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Flyers-Flames: Postgame Perspective

Flyers top line heeds Hextall's call

Even in the best case scenario, the news was not welcome. Jake Voracek would be out for two weeks with a lower-body injury.

Ron Hextall spoke prior to Monday's game of the team playing without Voracek in the same sense as when they were without Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.

"We've found a way to kind of band together at times this year when a guy's out," Hextall said. "We did it when G was out. Now we've got to do it when Jake's out. I think everybody's got to add a little bit more."

The Flyers top line certainly heeded the call.

Giroux had four assists. Brayden Schenn picked up his first career hat trick. Wayne Simmonds added two goals. Overall, they combined for nine points in the Flyers 5-3 win over the Flames.

Continue reading "Flyers-Flames: Postgame Perspective" »


Brayden Schenn's hat trick lifts Flyers over Calgary Flames, 5-3

PHILADELPHIA -- As the Flyers learned on Monday that one of their leading scorers, Jakub Voracek, would be out at least two weeks with a lower-body injury, the need was crucial for a secondary scorer to step up in his place.

And with Ron Hextall standing pat at today's Trade Deadline -- just the third time the Flyers (29-22-11) have done that since 1997 -- that need would have to come from someone already established on the roster. No reinforcements would be able to come by way of another squad.

Enter Brayden Schenn. Schenn recorded three goals over the first two periods -- for his first-career hat trick -- in a 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames, giving the Flyers their third-consecutive win.

Continue reading "Brayden Schenn's hat trick lifts Flyers over Calgary Flames, 5-3" »


Jimmy Watson fondly recalls career in Hall of Fame ceremony

As Jimmy Watson reflected on his 10-year Flyers career during his induction to the Flyers Hall of Fame on Monday, one central theme resonated through his speech.

Gratitude.

No, not the cliche "thanks to my coaches and teammates for helping me be so great" or "thank you to all the fans!" that has become commonplace from athletes, but a deep-rooted gratitude that seemed to help motivate Watson throughout his career. Nobody was exempt -- not teammates, coaches, executives, fans or even Ed Snider himself.

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Sixers Inbox: Making the playoffs in 2016, Sam Hinkie's future as a GM & the open roster spot

Sixers Inbox is back open again and we are addressing your questions submitted on Twitter. Feel free to send a Tweet to @Sixerdelphia at any time to be included in the nextSixers Inbox. Let's get started...

Are you surprised that the Sixers haven't filled their open roster spot?

-Jovan

A little bit yes and a little bit no here. The Sixers have, or should I say had, some impressive talent on their D-League affiliate in Delaware. Both Sean Kilpatrick and Jordan McRae are in the top five in the D-League in scoring, but neither have been given a look by the Sixers. Instead, Kilpatrick is signing with the Nets while McRae recently signed a 10-day contract with Cleveland shortly after finishing up a 10-day with the Suns. A few of the Sixers reporters asked Brett Brown why they haven't filled the spot, and it seems like they simply don't need to according to the head coach.

While giving Kilpatrick or McRae a chance makes sense, at the same time, the focus is on developing the current team for the future. Finding a way for Noel and Okafor to play well together while also developing guys like Richaun Holmes is most important.  

Continue reading "Sixers Inbox: Making the playoffs in 2016, Sam Hinkie's future as a GM & the open roster spot" »


Phillies Frank's Monday Mailbag: What will the Phillies starting rotation look like?

It's Monday and that means it is time for the Philliedelphia Monday Mailbag.  Each week we respond to a few of your questions and on Tuesday we talk about it on 97.3 ESPN Atlantic City on "The Sports Bash" with Mike Gill.   This week's first question look at the Phillies starting rotation ended up being rather long-winded, so that will be our point of discussion this week.

What are your predictions for the Opening Day starting rotation?
~Eric

The Phillies have plent1y of starting pitching options as of right now.   While Matt Harrison is likely on the shelf for all of 2016, the potential starting staff for the Phillies is mostly healthy.   Here is a look at the likely candidates for the starting rotation and where I think they will end up.

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP
Hellickson has one year until he is a free agent and the Phillies will give Hellickson every opportunity to start.  The incentive for the Phillies is to make Hellickson into an attractive trade candidate to flip by the August 1 trade deadline.  Hellickson looked like a very promising young starter in the early part of his career, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2011, and picking up a gold glove en route to a 10-11, 3.10 ERA 2012 season.  Since then, Hellickson has dealt with some injury and has not matched those numbers.

