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Saturday Night Special: Flyers outlast Rangers, 4-2

16490755170_f22b906f6f_zPhoto Courtesy of Kate Frese

PHILADELPHIA -- Michael Del Zotto's eighth goal of the season early in the third period -- against the team that drafted him, nonetheless -- gave the Flyers a 4-2 win Saturday over the New York Rangers.

Del Zotto's shorthanded tally came from the left faceoff circle just over Cam Talbot's glove, off a feed across the slot from Sean Couturier. The Orange and Black now fall to 1-3 in the season series with the Rangers, and avoid their first season sweep since 2011-12.

Continue reading "Saturday Night Special: Flyers outlast Rangers, 4-2" »


Former Phillies Shortstop Jimmy Rollins: Mets "were number two choice"

Early this offseason, we learned that the New York Mets were interested in then-Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.  Early reports were that Rollins rejected a trade to the Mets.  But after arriving in camp with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Rollins' tune appears to have changed.

Rollins spoke to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick today and said something interesting: the Mets were his second choice:

"This was my No. 1 landing spot," Rollins said from Los Angeles' spring training camp, "and I considered the Mets to be No. 2. They have some arms over there -- oh my gosh.

"I'm not saying I would have gone there. It would have taken a lot. But when I was asked, 'Write down the places you would go if you don't have any (no-trade protection),' I had one team on my list and another where I would go if it didn't work out. Fortunately it worked out here (in Los Angeles). I'm very delighted with that."

Why talk about how much Rollins likes the Mets now?

The Mets need a shortstop.  Wilmer Flores is going to get the first opportunity for the 2015 Mets, but many feel he lacks the ability to be an every day shortstop.   Should Flores fail, they will be back on the market for a shortstop in 2016.  Who is going to be a free agent for the 2016?  Jimmy Rollins, of course.

The Dodgers do not appear to be looking long-term with Rollins; one of their top prospects is shortstop Corey Seager, who may be ready to take the job in 2016.  So, Rollins knows now that he will be looking for a job at the end of the season, when the Mets might be willing to upgrade from Flores.

If you think Rollins looks odd in Dodger blue, just wait and see if Rollins ends up with the Mets in 2016.  That may be more difficult to look at.  The player that declared the Phillies the "team to beat" over the Mets is projecting the 2016 Mets to be just that.


Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. 'Sincerely Doubts' Hamels Getting Traded

 

After being asked by Comcast SportsNet's Michael Barkann if he thinks he will ever utter the words 'we've just traded Cole Hamels', Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. replied, "I would sincerely doubt it."

Amaro Jr. followed by saying,

"I know there's a lot of speculation coming from a lot of different angles on that, but we've never been out there telling people we were going to be trading Cole Hamels. The only thing we've been telling people is basically the same thing we've been talking about since October: we're kind of open-minded on everything and keeping all of our possibilities alive.

In whatever way we can improve our ballclub not just for now, but for the future as well, we will look into it. I understand there's a lot of talk out there about it, but it's a part of the game."



Hamels, 31, is 108-83 with a 3.27 ERA in 275 games as a Phillie over nine seasons. He was the 17th pick overall in the 2002 amateur draft, and has finished in the top-eight of National League Cy Young Award voting in four seasons thus far in his career.

Many teams have been rumored to be interested in acquiring Hamels this offseason, such as the Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Cardinals and Rangers. The fact that the Phillies have not 'bitten' on an offer yet as a part of their rebuilding process shows that they truly value their lefty ace.

The San Diego, California-native has started in 13 postseason games for the Phillies over 2007 through 2011, and is most revered for his 2008 postseason outings. His contributions went a long way to him being named Most Value Player of the World Series, and in securing just the second championship in the franchise's history.

(H/t @JClarkCSN)

Matt Rappa (@mattrappa) is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com.


Game 63 Preview: Saturday Night's Main Event

 

15716013547_355258d554_zPhoto Courtesy of Kate Frese

For the first time since Nov. 29, the Flyers and New York Rangers will renew their rivalry in an 8 p.m. faceoff at Wells Fargo Center. Broad Street will meet Broadway for the fourth and final time this season, barring a rematch of last year's tense first-round playoff series.

Both teams previously met in a 10-day span between Nov. 19-29, with the Rangers winning all three games. The Rangers (38-16-6) outscored the Flyers by a 10-2 margin, with two shutouts along the way. A win tonight would give them their first season sweep of the Orange and Black since the 2011-12 season.

The Flyers, of course, will be playing their first game without Kimmo Timonen on the roster since April 8, 2007. Timonen was believed to be making his season debut for Saturday's game, but that speculation was brought to an end upon his trade to Chicago.

