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Celek Retires an Eagle

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Staff

On March 18, the Eagles released Brent Celek. It was a move that left the Eagles with only one of the tight ends from their Super Bowl run on the roster.

Having missed only one game in his 11-year career, it was no surprise that Celek found interest in the free agent market and received multiple offers. Those offers didn’t matter to Celek, however, as none came from the Philadelphia Eagles.

Celek expressed just that in his retirement letter:

I can clearly remember the day I was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. I was in the basement of my parents’ house. So many friends and family members over, and lots and lots of food. I didn’t eat much. Not sure if I was going to get drafted, I waited, feeling panicked. I mean, I wasn’t even invited to the combine. Then the phone rang: It was a 215 area code. As I answered, the person on the other end of the line said he was a representative of the Philadelphia Eagles and that he was going to hand the phone over to Coach Andy Reid. Listening to Coach Reid say they were selecting me with the 162nd pick was life-changing. I vowed to him, and to the organization, that from that day forward they were going to get all of me. Nothing less.

Eleven years later I was part of a team that won the first Super Bowl in Philadelphia history. It has been an amazing journey - a journey that is now coming to an end. It’s a big decision, but it’s not a tough one: Though I know I’m still capable of playing football at a high level, and though I had offers to continue my NFL career, my heart told me that this was the time. The bottom line was this: When I thought long and hard about the prospect of putting on another uniform, it just seemed wrong. In the end, I couldn’t do it. My career began, and ended, with the Philadelphia Eagles - and man, did we go out in style.

It was a couple days ago that Celek informed the Eagles of his decision to call it a career, but it was this morning that he released his farewell statement on the Eagles website. He also put up a billboard to thank the city.

Current Eagle Zach Ertz took to Twitter to express how Celek has helped him develop into the top target he is now.

Celek embodied the blue-collar mentality of Eagles fans and will go down as one of the greatest tight ends in Eagles history. His full statement thanking the team and it’s fans can be read on the Eagles website.


Eagles Notebook: Super Bowl hangovers, Australian imports and d-line depth

The Eagles finished off their 2018 preseason in spectacular fashion last night, defeating the New York Jets, 10-9, in an absolute thriller of a game. 

Despite the uninspiring performance the team put forth for much of the preseason, the Eagles are still entering the regular season ready to defend their Super Bowl title with one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and a savvy head coach to boot. With just 7 days until their first game of the season, here are my final thoughts on what amounted to an uneven preseason:

Super Bowl Hangover

The Eagles took down their Super Bowl banners today as a motivational tool to help avoid complacency, which seems to have plagued some of the younger players on the roster. Guys like Rasul Douglas and Halapoulivaati Vaitai have taken a step back this year after being solid contributors in 2017.

The veteran half of the roster will also be feeling the effects of playing a 19-game schedule last year. Not only do they have Brandon Graham, Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz all coming back from major injuries, but it seems like the team really mailed it in during the preseason, content to work out the kinks on the practice field or during the early part of the regular season.

After playing the Falcons next week, the Eagles’ schedule gets a bit easier with games against the Buccaneers and Colts, so it’s still possible to win these early games despite not being in midseason form.

It seems like the Eagles strategy heading into 2018 is to have the team intact when the playoffs roll around, early-season results be damned. Instead of killing themselves to rush out to a quick start like last season, the team could stumble early, but they’re fine trading home-field advantage for a healthy roster.

Mailata: Australian for left tackle

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the offseason has been the emergence of Jordan Mailata, who has gone from never playing football to holding his own against NFL competition over the course of just a few short months. Mailata seemed like a longshot to even stick in the NFL when the Eagles used a seventh-round pick on him in April, but the Australian has proved to be a quick study and it seems like he’ll make the 53-man roster tomorrow.

However, despite all his success and seemingly limitless potential, Mailata has a long way to go until the Eagles will feel comfortable letting him protect Wentz’s blindside. There’s a big difference between playing in the second half of preseason games against guys who will be substitute teachers and personal trainers in the next couple week and lining up against Khalil Mack and other Pro Bowlers on a weekly basis.

