What next for the Phillies ?
Much has been made of Ryan Howard’s performance since his return from the disabled list, and now sources are saying there may still be something wrong with the big man preventing him from playing at 100%.
Last night, the first 6 innings were relatively uneventful as the teams played to a 1-1 draw. The Phillies looked lifeless after being swept by the Astros in a 4 game series that included losses to former Phillies pitchers J A Happ and Brett Myers as well as a 16 inning heartbreaker that saw some offensive players go 0-7. Happ, two years ago the team’s ace of the future, outlasted Halladay in the third game to really rub it in. Of course, for the Astros, this series against last years NL champion and 2008 World Series champion was their post season. At 12 games below 500 and 16 games out with less than a month to go, the Astros are not playoff bound.
The Phillies probably are, which makes the 4 game sweep so confusing and upsetting. They have more to play for but seem to be manuevering into position to win the wild card, instead of pushing the Braves to take the National League East for the third year in a row. At least we aren’t trailing the Mets, that would be TOO much to bear !
Rollins had a good night, going 3-5 with a double, a walk and a run scored.
Ryan Howard did provide a single in the 7th, sandwiched by walks to Utley and Werth, that may have been the catalyst behind the Phillies go ahead score. If Howard’s single was the catalyst, Raaauuul Ibanez came through with the clutch hit, a one out single to right that scored the run. Gregerson came in in relief and got Victorino into a double play fielders choice then struck out Ruiz to end the threat.
Oswalt pitched a masterful game, with 6 strikeouts versus five hits allowed through the first 8 innings. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the ninth as the Phillies looked to build on that scant one run lead. The Phillies however went down one, two, three, and Lidge came in for the bottom of the ninth with a one run lead.
He pitched a typically ugly half inning, with a single, sacrifice, groundout, intentional walk, hit batsman, than the piece de resistance, the balk to push the tying score across the plate.
Oswalt can’t win a game, no matter how well he pitches !
Maybe Charlie will consider letting him keep pitching next start if he has the same stuff.
Rollins doubled to lead off the 12th inning. Polanco singled to center to score Jimmy and put the Phillies up 3-2. The Phillies FINALLY took advantage of an Atlanta loss and picked up a game on the NL East lead.
For months Phillies fans trotted a sentence that went something like this: “If we can just stay in the race while our stars are out, this team will catch fire once its healthy.”
The team played well above expectations during injuries to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz … and so on.
Now that the gangs finally all here, things were supposed to really take off. Instead, the team has gone into another funk. The Phillies lost to the Astros 3-2 last night, marking the third straight game it has dropped to the lowly Astros. Making matter worse is that two of those losses have come in games started by Brett Myers and J.A. Happ, two former Phillies.
While fans have been stunned by the way the team has played recently, they really should not be. When players are away from the game as long as Utley and Howard were, they rarely come back tearing the cover off the ball. It takes time to get back into a rhythm and unfortunately time in in short supply when you get to mid August. Utley’s swing isn’t quite back yet, while Howard is in a 2-19 funk since returning. That combination could have the Phillies reeling right now but thankfully for them the Braves have joined them in struggling this past week. Atlanta did the Phillies a huge favor yesterday, blowing a 10-1 lead in a loss to the Rockies. Meanwhile the Phillies remain in a tie with the Giants for the Wild Card lead.
I don’t expect the Phillies recent slump to last too much longer. Howard and Utley will get their timing back and the rest of the lineup will benefit from that. This team is still in great position to make another postseason run and has the arms to go up against anyone once they get into serious October baseball. The key will be riding out this storm.
It would also help if they won today. Getting swept by the Astros in a four-game series just isn’t palatable.
Just four games back from the disabled list, Ryan Howard was ejected from the game against the Astros Tuesday night in the 14th inning. Howard has struggled since his return, being 2- for-19 with 10 strikeouts. After another frustrating night of striking out, Howard was called out by a check swing he felt as if he did not make.
That’s when all hell broke loose.
Howard grabbed his helmet and threw it on the ground, and began to run over to Scott Barry, the third base umpire. As the home plate Umpire began to run over, Howard made it very clear not to talk to him by pointing directly in his face and saying a few choice words.