Steve Mason will start between the pipes for the first time since Feb. 8, following arthroscopic surgery on his knee. Mason's 1-1 against the Rangers this season, allowing five goals. He's played spectacularly in both games, but has been saddled by a lack of offensive support -- essentially, the story of his season.

Derek Stepan leads the Rangers in points against the Orange and Black this season, with five. Rick Nash also enters with 37 goals -- second-most in the league. Meanwhile, the Flyers will deploy Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn, who each have two points against the Rangers. With 64 points, Voracek is tied with Patrick Kane and division rival John Tavares for tops in the league.

The Rangers are likely to counter with Cam Talbot, who's been responsible for both shutouts against the Winged P. Talbot's saved all 57 pucks that the Flyers have shot at him, and has started 11 of the Rangers' 12 games following Henrik Lundqvist's throat injury -- going 8-1-2 in that span.

Additionally, the Rangers enter tonight's game with a four-game winning streak and 10-game points streak -- capped off by a 4-3 win over Arizona on Thursday -- a game they trailed 3-1 in the first period. The Flyers are looking to snap a two-game regulation losing streak that has seen them fall to six points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card playoff spot.

Game Notes

  • Power Play: Flyers (2nd, 2nd at home), Rangers (10th, 7th on road) 
  • Penalty Kill: Flyers (28th, 19th at home), Rangers (11th, 6th on road) 
  • The Flyers have four of their last six home games against the Rangers.
  • The Flyers could cut back to four points out of a playoff spot if Boston loses to the Coyotes on Saturday.

Flyers scratches: Luke Schenn, Vincent Lecavalier, Carlo Colaiacovo, Ray Emery

Flyers Projected Lineup

Line 1:  Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Wayne Simmonds
Line 2: Matt Read-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Line 3: Ryan White-Brayden Schenn-R.J. Umberger
Line 4: Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Zac Rinaldo

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

Goalie: Steve Mason

Where to Watch
TV: NBC
Radio: 97.5 The Fanatic 


Broadcaster Gregg Murphy Talks Phils on 97.5 The Fanatic

Murphy, with colleague Larry Andersen, at the 2014 Phillies Phestival. (Photo: Matt Rappa)

Saturday morning, Phillies' broadcaster Gregg Murphy joined 97.5 The Fanatics' Jon and Sean Show to talk about the current state of the team, how he likes being a part of the broadcast team, and when we can expect to see some games on television this Spring Training.


Murphy, in response to introduction from Jon and Sean: 

"The pitching looks like it could hold up. You look at that rotation and the back of the bullpen, it looks okay. But they have to score runs. That's the big question, and that's what we are all waiting to see whether they can do that."


97.5: "How do they look so far down there?"

Murphy: 

"Right now they are going through all of the fundamentals that every team is doing down in Spring Training. It's hard to get a feel for what we are going to see when they actually start swinging the bats for real and playing some games down here.

The attitude seems good. Ryan Howard obviously is one of the big questions in camp. We're all keeping an eye on him. He's moving well, which is a good sign. Certainly better than he did a year ago.

Until they're up against some live pitching, [using] their new small-ball approach that they've been talking about, it's really hard to tell."


97.5: "Give me somebody on the offensive side that might sneak up and have a pretty good season this year."

Murphy:

"I think Ryan is the one guy you certainty hope can do that because he's right up there in the middle of the lineup, and will probably be your "four hitter". You need him to do that.

Another guy is Dom Brown. We saw a slash of it, a month period where Dom Brown was the player everyone thought he can be. He certainly had a down year a year ago. So, if he can have a bounce-back year, in the middle of that lineup, that certainly would be good too.

I like Cody Asche. He's a guy that puts the work in and is really, really focused on having himself a good season. He had a decent season a year ago. Again, if he can step it up, and play a little bit better and come up in clutch situations, that would be good as well."


97.5: "Last year, there was a little bit of a negative thing going on in Spring Training. How about this year? Is this year really a fresh start? Are guys smiling, bouncing-around out there?"

Murphy:

"They really are. The attitude has been talked about a lot. ... I think there's something to that. When you're losing, and losing a lot, you're going to have tougher times in that clubhouse. That's what we saw a year ago. Whether or not, if they start losing this year, that it returns, that remains to be seen.

You talk to the guys now, especially some of these young guys, I do think they have a little bit more of a feeling that this clubhouse is theirs. That they have a say inside that clubhouse that maybe wasn't there a year ago. So, I think a lot of these young guys are excited about it.

