Previous month:
August 2019
Next month:
October 2019

Eagles, Falcons Swap Players and Picks

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

While no one was paying attention, Howie Roseman swooped in and made yet another trade.

In the deal, linebacker Duke Riley and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 draft will come to the Eagles while the good guys send a 2020 seventh-round pick to the Falcons along with safety Johnathan Cyprien.

Continue reading "Eagles, Falcons Swap Players and Picks" »

Flyers Upset by Lausanne HC in Preseason Finale

The Flyers entered Monday's preseason finale with a 1-2-3 record in the preseason, certainly not great, but not completely indicative of play to this point. Then Monday happened.

Facing a Swiss team in Lausanne HC that had lost on Friday, 7-1, to HC Davos, the Flyers were expected to be no match for this team. But Alain Vigneault noted before the game that an international exhibition like this would be their Stanley Cup, and they sure treated it that way.

The Flyers came out lethargic and slow, and Lausanne pounced on them for three first-period goals on their way to opening up a 4-0 lead that ultimately chased Carter Hart. A furious rally late was not enough as the Flyers fell to Lausanne, 4-3, in Monday's preseason finale.

Continue reading "Flyers Upset by Lausanne HC in Preseason Finale" »

Flyers-Lausanne HC: Preseason Game 7 Preview


(Photo: Mike Kruce)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

There is one final tuneup for the Flyers in the preseason, and this one is a special exhibition. The Flyers will face one of Switzerland's teams in Lausanne HC to close out the 2019 preseason on Monday afternoon.

To this point, the Flyers are 1-2-3 in the preseason, certainly not great final results, but three of the six games have gone to overtime and the other two losses were sealed with late goals, one being an empty-net goal in the final minute, so for the most part, there has been competitive hockey. 

But this is the last chance for the Flyers to really iron out the wrinkles and be ready to play when the games start to count and the regular season begins on Friday. The preseason finale begins at 2 p.m. ET.

Continue reading "Flyers-Lausanne HC: Preseason Game 7 Preview" »

Baltimore Ravens Sign LB LJ Fort

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

On Friday, the Eagles signed Orlando Scandrick and, to make room, cut linebacker LJ Fort.

On Monday, the Baltimore Ravens announced that they had signed the veteran linebacker following their second loss of the season.

Continue reading "Baltimore Ravens Sign LB LJ Fort" »

Alain Vigneault Finally Gets His Surprises for Flyers


(Photo: Mike Kruce)

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

On the second day of Flyers training camp, Alain Vigneault had a request of the large group of players in camp. There were plenty of established veterans in camp, but with a lot of prospects as well, Vigneault wanted to see something.

“We’ve got some decisions to make. That’s what you want in camp. You need surprises,” Vigneault said. “We need some of these young kids to step up and force us into some decisions. That’s how your team get better. We’re going to give them obviously an opportunity to do that.”

After six games and two weeks of camp drills, it appears that Vigneault got what he wanted. In the final days of camp, four prospects were still hanging around and forcing the Flyers to make decisions. For three of them, it appears the decision is clear. They left the Flyers with no choice but to leave them on the roster.

Obviously, all eyes were on Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost from the start of camp. Farabee started off playing alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, in place of the absent Travis Konecny, still working on a new contract at the time. He got a game with the two veterans that was fairly solid.

Farabee has done everything in the preseason except score. It’s certainly not for a lack of trying. Farabee had five shots on goal in Thursday’s shootout loss to the Rangers and 10 shot attempts, two of which hit the post. In every other aspect of the game, he has proven he can handle the pace and physicality. And he’s only improved with each passing game.

Frost may not have been very far behind if not for a groin strain that kept him out of game action twice. He missed the first two games of the preseason recovering, played in the next two, then sat out the last two. The lack of preseason games likely hurt his cause, since Frost certainly looked the part in the games he played in. But Frost will head to the AHL after a strong training camp effort and he’s certainly on the short list among call-up options.

While all eyes were on Farabee and Frost, Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman were hanging around at training camp through several rounds of cuts as well.

Twarynski was the Flyers best player in a 4-1 win over the Rangers last Saturday, getting rewarded for his efforts with a goal. He scored again in Monday’s overtime loss in Boston. Bunnaman also scored a power-play goal in Monday’s game and has been called the best player in camp by Vigneault. They may be somewhat off the radar -- Twarynski also had a strong camp last year and was one of the final cuts then -- but they have stood out in games as surprises. Again, here come two young prospects that have forced the Flyers to make a decision in their favor. It appears that they, too, have made the team to start the season.

