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Sixers visit Wizards as team's meet for second time in last four days

Just one day after a poor showing in Orlando, the Sixers (8-51) head the the Nation's Capitol tonight for a matchup with the Wizards (28-30), a team they lost to on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center, 103-94. Over the weekend Washington topped Cleveland while the Sixers lost their eighth straight game in Orlando.

An 11-0 run to start the game for the Magic put the Sixers in a hole they wouldn't climb out of all game. Although they eventually cut a 29-point deficit to eight, the way they came out of the gates was pathetic, allowing the Magic to lead 11-0. The Sixers didn't score their first basket until around the nine-minute mark of the first quarter. Orlando dissected the Sixers defense throughout the first 24 minutes en route to 77 points at halftime.  Nerlens Noel was benched for his lack of effort on the defensive end and former Sixer Nik Vucevic had his way with both of the Sixers bigs.

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Phillies minor league pitching ranked 10th in MiLB's Farm System Rankings

The Phillies farm system has come a long way since the beginning of last season and the team has made strides to pack the minor leagues with top young talent that can become the new core of the Phils future. One of the biggest focuses of the Phillies front office, even when Ruben Amaro Jr. was calling the shots, is starting pitching. The Phillies unloaded Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels and Ken Giles and received some pitchers who could become a part of the teams' future rotation. Some, like Jerad Eickhoff, have already made an impact on the big league team.

Jake Thompson leads the way prospect-wise when it comes to pitchers, followed by the likes of Zach Eflin, Mark Appel, Franklyn Kilome and Ricardo Pinto. The Phillies minor league system has some home grown pitching weapons deeper in the farm as well, most notably Kilome, who went 3-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 11 starts with Williamsport last season, and Pinto, who went a combined 15-4 with a 2.97 ERA between Lakewood and Clearwater.

Here's what Minor League Baseball had to say about the Phillies revamped system, which ranks 10th when it comes to pitchers.

Unlike that of their NL East counterparts, the Phillies' system is built more on depth than top-heavy talent. They picked up their top pitching prospect, Jake Thompson, from the Rangers in the deal for Cole Hamels and added another top 100 arm, Mark Appel, in the Ken Giles trade. Thompson is typically the higher ranked of the two and, with his 6-foot-4 and 235-pound frame, gets the term "workhorse" thrown around a lot. Appel's struggles have been well-documented, but he has a chance to show results to back up his impressive stuff during the Phillies' rebuild. Beyond them, there's hope for a future consensus top 100 prospect in Franklyn Kilome, who brings a plus fastball to full-season ball as a 20/21-year-old. Back to the depth, Zach Eflin, Ben Lively and Alec Asher -- all acquired since 2014 -- have shown varying degrees of success at Double-A or higher, while 2015 second-rounder Thomas Eshelman boasts some of the best control of any pitcher drafted in recent history.

There's no doubting that the pitching depth within the Phillies system has the potential to create some impressive top of the rotation starters along with some relief pitching as well. Not all starters in the minors end up in the rotation in the big leagues. Ben Lively and Tom Windle are two pitchers in the Phillies system that may end up fitting better in the bullpen than in the rotation, if their skills indeed bring them to the big leagues. If all goes well though, the Phillies future rotation could include Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Jake Thompson, Mark Appel 

Topping the Farm System Rankings for pitching are the Braves, Dodgers and Rays. The Phillies NL East opponents are sprinkled throughout the list with the Nationals in 5th, Mets in 11th and Marlins all the way down in 27th. Rounding out the bottom of the list are the Padres, Mariners and Angels. Last year's World Series Champions, the Royals, come in at 22nd.

Brandon Apter is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com


Phillies must-reads: Bowa compares Crawford to Rollins

As the Phillies prepare for their first official exhibition game tomorrow, spring camp has kicked into high gear. In this week's installment of "Phillies must-reads", top prospect J.P. Crawford is paid an enormous complement, GM Matt Klentak offers up his expectations for the 2016 squad and more. 

Bowa on Crawford: Just like Rollins -- Philly.com

Phillies' bench coach Larry Bowa talks to Philly.com's Matt Breen and pays J.P. Crawford a lofty compliment, comparing him to the best shortstop in team history and former MVP, Jimmy Rollins.

Goeddel wants Phillies outfield job -- Philly.com

Matt Gelb of Philly.com finds out that Rule-5 selection Tyler Goeddel won't be happy just making the 25-man roster. He says he wants to be a key contributor to the 2016 Phillies and has his eye on a starting job in one of the corner outfield positions.