I know Ryno has talked about giving them the room and saying, 'you know, this is your team. Take it where you want it to go.' Guys like Dom Brown, Cody Asche, and Freddy Galvis are I believe are talking that to heart. Hopefully it pays off. Hopefully you have a little bit more harmony in that clubhouse and hopefully they take that out on the field and it turns into some wins."


97.5: "Putting the 76ers to the side, and maybe if the Eagles don't land Mariota in this upcoming draft, I think one of the brightest spots we have in this city, right now, is Ken Giles. Tell us what you think will come about him this year. Do we have to worry about the 'sophomore slump?' Will he be the next close to take over for [Jonathan] Papelbon, whether he gets traded or finishes out his career with the Phillies in these next couple of years. Is Ken Giles this close coming up?"

Murphy: 

"I think there's no doubt about that. He is exciting to watch. He is a guy, you look at him and don't see any kind of holes in his game. He has a strong, metal side of things, which you need in the back-end of the bullpen. We all know he can throw gas, and he's fearless when he's out there on the mound. I think he's going to be a pretty special player for years to come.

He's going to have to wait his turn. He's going to have to wait for whatever happens with Jonathan, whether he finishes out the season here or gets moved. But, I certainly believe Ken Giles is the closer of the future. If that's the case, that's a pretty good guy for Phils fans to have at the back-end of the bullpen."


Murphy on how things have been so far being a Phillies broadcaster:

"I tell people all the time. I truly believe I have the best job in the world. I really, really do believe that. I've been a Phillies fan since I was six years old ... grew up listening to Harry and Whitey, and Andy and those guys, and now to be a part of that, really is kind of remarkable. I stop and pinch myself all the time.

The season is long, but I'm a huge baseball fan. I'm coming off of five months of being home with the kids and enjoying that. Now's the time to get back to work. They understand that. Can it be difficult sometimes? Sure it can. It's basically the life of a ballplayer without the money. But, that said, I wouldn't trade it for anything because it really is a lot of fun."


97.5: "When do you start broadcasting games?"

Murphy:

"Tomorrow [Sunday], the Phils have a scrimmage game against Tampa. Ben Davis and I will be calling that game, not for broadcast, but just to get a little work in. I'm going to do play-by-play, he's going to do color.

Starting on Tuesday, the full guys. Tom McCarthy, Matt Stairs and Ben [Davis] in the booth, along with myself, will be the first game down here in Clearwater at Bright House Field.

We will broadcast on Comcast SportsNet, or the Comcast Network, all 16 home games from Bright House Field. Basically, every other day starting on Tuesday, you will be able to see some baseball."


Matt Rappa (@mattrappa) is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com.


A fond farewell to Kimmo Timonen

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Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin/38Photography

It was a deal that worked in favor of both parties. The Flyers needed to unload a defenseman by Monday's trade deadline and stock up draft picks. Kimmo Timonen wanted one last shot to win.

He now has it as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers traded the 39-year old defenseman to Chicago for a 2015 second-round pick and a conditional fourth-round pick in 2016.

Netting two draft picks for a player who hasn't seen any game action all season is a huge win for Ron Hextall, whose Flyers sit six points out of a playoffs spot with a lot of questions to come in the next few weeks. And for Timonen, he gets the chance to end his career in the most satisfying way.

Continue reading "A fond farewell to Kimmo Timonen" »


Phillies Center Fielder Ben Revere 'Feeling Good' Heading into 2015 Season

 

With the first Grapefruit League game of 2015 set to get underway Tuesday with Jerome Williams starting on the mound, Phillies' outfielder Ben Revere is surely ready for the season ahead and improving his game even further.



On October 1, 2014, Revere had surgery to remove two screws from his right ankle. These screws were surgically placed shortly after Revere fractured his ankle on July 13, 2013, which caused him to miss the remainder of that season. He played 151 games last season with these screws, and experienced 'periodic soreness'.

"My [foot] feels great," Revere recently told CSNPhilly.com's John Clark. "One screw went to my main nerve in my leg, which caused so much pain. Luckily I didn't have too much nerve damage. Now, I can do my normal workouts. I have my leg strength back, so I feel good this year."

Revere went on to tell Clark that he is trying to get 'well-over 200' hits and around 50-to-60 stolen bases this season, but is ultimately tying to help the team win.

"Last year, the mechanics may not have been there because of pain I had in my ankle and leg. This year, already after a couple of days I feel great in BP. I feel like I am getting my old swing back. I can drive balls in gaps, turning those singles to doubles to triples."

