Roseman mum on Eagles' draft plans ... or is he?

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Roseman mum on Eagles' draft plans ... or is he?

Thursday, April 21, 2011
Posted: 4:37 p.m.

By Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.com

Trying to get a read on Eagles general manager Howie Roseman isnt easy. He often speaks in cliches, restates the obvious over and over and just smiles and says nothing much at all when faced with a pointed follow-up question.

Amenable? Yep. Cooperative? Yep. Filled with information? Rarely.

Once in a while, hell sneak a tiny little nugget of information into the conversation that is so buried beneath an avalanche of banality that you miss it.

When he says stuff like, We just want players that are going to make us a better team, 500 times in a 62-minute interview, its easy to dismiss the whole thing.

And it can be a mistake.

Because sometimes those tiny little nuggets add up to something of substance.

Maybe.

With the draft a week away, Roseman met with the Eagles beat writers for an hour Thursday morning at the NovaCare Complex, and although many of Rosemans responses were typically vague and lacked substance, he actually snuck enough good info into the conversation that if we put the pieces of the puzzle together in just the right way, we might actually be able to draw some meaningful conclusions.

Lets start with the assumption that the Eagles wont draft a wide receiver, running back or quarterback in the first round, simply because they already have some of the NFLs best at those spots.

Now lets assume theyre not drafting a linebacker or safety in the first round, because they never do, or a tight end, because theres no reason to, and what do we have left?

Cornerback. Defensive line. Offensive line.

Now, listen to Roseman talk about the offensive linemen in this draft, and you can make a case that no matter how many mock drafts have the Eagles taking Gabe Carimi or Mike Pouncey at No. 23, the Eagles wont be taking a lineman in the first round.

In past years, youd get into the middle rounds and ... you worried that you were forcing up a guy because you wanted to draft an offensive linemen, he said. I think this year, we talk about maybe the top not being as strong its been as in years past, but maybe the depth is there more so than its been in years past throughout the draft.

Does that sound like somebody planning on taking a lineman at No. 23? Now, maybe its all a smokescreen. But Roseman genuinely seems to believe the Eagles will be able to address their offensive line need beyond the first round.

OK, now what about cornerback? The Eagles brought Colorados Jimmie Smith in for a visit, and a 6-foot-2 cornerback who can run would certainly seem to be something the Eagles could use.

But lets again listen to Roseman, who was asked whether he believes a quality corner can help a defensive line more than a quality defensive lineman can help a corner:

I think that the pass rusher can help your secondary ... when youre able to get a guy who can impact the timing that allows corners that arent maybe as talented to be able to play. Really talented corners can be thrown away from.

And then this: Defensive line is a really talented area in this draft.

Pieces of the puzzle.

Again, maybe were grasping at straws here. But Roseman seems also seems to be discounting the chances of the Eagles taking a corner at No. 23.

And if its not an offensive lineman or a corner, that leaves one thing.

Defensive line.

And now listen to Roseman talk Thursday morning about the Eagles pass rush:

We always want to get more pass rush. We want to get more pass rush from everyone on our football team, and obviously thats going to be a focus for us.

We know Andy Reid loves to draft defensive linemen in the first round. Hes done it five times in the last 11 years -- Corey Simon with the sixth pick in 2000, Jerome McDougle with the 15th pick in 2003, Mike Patterson at No. 31 in 2005, Brodrick Bunkley at No. 14 in 2006 and Brandon Graham with the 13th pick last year. Another defensive lineman, Trevor Laws, was the Eagles first 2008 pick, at 47 overall.

One other scenario thats actually fairly likely has the Eagles trading out of the first round. In fact, other than taking a defensive lineman, trading down -- most likely with a team desperate for a quarterback -- seems to be the second-most likely route the Eagles will take Thursday.

If Reid and Roseman believe theres great value in the second and third rounds at the positions they need to address, why not?

Especially where we are in first round, Roseman said. I think thats where you anticipate some of the quarterbacks coming up, and obviously were at a great place in the draft to get some of those quarterbacks where theyre slotted to go, if someone wants to come up and get one of those quarterbacks. ...

With the calls youre getting right now, people are interested in moving up. They know ... if they want to get a quarterback that maybe at one point was thought to be in the second round ... (and) they want to make sure they get one and they get the one they want, its an area that you can come and move to.

Makes sense.

So itll either be a defensive lineman. Or a trade. Or Roseman completely snowed us over.

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Related: Eagles Draft at a Glance: Desperate for another CB Buy Eagles gear

Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

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Phillies-Cubs 5 things: Getting Vince Velasquez back on track

Phillies (26-23) at Cubs (33-14)
2:20 p.m. on CSN

The Phillies have lost back-to-back games to the MLB-best Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and on Sunday afternoon, they'll look to salvage a victory in the series finale.

