Previous month:
October 2020
Next month:
December 2020

The Battle of the Birds: Eagles vs. Seahawks Review

Embed from Getty Images

By Connor Donald, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

 

The Philadelphia Eagles led the NFC East by two games just a couple short weeks ago and heading into tonight’s game against the Seattle Seahawks the division was led, via a tie breaker, by the New York Giants. Needless to say, expectations are getting lower by the week. Our own owner Jeffrey Lurie didn’t show up to an Eagles game for the first time ever. Howie Roseman looks like he’s about to cry in every image. And Doug Pederson is still struggling through the beginners class to playcalling.

The table has been set, the Eagles under Pederson and with Wentz at QB have struggled against the Seahawks. But with the Eagles hitting the toughest stretch of their schedule over the next four weeks, the past needs to be forgotten and the present and the playoffs need to be focused on. The first half went fully as expected, Eagles defense standing on their heads, bending, bending and finally breaking after numerous key stops. And the offense failing on many levels, so poorly that they got their first first down on the final drive of the half. The offense managed to put up a touchdown to end the first half via Wentz to Goedert to make the game 14-6, yes in typical 2020 fashion Jake Elliot did miss the extra point, his first missed extra point of the season.

After forcing a three and out the Eagles had a promising drive to start the second half which ended in three points on the leg of Jake Elliot. The Eagles defense remained strong against the Seahawks giving up only three more points in the third quarter, keeping the game within one score for the offense. 

The Eagles would start the fourth quarter with a turnover on downs around midfield, which was a tough one to swallow given how good the Eagles defense had been tonight and the idea of not playing field position by Pederson. This would lead to another Seahawks field goal to make the game a two score game with eleven minutes to go. Wentz would lead another promising looking drive with the help of back to back defensive pass interferences to get them on the fringe of the red zone and Pederson would again go for it on fourth down and Wentz turnovers reared their ugly head with an interception in the end zone to lock up the game for the Seahawks. Some garbage time work by both teams made the game 23-17.  

The Best

There cannot be enough good said about the Eagles defense in this game. Going up against an offense which is averaging the third most yards per game in the NFL, 400 and the third most points per game, 31.6. The Eagles finished the game allowing 302 yards and 23 points to a high octane Russel Wilson led Seahawks offense. The Eagles also held the Seahawks to just 2-10 on third downs and two crucial fourth down stops early that could have made the game a lot uglier.

The stats don’t fully speak to the overall performance. The defensive line had one of their stronger showings of the year and were in Wilson’s face for much of the night. They finished with two sacks and seven quarterback hits. Although Slay had his hands full and struggled with Metcalf, the Seahawks seemingly only found success looking his way who finished with a career high 177 yards of the Seahawks 302 total yards. 

The Good 

Dallas Goedert looked much more himself this week and boy was it a welcomed return to form. What was once seen as the envy of most teams, the Eagles had one of the most exciting tandems at the TE position. Zach Ertz underperformed severely to start the season and then went down with an injury and Goedert started the season strong before falling victim to an injury. Goedert finished the game with the most targets, ten and had seven receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.

The Bad

Travis Fulgham has apparently fallen off the face of the earth and those who have stepped up in his place can barely be called receivers. Against a Seahawks defense who has been the gift that keeps on giving to wide receivers and quarterbacks, the Eagles offense as a whole produced just over 75 yards at the half and the WRs accounted for less than 20 of those yards. The Seahawks defense on average gives up 259.7 yards per game to wide receivers and allowed the most reception to wide receivers by 32 on the team with the second most. Alshon Jeffrey had his first catch of the season and ultimately went on to finish with a line of two receptions for 15 yards. Other wide receivers struggled to create separation all night. Jalen Reagor was used ineffectively in screen plays and looks nothing as advertised as Wentz struggles to get on the same level with his receivers. The wide receivers finished with nine total receptions for 46 yards.

