, and 6 Phillies got hits in today’s game.

Blanton pitched well enough for the win, only allowing 2 runs through 6 innings.

The Phillies retain their hold on second place in the NL East trailing the Braves by 4 1/2 games as of this moment and leading the Mets now by 3 full games until tonight’s contests.

The streaking team has won 5 straight but one wonders which team will show up at the ball park for the next contest, the clutch hitting, base running, no holds barred Phillies, or the lackluster wild swinging offense with baserunning blunders and questionable substitutions in late inning situations.

Either way, I wish I was not at work, but in the stadium, cold beer in hand, soft pretzel in my belly and 40,000 other screaming idiots cheering on the home team Phillies.  Since I have not yet perfected living life for free, I will now return to work, and dream of days when the above scenario may be possible.

For today at least, I can be content with a mild winning streak, and a team that seems to be pushing it’s way back to the top of the NL standings, instead of heading the other way.

Now excuse me, after watching Lidge for that brief moment, I need to go locate some TUMS.

Bradley vs. Celek Twitter Battle

This is not really the kind thing I thought I’d be writing about today.  Given the Eagles 2010 season starts in just a few hours. But none the less.

I guess we can call this a battle of the twitiron.  Recently Stewart Bradley and Brent Celek have began a twitter “battle” to see who can get the most followers and the winner will make a donation to their respective charity.

Follow Stewart Bradkley here http://twitter.com/stewbradley

or Follow Brent Celek here http://twitter.com/brentcelek

All I can say is someone had a bad year last year before it really began.  Lets help to get him off to a good start this year.

Phillies fire Milt Thompson

CSN is reporting that the Phillies have fired hitting coach Milt Thompson.

With the Phillies hitting so poorly this season Thompson has become a fall guy. Greg Gross will replace him. Gross has spent the last three seasons as a coach in Triple A.

We will have more on this story as it develops.

Roenick, Hatcher elected to United States Hockey Hall of Fame

Although Jeremy Roenick made myself and many other Flyers fans sick with his Chicago praise while broadcasting during the Stanley Cup Finals, today is a day to forgive and celebrate what the one-time Flyer accomplished in his career.

Roenick and fellow one-time Flyer Derian Hatcher were selected to be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame on Oct. 21.

Though neither will go in as a Flyer, both players made a noticeable impact while with Philadelphia. Hatcher spent three years on the Flyers, serving as a captain in 2005-06 and giving the team a physical presence it had been lacking. Though Hatcher was at the end of his career, he still had the respect of his teammates, if not always the fans.

Roenick also spent three years with the Flyers, though never propelling the team to levels many though he would when he was acquired in 2001. That year was Roenick’s best as a member of the Flyers as he led the team with 67 points and 46 assists, winning the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the team’s MVP. In his second season in Orange and Black, Roenick had 27 goals and 59 points. With a better supporting cast I think Roenick really could have taken the team places.

Both players have not been away from the game long enough to be eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. When their time comes Roenick will easily be a first-ballot selection while Hatcher has a fair chance.

In other news Darroll Powe agreed to a one-year contract yesterday worth $725,000.

You can read a Q&A with Powell here.

Oswalt talks hit snag

News spread all around the sports scene today that the Phillies were on the verge of acquiring Houston ace Roy Oswalt, but there has been snag that could prevent the deal from happening.

That snag? About $16 million in 1012.

Bellow is a report from ESPN’s Jason Stark.

Roy Oswalt’s contract demands could be on the verge of blowing up a potential deal that would send the Houston Astros ace to Philadelphia.

Oswalt is asking for the Phillies, or any team that acquires him, to guarantee his $16 million option in 2012 before he would approve a trade, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

And the Phillies, for now at least, are balking at that request. So unless one side or both changes or softens its stance, Oswalt could be staying put, and the Phillies could be forced to take their hunt for pitching elsewhere.

Oswalt, 32, has about $7 million left on his $15 million salary for this year, plus a guaranteed $16 million next season and either a $2 million buyout or that $16 million option for 2012.