For Bailey and Burke, a chance to return to the big leagues with their hometown team -- Philly Voice

Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice looks at two South Jersey relievers trying to hook with the team they grew up rooting for. Greg Burke and Andrew Bailey join 35 other arms in camp for a wide open competition to make the Opening Day roster.

Q & A with Phillies GM Matt Klentak -- Philadelphia Daily News

Phillies' GM Matt Klentak touches on a number of topics with Philly.com's David Murphy including, free-agents, tanking, and extending the team's young players.

Herrera the favorite to remain in center -- Philly Voice

Although he was acquired because of his reputation as one of the best defensive center-fielders in baseball, Ryan Lawrence says in his piece that he doesn't see Peter Bourjos pushing Odubel Herrera to a corner outfield position, but rather being pushed to one himself. 

George Gouvas (@summerofgeorge3) is a contributor to Philliedelphia.com.


Trade candidates or not, Flyers getting recent scoring from secondary players

As the trade deadline nears on Monday afternoon, Flyers fans have already started to speculate which players may be traded due, particularly those with good recent performance.

This can be hard to predict, because the number of players with good recent play is increasing and general manager Ron Hextall claims he is not considering a trade for a "rental" player.

The recent player performance could be due to a playoff point war among several teams or the coaching of first-year head coach Dave Hakstol. But with all of those items aside, the positive playing needs to be recognized. Secondary scoring has had a major impact on the Flyers recent run.

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Inside the Loss: Nerlens Noel benched, Brett Brown not happy after Sixers lack of effort

The Sixers are 0-6 since the All-Star break and have lost eight in a row overall, compiling a 1-10 record in the month of February. The team we see now is not the team we saw take the Bulls to overtime on January 14th. This isn't the team that nearly upset the defending champion Warriors on January 30th. The Philadelphia 76ers as we knew them, a team that fought every game and had energy, is missing in action. Sure, we in Philadelphia are just used to the Sixers losing, but usually it isn't for a lack of effort. Ever since the All-Star break though, this team has been nearly unwatchable on both ends of the court, and the main reason for that is a lack of effort and energy.

Continue reading "Inside the Loss: Nerlens Noel benched, Brett Brown not happy after Sixers lack of effort" »


Jimmy Watson: An unsung Flyer gets his due

When you think of Flyers from the team's famed Broad Street Bullies heyday, names like Bob Clarke, Bernie Parent, Bill Barber and Dave Schultz are often the first names to come to mind.

When you think of the team's best defensemen, you think of players like Mark Howe, Eric Desjardins and Kimmo Timonen

For either category, Jimmy Watson may not be the first name thought of. But he still made significant and meaningful contributions to the Flyers -- carving out a legacy as one of their all-time greatest defensemen --  and those contributions will be recognized on Monday, when he becomes the 25th inductee into the Flyers Hall of Fame.

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2016 Trade Deadline: Flyers Updates

Monday marks the final day to make trades this season as the NHL's trade deadline hits at 3 p.m.

So far, it has been a quiet period for the Flyers.

Flyerdelphia will be providing updates on anything involving the Flyers throughout the day as the deadline approaches. Leading up to the deadline, we have featured several stories in regard to the deadline. You can catch up with all of our coverage here.

Continue reading "2016 Trade Deadline: Flyers Updates" »


Doug Pederson and the 3-year coaching tryout

It's a hot button topic every offseason. How long does a coach need before results are expected of him?

The Cleveland Browns have made a habit of putting new coaches on short leashes, and as their franchise has fallen further and further into irrelevancy, league experts have become more and more vocal for giving coaches more time to figure things out. 

But how long is long enough? As Doug Pederson enters the first year of his freshly signed five-year deal, it is apparent the Eagles are invested in him for the long term and are willing to do whatever it takes to make things work with the former quarterback at the helm. However, a look at the coaches who have held a Lombardi Trophy above their head shows that it should not take that long to decided whether Pederson has the ability to take the Eagles to the pinnacle of professional football.

Continue reading "Doug Pederson and the 3-year coaching tryout" »


Phillies' Ruiz leaves camp to help Panama attempt to qualify for WBC

Perhaps the reason that the 2017 World Baseball Classic doesn't come with the same anticipation as they 2016 Summer Olympics, or other major sporting tournaments, is that American athletes don't seem to have embraced the tournament. The United States, who upon last check invented baseball and house the world's most successful league, has never finished higher than fourth in the three prior tournaments. 

It is interesting to see how much playing in this tournament means to players who play in America from February to November, but aren't from America. 

Philadelphia Phillies' catcher Carlos Ruiz would seem to fall under that category. Ruiz has caught four no-hitters in the big leagues and the final pitch of a World Series title, but Philly.com's Matt Gelb says that at this advanced stage of his career, Ruiz is temporarily leaving Spring Training to aid his native Panama's attempt to qualify for next year's tournament. 