The Ugly

I could talk about Doug Pederson and his play calling again, but I think we can accept that this is an almost locked in ugly week in and week out. The ugly this week is the offensive line in front of him, we already watched his running mate for most pressures and most sacks for much of the season get his knee torn to shreds, Joe Burrow, last week because of a bad offensive line. My heart goes out to Burrow and now my heart goes out to Wentz as he continues to struggle behind a porous offensive line. In 12 games the Eagles have now rolled out ten different offensive line combinations, the most in the league. Wentz ended up sacked six times and hit 12 times. It's easy to make excuses with Peters playing with an injury requiring surgery, Johnson done for the season, Brooks never getting a shot at a season in 2020, this offensive line is a shell of what we have seen it be and certainly needs some attention as it isn’t getting any younger or better.

We officially fall out of first place in the NFC East and go to 3-7-1 and yet our chances at the division remain alive. However, an upcoming schedule against the Saints, Packers and Cardinals certainly doesn’t make our chances look great. There is a major re-tooling that needs to take place and an evaluation of the roster from top to bottom and as painful as it maybe, it’s easier to lose out and get the better draft picks. However, something tells me if Pederson and Wentz see an opportunity to take the division and get in they will go out and play for the wins.


Halftime Report: Seahawks at Eagles

Embed from Getty Images

By Matt Ryan, Sports Talk Philly Contributor

The 7-3 Seahawks visit the 3-6-1 Eagles in week 12 of the regular season. The Seahawks have dominated this game but only lead 14-6 at the half. It was a rough first half for the Birds, but they are still in this game. Here's what we saw in the first 30 minutes of action:


First Half Offensive MVP

QB Carson Wentz

Wentz did not have a great first half at all, but he did have a nice last drive that ended in an Eagles touchdown. Wentz had two rushes for 33 yards on that drive and capped it off with a touchdown pass to TE Dallas Godert.


First Half Defensive MVP

DE Derek Barnett

Derek Barnett had an incredible first half, registering two tackles that were both for a loss on fourth down that stopped the Seahawks short of the line to gain. Barnett finished the half with one sack and three tackles.


Who Needs To Step Up

The Entire Eagles Offense

The Eagles offense had a horrible first half, starting the game with five straight three and outs. They did have a nice drive that ended in a touchdown at the end of the half. The offense needs to step up in the second half for the Eagles to have a shot at winning this game.


Who To Watch Out For

WR D.K. Metcalf

Metcalf had a huge first half, registering 118 yards on seven catches. Metcalf had a huge 52-yard reception on 3rd & 13 to set up a Seahawks score in the second quarter. The Eagles need to slow down Metcalf in the second half if they want a chance at winning this game.


Injury Report: Seattle at Philadelphia

Embed from Getty Images

By Evan Krawczuk, Contributing Writer

The Eagles finally lost their strangle hold of first place in the NFC East with their loss to the Browns. It doesn't get much easier for the Eagles this week, either. The Seahawks fly in for a Monday night matchup in a game the Eagles need if they want to keep pace in the division. Some flipping and some losses on the offensive line could have an impact on this game and Carson Wentz's health. 

Injury Report 

Philadelphia Eagles 

Out

Lane Johnson T

Johnson underwent season ending ankle surgery after stating that he felt as if his ankle had collapsed. Jack Drsicoll will be taking over at right tackle for the rest of the season.

Zach Ertz TE

There was a possibility for Ertz to be activated off of the Injured Reserved list but that won't be happening. The Eagles hope for the Ertz to be back next week. 

Rudy Ford S

Ford was, once again, out all week in practice with a hamstring injury. He will not be playing this week and the Eagles lose an important piece of their special teams unit.

Questionable

Jason Peters G/T

It seems as if as soon as Peters found out he was moving back to guard, he decided to get injured again. Peters was limited all week in practice and is still a game time decision.  

Seattle Seahawks

Out

Brandon Shell T

Shell missed all week of practice with an ankle injury. He will be replaced by Cedric Ogbuehi. This could open up the possibility for a big game from the Eagles defensive ends.