Polanco got in between Scott Barry and Howard, and Howard was ultimately ejected from the game.
Today, Howard sat out against the Astros, but according to Charlie Manuel, it didn’t have anything to do with Tuesdays ejection. Manuel said that Howard needed time off his feet, coming back recently from a sprained ankle, and was planning on resting him anyway.
It was a wild game indeed, I couldn’t really believe what I was watching. I do believe Scott Barry should have shown a bit more restraint as well as Ryan Howard. Some Philly fans might say the Umpires are out to get the Phillies, but that is not the case.
Let us hear what you think about the Howard incident and who deserves what.
Ask any Flyers fan what their biggest worry is about the end of the 2010-11 season and just about everyone will tell you they are afraid the Flyers will have to part with some valuable assets come Free Agency. There are many Flyers that will be Unrestricted Free Agents as well as Restricted Free Agents after the 2010-11 season concludes. Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux are included in that list.
The Flyers do have a bit of leverage, as Carter and Giroux will both be RFA’s, but the Flyers are right against the cap and both players are due for hefty raises, especially Giroux, who only makes $821,667 this season. Factor in the fact that Unrestricted Free Agents like Ville Leino and Nikolai Zherdev will also be commanding hefty raises, and it seems like most likely the Flyers will have to part with somebody.
For now, it appears Carter and Giroux will remain with the Flyers. General Manager Paul Holmgren recently spoke with CSN Philly, stating that he was in the beginning stages of contract extensions for both Carter and Giroux. “I’ve talked a little bit with Rick Curran (Carter’s agent) about Jeff,” Holmgren told CSN Philly. “I think over the next few months we will get involved there. With Claude, Larry Kelly is his agent. I am hoping he comes down here during training camp so we can look into it.”
Holmgren says he will be delving more into the negotiations come Fall, but it is good to see that they have already talked about extensions. One thing is certain, it is going to be a very interesting off season for the Flyers next summer. Out of Carter, Giroux, Leino, and Zherdev, who do you think the Flyers will part with? My guess is Zherdev, but who knows. Only time will tell.
Former Eagles’ offensive lineman Tra Thomas has retired according to an Associated Press report. Thomas was a stud tackle for the Eagles from 1998-2008, helping protect Donovan McNabb. Thomas made three Pro Bowls during that time.
Bellow is the complete AP report:
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The San Diego Chargers say 35-year-old left offensive tackle Tra Thomas has retired, leaving the team woefully thin at a crucial position.
Thomas was signed as insurance when it became apparent that Marcus McNeill might stage a prolonged holdout. Thomas, a 12-year veteran, had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.
General manager A.J. Smith didn’t return a call seeking comment Saturday.
Even if McNeill ended his holdout, Smith placed him on the roster exempt list on Friday, meaning he’ll be suspended for three games once he signs his contract tender.
McNeill is unhappy that he hasn’t been given a long-term deal. Instead, the Chargers tendered the restricted free agent a one-year deal for $3,168,000.
The Phillies blew a perfect chance to make up some ground on the division leading Atlanta Braves today.
The Braves looked awful, losing 6-2 to the basement dwelling Nationals.
Cole Hamels was shaky at best, giving up 5 runs in his first 4 innings, allowing 7 hits, striking out 5 and walking 1 while San Francisco’s Sanchez pitched a 1 hitter through the first 4.
Victorino was the only batter to get a hit early, continuing his torrid pace since returning from the DL.
With Victorino and Utley back in the lineup, Ryan Howard is the main offensive piece of the puzzle still missing in action, but expect his return any day now.
Last night’s victory put the Phillies a game up in the National League wild card race but we have gotten spoiled here in Philly, and want nothing less than another NL East title.
Herndon and Baez came in to pitch 4 innings of shutout relief and the Phillies scored a pair in the 9th off a Sweeny double but they were never in this one.
The Phillies at 68-52 remain 2 1/2 behind the Braves and can pick up a half game with a win tomorrow to finish the San Francisco series as the Braves are idle. The good news, Atlanta goes to Chicago to play the Cubs while the Phillies host the Nationals so there is a good chance they can close the gap by early next week.
