The Phillies have begun making organizational cuts that were well-expected. After losing a reported $100 million or so in the pandemic-affected 2020, the Phillies employees have widely been reported to have been offered buyouts and layoffs. Some cuts to the Phillies scouting staff came out on Friday and they include some prominent Phillies names.
By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor
There are multiple directions the Sixers can go on draft night with their first-round pick. Multiple prospects have been linked to the Sixers with the 21st pick, but there is one in particular they should keep an eye on.
Cole Anthony has been a name that has floated up and down draft boards all year. Before the college basketball season, Anthony was looked at as a top-five pick in this upcoming draft. But injury and lack of talent around him has caused his stock to fall.
As his name continues to float around draft boards, Anthony is a name the Sixers should keep an eye on during the draft. There are some question marks to his game, but his talent and potential are worth taking a chance on.
The key part of Anthony’s game is his ability to put the ball in the basket. He is a strong three-level scorer who averaged 18.3 PPG in his sole season in college. Shot creation on the perimeter is an area that Anthony could come in on day one and provide.
Along with what he can bring to an offense, Anthony can also hold his own at the other side of the ball. At six foot three and 190 pounds he could be looked at as slightly undersized, but that didn’t stop him from grabbing close to six rebounds a game at UNC. Anthony also averaged a little over a steal per game.
Shot choice is something that has caused Anthony’s stock to fall, but on the Sixers, he wouldn’t be forced to shoot at the volume that he did in college. If drafted to the Sixers, Anthony could be a microwave scorer for the second unit.
Although at his best on the ball, Anthony can play off the ball as well. He could be an option to come off screens or be a spot-up shooter from three, where he shot 34.8% on 6.2 attempts at UNC.
The biggest risk of taking Anthony is how durable he can be. Last December Anthony suffered a partial tear in his right meniscus that required surgery.
Anthony’s ability to score the ball is something the Sixers need off the bench. With Alec Burks likely moving on in free agency, the Sixers will need to find a new sixth man.
Drafting Anthony is a gamble that could pay off greatly for the Sixers. If he can show flashes of the prolific high-school prospect that he was, the Sixers could have a premier guard for the long term. Worst case scenario he can be a multi-tool scorer for the Sixers’ second unit.
Recent mock drafts have had the Sixers selecting Anthony with the 21st pick. It will be fascinating to see if the team looks to take a gamble on Anthony’s potential or play it safe on draft night.
By Siobhan Nolan, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
In an offseason filled with desperate scrambles to overhaul our bullpen, addressing some underwhelming offensive stats, and deciding whose soul we have to sell to afford to keep J.T. Realmuto, one might not have given a good deal of thought to how the Phillies infield should look in 2021. It’s not the most pressing issue in the clubhouse, but it’s one that absolutely needs a considerable amount of attention.
The infield defense left a lot to be desired this past season. No real cohesion between the players in the diamond, allowing 25 extra hits within the 60 game season, and an elbow requiring surgery befalling first baseman Rhys Hoskins late in the season was a perfect maelstrom to render the Phillies infield mediocre at best.
So how do they fix the problem?
Simply put, the most important factor is where Joe Girardi positions his infielders. However, this task isn’t as easy as it may appear. A rather unfortunate series of events has complicated things—shortstop Didi Gregorious hasn’t yet agreed to another year on his contract, the possible retention of a designated hitter in the National League for the 2021 season could see Hoskins go from first baseman to DH, and the question of who should be the everyday second baseman has Girardi’s work cut out for him. So let’s break it down…
At first base, there are two viable options: Rhys Hoskins and Alec Bohm. Hoskins is expected to fully recover from his elbow injury in time for Opening Day next season, and while his defense normally sits at or just below the league’s average numbers, he showed later in the season that he still had the potential to be a dominant and reliable first baseman. Bohm is no slouch defensively, but he should get at least one more season at third to feel out whether or not that’s a position he could stick with through the latter half of his twenties. However, with the possibility of Hoskins becoming the Phillies full-time DH, Bohm might be moved to first base.
Then there's the second base conundrum. Girardi had Scott Kingery slated to be the everyday second baseman, but Kingery quickly proved that second base was no longer his strong suit like it had been in the minors. Failure to adequately cover both the middle and the area between first and second base left a gaping hole in the infield, and the legs that earned him the nickname “Scotty Jetpax” didn’t serve him like they were expected to. Jean Segura seemed much more comfortable at second (at least more so than he was at shortstop), making a fairly convincing argument as to why he should be the regular second baseman. The thing with Segura is that should Bohm switch corners from third to first, Kingery would most likely play second while Segura manned the hot corner. A position he’s capable of doing, but probably not the one he’d prefer.
Shortstop is probably the simplest—we either sign Didi Gregorious to another year or we bring in a new shortstop. Segura’s numbers at shortstop weren’t spectacular, and it’s clear that he prefers second base. Kingery, despite still being the resident utility man, isn’t best suited for a consistent stint at shortstop (defensively, he’s the best option for center field, but the Phillies outfield is an issue for another day.) Phil Gosselin, who is a respectable utility man in his own right, could do it if he had to, but it’s probably in Girardi’s best interest to bring in a career shortstop rather than using a player who doesn’t specialize in the position.
Third base is relatively clear cut as well. It’s either going to be Bohm or Segura, both of which are solid options. Bohm would be preferable, seeing as it gives him the opportunity to settle into the hot corner and make it his position, but if he’s needed at first base, Segura can absolutely cover third.
The infield puzzle is not a matter of life or death, but the Phillies can’t afford to have another disjointed defensive performance this upcoming season. Players need to know that they’ll play a position consistently in order to form a seamless connection between the infielders. A nearly decade-long playoff drought can only be ended when our defense is a smooth, well-oiled machine that can anticipate each other’s movements by the most subtle move of a muscle.
