The New Jersey announced the firing of head coach Pete DeBoer. Deboer had been the bench boss for the Devils since July of 2011. Lou Lamoriello annouced the firing on the 26th. No new coach will be hired until after the season.
The Phillies hope that when Spring Training breaks in just under two months, Ryan Howard will play for another team. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said as much a couple weeks ago on the Mike Missanelli show. Some have questioned why a team would devalue a player in such a manner. The reality is: there is no secret that the Phillies need to free first base for either Chase Utley or Maikel Franco, or whoever else in the team's quest to get younger. Howard's value is also equally clear. Thus, it is perfectly okay for the Phillies to be frank with Howard (and everyone else for that matter) about the team's plans.
Nick Cafardo wrote in his Sunday "Baseball Notes" for the Boston Globe":
At some point, the Phillies must come to the conclusion they have to release Howard and eat more than $60 million. GM Ruben Amaro is on record as saying the team is better off without Howard, even though he knocked in 95 runs last season. When will that point come? And will anyone take a shot if he is free? The answer, according to one GM, is yes; an American League team would use Howard as a DH.
Cafardo suggests that Howard makes some sense for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays would be a good fit for both Howard and for the Rays. No member of the Rays other than Evan Longoria can hit a home run. Howard has shown he can still exhibit some signs of power (though of course he is not what he once was) and his left-handed bat could slot behind Longoria in the Rays lineup. Howard's bottom half that has failed him since he ruptured his achillies in 2011, and serving as designated hitter could help keep up his productivity.
For Howard personally, the Rays are a good geographical fit. Howard's monstrous home is just 30 minutes from where the Rays play in St. Petersburg, meaning he can live in his home much of the year. Howard probably envisioned being a Phillie forever when he built the home in Bellaire Shore. The house has been under construction for years, but is just about ready to be Howard's primary home.
Has Howard's value been hurt by all this talk? Not really. If the Phillies are willing to eat $50 million of the $60 million like many have speculated, then teams know that they can get a player who is currently a designated hitter who might give them 20 home runs and 80 RBI, if not a little bit more. At $5 million a year, there is some value in that, particularly if your team is low-budget and has no other source of power.
Teams know who Ryan Howard is, and they know what their ideal acquisition will be. What likely will happen is that teams are going to pursue their plan A. Once plan A is off the market, Howard would be the among next line of players teams will consider. For teams like the Rays or even the Baltimore Orioles, who could use a left-handed designated hitter to go along with right-handed Delmon Young, that may be latter. If a team like the Orioles is hoping for Jonny Gomes and he signs with the Cubs, maybe they will turn their attention to Howard.
The deal could be complicated. The Phillies may take some money off of the other team's hands, too. Do you want Ubaldo Jimenez on the Phillies? The Orioles are regretting that deal. The Rays would love to unload Grant Balfour. The Phillies and whoever takes Ryan Howard will have to sort through all these issues. This will take time.
At the end of the day, even as Howard takes home bags of money, the Phillies will still have a World Series championship thanks to Howard's effort. That can never be taken away from them. Thus, out of respect for Howard, the Phillies have no problem being up front with his situation and that of the rebuilding Phillies.
December 26, 1992
On this day back in 1992, the Flyers skated to a 5-5 tie against the Washington Capitals. With 10 goals scored in the game, the game was anything but boring. In fact it holds some Flyers history.
With his penalty shot goal just 19 seconds left in the final period to tie the game, Eric Lindros became the first Flyer to record a hat trick and penalty shot goal in the same game.
Saturday night the Sixers traveled to Utah for a meeting with the 9-20 Jazz after suffering a defeat at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night by a score of 114-93. Saturday’s game, the second of a back-to-back and game number four on the Sixers seven-game holiday road trip, featured an exhausted Sixers squad matching up with an antsy Jazz unit who’s last game was Monday night when they came out victorious versus an excellent Memphis team. Although the Jazz were successful in Monday’s performance, they came into Saturday night’s meeting with the Sixers struggling to get the job done on their home court, posting a 1-8 record in their last 9 games in front of their hometown fans at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Sixers, on the other hand, have played extremely well when on the road so Saturday night provided the Sixers with a great opportunity to capture another road victory, but would the fatigue of the long road trip begin to kick into gear?