It certainly looked that way when on the field in the pre-season game against Jacksonville. Vick went 11/17 on completions, had 119 yards, and 1 interception.
Now, I know this was just a pre-season game and there are plenty more tough games ahead, but I can’t seem to shake the idea that Vick still has the talent he had in Atlanta. Sure he hasn’t shown us a ton of great plays, but he also hasn’t been on the field nearly as much either.
I always liked Vick. Now, don’t get me wrong, the whole dog fighting thing is most certainly NOT cool in my book, but give the guy some credit. He has paid his dues and was punished for his crimes. He has even done community service in Philadelphia. To all the Vick haters out there, give the guy a chance. He made a huge mistake, bigger then most people make, but he did his time and now he is just trying to get back to his career. It’s in the past.
Anyway, as far as the pre-season game against the Jaguars goes, I do believe Vick showed he’s still got it. I think it would be wise for Andy Reid to play Vick a bit more this season. Not just because of the whole transition into the Kolb era, but because he will ease some of that pressure off of Kolb. Vick has great speed, and makes great plays. Losing McNabb was a bit of a blow, but between Kolb and Vick, I think the Eagles will be just fine this season.
What are your thoughts? Does Vick deserve more playing time? Do you believe he’s still got that talent everybody says he left in Atlanta? Let us hear it.
Seems like Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz is all ways pulling through in the clutch situation. He blew open the game last night and before that helped the Phillies with a game winning double against the dodgers. If he keeps hitting clutch situations the Phillies just might have to issue a new game jersey for Carlos Ruiz.
And here is another look at that the game winning double!
Meet the new ECHL affiliate for the Philadelphia Flyers, the Greenville Road Warriors.
The Flyers have announced today that they have replaced Kalamazoo, which was their ECHL affiliate last year, with the Greenville Road Warriors. Not a huge move here, but something definitely worth talking about. The General Manager of the Road Warriors just so happens to be Neil Smith, former General Manager of the New York Rangers from 1989-2000.
Smith had this to say. “To be affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers and Adirondack Phantoms will greatly enhance what it means to be a member of the Greenville Road Warriors. The Flyers are committed to winning at every level. We hope to help them with that commitment by developing their future AHL and NHL players.”
General Manager Paul Holmgren also gave his comments to the public. “Neil Smith and Dean Stork both have a strong history of success, and we’re confident they’ll provide an environment that will help our prospects develop their potential.”
Again, not a huge move, but it does make the avid Flyers fan feel a bit better about the future of the Flyers. Neil Smith had great success in New York with the Rangers, and I believe he will help the Flyers organization in developing great young talent. I for one like the fact that the GM of the Road Warriors is a former NHL GM. That means he knows what it takes to keep his players in shape and help them get into the NHL.
If anything, it beats having Kalamazoo (what a crazy name) as an affiliate.
The NFL can be a cruel place for running backs who are at, near or past the age of 30. At an age where most guys are still living out what’s left of their college juices, running backs are told they are too old, too slow and no longer relevant.
This was the reality for Brian Westbrook. Despite nearly a decade of hard work, production and at times excellence with the Philadelphia Eagles, Westbrook, 31, was sent packing after last season. His body worn down by injuries, Westbrook no longer had a place in the Eagles plans — and for a few months there was no place for him anywhere in the league.
Rumors were persistent for the better part of two months that the helpless St. Louis Rams were interested in bringing in the aging back. This was sad news to say the least. The Rams aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and Westbrook only has so much mileage left on his legs and shoulders. If he joined the Rams he would get a job and paycheck, but I doubt any real sense of enjoyment or accomplishment.
Then came news yesterday that Westbrook had signed – not with the Rams, but rather the San Francisco 49ers. He will compete for the backup job which was vacated when 23-year old running back Glen Coffee shockingly announced his retirement last week after just one NFL season. With a hole in their lineup the 49ers reached out and gave the veteran a chance – and it is a chance I believe he will thrive in.