Mailata may very well be the Eagles left tackle of the future and he seems to be on track to be so much more. But let’s pump the brakes a little bit and push back his Hall of Fame induction.

Depth Chart Musings

Arguably the deepest position on the offensive side of the Eagles depth chart is running back. In addition to returning Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement; Darren Sproles has worked his way back from injury and the trio of Wendell Smallwood, Josh Adams and Donnell Pumphrey are vying for one lone spot at the bottom of the roster.

Ajayi was very effective in his limited role last season and with his injury history, having talented back behind him will be crucial to keeping him fresh through December and into the postseason. Going into the regular season, I would still expect Ajayi to grow into the role LaGarrette Blount filled for the early part of last season. Ajayi will be called upon to get tough yards, while Sproles and Clement get most of the playing time on passing downs.

On the flip side, the Eagles seem to be lacking depth at tight end and defensive tackle, two positions of strength a year ago. Starting with defensive tackle, the Birds lost two of their top-three DTs this offseason; Beau Allen went to Tampa Bay in free agency and Tim Jernigan will miss most, if not all, of 2018 with a back injury he suffered in May.

Fletcher Cox has looked like a man possessed in the limited action he’s seen in the preseason, but he’ll be lining up next to some combination of Destiny Vaeao and Haloti Ngata on most downs, which will allow most teams to focus the majority of their interior blocking on the perennial Pro Bowler. However, with Michael Bennett now in the fold, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Eagles go to their pass-rushing package more often and flex a defensive end like Bennett or Brandon Graham inside to free up Cox.

As for tight end, the Eagles lost both Brent Celek and Trey Burton this offseason and acquired Dallas Goeddert in the second round of the draft. While the pairing of Goeddert and Zach Ertz is tantalizing, the former is a rookie from a 1-AA school and the latter hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2014.

To put it bluntly, the Eagles are one snap away from Richard Rodgers or Billy Brown getting significant snaps. That’s not an ideal scenario for a team with a potential question mark at quarterback.


Report: Phillies Still 'Looking at Bats' on Postseason Eligibility Deadline Day

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Even after acquiring four veteran sluggers in Wilson Ramos, Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Bour and Jose Bautista, the Philadelphia Phillies are said to still be "looking at bats" ahead of Friday's deadline to add any acquired player to the 40-man roster for postseason eligibility, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.

Stats

Combined this month, Cabrera, Ramos, Bour and Bautista have produced a 0.9 WAR with four home runs, 21 runs scored and 21 RBI. Bour has been out since August 23 with a left oblique strain, but he produced a RBI double and home run in his most recent game against the Washington Nationals.

It is not clear who the Phillies may be targeting, however, just three games out of a postseason spot with 29 to go, the front office clearly is going "all in" in the first season under manager Gabe Kapler.

The New York Yankees have made the most recent waiver wire transaction, landing pnce All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen from the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.


Phillies, Pivetta Vie to Snap 7-Game Series Opener Skid Opposite Cubs

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

Looking to snap their seven-game series opener losing streak, RHP Nick Pivetta and the Philadelphia Phillies (71-62) will take on veteran southpaw Jose Quintana and the National League-best Chicago Cubs (79-54) in the first of a three-game set Friday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Former Phillies 2008 World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels will make his return to the venue.

The Phillies salvaged Wednesday's series finale, edging the Washington Nationals, 8-6. Leadoff hitter Roman Quinn went 3-5 with a triple and two runs scored, while first baseman Carlos Santana launched his 20th home run with a go-ahead grand slam in the fifth. Jose Bautista delivered in the seventh with a game-winning RBI single to center, before RHP Tommy Hunter shut the door with a two-scoreless-inning save, his third of the season.

The Phillies have won 18 of their 30 games against National League Central opponents. Although they lost two of three against the Cubs, June 5-7 at Wrigley Field, the Phillies still managed to outscore manager Joe Maddon's squad, 14-12. The Phillies last won consecutive games on August 16-17 against the New York Mets.


