Quotable: Roy Halladay is Hungry, Plus Bonus Photos of Doc in Clearwater

Phillies Phantasy Camp 2011 - Roy Halladay

“The longer you play the more hungry you get,” Halladay said. “All of us are to the point where we’ve had success and established ourselves. Once you do that, the most important thing becomes winning. I know Oswalt and Cliff feel the same way. We’re at that point in our careers where you really have to start chasing it. To be able to be on this team, right now, I think we all have to like our chances and hope we can do what we need to do to get it done.” [another photo below]

That was what Roy Halladay had to say tonight to CSN’s Jim Salisbury at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association awards dinner at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cherry Hill. No word on whether he left after his speech to try and catch a plane back to Clearwater before the next snow storm hits.

But don’t you worry about Roy missing a workout due to a little chilly weather. According to beat writer Ryan Lawrence, Halladay and Cliff Lee got in a workout earlier in the day on Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

>>Halladay feels sense of urgency for 2011 Phillies [CSN]

Photos of Roy in Clearwater taken 10 days ago on January 21 by Bryan Sargent who was down in Florida for Phillies Phantasy Camp. Sargent actually kept a blog about his experience which is quite thorough – an interesting look at what the camp for Phillies baseball nuts entails.

>>Sarge’s Phillies Phantasy Camp Diary

Phillies Phantasy Camp 2011 - Roy Halladay



Ryan Howard Garden Gnome Version #2 (Plus Extra Bonus Life-sized Version)

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Remember that minor controversy over the Reading Phillies giveaway of a Ryan Howard garden gnome last season? Well, it was such a hit with fans that they’re doing it again. With an added twist.

From the R-Phils website:

Ryan Howard Garden Gnome Version # 2 features Ryan in his black R-Phils uniform. And, that’s not all, as Ryan Howard Garden Gnome night is bigger & better than ever – literally. On Opening Night, one lucky R-Phils fan will win a Life-Size Ryan Howard Garden Gnome, courtesy of Fromm Electric Supply Corp. All fans that enter on Opening Night will receive a free entry form, and one lucky fan will take home this one-of-a kind Life-Size Ryan Howard Garden Gnome estimated to be 550 pounds!

Clearly the gnome version of Ryan Howard is not as big a fan of Subway $5 footlongs.

(Apologies for awful joke. We all know gnomes have a penchant for “roots, especially starchy tubers which they often cultivate” such as carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes, and potatoes. Not Subway subs. Nobody likes those.)

>>R-Phils Announce Most-Anticipated Opening Weekend Ever [R-Phils]



ProspectNation 2011: #13 Phillippe Aumont- RHP

Phillippe Aumont, the second prospect acquired from the Mariners for pitcher Cliff Lee last off-season to appear on this countdown, is back in a position more comfortable to him after experiencing some hiccups in his progress during the 2010 season. Upon joining the Phillies organization, higher ups decided to move the young reliever into a starting role. Aumont struggled as a starting pitcher during his first season in the Philadelphia system, but remains a talented pitcher worthy of consideration as an excellent prospect.

A first round draft choice (11th overall) by Seattle in the 2007 amateur draft, Aumont was a highly regarded hurler when he was traded to Philadelphia in 2009.

In 2008, his first season as a professional, Aumont appeared in 15 games, 8 of which were starts, posting a 4-4 record with a 2.75 ERA and 50 strike outs in 55 2/3 innings in the Class A Midwest League. The following season, Aumont appeared exclusively as a reliever in High A and Double A, going 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA, 16 saves and 59 strike outs in 51 innings. Both seasons were shortened by injuries as he landed on the disabled list twice in 2008 with elbow soreness and missed time in 2009 after breaking his hand when he punched a wall following a blown save.

Also in 2009, Aumont pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, retiring MLB All-stars David Wright, Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson, in order, to escape a jam in a game against Team USA.

