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Galvis homers, Eflin debuts, but Phillies dismantled by Pirates

 

The Phillies got another look at one of their top pitching prospects this afternoon, but shaky outings from Kevin Slowey, Justin De Fratus and Sean O'Sullivan led to an embarassing blow out in favor of the Pirates, 18-4. The Phillies have been outscored 50-11 in their last six games this spring, posting a record of 0-5-1.

Zach Eflin, ranked as the Phillies number four prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, took the mound for his first big league spring training today and did pretty well. He did give up four runs in three innings, but just one of them was earned. He struck out two and walked one. Meanwhile, Kevin Slowey took over for Eflin in the fourth and got hit around. In his two innings of work, he gave up six runs on six hits, surrendering two homers in the process. Slowey was a dark horse for the Phillies fifth starter spot, but today's outing likely eliminates him from contention. Justin De Fratus only lasted a third of an inning, giving up two runs. Jake Diekman rebounded from a rough outing his last time out, tossing 1 2/3 shutout innings and striking out three. Sean O'Sullivan, a possible option for the fifth starter as well, had no luck this afternoon, getting tagged for six runs on four hits in his one inning on the mound.

Down 10-0 in the fifth, Freddy Galvis broke through for the Phillies with a two-run home run, his first of the spring, to make it 10-2. Cord Phelps knocked in Cesar Hernandez from second with an RBI-triple in the eighth, making it a 12-3 game. Darin Ruf followed with an RBI-groundout to score Phelps to cut the lead to eight. 

Josh Harrison got the Pirates on the board in the first with a solo home run, his second of the spring. In the third, an error by Cody Asche at third allowed the Pirates to capitalize as they score three unearned runs against Zach Eflin. Gregory Polanco drove in their second run with an RBI-single while Starling Marte blasted a two-run homer to left to make it a 4-0 game. Pittsburgh teed off on Kevin Slowey, tagging him for eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. Leading 10-2 in the fifth, the Pirates tacked on two more thanks to a two-run homer off the bat of Pedro Florimon, making it a 12-2 game. The Pirates added insult to injury in the eighth, scoring six runs off of Sean O'Sullivan to take this game by a convincing score of 18-4.

Cody Asche returned to the lineup for the first time since experiencing some back stiffness that has kept him out since Wednesday. He went 1-for-2, but committed a costly error in the third that led to three Pirates runs. On the day, he had two fielding errors at the hot corner, so not a great tune up defensively for the Phillies starting third baseman. Fellow infielder Freddy Galvis had himself a nice day offensively, going 2-for-3 with a home run, a run scored and two RBI's. Ryan Howard went 0-for-2 at the plate, lowering his spring average to .183. Cord Phelps and Rene Garcia both had two hits on the day.

The Pirates were led by Pedro Alvarez, who went 2-for-4 with six RBI's and three runs scored. Top prospect Gregory Polanco went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI's. Josh Harrison went 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored and an RBI for the Pirates. Their projected closer, Mark Melancon, tossed a scoreless inning, striking out two. 

 Up Next: Tomorrow at 1:05pm, the Phillies head to Dunedin for another matchup with the Blue Jays. Probable fifth starter Sean O'Sullivan will get the start looking to rebound from a rough inning today while the Jays will counter with the Phillies


Eagles extend DeMeco Ryans through 2016

DeMeco Ryans will remain a part of the Eagles linebacker core, even after the addition of Kiko Alonso and new contracts for Brandon Graham and Connor Barwin.

Ryans and the Eagles have agreed to a restructured contract extension that keep the veteran linebacker with the team through the 2016 season.

Continue reading "Eagles extend DeMeco Ryans through 2016" »


Sixers seek revenge vs Lakers

Sixers lakers

The Sixers will be seeking revenge when they hit the floor tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers, who defeated the Sixers, 101-87, at the Staples Center about a week ago. In that game, the Lakers held the Sixers to a dismal 36 percent from the floor which was their best defensive performance since December of 2013. Offensively, they were led by Jeremy Lin, who contributed a season-high 29 points in the winning effort. As for the Sixers, they have hit a cold spell yet again as they have lost four of their last five since winning two straight from March 18th-20th. Although this game features two of the NBA’s worst four teams, viewers will get to see two quality rookie products, Nerlens Noel of the Sixers and Jordan Clarkson of the Lakers.