Unlike the Rams, the 49ers figure very much to be in contention this season. They have one of the best coaches in the business and a tough S.O.B in Mike Singletary. Singletary demands that his team run the football and with Frank Gore leading the way that is the obvious direction to go. With the 49ers Westbrook should be more than serviceable. Gore will take the bulk of the carries, attention and glory. Westbrook will be fine with that.
Westbrook didn’t go to San Fran for glory or money – he making just $1.25 million this season – he went for a chance to prove that he can still produce, and do so for a winner.
In his eight seasons with the Eagles Westbrook rushed for 5,995 yards and 37 touchdowns and caught 426 passes for 3,790 yards and 29 TDs. Up until last season every time he touched the ball Eagles fans knew something big could happen. Many times it did. San Fran fans get to experience the same feeling every time Gore touches the ball. Now they can also experience that when he takes a break.
Westbrook won’t be playing in the Pro Bowl and almost certainly won’t sniff 1,000 yards rushing this season, but he doesn’t have to. Instead heshould be able to keep his body fresh, while helping the 49ers ground game get even better.
The Eagles made the right decision by moving on and almost nothing Westbrook will do can change that. The team is featuring youth and Westbrook no longer fit in their plans.
But with the 49ers, Westbrook has the perfect opportunity to show that even at 31, he can help a team win, and maybe even win big.
There hasn’t really been much talk about Nik Zherdev since it was announced he signed a 1 year, $2 Million deal a month ago, so I figured with the lack of news in Flyerdom lately, I would weigh in on Zherdev a bit more and offer some opinions.
Most of the articles you have probably read online about Zherdev aren’t exactly positive ones. He’s been called lazy, sloppy at times, and even a “head case”. He’s also been criticized for his lack of defensive play. Say what you will about Nikolai Zherdev, but his offensive talent can not be questioned. Zherdev put up 147 points (63 G, 84 A) in his 3 years with the Columbus Blue Jackets who, lets face it, were not a very good team during his time with them. He also put up 58 points (23 G, 35 A) with the New York Rangers, who also weren’t a very good team in the 2008-09 season, which was his most recent stint with the NHL.
I believe Nikolai Zherdev will have a break out season this year. Not only because he is joining an already highly offensive team, but also because there is something about Zherdev that most people have not put together yet. Zherdev is a Right Winger, something the Flyers have needed so desperately for so long now.
I’ve heard people say things like “Zherdev won’t be in Philly for long”, “He’s just a rental”, “He’s going to screw up the locker room”, but I’m not buying any of that. Sure, it’s no secret Zherdev has been known to slack off sometimes, but I think with Zherdev playing under Laviolette’s system, Zherdev will have no choice but to put in 110% every night and I think it will show come October. As far as Zherdev’s future with the Flyers, that I am not sure about. The deal is a one year deal, and if Zherdev does what I believe he will, he is going to command a hefty salary, one that the Flyers will have a hard time giving him. Nikolai Zherdev and Ville Leino will both be Unrestricted Free Agents, and Jeff Carter, Dan Carcillo, Claude Giroux, and Darroll Powe will all be Restricted Free Agents, and that is just the offense. Carter and Giroux will be seeking big raises, and the Flyers are going to have to make some tough choices.
As far as Zherdev being a Russian on a heavily Canadian Flyers team, I also don’t believe that will be much of a problem either. I could be wrong, but I just don’t see that being a very big issue. I know the Flyers haven’t had much luck with Russians in the past, but the fact that they signed Zherdev and essentially let Simon Gagne walk in his place shows that the Organization has faith in him and believes he will be a great asset. The hockey world is different then it once was, times are changing.
So, what do you think Zherdev will bring to the Flyers?
Halladay threw another strong game today pitching 8 innings, striking out 7, allowing 4 hits and no runs. Madsen mopped up the ninth and maintained the shutout, but with a 4-0 lead, did not earn a save.
Maybe he should have. As easily as the Phillies at times seem to score runs in bunches, they are equally prone to have their pitching staff do likewise. The starting pitchers have actually shone for the most part of late, with Hamels getting an undeserved loss in a 5 hit 1 run 8 inning outing Friday night and Roy Oswalt throwing 7 innings of 5 hit shutout ball in a 2-0 victory over the Dodgers. Of course, in between these pitching gems was the 10-9 come from behind unbelievable game which just goes to show how versatile these guys are when it comes to scoring runs, and in a hurry !
