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Flyers-Avalanche: Postgame Points

2-28-2017_FlyersvsAvs_2nd_credKateFrese-9

(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Tuesday night's game was the result the Flyers so desperately needed. It just came a few weeks too late.

A 4-0 win over the lowly Avalanche showed that the Flyers aren't the lowest of the low in the NHL this season. That said, a win like this is only worth two points in the standings, leaving the Flyers with a lot more work to do if they want to make a playoff run, as unlikely as it is.

Here are 10 Postgame Points from Flyers-Avalanche.

Continue reading "Flyers-Avalanche: Postgame Points" »


2017 Phillies Wall of Fame Breakdown - Scott Rolen

By: Matt Alberston, Historical Columnist

It took six years for Phillies fans to settle their differences with their former superstar third baseman. Dick Allen was welcomed back with open arms in 1975. The 1964 Rookie of the Year was a critical component to what fans thought was the next great Phillies team after the 1964 season but his time in Philadelphia soured amid racial unrest and the fan's and media's misunderstanding of the great slugger. Allen demanded that the Phillies trade him in the late 1960s. Demanding a trade out of Philadelphia is the fast track to booville for diehard Phillies fans - indeed, it's the unforgivable sin.

But in 1975, the Phillies added Allen as a veteran bat to a young and incredibly talented team, the core of which went on to appear in five National League Championship Series and two World Series, winning the title in 1980. The fans buried the hatchet with Allen after years of reflection, plus, the club began winning once he was welcomed back into the fold. As we all know, "winning cures everything." 

In some respects, Dick Allen's narrative parallels Scott Rolen's. Rolen was drafted in the 1993 amateur draft out of high school. That year, the club made an improbable run to the World Series which ended in bitter defeat. Rolen must have liked what he saw; a competitive club stocked with stars John Kruk, Curt Schilling, and Lenny Dykstra. However, just like the 1964 Phillies, the 1993 Phillies were a shooting star that flared out once the season finished. What followed were arguably some of the worst years in club history since the end of World War II. 

Continue reading "2017 Phillies Wall of Fame Breakdown - Scott Rolen" »


Kingery's strong day highlights Phillies' potential logjam at 2B

Kingery and hernandez

(Frank Klose/Sports Talk Philly)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Scott Kingery's three-hit performance Tuesday highlighted why he's considered one of the organization's top 15 prospects and the potential long-term starter at second base. 

Kingery, who split the 2016 season with Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading, slashed a combined .281/.335/.388 while driving in 46 runs and stealing 30 bases a year ago. He's going to start the season at Double-A again, but the 22-year-old looks like he could quickly advance through the minors and onto the Major League roster. 

The problem is the Phillies are very deep at second base in the upper levels of their organization.

Jesmuel Valentin, who is also just 22, will start the season at Triple-A. Matt Winklemen of Phillies Minor Thoughts wrote in the offseason that Valentin may project more as a bench piece at the big league level, but he's moved through the organization quickly behind strong work in the field. If the Phillies hope to promote Kingery to Triple-A this season, it could force the team to move Valentin to another position, such as third base or the outfield. 

At the major league level, the Phillies are about as deep as a team could possibly be at second base. Cesar Hernandez is coming off a season where he slashed .294/.371/.393 and posted a 4.4 WAR. The Phillies reportedly listened to offers on the 26-year-old this past off-season, but Jim Salisbury of Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia reported that general manager Matt Klentak had a 'very steep' asking price on Hernandez. The reason? If Hernandez can cut down on his mental errors and hit the way that he did in 2016, it would be hard for the Phillies to replace him with anyone. 

Even beyond Hernandez, top prospect J.P. Crawford is eventually going to be given a chance to be the team's starting shortstop. When that happens, Freddy Galvis, one of the team's most respected players, is going to be pushed into competing for playing time at second base. 

Then there's Andres Blanco and Howie Kendrick. Blanco, who is best suited as a middle infielder, will play primarily a bench role this season and may get some at-bats at first base as well. But if Tommy Joseph plays well enough that manager Pete Mackanin can't take him out of the lineup, he'll have to find a spot to give Blanco occasional at-bats. Kendrick, a second baseman by trait, will open the season in leftfield, but if Aaron Altherr plays well enough, he could push for more playing time. Both Roman Quinn and Nick Williams are waiting in the wings as well. 

