We've been presented with the opportunity for an exclusive interview with a producer of HBO's 24/7 Flyers/Rangers: Road To The NHL Winter Classic, and we want you to have the opportunity to ask the questions.
It's a producer of the show we'll be chatting with, so the questions shouldn't necessarily revolve around hockey. But we'd like to take a behind the scenes look at how the show is produced, how the producers make the decisions on what to air, what it's like to be around a professional hockey team 24/7 for a solid month, etc.
What would you like to know from behind the scenes of the Emmy-award winning documentary series? Leave your questions in the comments and we'll select about 15 to 25 of them to be asked of one of the show's producers. We're sending 'em in tomorrow at the end of the day, so get yer thinkin' caps on.
The Carolina Hurricanes announced at 12 p.m. ET today that they have claimed Andreas Nodl off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers. Paul Holmgren said yesterday that placing Nodl on waivers was to "gauge interest" in him around the league.
Well, there's your interest.
The Flyers just lost a player for absolutely nothing, and it's kind of hard to understand why. Sure, Nodl hadn't been playing all that great or all that much lately, and a lot of that probably had to do with his role being overshadowed by guys like Harry Zolnierczyk, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo. And sure, they do pick up $845,000 in cap space with the claim.
In the long run, Nodl wasn't really a huge piece on this team. He was last year, when he played a huge defensive role alongside Mike Richards, but things have changed this year. Peter Laviolette is spreading around tough defensive minutes, thus marginalizing the need for a guy like Nodl.
He's not the difference between a Stanley Cup and a not-Stanley Cup. But he was still a piece on the team that had value, and that's why this is so strange. It's something the Flyers tend to do quite a bit, this whole minimizing the impact of their depth thing.
Consider the way the waiver system works. The lower you are in the NHL standings, the higher chance you have of picking up a player on waivers. It's based on the percentage of possible points you have, and the lower you are, the higher you are on the list. Only the Islanders, Anaheim and Columbus have a lower points percentage than the Hurricanes, which means Nodl didn't fall very far on the list.
This is why you don't "gauge interest" in a player by placing them on waivers. He very obviously could have been had via trade -- even if just for a pick or something -- if Holmgren and Co. just did his homework on this. If it's cap space you want, get a pick for him. Something is better than nothing.
Instead, he's gone for nothing, and a little piece of the Flyers' forward depth is gone with it. It's not an Earth shattering tragedy or anything, especially because Nodl is a good dude who can play but just fell out of favor here, and hopefully he'll get a great chance in Carolina. But it's still one of those moves that makes you scratch your head.
Scott Mathieson has been released by the Phillies. Here is the statement made by the team:
The Phillies have released right-hander Scott Mathieson to allow him to pursue an opportunity with a professional team in Asia, the club announced today.
Mathieson, 27, posted a 1-4 record with a 6.75 ERA in 15 major league games (8 starts) over three seasons with the Phillies (2006, 2010-11). A seventeenth round selection by the Phillies in the June 2002 draft, Mathieson went 32-37 with a 3.75 ERA and 34 saves in 200 games (96 starts) for his minor league career.
With the transaction, the Phillies now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.
We’ve become so accustomed to the Phillies shipping off their young players to obtain high-priced stars that this is sort of eye-opening.
But, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, the Phillies made a call to the Blue Jays to discuss ways they could bring back catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud. As you recall, d’Arnuad was part of the package that made Roy Halladay a Phillie prior to the 2010 season. He’s highly rated, but he’s also blocked in Toronto by J.P. Arencibia.
The 22-year-old batted .311/.371/.542 with 21 homers and a .914 OPS over 466 plate appearances in Double-A this past year. There’s no doubt it would take a lot to get such a sound catching prospect, so it’s doubtful this happens. As Elliot says, “good luck.”
What does this say about the maturation of Sebastian Valle? He’s the top catching prospect in the Phillies farm system at this point and many look to him to take over for Carlos Ruiz in the next few seasons.
