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September 2016

Phillies nuggets: Ryan Howard to finish 2016 shy of 400 home runs

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Prior to the 2016 season, I noted that Ryan Howard was on-pace to fall just short of 400 career home runs with the Phillies. As we enter the final full month of the season -- and what's sure to be the final full month of Howard's time in Philadelphia, Howard falling short of 400 home runs, and a very special moment with the club, is becoming a reality.

Despite the fact that he's hitting under .200 in 2016, Howard's power stroke has remained at the same level that it's been at the past two seasons. Howard hit 23 home runs in both 2014 and 2015, and enters the final month of the season with 20 home runs, meaning he at least has a chance to top 23 home runs and hit his most home runs since 2011, when he hit 33 home runs. 

While manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet that Howard may see a reduced role this month, which could keep him from topping 23 home runs, it won't make a difference in his pursuit of 400 career home runs. Howard enters the month of September 23 home runs away from 400, meaning that he could shatter Sammy Sosa's MLB record of 20 home runs in a single month and still fall short of 400 home runs. 

Had Howard not torn his Achilles in the 2011 NLDS, an injury that changed the course of his career, he probably would easily have surpassed 400 home runs by now and may even have ended up hitting 500 career home runs. Heck, even if he had a massive decline after 2013, if he hadn't been limited to 151 games (and 25 home runs) between 2012 and 2013, largely because of the aforementioned injury, he easily could have hit 35 or more home runs in addition to the ones he already hit, which would have put him over 400. 

Perhaps the silver lining is that Howard hit .250 in July and .314 in August, which may at least get him an invite to Spring Training with a club in 2017. If Howard is able to make a club out of Spring Training and hit in the neighborhood of 20 home runs, he will likely surpass the 400 home run mark. Unfortunately, Howard won't accomplish that feat with the Phillies, as they will buy him out of his $23 million option for 2017 following the season. 

The nuggets

  • After posting a 0.00 ERA in July, former Phillies closer Ken Giles had an ERA just above two and seven saves in August. Meanwhile, Vince Velasquez's ERA has spiked to 4.21 and Mark Appel had season-ending elbow surgery in June. The Phillies may still end up winning this trade, but it will take years to decide, something that some didn't seem to grasp in April.  
  • In a perfect world, Roman Quinn will have a long, healthy career playing for World Series contending Phillies teams. But given the seemingly constant health problems that he's had in the minor leagues, it's hard to envision that actually happening. 
  • The Phillies called up Darin Ruf, among others, as rosters expanded for September. As much of a lock as Howard is to be bought out of his sixth year option, that's how much of a lock Ruf is to be non-tendered after this season. 

Morgan's solid outing wasted as Phillies drop ninth straight to Nats

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Washington Nationals 2, Philadelphia Phillies 1  ❖  Attendance: 16,503

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Phillies (60-73) were desperately looking for the offense to wake up against the Washington Nationals (78-55) in tonight's match-up. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. The Phillies were held to two hits and one run by Nats righty Gio Gonzalez and the bullpen. Across this three game series, the Phils were only able to muster nine hits. Overall, the offense is hitting under .190 versus Nationals pitchers this season, which simply isn't good enough.

It's a shame that the offense didn't perform, as a fantastic start by Adam Morgan was wasted and he was handed his ninth loss of the season. Morgan threw six and 2/3 innings and allowed three hits. The Nationals were hitless between Jayson Werth's first inning home-run and Anthony Rendon's double in the seventh.

Tonight's loss is the ninth straight to the Nationals. It's also the first time that the Phillies franchise has ever been swept in three consecutive series by the Expos/Nats.

Morgan's solid outing wasted as Phillies drop ninth straight to Nats

WP: Gio Gonzalez (10-9, 4.14 ERA)  ❖  LP: Adam Morgan (1-9, 6.21 ERA)  ❖  SV: Shawn Kelley (7)

Continue reading "Morgan's solid outing wasted as Phillies drop ninth straight to Nats" »

Flyers React to 50th Anniversary Jerseys


By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Flyers unveiled their 50th Anniversary jerseys on Wednesday, finally giving fans a look at the much-anticipated sweaters. 

Reaction to the new jerseys was mixed -- for every fan who enjoyed the new design, there were plenty more who bemoaned it. And while gold isn't exactly a part of the Flyers' color scheme, it still adds an interesting touch to the jersey, while still maintaining some of the same elements that have kept the Flyers' unis among the best in the league.

