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Flyers Find a Way, Rally Past Sabres in OT

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It's hard to look back at this month and easily identify the worst for the Flyers. There's a 9-0 loss with a seven-goal second period. There's a game they trailed 6-0 less than four minutes into a second period. And then there was the first 40 minutes of Monday's game against the Sabres.

The Buffalo Sabres, a team on a 17-game winless streak, had opened up a 3-0 lead on the Flyers, looking poised to break that long drought.

Then in the third period, as the Flyers have done countless times already, they crawled their way back out of the hole they had dug out for themselves. There was one goal early in the period. There was another at the mid-point. There was another in the closing moments of the game with the net empty at the other end.

After coming all the way back, Ivan Provorov finished the game off with the game-winner in overtime, giving the Flyers a 4-3 win over the Sabres.

Continue reading "Flyers Find a Way, Rally Past Sabres in OT" »


Phillies Decline to Add Odubel Herrera to Major League Roster

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The Phillies brought Odubel Herrera to major league camp and he got plenty of time in the outfield.  After batting just .231, the Phillies have decided to pass on adding  Herrera to the major league roster.   The Phillies announced Monday that Herrera has been re-assigned to minor league camp.

The move means that both Roman Quinn and Adam Haseley will head north with the big club.   Both outperformed Herrera this Spring numbers-wise.  Haseley batted .316 with a .907 OPS in limited action after missing some time with a groin injury.  Quinn batted .270 with a .747 OPS.   Quinn stole four bases.

Herrera's inclusion on the team would have meant that the Phillies would have had to make room for him on the 40-man roster, currently full.  So Herrera would have had to impress enough that a prospect would lose his job in the Phillies system.  The Phillies will retain the rights to Herrera, as well as anyone else that might have been cut.

Herrera is in the guaranteed last year of a five-year, $30.5 million contract he signed under general manager Matt Klentak.  


Flyers-Sabres: Game 34 Preview

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

The Flyers closed out the week with a bonding moment. Sam Morin's first NHL goal was the difference in a win over the Rangers, snapping a three-game losing streak.

Now, the Flyers hit the road, going to Buffalo for the next two games. The Sabres are certainly a reeling team, having lost 17 straight games. This is certainly an opportunity for the Flyers to get on a roll and turn their season back in the right direction.

Game time is at 7 p.m.

Continue reading "Flyers-Sabres: Game 34 Preview" »


This Strategy Could Save the Phillies Roster Space or Money

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In June of 2016, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski made a rather bold move.   Outfielder Rusney Castillo had been signed to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract just two years before under then-general manager Ben Cherington.  In search of roster spot and luxury tax room, Dombrowski made a bold move: he outrighted Castillo off of the 40-man roster, freeing a valuable roster space.   Dombrowski might be able to make such a shrewd move right now, aware of the value of roster space.

On Sunday, the Phillies decided that Scott Kingery would begin the 2021 season in the minor leagues.  Normally I would preface the player's name with a position.  But the once-second baseman-turned utility player-turned shortstop-turned outfielder seems to have no clear position and no clear role in the Phillies organization.  The Phillies could use this opportunity to do one of two things: rid themselves of $18 million over three years and $4 million under the competitive balance ("luxury") tax threshold they could use in other places, or they could gain a roster space.

Should the Phillies place Kingery on outright waivers, teams would be able to put a claim on Kingery.  Should a team claim Kingery, they would become responsible for all $18 million owed to Kingery the next three seasons: $4 million in 2021, $6 million in 2022, and $8 million in 2023.

Should Kingery clear waivers, the Phillies will have a roster spot available to them to use for another player, such as Brandon Kintzler, who will need to be added to the roster, without sacrificing a prospect that could potentially be claimed by another team.   With very few position players on their 40-man roster, the Phillies would probably have to designate for assignment a pitcher, and most teams prefer to hold on to as much pitching as possible.

The question the Phillies would have to answer is this: Do they see Kingery as being a starter in the major leagues?   If the conclusion is that Kingery would be a "nice utility player" - then the club would not wish to commit to $6 million next year and $8 million the following year.  That is not utility player money; in fact upon the signing of Brad Miller, Matt Gelb of the Athletic noted that the $3.5 million was the most the Phillies have committed to a bench player.

If the Phillies see Kingery as having the talent to be a starter in the major leagues, then they might consider the $18 million over three years worth it.  However, the picture is complicated by the fact that the Phillies have $36 million committed to shortstop  and $30 million committed to second base the next two seasons the next two seasons.  It would be a while before Kingery could find a starting job in the infield.  And, the top position prospect on the Phillies is Bryson Stott, who could play either shortstop or second base.

In other words, Kingery could be expendable, if someone else claimed him.