In the end, having a surplus organizational depth is a nice problem to have. Blanco and Kendrick are likely to be traded in July or August. Hernandez could regress in 2017, and if not the Phillies could move him for pitching. Hernandez may earn being the team's starting second baseman, which would make Galvis and Kingery, in different ways, expendable.

The most likely scenario is that Hernandez, Kendrick and Blanco are eventually traded, paving the way for Kingery to be the team's starting second baseman. Kingery would be of more value to the Phillies than Hernandez if all things are equal because he's obviously younger, cheaper and has six full years of team control remaining. Galvis could be dealt, but both him and Valentin could be bench pieces as the Phillies move towards contention. 


Simmonds, Weal Power Flyers Past Avs

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Photo by Kate Frese/Flyerdelphia

By Dan Heaning, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

On the eve of the NHL trade deadline, the Philadelphia Flyers were in need of a victory against the league's worst team to keep their playoff hopes within reason.

However faint those hopes may be, the Flyers kept their slim chances alive with a 4-0 thumping of the Colorado Avalanche.

Continue reading "Simmonds, Weal Power Flyers Past Avs" »


Phillies Rumors: Roy Halladay likely to join organization

Roy halladay
(Kevin Durso/Sports Talk Philly)

By Tim Kelly, Sports Talk Philly editor

Even though he seemingly meets all of the eligibility requirements, former Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay isn't on this year's Wall of Fame ballot. That doesn't mean Halladay won't be around Citizens Bank Park a few times this summer, however. 

According to MLB.com's Todd Zolecki, the Phillies and Halladay are nearing an agreement for him to serve in an unknown role for the club: 

Continue reading "Phillies Rumors: Roy Halladay likely to join organization " »


Stassi's late inning blast secures Phillies victory

By: Rebecca Serad, Sports Talk Philly Staff 

Final: Philadelphia Phillies 7, Baltimore Orioles 5  ❖  Attendance: 4,109

Clearwater, FLA — From the start, it was a battle of the bats, with both the Philadelphia Phillies (3-2) and the Baltimore Orioles (2-3) going back and forth between taking the lead and tying the game. Ultimately, a three-run homer by Brock Stassi in the bottom of the eighth inning ended up giving the Phils the lead for good.  The Phillies' bats were on fire today, with Tommy Joseph, Scott Kingery, Aaron Altherr and Stassi all blasting homers off of Orioles pitchers.

Another high point in the game was Clay Buchholz's Phillies debut. The righty threw two scoreless innings and seemed relaxed on the mound. After leaving the game, he told CSN's Gregg Murphy that he has been working on his mechanics and is taking a different approach to Spring Training this year. Buchholz is off to a good start, but only time will tell if he'll continue to be effective and bring this new approach to the regular season.

WP: Elniery Garcia (1-0, 6.75 ERA)  ❖  LP: Cody Sedlock (0-1, 36.00 ERA)  ❖  SV: Cesar Ramos (1)

Continue reading "Stassi's late inning blast secures Phillies victory" »


Dick Allen's Story in the Classroom and the Museum

By: Matt Alberston, Historical Columnist

On February 22, a group of Dick Allen fans presented Dick Allen's story to students at Archbishop Ryan High School. The group consisted of former Phillies grounds crew member Mark "Frog" Carfagno, Dick Allen Jr., Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker, Villanova law professor and Dick Allen biographer Mitch Nathanson, local SABR chapter president Dick Rosen, Bob Wagner, and former KYW Newsradio reporter Ken Shuttleworth.

The crew regaled the students with tales of Allen's terrific strength and baseball skills. But they also presented the social aspect to Allen's career and his status as the most misunderstood player in baseball history. It was a grassroots effort to educate youngsters about a man who dealt with a critical fan base and media, some of whom were motivated by racial stereotypes.