Travis Homer RB

Homer missed time this week with, the ever so common, wrist, thumb, and knee injuries. He is more of a rotational back so it’s not a huge hit for the seahawks offense, especially with Chris Carson listed as healthy.

 Questionable

Jordan Simmons G

Simmons did not participate in practice all week with a calf injury. He is their back up and center and his absence, if inactive, shouldn’t be too much of concern for the Seahawks.

Kyle Fuller C/G

Fuller missed practice every day this week with an ankle injury. Like Simmons, Fuller is a backup and his status will only have a large impact if the Seahawks lose some lineman to injury during the game.

D.J. Reed CB

Reed was out all week with a bad foot. Reed gets some in-game reps at corner but doesn’t play a large role in the Seahawks defense.

Freddie Swain WR

Swain is mostly a special teams guy but does see some action on offense. He missed some time this week with a foot injury and took some personal time.

David Moore WR

Moore was limited in practice this week due to a hip injury. Moore is often used as the Seahawks third receiver. His game status could loom large for the Eagles secondary and help them to hone in on Metcalf and Lockett.


Trenton Thunder, Williamsport Crosscutters to Live on in "Draft League"

IMG_1467

The news that MLB planned to cut 40 minor league teams shook the baseball world, as major realignment is in store for the minor leagues.   We learned that the Trenton Thunder will not be the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, and the New York-Penn League, which the Phillies Short-Season Williamsport Crosscutters since 2007, appeared to be ending altogether.  Both ballparks and teams will experience new life.

Minor League Baseball announced a new "MLB Draft League" that will include both the Thunder and the Crosscutters:

Major League Baseball in conjunction with Prep Baseball Report (PBR) have announced the formation of the all-new MLB Draft League set to launch in 2021. The league, which will include the Williamsport Crosscutters, becomes the first in the country focused on top prospects eligible to be drafted by MLB Clubs that summer.  With the MLB Draft now being held as part of MLB All-Star Week in mid-July, draft-eligible players will have a unique opportunity to showcase their abilities and gain exposure to MLB Clubs and fans each year.

The season will be 68 games.

So with the draft pushed back to July, this will help fill the time between the end of college and high school baseball and the draft.

That means in Williamsport and Trenton, their players will not yet be drafted by Major League Teams and neither team will be affiliated with a Major League franchise.   The sure-picks in the upper rounds probably will not participate, as protecting their health ahead of the draft might be the top priority.  This league may feature players in the lower rounds trying to raise their profile, or who may not be drafted at all.

The amount of games headed to Williamsport will not represent too much change; the franchise was used to a 76-game season.  However, their season will be earlier than it had been; the New York-Penn League typically began after the draft and featured some drafted players.  The change will be major for the Trenton Thunder, however.

The move greatly reduces the number of games that would be played at Arm & Hammer Park.   In the Double-A season in recent years, the Eastern League has played between 140 and 144 games, making between 70 and 72 home dates for the Thunder.   Presuming half of the 68-game season will be played in Trenton, that is just 34 home games for the Thunder.

Aside from the New York Yankees, most MLB teams have not announced their minor league structures yet.   For the Phillies, it is assumed that Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley will remain untouched, while the Jersey Shore (formerly Lakewood) BlueClaws move to Class-A Advanced, while the Clearwater Threshers become home to the Low-A affiliate.


John Middleton's Early Christmas Gift to Phillies Fans

By Mitch Nathanson, Historical Columnist 

Ho, Ho, Ho, says Phillies owner John Middleton, Merry Christmas!  Why, it’s not even December and already Middleton and friends have blessed Delaware Valley baseball fans by giving them the gift they’ll put to good use for the next year at least – the gift of not caring about this travesty of a baseball team.

