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Nobody Wants Phillies Closer Jonathan Papelbon

The Detroit Tigers were in desperate need of just one thing: bullpen help.  Last year the Detroit Tigers showed they so desperate that were willing to give Jose Valverde the closer's job for a couple weeks rather than take Jonathan Papelbon off of the Phillies hands.  Instead, they opted for an early exit in the playoffs and unrealized dreams.  Yes, nobody wants Jonathan Papelbon.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted:

If Papelbon is "meeting expectations", then it must be about the money, right?

Earlier this offseason Jayson Stark said no, it's not about the money, when appearing on Atlantic City's 97.3 ESPN:

If Papelbon is really that big of a problem, did he get this way while a member of the Philadelphia Phillies?

Papelbon famously got suspended this past season for "adjusting" himself as he walked off the mound, and still denies it to this day.  But the issues are within the clubhouse, something that the average fan will not be able to see.   Howard Eskin of Fox 29 called Papelbon one of the "bad guys" in the clubhouse.   Had the Phillies done their homework (even using Google), they may have realized that not many teams were going too hard after someone that was considered part of the clubhouse issues that led to former Sox manager Terry Francona's outster and Papelbon finding a new team.

Back at Papelbon's signing in 2011, our pal Mike Frohwirth called the signing a "massive overpay".  While the money itself is not an issue, and Frohwirth's other concerns at the time (tying up money that could go to others) has not proven to be an issue, either, Papelbon is stuck with the Phillies for at least 2015.  Unless he gets hurt, he will likely be around in 2016, too, when a contract option vests.  

Papelbon recorded 39 saves with a 2.04 ERA in 2014 with only four blown saves.  With 106 saves with the Phillies, Papelbon will likely become the Phillies' all-time saves leader in 2015, needing just six saves to tie Jose Mesa for a spot in Phillies history.  Papelbon is an unlikely story of a pitcher performing extremely well in a time when pitching is scarce.  And yet, no one wants him.


What The Phillies Can Learn From The Josh Donaldson Trade, Red Sox Signings

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Photo: Wikipedia Commons

When Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane was on a conference call earlier this offseason, he said that third baseman and top offensive producer Josh Donaldson would not be traded.  Then Alex Anthopoulous called.  Soon the Toronto Blue Jays and the Oakland Athletics made a deal no one expected, sending Donaldson to Toronto and Brett Lawrie and three prospects to the Oakland Athletics.  

 

The Boston Red Sox entered the season with an outfield full: Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley, Jr, Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Daniel Nava.  Yet, that did not preclude the Red Sox from adding another outfielder into the mix in converted shortstop Hanley Ramirez.   Will Middlebrooks, a promising young third baseman who had a bad year in 2014 was replaced by free agent Pablo Sandoval.

There are plenty of lessons the Phillies can learn from these deals.

1. Nobody is Untouchable

When is the last time the Phillies traded a position player who was still performing when the team was NOT looking to rebuild to keep a steady stream of talent coming into the organization?   Josh Donaldson at age 28 was still in his prime, and the Athletics got back a 24 year-old third baseman and three prospects.   The Athletics sacrificed some offense at third base, but will look to make it up in other areas.

The Phillies seem to get particularly attached to their players in their prime and feel they have to keep them forever.  This is nothing new to the 2008 core; the 1993 Phillies were hanging around on the books through 1998, when Lenny Dykstra's contract finally ended.  The Athletics still have a shot to compete in 2015, and have plenty of assets for upcoming years to tap into.

Additionally, the Phillies should be on the hunt for players such as Donaldson in pursuit of a rebuild.  The Toronto Blue Jays are getting four years of control of Donaldson before he is a free agent.  Would a rebuilding team such as the Phillies benefit from a 28 year-old with a 7.4 WAR?  Absolutely.

2. Just Because Someone Plays a Position Does Not Mean You Cannot Upgrade

The Phillies tend to get locked into the idea that they cannot upgrade a position if they already have someone who plays it.  The right question to ask in any given situation is not, "What positions are vacant?" but rather, "What position can I upgrade?"  