Midway through the preseason, it didn’t seem like the Flyers had any surprises. Even with Farabee and Frost looking the part of NHL players, no one had stepped forward with point production to go along with solid play. It was certainly a question if point production was going to matter in decisions.

The final week of the preseason, before the Flyers left for Europe, proved to provide some clarity. Twarynski scored in back-to-back games. Bunnaman got a shot down the middle and looked solid. Farabee continued to get better and generate more opportunities, even if he wasn’t scoring. For all three, it happened as the opposing lineups just got better and better.

If you asked people which prospect was going to make the team out of camp, assuming only one would, many would have thought Frost would have been it. Well, surprise, 19-year-old Joel Farabee will make the jump from first-round draft pick to college freshman to NHL rookie. Carsen Twarynski and Connor Bunnaman, two mid-round picks from the 2016 NHL Draft, have earned their spots.

It’s exactly the kind of surprises Alain Vigneault wanted to see.

Phillies Drop Season Finale, Lose 11,000th Game in Franchise History

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

The Philadelphia Phillies' standing as the losingest team in professional sports history continues. Playing in their 20,940th-ever game since their first season in 1883, the Phillies lost their 11,000th game all-time, falling 4-3 to the Miami Marlins in their final game of the 2019 season on Sunday.

Doing so, the club failed to secure its first winning season since 2011, as they finished the 2019 season with an even 81-81 record. The finish is the club's first non-losing season since 2012, when it similarly went 81-81 in the last full season under skipper Charlie Manuel.

The Phillies' 10,000th loss came more than 12 years or nearly 4,500 days ago — 4,459 to be exact — when the club fell 10-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals on primetime Sunday Night Baseball television. Albert Pujols slugged a pair of the Cardinals' six home runs in the rout. Those were the 269th and 270 home runs of the future Hall of Famer's career; entering Friday, Pujols has hit 386 home runs since.

In the ninth inning that game, "boos turned to cheers," writes the Associated Press: "Fans in the sellout crowd of 44,872 thumbed their noses at the dubious mark, standing and applauding. One held up a sign that read: '10,000 N Proud' as NL MVP Ryan Howard struck out to end the game."

Since their 10,000th loss on July 15, 2007, the Phillies have gone 1,015-1,000 — a .504 winning percentage; their all-time winning percentage is now .472. Entering Sunday, the only other MLB franchises that have lost 10,000 or more games are: Atlanta Braves (10,658, .501); Pittsburgh Pirates (10,404, .503); Chicago Cubs (10,403, .514); Cincinnati Reds (10,393, .505); and the St. Louis Cardinals (10,063, .520).

The Phillies were formed as the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883, and, later, were named the Blue Jays in the mid-1940s. Since, they have just two World Series championships to their name from their magical 1980 and 2008 runs. The franchise hopes for a similar go-around in 2020, Bryce Harper's second of at least 13 seasons in red pinstripes.

Phillies Rumored as Among Potential Suitors for Free Agent Manager Joe Maddon

Photo: Erica Weston/Twitter

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After a five-season run that included four postseason trips and a 2016 World Series championship, Joe Maddon is officially out as manager of the Chicago Cubs following Sunday's season finale.

Maddon and President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein jointly met with media to announce the news prior to the Cubs' season finale in St. Louis.

Maddon said the Cubs never offered him an extension, and that "sometimes it’s just time to do something else and no one is to blame." Epstein praised Maddon, noting there will be a "bidding war" for the 65-year-old, who says he still has "a good 3-to-5 years" left in him.

With the Cubs since 2015, Maddon recorded a 471-338 record and a franchise-record 19 postseason wins. Maddon's .582 regular season winning percentage ranks second-best in franchise history, trailing only Frank Chance (768-389/.664). The 2016 championship was the Cubs' first in 108 years. The team posted a winning record all five seasons under Maddon.

So, now that Maddon is a free-agent for the first time since his 2006-2014 managerial run with the Tampa Bay Rays (which included a 2008 World Series appearance opposite the Phillies), what's next? According to baseball scribe Bob Nightengale, the top three potential landing spots for Maddon in 2020 are the New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and the Philadelphia Phillies.