In Aumont’s first season with the Phillies organization, he went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA as a 21-year-old in 11 starts with Double A Reading, before being demoted to High A Clearwater, where he improved his numbers a bit, going 2-5 with a 4.48 ERA. With Clearwater, 10 of Aumont’s 16 appearances were as a starter.

The silver lining of Aumont’s bust of a season in 2010, when he posted a 3-11 record and a 5.68 ERA in 27 combined games between two levels, was that he pitched more innings that season (122) than he had in his previous two seasons (106 2/3) as a professional. That gave Aumont plenty of time to work on his pitches and provided the Phillies with significant opportunities to see their highly touted prospect in action. Philadelphia’s clear decision to return the Quebec native, Aumont, to the bullpen was a direct product of his struggles, so if he achieves success at higher levels as a reliever, the rough 2010 season will have been well worth it.

The 6’7″, 255 pound right-hander certainly has the size that could intimidate opposing hitters. He has a pitch repertoire that includes a 4-seam fastball that is regularly clocked in the mid-to-high 90′s and a plus “slurve” that has very good movement. Aumont also mixes in a change up that rounds out his arsenal of weapons. However, if Aumont sticks to a relief role, it is likely that he could focus on using his two best pitches exclusively, as he wouldn’t regularly face batters more than once a game. Some of Major League Baseball’s best closers are solid examples of success with a two-pitch selection.

Thanks to Aumont, and Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., fans were introduced to brand new baseball speak after the 2010 regular season, when Amaro told me, of Aumont, “We don’t judge (his) abilities necessarily by performance, but (instead) by progress and he’s still a young kid. Prospects sometimes take a long time. The pudding has not been made yet, so it’s really a matter of time for (him) to continue to develop. We still believe in him to be a fine prospect.”

So, consider Aumont “a pudding prospect”, whose consistency hasn’t quite developed yet, but is capable of becoming a gratifying home made treat, once given the proper allotment of time to refine.

_________________________________________________________

Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league contributor. You can check out more from Jay on his site, PhoulBallz.com.



Phillies Sign Journeyman RP Jason Grilli

(Originally posted Jan. 29, 5:54 pm)

From Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News and Beerleaguer on CSNPhilly.com:

The Phillies have some interest in signing free-agent reliever Jason Grilli to a minor league contract, two sources confirmed yesterday. No agreement has been reached yet.

The 34-year-old righthander missed all of last season with a knee injury. He’s 18-18 with a 4.74 earned run average in an 8-year career with the Marlins, White Sox, Tigers, Rockies and Rangers.

Grilli was a first-round draft choice, out of Seton Hall, of the Giants in 1997, the fourth player selected overall. His best year was 2008, when he had a 3.00 combined ERA for Detroit and Colorado.

In 2009, he had a 5.32 ERA for Colorado and Texas and signed as a minor league free agent with the Indians before last season.

Just another working arm to add to the pile and hope he pans out for some organizational depth. Grilli has been around the block and its been a while since he’s been able to help a major league team. On the bright side, Grilli is only 34, so he may still be young enough to have something left in the tank. Look for him to end up at Lehigh Valley.

UPDATE, Monday Jan 31, 1:25 pm: Jason Grilli has inked a minor league contract with the Phillies according to he and Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Grilli posted on his twitter account that he’s looking forward to the City of Brotherly Love.

Zolecki confirmed the signing about an hour ago. Grilli has not been invited to major league camp.



Place Your Bets: 14 Days Until Photos of Men Throwing Baseballs On Pretty Grass in Sunny Weather

With a number of Phillies players already down in Clearwater getting some work in — and with David Murphy (snow sucks), Jim Salisbury (give rotation regular rest), and Bob Brookover (Charlie Manuel likes chain-y steakhouses) typing out some new baseball material today — we thought we’d head over to Bodog.com to see what the Baseball Future lines looked like on this chilly Monday morning.

Not surprisingly, two weeks before pitchers and catchers are even scheduled to report, the Phillies are still the favorites in to win it all in 2011.