Starting Pitching Matchup:

Chicago Cubs (79-54) Philadelphia Phillies (71-62)
LHP Jose Quintana RHP Nick Pivetta
(11-9, 4.33 ERA) (7-10, 4.76 ERA)

Continue reading "Phillies, Pivetta Vie to Snap 7-Game Series Opener Skid Opposite Cubs" »


Eagles Evaluation: Means, Jones Shoot Down Jets

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Staff

The Eagles entered their final preseason game with anyone who will be on the roster for sure not playing. The focus was on players who are battling for the last few spots on the roster. Some of the more high profile players to play were Jordan Mailata, Josh Adams, DeAndre Carter, Christian Hackenberg, Markus Wheaton, and Billy Brown.

Below are my drive by drive analyses:

First Quarter

Drive One (Defense)

  • After a really nice tackle by Joe Walker, the Jets rushed for a short gain and then dropped a deep pass down the field for a three and out.

Drive Two (Offense)

  • Joe Callahan hit Billy Brown for a five yard gain on first down.
  • Josh Adams was nearly tackled behind the line of scrimmage on a power rush, but was able to spin forward for a short gain. The Eagles went right back to him, but this time he could not escape the four defenders who had broken through the offensive line and the Eagles were forced to punt.

Drive Three (Defense)

  • After swarming two runs, the Jets passed right up the middle for a 10 yard gain.
  • Kyle Wilson made a good stop on the next run and that was followed by a near first down completion that was blatantly dropped. De'Vante Bausby was beat easily on the play.
  • LaRoy Reynolds dropped coverage and laid out on the next play to try and make an interception, but missed. Luckily for him, the receiver dropped the ball again. The Jets went for a huge field goal and made it.

Drive Four (Offense)

  • Josh Adams made a short run up the middle then Callahan rolled out of the pocket and hit Billy Brown. Brown leaped backward onto the ground for a ball that hit him in the chest and might have cost a first down. Part of that is also on Callahan for not hitting him in stride and making him slow up a bit.
  • Callahan made a risky throw, but it paid off as it hit DeAndre Carter in stride for a big catch and run.
  • A bad snap by Jon Toth seemed to stop all the momentum that the previous plays had built, losing 13 yards.
  • Markus Wheaton saw his first action on the next play. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t catch the ball. That could have been a touchdown catch. We heard all about him at the start of OTAs, but his injury allowed Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter to pass him on the depth chart. This was not a good first impression to make if he wanted to be on this team.
  • Callahan threw the next pass away and the Eagles punted.

Drive Five (Defense)

  • Means brought the pressure, but Nate Gerry was beat and allowed a first down pass.
  • After the line stuffed another run play, Kyle Wilson made a grab to stop the runner just before getting a first down. That proved to be a big play as LaRoy Reynolds broke through the line and stopped the next run to force a punt.

Drive Six (Offense)

  • Josh Adams took the handoff and broke a tackle just to get back to the line of scrimmage. Then Callahan hit Denham for a nice gain of nine yards.
  • Big V made a solid block up the middle to allow Josh Adams to get a first down before he was touched. That’s the kind of play we hope to see starting next week.
  • Adams took another handoff for a very short gain and ran out the clock for the quarter.

Second Quarter

Drive Six (Continued - Offense)

  • Carter got wide open on the next play and Callahan was able to connect with him for a first down. Carter seemed to have a minor injury on the play and ran off.
  • Callahan threw the next pass over the head of Denham. Adams nearly broke out, but could not break loose of a defender holding his shirt for a short gain.
  • Callahan felt pressure and threw away the next ball and resulted in a punt.

Drive Seven (Defense)

  • Another run stuff by the line was nearly negated as Chandon Sullivan was beat, but the pass ended up being far too low to be caught.
  • Joe Walker made a nice tackle in pass coverage to knock the ball out and the Jets were forced to punt.

Drive Eight (Offense)

  • Hackenberg came in to make his first Eagles appearance. He started off by being sacked. He felt pressure and rolled out to the area where Jordan Mailata had just pushed his defender and it did not end well.
  • After Mailata was called for an illegal formation and a delay of game, Hackenberg made an excellent pass through double coverage to Denham.
  • Unfortunately the next play was a poor throw for an interception. It was a bad throw from Hackenberg, but it was also a poor route by Rashad Davis who was touched by the defender and essentially stopped playing which allowed the interception and near pick-six.