Both teams came out of the gates and couldn’t hit the ocean if they were standing on the beach. Seriously, it was that rough on the eyes. And unfortunately for viewing purposes the atrocious shooting continued throughout the night from both sides. The Sixers wound up scoring only 12 points in the first quarter of play and only had 32 points when they made a slower than usual walk to the locker room for halftime. As for the Jazz, they were a fared a bit better from the field but not by much and actually fell below the Sixers in shooting percentage at one point about midway through the third quarter. But, in their defense, they were playing well defensively, forcing the Sixers into making untimely mistakes resulting in easy points for the Jazz at the other end, eventually leading to their 44-32 halftime advantage over the dismantled Sixers.
Newfound hope was formed early in the third quarter as the Sixers began the period on a 15-2 run giving them their first lead of the night, 47-46. The Sixers mini comeback was highlighted by the play of Robert Covington, who has continued to impress people with his shooting performances night in and night out. Covington hit some huge shots that prompted the Sixers spurt and brought the momentum to the Philly bench for the time being. Shortly after, the Jazz regained the momentum and took a 59-55 lead into the fourth quarter of action.
Throughout the fourth quarter the Jazz took complete control over the game and the Sixers looked weaker and weaker with every second that ticked off the clock. The back-to-back definitely got the best of the Sixers tonight as their inabilities to produce offensively plagued Brett Brown and his squad. Utah seemed like they took too much time off for the holidays throughout the night, but managed to pull out a victory and get their win column into double digits as they find themselves victorious 88-71 over the Sixers.
The final team shooting stats are difficult to look at. The Jazz shot 35.7 percent from the floor and a brutal 17.4 percent from beyond the arc. Sadly, the Sixers were even worse, shooting only 32.4 percent from the floor and an atrocious 19.2 percent from three-point range. As for some individual statistics for the Sixers, Tony Wroten had yet another productive night off the bench, scoring 20 points on 8-17 shooting to go along with 6 rebounds. Robert Covington provide Brett Brown with a quality performance tonight as he finished with 17 points on 5-10 shooting, while also hauling in 9 rebounds. Michael Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel both had rough nights as they combined for 13 total points on 4-25 shooting, which is such a dreadful percentage that the number doesn’t even deserve to be typed, so let’s just leave it at that.
For the Jazz, they had a well-rounded night across the board with five players reaching double digits. Trey Burke and Derrick Favors led the team each scoring 17 points and young star Gordon Hayward had himself a productive night as he posted 15 points. The Jazz struggled mightily in this one but were able to manage a victory in the end. The Sixers will look to rebound in Golden State on Tuesday night at 10:30.
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The Flyers opened the second period with a chance to attack: a 5-on-3 for 58 seconds and two full minutes of power-play time. It went by the wayside.
Trailing 1-0 at the time, the game did eventually get knotted at one. But the lead was short-lived after a 5-on-3 for Nashville turned the tide for good in the Predators favor. Two goals in 38 seconds.
Facing a team that's weak link was power play, the Flyers were bested brutally. Once they were down, they were out as Peter Laviolette's defense put a tight clamp on the offensive zone.
A three-goal power play effort Saturday led to the Flyers losing 4-1 to Nashville, bringing their three-game winning streak to an end in the process.
The Sixers will get a chance to make up for last night's trifecta fest tonight against the Jazz. The Sixers D has been pretty good of late, but the Blazers couldn't miss if they tried last night proving to be too much. Hopefully tonight the Sixers should have an easier time playing against a much less established team in the Jazz. The Sixers are in quite an interesting place right now. The race for last place seems to be between the New York Knicks (the worst team money can buy) and our very own Sixers. The only problem seems to be is that the Sixers are able to keep games close for the most part, and that could lead to more wins than the Sixers ultimately want in the end. The defense has been better than average, which is something you never see out of a young team, especially one as young as this. According to NBA.com, the Sixers have allowed 102.7 points per 100 possessions which ranks them 11th in the league, up 16 spots from last year. That’s pretty impressive anyway you look at it. Maybe Brett Brown is working some Spurs magic that we don’t know about. Maybe the puzzle pieces are coming together. Who knows? Whatever it is though, the Sixers have a very real chance to get win number 5 tonight in Salt Lake City.