The Sixers currently hold the third worst record in the league at 18-56, while the Lakers hold the fourth worst record in the league at 19-53. Now, the Sixers would receive the Lakers first round pick in this year’s draft, which is protected 1-5, if the Lakers finish with a record outside of the bottom five. But with only about 10 games remaining on the schedule, it seems unlikely that their first round pick will be playing in a Sixers uniform next season. This isn’t the worst scenario though, because the Sixers will then have an opportunity to receive the Lakers first round pick in next seasons draft which is 1-3 protected. So as long as the Lakers finish with a record outside of the bottom three next season, there will be a lottery pick coming to Philadelphia in the near future. So, that should explain the draft scenarios and why Philadelphia fans should be perfectly content with a Lakers win tonight, because although it’s unlikely, there’s still a slight chance the Sixers could get this year’s pick from Los Angeles.

At the beginning of the season, everyone thought Julius Randle would be the Lakers standout rookie player and a potential candidate for rookie of the year. But with an early season injury forcing him to sit the rest of the year, second round pick Jordan Clarkson has made headlines and has turned heads around the league. Clarkson, originally drafted by Washington at number 46 overall, was traded to the Lakers and has averaged 14.5 points per game since being inserted into the Lakers starting lineup on January 23rd and has averaged 20.5 points per game over his last four appearances. This kid can play and he’ll be a problem for the Sixers defense tonight if they let him fly free.

You can’t sit here and say the Sixers star this year hasn’t been Nelens Noel. This dude is a double-double machine and has averaged 16.5 points per game to go along with 12.5 rebounds per game over the course of the Sixers past four games. He has carried this team through the toughest of times throughout the duration of this season and has become a leader in the locker room. Everyone said he had no offensive game coming out of the draft, but hey, I think Brett Brown will take 16.5 a night from his rookie center. His offensive game has gradually improved and now we are beginning to see the results, leading us fans to believe Sam Hinkie hit the jack-pot with this pick.

Game Notes:

  • The league's third-worst record will have a 15.6 percent chance at earning the top pick at the NBA draft lottery, while the fourth-worst record will have an 11.9 percent chance. Keep that in mind.
  • The Lakers are 1-33 when allowing the opposition shoots 47 percent or better.
  • The Sixers shot just 8 of 15 (53.3 percent) from the line yesterday versus Cleveland. That was the difference in the 87-86 loss. They’re also shooting a league-low, 67.2 percent, form the charity stripe.
  • The Lakers out rebounded the Sixers 52-39 and had six players grab at least five boards in their last matchup.
  • The Sixers have lost their last two games against the Lakers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Injury Report:

Sixers

Jason Richardson (rest) is expected to play in the second game of a back-to-back set for the Sixers. Joel Embiid (foot) and Tony Wroten (knee) are out indefinitely.

Lakers

Jeremy Lin (upper respiratory infection), who had a season-high 29 points against the Sixers in the first meeting, missed Sunday’s game and is day to day. Carlos Boozer (rest) hasn’t played in the Lakers’ last four games. Kobe Bryant (shoulder), Nick Young (knee) and Julius Randle (leg) are out indefinitely.

Projected Starters:

Sixers

PG- Ish Smith

SG- JaKarr Sampson

SF- Robert Covington

PF- Jerami Grant

C- Nerlens Noel

Lakers

PG- Jeremy Lin

SG- Jordan Clarkson

SF- Wesley Johnson

PF- Ryan Kelly

C- Tarik Black

Game Prediction: Sixers fans should want the Lakers to win this game just so they move that much closer to getting out of the bottom five, although it’s nearly impossible at this point of the season. Sixers will fight in this one but I believe the Lakers will get their third consecutive win at the Wells Fargo Center, 100-96.

 

 

 

 

 


Darin Ruf could start in Triple-A; Is Sizemore a lock to make the Phillies?

 

Phillies fans seem to have one of two points of view when it comes to Darin Ruf. One side believes that if given every day playing time, he has the chance to really become staple in the lineup that doesn't provide too much power much anymore. The other set of fans look at Ruf's stats over the years and assume that they won't improve even with every day playing time. If the Phillies want to give Ruf every day playing time, it looks like that chance will be in Triple-A.

Last week, I wrote a piece about this being the last chance for the Phillies to decide Ruf's role in the organization, and as we can see here, he may go yet another season without getting a chance to play every day.