With two seasons in the books as a Phillie, Revere has been perceived thus far as an unreliable outfielder in terms of his throwing strength. Revere has grit and determination to track down any ball hit to the outfield, however, and that is surely evident in his quote to WPVI's Jeff Skversky, saying that he would 'run through a wall to help this team win'.

When it comes to offensive production, Revere has also been negatively criticized for having seemingly zero capability to drive the ball and produce power numbers, as well as working the count to walk and start a potential rally. He has walked just 29 times in 962 plate appearances in red pinstripes.

One cannot ignore what Revere was able to accomplish last season, however. He tied with Nationals' outfielder Denard Span with the most hits in the National League, 184. Revere and Span were teammates in Minnesota from 2010 to 2012, and both were traded away in the same offseason.

Even with screws in, Revere was able to finally to hit his first career home run after 1,466 at-bats on May 27, 2014. 101 days later on the fifth of September, Revere hit his second, which brought home the tying runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game into extras.


YearAgeTmGPAABRH2B3BHRRBISBCSBBSOBAOBPSLGOPSTB
2010 22 MIN 13 30 28 1 5 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 5 .179 .233 .179 .412 5
2011 23 MIN 117 481 450 56 120 9 5 0 30 34 9 26 41 .267 .310 .309 .619 139
2012 24 MIN 124 553 511 70 150 13 6 0 32 40 9 29 54 .294 .333 .342 .675 175
2013 25 PHI 88 336 315 37 96 9 3 0 17 22 8 16 36 .305 .338 .352 .691 111
2014 26 PHI 151 626 601 71 184 13 7 2 28 49 8 13 49 .306 .325 .361 .686 217
5 Yrs 493 2026 1905 235 555 44 21 2 109 145 35 86 185 .291 .324 .340 .664 647
MIN (3 yrs) 254 1064 989 127 275 22 11 0 64 74 19 57 100 .278 .319 .323 .642 319
PHI (2 yrs) 239 962 916 108 280 22 10 2 45 71 16 29 85 .306 .329 .358 .688 328
 

Revere was acquired by the Phillies from the Twins on December 6, 2012 in exchange for starting pitcher Vance Worley and prized-prospect at the time, right-hander Trevor May.

Worley, 27, struggled in 2013, his first season removed from the Philadelphia Phillies' organization. In ten starts over just 48.2 innings, he went 1-5 with a 7.21 ERA. Minnesota went on to trade the Sacramento, California-native that offseason for cash, landing Worley in a more comfortable situation in Pittsburgh. There in 2014, he seemingly 180'd from the season prior, going 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA over 110.2 innings pitched.

While Worley was drafted in the third round of the 2008 amateur draft, Trevor May, the other pitcher involved in the Revere acquisition with the Twins, was drafted in the fourth round that same year. May, 25, was ranked as the Phillies' fifth best prospect by Baseball America for the 2011 season, and their best overall for the 2012 season. He struggled in his Major League debut with the Twins last Summer, lasting just two innings as he walked seven of the 15 total batters he faced en-route to a losing decision. Overall, May went 3-6 with a 7.88 ERA over 45.2 innings in 2014, which are nearly identical numbers to Worley's in his first year as a Twin. May is currently listed as the Twins' seventh starter on their 2015 depth chart.

This trade is perceived to be one of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr's best in terms of assets acquired and what was traded away.



In his second year of arbitration eligibility, Revere and the Phillies agreed this offseason to a one-year, $4.1 million contract. He made $1.95 million in 2014, and $515,000 the season prior.

Matt Rappa (@mattrappa) is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com.


Mariota, Free Agency Spending Spree, and Roseman to blame for 2014 Draft

Three interesting nuggets worth passing on regarding the Eagles.

1. The Birds Actually (Maybe) (Probably) Want Mariota

First, regarding the persistent rumors about the Eagles trading up for Marcus Mariota. It's that time of the year again when it is virtually impossible to tell fact from fiction. Reporters try to make a name for themselves, agents try to create leverage for their clients, and teams try to steal that leverage back. 

I wrote earlier this week that it was getting harder to ignore the persistent rumors. That becomes even more so when Peter King and Pat Kirwin release mock drafts that have the Eagles trading up for Mariota. These are two of the most respected journalists in the NFL we are talking about here. So when they both come out with the same conclusion, it is worth paying attention to.

Jimmy Kempski at the Philly Voice reached a similar conclusion when he tweeted the following:

He then followed that tweet up with the following article:

Every day, with little things I hear, evidence continues to build that the Eagles are going to make a strong play for Marcus Mariota. To note, this is something I had previously thought to be unrealistic, so as bits of information have trickled in, they've been absorbed on my end with skepticism. But it appears the Eagles are determined to get their guy. 