Should the Red Sox have said, "We have Will Middlebrooks; there is no need for another third baseman?" and passed on Pablo Sandoval?  Should the Red Sox have been satisfied with the defensive-but-offensively-challenged Jackie Bradley, Jr. and oft-injured Shane Victorino instead of signing Hanley Ramirez and Rusney Castillo?

Should the Toronto Blue Jays have been satisified with Brett Lawrie and skipped getting Josh Donaldson?  I think that question answers itself.  The Phillies' roster is full of places to upgrade.

Cody Asche put forth a 0.6 WAR in his first full season.  Domonic Brown put together an embarrassing .634 and -1.4 WAR season.   Ben Revere had a high batting average, but just a .686 OPS and 0.6 WAR.  Do these three players have to be guaranteed positions for next year?  If the Phillies have an bility to upgrade positions, they should.

3. Aquire Talent First, Work Out the Rest Later

The Boston Red Sox only can carry four bench players.  One of them has to be the backup catcher, and the American League benches are one fewer than the National League with the designated hitter, so the Red Sox have four spots to backup the infield and outfield.  Daniel Nava surely will be a corner infield and outfield backup.  The Red Sox need a second backup who can play shortstop and second base.  So, from the list above and rookie Mookie Betts, multiple players need to go.

Who will go? I am not sure that the Red Sox know yet.  The Sox have some potential trade pieces in Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes to acquire pitching or prospects for later.  The Sox took advantage of some free agent availability and has now given them extra assets.  They will be able to move them, and they will be able to fill other holes later.  They have all offseason to decide; because the Red Sox acquired extra talent first, there are more teams out there that need it.

4. When You Have Money, Rebuilding Is Not a Dirty Word

The Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2013 and began rebuilding in 2014.  Having money on your side makes it much easier.   The Red Sox were able to add an international free agent in Rusney Castillo, who only cost the Red Sox money.   While the Red Sox traded Jon Lester, they got pieces back in return.  Guess who they are pursuing now, who only costs money?  Jon Lester.

If the Phillies did it right, they could trade Cole Hamels and sign an ace next season.  If the Phillies got the right players back, they could sign David Price as a free agent.  They could sign Jordan Zimmermann as a free agent.  Both would be just 30 years old.  Rick Porcello is a tick below them and will be a free agent at age 27.   So, instead of just having an ace pitcher, they could have an ace pitcher and three building blocks.

 

We are a week away from the beginning of the winter meetings.  The Phillies still have pieces to deal, if they so choose.  They had their run and it ended in 2012.  Hopefully, they have learned some lessons to keep the team competitive in future seasons.  They have the cash.


This Week in Flyers History: Week ending November 30

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With the Flyers coming off a disappointing defeat in the first round of the playoffs that summer, the Flyers were looking to get back to their winning ways. The bar was set pretty high in the 1988-89 season as they looked to get back to their pursuit of Lord Stanley’s’ Cup once again.

Out was fiery coach Mike Keenan as GM Bob Clarke replaced him with Paul Holmgren. After a quick 5-1 start, the team started struggling to win. A 3-10-1 clip over 14 November games simply wasn’t acceptable and a trade was made that shook up the locker room. Centerman Peter Zezel, popular among the players and fans - especially those female fans - was dealt to St. Louis for centerman Mike Bullard.

Continue reading "This Week in Flyers History: Week ending November 30" »


MCW, KJ shine, but Sixers lose again

The record may not indicate it, but the last time Philadelphia and Dallas met up on the court was abnormal to most of the Sixers’ games this season. The embarrassing loss is an outlier to what has been a season of competitive games. Quite often, the Sixers would enter the fourth quarter with a chance to win with a manageable deficit.  

Saturday night’s game at the Wells Fargo Center was much more similar to the rest of the season than the previous contest in “Big D”. The Sixers actually had a lead in the game’s final 15 minutes. The turning point, ironically, was when the Sixers called a timeout with the lead and the Mavericks sprinted out to a 25-13 run to secure what would have been an awfully embarrassing loss.

