Again With the Short People: Hawes and Vuc Still Out vs. Nets

Again With the Short People: Hawes and Vuc Still Out vs. Nets

Healthy by next week. That appears to be—or at least, we hope it is—the
approach the Sixers are taking, with neither of our top two big men
(Spencer Hawes or Nik Vucevic) cleared to play for tonight's game
against the Nets, nor with either looking likely to come back for any of
the remaining games this week. Fair enough—the next two games are
against the Bobcats and Pistons (combined record: 7-29), and tonight's
game is against a 5-13 Nets squad still missing touted center Brook
Lopez, and possibly rookie sensation MarShon Brooks as well. It's more
important to rest our gimpy dudes against this soft run of competition,
to prepare for the brutal two-week stretch we have coming immediately
after.

Still, it never feels good to be going into a game against any
professional basketball team so short-handed. The Nets' starting
front-line of Kris Humphries and Mehmet Okur aren't the most threatening
in the league, exactly, but Humph can certainly crash the boards, and
Okur has size that must be contended with, creating certain matchup
problems for the Sixers if we have to rely on Thaddeus Young and Elton
Brand to play the middle. Meanwhile, the best player on the court for
most of the game will belong to the New Jersey—star point guard Deron
Williams, whose penetration will cause plenty of problems of its own if
the Sixers can't protect the paint.

Expect to see a lot of Tony Battie, and for the second time this season,
a healthy dose of rookie big Lavoy Allen. Sixers fans would of course
be well-advised to not expect another 5-5, McDonalds-earning performance
out of Lavoy this time out, but it'll be interesting to see if he can
prove to be a contributor to the team tonight, either by excelling in
the pick-and-pop as he did Wednesday, or just by hitting the boards and
playing good help defense on Deron and Jordan Farmar and company. Doing
so would go a short way towards allaying Sixer fan fears about the
team's depth up front, though as Michael Levin suggested in our recent
discussion, it's hard to see the team going too long without making a
move for a big man, and indeed have even brought one-time Sixer (for
about five minutes) Francisco Elson in for a workout, to that end.

7:00 tip from the WFC. “We’re trying to win every game and take
advantage of everything and take
advantage of that home court,” Evan Turner said of the team's stellar
play against sub-par competition in Philly this year. Keep up with that
trying, guys—though don't think it's gonna be this easy for too much
longer.

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

Shocker: Phillies interested in getting one of baseball's best players

We're all looking forward to the free-agent class of 2018.

If Maikel Franco doesn't shape up, the Phillies could make a hard push for Manny Machado. Franco after a two-game benching is back in the lineup for this afternoon's game against the Rockies (see story).

Then, of course, there's Bryce Harper, who earlier this month agreed to a one-year, $21,625,000 deal for next season. 

And guess what? If Harper becomes a free agent after next season, the Phillies would be interested in signing him.

Really?

According to a FanRagSportsNetwork, citing a Phillies source, the Phils would be interested luring Harper to Philly.

Shocker. 

It'd be big news if a Phillies source said the team wasn't interested in signing Harper. 

Anyway, the story also quotes a National League scout.

“Could you imagine what he could do in that ballpark playing 81 games a year in that bandbox?” the scout said.

Chances are every Phillies fan has already imagined it. Harper this season alone is hitting .351/.400/.784 with five homers and 12 RBIs in nine games against the Phils. In three games at the Bank, he's hitting just .250 with a homer and two RBIs.

But in 38 career games at CBP, he's hitting .296/.361/.627 with 12 home runs and 26 RBIs.

In 89 career games against the Phillies overall, he's hitting .282 with 20 homers and 54 RBIs.

At the risk of stating the obvious, here's one thing to remember: If the Phils sign Harper, then he'd no longer benefit from facing them.

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Today's Lineup: Franco batting cleanup as Phillies try to snap skid

Well, this hasn't gone well. 

Coming into Thursday afternoon's game against the Rockies, the Phillies have lost five straight. They've lost nine of their last 10. They've lost 20 of their last 24. 

At 15-29, they're not just the worst team in the NL East. They're not just the worst team in the National League. 

Through 44 games, the Phillies are the worst team in baseball. 

Just to make it to a .500 record this season, they would need to go 66-52 (.559) the rest of the way. 

Their four-game series against the Rockies will mercifully come to a close on Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. In the first three games of the series -- all losses -- the Phils have been outscored 23-5. 

Maikel Franco returns to the four-hole as the Phillies try to snap out of their funk.

The Phillies on Thursday also activated right-handed pitcher Jeanmar Gomez from the disabled list. Gomez takes Adam Morgan's spot on the roster. Morgan was reassigned to Triple A Lehigh Valley after throwing three scoreless innings during the Phillies' 7-2 loss to the Rockies.

Gomez hasn't pitched since May 4 because of an elbow injury. He began the season as the Phillies' closer but was demoted after blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his first five innings. In 11 1/3 innings this season, Gomez has a 7.94 ERA.

Here's the full lineup: 

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Aaron Altherr, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Michael Saunders, RF
7. Cameron Rupp, C
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Vince Velasquez, P