Look, I don't know if the Birds will #dothedeal. But it seems increasingly likely that they will try everything they can to get him, within reason.

2. Expect the Birds to be Big Players in Free Agency

In case you haven't noticed, the Eagles have several holes to fill on a good, young roster: cornerback, safety, inside linebacker, guard, and if you are part of the anti-Foles brigade, quarterback.

But if the Eagles are seriously considering a run at Mariota, they cannot rely on the draft to help fill those holes, since they will likely have to part with at least their first two round picks this year, plus future high draft picks to get it done.

Which means free agency is the only viable means for the Eagles to fill their needs.

I have been against using free agency as a primary mechanism for team building. There are countless examples of teams winning the free agency period and losing when it counts most.

But if it is done right, it can help a team get over the hump. Connor Barwin and Malcom Jenkins are classic examples of great free agent signings that have come up big for the Birds.

There is a growing sentiment that the Eagles are going to be big players in free agency and that part of that spending spree will include signing Byron Maxwell.

Tony Pauline is one of the better respected NFL Insiders, especially this time of year. So when he speaks, people often listen. Here is what he said about Maxwell to the Birds:

He followed that up with this: "Since my posting Friday on the belief the Philadelphia Eagles are the front-runners for Byron Maxwell, additional sources have told me they agree with the assessment and feel Maxwell will end up with the team."

Maxwell is, by all accounts, the top corner in this year's free agent class. And he would represent a significant upgrade over the Eagles current options. The only question is whether he will be worth the price he commands on the open market.

I wrote this about Maxwell in my breakdown of the cornerbacks available to the Eagles:

The question becomes whether Maxwell will be worth the price tag. He is going to have plenty of suitors this offseason, as he figures to be the best corner available (assuming Darrelle Revis resigns with the Patriots). The Ravens and Browns are two teams reportedly interested in Maxwell, and the list of suitors figures to grow. Apparently, Maxwell knows this, as he was recently told NFL.com that he was excited about testing free agency because "I'm the prettiest girl at the dance right now."

While he won't get Sherman or Revis money, it is safe to assume that he will receive something similar to Vonte Davis, Aqib Talib, and Jonathan Joseph, between $9 to $11 million per year over 5 years. That's a lot of money to throw at a guy who could not even win the starting job until last year.

Another option to keep an eye on is safety Rahim Moore of the Denver Broncos. He is only 24 years old, and is only being let go by the Broncos because of their cap situation. He is a versatile safety that played under new Eagles secondary coach Cory Undlin in Denver. So don't be surprised if the Eagles make a push to bring Moore in.

3. Spadaro Claims Roseman to Blame for 2014 Draft

In between the hot air being blown by Josh Innes and Howard Eskin, the Great Eagles Debate actually provided some useful nuggets of information from the most unlikely of places.

Dave Spadaro, the Eagles Insider who is practically contractually obligated to never criticize the Eagles, stated that the power structure shake up in the Eagles front office occurred because Roseman was in charge of the 2014 draft, including the decision to draft Marcus Smith in the first round.

Up until now, there was only speculation about who was calling the shots. But given Spadaro's connection to the Birds and proclivity to avoid speculation, this seems like the clearest indication to date of what went down last year.

And it lends clarity to a monumental offseason restructuring of the Eagles front office. If Roseman was indeed the one to blame for Smith, it is easier to understand why Lurie was not opposed to the idea of stripping Roseman of his player personnel duties, especially if it was in an effort to keep Chip Kelly on board.

But I wonder if the schism between Kelly and Roseman went beyond just drafting Smith in the first round. Another nugget from the Great Eagles Debate was that the Eagles were convinced Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix would be available when the Birds picked at 22. That did not happen, and the Birds were left without any of the players they wanted to target in the first round.

This is purely speculation on my part, but I would not be the least bit surprised if Kelly pushed for the Eagles to trade up to nab Clinton-Dix or another prospect, but Roseman wouldn't do it because trading up is against his M.O. Roseanne ascribes to the notion that more picks are better than less, even if those picks are in later rounds. It's all about spreading out the risk and giving yourself maximum opportunities to hit on a pick. 

So if the Eagles missed one of their targets because Roseman refused to move up, I could see how that played into Roseman's eventual ouster. Again, this is purely speculation on my part. But it is a reasonable conclusion given what we have heard about the 2014 draft and what we know about Roseman's approach to the draft.