Drive Nine (Defense)

  • Steven Means made a great stop on the run, but was beat in pass protection for a large gain.
  • Jeremy Reaves whiffed on a tackle to allow a first down, but that was followed by a run stop by the line, a dropped pass and a well played ball by Chandon Sullivan. He played that like a wide receiver and made the play to prevent the Jets from getting any points off yet another turnover. He has no chance at making the 53-man roster, but he could earn himself a ticket to the practice squad if he isn’t claimed off waivers.

Drive 10 (Offense)

  • Josh Adams made two solid runs to get to a third and short situation, but a pass from Hackenberg was way behind Carter. That was a wide open pass that both players could have done better.

Drive 11 (Defense)

  • LaRoy Reynolds got in the way of a pass enough to make sure that it was not caught.
  • Kyle Wilson missed a tackle, but Reeves was able to bring him down after a four-yard game. This was followed by a poor pass that no player had a chance at catching which resulted in a punt.

Drive 12 (Offense)

  • After a five-yard rush up the middle by Adams, Hackenberg had a perfect throw to a covered Billy Brown who dropped the ball. He is hurting his chances at making this team.
  • Hackenberg then sailed a pass that was an easy interception for the Jets.

Drive 13 (Defense)

  • With a first and goal, the Eagles allowed a three-yard run.
  • The Eagles stuffed the next run and nearly gave up a touchdown on a quarterback scramble where Joe Walker sold out and missed the tackle for loss. Luckily, Walker’s presence forced the quarterback in where Joe Ostman was able to catch the runner and pull him down just before he crossed the plain.
  • The Jets went for it, but Aziz Shittu was in the hole and there was nowhere to go. Another goal line stand. The depth that the Eagles have on defense this preseason is even better than it was last season.

Drive 14 (Offense)

  • Pumphrey got a screen that went for a huge gain, but that was because he wasn’t touched. That could have very easily been a touchdown. There were only two defenders down the field. Greg Ward Jr. was blocking one and Jon Toth was down the field to block the safety. Instead of following the lineman, Pumphrey turned into the only defender near him and cut in the way that made Greg Ward’s block useless. Pumphrey was supposed to be a guy who is great in space and can make those plays much like Sproles, however on this play, he made the worst decision possible. He is unlikely to make the team unless another running back is traded and is also fairly likely to be claimed on waivers.
  • A nine-yard scramble and a nice pass to Pumphrey up the middle resulted in another first down.
  • A pass attempt went errant as the line collapsed and allowed a near sack.
  • A dump to Pumphrey before getting out of bounds and a nice pass and catch to Ward for yet another first down with 20 seconds remining in the half.
  • Hackenberg got a huge scramble up the field thanks to a block from Mailata and another from DeAndre Carter down the field. They were not able to stop the clock before time expired, however. That’s partially Hackenberg’s fault, but the defender who tackled him also sat on top of him for three seconds which would have given the time needed to stop the clock.

Third Quarter

Drive 15 (Offense)

  • Hackenberg started under pressure and had to throw the ball away quickly on the first play. He followed that up with a nice read to keep the ball and run for a big gain.
  • A delayed handoff to Josh Adams went nowhere.
  • Another pass way over the receiver’s head was followed by the quarterback rushing for another first down.
  • A handoff to Pumphrey gained three yards and then a dump pass caught by the back went nowhere.
  • Another pass was too high and resulted in a 55-yard field goal attempt. Elliot made another long kick. He has been an amazing pickup from midseason. It makes you wonder why the Bengals cut him at the beginning of the season.

Drive 16 (Defense)

  • Joe Walker was in great coverage on a pass attempt, but Reaves was called for a late hit and the Jets got a first down.
  • Brice Hector made a solid stop to make a rush attempt lose yardage.
  • The line brought pressure, but the Jets completed a short pass. That was followed by another pass that beat Chandon Sullivan and converted for a first down.
  • With the Jets driving, Means blew past a lineman and a running back to sack the quarterback and strip the football. Kyle Wilson came up with it for a turnover.

