Hot Stove Heats Up! Cools Down: On Hunter Pence, Melky, Heilman

Hot Stove Heats Up! Cools Down: On Hunter Pence, Melky, Heilman

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, rumors are heating up. But Ruben Amaro is playing it cool (sorry! just wanted to use this photo from yesterday at Wrigley) and has opted not to comment publicly. But what is a trade deadline good for if not rampant speculation?

The Internet was buzzing today about a potential deal between the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies that would center around outfielder Hunter Pence and starting pitcher Vance Worley.

The rumors seemed to stem from a "sourced" Buster Olney tweet that read, "Source: The Phillies would prefer to structure any of their Hunter Pence offers around Vance Worley."

First, I am in the camp that is surprised the Astros are even considering trading Pence. And second, more news came later in the afternoon to quell those rumors a bit, "Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald was told by a source that Pence won’t be moved by the Astros."

And so the hot stove rumors turn.

Todd Zolecki did a fine job rounding up much of the Pence/Carlos Beltran/reliever buzz and adds what the Phillies likely thinking is around each guy. Basically, as they've shown in recent years, they'd much prefer a guy that they can control beyond this season (Pence) as opposed to a rental (Beltran).

Continuing with that theme, Beerleaguer takes a look at two other players, Leo Nunez (who we mentioned on Tuesday) and Kansas City outfielder Melky Cabrera, noting that they'd both be controllable through 2012.

Finally, Jim Salisbury takes a look at how the Phillies may handle the closer situation with both Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson showing they're entirely capable of delivering in that role.

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Placido Polanco received a series of injections today and is expected to start feeling better in the next couple of days. Joe Blanton's outlook does not look as promising, as he's hit another setback. Sully has more plus news that the Phils have added former Met Aaron Heilman to their minor league system.

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Here's a shot of Dom Brown I took yesterday from field level under the bleachers, through the fence, at Wrigley Field yesterday.

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

Eagles-Redskins predictions by our (cough) experts

The Eagles (5-7) come into Sunday's game against the Redskins (6-5-1) on a three-game losing streak.

The Redskins exposed the Eagles' defense the last time these two teams met almost two months ago on Oct. 16.

Here are our (cough) expert predictions for this Week 14 matchup.

Dave Zangaro (4-8)
After losing three straight games, I couldn't pick the Eagles against just about any team in the NFL. Maybe Cleveland. Maybe Chicago. 

But against Washington? Nah. Can't do it. 

Sure, I know Washington comes into the Linc on a two-game losing streak, and they're clearly not a top team in the NFC. It just doesn't matter. Kirk Cousins is a decent quarterback and Washington clearly has enough weapons to shred the Eagles like they did for 493 yards in the first meeting. 

For the Eagles' offense, Carson Wentz hasn't looked good in a long time and this week he enters with a few of his skill position players banged up. 

This looks like another loss to me. 

Washington 26, Eagles 20

Derrick Gunn (5-7)
The Eagles are an embarrassed, desperate team, and a win over the Redskins could lift the weight of what has been a downward spiral. Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews returned to practice this week, but can they jolt this offense back to life? Carson Wentz has played like a rookie the last three games, and the once stout defense has crumbled.

So here come the Redskins, losers of two in a row but still very much in the playoff conversation. The Redskins' defense is beat up and could be missing several key players, but unfortunately for the Eagles, Washington's offensive weapons are relatively healthy, except for tight end Jordan Reed, who's listed as questionable with an AC joint sprain. Matt Jones and Robert Kelley pack a punch out of the backfield. 

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been in a zone. Over their last six games, Cousins has averaged 352.6 passing yards, plus he's thrown 12 touchdown passes and only two interceptions. 

The Eagles remember what Washington did to them back in Week 6, but I feel their revenge motives will fall short.

Redskins 27, Eagles 17

Ray Didinger (5-7) 
With all the talk this week about effort and players dogging it, I fully expect the Eagles to come out focused and fired up at home Sunday. Here's the problem: I just don't know if they are good enough to win the game. Motivation is one thing, but talent is another and right now, the Eagles are lacking in that area.
 
The players have been called out by their coach, by the media and by the fans so if they have any pride at all they will come out and play hard against the Redskins but I look at the matchup of this Eagles' secondary against the Washington receivers — especially a hot DeSean Jackson (25.3 yards per catch the last three games) — and I don't see a happy result.
 
Redskins 24, Eagles 17

Andrew Kulp (6-6)
Not sure if the Eagles really are in freefall mode or if they've simply been unable to overcome injuries while facing some better than advertised opponents. Either way, they have plenty to play for, because Washington has been embarrassing them for awhile now. With Jordan Matthews back and against a less than stellar D, I predict an end to the losing streak, so long as they finally come up with an answer for Kirk Cousins.

Eagles 26, Redskins 24

Corey Seidman (5-7)
Close game, better performance from Carson Wentz and an awakening in the run game, but not enough defensive talent to shut down what Washington will try to do deep with DeSean Jackson and Jamison Crowder, over the middle with Jordan Reed and short with Pierre Garcon.

Redskins 31, Eagles 27

Andy Schwartz (5-7)
It's simply come to this. I can't pick the Eagles to win a game the rest of the season until they do.

I want to think the offense will benefit from the return of Ryan Mathews and Jordan Matthews. And I want to think the defense will play with desperation and break out of its "slump" and make some big plays.

But I won't believe it until I see it.

Redskins 24, Eagles 16

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Shayne Gostisbehere suffers bone bruise on right hand in win over Stars

Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere took a shot off his right hand in the second period Saturday and has a bone bruise. 
 
The Flyers will watch it because sometimes the swelling prevents wearing a glove comfortably the next day.
 
Ghost, who has five points – all assists – over his past six games, was hit with a puck in the second period of a 4-2 win over the Stars. He went to the bench and tried to shake it off, but left for the dressing room shortly after a Flyers power play began in the period’s final three minutes.
 
He participated for part of the power play, then left the ice and did not return until the start of the third period.
 
“It was good by then,” he said. “Obviously, it hurt a bit.”
 
The Flyers play in Detroit on Sunday night. 
 
Ghost has 16 points (four goals) in 29 games this season. X-rays were negative, he said, adding he was not worried about the hand, which was badly swollen after the game.