Current favorites include:

Phillies – 13/4

Red Sox – 5/1

Yankees – 6/1

followed by the defending league champs

Giants – 14/1

Rangers – 18/1

Those are the only teams with odds below 20/1. Fellow NL East rivals Nats (80/1), Mets (40/1), Marlins (40/1), Braves (22/1) all a bit of a long shot.

 



Your Newest Daily News Sports Columnist: Former Mayor/Gov. Ed Rendell

From an email to Daily News employees from new editor Larry Platt:

Speaking of loud voices, I also want to welcome our new sports columnist, none other than Ed Rendell. Some fifteen years ago, I sat with Rendell in the mayor’s box at Veterans Stadium while the Eagles waged a furious on-field comeback.

He stood up, hoagie innards spewing from his mouth, while he pounded the plexiglas separating his box from that of new owner Jeffrey Lurie, trying to get Lurie and his nonplussed guests to join him in full-throated cheer. Lurie placidly kept his eyes glued to the field. Finally, waving in disgust, Rendell returned to his seat, saying, “This is the football box; that’s the quiche-eaters’ box.” As we know, none of that passion has waned in the intervening years. I look forward to our Fan-In-Chief surprising and amusing us in print every week, starting this Wednesday.

If only this meant less of the Guv on Eagles post games.

Rendell’s passion for Philly sports is undeniable, but his opinions and manner in which he delivers them have become a bit tired to most hard core sports fans in this city. His handling of the postponement of the Eagles-Vikings game due to snow by calling all of America a bunch of wussies was particularly annoying.

I wouldn’t expect him to tone down his opinions from outrageous to reasonable in print form. That wouldn’t sell papers.

At least he won’t have to drive to the Daily News’ offices.

You can read the entire email from Platt to the Daily News staff here. (via @dhm)



Video: Jimmy Rollins Talks Music, Entrepreneurship at Temple University

While a number of Phillies such as Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, and Dom Brown may be down in Clearwater a little early getting some work in — and let’s be honest, avoiding the Philly weather — Jimmy Rollins was still in town last week to receive a number of awards from Temple University for his work in the music industry. [video below]

From the Temple website:

After an interactive discussion with students about Jimmy Rollins Entertainment Group, which represents artists and publishes songs, Rollins received two platinum plaques for co-publishing Justin Bieber and Sean Kingston’s “Eenie Meenie” from Bieber’s hit album My World 2.0.

He also received an entrepreneurship award from Fox School Legal Studies Chair Samuel D. Hodge Jr., whose department organized the event at Alter Hall.

Jimmy also said that “99.9 percent of the awards I’ve ever received are because of baseball achievement or on the field,” which means he never won anything for having such sweet dance moves.

>>Fox recognizes Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins for entrepreneurial achievements [Temple.edu]




Shoulda Been Five in a Row: Sixers Beat Nuggets in Resounding Sunday Win

AP110130054015 An understandably frustrated Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers wrote after last Friday’s loss to the Grizzlies that there was a simple reason why the Sixers kept losing close games where they held big and/or late leads: They’re simply not that good a team. Hard to argue with, especially when the Sixers keep dropping such games every time they seem like they’ve evolved past doing so. But I’m still not sure that I agree with Levin’s conclusion. Because on nights like last night–where the Sixers get a decisive win against a solid team, where it seems like everyone in the Red, White and Blue is contributing–I gotta say, this looks an awful lot like a good team to me. [video highlights below]

And it’s happening more frequently than you might think. As much as a team blowing close games might be a sign of a bad team, I believe that simply always being in those close games is a sign of a good team. And really, when was the last time the Sixers weren’t in a game at the end? You have to go back to the loss to the Warriors on Dec. 28th, over a month ago, to find the last game the Sixers lost by double digits, and even then it was only an exceptional hot streak of three-point shooting that allowed Golden State to separate in the fourth. In every other one of those 16 games since, they were at least in it down to the wire–and in nine of those games, they’ve come out with the W.

