Lou Williams’ Buddy, Rapper BowWow Courtside at Sixers Game

You may recall rapper Lil’ Bow Wow shouting at Lou Williams in one of his rap songs. Well the two pals were chumming it up during halftime of Tuesday night’s Sixers game as Bow Wow enjoyed courtside seats behind the basket.

“Watching @TeamLou23 TNT wanna show me” #Floorseats,” the rapper tweeted, along with a photo of his sneakers on the Wells Fargo Center court.

BowWow2

the worst photo of Bow Wow you’ve ever seen [more photos below]

BowWow
no, really. the guy in the Rocky sweatsuit

Also, according to WikiPedia, “Louis is a close friend of Bow Wow, and was seen socializing with Bow Wow at his house on MTV Cribs.”

BowWow was almost as popular as the Sixers on Tuesday night, getting cat calls from the fans in attendance. One particularly loud fan was repeatedly screaming “BOWOW! BOWOW!” The same fan kept gesturing towards the two lady friends next to him as if BowWow should come hang out.

The interesting rap/hoops duo are so close that BowWow even once said he thought LouWill should be an the All-Star team. That’s friendship.

Here’s an old video of BowWow, LouWill, and Brandon Jennings playing horse.



PN Writer’s Roundtable: Which Reliever to Sign

Question: Of the currently available free agent relief pitchers, who should the Phillies attempt to sign ?

Paul Boye: Scott Downs.

He holds righties down as well as lefties, he’s arguably the best reliever in a relatively weak free agent market, and he’s an upgrade at a position of sore need for the Phillies. Of course, all of that won’t come cheap; Downs (right) will likely cost around $7M or so per year over two or three years and is a Type A free agent. If the deal is three guaranteed years, I balk. But two years – Type A and all – at that price should be well worth it. It’s also worth remembering that, because Jayson Werth is likely to depart, the Phils would be trading their first round pick with a team further up in the first round (unless the Angels grab him).

It’s a risk, but a risk the Phils should probably take to shore up a bullpen whose lefties consist of Antonio Bastardo and…no one else. He can’t do it all himself, and Downs would be a big addition worth his price tag.

Jay Floyd: NONE OF THEM. Free agent relievers are too hit or miss, as the Phillies and their phans saw last season when Jose Contreras and his statistics were a pleasant surprise, while Danys Baez and his weak production proved to be money virtually wasted. With the Phillies’ current crop of solid pitching prospects, I don’t feel it is necessary to sign a potentially costly free agent.

Sure, there seems to be a need for an additional lefty reliever, but is Scott Downs and the draft pick he could cost the Phillies, as a type A free agent acquisition, absolutely worth the big money he is poised to draw from a potential suitor? Maybe…maybe not. Relievers’ numbers go up and down from year to year and while Downs has posted great stats in recent years, his career ERA is 3.79, which means his output prior to his recent 1.78 and 2.64 ERA seasons was considerably far off.

And what sort of contribution would Chad Durbin offer, if the Phillies re-signed the righty veteran? It’s hard to tell, as he has posted ERA’s of 4.72, 2.87, 4.39 and 3.80 in his most recent four seasons.

The Phillies have several up and coming prospects as well as some familiar big league types that could make a considerable impact out of the bullpen in 2011. Among those pitchers are Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Eddie Bonine, Justin De Fratus, Sergio Escalona, Ryan Feierabend and Mike Zagurski. In addition to those guys are a few more young hurlers who might be just a step behind, like Michael Schwimer, JC Ramirez and Austin Hyatt.

With such a full crop of relief talent waiting to step up and contribute behind the core of Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras, as well as the other members of the big league pitching staff (Baez, David Herndon and the “loser” of the proposed 5th starter duel between Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley) already in place, I don’t think the Phillies need to spend money on more risky bullpen arms.

Jeff Nelson: The Phillies definitely need a lefty. They can’t afford to have Bastardo as the lone LHP in the pen all by himself, especially when the manager doesn’t fully trust him yet. Although the price tag on Downs is very high – he’d come at the expense of the Phils 2011 first rounder plus a multi-year deal – there aren’t many other good options on the market. And let’s be honest, good left handed pitching doesn’t exactly fall off trees these days.