But would another team think highly enough of Kingery to commit $18 million?  That is quite a cost to take a flyer on someone who has batted .233 in over 1000 major league at bats. 

What does not hold true in 2021 which did under Dombrowski in 2016 is relief under the competitive balance tax threshold.  Kingery will consume $4 million of that number each of these three remaining years, whether he is in Philadelphia or in the minor leagues. The Phillies will only save that money if he is claimed by another team.

Would Dombroski put Kingery on outright waivers to see what happens? It just might make sense.  Either outcome could help the Phillies.

 


What Do the Phillies Hope to Get From Kingery, Romero in the Minors?

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The Phillies announced on Sunday some of the roster moves that would give the Phillies almost a full picture of their final 40-man roster.   The two big surprising moves were that utility player Scott Kingery and pitcher Jojo Romero would be optioned to the Alternate Site to start the season.  What was the thinking behind the moves?

First, Kingery.  There's no question that Kingery has not been the player the Phillies envisioned when they signed Kingery to a six-year, $24 million contract even before he appeared in the major leagues.  Kingery has shown flashes of brilliance.  But the Phillies have still struggled to answer the question: What is Scott Kingery supposed to be in the major leagues?

All signs point to the Phillies not giving up on Kingery with this move.   In fact, the move seems to suggest that they think that Kingery should be more than a bench bat that backs up the likes of Jean Segura and Didi Gregorius.  Kingery entered the center field competition to be the starter.  But after batting just .159, the Phillies did not default to making Kingery a back-up infielder.

When Dave Dombrowski took over baseball operations, he did not inherit anyone else's plans for Kingery.  He could have given Kingery the starting second base job and returned Segura to the position he held when the Phillies traded for him. Dombrowski wanted certainty at defense and offense, making sure that Gregorius returned as part of his first offseason.

It almost appears that the new Phillies leadership needs to see just exactly what Scott Kingery is.  They probably know of the high hopes the organization had for him when they drafted him in the second round of the 2015 draft.   They certainly know what they're paying Kingery.

So who is he?  It appears the new leadership wants to find out.  For sure.  And to do so, they're going to play him every day at Triple-A once the season opens in May.

They cannot find out who Scott Kingery really is if he's buried on the bench, serving as the team's lone right-handed pinch hitter.

The story of Romero is probably very different.  The Phillies saw nothing that should make them run from Romero.  Romero pitched to a 1.04 earned run average in eight Grapefruit League appearances.    Those numbers are nothing to be worried about, of course.

Could this be a roster crunch?  The Phillies have Vince Velasquez and David Hale both seeming to occupy the same role.   Sean Coonrod had a nice Spring and is still hanging around. 

Might one of them move? It's possible.   Velasquez finally returned to action on Sunday, making just his third appearance of the Grapefruit League.  Velasquez allowed one earned run in two innings, allowing three hits and striking out two.  It's probably not enough of a sample size to trade him.

Hale walked one in a scoreless inning on Sunday, leaving his earned run average at 1.04 earned run average.

The Phillies could make a move for a veteran lefty still.  The Phillies, who would have just one left-handed reliever in Jose Alvarado with Romero in the minors, really could benefit from a second left-handed reliever in the pen.  They declined to keep Tony Watson around, a veteran with a track record, perhaps because he was due $3 million in 2021.  

Romero had an option to the minor league which made him easy to move.  But he could also easily be moved right back if the Phillies make a move.  Could they?

For now the bullpen seems incomplete.  Stay tuned. 


Flyers 5: Takeaways from Saturday’s Flyers-Rangers Game

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

For the better part of the month, the Flyers have been stuck in a downward spiral where everything seems to go from bad to worse on a nightly basis. With basically only one day off between games, sometimes none, there was no real way to reset.

Even when they did deliver a good effort for a majority of the game, they would find a way to lose the game in the end. If anything, they needed to be rewarded for a good effort.

Leave it to a totally unexpected hero to step in and not only deliver the winning goal, but lift his teammates’ spirits as well.

Sam Morin’s first NHL goal was the difference in this game, one the Flyers absolutely needed to have. It doesn’t solve all their problems and it remains to be seen what effect this has on the team moving forward. But this could be their last chance to take a positive moment, a moment that can bond a team, and turn the season around.

Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Rangers.

Continue reading "Flyers 5: Takeaways from Saturday’s Flyers-Rangers Game" »


Morin's 1st NHL Goal Becomes Game-Winner for Flyers

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

Through the course of the first period, Saturday's game between the Flyers and Rangers had a familiar feel. A familiar result, a familiar goal-scorer. But it was only one goal, and as the game progressed, the Flyers were getting a better defensive effort and better goaltending and in a position to win a game.