Either way, it would seemingly take quite a bounty for the Phillies to retrieve what was once theirs. Ruben Amaro Jr. must be sensing that a Ruiz breakdown is imminent, however unfortunate that is. It’s just the truth behind the plate.
I know this is relatively old news at this point, but in case you missed it, it’s pretty juicy. We normally wouldn’t link to Deadspin.com, but the tabloid website did an exposé of agent Dan Lozano, who represents Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins, among many others.
Deadspin calls him “King of Sleaze Mountain” because of his ridiculous antics as an agent. The 44-year old Lozano left one of the top sports agencies in the world, Beverly Hills Sports Council, to be on his own.
If you haven’t read the article, it’s quite eye-opening and some of the quotes and pictures are not suitable for work. But, it sheds some light on what being an agent is like for some – booze, girls, drugs, and of course, money. Once J-Roll gets paid, and Pujols as well, Lozano is going to make some serious bank himself.
This is also old news, but something stood out to me today about the MVP/Cy Young voting. In Jon Heyman’s SI.com article, he notes that he put Roy Halladay seventh in his MVP voting, yet left Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw completely out of the Top 10. I’m not positive if Heyman had a vote for Cy Young, but regardless of that fact it’s odd that Halladay finished ahead of the guy everyone believes to be the best pitcher in the NL for 2011; Kershaw.
Heyman says “I give greater weight to a player’s value in a pennant race, which is why I have [Matt] Kemp only third and Clayton Kershaw not at all.”
What I fail to understand is – and this goes for all that voted Halladay ahead of Kershaw on the MVP ballot, but not the Cy Young ballot – what does the pennant race have to do with the pitcher? Just because the team around him is better doesn’t mean the pitcher or hitter is more valuable. It means the team is more valuable, and that guy just happens to play there. Kershaw could do nothing more than win the Triple Crown of pitching, and even that wasn’t enough to save the Dodgers season. Even if he had thrown no-hitters every time he took the mound, the Dodgers probably wouldn’t have been a playoff team.
So, this argument of a pennant race being involved makes no sense to me.
We continue on with our player reviews. Today, we look at the bench parts of the Phillies roster from 2011.
Michael Martinez – Martinez came into the 2011 season as a 28 year-old who had yet to reach the majors and was one of the few players in minor league history to ever post a .000 ISO (SLG-AVG) when he did so in 2006. Despite the red flags, specifically positing a .223/.313/.298 triple-slash as a 27 year-old in Double A in 2009 or the aforementioned 2006 season where he hit a tremendous .172 in Single A, the Phillies took a chance on Martinez in the Rule 5 draft.
As part of the Rule 5 draft, the Phillies had to keep Martinez on their roster the entire season or offer him back to his original team, the Nationals. Martinez’s defensive reputation kept him on the Phils for the entire season; according to UZR/150, Martinez excelled in limited playing time at 2B and SS but was horribly underwhelming in the outfield. Martinez didn’t walk a lot (7.7%) and put up a triple slash of .196/.258/.282. Why the Phils kept Martinez on the roster the entire season, I will never be sure, particularly considering they had Pete Orr, a stronger, faster, and comparable defender in the system.
Martinez did outfield Wilson Valdez position for position in 2011 but both Orr and Valdez are faster, stronger, and have better bats than Martinez. With the acquisition of Wigginton from Colorado, Martinez will likely start 2012 in Lehigh Valley.
Wilson Valdez – Wilson Valdez quite literally defined “replacement player” in 2011 for the Phillies. If you wondered what league average was in 2011 in the NL, Valdez’s .249/.294/.341 triple slash with 3 steals and 1 HR gave him exactly 0 WAR. Valdez was well under league average defensively at 2B and 3B but put up above average (11.2) UZR/150 at short. Valdez memorably became a jack of all trades for the Phils on May 25 by retiring the heart of the Reds line-up without surrendering a hit in the 19th inning of a win. Wilson became an admirable back-up for the Phils in 2010 by outplaying Juan Castro for the utility role. Valdez wasn’t as good in 2011 and is arbitration eligible for the first time this off-season. Valdez is a likely non-tender candidate with the acquisition of Wigginton. The call on Valdez will likely come once a decision at short is made.
