Phils Host Sox, Union in Dallas to Battle the Waldos

Phils Host Sox, Union in Dallas to Battle the Waldos

We're taking it easy this evening, enjoying the weather and a few cold ones, so I gotta keep this brief. Whether you were working in the yard or drinking at the Italian Market Festival (or something in between), there's a great sports reward on the way this evening.
The Phils aim to take their seventh straight after a big win to open the series with the Red Sox that featured a Jonathan Papelbon save to preserve a Cole Hamels win. Chooch is a herostuddragonridingMVPstar. Tonight, Joe Blanton draws Jon Lester. Lester brushed off two straight losses to throw a complete game, 6-1 win against Seattle last time out. Game time is around 7:15 on Fox. More on the matchup here.  
Meanwhile, the Freddy-Adu-less Union will try to get a result down in Dallas, starting at 8:30PM on the Comcast Network. The Waldos will be short a few key players as well. 
(more on the U vs Dallas, some pics from an Dallas training session, and video of something that'll get ya suspended, below)
Hopefully it doesn't look like this in Dallas tonight, though the home side will be dressed not unlike our hero here, save for red shorts rather than jeans. Kinda like if Chivas USA's stripes were horizontal...
Freddy Adu played the best soccer of his time with the Union on Sunday. Unfortunately, he didn't have a chance to finish the game, as a crappy diving call landed him is second yellow card of the game. The U were unable to hold on for three points, and tonight, they'll have to try without Adu pulling the strings.
Obviously, they'll also be without Danny Califf. I've had trouble processing the move that sent him to Chivas this past week, and more reconciling the feelings it leaves in its wake. For the purposes of tonight's thread, we'll stick to how it affects the team on the pitch. 
As he did on Sunday, Sheanon Williams will play Califf's former center back slot alongside Carlos Valdes. Rookie Raymon Gaddis has been impressive, and I don't worry about him starting at the right back position. When he's made mistakes with the line high, his speed has nullified most of them, as he gets back very quickly. Gabe Farfan has been capable on the left side as well, which is far more than we can say for Porfirio Lopez, but a knee injury could keep Garfan out of the action tonight. 
The Union hope a speedier back line will cause more fits on the opposing side than it allows for in front of their own goal. I hope that's the case. While they're spinning the move in favor of speed, they did lose some height, as Califf stood out among his former teammates despite himself not being much more than 6 feet tall. Williams is listed as 5'11, but I doubt that... Of course, Danny's height didn't exactly protect the Union against opposing set pieces during his time here. 
A particular bright spot over the past week has been the play of Lionard Pajoy. Struggling to find the back of the net for most of the season to date, Pajoy scored in the friendly against German side Schalke, then tallied twice in the Union's 3-2 loss to New York. Paired with Danny Mwanga in an arrangement that saw two strikers forward. Both had plenty of great opportunities, though couldn't convert on most. Hopefully another game in the set will see even more success. 
Without Adu, and also the excellent play of Zac MacMath, who is expected to miss the match with concussion symptoms despite playing this past Sunday after sustaining the injury in a prior match (5/8 vs Sounders). Taylor Twellman said on Twitter that MacMath took a hit in training this week, forcing him out of the action tonight. 
Update: Mike Farfan will play his brother Gabe's fullback position, and Michael Lahoud will start in his first opportunity with the team since coming over as the human component of the Danny Califf haul, per Kevin Kinkead
Dallas (3-6-3) is a team that has also had trouble scoring to date, with 11 goals in 12 games and have a -7 goal differential (the Union have 7 goals in 9 games). They'll be without attacker Brek Shea, who is suspended for three games after kicking a ball at a referee's assistant whose call he disagreed with in Dallas' 2-1 loss to Columbus last Saturday. It was as funny as it sounds... 

Some impressive numbers for Joel Embiid's All-Star campaign

Some impressive numbers for Joel Embiid's All-Star campaign

Tonight, the All-Star starters will be announced on TNT. It is unlikely the East's starting five will include Joel Embiid -- he was only third among frontcourt fan voting at last check, and coaches and media will likely go with a safer choice (i.e. one that doesn't rank only eighth on his team in total minutes played) anyway. But I think we're officially at the point where it's absurd to think of JoJo possibly not getting considered at all, so before the reserves are announced a week from tonight, here's some numbers that tell the partial story of Embiid's dominance in his rookie season: 

107.1: The Sixers' overall defensive rating, tenth best in the NBA. 

99.3: The Sixers' defensive rating with Embiid on the court, first-best in the NBA. 

99.7: The Sixers' overall offensive rating, worst in the NBA. 

105.0: The Sixers' offensive rating with Embiid on the court, 15th best in the NBA. 

7.7: Embiid's block percentage, highest in the entire NBA. 

15.4: Embiid's assist percentage, third-highest on the Sixers (behind their two point guards).

10: Embiid's current streak of consecutive games with 20 points or more, longer than any Sixer since Iverson. 

7: Number of games where Embiid has shot more than ten free throws. 

4: Number of games last season where anyone on the Sixers shot more than ten more free throws. 

68: Embiid's (positive) plus-minus for the entire season. 

224: The Sixers' (negative) plus-minus for the entire season. 

42.5: Embiid's defensive FG% at the rim, highest for any center in the league. 

28.2: Embiid's scoring per 36 minutes, seventh best in the NBA. 

1: Number of other rookies who have ever scored at that rate before (Wilt Chamberlain). 

10: Number of wins the Sixers had all of last year. 