Carfagno  has dedicated the majority of his time to rehabilitate Allen's image and convince the members of the Hall of Fame's Veteran's Committe that Dick Allen is a bonafide Hall of Famer.  "I saw the eyes, especially the boys in the class, light up," Carfagno said. The visit was also an effort to help rehabilitate Allen's public image and right decades of wrongs. Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker touched on the turmoil that surrounded Allen throughout his career. Despite the negative press, Baker told the students that when he was a teacher in the Philadelphia public school system he would bring students down to the field at Connie Mack Stadium and Allen went out of his way to speak with the kids. 

Continue reading "Dick Allen's Story in the Classroom and the Museum" »


25 Points on the State of the Flyers

11-29-2016_FlyersvsBruins_3rd_SO_credKateFrese-7(Kate Frese/Sports Talk Philly)

By Rob Riches, Sports Talk Philly contributor 

Two months ago, the Flyers were winning games, and looking overall like a team that could perhaps add an asset or two at the trade deadline for a playoff push. Times have since changed, though. The team is struggling mightily, and has made it clear in no uncertain terms that they will be selling, if anything, at this year's deadline.

That said, here are 25 points pertaining the state of the Flyers, with the deadline 24 hours away.

1. The trade deadline hasn't failed to be interesting so far. Between the surprise Ben Bishop-to-LA move, the ever-baffling Alexandre Burrows-to-Ottawa move and the big splash in Kevin Shattenkirk-to-Washington, plenty of big moves are all over the league. GM Ron Hextall has yet to get in on the action, but I don't see him sitting idle for too long.

2. We've all seen what Hextall is capable of when it comes to swapping players. So far, he's proven to be a wizard. It's been a little over a year since he swung for the fences in a deal (the trade sending Luke Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier to Los Angeles for Jordan Weal and a third-rounder), so it almost seems like he's due for another speciality -- especially with expiring contracts on the horizon.
 
3. Some of the returns teams have fetched for veteran defensemen: LA got a fifth-rounder from the Capitals for Tom Gilbert, while Carolina got a second-rounder and AHLer Danny Kristo from Pittsburgh for Ron Hainsey. Hextall can fetch decent draft choices for defensemen like Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz. Considering he's spent a lot more time in the press box as a healthy scratch -- he's played in just 16 games this season, and five since the start of 2017 -- Schultz is quite harder to move.
 

Continue reading "25 Points on the State of the Flyers" »


Flyers-Avalanche: Game 62 Preview

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center could be the beginning of the end for the Flyers.

With the trade deadline less than 24 hours away after the Flyers and Colorado Avalanche face off, both teams could look significantly different following the deadline.

The opening face-off is set for 7 p.m.

Continue reading "Flyers-Avalanche: Game 62 Preview" »


Phillies Mailbag: Spring Training Questions

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Jesmuel Valentin might be the first from last year's Reading team to make the Phillies, though he found a promotion towards the end of 2016 (Frank Klose/Sports Talk Philly)

We are in full force in Spring Training 2017, and the Phillies are already into Grapefruit League action in Florida.   Here is the return of the Phillies mailbag, which you can find on 973espn.com.  We will discuss it on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill, so tune in!

What do you think will be the Opening Day rotation in order? Give me a good prediction.
~Dalt

For the second year in a row, the Phillies come to Spring Training with improved pitching depth.   That of course, can quickly change.   Last year the Phillies had Charlie Morton for just four starts before the Phillies had to turn to their one starting backup, Adam Morgan.  But Morgan probably is far down the depth chart in the rotation and probably will have an opportunity to help the Phillies in the bullpen.

Right now I would think that Jeremy Hellickson and Clay Buchholz will get the first two spots in the rotation.  While I would not say that they are the best pitchers in the starting rotation, it is almost a veteran courtesy to give the veterans the top part of the rotation.  Plus, this allows the younger players to set back their innings, even though it is just a little bit.   The veterans will not be pitching for a spot in the Phillies rotation, but instead someone else's rotation come trade deadline time.