Drive 17 (Offense)

  • Hackenberg had all day and just stared down Josh Adams before finally throwing the ball. Adams dropped the pass, which was bad, but he also got hit hard because Hackenberg just stared at him.
  • A short pass to Adams was followed by Hackenberg being sacked. They rushed right up the middle and I don’t think Hackenberg saw it right away.

Drive 18 (Defense)

  • Reaves made a nice stop, but that was followed by Winston Craig missing a sack and Joe Walker hitting the quarterback late to gift the Jets a first down.
  • A screen that should’ve gone nowhere nearly went for a first down as Bausby missed a tackle. This was followed by a rush up the middle that got an easy first down.
  • A pressure forced a throwaway, but the Jets got another first down despite Reaves wailing the receiver as he made the catch.
  • Josh Sweat absolutely demolished a run play that was pushed back farther by offensive holding. One high pass and one short run later left the Eagles defense with a third and long.
  • Tre Sullivan made the stop and the Jets kicked another field goal.

Drive 19 (Offense)

  • Adams got a good gain up the middle, but lost a few yards on the next play.
  • Hackenberg ran for what looked to be an easy first down, but he fumbled the ball on the play and the Jets came up with it.

Drive 20 (Defense)

  • LaRoy Reynolds made a nice stop for a loss, but was called for lowering his head on the next play.
  • Pressure forced a throwaway on the next play, but a rush up the middle and a missed tackle by Reaves nearly let a touchdown score. Bausby forced the runner down at the one yard line to save that.

Fourth Quarter

Drive 20 (Continued - Defense)

  • Good coverage by Chandon Sullivan and Rasul Douglas with pressure from Joe Walker forced three incompletions and a field goal.
  • Drive 21 (Offense)

    • After a huge loss on a sack, Callahan came back and hit Tim Wilson for a good catch and run netting six yards. A neutral zone infraction, too many defensive players on the field, and five yard pass to Davis netted an unlikely first down.
    • Callahan rolled out and Wilson made a great dive to come up with another first down.
    • Callahan threw a pass away, but Jones made an eight yard gain up the middle. He lost yardage on the following attempt as he couldn’t get a block.
    • On fourth down, Callahan hit Billy Brown in stride, but he dropped yet another pass.

    Drive 22 (Defense)

    • A nice run stop was almost negated by Bausby missing another tackle. The third down pass was nearly intercepted by Reaves and that forced a three and out.

    Drive 23 (Offense)

    • Jones rushed twice up the middle for a first down. He nearly got a second on a dump from Callahan, but had to wait until two rushes later to convert.
    • A near perfect throw to Denham gained 22 yards and another good throw to Brown up the middle sent the Eagles rolling.
    • Callahan had a ton of time to throw, but threw an interception to a well-covered Rashad Davis.

    Drive 24 (Defense)

    • The Jets got some good push and gained five yards on a rush, but an unnecessary roughness on the offense negated all the ground the defense had given up.
    • A couple short runs got the Eagles another third and out.

    Drive 25 (Offense)

    • Callahan looked to Tim Wilson, but he threw it too far out of bounds for the catch to be made.
    • A pass to Jones netted a first down and the Eagles went right back to him with a 20 yard run and a 10 yard run to convert two more times.
    • Mailata was called for a false start and, after a dump to Jones went nowhere, he turned to Brown who came up with a seven yard grab.
    • He then turned to Tim Wilson who converted for a first down.
    • A good rush by Jones and a catch made by Davis put the Eagles at first and goal.
    • Callahan threw a short gain to Brown, but it was the pass to Jones and his reach that scored the first touchdown of the game with only 18 seconds remaining.

    Drive 26 (Defense)

    • An unnecessary roughness on Steven Means left the game alive.
    • The Jets looked to get closer to the endzone and threw a short pass, but Ironhead Gallon was there to lay a big hit and prevent the catch.
    • The Jets looked to try the same thing, but the Eagles defensive line brought the pressure and Steven Means earned his third sack to seal the only Eagles victory of the preseason.

    Offensive MVP

    He may not have a chance at making the Eagles 53-man, but Matt Jones was the Offensive MVP tonight. 13 touches with 78 all-purpose yards, a touchdown and no turnovers or dropped passes. He caught the pass that won the game and made the reach to ensure the touchdown. The running back looked good. If he had looked half that good in any of the other preseason games, he’d likely make the roster.