It’s hard to cut the tie, to walk away from years, if not generations, of devoted allegiance, but Middleton just made it all that much easier for the thousands of fans who have struggled these past several years to do precisely that.  Middleton, the scion of a family that made its wealth by selling cancer delivery systems to the American public, has bestowed upon Phillies fans the gift of alleged poverty – the $2.9 billion all-cash sale of his family business to a Philip Morris parent company in 2007 and the $2.5 billion, 25-year television deal with Comcast in 2014 notwithstanding.  The pandemic has cleaned the Phillies’ financial cupboard bare, he claims, to the extent of not only making it impossible to re-sign J.T. Realmuto and hiring a general manager, but to even pay his employees.  At least 80 full-time personnel – nearly 20% of the work staff -- were informed last week that their services would no longer be needed.  These furloughs, layoffs, buyouts – call them whatever you want, the bottom line is that these people will be out of work – will reportedly save Middleton about $8 million, or roughly what he paid Juan Nicasio in 2019.

Middleton has taken his share of heat for all of this but, really, he’s given us all a gift.  For his actions in the past few months have been so abhorrent that it’s now not so hard to just say to hell with all of it.  Even without Middleton baseball has been increasingly tougher and tougher to love, what with games that stretch into eternity, tit-for-tat pitching changes and defensive shifts, and outright cheating of various stripes.  But, still, baseball is baseball and if you love it you’re going to put up with a lot.  If you’re a Phillies fan, you put up with just that much more.  It’s what your father did, it’s what your grandfather did, so it’s what you do. 

Until perhaps now.

Because now, thanks to the pandemic, the Sixers and Flyers will most likely be playing through June and, who knows, maybe into July.  If Daryl Morey works his magic the Sixers might find themselves in the NBA Finals, which aren’t scheduled to wrap up until July 22nd.  The NHL will also likely hold its finals during July.  Once those champions are crowned, the summer Olympics will start and then the NFL will open training camps.  By that point all eyes around here will be where they usually are in late summer when the Phils are dead in the water – on the Eagles.  And given that Middleton has thrown up his hands and concluded that it’s nigh impossible to interview potential GM’s during a pandemic (Zoom?  What’s Zoom?) nor re-sign the best catcher in baseball given all the money the pandemic has cost him, there’s little chance the Phils won’t be a stinking fish come Independence Day.

We’re all blessed that Middleton is as incompetent as he is. That he truly believes he lost money due to the pandemic and not that he simply didn’t rake in as much of a profit as he assumed was his God-given right as a billionaire of someone-else’s making.  That he thinks the people who pony up good chunks of their hard-earned paychecks to watch his club will sympathize with his attempt to curry their favor by firing dozens upon dozens of workers just like them rather than shell out the equivalent of what he pays a journeyman relief pitcher to blow yet another lead in the sixth inning of yet another game in yet another lost season.  That he thinks the populace of this city will understand that it’s only right that when he scores a windfall he gets to keep the spoils but when a belt-tightening is called for it’s everyone else who has to inhale. 

This is the Christmas gift bestowed by John Middleton to Philadelphia sports fans.  The gift of no longer caring about him or his club.  In 2021 the Phils might not have a single day of the sports calendar to themselves and thanks to him, we can all celebrate by not thinking about the Phillies for a single moment all year.

Unlike the John Middleton Company’s Black and Mild cigars, Mitchell Nathanson’s biographies of Dick Allen and Jim Bouton don’t come with a Surgeon General’s warning that they increase the risk of infertility, stillbirth and low birth weight.

Primary Icon-01


Week 12 Preview: Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)

By Matt Szczypiorski, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

Eagles fans are coming into Monday night’s game against Seattle just wondering if the pain and suffering will ever end. This Eagles season has become increasingly infuriating with every passing week, and there is little to no confidence left in the fan base. It also seems like the same can be said from within the team itself.

The Eagles, with an ugly record of 3-6-1, are now looking up at the team without a real name in the NFC East. The Birds gauntlet of a schedule continues on Monday night when they welcome in one of the top teams in the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks.

As if the fact that the Seahawks are tremendously better than the Eagles wasn’t enough reason for pessimism already, the history of this matchup will only further the negativity.

Dating all the way back to the Eagles miserable 42-0 loss to Seattle on a Monday night in December of 2005, the Birds are 1-8 in their last nine games against the Seahawks. Their lone victory came in 2008 against a 4-12 Seattle team. They’ve never beaten Russell Wilson, and lost to the Seahawks twice last year, but we don’t need to discuss that pain again.