If this team was looking to get by for a season and plug someone in to complement Bastardo, then I could see them plucking someone from the farm. But this organization needs to win now and Downs or to a lesser extent, Hisanori Takahashi, are probably the best options out there. I’m not sure if Takahashi is looking to start in 2011 though, but I’m assuming he’s still a BP option as of right now. Basically I agree with Paul, but to a certain extent.

Kieran Carobine: Antonio Bastardo has been cutting up the Winter League thus far. Bastardo looks to be a lock as one of the lefty pieces coming out of the bullpen for Charlie Manuel next season. But who will the other pieces be?

Now while I agree with Paul, Scott Downs would be a good addition to the pen but I am not sure if it is worth spending that type of money and losing the draft picks. In the past two seasons Ruben Amaro Jr has sent a handful of prospects packing in acquiring Cliff Lee and then Roy Halladay. It would be nice to save as many picks as possible.

Now, the market for reliable relievers may not be as small as some people think. I think there are still a couple good options out there.

I feel Pedro Feliciano should be tops on the Phillies radar. He is a guy who was very dependable for the Mets last season despite his 3-6 record. In 62.2 innings pitched he had a 3.30 ERA and only allowed one home run. Also, he had almost a 2:1 strikeouts to walks ratio in 92 appearances. The only thing with Feliciano is whether or not he will accept arbitration from the Mets. He is in line for a raise this season and may want to test the waters after earning $2.9 million last season.

A right hander on the market coming off a very good year is 34 year-old Kyle Farnsworth. The Phillies got to see him first hand towards the end of the season last year when the Braves acquired him from Kansas City. He did struggle a bit pitching in the NL posting a 5.40 ERA in just 20 innings but overall boasted an ERA of 3.34 and a WHIP of 1.14 in 64.2 total innings with the Royals and Braves.


Pat Gallen: While I’m not a fan of signing free agent relievers to extended contracts, there are a few intriguing names available this year. Scott Downs has been mentioned and as great as he’s been, he might be a little too expensive. Rafael Soriano is out of the Phillies’ league contractually and Jason Frasor and Grant Balfour are solid options, but maybe not solid enough to suck a top draft pick from the Phils due to their type-A status.

I’m a fan of Jesse Crain (left) on the right side. The ex-Twins relief pitcher has a fine resume and is only 28-years old (he’ll be 29 in July). His career WHIP is 1.26 over parts of seven seasons and he does a great job of keeping people off the basepaths via the walk. Crain would be a solid choice and is a type-B free agent. He’s declined his free-agent arbitration today and is getting a hard look from the Blue Jays. J.J. Putz would be a fine choice as well, provided it’s to a one-or-two year contract.

As for the crop of lefties, Downs certainly stands out. Other than Downs, I think taking a flier on a guy like Will Ohman or Dennys Reyes is more beneficial. Of all the lefties available (with the exception of Downs and Pedro Feliciano) their stat sheets are littered with up and down seasons. It’s too hard to tell which will sink and which will swim and that to me says buy low with relievers.



Sixers Welcome Back Andre Miller, Blazers in Attempt to Win Two in a Row

sixers dancers

The Sixers are back in action tonight when they’ll look to win their second game in a row as they welcome back Andre Miller and the Trailblazers to the Wells Fargo Center. Portland also brings Brandon Roy with them, the guy most people look at when they talk about Evan Turner’s best case scenario type of player.

Portland has struggled recently, losing three in a row, including a loss on Sunday to the same Nets team the Sixers beat the night prior. The Blazers have had trouble shooting the ball all season, but Roy’s return to the lineup after battling a knee injury should help their scoring.

The Sixers have yet to string together back-to-back wins all season. A win tonight would surely mean the world to the team. At least that’s what Doug Collins would likely tell us.

Tip off scheduled for 7:00 from the WFC. We’ll be in the building, so please join us to discuss the action in the comments.

VIDEO — Here’s former Sixer Andre Miller talking about his old team:

Photos by The700Level.com flickr group All-Star member jrab

sixers dancers



The Flyers should carry three goaltenders until they can either find a trading partner or one of…

The Flyers should carry three goaltenders until they can either find a trading partner or one of them gets injured.