 

In last night’s game against Denver as in most of those recent wins, it’s been a total team effort. (Well, maybe not total–it’s hard to go nine-for-nine with both Jodie Meeks and Spencer Hawes in the lineup, though neither of their stat lines were particularly gruesome.) Major contributors last night included Elton Brand (15 points on wildly efficient 6-7 shooting), Thaddeus Young (21 points on slightly less wildly efficient 10-12 shooting) and capping easily his best week of the season, the boy wonder Evan Turner (11 points, eight rebounds, six assists, zero turnovers).

The more I see Evan play, the more I think you just ignore his shooting percentage this season and focus on what it is he’s doing right–which, increasingly, is actually quite a bit. Over the last four games, Turner is averaging 10.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and only 0.8 turnovers, all in about 26 minutes a contest off the bench. A lot of that comes as a result of playing four fast-paced, defensively-deficient teams in a row, natch, but if that’s what it takes for Evan to put some numbers up and show off his skill set a little, we won’t qualify it too much. The one thing you didn’t like (SNOW) about the Villain’s game last night was his shot selection–a couple shimmies in the paint and jumpers on the move that are still out of his pro range–but he got enough easy buckets (putbacks, open J’s) to help make up for them. He’s still learning what he can and can’t do on this level, and hopefully he’ll put in work on the latter while emphasizing the former in-game.

He’s also been a big factor with his defensive versatility–against Denver, as Chauncey Billups was positively punishing Jrue Holiday with his size in the first quarter, Doug Collins brought Turner in to run the point in his stead, and the kid ET was able to body Billups up enough to slow him down, while keeping the offense flowing on the other end. When we drafted Evan with the #2 pick last year, his ability to fill multiple slots in a team’s lineup–a “Swiss Army Knife player,” Bill Simmons called him–was cited as one of his primary benefits, and as Collins continues to shuffle him successfully between the point, two-guard and small forward depending on the situation, I think we’re starting to see that come to fruition. All I wanted this year from Evan Turner after that horrific Summer League performance was for him to prove to me that he could be a legit contributor to a good team, and slowly but surely, he’s doing that in 2011.

But enough about Turner–the real story last night was Andre Iguodala. The man was an absolute beast on the court, draining some tough shots early on, but putting his imprint on the game in so many ways–diving for loose balls, kicking out to teammates in the half-court, and playing absolute lockdown defense on Nuggets superstar Carmelo Anthony, who was so blanketed by ‘Dre throughout that you wouldn’t even know he was in the game half the time. He ended the contest with a fine stat line indeed (24 points on 8-12 FG, 7 assists, 3 boards and 4 steals), but it was the improbably meek stat line of his All-Star competitor (12 points on 3-12 FG, 1 assist, 6 turnovers) that really demonstrated his impact. (ATTENTION WESTERN CONFERENCE CONTENDERS: ANDRE IGUODALA CAN HELP YOU WIN PLAYOFF GAMES, FOR REAL.)

Next up for Philly: A very winnable road game in New Jersey on Wednesday. It’s hard for me to shake my irritation over the boys going for their second win in a row instead of their sixth, had the Grizz game not gone down the way it did, but naive though it may be, I do believe that this team is good enough to eventually grow out of blowing games like that. And even if not, I’d rather watch a team that blows close games than one that’s never even in them in the first place.



AFC Outscores NFC 41-13 in Pro Bowl Second Half, Still Loses By 14

AP110130071522 “Not nearly as interesting as that score would indicate” reads the AP summary in reference to the final score of last night’s NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu, Hawaii. Indeed, a 55-41 final would, at a cursory glance, indicate some kind of high-octane shootout between two star-rife offenses (or at least a classic game of one-downsmanship between two very disinterested defenses). Rather, the Pro Bowl was decided by halfway through the second quarter, when Steven Jackson ran a pitch for 21 yards and a score, giving the NFC relatively decisive 42-0 lead. A furious AFC comeback in the second half was too little, too late as the NFC won for the third time in four years.