Jerad Eickhoff I would place third, right behind the two of them right now.  Since joining the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade, Eickhoff has gone from a pitcher whom the Phillies hoped would just come to the Major Leagues right away and pitch some innings for them, to a solid pitcher with even higher upside than they originally thought.   Eickhoff got off to somewhat of a slow start in 2016, fracturing a bone in his thumb as Spring Training opened.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin has already said that either Aaron Nola or Vince Velasquez will start the home opener.  After three games in Cincinnati, game four that will be held in Philadelphia, so it is clear that as of right now Nola and Velasquez are set to be in the fourth and fifth spots of the starting rotation.

Looking at Lehigh Valley, they will have a pretty stacked starting rotation.   The Triple-A IronPigs likely will have Jake Thompson and Zach Eflin leading the way, provided both get back on track from minor setbacks.  Alec Asher will be likely to start at Triple-A, with Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta behind them.   All five are in Phillies camp and will get a look, but there is no space for them in the starting rotation at this time.   If the Phillies have an injury, they will have plenty of options stashed away at Triple-A.

By the end of the season, who do you see starting in the outfield?
~Stephen

The Phillies will open the season with a pretty set starting outfield.  New acquisition Howie Kendrick will be in left field, Odubel Herrera will be in center fieldand Michael Saunders in right field.  I think if all goes smoothly, both Kendrick and Saunders will be traded during the season.  It won't be because the Phillies have a pressing need to get rid of them, but hopefully that players in the Phillies system force the club to make room for them.

The Triple-A Lehigh Valley starting outfield will open to be very strong. Nick Williams will open the season as the IronPigs left fielder, Roman Quinn the center fielder, and Dylan Cozens in right field.  The fourth outfield spot right now likely goes to Aaron Altherr.  The left-handed bench bat who can play outfield and first base will come in the likes of Chris Coghlan, Daniel Nava, or Brock Stassi.

For the moment, Tyler Goeddel seems to be buried.  Because the IronPigs will have Ryhs Hoskins starting at first base and the designated hitter spot could go to someone who does not make the left-handed bench spot at the big level.  Perhaps the Phillies could trade Goeddel at some point during Spring Training.  If the Phillies add so much as one player to the 40-man roster, someone has to exit.

I am going to say that the final starting outfield will be Williams, Herrera, and Quinn.  I think Cozens is not far behind and will get a September call-up.  I think Altherr will play plenty, too, particularly against left-handed pitching.

Of the 2016 Reading team, who is most likely to make the Opening Day Roster?
~Michael

The 2016 Double-A Reading Fightin' Phils team was near dominant in the Eastern League.  The club won the division and made it all the way to the championship round.  However, the team lost several players along the way.   One was Quinn, who found his way to the Major Leagues, and another was infielder Jesmuel Valentin.   Jorge Alfaro had a cup of coffee in the big leagues too, given that he was the lone extra catcher on the 40-man roster, and Joely Rodriguez spent a good half a season there.

However, to open the 2017 season, not too many of the 2016 Fightin' Phils are likely to make the Opening Day roster.  So, I will give two names that I think have the best chance: Rodriguez and Valentin.  One is out of real need and the other would be a good temporary injury replacement.

The Phillies really do not have a strong left-handed guarantee in the bullpen.   The options right now are Rodriguez, Morgan, non-roster invitees Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett, and youngster Elniery Garcia.   I think Morgan is primed to take one of the spots, given the lack of rotation openings at both the big league and Triple-A levels.  But I would call Rodriguez the front runner to take the second left-handed relief spot.

Valentin I think will be the player that the Phillies use as a short-term injury replacement.  Should any of the Phillies infielders suffer an injury during Spring Training that would affect the club on a short-term basis, I think Andres Blanco would temporarily assume the starting position.  Valentin, on the 40-man roster, would be easy to option back and forth between Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia during the season.

I realize that this is probably not the kind of name you were looking for, but be patient.   Most of the Double-A stars of 2016 will be a Triple-A Lehigh Valley and facing much more pitching that has had some big league experience.  Whoever steps up and knocks down the club's door will be the first to arrive.

Have a question for the Phillies mailbag?  Ask @FrankKlose on Twitter or send an email to sportstalkphilly @gmail.com