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Why QB Carson Wentz makes sense for the Eagles

The Senior Bowl is a time pre-combine for teams to get acclimated with some of the top names in college football preparing for the NFL Draft.

There is no bigger name at the Senior Bowl, which takes place on Saturday in Mobile, Alabama, than quarterback Carson Wentz.

The Eagles, like essentially all teams at the Senior Bowl, met with Wentz and liked what they saw. They met with him several times this week. Among those in the meetings was new head coach Doug Pederson.

Continue reading "Why QB Carson Wentz makes sense for the Eagles" »


Medvedev has the stats, but not Hakstol's trust

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Since the Luke Schenn trade three weeks ago, the Philadelphia Flyers defense has finally found some stability. Where they previously had too many bodies to handle, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Nick Schultz, and Radko Gudas all have clearly established roles on the team. About the only remaining uncertainty on the blue line lies between Evgeny Medvedev and Brandon Manning.

Manning and Medvedev seem like two very different players. Manning is a young player, fighting for a permanent NHL job. He does a little bit of everything on the ice, including a willing fighter. Medvedev, on the other hand, is also trying to earn an NHL job, but is doing it at 33 years old.

Most Flyers fans presumably already know his story. A standout in the KHL and a mainstay in Russia's international lineup the last few years, Medvedev is finally trying his hand at the NHL. He clearly has NHL size, skating, and skill, but he's a stranger to the smaller NHL ice and the faster, physical game it allows.

The Flyers felt good enough about his abilities to sign him to a considerable contract this offseason, but the $3 million dollar question concerned his ability to adapt a different style of play. Regarding that issue, it was expected that it would take some time. Some cycling in and out the lineup early on was expected as he adjusted. Here we are, however, past the halfway point of the season, and those kinks in his game still pull him out of the lineup.

Continue reading "Medvedev has the stats, but not Hakstol's trust" »


Caplan: Jason Peters will be back with Eagles in 2016

As I outlined yesterday afternoon, Lane Johnson's new six-year deal, which guarantees him $35.5 million, speaks to the Philadelphia Eagles' view of him as the team's long-term left-tackle. However, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan appeared on 97.5 The Fanatic with Joe DeCamera yesterday evening, and said that he has been told that Jason Peters will still be with the team in 2016, meaning Johnson's full-time transition to the blind-side may have to wait. 

Continue reading "Caplan: Jason Peters will be back with Eagles in 2016" »


Seven Phillies' prospects ranked in MLB Pipeline's top 100

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts about the upcoming Philadelphia Phillies' 2016 season is that while the team is expected to be one of the worst in terms of wins and losses, there seems to be a clear path for the future for the first time in about half a decade. 

While president Andy MacPhail is probably the most powerful person in the Phillies' organization, him and part-owner John S. Middleton seem to have hired a young, sabermetrics based general manager in Matt Klentak that they have quite a bit of trust in. By most accounts, Klentak was the one making calls and signings this off-season, while also surrounding himself with executives that share his same vision. 

MacPhail and Klentak were handed a rather desirable situation when the two joined the organization in 2015, as well. Despite the fact that the Phillies finished 2015 with the worst record, they will own the first pick in this year's draft, and the previous regime moved on from a majority of the expensive veterans that had caused the downward trajectory of the team, while acquiring a handful of talented prospects. 

Tonight, many of the impressive prospects that the Phillies have obtained within the last year were put in the spotlight, as MLB Pipeline released their countdown of the top 100 prospects

In total, the Phillies had seven prospects appear in the top 100, but only one who appeared in the top 50. 

The first name that appeared on the list was center-fielder Roman Quinn at 99, who batted .306 and stole 29 bases in 58 games for Double-a Reading last season. 

Catcher Jorge Alfaro, who was one of the pieces acquired in the Cole Hamels' trade, checked in at 96. Alfaro dealt with an ankle injury last season that caused him to only play three games for the Phillies' Gulf Coast League affiliate. He could very well never pan out because of how raw he is, but he is believed to possess a very good arm and an ability to hit for power. 

The Phillies selected Cornelius Randolph with the 10th overall pick in last year's draft, and they are already seeing that move pay off. Randolph, who was drafted as a shortstop but immediately moved to the outfield, was ranked as the 84th best prospect after batting .302 and driving in 24 runs in 53 games in the Gulf Coast League. He's only 18, so out of all the Phillies on this list, he's probably the furthest from making his major league debut. 

Mark Appel was the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, though has failed to put things together in the minor leagues. He was dealt to the Phillies as the number two piece (behind Vincent Velasquez) in the Ken Giles trade this off-season, so he has a chance to essentially hit the reset button. If he's able to click in his second organization, the Phillies' trade of their young closer will work out greatly in their favor. 