Offensively nearly everyone seems to contribute. The combination is enough to keep the Phillies in the NL East race as they try to inch closer to the Atlanta Braves.
Rollins, Polanco, Werth and Victorino all had hits, as well as Halladay who scored the first run in the third off a Polanco Texas Leaguer.
The Phillies, at 65-51 remain 2 games back with 46 to go.
The team is anxiously waiting for word on slugger Ryan Howard, and his status down the stretch will probably figure in the race as we hit September. Even after missing 10 games this season, he still leads the team in home runs by 7 and RBI by 21.
As intense as the competition is, he still ranks second in the league in RBI.
Victorino seems to have hit the ground running, going 2 for 4 with a run scored today in his second full game back.
It seems there is a good feeling in the dugout; this team that went 14-3 to get back in the race, in the dog days of summer, is not about to give up now, with their eyes so close to the prize. Philly fans are tough, they got a World Series, but now they want a threepeat for the NL and a return to the World Series and to fall short will be unsatisfying for everyone.
I, for one, think they are going to give it one heck of a shot.
CHESTER, PA – Even after battling back from a deficit it was hard for the Philadelphia Union to leave PPL Park in anyway satisfied.
The Union saw two goals called back due to offside calls and controversial non-call when Sebastien Le Toux appeared to be taken down in the box in stoppage time and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids Saturday afternoon. The tie was Philadelphia’s second straight, but it also extended its winless streak to five games.
Two minutes into stoppage time Le Toux took a pass and beat two defenders before being contacted and going down in the box. The whistle was never blown as a chorus of boos rained down from the 17,749 fans in attendance.
“If 18,000 people see it then how come three or four officials can’t?” said Union coach Peter Nowak. “ … “Le Toux is the last guy who to dive and look for a call like that.”
Not surprisingly, Rapids coach Gary Smith saw things a bit differently.
“I thought (Le Toux) might have gone down trying to buy one given the time of the game,” said Smith.
The boos grew even louder a minute after the non-call when Union defender Michael Orozco Fiscal beat Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, only to have the goal disallowed to an offside call.
The tie was just the latest letdown for a team that has been competitive throughout its inaugural campaign, but is yet to record its first shutout.
“I feel like it’s a broken record,” said Union captain Danny Califf. “We don’t give up much, but they get one and we battle to the end. I think we’ve shown character during the year in that we don’t give up. Things don’t always go our way, but we always fight and always work and I think we are unlucky to be denied in the end.”
The Union (4-10-5) trailed 1-0 in the 74th minute when forward Danny Mwanga found the equalizer. Mwanga took a cross from Le Toux, beat his defender and slid a shot between the legs of Pickens. The play was set up by a long feed from captain Danny Califf, who sent a pass 60 yards to Le Toux, who was streaking down the near sideline.
“(Mwanga) doesn’t have to have five or six chances a game, when he gets one he’s going to bury it,” said Nowak.
The goal was the Mwanga’s seventh.
“I’m one of the forwards so I have to come out play the best I can play and help the team get going,” said Mwanga.
The Union had the batter of the possession and the chances in the first half, but were unable to anything on the scoreboard against Colorado (7-5-7).
Union Forward Alejandro Moreno appeared to put the Philadelphia ahead 16 minutes in when he one-timed a cross into the left corner of the net, but the offside’s flag went up canceling the tally. Moments later Moreno had another chance but his shot from 18 yards out sailed over the crossbar. Moreno also struck the crossbar in the 31st minute.
After surviving the first half the Rapids came out with better tempo to start the second and got on the board when Jeff Larentowicz scored in the 59th minute. Union keeper Chris Seitz punched out a cross but the ball went directly to Larentowicz just outside the 18. Larentowicz took a touch before sending a rocket into the far right corner of the net.
Larentowicz was making a homecoming of sorts, as the midfielder went to high school at Chestnut Hill Academy, located in northern Philadelphia.