In order to do that, there is a really simple solution: waive injured defenseman Matt Walker. Walker has not played a single game for the Flyers since being acquired in the summer, and yet he costs the team $9,140 a day against the salary cap. That’s as much as the Flyers are paying Dan Carcillo and Oskars Bartulis to be reserves.

Even though Walker is injured, he can still be waived according to the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article 13.6), so long as he sustained his injury in training camp. If Walker is waived, the Flyers would then over $5,000 below the daily cap limit, putting them on pace to be over $640,000 under the yearly cap. That’s still not enough to cover all the potential bonuses, but it gives them room.

– Our Geoff Detweiler at SBN Philly. Go read the whole thing.





Video: DJacc Just Wants to Win Games

DeSean Jackson is here to win football games. That’s all you need to know, really. For as upset as all of the reports painted him to be after the Bears game, DJacc said all the right business-like things today. [video below]

And here’s Andy talking about getting DeSean the ball:



The Awe of Playing Against Allen Iverson in Europe

alleniversonBULENT KILICAFPGetty Images

We’ve read some interesting stuff about Allen Iverson’s adventure playing for his Turkish squad of Besiktas Cola Turka, but Dime Magazine has one of the most unique looks at Bubba Chuck overseas. Jason Boone, a big man for BG Göttingen of the German pro basketball league, wrote for Dime what it was like to play against the diminutive former superstar in a EuroCup game.

Many people thought A.I. going to play in Turkey was something of a circus, but tell me this description of A.I. doesn’t remind you of people gawking when the lion finally comes out pacing back and forth at the zoo:

Sixty-six minutes before tip-off, it happened: Iverson walked out onto the court. Everyone on my team knew it, whether they were paying attention or not, because all of a sudden you heard this collective “whoa” and the sound of cameras flashing everywhere. I almost felt like I was on the red carpet at an award show, and they weren’t even there to see me. Iverson’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect, either, because as soon as we got over the initial shock of being on the same court as him and the press people had all finished their snapshots, the clock struck 60 minutes and the arena doors opened to the public. Turkish and German fans alike immediately went to the Besiktas side of the court and continued to take pictures, Flip videos and iPhone recordings of Iverson trotting through a three-man-weave.

The rest is a very interesting, well put together article with plenty of Jadakiss references from Boone who played his college ball at New York University.

Perhaps my favorite anecdote from the story is not about Allen Iverson, but rather that a professional basketball player thinks things like this to himself duing a game, “This is going to be an awesome Facebook picture,” and, “Which way is the camera facing?” before going up for a posterizing dunk.

I wonder if A.I. cares about the cameras any longer?

>>Letters from the EuroCup: The Allen Iverson Experience [DIME]

Some A.I. highlights from overseas:



Michael Leighton will be back next week; what should the Flyers do?

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More photos »

Bruce Bennett – Getty Images

Tim McManus broke the news this morning, reporting that Michael Leighton was on the ice practicing with the Adirondack Phantoms at the Glens Falls Civic Center. McManus also reported that Leighton will indeed play both games this weekend for the Phantoms, on Saturday in Wilkes-Barre and on Sunday in Atlantic City against the Albany Devils.

The Flyers announced a bit more news on Leighton this afternoon, adding that Leighton will stay with the Phantoms for a “6-day conditioning stint.” The collective bargaining agreement gives the team two options after this six-day stint. Should the Flyers determine Leighton isn’t ready after Sunday’s game, they can ask Gary Bettman’s office for a two-game extension on the conditioning loan.

If Leighton is ready after Sunday, he’ll be forced to come off of long-term injured reserve immediately, and his salary will count against the Flyers cap on Monday. At the absolute latest, should he need that unlikely extension, he’d be back on the Flyers by the following Sunday, December 12 following two more games with Adirondack. Again, though, that’s not likely.

The point of all this? The Flyers will need to clear $1.55 million in salary cap space by Monday. Financially and in a roster-space sense, the team cannot afford to carry three goaltenders. Not without making a move, at least.

We’ll discuss exactly what the Flyers can do after the jump.

Some of the options…

- waive Matt Walker and his $1.7 million cap hit.

- place Walker on LTIR.

- place Ian Laperriere and his $1.166 million salary on LTIR.