Now, at age 37, Ruiz will savor the chance in March to help Panama qualify for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. His career in its twilight, Ruiz needed no presidential convincing this time.

"It gives me a chance to represent my country," Ruiz said. "Bring them back to the World Baseball Classic. I don't know how much longer I'm going to play. So that's why I want to go."

Ruiz will miss a handful of Grapefruit League games, but the Phillies gave their catcher permission during the winter to head home. 

The Phillies would have little incentive to stop Ruiz from leaving to help his native country. This is likely his final season with the team, he's going to platoon with Cameron Rupp for a bad team this year, and as manager Pete Mackanin told Gelb, the Phillies don't have a shortage of catchers in camp. 

Ruiz actually should be very incentivized to play in next February's tournament. He's 37-years-old now and in the final guaranteed season of his deal. Playing for Panama, should he help them qualify, could very well be his way of "going out on top" and ending his baseball career. It could also serve as an audition if he's still a free-agent looking to play in 2017. 

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


Phillies nuggets: Howard on pace to fall short of 400 home runs with club

With the exception of Mike Schmidt, no player in Philadelphia Phillies' history has ever hit 500 home runs. So on June 14th, 2004, when Jim Thome hit his 400th career home run at Citizens Bank Park, it was a pretty special moment in Phillies' history.

Though he quickly made it feel as though he did, Thome didn't really belong to Philadelphia. Prior to playing a game for the Phillies, he had hit 334 home runs, and though the 400th home run moment was special, Thome went on to hit his 500th home run on a walk-off in Chicago and became one of eight men to ever hit 600 home runs in Minnesota. So to Thome, the 400th home run was just another great moment in a hall of fame career, not the defining home run of his career. 

Ryan Howard has long since passed having his time. Though some of the positive memories have faded, his September 2006 afternoon mashing of three home runs to become the first Phillie to ever hit 50 home runs was a special moment. Chase Utley and him hitting back-to-back home runs in a game three route of the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series was a special moment. Howard's career belongs to Philadelphia much more than Thome's ever did, but he seems destined to fall just short of getting to have the moment of hitting his 400th home run with the Phillies like Thome did. 

Howard enters what is all but guaranteed to be his last season in Philadelphia with 357 career homeruns, 43 home runs away from 400. Though it didn't take all of these home runs to reach 400, Thome hit 42 home runs the year he hit his 400th run home run. Howard couldn't be at a more different point in his career. Howard hasn't hit 43 or more home runs since 2009, and that trend isn't going to change this season, meaning he won't hit his 400th home run until at least 2017. 

There's a very good chance that Howard could finish 2016 something like 20 home runs away from 400 for his career. The Phillies won't bring Howard back for 2017, at any price, just for him to have a chance to hit his 400th home run with the team, nor should they. It's just unfortunate, given that Howard's recent lack of success has caused some to forget just how good he was in his prime, that Howard and the fan-base will miss out on the chance for what would have been a special moment.  

Phillies nuggets

  • Though him and Ryan Jackson combined for a fairly embarrassing missed foul ball in the game, Jorge Alfaro's fourth inning throw-out of a would-be base-stealer was my biggest takeaway from the Phillies' Sunday win over the University of Tampa. Alfaro is probably the most boom or bust player in the team's system, but he's going to be a very good hitter and has a great arm. If the Phillies can even make him serviceable in the rest of the aspects of being a catcher, he seems a lot more likely to be a boom than a bust. 
  • The 2009 Phillies had four players -- Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth -- hit over 30 home runs. Since then, Howard has the only two seasons of over 30 home runs, hitting 31 in 2010 and 33 in 2011. Not a single Phillies player has had a 30 home run season since 2011. It's funny how things work in baseball. 
  • If Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino both have successful spring stints and make their respective major league rosters, they will make a combined $4 million. Meanwhile, Homer Bailey, who has a career 4.19 ERA, will make $18 million in 2016. 
  • Mind-blowing stat of the week: Sammy Sosa had seven seasons where he hit over 40 home runs (three of those times he hit over 60 home runs), is in the 600 home run club and has hall of fame numbers. Despite that, he's 46.4 career WAR short of Mike Schmidt, per Fangraphs. To put that in perspective, Jimmy Rollins' career WAR is 49.3 and he will get a hard look when his name eventually appears on the hall of fame ballot. So Schmidt's career, according to WAR, was almost a potential hall of famer better than one of the most prolific home run hitters ever. (Comparing the WARs of players who played different positions and in different eras is an in-exact science at best, this stat was just interesting.)

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