Some fans get caught up in the losing streak, but there are positives to take from the game. Michael Carter-Williams became the first Sixer in nearly 20 years to put up a stat line of 15+ points, 15+ assists and 10+ rebounds. The second-year player had by far his best game of the season, recording the triple double with 18 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds.

K.J. McDaniels also had a tremendous game, again coming off the bench. The rookie added 21 points to a team missing its leading scorer, Tony Wroten. McDaniels managed to achieve a +3 while on the court, and scored 21 points in 32 minutes—more minutes than anyone except Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel.

Dallas rested superstar Dirk Nowitzki, anticipating an easy victory to wrap up a 3 games in 4 days stretch, with Thanksgiving being the only off day. Six Mavs reached double figures to lead a balanced attack. Tyson Chandler was a force for them inside against the Sixers’ inexperienced front court, leading the Mavericks with 20 points. He also thrived late in the game trying to tip missed shots out to his guards.

The trio of Carter-Williams, McDaniels and Noel nearly matched the Mavericks’ 40 team rebounds. Philadelphia didn’t struggle in one category offensively, other than turnovers. They turned the ball over 24 times, twice as much as Dallas.

The search for victory number one continues Monday night, also at home. They will host the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.  The loss on Saturday set a record for most losses to open the season as a franchise.

"I'm fine and I don't want those guys worrying about any record," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said, via the A.P. "We just have to keep our group together and move them along. I have so much respect for that group because their spirit has not been broken."


Game Recap: Different Day, Same Results as Flyers Face Rangers

It was a new day with old results for the Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.

It all looked too familiar early on, with Claude Giroux picking up a double-minor for high-sticking just one minute into the game.

A few failed clears by the penalty killing unit lead to great puck movement by the Rangers, and eventually a puck in the back of the net off of the stick of Derrick Brassard to give New York the early 1-0 lead.

The Flyers killed off the second half of the double minor, but couldn’t change the momentum as they were still being severely outplayed at even strength.

After a good zone entry by the Flyers top line, Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek found Nicklas Grossman who sniped a wrist shot above Henrik Lundqvist’s blocker and off the bar to tie the game at 1.

That was Grossmann’s second goal of the year after scoring just 2 goals in his previous 182 games (4 seasons).

The Flyers were again called for high-sticking late in the period, this time Grossmann picked up the 2 minute minor.

The Flyers were definitely outplayed at even strength in the first period, only accounting for one-third of the total shot attempts in the period.

They managed to kill off Grossmann’s penalty and then received a power play of their own early in the second period.

After an ugly first minute of the power play, Wayne Simmonds and Mark Streit combined to keep the puck in the zone before Giroux made a great pass to Schenn, who made an even better pass to Voracek who deposited it in the back of the net to give the Flyers the 2-1 lead.

That lead was short-lived however, as Jesper Fast ripped one past Ray Emery to tie the game less than 3 minutes later.

That was all the scoring for the second period, despite some great chances for the Rangers. Emery really stood on his head during the majority of the latter stages of the period.

After picking up 10 shot attempts at even strength in the first and allowing 20, the Flyers followed that up with just 8 shot attempts in the second while allowing 20 again. This put them at just a 31% corsi for through 2 periods.

After 2 periods the 4th line had played less than 5 minutes, allowing a goal against in that short timeframe.

The Flyers top two lines lead the way possession-wise through 2 periods, along with Luke Schenn and Michael Del Zotto on the blue line.

The optimism for the Flyers evaporated quickly as Brassard finished a 3-on-2 to make it a 3-2 game after a wide shot by Giroux lead the Rangers the other way.

The Flyers couldn’t capitalize on a few chances in the next few minutes, and J.T. Miller skated around Mark Streit and the net to score a wraparound goal on Emery with just over 10 minutes to go in the game.

Now down two, the Flyers played the final 10 minutes of the game in a dejected manner despite some offensive zone time.