Players, however, are excited about the new look -- after all, they're the ones who will be donning the jerseys on 12 occasions throughout the season. Here's what a few Flyers had to say about them: 

Continue reading "Flyers React to 50th Anniversary Jerseys" »

Cozens hits 38th homer, tying Ruf for Reading's franchise record


By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

Phillies outfield prospect Dylan Cozens has slugged himself into a tie for the most home runs in a single season with Double-A Reading. Despite his recent slump, the slugging outfielder can still drive the ball out of the park at any moment, and his home run tonight tied him with Darin Ruf, who hit 38 homers in 2012.

Heading into tonight's game, Cozens had just three hits in his last 41 at-bats, including 19 strikeouts. After hitting .295 in July, the former second round pick has struck out 45 times in 107 at-bats in August, but has still managed to hit eight home runs as well. There's no doubting the raw power of Cozens, but his strikeout numbers are alarming, with 173 strikeouts to just 60 walks in nearly 500 at-bats this season. He leads the Eastern League with 118 RBIs and a .583 slugging percentage.

Teammate Rhys Hoskins still sits at 37 home runs on the year, one behind Cozens and Ruf for the Reading home run record. The Fightin' Phils have six games, including Wednesday, remaining for Cozens and Hoskins to try and surpass Darin Ruf.

Kingery highlights group of Phillies prospects headed to Arizona Fall League

Phillies prospect Scott Kingery is hitting .300 over his last 10 games with Double-A Reading (Frank Klose/Philliedelphia)

By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

Rosters for the 2016 Arizona Fall League were announced today by Baseball America and six Phillies prospects will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpians, who also field young talent from the Angels, Mets, Yankees and Giants. The league will begin play on October 11.

Heading to Arizona from the Phillies organization will be pitchers Victor Arano, Brandon Leibrandt and Miguel Nunez, second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Mitch Walding and outfielder Andrew Pullin.

Arano, 21, has appeared in 44 games this season between Double-A Reading and Advanced 'A' Clearwater, posting a 4-2 record to go along with an ERA of 2.23. After throwing 63 innings with Clearwater, sporting a 2.29 ERA, Arano was promoted to Double-A, where he's allowed just three earned runs in 13.2 innings of work.

Leibrandt, 23, was a sixth round pick of the Phillies from the 2014 Major League Baseball draft. He just returned at the beginning of August following a four-month stint on the disabled list. In nine starts between the Gulf Coast League and Clearwater, he's 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA. Last season with Clearwater, he went 7-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 17 starts.

Nunez, 23, is currently clsoing Double-A after just six games in Clearwater this season. He's coming off of two tough outings in Reading and overall has a 3.25 ERA in 44.1 innings at the Double-A level, where he has converted 20 of his 22 save opportunities. 

Kingery, 22, comes in as the Phillies 14th best prospect according to After hitting .293 in 94 games with Clearwater, Kingery has put together a solid month and a half with Reading following his promotion. He's hitting .300 (12-for-40) over his last 10 games and has a .267 average overall in Double-A this season through 32 games.

Walding, 23, was a fifth round pick of the Phillies back in 2011. He hit. 280 through 100 games this season with Clearwater before being moved up to Reading, where he's hitting .238 in 21 games. Up until his stint in Clearwater this season, Walding hasn't hit above .237 in his career with the Phillies organization.

Pullin, 22, was selected in the fifth round of the 2012 draft by the Phillies. He actually retired in April of this year, but was resigned by the Phillies just over a month later. He's played 36 games in Reading and 26 with Clearwater, hitting a combined .322 with 21 doubles, two triples, 14 homers, 51 RBIs, and 53 runs scored. Pullin has a .346 average and a .559 slugging percentage in 188 at-bats with the Reading Fightin' Phils this season.

Former Phillies outfielder and fan favorite Aaron Rowand will be the manager of the Glendale Desert Dog, fielding players from the White Sox, Nationals, Astros, Cardinals and Dodgers.

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss


By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia 76ers made some roster moves on Wednesday afternoon, waiving newly-acquired Tibor Pleiss and veteran forward Carl Landry. While Pleiss being released isn't much of a surprise, Landry was likely made expendable due to the signings of veteran guards Jerryd Bayless and Gerald Henderson along with the surplus of big men on the roster.

Landry, 32, was acquired by the Sixers on July 9, 2015 in a salary dump trade with the Kings that also brought Nik Stauskas and a 2018 first round draft pick. Though he only played in 36 games, Landry provided strong veteran leadership to the young Sixers core of forwards and centers that were just getting started in the NBA. He provided good depth offensively and defensively on the floor and was overall a solid asset for the team this past season. Landry averaged 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds, shooting 55.6 percent from the floor. With Landry being released, second-year forward Richaun Holmes has a strong likelihood of making the active roster on Opening Night.

On Tuesday, it was reported that the team was planning to waive Tibor Pleiss and it was made official on Wednesday. Pleiss was acquired by the Jazz in the trade that sent Kendall Marshall to Utah last week.

Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon may not pitch again in 2016

Jonathan papelbon

Former Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon's career appears to be at a crossroads. (Kevin Durso/Philliedelphia)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Earlier this month, Deadspin's Tom Ley wrote that if you could say one thing about former Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon "it's that he's always who you would expect him to be." In other words, while Papelbon is a complete wild card as a personality, none of the things he does usually catch anyone by surprise. 

But since his Aug. 13 release from the Washington Nationals, Papelbon's actions have caught quite a few by surprise. Despite reported interest from multiple teams, Papelbon hasn't signed with a team. The Nationals actually released Papelbon after he requested it, presumably to avoid having to wait 10 days to find out his fate like he would have had to if he was designated for assignment. 

According to WEEI's Rob Bradford, Papelbon won't sign with a team before midnight's deadline for post-season eligibility, which may mean he's decided not to pitch again in 2016:

Continue reading "Former Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon may not pitch again in 2016" »

Flyers Unveil 50th Anniversary Season Jerseys


By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

The Flyers took to 1 Liberty Place on Wednesday afternoon to unveil their new, special edition 50th anniversary jerseys to be worn on several occasions during the upcoming season.

The jersey features a new design for the Orange and Black, and adds a new gold color to the mix as well. Player numbers will be written in gold, while the crest on the front and captain patches will feature gold trim. The shoulder also displays the team's 50th Anniversary logo.

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Phillies manager Mackanin doesn't "see a need" to play Goeddel

Phillies OF Tyler Goeddel hit .288 with two doubles, two triples, two homers, seven RBIs and nine runs scored during the month of May (Frank Klose/Philliedelphia)


By Brandon Apter, Sports Talk Philly editor

With September just a day away, rosters are set to expand across Major League Baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies will use the time to evaluate some of their young talent already on the roster along with some from the minor leagues once their seasons end. 

Phillies skipper Pete Mackanin met with reporters prior to Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Nationals and spoke about a number of things, including some of his plans for September. He talked about what he wanted to do at first base, but the puzzling comments came when the outfield was brought into the picture. With Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr the outfield regulars heading into the final month of the season, that leaves a corner outfield spot for a trio of players. Out of Jimmy Paredes, Peter Bourjos and Tyler Goeddel, it would make most sense to give Goeddel playing time, right? He needs Major League at-bats and showed promise while playing regularly between May 5 and June 1, slashing .297/.350/.500. Mackanin deemed Paredes as an extra player, but he was in the lineup for the fourth straight game on Tuesday. As for Goeddel, the Phillies skipper doesn't really see why he needs to play him.

“I’ve seen enough of Goeddel to know – we’ve kept him (on the roster) this long and we’re going to keep him (as a Rule 5 pick) and we’ll see where we go next year with him,” Mackanin said. “I don’t see a need to play him, especially after he hasn’t played so much. What’s the point?” []

With Paredes and Bourjos not in the picture for the Phillies next season, it would make the most logical sense to play Goeddel to see where he fits moving forward, even though he's likely going to start the year in Triple-A. The Rule-5 pick has shown signs of potential not only at the plate with regular playing time, but with a few outfield assists as well. Top prospect Nick Williams could also get a look, but he's struggling in Triple-A, hitting .195 with 18 strikeouts over his last 10 games.

First base was also a hot topic on Tuesday, with Tommy Joseph set to get the majority of playing time in September. When he came up, he split time with Ryan Howard before overtaking the veteran at first base by the middle of June. From May 22 to June 22, Joseph started 24 of the 30 games, but Howard began to show progress in his limited at-bats, earning his way back into the lineup more. Last night against Washington, Howard started for the 12th time in the last 20 games and hit his 20th home run of the season. Mackanin will go from splitting time to Joseph playing nearly every day, hoping to get one last good look at the 25-year-old this season on a regular basis.

“I think it makes sense to see Joseph as much as possible,” Mackanin said, adding that it was his decision, and not an edict from management. “I don’t want to happen to him to happen to (Darin) Ruf, where he didn’t have opportunities to get him at-bats.” []

Joseph is hitting .252 in 79 games with 17 homers and 34 RBIs this season.

Around the NFL: Bridge over troubled water

Bridgewater tears ACL: The Minnesota Vikings will be without their blossoming young quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, for the entire 2016 season, and possibly beyond, after he tore his ACL during a non-contact drill Tuesday.

In addition to a torn ACL, the 23-year-old also suffered a dislocated knee. An MRI revealed no nerve damage, so Bridewater will be fine long term and should make a full recovery in due time.

Continue reading "Around the NFL: Bridge over troubled water" »