Ben Francisco – The hidden gem in the first Cliff Lee trade had a torrid spring training, showing then-and-since unseen power and earning outright the starting gig in RF. Ben Fran had a nice April and joined Dannys Baez and Valdez as unlikely heroes in the May 25 match-up against the Reds by hitting a HR. But that dinger would be Francisco’s last in the regular season, posting a .244/.340/.364 triple-slash and showing little of the smart base-running that he possessed in the minors and in the first few years of his career. Francisco did increase his walk rates by nearly 3% better than his career average and reduced his strike-out rates by nearly 3% as well but he was relegated to 4th, most times 5th, outfielder by July.
Francisco enters 2012 in his second arbitration eligible year and earned $1.18 million last season. The emergence of Mayberry combined with the signing of Wigginton and the inexplicable inclusion of John Bowker on the 40-man roster points to Francisco being a non-tender candidate. Ben is a favorite of Charlie Manuel, however, so if a reasonable contract can be had, he may stay. Francisco ended the season with a timely 3-run shot against the Cardinals that helped the Phils put the Cards away in Game 3 of the NLDS. For this, I, and reader Andrew From Waldorff, thank Ben Francisco.
Brian Schneider – Brian Schneider only played in 41 games in 2011, exactly 5 less than Pete Orr and 26 more than Dane Sardinha. Schneider posted a career-low triple-slash of .176/.246/.256 with only two homeruns. Strangely/coincidently, the Phillies went 27-8 in games Schneider started. Schneider worked primarily with Vance Worley in 2011 and appeared to have good chemistry with the Vanimal. 2011 was a disappointing year for Schneider but he will have a chance to redeem himself on a team friendly deal in 2012.
Ross Gload – Admirable and frustrating. Those are the two words I would use to describe Ross Gload’s 2011 campaign with the Phils. Gload once again led the Majors in pinch hits but was unable to generate much power due to lingering hip issues. His .257/.276/.327 triple-slash in mostly pinch-hitting roles is admirable considering his injuries but with these reviews, players are reviewed in a vacuum. His inability to play even first base well (-19 UZR/150), his 2.5% BB rate and uncharacteristically high 19.5% (12.3% career) K rate made Gload a liability for most of the year while the Phillies inexplicably kept him active.
Pete Orr – Orr was probably the most surprising member of the 2011 Opening Day roster but was able to fill in when needed. Orr played as a league average defender at 2B and 3B for the Phils and showcased some serious wheels and a strong arm. A.219/.279/.250 triple-slash is a little easier to stomach than Martinez’s and is actually only slightly below replacement level for a NL 2B. Orr turns 33 next season and is likely to start the season in Lehigh Valley after signing a new minor league deal with the Phils this offseason.
Dane Sardinha – The Other Hawaiian once again made an appearance for the Phils in 2011 posting an amazing 10 walks in only 43 plate appearances. Sardinha hit .219 with only one extra base hit but did end the year with a .419 OBP. Sardinha is a puzzling player: he doesn’t pass the eye test defensively and in house options, Erik Kratz and even Tuffy Gosewich seem to be better hitters, yet the Phils use Sardinha as the emergency catcher. As far as emergency catchers go, Sardinha once again did an OK job in 2011.
John Bowker – John Bowker was acquired from Pittsburgh before the trade deadline and was supposed to be a nice left-handed bat off of the bench headed down the stretch and into the playoffs. Bowker finished the year 0 for 13, striking out at an astonishing 53.85% clip, and playing poor defense. He also very nearly decapitated Chase Utley on a fly to shallow right. Bowker has yet to be designated for assignment and remains on the 40-man roster in one of the bigger mysteries of the 2011 Phillies off-season.
Grade: -5/10. Not quite as bad as Baez, but striking out in over half your plate appearances while going hitless is a pretty bad year.