With Ryne Sandberg having announced Ben Revere as the starting left fielder, the only spot on the team left for Ruf would be right field. Even then, when Domonic Brown returns, Ruf's playing time would reduce significantly, because for whatever reason, the Phillies will give Brown every chance to earn a spot on the team, but not Ruf. It's clear that until Ryan Howard is traded, Ruf's natural position of first base isn't really an option for him to obtain regular playing time. Should Ruf be given a chance in right to win the job from Brown? Defensively, Darin may have less speed, but Brown has shown time after time that he lacks the ability to track balls well and make a big play, while Ruf has been chomping at the bit to gain more and more experience in the outfield. Unfortunately, the Phillies didn't like what they saw from Ruf in right over 29 games, so him overtaking Brown or anyone else for that matter seems very unlikely. Ruben Amaro tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Ruf is still fighting for a spot, though it doesn't seem like one that will get him in the lineup every day.

Darin Ruf is not a candidate for the rightfield job. Team officials closed that door after he played 29 games there in 2013. If Ruf sees outfield time, it will be in left field.

“I think he’s still battling for a job right now,” Amaro said of Ruf. “I see him as a right-handed bat off the bench, play some first base, maybe a little outfield. It’s up to Ryno (Sandberg) and his performance. First base is (Ruf’s) best position. He’ll get time there. Guys like Ryan (Howard) and Chase (Utley), we’re going to have to give them time off.”

Offensively, Ruf has shown potential to hit for some great power, but again, he hasn't been given the chance to show it regularly. In three seasons for the Phillies, spanning 137 games, Ruf is slashing .251/.339/.402. He's hit 20 home runs, has 48 RBI's and has walked 43 times while striking out 135. He got the most playing time filling in for Ryan Howard and platooning in left back in 2013. He launched 14 home runs and drove in 30 runs, hitting .247. 

In 2012, Ruf hit 38 home runs with Reading, driving in 104 runs. Sure, injuries have played a part in his development, but he should have been given every opportunity in 2013 when the team had no chance of contending. Whether it had been in the outfield or for Ryan Howard, who was struggling at the time, it would have been smart to get him in there as much as possible. I feel like any other team would have done that if a guy was putting up those kind of numbers in the minor leagues.

Meanwhile, Domonic Brown has been living off of May 2013, the month of his career where he carried the Phillies offense on his back. He hit 12 homers that month. Since then? Well, a large regression happened. In 2013, Brown hit .272 with 27 home runs and 83 RBI's. Last season, he hit just .235 with 10 homers and 63 RBI's, striking out 91 times and holding an OBP of just .285. In five seasons, spanning 430 games, compared to Ruf's 137, Brown is slashing .248/.308/.412.

Though Ruf's sample size is smaller, the slugging and on-base numbers are in his advantage. Not only that, but Ruf has been very clear in saying that he is willing to take on any role to help the team, while Brown hasn't really been very vocal about where he feels comfortable at all. Ruf got less than a 30-game tryout in right, so I mean, do you lose anything giving him another chance two seasons later?

Beyond Ben Revere and Odubel Herrera, the Phillies outfield is an unknown. Sure, Ruf is in the mix, but who else makes the team? Brian Bogusevic? He's had a hot spring. Jeff Francoeur? He would provide a defensive advantage. Russ Canzler? He's right behind Bogusevic and Herrera in hitting this spring, sitting in 6th place. Jordan Danks? He's likely to make the team because he can play all three outfield spots. One name we haven't heard much of is Grady Sizemore. He's played in 14 games this spring, but is hitting just .147. Average aside, Ruben Amaro tells Meghan Montemurro of DEOnline that he's a lock at this point.

One position player who appears to be a lock to make the team is outfielder Grady Sizemore.

"For me he is," Amaro said. "But again, we're still looking through a lot of different things, a lot of scenarios."

In addition to the outfield situation, utility infielders need to be picked too. Cesar Hernandez has been the favorite, but he's hitting just .133 in Grapefruit League action with 10 strikeouts. Cord Phelps could be an option there. Phelps is 7th on the team in batting this spring, hitting .270 with a homer, double and five RBI's. He's shown plate discipline as well, walking nine times. 

Obviously, this next week of spring training will be crucial for the Phillies as they select the guys who will form their 25-man roster. 

 


Eagles to sign wide receiver Miles Austin, pending physical

 

According to NFL.com insider Ian Rapoport, the Philadelphia Eagles and wide receiver Miles Austin will reach an agreement later this week on a one-year deal that would reunite the 30-year-old with former Dallas Cowboys teammate, running back DeMarco Murray.

Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com writes,

Austin caught 47 passes for 568 yards and two touchdowns for the Browns last season, solid numbers for 12 games. But he finished the year on injured reserve after he was hospitalized with a kidney injury.