The Phillies are believed to be amenable to paying most of the $25 million he’s owed through next year, but have shown no inclination to pick up the option year.

It was unclear Wednesday how close the Phillies and Astros were to agreeing on what players would be exchanged if they could resolve Oswalt’s contract issues. But there were rumblings from multiple baseball sources that pitcher J.A. Happ would be one of the players heading to Houston in any scenario.

ESPN’s Stark speculates Phillies closing in on big move

ESPN’s Jayson start is hinting that a the Phillies could be close to making a big deal for a starting pitcher. Bellow is an exert:

On the pitching front, the Phillies have discussed deals involving a number of starters. They’ve talked about Arizona’s Dan Haren, Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie and Oakland’s Ben Sheets, among others. But there were indications they’ve spent a lot of time in recent days exploring a trade for Astros ace Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt would have to approve any trade, and there were no signs he’d been approached about waiving his no-trade clause or that he’d been told any deal was close. He is also said to prefer to go to a team in the South or Midwest, so there were no guarantees he would approve a deal to Philadelphia.

Many teams have downplayed the possibility Oswalt would get traded at all, because he is owed more than $7 million for the rest of this year and $16 million next year, in addition to either a $16-million option or $2-million buyout for 2012.

However, the Phillies are looking to trade for a starting pitcher they can control beyond this year. And if they were to move Werth’s salary (about $3.5 million for the rest of this year) and the Astros pick up several million dollars of Oswalt’s money, it would even out the dollars for the rest of this season.

You can read the whole story here.
It’s good to know that at the very least Amaro is awake. Whether or not the Phillies have the pieces or the cojones to pull of a big deal will be seen.

Down goes Moyer

Maybe Kyle Kendrick’s trip to the minors won’t be so permanent after all.

Phillies Starting pitcher Jamie Moyer strained his left elbow and was removed after one inning of Wednesday night’s game against St. Louis.

The 47-year-old Moyer threw 18 pitches in the first inning Tuesday night. When I hear the words “elbow strain” I don’t think short-term injury. Ye another trip for a Phillies player to the DL looks imminent.

Newly recalled Andrew Carpenter replaced Moyer in the second inning. He went on to pitch three unimpressive innings, allowing three runs.

So now the Phillies really need an arm. Halladay, Hamels and pray for rain just won’t cut it.
And I don’t see fans clamoring for Nelson Figueroa to be back in the rotation.

So who will the Phillies go after? I don’t think Oswalt is a realistic option and the picking after that are not great. You hear names like Jake Westbrook Kevin Millwood and Ted Lilly floated around all the time in trade speculation, but could any of these guys really change the fortunes of this team?

Likely not, which means the Phillies may have to move an asset such as Jayson Werth if they want to get any real pitching help.Of coarse, the way Werth’s stock has been declining you may not be able to get a Pirates castoff.

Or the team can sit back an let Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and Andrew Carpenter lead the way. If that isn’t a blueprint to getting back to the World Series, I don’t know what is.

Phillies demote Kyle Kendrick

One day after getting shelled for seven runs and three homers in five innings, Kyle Kendrick had an even worse day on Wednesday.

The Phillies optioned Kendrick to Triple A and recalled Andrew Carpenter to take his place in the rotation. Kendrick, who had several strong performances in the first half of the season has struggled as of late and is currently 5-4 with a 4.82 ERA. A month ago there was thought of Kendrick being demoted when J.A. Happ returned from injury but Happ has been getting shelled in the minors and his fastball is topping out in the mid-80s making him a non-factor for the rest of this season unless something drastically changes.

Carpenter is 7-6 with the Iron Pigs with a 3.41 ERA in 18 starts. He started one career game with the Phillies and produced a 9.45 ERA.

I highly doubt that the Phillies will be banking on Carpenter for long – at least I would hope not. He may just be a stop gap until the team acquires another starter before the July 31 trade deadline. The team had been in the market for a starter for the better part of the summer and this move makes it clearer now than ever that they need to make a move.

And then there’s Joe Blanton. But that’s a topic for another day.