The second player on the list (at number 64) that was acquired in the Hamels' deal was outfielder Nick Williams. Williams, between the Phillies' and Rangers' Double-a affiliates batted .303 with 17 homeruns and 55 RBI's in 119 games. He, along with Odubel Herrera, Quinn and Randolph are just part of a young core of talented outfielders the Phillies seem to be building. 

The final name from the list than came from the Hamels' trade is right-handed starting pitcher Jake Thompson. Thompson was arguably the top piece acquired when the deal started, though his numbers in the Rangers' system weren't necessarily impressive. Numbers in the minors aren't a great way to evaluate prospects, but his numbers after joining the Phillies' organization were extremely impressive, as he went 5-1 with a 1.80 ERA at Double-a Reading. 

While the Phillies only had one player in the top 50, shortstop J.P. Crawford, who is viewed as a potential core player for the next great Phillies team, checked in at number five on the countdown. He's believed to be a tremendous fielder, and while some scouts weren't initially sure how his bat would translate after high-school, he batted .288 between Single-a and Double-a in 2015. Phillies' bench coach and wall of fame shortstop Larry Bowa suggested this week that he believes that Crawford could join the big-league club at some point this summer. 

Overall, the Phillies' farm system rise is pretty incredible. A year ago, five of the Phillies that appeared on this list weren't in the team's organization.

Smart trades and continued success drafting have given the Phillies a recent injection of young talent, and given that they own the number one pick this summer and have begun to have more success in signing Latin players, it appears that the future is bright for the club. That doesn't even mention they are likely to earn another top pick this year and have set themselves up to be major players in the 2018 free-agent class, which is on track to be the best in the history of the sport. 

 Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is the Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com, focusing on news and features. 

 


Eagles 'loved' Bill O'Brien, 'either or' between him and Chip Kelly in 2013, per report

The Philadelphia Eagles completed extensions this week with Zach Ertz, Brent Celek and Lane Johnson, with one reportedly on the horizon for Fletcher Cox, which firmly seemed to move them into the next era of Eagles' football. Whether the face of this era will be Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson or a player remains to be seen, but the post Chip Kelly era is beginning to take shape. 

Still, fans will probably spend quite some time trying to understand why Kelly's tenure as a coach failed, and what other routes the Eagles could have gone in 2013 that would have potentially led to more success. 

Continue reading "Eagles 'loved' Bill O'Brien, 'either or' between him and Chip Kelly in 2013, per report" »


Flurry of Eagles offseason activity an indicator of team-building philosophy

When the Eagles signed tight end Zach Ertz to a five-year, $42 million contract extension earlier this week, NJ.com's Mark Eckel unveiled an interesting nugget as to how these types of decisions signified the organization's strategy of rebuilding the roster

Continue reading "Flurry of Eagles offseason activity an indicator of team-building philosophy" »


What does Lane Johnson's extension mean for Jason Peters?

The Philadelphia Eagles announced a five-year extension for right-tackle Lane Johnson this morning, one that guarantees him $35.5 million. The deal essentially rips up the final season of his rookie year, allowing the Eagles to split the money between 2016 and what would have been an option year in 2017. So for all intents and purposes, this is a six-year deal, as the Eagles announced it. 

It's unclear exactly how the cap-hits in each season of Johnson's new extension will shake out, but if you calculate the approximate amount of money that Johnson would be getting each season, it rounds out to $10.5 million. As many have pointed out, his cap-hit isn't going to be exactly that high, but it will probably still be more than the $6.128 million he was scheduled to have.

In terms of average annual salary, the highest in the league for a right-tackle entering 2015 was Green Bay Packers' right-tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is estimated to make $6.75 million per season and got $8 million guaranteed as part of the five-year extension he agreed to prior to the season. The top total guaranteed dollars at the position come from Jeremy Parnell of the Jacksonville Jaguars ($14.5 million) and 2015 Washington Redskins' first-round pick Brandon Scherff who was guaranteed $21.2 million. Neither have a higher average annual salary than Bulaga. 

Again, Johnson was guaranteed $35.5 million and his contract suggests he will be making close to $10.5 million per season. That doesn't sound like someone who the team plans to have playing right-tackle much longer.  

Johnson did play some left-tackle in 2016 while Jason Peters was injured, and did so at a high level. Given that Peters is 34 years-old, struggled to stay healthy last year and just seemed to take a step back in general, was Johnson's extension a sign that the Eagles are ready to move on from Peters? 

Peters is scheduled to be one of the league's highest paid left-tackles in terms of annual salary and has a cap-hit of $9.327 million, which is among the highest in the league at his position.