Rotation status to open 2016: Lock

Charlie Morton, RHP
The Pittsburgh Pirates have seen a great amount of success the last few years, but they still lack financial resources in some areas.    So a pitcher like Morton, who will earn $9 million in 2016, is out of their budget.  Morton has basically been a 0 WAR pitcher throughout his career who has about a .500 record most years and an earned run average in the 3s or the 4s.   What the Phillies are looking for from Morton is stability.  Morton probably will not have frequent high-run, low-inning outings like happened to may of last year's staff.   Morton is not being paid to be in the bullpen and has one relief outing his entire career.

Rotation status to open 2016: Pretty much a lock

Aaron Nola, RHP
This one is easy.  Of course Nola will make the Phillies starting rotation.  The only question at the  moment is whether or not Nola will start Opening Day.

Rotation status to open 2016: Lock

Jerad Eickhoff, RHP
Eickhoff suffered a broken thumb, but he is fully expected to be ready for the start of 2016.  Eickhoff had a successful short run of starts in 2015 and the Phillies are eager to see more.

Rotation status to open 2016: : Lock, if thumb is healthy

Vincent Velasquez, RHP
As Grapefruit League competitive action beings, Velasquez is probably the leading candidate for the fifth starter's job. Velasquez was the centerpiece of the Ken Giles trade and he himself says that he wants to start.  At the time of the trade, some felt that Velasquez would make a very effective relief pitcher.  However, Giles was a steep price and the Phillies will try to to maximize his value to the team by having him start in camp.  If Velasquez struggles, he could find himself in the bullpen.

Rotation status to open 2016: more likely than not.

Brett Oberholtzer, LHP
Naming the above five starters, not a single one is left-handed.   That could bode well for Oberholtzer, who would be the Phillies' only left-handed starter if he edges out Velasquez.   But Oberholtzer is not the only left-handed candidate for the Phillies starting rotation.   Spring Training may unleash a big competition.  The Phillies also need left-handed options in the bullpen, so Oberholtzer may find himself there.

Rotation status to open 2016: Right now not a favorite, but could become one

Adam Morgan, LHP
Morgan was called up last season in the middle of starting rotation chaos, in a move that seemed to indicate lack of Major League resources more than the sign of maturity for Morgan.  But Morgan pitched admirably, going 5-7 with a 4.48 earned run average.    With the only left-handed bullpen pitchers on the 40-man roster being Elvis Araujo ,who could use more seasoning in the minors, and Mario Hollands, still recovering from Tommy John Surgery, the Phillies may consider Morgan for the bullpen.

Rotation status to open 2016: Iffy

David Buchanan, RHP
Increasingly in baseball, people accept that a won-loss record does not always tell a pitcher's story.  But Buchanan's 2-9 record with a 6.99 earned run average is usually enough to set off an alarm.   Buchanan struggled so mightily in 2015 that the Phillies had to send him to the minors.   The effects of Buchanan's early-inning troubles trickled down to the bullpen.  The Phillies may look to outright Buchanan to AAA at some point when they need 40-man roster spots for non-roster invitees.  He may go unclaimed.

Rotation status to open 2016: Doubtful

Alec Asher, LHP
Asher was rushed to the Major Leagues in the wake of his acquisition from the Texas Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade.  It was almost unfair to Asher, who even after a demotion to the bullpen ended up starting the "bullpen" game and never made a relief appearance.   After an 0-6 record with a 9.31 earned run average, Asher probably will get some time at AAA Lehigh Valley to get more seasoning before the Major Leagues.

Rotation status to open 2016: Unlikely

Severino Gonzalez, RHP
Gonzalez was another pitcher rushed to the big leagues out of desperation in 2015.  After some struggles - Gonzalez had a 7.92 earned run average - the Phillies kept Gonzalez on their roster over the likes of Jesse Biddle.

Rotation status to open 2016: Unlikely


Voracek out 2 weeks with lower-body injury

In addition to awaiting the Flyers pending trade deadline moves, of which there weren't any, Monday was an important day to Jake Voracek's future for this season as well.

The Flyers forward, who has 10 goals and 38 assists for 48 points this season, will miss his second straight game on Monday night after playing in 286 consecutive games.