The disappointing reality is that defense wins you World Series titles, and this one couldn’t even take us to the postseason with an expanded playoff format. Need I say more?
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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles escaped Thursday Night Football with just their second win of the season, but make no mistake, it was the worst game they’ve played in four weeks.
The Eagles were coming off promising games against three of the league’s top teams with a win and two games that the Eagles managed to keep themselves in.
A defense that can only be held accountable for about 20 points per game against top offenses allowed 21 to the league’s worst offense. An offense that averaged 28 points against elite defenses barely scrapped together 22 against one of the worst.
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By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer
After a couple tough matchups with the top dogs of the NFC North, the Ravens and the Steelers, the Eagles got an early must win, divisional date with the New York Giants in week seven. The 1-4-1 Eagles and the 1-5 Giants are very much in reach of the first place 2-4 Cowboys. Who would have thought we would be talking must win games in week seven and chasing a 2-4 first place team in the NFC East. Only in Philadelphia and only in the NFC Least.
The first half was far closer than it should have been. The Eagles offense ran 44 plays to the Giants 20. The Eagles gained 222 total yards to the Giants 124 yards. While the Eagles also had just over 20 minutes of possession to the Giants just under ten minutes. An ill-advised Carson Wentz interception throwing in the end zone and a Jake Elliot missed field goal to end the first half, ultimately left us with a three point lead, 10-7, instead of a 6 or even 13 point lead that it could have been. As Joe Buck called it, “a woulda, coulda, shoulda first half for the Eagles”. Wentz decision making pushes him to a league leading tenth interception and continues to struggle with the concept of simply throwing the ball away. The defense looked great forcing and recovering a fumble, getting an interception and applying some great pressure on Daniel Jones.
The second half was largely a boring slug fest of three and outs, until Daniel Jones busted off an 80 yard run, before face planting close to the ten yard line tripping over his shoe laces. Ultimately leading to a Wayne Gallman touchdown and the Eagles going down 14-10 just over half way through the third. The third quarter ended with a beautiful Wentz to Fulgham connection, if anybody is still wondering about this connection and emergence, it’s real! Sadly the drive ended on a fourth down attempt to Hakeem Butler that was a clear pass interference against the Giants.
The Giants took advantage of the miss PI call and marched 97 yards in 15 plays and burning 7:50 to the end zone for a Sterling Shepherd touchdown. This leaving the Eagles with just under seven minutes to claw back an eleven point lead. Thanks to a 59 yard John Hightower catch, the Eagles were set-up for a red zone appearance that led to a Greg Ward touchdown. Richard Rodgers continued to step up and be a second half hero with a 30 yard connection from Wentz to get them deep into Giants territory for a typical Eagles heart attack comeback! And Boston Scott made the 18 yard touchdown grab on a dime from Carson Wentz! With 40 seconds to go the Giants had one final chance and in 2017 Super Bowl fashion, Brandon Graham with the strip sack recovered by Vinny Curry to secure the win.
One positive takeaway was the defense, for the most part. The major ouch play being the 80 yard Daniel Jones run that led to the touchdown. The front four were getting to Daniel Jones with pressure all night including some timely sacks by Derek Barnett and, yes I have double and triple checked the play, Nate Gerry. They were also able to force a fumble and Jalen Mills had an interception. One week after calling for Schwartz’s job, again, the Eagles defense stepped up and gave the offense countless opportunities. The defense helped to win the turnover battle, something critiqued week over week. The defense made timely stops, something critiqued week over week. Love Schwartz or hate him, he brought his defense out with the must win mentality and kept things afloat for much of the game. However, helping keep a sinking ship of an offense afloat can’t last all night, even against the Giants.
There are some issues within the defense, and no I am not going to rag about the linebackers, although they are an issue, we have beat that topic to death. Nickell Robey-Coleman has struggled in the slot and he continued to in this game allowing a couple catches and a costly pass interference on Engram that led to the Gallman touchdown. Evan Engram made Gerry, Parks, among others look bad in the middle of the field. The stat sheet only tells part of the tale for the defensive line, who may have struggled late against the run, but came up big in creating and sustaining pressure in Daniel Jones face all night, including of course the final strip sack by Brandon Graham to secure the win!
It really was a woulda, coulda, shoulda game for the Eagles offense throughout, and I don’t normally agree with Joe Buck, making the game far closer than it should have been. Yes the offensive line is still banged up, and struggled immensely with their sixth combination of linemen this year, an NFL record. Lane Johnson also left late again, personally I believe Johnson needs to get healthy and playing half games all year is not good. Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders were missing and boy could you tell Sanders was missing as the run game was stagnant for a second game this year without him. The Eagles were at their best pushing an uptempo offense, which they got away from late in the first half and continuing into the second half until of course we were behind and needed the points.
Offensive positives remain similar to the last three weeks. Travis Fulgham (5 receptions, 73 yards) remains the best receiver and a pleasant surprise in an otherwise tumultuous and overall frustrating season so far. He also drew a big pass interference on the final offensive drive for the Eagles. Greg Ward ended up a crucial part to the offense as well with 5 receptions for 42 yards and the only passing touchdown. And even without Ertz and Goedert, Richard Rodgers stepped up big time making six catches on eight targets for 85 yards. And of course Boston Scott despite the disappearing act for much of the game made the heroic touchdown grab with 40 seconds left to put the Eagles ahead. His catch largely being the only positive from his overall game.
In typical Eagles fashion, we were treated to a Thursday night heart attack special. This Eagles team continues to show it has no quit and is one of the most resilient teams in the NFL! We now lead the NFC Least, if only for a couple days, with a huge meeting with the Dallas Cowboys coming up next weekend.