PG: Michael Carter-Williams
SG: Jakarr Sampson
SF: Robert Covington
PF: Luke Mbah a Moute
C: Nerlens Noel
PG: Trey Burke
SG: Rodney Hood
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Enes Kanter
Prediction: The game will be close, but the Sixers will have a strong fourth quarter and pull away in the end taking some momentum into Golden State.
The league-mandated three-day holiday break has come to an end, with the Flyers reaching the halfway point of their eight-game road swing on Saturday in Nashville -- taking on the Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Both teams will meet for the first of two games this season, with the second coming on Feb. 21 at Wells Fargo Center.
This isn't just any regular matchup between the Flyers and Preds. The Flyers will take on Peter Laviolette -- just the second coach in the team's 16-season history -- for the first time since his unceremonious dismissal on Oct. 7 of last year. You may remember Craig Berube as Laviolette's right-hand man during his tenure behind the Flyers' bench, and they will now face each other for the first time.
All bad things come in threes and proof of that came last night when the Blazers handed the Sixers their 24th loss by way of 18, count em, 18 three pointers with the final being 114-93. Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews spotted up beyond the arc whenever and whereever. The Blazers attempted a whopping 43 three pointers. The Sixers were down only 10 at the half, but the floodgates opened after that. MCW filled the stat sheet yet again with 17 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists. Tony Wroten chipped in off the bench with 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Wroten and MCW did what they usually do scoring points and filling up the stat sheet, but someone else who seems to be coming into his own a little is Nerlens Noel. He's had a solid past couple of games. He's neared a double-double in five of the last six games, with one being a double double and the other being a bad scoring performance. He continues to rebound and score as well as steal and block. He finished up last night with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. He still needs improve that shot of his nonethelsss. He missed what should be a sure bucket from about 4 feet out. His motion is a little belabored and a quicker release might bode well for him. Anyway, the Sixers will get a shot at a young Jazz team that is very beatable. We'll see if the Sixers can get back on track in Utah at 9 o clock tonight.
We all know what the picture above signifies. It was the play that ended the playoff run for the 102 win team. It was the injury that likely ended Ryan Howard's productive career. It was the moment that Jimmy Rollins knew it was all over.
After winning five straight NL East championships from 2007-11 and appearing in two World Series', the 2011 Phillies team was the squad everyone believed would bring another parade down Broad Street. That moment, that grounder off the bat of Ryan Howard, that is when Jimmy Rollins knew that the window of opportunity to win another championship with this group of players was over.
When did longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins realize that their window had closed?
"The last at-bat in the 2011 playoffs," Rollins said last week in an interview with CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. "I knew it the second — immediately — as soon as Ryan (Howard) grounded out. After that game, my parents where in town, I told my dad, 'It's over, that's it." [CSNPhilly.com]
That postseason came to an abrupt end and it has been the lasting memory of October baseball in the minds of Phillies fans for the last three seasons. Since then the Phillies have gone 81-81 and put together two consecutive 73 win seasons. Now commited to a rebuild, the Phillies have begun to move on from that era, parting ways first with Jimmy Rollins. Rollins reflected on the team's window of opportunity, knowing that it wasn't going to last forever.
"It's not a surprise to me, the direction that the team was going, it was just you do have a window, but what does that mean? A window can be 10 years, it can be 15, it can be two. For us, it was a five-year window where everybody was peaking and pushing each other and we had this camaraderie that you can't explain." [CSNPhilly.com]
Rollins has spoken with Jim Salisbury on numerous topics after his trade, most recently about how the Phillies missed the presence of Jayson Werth in 2011 and how he believes Cole Hamels will be a Phillie in 2015.
Brandon Apter is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com.