Instead, I offer you this calming realization. Once you accept the fact that the 2020 Philadelphia Eagles are a truly awful football team and lower your expectations, it becomes a lot less frustrating to watch this team every week.

Continue reading "Week 12 Preview: Seattle Seahawks (7-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)" »


Whiz Kid Bob Miller Passes Away at 94

By Matt Albertson, Historical Columnist 
 
And then there was one. Bob Miller passed away this weekend at the age of 94, leaving rotation mate Curt Simmons as the sole surviving member of the Phillies' 1950 NL Championship team. The Detroit, Michigan native spent his entire 10 year with the Phillies and was a member of the 1950 Whiz Kids starting rotation. 
 
Born on June 16, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan, Miller was a three sport athlete at St. Mary's of Redford High school. His skills as a pitcher attracted the attention of the local Detroit Tigers while his escapades on the basketball court earned him a scholarship offer from the University of Detroit. But baseball and basketball had to wait because upon graduation Miller was drafted into the Army in 1944, where he saw combat action in the Philippines. After finishing his two year Army commitment in Japan, Miller enrolled at the University of Detroit in 1947 where he played baseball. Miller declined offers from the Reds, Cardinals, White Sox, Tigers, and Phillies but the Phils had an ace up their sleeve. Scout Ed Krajnik played with Miller during their American Legion days as kids. Krajnik made a good impression on Miller as the pitcher signed for the Phils in January 1948 for a $25,000 bonus. He spent two seasons in the minors before being called up to the big club in September 1949. 
 
Miller's pitching arsenal was comprised of a deceiving fastball, a devastating curveball, and a sinker that dropped off the table. It separated him the pack during spring training in 1950 as he earned one of the coveted rotation spots for season. He opened the season with eight straight victories before losing his first game on July 16 against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Despite a back injury he sustained while boarding a train for Boston, Miller went 11-6 in 35 games (21 starts) with a 3.57 ERA. He was second in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 1950, behind Sam Jethroe of the Boston Braves. Manager Eddie Sawyer started Miller as the Game 4 starter in the 1950 World Series. Said Sawyer, “I have to just go along with the kid because he has done everything I have asked him to do this year. I’m sure he’ll continue to give us good pitching — so now if my hitters get going and we lose our fielding jitters maybe we can show the folks today how good a ballclub we really are.” Miller was opposed by the 1950 AL Rookie of the Year runner-up Edward "Whitey" Ford. After three straight one run defeats, the Phils lost the fourth and final game 5-2, ending a miracle run that served as the franchie's lone World Series appearance between the Woodrow Wilson and Ronald Reagan administrations. 
 
Miller retired from baseball during the 1959 season, compiling a 42-42 record with a career 3.96 ERA. He returned to the University of Detroit in 1963 where he served as assistant baseball coach. In 1965, after head baseball coach Lloyd Brazil died as the result of a car accident, Miller ascended to the head coach's position. Over 36 seasons as head coach of the University of Detroit baseball team, Miller compiled a record of 896-78-2. He was elected to the school's hall of fame in 1979 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1999. 
 
All but two Whiz Kids have passed on in the 70 years since their improbable run to the 1950 NL Pennant. Miller and Cut Simmons spoke to one another on the telephone often. Despite their being separated by some 600 miles, the two made it a point to check in on one another and discuss the old days. The Inquirer's Frank Fitzpatrick wrote in an August 2020 piece that "These conversations are much-anticipated rituals, two old men happily summoning sepia-toned reflections on places they visited, hitters they faced, teammates they lost. (Paul Stuffel, who relieved in three 1950 games, was the last, in September 2018.)" Simmons told Fitzpatrick that Miller "remembers everything". 
 
As the Whiz Kids fade into the sands of time, their memory will live on. Miller's son, Bob Jr., is currently writing a children's book titled Life Lessons From a Whiz Kid". 

