Charlie Manuel Should Have Plenty of Options with the Phillies' Lineup Card This Year

Charlie Manuel Should Have Plenty of Options with the Phillies' Lineup Card This Year

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Suppose Charlie Manuel wants give Chase Utley a day off
while Freddy Galvis is covering for Jimmy Rollins on the disabled list. No
sweat. Keep Galvis at shortstop, have Michael Young start at second base, and
let Kevin Frandsen fill in at third. Problem solved.

Imagine the Phillies are facing a particularly tough lefty,
and Ryan Howard is 1-for-20 with 19 strikeouts against the guy. Charlie could give
Piece the rest, start Darin Ruf at first, and stack righties John Mayberry and
Delmon Young in the outfield corners. Make sense?

The possibilities, while not exactly endless, are as numerous
as they are intriguing. This newfound versatility and depth on the forecasted
opening-day roster is yet another reason why the Phillies could be poised to
rebound in 2013.

In years past Manuel could count on almost the entire
everyday lineup to play between 150- 160 games. Now the manager is working with
an aging core that’s prone to wearing down and getting hurt. Some of these guys
are going to miss time. Some of them need breaks.

The Phillies are coming prepared. This team has more moving
parts and viable substitutions at their disposal than at any point since Jimmy
Rollins first proclaimed they were the team to beat in ’07.

Infield, outfield, doesn’t matter. They are built to match
up, and to survive the war of attrition that is a 162-game regular season.

Granted some of their supposed flexibility is based on
hypotheticals. It presumes Frandsen continues to be somebody the Phillies want
in the lineup occasionally. It’s handing Ruf a roster spot before he's hardly
taken an at bat in spring training.

Frandsen is especially important in this sense because
Michael Young can play any position in the infield – how well he plays them is
another story, but he owns the different gloves at least.

It would be nice if Manuel had the luxury to move Young around occasionally knowing there will still be some production from the hot corner. Combine with Galivs’
Gold Glove potential at second or short, plus add Mayberry in the mix at first,
and even without Ruf it all equates to options.

While the outfield is far from as settled, Manuel will have
some different setups choose from there as well. Win or lose a starting job, Domonic
Brown figures to see plenty of action against right-handed pitching, and can
play in either left or right.

The Phillies are a bit more hamstrung in centerfield, where
without Ben Revere in the lineup there may be one too many defensive
liabilities. Mayberry could play in the middle though if Manuel wants a little
extra pop in the order.

Some of the potential lineups may not sound all that
exciting, but the fact that there are so many possibilities available is a huge
positive. The old men can catch a breath every once in awhile without worrying
about sending a Michael Martinez to the dish or Ty Wigginton making an error
every other inning.

Whether it’s because somebody goes on the DL, or Manuel wants
to match lefty against righty, somebody is a slump, or just plain needs the
rest, the Phillies should be able to field a competitive lineup on a daily basis. Obviously
they are not built to withstand losing the heart of their order again – who is?
– but they could certainly weather a few of the storms that are destined to
come their way.

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The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The biggest sports story in town in the Sixers, winners of 4 of 5 and an exhilarating team on the floor, led by a superstar player who seems to actually get us as a fan base. And to think, all it took to bring us to this point was getting rid of Sam Hinkie.

Look at what a dark place the Sixers were in a year ago. They were in last place, with the league’s worst roster and no hope for the future except for a bunch of ill-defined future draft picks. And they were led by a general manager with absolutely zero interest in winning, explaining himself, or (worst of all) appearing on the WIP Morning Show. 

But now, there’s hope. Joel Embiid is the real deal. The supporting cast is rapidly improving, with guys like T.J. McConnell, Robert Covington and Dario Saric looking like valuable supporting players, and Ben Simmons joining them very soon. 

I know the Hinkie apologists are going to say these improvements are because of him and that he deserves credit -- please. To credit Hinkie with drafting Joel Embiid is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in all my years of watching Philadelphia sports. We all know Hinkie wanted Andrew Wiggins -- therefore, he gets no credit for drafting Embiid. And as Bob Brookover pointed out last week, Embiid is a Sixer because of luck.  

Ben Simmons, of course, was drafted by Bryan Colangelo, who also acquired the best Sixer since Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova. And if the two first-round picks next year turn out to be stars, Colangelo will get credit for those, too

Hinkie did things like draft three centers in a  row, take Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, trade valuable players like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels for nothing, and sign no veterans at all for three years. 

Joel Embiid is a winner, Sam Hinkie is a loser, and that’s all there is to it.  

In other Sixers news, it was nice to see Simmons warming up on the court last week against Boston- when Embiid did that, it meant he was 16-18 months away from returning to action. In the last two years, the Sixers lead the league in pre-game social media posts featuring players who aren’t active for that night’s game. 

And speaking of records, congrats to Nerlens Noel for breaking Shane Victorino’s longstanding local athlete record for use of “you know” in a single interview, when he talked to Woj last week

Other Philly sports takes: 

The Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday proves two things: Dak Prescott is a fraud, and the Cowboys were never very good anyway. The only reason they went 13-3 was the easy schedule. 

Can you believe Allen Iverson getting photographed in a Cowboys jersey? Doesn’t he know the rules? If you play in Philly, you must root for every one of the city’s teams, regardless of circumstance, for the rest of your life. 

Even so, shame on the Knicks’ Derrick Rose for no-showing a game. If you want to be a legendary NBA guard, you’re supposed to skip PRACTICES, not games. Not a game. 

Angelo made a good point: Embiid is so perfect as a Philadelphia athlete that it makes me notice how much Carson Wentz isn’t. Hunting trips? Shotgun gifts? Getting locked in a gas station bathroom? That’s just not cutting it. Carson, immediately, needs to start drinking Shirley Temples, imitating pro wrestler entrances, and insulting porn stars on Instagram, or else I fear he won’t last in this town. 

Another good column by Marcus Hayes -- the Eagles must sacrifice multiple draft picks to trade up for wide receiver Mike Williams. Whatever it takes. 

Come on Eagles- no room on the staff for either of Buddy’s sons? How about both? 

Follow @FakeWIPCaller on Twitter. 

Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

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Penn State men's hockey ranked No. 1 for first time in program history

At 16-2-1, Penn State's men's hockey team is ranked first in the nation for the first time in program history.

The Nittany Lions have improved each of the last four years under head coach Guy Gadowsky. 

Their record by year:

      2013-14: 8-26-2
      2014-15: 18-15-4
Last season: 21-13-4
This season: 16-2-1

Penn State received 30 of 50 first-place votes in the USCHO Division I poll. Denver is ranked No. 2, followed by Boston University, Minnesota-Duluth and Massachusetts-Lowell (see USCHO poll).

Penn State was ranked fourth last week before sweeping Michigan State.