GM Ron Hextall updated Voracek's status on Monday afternoon, announcing that Voracek will be out for two weeks with a lower-body injury.

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Report: Eagles to announce extension with Sam Bradford 'soon'

Over the weekend, Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports reported that the Philadelphia Eagles 'upped' their offer to impending free-agent quarterback Sam Bradford, saying that the team was 'trying hard' to finish off an extension. 

Benjamin Allbright of AM1340 in Denver, who has beaten team and national insiders to stories previously, said today that he expects the Eagles to announce an extension with Bradford soon. 

This tweet, whether done on purpose or by accident, is rather vague. It's unclear whether Allbright is saying that the Eagles have agreed to a deal with Bradford and are close to announcing it, or if he's saying that the two sides are finishing off an extension. 

In Garafolo's report from the weekend, he suggested that the Eagles were offering Bradford a rather lucrative extension. 

The terms of the offer aren't available, but sources indicated the Eagles' believe it's a very strong offer for Bradford -- one that's at the top of his expected range on the open market and one that should help get him under contract before that market opens on March 9.

If his report was accurate, Allbright suggesting that the two sides either have agreed to a deal or are close to agreeing to a deal would make sense. 

Bradford, 28, threw 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions in his first season with the Eagles. After missing two games due to both a concussion and a shoulder injury, Bradford threw eight touchdowns and four interceptions in the month of December, leading many to believe that his rather cold first half of the season was more due to him shaking off rust after missing the entire 2014 season than that being indicative of him as a player. 

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


Flyers make no trades on deadline day

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The Flyers were not short on potential trade candidates as deadline day approached and finally hit on Monday. That made the morning skate prior to Monday’s night game against Calgary a little uneasy.

Among the Flyers patiently awaiting word on their fate, Sam Gagner and Mark Streit.

Ultimately, both were safe in the end as the deadline came and went without a move from the Flyers.

Continue reading "Flyers make no trades on deadline day" »


Phillies' Hellickson says he would 'love' to start on Opening Day

If Philadelphia Phillies' manager Pete Mackanin was looking for the Phillies' spring exhibition against the University of Tampa to begin to give him any level of clarity on who should be the team's Opening Day starting pitcher, he didn't get it.

Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola threw back-to-back scoreless innings to start Sunday's eventual win, with perhaps the only thing setting them apart being that Nola struck a batter out and Hellickson didn't.

After the game, Hellickson spoke to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki about the story-line of which of the two will be the team's Opening Day starter, and suggested that while he does hope to get the ball when the Phillies take on the Cincinnati Reds on April 4th, he knows that being the team's No. 2 starter wouldn't be any sort of punishment.

"Yeah, I'd absolutely love the honor, but it doesn't matter one bit," Hellickson said about pitching Opening Day. "We're going to need all five guys to pitch how we're capable of pitching. I don't really think it matters who starts it off, but at the same time, it's a goal and it'd be fun."

As Zolecki noted in his piece, the Phillies will be on the road to start the season. He says that the way the schedule is lined up now, whichever starter doesn't pitch on Opening Day will pitch in the Phillies' home-opener.

For his part, Aaron Nola told Philly Voice's Ryan Lawrence prior to Spring Training that while he wanted to start on Opening Day, that honor isn't always bestowed upon 22-year-olds.

The Phillies will play their first official Spring Training game tomorrow against the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the course of the next three weeks, the Phillies will play over 20 Spring Training games, so there will be more than enough time to sort out the order of the starting rotation. And if the two continue to both impress in Spring Training, having two hot pitchers at the top of the rotation to start the season would be a nice problem to have.

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


Game 62 Preview: Flyers end February with visit from Calgary Flames

The Flyers have found some luck on their current six-game homestand -- topping Minnesota and Arizona in its first two games -- and will look to duplicate that success with a visit from the Calgary Flames.
 
Tonight's game will also have a special nostalgia in the air, as Jimmy Watson becomes the 25th inductee in the Flyers Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. Watson is this year's second inductee (after Rod Brind'Amour), and the fourth over the past two seasons.
 
It's been a while since the Flyers beat the Flames. The Flames currently hold a three-game win streak (previously extended on Nov. 5), and last lost to the Orange and Black on Feb. 8, 2014.
 
The Flyers and Flames face off from Wells Fargo Center at 7 p.m.

 

Continue reading "Game 62 Preview: Flyers end February with visit from Calgary Flames" »