Austin is a two-time Pro Bowler, and caught 34 touchdown passes over 106 games in his career as a Cowboy from 2006-2003. His best season came in 2009, where he completed 81 receptions and 11 touchdowns over 1,320 yards. Austin's only other 1,000-plus yard season in his nine-year career came a season later in 2010 for 1,041 yards.

The Summitt, New Jersey native out of Monmouth University will attempt to fill the void left by Jeremy Maclin, who parted ways with Philadelphia to join Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs on a five-year deal worth $55 million, $22.5 million guaranteed.

Austin and Murray were teammates with the Eagles' NFC East Rival, Dallas Cowboys, from 2011-2013.

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


Zach Eflin takes the mound as Phillies visit Pirates

This afternoon, the Phillies (11-14) head to Bradenton, Florida for a 1:05pm matchup with the Pittsburgh Pirates (13-10). After seeing Severino Gonzalez and Aaron Nola put together a pair of impressive starts last week, today Phillies fans will get the opportunity to see another pitching prospect in the spotlight in Zach Eflin.

Eflin, 20, was acquired by the Phillies as a part of the trade that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers. Last season, he was with the Advanced 'A' Padres affiliate in Lake Elsinore, CA. In 24 starts, the right-hander went 10-7 with a 3.80 ERA. Eflin could join the slew of pitching talent in Reading to start the season, but could also begin the year in Clearwater if the Phillies don't think he's ready for Double-A. Both Brian Bogusevic and Jeff Francoeur are in the lineup today as they battle for an outfield spot on the roster. With Domonic Brown on the mend and Darin Ruf still in the mix, it remains to be seen if both guys will end up on the roster. Bogusevic will get the nod in center today. He is a non-roster invite while Franceour signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies in the offseason.

The Pirates will counter with Adrian Sampson. He's thrown one shutout inning for them this spring. In 2014, Sampson spent most of the year in Double-A, going 10-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 24 starts. He was promoted to Triple-A later in the year and struggled, posting a 6.16 ERA in 19 innings.

LINEUPS: 

Gametime: 1:05pm

Location: McKechnie Field, Bradenton, Florida

TV: None

Radio: MLB.com


Noel, Sixers can't overcome mistakes and beat Cavs

On Tuesday, with a chance to win the game, Brett Brown drew up a play that ultimately led to the ball being in Hollis Thompson’s hands. It did not work, as he was met by DeMarcus Cousins and had the ball knocked out of his hands.

 

Brown and the Sixers found themselves in a very similar position on Sunday night in Cleveland. Trailing 87-86, Brown this time dialed up a play for Nerlens Noel to receive the ball and he would be the person determining the fate of the Sixers that night. Noel came close to putting the Sixers up, but rimmed the shot out and the Sixers lost 87-86.

Brief controversy ensued, however, when LeBron James called a timeout with over 2 seconds left. The timeout was called, but more time on the clock slipped away and despite Brown’s protest, it was not up for review. Cleveland avoided turning the ball over on the in-bounds pass, and the Sixers were left without another shot.

The ending had a bit of a surprising finish, not just because of the obvious unbalanced matchup of a bottom-two team in the conference, against the East’s second-best. It also was surprising because of the fact that when Timofey Mozgov scored to put the Cavs up by four with four to play, it would be their final bucket.

Robert Covington’s three less than 10 seconds later made it a one point game, and that’s where the scoring stopped. The teams went a combined 0 for 11 from the field down the stretch after Covington’s three. Kyrie Irving’s missed shot in the lane with 8 seconds left kept the door open for Noel and the Sixers. They attacked a limited Cleveland front court too, as Kevin Love left the game earlier with a back injury.

As the game ended, Marc Zumoff and Malik Rose each noted that the Sixers had their opportunities—included two missed free throws from Covington with about a minute left, and they certainly did. However, the loss still stung for Noel and some of the Sixers.

"I walked in the locker room and his (Noel's) head was down between two towels," Brown said. "We're in late March and we have 18 wins, but he hurts -- and I love that. That whole group in there feels like we let one through our fingers on the road -- and I love that."


Phillies should use Ben Revere to acquire a starting pitcher

BenRevereBPHat

The Phillies decided that they could no longer tolerate Ben Revere's arm in center field.  It is almost funny, since Revere has made one highlight reel catch after another in left field.  The shame of the situation is that the Phillies simply cannot afford to waste left field on someone with Revere's OPS in left field at the expense of their only chance at power.   With Odubel Herrera showing some raw talent and center field becoming rightfully his, the Phillies should look for a trade opportunity with another club for Ben Revere.

