Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview

Red Sox-Phillies: A Series Preview

It's nice that we can have ourselves a Boston-Philadelphia series these
days without the primary storyline having anything to do with the city
of New York. In 2011, the Phillies and Red Sox are good enough and
established enough in their own right that there's no second-city
inferiority complex necessary—these teams have more than enough positive
recent history now, and they're building a nice little rivalry of their
own. And this time, the two will meet as arguably the two best teams in
baseball, in a series that will see the phrase "World Series Preview"
mentioned more than once
.

Sox-Phils has made for some great interleague action the last few
years, though unfortunately for us, most of it has ended up favoring
Boston. Last year alone, there was Daisuke's no-hitter through seven,
Daniel Nava's grand slam in his first-ever at bat, and a combined 22-4
Boston beatdown of Philly over the course of two games. Boston won four
of six in that season and 11 of 15 total since they started visiting
Citizens' Bank Park. "I think we’ve had a hard time beating them
in the past, the last five or six years I’ve been here," Charlie
recently reminisced. "It would be nice
to win
a series. We need to come out Tuesday and make sure we play good against
them." 

Yeah, it would be nice. The Phils are 5-4 in
interleague play this year—a respectable record, but hardly the
authoritative beatdown that the NL's best and brightest should be
providing of the hated AL, especially considering the team has been
facing off against the weak squads of the AL West. A series win against
the Red Sox, something the Fightins just haven't been able to secure
even in their contending years against the Beantowners, would be huge
for the guys, proving they can hang with the big guns of the AL and all
but ensuring them a winning interleague record.

As is almost always the case at this time in the season, neither
team will be arriving at the showdown with their arsenal fully stocked.
The Phillies are still down two starters and two closers, and with Roy
Halladay pitching on Sunday night against Oakland, the Sox will be
getting a reprieve from facing off against their old friend from
Toronto. Meanwhile, the Sox are missing two big guns from their starting
lineup—big off-season acquisition Carl Crawford, who had finally
started showing signs of being the player the Sox thought they purchased
for $142 mil in December but is now out with a hamstring injury, and
David Ortiz, on pace for one of the best seasons of his career, but
relegated to pinch-hitting duties in this series due to the DH being
unavailable in interleague play. Still, there should be plenty of star
power to go around between the two teams, as evidenced by the marquee
matchup of tonight's series opener: Cliff Lee vs. Josh Beckett, two of
the hottest starters in baseball right now.

The eyes of the baseball world will be on Philly this week for what
is in all likelihood the most highly anticipated interleague series of
the 2011 season. Maybe it's a playoff preview and maybe (probably) it
isn't, but as far as regular-season action goes, you're not gonna get
much more exciting than this. Soak it all in these next three days—and
if you happen to head down to the ballpark, be sure to say hi to JD Drew
and Terry Francona for us.

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies to add 3 players Friday; Nick Williams iffy for September call-up

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he expects the club to add three players from the minors on Friday. Rosters expand on Thursday, an off day for the Phils.

“A couple of relievers, maybe a hitter,” Mackanin said before Wednesday night's game against Washington.

Mackanin would not name names because a lot can change in a day or two.

Darin Ruf seems to be a logical choice to be the hitter Mackanin referred to. He opened the season with the big club, but got just 57 at-bats and hit just .158 before being sent to Triple A when Tommy Joseph came up. Since going down, Rup has hit .298 with 20 homers, 65 RBIs and a .895 OPS in 94 games for Lehigh Valley.

The Phillies will likely add two relievers to fortify the bullpen. Patrick Schuster, a lefty who was recently claimed off waivers from Oakland, could be a possibility. Colton Murray, Luis Garcia, Dalier Hinojosa and Elvis Araujo all could be possibilities, as well. All have spent time in the majors this season.

The Phils can’t completely pick over the Triple A roster because Lehigh Valley’s regular season runs through Monday and that club is likely to be in the International League playoffs.

Once Lehigh Valley’s season is over, more pitching could come. Starters David Buchanan and Phil Klein could be possibilities. Alec Asher, currently serving a suspension for testing positive for PEDs, is expected to be activated by the big club next week and could provide some innings to the starting rotation.

It’s unclear which prospects will come up. Catcher Jorge Alfaro seems to be a shoo-in after Double A Reading’s playoff run. Shortstop J.P. Crawford is not on the 40-man roster and does not need to be protected on it this winter. That could prevent him from coming up as the Phillies look to use the 40-man roster spot on a player that they could lose if not protected. Outfielder Nick Williams seemed to be a lock to come up a month ago, but his performance has slipped at Triple A in recent weeks and he now looks iffy.

Williams, like Alfaro, was acquired from Texas in the Cole Hamels trade last summer. The lefty-hitting outfielder entered Wednesday hitting .265 with 12 homers, 62 RBIs and just a .294 on-base percentage in 119 games. He entered Wednesday hitting just .187 with a paltry .204 on-base percentage in the month of August. He had struck out 34 times and walked just once in 93 trips to the plate in August.

That certainly cannot sit well with a front office that puts a premium on players who "control the strike zone."

AFL rosters announced
The Phillies will send six players to the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. The group includes three pitchers, right-handed relievers Victor Arano and Miguel Nunez, and lefty starter Brandon Liebrandt, second baseman Scott Kingery, third baseman Mitch Walding, and outfielder Aaron Brown. Brown replaces outfielder Andrew Pullin, who recently went on the disabled list at Double A Reading with an elbow injury.

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

Sixers waive Carl Landry, Tibor Pleiss; officially sign Cat Barber

The Sixers made some roster tweaks on Wednesday night.

The team waived forward Carl Landry and center Tibor Pleiss, while officially announcing the signing of guard Anthony "Cat" Barber.

The Sixers were expected to cut Pleiss, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with the Jazz. On July 21, Barber and the Sixers reportedly agreed to a partially guaranteed deal.

Landy, a 32-year-old veteran, played one season with the Sixers after being acquired last summer in a trade with the Kings, a deal in which he was essentially a toss-in as it revolved around bringing Nik Stauskas to Philadelphia. Landry, who was under contract for 2016-17 at $6.75 million, battled injury to start 2015-16 and ended up playing in 36 games (12 starts), averaging 9.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Barber, 6-foot-3, 173 pounds, will fight for a roster spot at point guard during training camp. The 22-year-old went undrafted in June after declaring following his junior season at NC State in which he averaged 23.5 points per game, seventh most in the country and best in the ACC.

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

usa-ben-simmons-summer-league.jpg

Ben Simmons working out with LeBron James

Ben Simmons' fellow NBA rookies may not think too highly of him, but when the best basketball player on the planet is giving him pointers, he must be doing something right.

On Tuesday, a photo of Simmons and LeBron James dribbling side by side started making the rounds on Instagram. That's right. The Sixers' number-one overall draft pick and franchise savior is apparently training with the four-time league MVP and reigning world champion.

#Klutch @klutchsports

A photo posted by Ben Simmons (@bensimmons) on

Those workouts continued on Wednesday, when 12-time All-Star Dwayne Wade posted a photo of himself, Simmons and James, as well as Richard Jefferson and Jordan McRae. That's some good company for a first-year player to keep.

Good day of work!

A photo posted by dwyanewade (@dwyanewade) on

What does all of this mean for Simmons and the Sixers? Hard to say, but it can't be a bad thing that the rookie point-forward is spending time with a pair of future first-ballot Hall of Famers. Surely he must be learning something.

That's good news for the Sixers, who hope that Simmons can even come close to living up to the lofty comparisons some have drawn to James already.