But there was still that lingering feeling that something could go wrong. Instead, an unlikely hero emerged late in the third, as Sam Morin scored his first NHL goal with 4:27 to play in the game. That goal held up as the game-winner, in a much-needed, 2-1 victory for the Flyers over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.

Continue reading "Morin's 1st NHL Goal Becomes Game-Winner for Flyers" »


Flyers-Rangers: Game 33 Preview

By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor 

It can't possibly get much worse. After a 9-0 loss last week, the Flyers somehow found a way to repeat that performance on Thursday, falling behind 6-0 early in the second on their way to an 8-3 loss.

The Rangers are back at Wells Fargo Center again on Saturday afternoon to take on the Flyers again, with the Flyers desperately needing to do something to turn their season around or face some significant consequences of a lost season.

Game time is at 1 p.m.

Continue reading "Flyers-Rangers: Game 33 Preview" »


Report: Sixers Convert Paul Reed's Contract and Sign Mason Jones

By Kevin McCormick, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The dust has finally settled from the NBA trade deadline, and teams are starting to regroup. After acquiring George Hill in a three-team trade, the Sixers have an extra roster spot at their disposal. Daryl Morey did not waste time filling that spot as the team has made two roster moves on Friday night.

Their first move involves G-League standout, Paul Reed. Now that the G-League season has concluded, Reed finds himself back on the end of the Sixers' bench. His performance with the Delaware Blue Coats must have raised some eyebrows as the team has decided to convert his contract to a standard NBA deal.

The terms of Reed's new deal have not been released yet, but he will likely receive a multi-year deal. After walking away with MVP and Rookie of the Year honors in the G-League, Reed has more than earned an NBA contract.

With Reed's contracted being converted, there is now an open two-way slot on the roster. The second move the team has made is signing Mason Jones to fill that spot.

Jones is a six-foot-five athletic wing who could provide a nice spark if give a chance to get on the floor. The 22-year-old spent some time this season with the Houston Rockets, appeared in 26 games. In that time he would average just under six points per game, playing about 12 minutes a game.

This move will reunite Jones with rookie Isaiah Joe, as the two both played their college ball at Arkansas. In Jones' second and final season at Arkansas, he led the team in scoring, rebounding, assists, and steals.

One thing Jones will be adding to this roster is more shooting. He shot 35.9% from beyond in his time with the Rockets, and in his sophomore season in college shot 35.1% on six attempts per game.

These moves are not big splashes in any sense but have the potential to make an impact down the road. This roster is going to have multiple open spots with all the expiring contracts, making moves in the margins like this might aid Morey in the offseason as he looks to revamp things.

There is always talk about how Shake Milton is vastly underpaid for what he brings to the team, and we could be saying the same thing about Reed down the road. If the Sixers lock him up for multiple years now, it could look great as he continues to develop.

It is unclear how much we see of Jones this season as the Sixers look to maintain their top spot in the conference, but he isn't a bad guy to take a flier on. In today's game you can never have enough ball-handling and outside shooting, and Jones brings both.

With Reed taking the final roster spot, this could change how the team approaches the deadline. If they do decide to make a move, it will likely result in newly acquired Ignaz Brazdeikis being waived or released.

Sixerdelphia


Kintzler, Joyce Make Phillies, Howard is Optioned to Alternate Site

The Phillies roster is just about complete.  Three key moves were announced by the Phillies on Friday afternoon, after we learned that Tony Watson would opt out of his minor league deal.   Two veterans will indeed be part of the Phillies roster, while a promising young player heads to the minors.

Brandon Kintzler will be part of the Phillies bullpen in 2021.   After being pretty much the strongest reliever on the Marlins in 2020 and Chicago Cubs in 2019, Kintzler will join with Archie Bradley and Hector Neris to build the back-end of the Phillies bullpen.   All three have closer experience.

Matt Joyce earned a spot on the Phillies roster as a left-handed pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder.  Joyce was signed because of his experience pinch hitting.  The National League will not have a designated hitter in 2021, and pinch hitting will once again be a significant role on the team.

Starter Spencer Howard has been optioned to the Alternate Training Camp site.  Howard was competing for a spot in the starting rotation, but back spasms slowed his development this Spring.  The Phillies hope to have a healthy Howard in tow should they need another starter.

The Phillies will need to clear space on the 40-man roster for Kintzler and Joyce.  They have until Saturday to do so.  One of those spots will come in the form of Simon Muzziotti's roster spot.  Muzziotti was invited to Spring Training in 2021, but has yet to report due to visa issues.  

The Phillies have not announced a decision on Odubel Herrera just yet.  He will need to be added to the roster if he makes the team.  But with Joyce on the team along with Roman Quinn and a healthy Adam Haseley, Herrera might not have the opportunity right now.