- make a trade that frees up the necessary space.

We won’t go into trade speculation because it would just be that — wild speculation. Any of these other moves would get them under the cap for the time being, and it would remove one player from the active roster, which is also necessary as the Flyers are currently at the limit.

As our Geoff Detweiler pointed out yesterday, LTIR isn’t the optimal solution.

Placing Lappy on LTIR doesn’t take his salary off the cap. So the Flyers will count his ~$1.1 mil cap hit against their upper limit regardless of whether he’s on LTIR or not. Placing him on LTIR only lets them add a player they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford.

Bringing that back to the daily calculation: If you put Lappy on LTIR so that you can carry three goalies, the Flyers will be over the salary cap for the entire season. They would simply be granted a cushion at the end of the year up to the total (number of days * the daily cap hit) of those players on LTIR.

So right now, the Flyers have spent ~$19k more than the salary cap. But that’s covered because of the LTIR cushion. So right now, the Flyers would be unable to take on any salary through the end of the year (that changes if they go some days without a player on LTIR this season) because they are technically at the salary cap.

Right now, they are spending ~$4,000 per day over the salary cap. That equals ~$850k over the cap at season’s end – forgiven due to LTIR – but if the Flyers wanted to trade, say Matt Walker for a guy making $2.5 million per year, they can’t due to LTIR. Even though they could have, had they never had a guy go on LTIR throughout the year.

Waiving Matt Walker at this point makes the most sense, but we’ll see exactly how the Flyers handle this over the next couple of days. Decisions, decisions. 





Eagles Keep a Primetime Game

Last night’s Monday Night Football “contest” really makes you appreciate the Sunday night flex scheduling that much more. On an evening when two 3-7 teams competed, it would be hard to blame anybody for tuning in to watch John Cena drop men on concrete, through a table, and on to the hood/windshield of a car instead. But I digress.

The Eagles’ Week 14 match against Dallas has been scheduled for Sunday Night since the beginning of the season. With the Cowboys staggering out of the gate however, there was potential for this one to get pulled in favor of something with two, you know, relevant clubs. That will not be the case. Big D has shown some life in recent weeks, and ratings are probably rarely a problem for this rivalry anyway.

It’s worth noting while the Eagles are getting the shaft having to play one of these Thursday night games on just a few days rest, it means in turn they’ll have 10 days to recover and prepare for one of their most familiar foes. That’s never a bad thing.

It also bears mention because one of the more downplayed stories from their recent loss is exactly how much the schedule favored the Bears in that game. Chicago played the previous Thursday, giving them extra time almost akin to a mini bye week, plus had the home field advantage of course.

It’s not merely an excuse, but a fact that teams with additional time to scheme and get their troops healthy have a major head start over their opponent. For instance, one possible explanation for the Eagles’ pass rush vanishing in the second half last week is the Bears were fresher, while the Birds’ rotation was without Juqua Parker, meaning more snaps for everyone else.

Whether or not that had anything to do with anything at all, the time off should give the Eagles a little something extra when they visit Dallas in less than two weeks. Nobody is going to complain about that.

>> Eagles-Cowboys stays in primetime Week 14 [PFT]



De Fratus Reaches Goals, Sets Sights Higher For 2011

Jayson WerthRight-handed pitcher Justin De Fratus has been a fast mover up the Phillies prospect rankings over the past couple of years, thanks to a deep determination and a goal-oriented outlook.

As a player in his youth, Justin wanted to be the best pitcher he could be, so he worked countless hours under the watchful eye of his father, Terry. The focus was always on throwing strikes, which helped De Fratus stand out and continue pitching beyond high school.

While pitching for Ventura College, De Fratus set his sights on becoming a professional pitcher. He signed his first pro contract after being drafted by the Phillies in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft.

As he spent the 2008 season with the Williamsport Crosscutters, De Fratus set out to reach Class A ball in 2009 and did so by helping the Lakewood BlueClaws lock down their first of two consecutive South Atlantic League championships.

In 2010, De Fratus focused on three more potential accomplishments to strive for. Certainly, every minor leaguer’s goal each season is to reach the big leagues, but with more sensible targets in mind, such as reaching Double A, successfully pitching in the Arizona Fall League and representing the United States in the Pan-Am qualifiers, De Fratus’ list of objectives for this year were attainable.