The Phillies spent 2012 giving left field to Juan Pierre.  The Juan Pierre that the Phillies had then is very much reminiscent of Ben Revere.  They are quick and can steal some bases; they both have the ability to hit .300.   But for the lack of power they both brought, the Phillies need to do better.  If the Phillies play an outfield of Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, and Domonic Brown, that means that six of their eight starters will be left-handed hitters.

Darin Ruf deserves to play.  Maybe the Phillies think that they will give Ruf starts against left-handed pitching either at first base or in the outfield.   Should the Phillies carry Grady Sizemore, Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera, and Domonic Brown, then Ruf would be the only right-handed bat in the outfield.   Subtracting Revere would give the Phillies another right-handed option in Jeff Francoeur, who has demonstrated that he is worthy of consideration.

The Phillies announced their starting rotation.  Well, some of it, anyway.  Who will pitch fifth?  The Phillies have no idea.  They tried to pitch Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez as a starter -- something I have been opposed to since the day they signed him -- and he was so bad they had to send him to minor league camp.  With Cliff Lee hurt and Chad Billingsley only starting to pitch, the Phillies need another starter.  The starter is not just for now; it's for later.

The Phillies young bullpen will only remain good if the team does not force the Phillies to overuse it.  The Phillies need innings eaters, who can pitch 200 innings, even if it is to a 4.50 ERA.  Someone like Kyle Kendrick, but not Kyle Kendrick.   The Phillies might be able to get someone not good enough for someone's rotation in exchange for Revere that could come into the Phillies rotation right now.  Maybe a low-A prospect that might or might not work out.

The Phillies gave up a starter for Ben Revere (Vance Worley) that the Twins ended up releasing.  Trevor May, the other piece in the trade, has gone nowhere.   May just got rocked by the Pittsburgh Pirates and is unlikely to make the Twins starting rotation.   So the Phillies got Revere for next to nothing.  It might feel wrong to trade Revere for a back of the rotation starter, but the Phillies got him for next to nothing.

Finally, let's face it: Revere is not going to be part of the Phillies' next core of young players.  Revere is ahead of everyone else in age, and has already begun his salary arbitration years and will be out of the door sooner than later.  If Herrera is the centerfielder of the future, then the Phillies should move on from Revere now if they can get a starting pitcher piece that will help stabilize the future.

If not Ben Revere, another left-handed outfielder has to go.  Grady Sizemore might be useful to someone, but the Phillies would likely have to just cut him.   Sizemore has not played much this Spring, as Phillies have given extended looks to Odubel Herrera, Darin Ruf, and the right-handed bat in Francoeur.

Do not let a temporary injury cause the Phillies to carry all these left-handed hitters.  Should Brown start the year on the disabled list, the Phillies could give 40-man roster occupant Aaron Altherr a couple weeks in the big leagues and option him right back to the minor leagues.    If the Phillies wait until Opening Day lineups are set, they will lose their opportunity to trade Revere.

Revere is a really likable guy and a really likable player.  But the Phillies have taken centerfield away from Revere.  Out of center, Revere has lost most of his value.  Therefore, the Phillies would be better off finding someone to pitch every five days instead.


Revere named starting left fielder; Hamels gets the nod for Opening Day

Before Sunday's game against the Tigers, Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg officially named Cole Hamels the teams' Opening Day starter for the April 6th game against Boston. Aaron Harang will follow Hamels in the rotation.

The Phillies manager didn't comment on who will slot behind Hamels and Harang in the rotation, but David Buchanan will more than likely lock in the three spot with Jerome Williams starting the day after him. The fifth spot is still up in the air as we move along through the end of spring training.

Perhaps the biggest development here is the announcement came after the game, when Sandberg named Ben Revere as Phillies starting left fielder moving forward. This comes after Revere robbed Rajai Davis of a home run with a spectacular jumping catch at the wall on Sunday afternoon.

Revere's new spot in the outfield makes things a little interesting. First of all, it does look like Odubel Herrera will be the Phillies starting center fielder on Opening Day. The Phillies Rule-5 selection went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Sunday against the Tigers, but is hitting .321 this spring with six steals, which leads the team. Beyond that, if Revere retains the left field spot, that is one less spot for Darin Ruf to be involved in a platoon. With Domonic Brown likely sidelined for a couple of weeks to start the season, Ruf could see some time in right, though he's been limited to left field and first base primarily. The right field spot as of right now is wide open until Brown returns.

As spring training winds down, we will get a clearer picture as to who joins the Phillies in the outfield mix, whether it be Grady Sizemore, Jeff Fanceour or Brian Bogusevic.