    Defensive MVP

    It has to be Steven Means. The defensive lineman was playing for his job tonight and he showed it. Six tackles (one for loss), three sacks and three more QB hits. One of his sacks came to end the game and ensure the victory. Means will be on this team thanks to his performance tonight.

    Preseason Game Four Notes

  • DeAndre Carter had two catches for 37 yards, but what will make him stick on this roster is the fact that he was in on nearly every play made on special teams. Unless the Eagles decide they really need a fourth tight end while Richard Rodgers is injured, he is in.
  • The fact that Smallwood didn’t play means that he made this roster. The Eagles will probably look to keep five backs, however. While Matt Jones did a lot in the fourth quarter of this game, he had no chance to make this team after all the turnovers he had earlier in this season and Donnell Pumphrey did not have enough opportunity with his injury. Pumphrey or Josh Adams will make this team, but the other is likely to be picked up by another team on waivers before the Eagles can put them on the practice squad.
  • Jordan Mailata was impressive all night long. Sure he made a few mistakes, but he played nearly all game, has had only two penalties called against him all preseason and had very few miscues. He will make this roster because there is no way he clears waivers for the practice squad. The Eagles will look to turn him into the left tackle that can take over when Jason Peters chooses to hang it up.
  • On defense there was a great showing by the line. Steven Means, Elijah Qualls and Bruce Hector were looking to claim the last line positions. The Eagles have both Brandon Graham and Michael Bennett who can play tackle or end, so they have the ability to keep more of one position than the other if they’d like. Means was dominant and secured his spot. Qualls and Hector were about even and it may come down to how much the coaches like the players as to which remains on the roster.
  • The other defensive players looking for jobs tonight were LaRoy Reynolds, Joe Walker and Tre Sullivan. If the Eagles are confident in their top three safeties, they may keep Walker and Reynolds so they have an extra linebacker during Nigel Bradham’s one game suspension and drop Tre Sullivan. After Bradham returns, it is likely that one of these guys is the one to go to open up a spot for Bradham.
  • The Eagles and Doug Pederson like some of the things they saw from Christian Hackenberg. Obviously turnovers were an issue, but some of that can be blamed on lack of familiarity with the receivers. Expect Hackenberg to be on the practice squad this season since he is eligible. The Eagles will try to clean up some of his mechanics and reads to develop him into a solid backup. Remember, Foles will most likely not be in Philadelphia next season.
  • These preseason games have looked awful, but it is important to remember that most of the points the Eagles have allowed have been field goals that were allowed after what would have been three and outs had the offense not turned the ball over deep in their own territory.
  • Tim Wilson, a Philly native receiver who the Eagles choose to sign from East Stroudsburg University, had three catches for 28 yards. He has pretty much no shot at making the team this year, but his showing tonight might have earned him one of the 10 spots on the practice squad and the chance to make the team next season.

  • Eight Phillies Prospects to Appear in 2018 Arizona Fall League

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    Philadelphia Phillies right-handed prospect Tyler Viza throwing for Double-A Reading at FirstEnergy Stadium during the 2017 season (Steven Kiebach/SportsTalkPhilly.com).

    By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

    Eight Philadelphia Phillies prospects have been named to the preliminary rosters of this year's Arizona Fall League, which will kick off its 27th season on Tuesday, Oct. 9.

    Top Phillies prospect and No. 17 overall-ranked RHP Sixto Sanchez headlines the list of players which will represent the club, followed by fellow right-handers Luke Leftwich, Seth McGarry and Tyler Viza, first baseman Darick Hall, shortstop Arquimedes Gamboa, 3B/OF Luke Williams and OF Austin Listi, according to The Athletic's Meghan Montemurro.

    On Monday, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reported that Sanchez — sidelined since early June due to inflammation in his right elbow — was nearing a return, and that the Phillies were considering to have the 20-year-old pitch in the September instructional league and possibly the Arizona Fall League "to make up for lost developmental time." It appears Phillies brass is opting in on those considerations.