Most of the damage done by the NFC was done off AFC turnovers–namely, a combined five interceptions thrown by the Chargers’ Phillip Rivers, the Chiefs’ Matt Cassel and the Colts’ Peyton Manning. The Panthers’ Jon Beason returned one of those picks for six, and in addition to racking up one of the NFC’s takeaways, the Redskins’ DeAngelo Hall also returned a Wes Welker fumble for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Falcons’ Matt Ryan went 9-13 for 118 and two scores for the NFC, and the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson led the team in rushing with 80 yards and a first-quarter touchdown.

As far as the Eagles representing on Sunday, Mike Vick started the game under center for the NFC, putting up a relatively mediocre stat line by going 5-10 for 59 yards, no picks and no scores. (Surprisingly–or maybe not so surprisingly considering his less-limber-legged end to the season–Vick did not attempt a rush.) Kicking for the NFC in his fifth Pro Bowl selection, David Akers went 7 for 7 (HAH) in extra point attempts, and two for three in field goals, with a long of 41. Jason Peters, DeSean Jackson and Asante Samuel were all selected to play but opted out with injuries of varying credibility.

Can’t say I actually watched the thing, personally–I love All-Star Games in general, but the Pro Bowl lacks anything even vaguely resembling urgency, and I didn’t tune into this one until it was already 35-zip. Anyone actually tune in to this monstrosity?

ESPN: Pro Bowl Recap



Flyers at the All-Star Game: Weekend Roundup

Three key members of the Flyers organ-eye-zation were in Raleigh for the All-Star festivities over the weekend, a nice cross-sampling of their veteran talent, budding future, and the leader that has found a way to get everyone on track. Although the All-Star Game isn’t the most exciting show on ice, both Danny Briere and Claude Giroux got to enjoy having the spotlight on their all-world skills, and Peter Laviolette was able to return to the city that he’d led to its first ever Stanley Cup only to be fired less than three full seasons later. 

Whether you care about what happens in the circus-score All-Star Game or not, it’s still pretty gratifying to know that our guys represented well, with Briere and Giroux combining for 3 goals and an assist and Lavvy coaching the winning side. Danny Briere Philadelphia Flyers All Star Game
Storylines and videos after the jump. 

NHL.com has a nice piece on Lavvy’s return to Carolina, where, by virtue of the team selection system, he would actually coach one of his current players (Briere) against three of his former players and one of his current guys (Giroux). Meanwhile, along with Briere, Laviolette’s side featured three of the guys he coached against in last year’s Finals. For a guy who doesn’t seem to need much in the way of spotlight, it’s good to see him get the recognition he deserves while bringing his family back to Raleigh under some great circumstances. [NHL.com

CSN’s Sarah Baicker took the Lavvy storyline up a notch with a great piece as well. Must-read. This guy is impossible not to manlove. [CSNPhilly]

When the sides were selected, Briere was the first of the Flyers taken, heading to Team Lidstrom in the sixth round. Thought Patrick Kane really gave him a respectful intro here:  

  

Briere was nearly named the All-Star Game MVP for the second time in his career, scoring a pair of goals.

 Not a great day to be a goalie. Congrats, you’re one of the best in the biz. Please allow us to showcase the offensive talents of the league in a game mostly free from much actual defending. Yeah go stand over there. 

Here’s Danny’s other project from pottery class:

We’ve seen it all season… Danny can’t be let anywhere near the net alone. Even in the relaxed defensive setting, it’s fun to see him do it among some of the best in the league. He also had a sweet goal on Carey Price in one of the skills competition events. Thanks to MrFlyerGuy for posting these, btw. 