“I accomplish every goal that I set out for myself…and then more. Outside of going the the big leagues, this season was really just a dream come true,” De Fratus said in an exclusive interview.

After beginning the 2010 regular season with High-A level Clearwater and posting a 2-0 record with 15 saves and a 1.79 ERA in 29 games, De Fratus was promoted to Double A Reading in July. Over the last two months of the season, he went 1-0 with 6 saves and a 2.19 ERA in 20 games. Other impressive stats collected by De Fratus during the regular season included his strike out total of 71, compared to his walk total of 16 in 65 innings pitched, between the two levels of the minors.

De Fratus, a 6′5″ 215-pounder, followed up his exceptional regular season campaign by pitching for Team USA in the Pan American qualifying tournament held in Puerto Rico. De Fratus pitched well in relief and helped the Americans clinch a tie for third place (9-1 overall record) and earn a spot in next year’s Pan American games in Mexico.

“After I saw (former teammate of De Fratus in Lakewood, BJ Rosenberg) do it last year, I thought it would be really cool to pitch for my country like that,” De Fratus said of his aspirations of pitching for Team USA. “That’s really the best word to describe it. Other than speaking about how proud you are to put on that USA uniform, the one word to describe (the experience) is just ‘cool’. I’m grateful that I am one of the few who got to do that.”

Following the time representing his country, De Fratus ventured to the Arizona Fall League, where he was not scored upon in 7 appearances and held opponents to a .125 batting average.

As a member of the AFL’s Mesa Solar Sox, De Fratus set out to improve his slider, which he felt he had lost the feel for this year. Former Major League hurler Ricky Bones worked closely with De Fratus to help with the adjustments. “He changed the grip by literally a quarter of an inch and it made a world of difference,” De Fratus stated.

De Fratus’ pitching repertoire also includes a change up as well as a mid-90’s fastball.

Aside from building bonds with his Autumn teammates, De Fratus feels the advantages that he will take away from pitching with two extra teams for an additional two months, following the minor league regular season wrapping up, will be his strength. “My season lasted longer than the big league season does. I know I have the stamina to go start to finish in a full season,” De Fratus said.

Moving toward 2011, De Fratus has a single goal in mind: to reach the Major Leagues. This month, the Phillies added De Fratus, who spent a couple games with the big league team in spring training in 2010, to their Major League 40-man roster, in order to protect him from the MLB Rule 5 draft.

“I’m really excited, with being put on the 40-man. I’m excited to get to show what I can do (this coming spring) in front of Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee. Whether I make it to the big leagues or not, it’s just an exciting opportunity to get to pitch in front of them.

“I know in my heart and I feel that I have a good shot at, hopefully, making the team out of spring training. That’s all I’m concerned about right now, is putting myself in the best possible position to make the Major League club, and if I don’t, I want to be the first person they call,” De Fratus said.

The commitment that De Fratus possesses will undoubtedly lead to a call up to the big club, and if his track record is any indication, that should happen as soon as De Fratus wants it to.

___________________________________________________________

Photo- Four Seam Images

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.



Andrej Meszaros busted the glass at practice today. Photo via @NHLFlyers.

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Andrej Meszaros busted the glass at practice today. Photo via @NHLFlyers.





Brian Westbrook Shows Flash of the Past

BrianWestbrook.niners Honestly, (and thankfully) I did not watch much of last night’s awful showing on Monday Night Football between the Niners and the Cardinals. But I did flip over to ESPN long enough to see Brian Westbrook scamper into the end zone for a touchdown. The familiar sight of the diminutive BWest among tree-like offensive lineman was unexpected and made a Birds’ fan happy for the guy who made his bones in Philadelphia.

Westy finished the evening with 136 yards and a TD on 23 carried. That was after rushing for just 9 yards on five carries in his first 10 games with San Francisco.

Ruben Frank takes a more in-depth view of 36, er… No. 20′s performance last night:

“He’s a pro,” 49ers coach Mike Singletary said after the game. “He’s a guy that when he came in, we told him that it’s a long year and you just never know when your number is going to be called. Just be ready to step up. He works hard and continues to play his role. I think tonight he had to step forward and he did.”