Continue reading "Phillies Rumored as Among Potential Suitors for Free Agent Manager Joe Maddon" »

Bryce Harper Worth Every Penny so Far After 1st Season With Phillies

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After Sunday, the first of at least 13 seasons for Bryce Harper in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform will be complete.

Even though Harper and his teammates failed to secure the franchise's first playoff berth since 2011, it would be inaccurate to say signing the 26-year-old slugger to a then-record-breaking contract was a mistake, at least as of the near-conclusion of his first of 13 seasons.

Through 156 games in red pinstripes, Harper has slashed .259/.372/.511 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 99 walks, 177 strikeouts, 15 stolen bases, and a career-high 114 RBI.

Other 2019 Notables:

  • Harper's 35 home runs are the second-most ever by a Phillies player in his first season with the club, bested only by Hall of Famer Jim Thome's 47 in 2003.
  • Harper's 35 home runs are the most by any Phillies player in 10 seasons, when Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit 45 and 36, respectively.
  • Harper has accounted for 15 of the Phillies' 78 stolen bases this season. He has successfully swiped eight bases in a row.
  • Harper has a MLB second-best 15 home runs opposite a left-handed pitcher, only bested by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger (18).
  • Harper leads the National League in putouts as a right-fielder (281), as well as outfield assists (13).
  • Phillies with 42 or more extra-base hits in Citizens Bank Park history:
    • Chase Utley, 44, 2006
    • Jimmy Rollins, 42, 2007
    • Jayson Werth, 42, 2010
    • Bryce Harper, 42, 2019
  • Harper is the first Phillies outfielder with more than 110 RBI and more than 70 extra-base hits since Pat Burrell in 2002.

Harper will start in the Phillies' Sunday season finale, batting third. With a team third-best 3.9 WAR, behind only J.T. Realmuto (4.4) and Aaron Nola (4.0), his first season with the team was surely anything but a disappointment.

And, all of those feats came even amid distractions with his expecting wife, and joining a team MLB organization following free agency for the first time in his career. Barring injury, 2020 can only be better.

Phillies Seek 1st Winning Season Since 2011 in Sunday's 2019 Finale Against Marlins

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

After falling in six straight games, including being swept in their five-game series against the Washington Nationals, the Phillies have found new life — albeit too little, too late — in their final series of the season.

The Phillies edged the National League-worst Miami Marlins 5-4 on Friday, but they won more comfortably Saturday evening, 9-3, securing at least a .500 season for the first time since 2012. Now, with a win in Sunday's season finale, the club can finish better than .500 for the first time since 2011 (102-60) — the last time they qualified for postseason play.

Bryce Harper told reporters after Saturday's win, in which he launched a three-run home run, that Sunday's series and season finale is a must-win. "Gotta do it. Gotta go out there and win tomorrow, he said. "That's huge for us. We can go 82-80."

"Of course that's not where we want to be, but winning seasons are good. It's a stepping stone into next year."

Harper's home run raised his season home run total to 35, and RBI total to 114. His 35 home runs are the second-most ever by a Phillies player in his first season with the club, bested only by Hall of Famer Jim Thome's 47 in 2003.

Continue reading "Phillies Seek 1st Winning Season Since 2011 in Sunday's 2019 Finale Against Marlins" »

Phillies Aim to Avoid 7th Straight Losing Season, 11,000th All-Time Loss Behind Eflin

By Matt Rappa, Sports Talk Philly editor

With the Philadelphia Phillies failing to qualify for postseason play, largely just two things remain for the club to accomplish, or better put, avoid, this season.

Sitting at a 2019 record of 80-80, and a franchise all-time record of 9,824-10,999, a Phillies win in their second-to-last game of the season on Saturday against the Miami Marlins would avoid their seventh straight losing season (guaranteeing they cannot lose 82 games), and their 11,000th-ever loss overall.

To avoid this, the Phillies will start one of their more reliable starting pitchers this season, RHP Zach Eflin, who is 9-13 with a 4.16 ERA and 123 strikeouts. Over his last seven starts, the right-hander is 2-2 with a 3.13 ERA. Right-hander Aaron Nola, on the other hand, finished his season going 0-4 with a 5.27 ERA over his last seven starts — all of which resulted in Phillies losses.

Continue reading "Phillies Aim to Avoid 7th Straight Losing Season, 11,000th All-Time Loss Behind Eflin" »