Grantland Says Its Time to Blow Up the Phillies

Grantland Says Its Time to Blow Up the Phillies

As far as season previews go, this is not the most
optimistic outlook on the Phillies. Grantland’s Jonah Keri asks, “At what
point does Philadelphia see the writing on the wall and start building for
tomorrow?”

This is the dilemma the Phillies
face heading into the 2013 season. They've already turned over more than half
the lineup, handing starting roles to much younger players. But none of those
players are premium prospects. Moreover, the team's trio of infield stars, the
ones who've been the face of Phillies baseball for nearly a decade, are still
around, fighting injuries and Father Time as they desperately try to keep the
Phillies relevant in a division that's left them behind. Then you've got the
starting rotation's three aces and the fire-breathing closer, all making big
bucks, all hugely attractive gets for many other teams were they to become
available. Four months from now, if Philly appears on its way to another
mediocre season, should the team cash in their biggest trade chips for younger
players who could help build a winning team for 2014 and beyond?

Maybe the bigger question is this:
If the Phillies do reach that point, could they go through with it — tearing
down the most dominant collection of players the team has seen in 30-plus
years?

Wow. So the National League East has left the Phils behind?
A division they finished in third place a season ago despite missing two of
their most important players for the first half the year. A division they won
for the fifth consecutive time just one season earlier. Don’t get me wrong, the
Washington Nationals are the favorites, but is their beating the Phillies again that
much of a foregone conclusion? At the very least, most people expect them to be
in the thick of the wild card race anyway.

You can talk about their age and question their health all you want. This is still a team with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard in the starting lineup, backed by a rotation of Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee.

Keri has a point though. Sometime in the near future, the
Phillies are going to have to drift away from the core that brought a world
championship to Philadelphia in 2008, despite certain rankings being none too
high on the organization’s farm system.

Yeah, if the club tanks this season, they should become
sellers – just like they were last summer. But then again, it's only March 5.

Assuming there is some hope for the Fightins in ‘13, there
is plenty of room for radical change over the next couple years without Ruben
Amaro Jr. going out of his way to dismantle the team. Only four players on this
year’s roster are signed to sizable contracts beyond 2014: Ryan Howard, Cole
Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Jonathan Papelbon. What the farm system can’t immediately
replace, the Phillies should be able to go shopping for.

The post is worth a read, even if the tone might be
slightly off key. Keith Law may not like the Phillies’ prospects,
but a bunch of young outfielders and relief pitchers are already competing for spots on
the big club right now, while the organization believes kids like LHP Jesse
Biddle, C Tommy Joseph, and 3B Cody Asche could be building blocks of the
future.

Perhaps Keri's outlook is simply far more distant future than I am capable of thinking right now, but the Phillies’ primary focus today should be on winning this
year. We can play fill-in-the-blanks later.

>> Blow Up the Phillies! [Grantland]

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Joel Embiid questionable with flu; T.J. McConnell (wrist) upgraded

Joel Embiid questionable with flu; T.J. McConnell (wrist) upgraded

CAMDEN, N.J. — Whether or not Joel Embiid suits up against the Raptors tonight remains to be seen. He is listed as questionable because of illness and did not participate in shootaround. On Tuesday, Brett Brown said Embiid was dealing with the flu

If Embiid is unable to play, Jahlil Okafor would see more playing time. After four straight DNPs, Okafor started in Embiid’s absence on Saturday against the Wizards and had 26 points and nine rebounds in 35 minutes. The following game, he came off the bench against the Bucks (10 points, two rebounds, 20 minutes) without Nerlens Noel (sprained left ankle).

Noel went through shootaround and is probable for Wednesday.

“I know I can’t control what’s going on with all the DNPs,” Okafor said after shootaround. “I just try to work as hard as I can to stay prepared for whatever happens.”

T.J. McConnell has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable after he was able to go through shootaround with a right wrist sprain. He wore a splint on Tuesday but just had his wrist wrapped to limit swelling. The Sixers' medical staff will evaluate McConnell before the game to determine his status.

“A lot better today,” McConnell said. “Optimistic about tonight. We’ll see how it responds this afternoon during warmups and make a decision there.”

Richaun Holmes remains on assignment with the Delaware 87ers. He is currently participating in the NBA D-League Showcase, which runs Jan. 18-22 in Mississauga, Ontario.

Angry, awful human Chris Christie calls Eagles fans 'generally angry, awful people'

Angry, awful human Chris Christie calls Eagles fans 'generally angry, awful people'

When he's not battling bridge scandals, getting kicked off trainsfalling out of chairs, making trips to McDonald's for Donald Trump, or eating M&M's, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sure seems to be fond of insulting Philadelphia Eagles fans.

The oversized personality was at it again this morning when he spoke with the Boomer and Carton show up on New York's WFAN.

Christie is a well-documented Dallas Cowboys fan and again discussed his fandom and why people seem to care about it.

And in case you needed a reminder, the Cowboys' season is currently over and they didn't even win a single playoff game. Sad!

“I understand why people are interested if you are a public figure, as to who you root for,” Christie said. “They’re interested. But the hostility, I will tell you that I take for being a Cowboys fan — and this is what I say to Giants fans all the time, and Eagles fans. Now Eagles fans I can understand it from a little more because the Eagles do suck and they’ve sucked for a long time. And their fans are generally angry, awful people.”

He then goes on to say he's not a front runner for liking the Cowboys because they've been far less successful over the last ten years than the New York Giants. Mostly true.

You can listen to the whole interview right here. Via CBS Philly