And finally, a clipshow of the Flyers’ All-Star action, including the nifty work of Giroux:

Before the weekend started, we asked the question of which former Flyer still playing in the league you’d most like to have back on the current team. Patrick Sharp was the favorite choice, and he showed why on Sunday night, earning the ASG MVP honors. With the Flyers sitting in first place and poised for a great run, it’s a little easier to just raise a glass to the one that got away and feel good for the guy. Congrats, Sharp. 

Lavvy’s team would win, 11-10. 

Travis Hughes of BroadStreetHockey did some fine work in Raleigh this weekend, including this recap. [BroadStreetHockey]

Thoughts on the All-Star weekend? Should they keep the “captains pick” format? Any wholesale changes or tweaks?



Monday Morning Fly By: The Hurricane Saved Lives? Really?

Photo

More photos »

Bruce Bennett – Getty Images

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

  • Team Lidstrom won the All-Star Game: [Broad Street Hockey] [Frequent Flyers] [Philly Sports Daily] [CSNPhilly] [Inquirer]
  • Travis was in Carolina for the weekend’s festivities, so he had plenty to write about. Rather than link to everything, we’ll just give you a link to his archive, which includes videos and articles: [SBNation.com]
  • The always busy Stephen Whyno was also there, and he was nice enough to compile all of his stories in a single post. They’re all worth checking out: [Philly Sports Daily]
  • Carolina welcomed Peter Laviolette back nicely, probably thanks to that Stanley Cup he delivered: [NHL.com]
  • Probably the biggest news from the weekend will be largely overlooked, but Gary Bettman gave his State of the League Address, which talked a lot about concussions: [SBNation.com] [Frequent Flyers]
  • The Phantoms had a busy weekend, first losing to Charlotte 2-1. Recap: [PostStar.com] Postgame: [PostStar.com] Live Blog: [PostStar.com]
  • They then beat Syracuse on Saturday, 6-4. Michael Ryan added a hat trick. Recap: [PostStar.com] Notes: [PostStar.com]
  • Erik Gustafsson spent Sunday at the AHL All-Star Game, and had himself quite an impressive Skills Competition: [PostStar.com]
  • Speaking of Gustafsson, both Eric Wellwood and Matt Carle compared him to… Kimmo Timonen. Funny, I said that in July: [Philly Sports Daily]
  • Despite being relegated to the fourth line, Andrew Rowe is making a case to stay in the Phantoms’ lineup: [PostStar.com]
  • Now that Matt Walker is on the Phantoms, they have a problem with too many veterans. Tim McManus explains: [PostStar.com]
  • Jakub Kovar stopped 25 of 26 shots on Friday: [euroflyers]
  • He then stopped 29 of 30 in a 4-1 win on Sunday, earning player of the game honors. [euroflyers] He was 51 seconds away from his fifth shutout until Lukas Krajicek scored on the power play: [euroflyers]
  • Denis Bodrov added an assist in a team-high 21 minutes: [euroflyers]
  • The Verizon commercial where the Flyers grow playoff beards en route to going 82-0? Yeah, it’s here: [The700Level.com]
  • Despite a great start, Gabe thinks the Bruins are ready for a fall due to Tim Thomas‘ unreal save percentage. Fair point: [Behind The Net]
  • Some interesting results in an NHL player poll, including a question about the instigator rule: [Puck Daddy]
  • Lastly (yeah, I gave myself the “lastly” spot. Get over it.), the Flyers may be the best team in the NHL, and the LBH line has a lot to do with that. But the biggest reasons may be luck, depth, and health: [SB Nation Philly]





Claude Giroux helps Patrick Sharp win All-Star MVP, but Danny Briere wins bragging rights

Photo

Kevin C. Cox – Getty Images

RALEIGH — Saturday’s SuperSkills competition may have been a bit boring from a Flyers perspective, but tonight’s All-Star Game was anything but that. Danny Briere had two goals to boost Team Lidstrom to an 11-10 victory over Claude Giroux‘s Team Staal.

It wasn’t all bad for Giroux, though. He had a goal of his own and an assist on Patrick Sharp‘s lone goal, which helped the former Flyer and current Chicago Blackhawk win a new car and the MVP award. 