With Frank Gore going down to injury, we could be seeing plenty more BWest highlights for the rest of the season. If there’s an ex-Eagle you can easily pull for it’s Brian Westbrook.

>>Westbrook Rushes Niners to MNF Win [CSN]



Flyers never been better with Timonen

Two months into the season, Kimmo Timonen says the Flyers are better and more balanced than ever during his time in Philadelphia.

“Absolutely. By far.”

“Now we’ve been able to maintain our own level for a longer period of time. We’ve had some good stretches before as well, but not this kind of consistency. We used to play 3-4 good games, but immediately followed them with 3-4 bad games. It used to be a rollercoaster.”

Timonen says the key to consistency has been good offense.

“We have three lines that work well offensively and they seem to have some healthy competition between them on which line can score more goals.”

“And improved goaltending has given us confidence.”

“The forwards have played well. Even if we have allowed some goals, we’ve been able to win games.”

Timonen says the Flyers have adjusted their game plan a little from last season.

“Now we play more with the puck.”

When things are going well, there’s always the risk of the team starting to think they can win games by just showing up. Timonen says the whole team is aware of it.

“The coach reminds us about it every day, so we’re well aware of it. It doesn’t help at all to be a good team now. You have to be a good team all season.”

“We still have a long way to go.”

This report was based off of a Finnish-language story in the publication Veikkaaja.





More On DeSean, Vick, and Big Red

The details regarding Sunday’s locker room blow up by Andy Reid aren’t exactly concrete, but the story seems about as fleshed out as we’re going to get at this point. Bob Ford and Les Bowen do a nice job today examining the situation a bit further.

Bob Ford writes in the Inquirer:

Regardless of the details, it was something like that. Reid has a short fuse after losses and Eagles veterans know they have to sit there, stone-faced and attentive, when the coach blows off the steam. Later on, in perfect privacy, they can laugh about the show and do their imitations, but not then.

The Whatever Generation either learns that by osmosis, or it learns it as Jackson did Sunday night – with more than 300 pounds of angry man focused upon him. It certainly wasn’t pleasant for the player – but it wasn’t all about him, either, a lesson he still needs to learn.

Ford then talks about how Mike Vick handled the situation rather well, a point I touched on a bit yesterday as well.

I think the post-Bears game blow up is a bit fascinating because we never hear about such eruptions from Andy Reid. Apparently it takes poor play and a lack of undivided attention when Big Red is talking to make him go off.

Also, as Les Bowen points out, the blow up could get them focused right away for the Texans and the short week.

Whatever the case may be, Ford and Bowen put some interesting theories behind Andy’s unlikely outburst.

For Eagles fans sake, we should be hoping we don’t have to hear about another one the rest of the season.

>>Bob Ford: Reid’s locker-room rant adds to Eagles’ strange season [Inquirer]

>>Les Bowen: There’s a Method to Reid’s Madness [DN]



Tuesday Morning Fly By: Injury News

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Jim McIsaac – Getty Images

Today’s open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers news and notes…





Moyer to Have Tommy John Surgery

Jamie Moyer has battled time and again to prolong his career to an age that few in baseball ever come close to reaching. Pitching beyond the age of 48-years old, however, may not happen for Moyer has he’s set to undergo Tommy John surgery.

On the facebook page for his foundation, Moyer wrote, “It’s official – Jamie is having surgery Wednesday and we are cautiously optimistic Superman make a comeback!”

Optimism is the key word here because Moyer may reach 50 by the time he’s able to pitch in any sort of game again. Tommy John surgery can take anywhere between 12 and 18 months, but this sort of surgery isn’t often done for pitchers in their late 40’s. As Dave Murphy pointed out in the Daily News, John Franco was the last instance of a pitcher undergoing this procedure in his 40’s. Franco had the surgery at 42 and went on to pitch three more seasons.

Moyer just will not take no for an answer. His drive and guile should be applauded, however, sometimes you have to know when to say when. After his rehabilitation is complete, it’s hard to believe a major league team will give him anything more than a tryout. Really, that’s all Jamie Moyer needs. He’s surprised people before, he’ll likely do it again.