They eventually gave up an empty netter with Emery pulled to end the game with a final score of 5 to 2.

Puck Possession:

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The Flyers top two lines played well as usual, but the 4th line left something to be desired. It would be nice to see Couturier and Read get a different linemate to see if that can change things up and drop Umberger to the 4th line.

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Tough game for Streit and Grossmann, even with his goal. Luke Schenn proved today why he deserves to be in the lineup.

5v5 Corsi Chart (via HockeyStats.ca)

Chart (2)

 

The Flyers will now hit the west coast for a few games starting Tuesday in San Jose.

Ryan Gilbert is a contribtuting writer for Flyedelphia and can be found on Twitter @RiskyBryzness.


For Phillies' Ruben Amaro, Jr., Passing On Yasmany Tomas Is The Bigger Risk

The Phillies went from "strong contenders" to land free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas to perhaps not even making Tomas an offer.   After floating out the story that the Tomas' defense was a concern, the Phillies were not even among four teams who made Tomas an offer.  While Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the Phillies were "not disappointed" that they did not sign Tomas, the greater disappoint could come if the Phillies were wrong on Tomas.

The Phillies  officially declared that the team was rebuilding, first by interim President Pat Gillick, and second by Amaro.    But, what would the rebuild entail?  Well, for one, they could trade their players for prospects.  However, the market is not really such that prospects are being traded.  With most executives overvaluing prospects, only Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane seems to be cashing in on this overvalue thus far.   If you cannot rebuild, through trades for prospects, what is left?  International free agents.

If indeed the Phillies were concerned with Tomas' defense, then why were Tomas' suitors all National League teams?    The defense was not a concern for the Atlanta Braves, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Arizona Diamondbacks, who ultimately came to an agreement with Tomas.  By not making an offer, Amaro is really putting himself on the line.  While there are good arguments to the contrary, including this one from Corinne Landrey of CrashburnAlley.com trusting the international scouts, what if they get it wrong?

The Phillies would have no trouble coming up with the $68.5 million that Tomas reportedly will receive over six seasons.  Unlike other rebuilding options, such as trading ace starting pitcher Cole Hamels, all this young player would cost the Phillies is money.  Since a rebuilding team no longer needs to spend near $16 million on an A.J. Burnett or a $8 million on a Marlon Byrd-type player the next couple years, there is plenty of money for Tomas.  

If Tomas signed and was a bust, all he would cost them is money.  If the Phillies trade Cole Hamels and only get back another Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and Juan Carlos Ramirez, the effects would be far, far worse.   If Tomas was able to give them what Marlon Byrd was able to give the Phillies in 2014, they would have come out far ahead, someone to pencil into the lineup the next several years with some power from the right side.

If the Arizona Diamondbacks get All-Star output from Tomas the next several years, the Phillies and their fans will only be able to watch and weep.   Amaro will not be able to withstand the criticism if the rebuild goes south, particularly if he passes up the rare opportunity for an international free agent.   The Phillies will not be able to buy their way out of this with older free agents and the risk of trading Hamels is that much worse.  The Phillies should have given Tomas a shot; they had nothing to lose but all to gain.  Amaro's job could depend on it.

 


Future Flyers Report: Akeson Waived in Frustrating Week for Philadelphia Hockey

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NHL:

Scott Laughton continues to play well for the Philadelphia Flyers as his line was the lone bright spot in Friday’s loss. He is still seeking his first NHL point.

The Flyers wished Jason Akeson a happy Thanksgiving by placing him on waivers. He cleared on Friday and was sent to Lehigh Valley in time for Friday’s game for the Phantoms.

AHL:

Injury News: Rob Zepp tweaked something prior to Wednesday’s game, a scheduled start for him. Luckily, he will only be out a week or so with a lower body injury. Anthony Stolarz started that game between the pipes and Lehigh Valley called up Martin Ouellette from Reading after the game.