Ben Simmons is Equipped for Career Playmaking Year

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

When Daryl Morey took the position of president of basketball operations for the Sixers, one thing he preached was finding pieces to better complement Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Fast forward to a week before training camp and he has done just that.

After multiple signings and trades, there is a night and day difference in the Sixers roster. Gone are the days of improper floor spacing as Doc Rivers will now have a plethora of shooters to choose from to put on the floor. The fit of talent around Embiid and Simmons has drastically improved since their playoff exit in the bubble.

With better fitting players around them, this has to beg the question of what kind of jump Embiid and/or Simmons will make this season. One jump we could see this season is in Ben Simmons’ playmaking. The last time he had multiple options on the perimeter like this, he had his best numbers assist-wise.

The 2017-2018 Sixers’ roster can draw some comparisons to the current roster. That roster was similarly filled with a lot of length and outside shooting. Simmons thrived as a playmaker that season, averaging 8.2 APG and totaling a career-high 661 assists.

Sixers’ 3PM leaders 2017-2018                             Current Sixers 3PM 2019-2020

1) Robert Covington: 203                                         1) Seth Curry: 145 

2) JJ Redick: 193                                                      2) Furkan Korkmaz: 143 

3) Dario Saric: 157                                                    3) Tobias Harris: 131 

4) Marco Belinelli: 149                                              4) Danny Green: 120

The suspension last season hurts these numbers compared to the ‘17-’18 season, but it’s clear that Simmons is going to have a plethora of shooting around him again. Along with the players listed, the Sixers also have Shake Milton who shot 43% from deep, and Isaiah Joe who was a lights-out shooter in college.

With all this shooting surrounding him, Simmons is fully equipped to put on a playmaking showcase this season. Since arriving in the NBA one thing Simmons has done at an elite level is create three-point shots for his teammates.

Last season Simmons was at the top of the NBA in assists off three-points on a poor three-point shooting Sixers’ team. He will now be surrounded by Danny Green and Seth Curry who is second all-time in three-point percentage.

Critics have been on Simmons for not showing much growth in his game, but he should silence those doubters this season. Between a better fitting supporting cast and some time playing as a point forward last season, there is a strong chance we see a new level to Simmons’ game.

Simmons was tied for fifth in the NBA in assists per game last year with eight, and it would be far from shocking if that number made a nice jump. The most APG he has averaged in a season is 8.2, but in a more up-tempo offense and this shooting core around Simmons might flirt with double-digits this season. Out of all the Sixers who should benefit most from the team’s new look, Simmons’ name is at the top.

Sixerdelphia


Battle of the Birds

KGH Logo

LJ (@ljharrell54) is back with Connor (@connorten) as we review yet another Eagles loss and talk Pederson, Wentz, the Wide Receivers and our Cornerbacks.

The two also look to the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night.

Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you may listen. Follow us @kellygreenhour on Twitter as well as our partners over @sportstalkphl!

 


A Rundown of the Phillies' Offseason—Or Lack Thereof

Embed from Getty Images

By Siobhan Nolan, Sports Talk Philly Contributing Writer

The National League East has been a hub of activity in the 2020 offseason. The Braves, Nationals, Mets, and Marlins have been making progress in their trades, strengthening their lineups, and have much of their coaching staff and front office in order.

The same cannot be said for the Phillies.

It’s easy to have a bleak outlook on this offseason—no permanent general manager, J.T. Realmuto has yet to re-sign a contract, several positions in the team don’t have reliable players to fill them, and the pitching situation is still a mess. So yes, this offseason has yet to really get going. However, there’s still a lot to look forward to.

The team hired the young, ambitious, and extremely promising Caleb Cotham to their coaching staff in an effort to kickstart some improvement on the mound. The fifth pitching coach in as many seasons, Cotham presents a unique ability to relate to the current pitchers on multiple levels, including the skill set that has become increasingly more valuable to baseball coaches—the ability to understand, discuss, and implement the technology and data that is becoming more and more present in today’s game. Cotham believes in an individualistic approach when it comes to coaching his players, emphasizing that “it really comes down to serving the player and finding something to help them get better over me being right.”