“It was great, I had a lot of friends and family that came out to see me,” said Larentowicz. “Just to play in front of them was a treat, but to score a goal was something really special.”
Feeling ever snake-bitten, Philadelphia will have a week off before returning to the pitch next Sunday in the Nation’s capital when it takes on D.C. United.
The Phillies beat the Dodgers tonight by a final score of 10-9.
That tells very little of the whole story.
The whole story is that the Phillies rallied from 8 runs down in the 8th inning, and managed to score 4 runs in the ninth while only collecting 1 hit. Here is how it played out. Polanco was hit by a pitch, then Sweeney walked to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Werth became the second walk of the inning followed by Francisco hitting in to a fielders choice, but the Dodgers Blake committed an error on the play allowing Polanco and Sweeney to score to pull the Phillies to 9-8. Then Ruiz stepped in and nailed the first hit of the inning, a double deep to left center scoring Werth and Francisco.
So, HBP, BB, BB, FC, E, double = 4 runs and another late inning Phillies win.
I seem to recall Lidge having some days like Broxton did tonight. Check out his final boxscore line. 0 innings pitched, 1 hit, 4 runs, 3 earned, 2 BB, 1 HBP and the loss.
In tonight’s game, Sweeney and Valdez produced more than expected, Polanco remains on a tear, Ibanez finally lost his hitting streak, Werth stayed on fire as he has been since the trade rumors with a 2-4 night with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI’s.
All these things combined for an exciting 10-9 bottom of the ninth victory.
Blanton pitched ok through 5 after a shaky first inning, but his 5.69 ERA is still an issue.
All in all I would say August has been a month of surprises for the Phillies. Brown is a pleasant surprise, and Oswalt is looking like he is finally remembering he was the staff ace down in Houston for the better part of a decade.
With about 6 weeks to go, the Phillies pulled back to within 2 games of the Braves but it appears the momentum may be turning their way. If Polanco continues to hit, Howard and Victorino come off the DL and resume where they left off, and the combination of starting pitching and Lidge hold up, these Phillies have a good chance to threepeat as NL champions.
I can’t wait for tomorrow.
We go back to play the Mets and the Braves get to face the Dodgers in Atlanta.
Thank you Roy Oswalt for coming to Philly. After seeing his first two starts in a Phillies uniform, Roy Oswalt delivers on what fans expected tonight. While sporting the most losses in the National League, and having the least run support of any pitcher in baseball, Roy Oswalt pitched a gem tonight. With a stat line as follows 7 innings pitched, 5 hits, 0 runs, 2 walked and 5 k’s Oswalt pitched out of a couple of jams but all in all looked really good. This is what the fans were clamoring for. Oswalt is a gamer and his record in august and September is now 55 and 18 for his career. He is also 2 and 0 in October for his career. The Phils scored their first run on a Domonic Brown grounded into a fielders choice and Placido Polanco scored. There was a few times in this game where the Fightins had a runner on third with one or no outs and they couldn’t get a run in. In the sixth Ross Gload led off the inning with a double but while he was rounding first he pulled up lame, seemingly pulling his groin. Mike Sweeney was sent in to pinch run. The next batter Rauuul Ibanez doubled off the wall, extending his hitting streak to 15 games and having the longest hitting streak of someone with the letter I. Thanks for that tidbit Chris Wheeler. When will the walking wounded end. Is there help on the horizon? While good news for Chase Utley was given today, that he can begin swinging a bat, he still probably wont be back till September 1st. Also it doesn’t look like Ryan Howard wont be back on the 17, rather a week or two after that. Shane Victorino however was a double short of the cycle down in Lehigh Valley, so Shane should be back for the end of the week or the weekend.
On an unrelated side note, as further proof that the Mets flounder towards the end of the year. Closer Fransisco Rodriguez was arrested tonight on charges of assault on his father in-law. It just seems like when it rains it pours. K-ROD will be charged with Assault 3 which is a misdemeanor in New York state, but because it was a family member it is considered a domestic, so it is a domestic violence issue. His father in-law is said to have substantial visible bruising. He didnt even pitch tonight so it wasn’t about his performance. Well Lets all Go Meet the Mets!!!!!!