The game on Thanksgiving Eve for the Phantoms left something to be desired. The Phantoms fell into a 1-0 hole after the first period and a 3-0 hole after two periods. They climbed back with two goals in the 3rd period but could not tie the game as they fell 3-2 to the Springfield Falcons. It was a rare home loss for the Phantoms. 

Making the spot start, Stolarz stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced in the loss.

With Jason Akeson in tow, the Phantoms and Albany Devils faced off in Atlantic City last night. 

Stolarz once again started this game, but didn’t last long. Stolarz was pulled after allowing 3 goals on 14 shots in the first period. Martin Ouellette played the final two periods, allowing just 1 goal on 12 shots.

The Phantoms were held scoreless in the first period and trailed 3-0 at the first intermission. They received goals from Taylor Leier and Petr Straka in the 2nd period to make a game of it as they went into the second intermission down just one goal.

Unfortunately that was all she wrote for the Phantoms as the Devils iced the game with a goal late in the 3rd period.

The Phantoms will be back in action tonight at the PPL Center as they host the Norfolk Admirals. 

ECHL:

The Royals also lost their Thanksgiving Eve game in a back and forth matchup, though they did pick up a point as they lost in a shootout. They were back in action Friday night as they beat the Greenville Road Warriors by a resounding 5 to 2. They will face the Road Warriors again tonight as they seek the two-game sweep.

 


Game 23 Preview: Flyers Seek Revenge vs. Rangers

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The Philadelphia Flyers (8-11-3) will head to Madison Square Garden to seek revenge on the New York Rangers (10-8-4) after being shutout in back-to-back games in just over a week.

The scoreboard read 3-0, but the game felt much worse as the Flyers were completely outworked and outplayed by the Rangers yesterday.

Don't be surprised to see a new-look lineup for today's game, we'll keep you updated on any changes.

The only real bright spot for the Flyers yesterday was their 2nd line of Michael RafflScott Laughton and Wayne Simmonds who dominated possession despite mediocre zone starts.

Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare and Vincent Lecavalier each played less than 7 minutes at even strength, the lowest on the team and were severely outplayed

The Rangers are lead by a resurgent Rick Nash, who scored a shorthanded goal assisted by Ryan McDonagh who returned from injury in time for Friday's matinee. Martin St. Louis also netted a goal and an assist, picking up his 1000th point in the process. Young center Derek Stepan picked up assists on all 3 goals in the 3-0, 26 save shutout for Cam Talbot.

This will be the 3rd meeting between the two teams, but just the first time with Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (9th, 21.2%), Rangers (21st, 16.4%) 
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (28th, 73.7%), Rangers (16th, 81.1%) 
  • Corsi For: Flyers (25th, 47.7%), Rangers (19th, 49.9%)
  • This is the third of four meetings between these two teams, with the Flyers yet to score a goal in 2-0 and 3-0 shutout losses.

Flyers scratches: Chris VandeVelde, Carlo Colaiacovo, Luke Schenn

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1: Brayden Schenn-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Line 2: Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Wayne Simmonds
Line 3: R.J. Umberger-Sean Couturier-Matt Read
Line 4: Zac Rinaldo-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Vincent Lecavlier

D-Pair 1: Nick Grossmann-Mark Streit
D-Pair 2: Braydon Coburn-Andrew MacDonald
D-Pair 3: Michael Del Zotto-Nick Schultz

Goalie: Ray Emery

Where to Watch:

TV: CSN-Philadelphia 

Listen : 97.5 The Fanatic


Morning After: Flyers running out of answers

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The result on Friday matched the result last Wednesday. A shutout loss to the Rangers featured a lifeless and uninterested Flyers team.

This is not the same team that was rolling entering a five-day break on Nov. 8. This Flyers team, 1-6-1 in their last eight games is not a playoff team.

And teams that are not worthy of the playoffs in Philadelphia get booed for efforts like the pitiful performance they displayed on Friday.

There was a general lack of answers following another loss, but one common theme. The fans response was deserved.

Continue reading "Morning After: Flyers running out of answers" »