There are also a number of guaranteed contracts going into next season. Of course, Bryce Harper will remain with the team, keeping his excellent right field defense and exemplary offense in the team for another season.

Pitcher Zack Wheeler will remain one of the stars of the starting rotation, boasting an impressive 2.92 ERA in 11 starts from last season.

Andrew McCutchen will also be returning, filling the much-needed left fielder role. Although still coming back from a devastating ACL tear in 2019, McCutchen showed flashes of his usual reliable self this past season. With ample time to continue recovering this offseason, he should be coming into the 2021 season at full health and ability.

Jean Segura stays on the roster, providing valuable versatility in the infield. With the ability to play second base, shortstop, and third base, Segura’s presence will allow Joe Girardi to experiment with different infield formations to see which combination provides the most security in the infield.

Pitching ace Aaron Nola returns after a bit of a comeback season in 2020. Nola didn’t completely return to his stellar 2018 form, but a respectable 3.28 ERA keeps him in the number one slot in the rotation.

Scott Kingery is also slated to return. After a debilitating bout with COVID-19, Kingery’s 2020 season is one he’ll want to forget. A disappointing series of starts at second base (which, once upon a time, was his natural position) might see him return to the “utility man” role he assumed under Gabe Kapler, and an all-round awful presence at the plate proved that his offense leaves something to be desired.

Although it is still unclear who will be calling the shots in the absence of a permanent general manager, the Winter Meetings are expected to be held from December 7-10, which could potentially bring about some new signings. Last year, the Winter Meetings brought Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorious to the team, and there are several trade targets that the Phillies will definitely want to capitalize on.

While the thought of Realmuto leaving Philadelphia sends chills up the spine of the city, it becomes more of a possibility with every day he doesn’t sign a new contract. The Yankees’ Gary Sanchez would be an ideal replacement, and might not be one that’s out of reach. The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year seems to have fallen out of favor with the Yankees, being benched in favor of Kyle Higashioka throughout the 2020 playoffs. The Yankees could decide to sell low with Sanchez, and if Realmuto doesn’t agree to contract terms soon, the Phillies might be inclined to make a serious inquiry.

Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier will also be a point of interest for the Phillies. He’s one of the best defensive center fielders in baseball, which would provide some much-needed stability at the position. He’s had struggles at the plate, which could give the Rays an incentive to trade Kiermaier before his free agency in 2022. Acquiring Kiermaier on his own would not entice the Phillies to make a deal, but the possibility of bringing in other players from the Rays’ seemingly endless stream of talent just might do the trick.

Of course, the pitching situation needs to be addressed. The Phillies certainly have options for new pitchers to bring in, but there are some drawbacks. Of the realistic deals the Phillies could make, many of them involve pitchers in their mid-to-late 30s who would likely come in on contract spanning a couple of years at most.

There has always been mutual interest between Cole Hamels and the Phillies to orchestrate an end-of-career reunion, but the current pitching situation cannot accommodate bringing in players for nostalgia. Hamels is 37 years old, and, in turn, is not the pitcher fans remember from 2008. Being able to pitch some innings here and there and providing some leadership in the clubhouse simply won’t cut it.

Another issue that crops up in some of the pitching targets is the fact that they’re “fixer upper” players. Trevor Williams is young at 29 years old and a regular in the Pirates’ rotation, but he has been described as a player the Phillies could take in as a “reclamation project.” Fellow target Jake Odorizzi, currently with the Twins, has the same problem. This team cannot afford to shelter players that are not on their game. The only pitchers that should be brought in are ones that are consistently performing.

It’s concerning that the Phillies are currently sitting ducks when their competition is improving, but hope shouldn’t be lost yet. There are a number of promising targets that the team can go after, especially once a permanent general manager is appointed. Players that underperformed this past season have had ample time to train and better themselves. Hopefully, a more normal season schedule will be in the cards for 2021, allowing for less chaos in the league overall. Things are slow-going right now, but they’ll surely pick up in the coming weeks.