The Eagles could attempt to keep both Peters and Johnson as two of the top 10 highest paid tackles in the league for one more season, though it would seem that would make it difficult for the team to keep Sam Bradford and Vinny Curry, while also hoping to extend Fletcher Cox and use free-agency to fix some of the holes that the team has. 

Everything could change if Peters was willing to re-do his deal in the same way that Brent Celek just did, though it seems strange that if the Eagles thought that was a realistic option they wouldn't have approached him about doing that during this flurry of moves. Technically, they may have done that, but given that Peters is an eight-time Pro-Bowler and seemed offended when even asked if he would consider a position change, it's hard to imagine that being something that he would consider. 

In the end, the two sides may end up parting ways, be it in a trade for a late-round pick or an altogether release. What extending some young leaders like Johnson and Zach Ertz (while also holding onto someone like Celek) does is it gives leeway for the Eagles to make a move due to cap reasons. It doesn't come off as what Chip Kelly did last season where he purged too much of the locker-room in one off-season, it comes off as moving on from a future hall-of-famer that the team has decided isn't worth his salary anymore. It is, as players always like to say, a business, and when a majority of the team's core is extended in an off-season, moves like potentially moving on from Peters start to feel much less personal. 

Contract information courtesy of Spotrac and Over The Cap

Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is an editorial assistant for Eagledelphia.com. 


Claude Giroux's Player's Tribune answers are awesome

All-Star weekend in the NHL is not so much about the game and more about seeing the personality of the NHL's stars. No more was that on display than last season when Jake Voracek used rookie sensation Johnny Gaudreau as a prop in his Breakaway Challenge attempt.

This season, the Flyers have just one representative at the All-Star Game, Claude Giroux, who makes his fourth career All-Star appearance.

Giroux participated in a feature on The Player's Tribune called 'What the (Blank)' where players real answer to a random questionnaire are on full display. For the NHL All-Star Edition, Giroux was the first to participate.

His answers are tremendous.

Continue reading "Claude Giroux's Player's Tribune answers are awesome" »


Phillies claim reliever Bobby LaFromboise off waivers; designate Jesse Biddle

Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies have claimed left handed reliever Bobby LaFromboise off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The 29 year old southpaw has logged a few innings in the majors starting in 2013 with Seattle and the last two seasons with Pittsburgh.

LaFromboise spent most of last season in Triple-A Indianapolis where he appeared in 54 games (54.1 IP) and pitched to a 2.98 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, striking out 52 and walking 21. He was claimed off waivers by the Angels on December 23 but was designated for assignment on Tuesday which leads us to his latest home with the Phillies. 

To make room on the 40 man roster, LHP Jesse Biddle, the Phillies' number one pick from the 2010 draft, was designated for assignment. While nothing is guaranteed, Biddle seems likely to clear waivers while in the early stages of recovering from Tommy John surgery. However, it makes quite a contrast between the new front office and the one from last year.  

 


Phillies' J.P. Crawford rated second-best minor league shortstop

Earlier this week, Philadelphia Phillies' bench-coach and wall of fame shortstop Larry Bowa suggested in an appearance on CSN Philly's Breakfast on Broad that he wouldn't be surprised if top prospect J.P. Crawford joined the team at some point this summer. 

MLB Pipeline rounded out their top 10 prospects at each position countdown, and agreed with Bowa's high praise for Crawford, by naming him the second best shortstop currently playing in the minor leagues. 

The Phillies drafted Crawford 16th overall in 2013, and he excelled in his professional debut, winning the Gulf Coast League batting title. He's continued to build on that success, making it to the Futures Game two years in a row and reaching Double-A at age 20.

Crawford has an impressive all-around skill set and can impact the game on both sides of the ball. There is no question about his ability to stay at shortstop, as he is a smooth fielder with sure hands, a plus arm and good range. He is a disciplined hitter with good on-base skills and the speed to steal bases.

Crawford had been viewed as Jimmy Rollins' heir apparent from the time he was drafted. With Rollins now gone, there is no major roadblock for Crawford, who may not need all that much more time until he's ready.

MLB Pipeline uses a 20-80 rating system for each aspect of rating a player's game, with 20 being the worst possible and 80 being the best. Crawford was given a 55 for hitting, a 45 for power, a 50 for running, a 60 for arm strength, a 65 for fielding and a 65 overall. 

Crawford is going to be one of the top 10, if not top five, prospects when MLB Pipeline reveals their top 100 overall prospects this evening. So who topped him at the shortstop position? Corey Seager of the Dodgers, who is a 70 overall according to their rating system, was given the top spot on the list. Seager, ironically, learned behind Jimmy Rollins last season, but batted .337 in 98 at-bats and forced Rollins to the bench during the Dodgers' NLDS series. 

 Tim Kelly (@TimKellySports) is the Managing Editor of Philliedelphia.com, focusing on news and features.