    Continue reading "Eight Phillies Prospects to Appear in 2018 Arizona Fall League" »


    Phillies' 5 Stolen Bronze Statue Plaques Recovered in Scrapyard

    Plaque

    By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

    Five Philadelphia Phillies bronze plaques — stolen early August from two statues on the 1300 block of Pattison Avenue near Citizens Bank Park — were found Thursday afternoon at F and J Recycling, a South Philadelphia scrapyard, according to Sarah Bloomquist of Actions News.

    Plaque

    Who dumped the plaques at F and J Recycling and when "remains a mystery," per Bloomquist.

    F and J Recycling owner Jim DiBartolo said one of his scrappers said to "keep an eye out," prompting his search and subsequent recovery of the stolen plaques in "the hole." "I don't even know how long they've been sitting back there," DiBartolo said.

    Bloomquist writes:

    Scrappers bring in their load and after it's weighed it all goes in the hole and they get a price per pound. ... DiBartolo speculates the thief put the plaques in with a larger load, knowing the police would be looking for them. ... He said whoever dumped them got pennies for them. ... DiBartolo said his security cameras probably wouldn't help. Dozens of scrappers come in all day dumping truckloads of metal and it's amazing they found these.

    DiBartolo called recovering the plaques one of F and J Recycling's "biggest finds," and that he "just wants them returned to the statues they seem to have come from." "I'll be grateful if they're back where they belong," he said.

    The Phillies were first made aware of the missing plaques during Alumni Weekend and their four-game home series against the Miami Marlins. Investigators sifted through a week-long surveillance video, but found no leads until DiBartolo's call to Action News and the Philadelphia Police Department on Thursday.

    The stolen plaques have an estimated $7,500 overall value, or $1,500 per plaque. The Phillies have yet to comment on the incident.

    (Photo: Dave Kinchen/Twitter)


    Phillies Announce 2019 Spring Training Schedule

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    Spectrum Field will open its doors for its 16th season of Philadelphia Phillies spring training baseball starting on Saturday, Feb. 23, against the Pittsburgh Pirates (Brendan/Flickr Creative Commons).

    By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

    One week after announcing its regular season schedule, Major League Baseball and the Philadelphia Phillies unveiled on Wednesday the club's 2019 spring training schedule, featuring their 16th season at Spectrum Field in Clearwater, Florida. 

    Read: Phillies to Open, Close 2019 Season at Home

    The Phillies will begin their game action in the second season under Gabe Kapler starting on Friday, Feb. 22, against the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte. The team's home Grapefruit League opener will occur one day later, Saturday, Feb. 23, against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    Continue reading "Phillies Announce 2019 Spring Training Schedule" »


    Santana's Slam, Bautista's Go-Ahead Hit Rally Phillies Past Nationals

    By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

    Final: Phillies 8, Nationals 6  ❖ Attendance: 22,525

    PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Tuesday night's hero, Anthony Rendon, hit another long home run to left field in the fifth inning of Wednesday's game to make it 5-2 Washington. For the quickly fading Phillies, it seemed to be a knockout blow.

    But as they have done quite a bit this season, the Phillies followed a devastating loss with a gutsy win, rallying to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth and pulling ahead for good in the seventh to claim an 8-6 win over the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.

    WP: Seranthony Dominguez (2-5, 3.09 ERA) ❖ LP: Jimmy Cordero (1-1, 3.52 ERA) ❖ SV: Tommy Hunter (3)

    Continue reading "Santana's Slam, Bautista's Go-Ahead Hit Rally Phillies Past Nationals" »


    Wayne Simmonds on Possible Extension with Flyers: ‘We Continue to Talk’

    By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

    One of the big offseason topics surrounding the Flyers has been Wayne Simmonds and his impending free agency after the 2018-19 season.

    GM Ron Hextall has not shied away from discussing Simmonds. Despite trade rumors, Hextall has stuck by the veteran forward and fan favorite, saying he would like to sign him to an extension and that it was something being discussed this offseason.

    Simmonds was in Toronto on Wednesday and addressed reporters on those talks.

    Continue reading "Wayne Simmonds on Possible Extension with Flyers: ‘We Continue to Talk’" »