“I think I just wanted to go out there and play well,” Sharp said. “I was lucky to be playing with Claude Giroux making passes out there…”

It’s hard not to feel good for Sharp, who’s really come into his own in the last few years. Admittedly, though, I think we can all feel a little jealous and a little irritated that he’s not still here, able to build that chemistry with Giroux on a nightly basis.

Giroux’s presence here at the All-Star Game is something that could really help him down the line this season and beyond. He talked when he was selected to the team about how he didn’t really expect to make the team because there are so many great players, but his play tonight really did prove that he’s one of the best players in the world.

Danny Briere talked about that boost in confidence for Giroux, a guy who you wouldn’t think needs much of a confidence boost. 

“Hopefully he uses that to his advantage,” said Briere. “He’s one of the best players in the NHL. We all saw him there. He was confident, he made some plays, just like any of the top players. I hope it makes him realize that he belongs with the best players in the NHL.”

Meanwhile, Briere was in the MVP discussion for a while there. He had several chances to bury a hat trick goal but couldn’t pull the trigger, unfortunately. He definitely would have won if he potted three goals, and it would’ve been his second MVP award. 

More from Raleigh after the jump, including video of Briere’s post-game chat.

- Peter Laviolette’s never lost an All-Star Game. 3-0, he said.

- The ovation for Lavi before the game was incredible. 

- The Guardian Project is absolutely horrible and that’s the last time I’ll ever think about it. 

- Nicklas Lidstrom finished an All-Star Game with a plus-seven rating. Seriously.

Briere’s chat:





Week in Review 1/24 – 1/30

Tick tock, tick tock. I don’t know about the rest of you out there in Phillies Nation, but this clock of mine feels like it is getting slower and slower. Thanks to Twitter, I can find a daily countdown to when pitchers(the aces) and catchers(Chooch) report for Spring Training. We are at 15 days and counting to a season that could be, and should be, historic. I don’t need to tell you why.

Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay found his name mentioned amongst some pretty good company this week. He crashed into the Bloomberg Businessweek’s “Power 100″ list for most powerful athletes. Previously unranked on the list last year, Halladay broke in at number 30. Player stats factored into voting as well as potential earnings, endorsements and other off the field factors. Ryan Howard was again on the list year at number 67. Good for Howard for making the list again, but it was a huge drop off from last year’s list where he was listed at number 14.

This is a great recognition for Halladay who had been playing in baseball boredom up in Toronto for so long. Nowadays it is hard to not know who he is. He pitches in one of the most sports-passionate cities, threw a perfect game, notched a postseason no-hitter and won the Cy Young award for last season’s best pitcher.

Cole Hamels took great strides this past season making adjustments to his pitching approach and we were all there to reap the benefits. Hamels looked calmer on the mound, less frustrated and was almost back to his 2008 form. PN’s Paul Boye took an in depth look, with an assist from Baseball Analytics, as to what changed. Also, Phillies Nation would like to congratulate Paul on accepting the position of Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Video Scout! Congrats Boy-e.

Phillies farmhands Domonic Brown and Jonathan Singleton made their way onto MLB.com’s Top 50 prospect list. Brown, who was called up last season is well known to Phillies fans and will be competing for the starting right field position come spring training, was ranked fourth on the list behind the Angel’s Mike Trout, the Ray’s Jeremy Hellickson, and the National’s wonder boy Bryce Harper. Singleton is a guy you should know. He hit 14 home runs last year in Single A-Lakewood and will see time in left field this upcoming season; he has played only first base in his career for the Phillies organization. He came in at number 30 on the list. Singleton will be very exciting to watch as he develops. In 104 games he had 77 RBIs and only committed four errors. Oh and he is only 19 years-old.