12: Number of wins, after last night's season-highlight win over the Raptors, that they have this year with Embiid in the lineup.

Eagles Stay or Go Part 4: Chase Daniel to Dillon Gordon

Eagles Stay or Go Part 4: Chase Daniel to Dillon Gordon

In the fourth of our 12-part offseason series examining the future of the Eagles, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro give their opinions on who will be and who won't be on the roster in 2017. We go alphabetically — Part 4 is Daniel to Gordon.

Chase Daniel
Cap hit: $8M

Roob: Carson Wentz’s backup had a heck of a year — completed all his passes, passer rating of 118.7, averaged 16 yards per attempt. Project that over a full season and Chase Daniel is going to Canton. OK, so he threw only one pass. But that’s two straight years Daniel has been perfect. Last year, he was 2 for 2 for the Chiefs. Most importantly, Daniel has a $7 million base salary in 2017, and that makes him the 25th-highest paid quarterback in the NFL in 2017, and the sixth-highest paid Eagle. The numbers are ridiculous, but Daniel is clearly a good influence on Wentz, a valuable mentor. He’s a solid backup, but that contract is just way too lucrative. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I know fans don’t understand why Daniel is getting paid this much money to be a backup who doesn’t ever play, and at times I have trouble figuring it out myself.  But here’s the reason. When Wentz arrives to the facility during the season at 5:15 a.m. and starts watching film, he’s not watching with Doug Pederson or Frank Reich or John DeFilippo. He’s watching it with Daniel. So while it might not make sense to pay a backup quarterback this much money, don’t think of Daniel as a backup quarterback. Think of him as an asset to the franchise quarterback. Then it doesn’t sound quite as bad. 

Verdict: STAYS

Anthony Denham

Roob: The Eagles must like Denham because he had two stints on the practice squad this year and they re-signed him to a futures deal when the season was over. But barring an injury, there just isn’t room on the roster for another tight end.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: Denham is a tight end who was on the Eagles’ practice squad in 2016. Maybe he’d have a shot to make the roster if the Eagles aren’t able to bring back Trey Burton, but I don’t see that happening. They’ll bring him to camp and let him compete and maybe get another year on the practice squad. 

Verdict: GOES

Jon Dorenbos
Cap hit: $1.08M

Roob: Assuming he’s healthy, Dorenbos isn’t going anywhere. Rick Lovato did a nice job filling in at the end of the season, but until Dorenbos decides he wants to pursue magic full-time, there’s a spot for him on this roster.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: During last year’s training camp, I watched Dorenbos walk along the sideline, shaking hands and kissing babies (not literally). Then I looked on the field and saw his “competition” snapping footballs repeatedly to a goal post. That’s when I realized Dorenbos wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And now he has a new contract. He’ll end up playing more games as an Eagle than anyone in the history of the franchise. 

Verdict: STAYS

Zach Ertz
Cap hit: $5.6M

Roob: Even though he had the second-most catches in the entire NFL over the last 10 weeks of the season, a large segment of Eagles fans have decided Ertz is to blame for everything that went wrong with the Eagles this year. Never mind that he got off to a good start on opening day, then suffered a very serious rib injury, then came back after missing just two games, then after getting healthy finished the season with 67 catches for 685 yards and four TDs in the last 10 games. Not the last one or two or three games. The last 10 games. With a full offseason and preseason with Wentz, I fully expect Ertz to finish 2017 well over 1,000 yards. 

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: I don’t understand the Zach Ertz hate. He isn’t Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. So what? He’s a really good tight end. Now, I understood why some people questioned the non-block play. I was one of them. But look at the numbers. Here’s a list of tight ends who had more receiving yards than Ertz in 2016: Kelce, Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, Kyle Rudolph. Not bad company. And some look at his production and say, well, it all came in December. Maybe there will be a year in which his late-season production finally helps the Eagles with a playoff push. And he just signed a new contract, so he’s here for a while. 

Verdict: STAYS

Najee Goode
Unrestricted free agent

Roob: Goode, an unrestricted free agent, is a capable special teamer and emergency backup linebacker, but he would earn $775,000 even on a minimum-wage deal in 2017, and considering the Eagles’ salary cap crunch, they may elect to replace him with a rookie late-round pick or undrafted guy who would earn about $300,000 less. Based on ability, he would stay. But those mid-career veterans with high minimum salaries who don’t play much on offense or defense can be tough to keep around.

Verdict: GOES

Dave: In each of the last two seasons, Goode has managed to be on the team after missing out on the original 53-man roster. Maybe that’s a possibility for this season, but first the Eagles need to re-sign him. It might be time to move on from Goode and find a younger linebacker/special teamer. 

Verdict: GOES

Dillon Gordon
Cap hit: $543M

Roob: Gordon is an intriguing prospect. Like Jason Peters, he was a college tight end who moved to offensive tackle soon after arriving in the NFL. He’s big and strong and athletic, he’s just very new at offensive tackle. The Eagles liked him enough to keep him on the active roster all last year, and I’m guessing they see him as enough of a prospect that they’ll keep him around for at least another year. Especially with so many question marks at offensive tackle.

Verdict: STAYS

Dave: Gordon was on the Eagles’ roster for the entire season and was inactive in all but one week. He was a college tight end who came to Philly and is learning how to play offensive tackle. (Peters once made the same transition.) Gordon is crazy athletic for his size and the Eagles thought enough of him to put him on the active roster instead of risking losing him by placing him on the practice squad. He’s a project, but one worth keeping. 

Verdict: STAYS