Erik Kratz – Kratz memorably was called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates as a 30 year-old rookie during the 2010 Triple A All-Star Game at Coca Cola Park and put up a terrific season in Triple A in 2011 for the Iron Pigs. Kratz hit .288/.372/.466 with 15 HRs in an impressive year and earned a September call-up. In 6 plate appearances with the Phils, Kratz went 2-6 with a double and a strikeout. Kratz didn’t look lost in 10 innings behind the plate with the Phils and played well. Another sentimental pick, Kratz’s grade reflects an unlikely return to the Majors via a terrific year in Triple A and a nice job filling in as the third catcher in September.
Brandon Moss – Moss was once a heralded prospect in the Red Sox organization, traded to the Pirates for Jason Bay in 2008. After a few years of trying to put it together in the Majors, the now-28-year-old Moss looks more like a AAAA player who struggles with striking out to a large degree. Moss’s terrific 2011 campaign in Lehigh Valley featured 23 HRs and a .275/.368/.509 line but also featured a 25.1% K rate. Moss’s play earned him a September call-up where he went 0-6 with 2 Ks.
Grade: 1.5/10, not quite as bad as Bowker and gets credit for his strong year in Lehigh Valley.
Today's open discussion thread, complete with your daily dose of Philadelphia Flyers-related news and notes...
- Tim McManus shared a video of the Phantoms lip syncing to "We Built This City", but Wyshynski wrote a post about it: [Puck Daddy]
- Wondering how the Flyers will deal without Chris Pronger: [CSNPhilly]
- A blurb in the Edmonton Journal reported that, on top of shopping him last season, the Flyers tried to trade James van Riemsdyk to Minnesota for Josh Harding a few years back: [Philly Sports Daily]
- Future Flyers weekly report, starring Tom Sestito, Brayden Schenn, and Shane Harper: [Flyers Faithful]
- The Rangers unveiled their Winter Classic jerseys: [SBNation.com] [icethetics] [NHL.com]
- Max Pacioretty was suspended three games for his hit on Kris Letang, but the video explanation is definitely worth watching for anyone who thinks hitting is going to be taken out of the game: [SBNation.com] [Puck Daddy]
- Dale Hunter was hired to replace Bruce Boudreau in Washington: [SBNation.com] Is that a smart move? [SBNation.com]
- Kirk Muller was hired to replace Paul Maurice in Carolina: [SBNation.com] [Puck Daddy]
- Using the CSN Philly broadcast to explain why special teams play should not be judged merely on results: [Driving Play]
- Who will be this year's Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche - teams that go from atop the standings to missing the playoffs - based on numerical warning signs: [Backhand Shelf]
- Off-topic, but the afterword to a post explaining how the Phillies never ripped off Ed Wade is not only worth reading, it is worth memorizing: [The Good Phight]
If you missed it the other night, HBO ran a 15-minute preview of their upcoming series Flyers/Rangers 24/7: Road To The NHL Winter Classic, and in that preview, Jody Shelley said of former teammate Brandon Dubinsky:
"Brandon Dubinsky plays like a little weasel. I don't know. He's a guy you like to get at."
You can see it at the six minute mark of the video above. It was awesome, and it almost justifies Shelley's ridiculously out-of-whack salary. Almost. Of course, the entire point is just to get under Dubinsky's skin, and that's exactly what happened today when Dubinsky was asked about Shelley's comments. Via the New York Daily News:
"First of all, if I was him, I'd keep my mouth shut if I don't play, especially since I never see him on the ice," Dubinsky said of Shelley, who has played in only 10 of Philadelphia's 23 games this season. "He's usually just yapping from the bench, and I guess now he's yapping from behind the video camera. So that's about all I have to say."
But that was not all Dubinsky had to say.
"Jody Shelley - it won't be long before he's out of the league, because he's a terrible hockey player," he said.
So what if Dubinsky is 100 percent correct in his assessment? We're probably harder on Shelley around these parts than anybody else that follows the Flyers, but that Dubinsky is letting Shelley's very obvious attempts to get under his skin... you know, actually get under his skin? Well, that's just perfect.
The Rangers unveiled their Winter Classic jersey today. What do you think? Full story with more pictures here.