The Phillies have a lot of great prospects putting their time in down on the farm. PN’s resident minor league guy Jay Floyd has done an incredible job counting down these guys in his Prospect Nation Top 25. Don’t worry, he isn’t done yet. This week we met Domingo Santana, J.C. Ramirez, and Scott Mathieson. You will probably recognize Ramirez’s name; he was one of the players acquired by the Phillies from Seattle in the original Cliff Lee trade. If you missed any of the past rankings you can check them out at Prospect Nation.

Phillies prospect Moose Mattair is checking in again on his journey back to baseball. This week he talks about Miami, those first couple workouts and getting back to Clearwater. Check out all his progress in his third installment of Moose Tracks.

The Phillies’ front office seems to have some interest in the services of right handed journeyman Jason Grilli. Grilli has played for five different clubs in eight years after being the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft out of Seton Hall. Grilli is 18-18 for his career with a 4.74 ERA. At 34 years-old, the Phillies might hope he still has something left in the tank. If they do sign him, he would most likely head to Lehigh Valley and be a fill in if the bullpen runs into the injury bug. That is, of course, if the Phillies actually do sign him. For all of you that enjoy following athletes on twitter, Grilli regularly tweets and seems to be a real nice guy. You can follow him at Jason Grilli.

We started this week asking the readers what was the most surprising free agent signing of the offseason? Overwhelmingly, 70% of readers said the Phillies signing Cliff Lee back surprised them the most. With that said, I would like to end the week with another question. Your question. Do you have any burning questions you want answered by the Phillies Nation crew? Ask away and we might just pick one for our next Roundtable discussion.

Until then, good luck to all the Eagle’s playing in tonight’s NFL Pro Bowl.



Reboot: Sixers Try to Remember Game is 48 Minutes Long Against Nuggets

Iverson Nuggets I was watching the game against the Grizzlies on Friday with my parents when I confessed that something dangerous had happened: I had begun to care again about the final result of Sixers games again. Not because I think that they have a chance to move up in the playoff seeding (they don’t) and not because I’m worried about them slipping too far out (they won’t)–but just because I’ve started to like the team again, to like the way they play together and how hard they’re trying, and I genuinely want them to do well. I know, right?

I was brutally reminded on Friday why it’s still best to not get too emotionally invested in this team, as the Grizzlies came back from 16 down in the fourth quarter to beat Philly on their home court. But I’m hoping they can refrain from alienating my affections too much with a stronger performance tonight against the visiting Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets have been at the center of the most relentlessly-reported subplot of this NBA season–that of the Carmelo Anthony will-he-or-won’t-he trade speculation, as the Nugs superstar has refused to re-sign with Denver and is likely to opt out of the last year of his contract before next season, if he isn’t traded first. Despite the ensuing drama, however, the Nuggets have maintained a 28-18 record in the ultracompetitive West, good for the conference sixth seed. The saving grace for the Sixers today is that most of the Nugs’ winning is done at home–Denver’s record on the road is just 8-13 for the year.

6:00 tip from the Wells Fargo Center. And if Denver switches to a zone defense at some point during the game, somebody fake an on-court heart attack or something so the Sixers can buy a little time to adjust.



2011 NHL All-Star Game, Discussion Thread: Claude Giroux vs. Danny Briere

Claude.

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Harry How – Getty Images

Claude.

RALEIGH — So it’s supposed to be the big culmination to the weekend tonight here in North Carolina, but really, the All-Star Game isn’t what we look forward to this time of the year. We like Saturday’s Skills Competition — or “SuperSkills” — and the new All-Star Draft was pretty damn cool, but the Game?

It’s supposed to be different this year. The players are more into it, there’s a new format, and they actually wanna win this one because they picked the teams themselves. I’m worried that we’re just going to see more of the same. It’s still the All-Star Game. No defense, no goaltending and 47 goals scored. 

Anyway, there are three members of the Flyers here tonight, as we know. Peter Laviolette coaches Danny Briere on Team Lidstrom, while Claude Giroux is on the hometown Team Staal side. Who are you cheering for tonight?