Here are five things to get you ready for the ballgame:

1. Avoiding a sweep
Phillies fans had losing shoved down their throats for long stretches last season. This season has been much different … at least until the last three series.

With Saturday's loss, the Phils have lost three consecutive series for the first time in 2016 and will look to avoid their first sweep since their opening series in Cincinnati. The 4-1 victory by the Cubs was the Phillies' fourth loss in five games. They haven't lost five of six since September 2015. 

Meanwhile, the Cubs have won four straight games after losing eight of 12 games in mid-May. A win Sunday would give Chicago its fourth win streak of at least four games already in 2016. 

If that doesn't underline how tough a task the Phillies have ahead of them, Sunday's starter will do the trick.

2. Solving Lackey
John Lackey doesn't have the pizzazz of a Jake Arrieta or Jon Lester, but the veteran righty has been a consistent force in the Cubs' rotation. Coming over from the rival Cardinals in free agency, Lackey has a 4-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts in 2016.

However, the underlying numbers have been even better. He's completed six innings in all but one start and has seven quality starts. He has 61 strikeouts compared to just 13 walks and 45 hits in 61⅓ innings. 

Lackey has been a workhorse for the Cubs and has struck out at least five batters in each of his last four starts. 

The good news for Phillies fans? Despite Lackey's solid numbers, the Cubs have lost four of his nine starts.

3. Getting back on track
At 23 years old, it's tough to expect Vince Velasquez to be an ace all season, even if he may fill that role at some point in the not-so-distant future. 

So Velasquez's relatively minor struggles over his last few starts shouldn't worry fans as a sign of things to come. In Detroit, the flamethrowing righty could only complete four innings while giving up three home runs. While he struck out 10 and gave up no runs the start before against Miami, he failed to get past the fifth inning.

Those two starts came after consecutive outings where Velasquez gave up four runs in six innings. His last quality start came May 1, although it's tough to call his game against the Marlins anything but impressive.

While he's faced some strong lineups like the Mets and Nationals, the Cubs are a force Velasquez hasn't dealt with quite yet. He has no career numbers against the Cubs' probable starters, a group that has combined to be one of baseball's top offenses in 2016.

4. Who's on first?
Ryan Howard's final season in Philadelphia has been a grind to say the least. The veteran first baseman has just six hits in 58 at-bats in May and has just a .154 batting average this year. Howard's eight home runs have been a bright spot, but he doesn't have a homer since May 11.

Howard has three hits (two home runs) in 16 career at-bats against Lackey. But with right-handed first baseman Tommy Joseph excelling in his first big-league action, manager Pete Mackanin may turn to the rookie Sunday, as Howard tries to end his slump.

5. This and that
• Obubel Herrera is 3 for 4 in his only career appearances against Lackey. Maikel Franco is 2 for 3 against the righty.

• The Phillies are 3-0 in the final game of road trips this year … and 3-0 in the final game of homestands, too. 

• The Cubs have not swept the Phillies in Chicago since 1995.

Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

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Brian Carroll's goal in 92nd minute gives Union draw with Rapids

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Brian Carroll tied it in 92nd minute and the Union escaped with a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids in a showdown of the Western and Eastern conference leaders.

Carroll ran underneath Fabian Herbers' high-arching header and slotted the finish under goalkeeper Zac MacMath from close range.

The Union (5-3-5) responded only 5 minutes after the Rapids (8-2-4) opened the scoring on Sam Cronin's header in the 87th minute. Cronin made a deep run to connect with Marlon Hairston's cross from the right flank, redirecting it into the far corner of the goal.

Both Dillon Powers and Luis Solignac had shots crash off the crossbar for the Rapids after the 70th minute.

The Union extended their unbeaten streak to seven while the Rapids stayed unbeaten in their nine home games this season.

Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

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Chase Utley haunts Mets in Dodgers' rout at Citi Field

NEW YORK -- Chase Utley hit a grand slam and a solo homer after Noah Syndergaard threw a 99 mph fastball behind his back, and the Los Angeles Dodgers went deep a season-high five times in routing the New York Mets 9-1 on Saturday night.

In a scene that seemed inevitable since October, Syndergaard was immediately ejected following the third-inning pitch -- almost certainly his shot at retaliation against Utley for the late takeout slide that broke the right leg of then-Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada in last year's playoffs.

Plate umpire Adam Hamari tossed Syndergaard, sending Mets manager Terry Collins into a rage, but no trouble ensued between the teams. A longtime New York nemesis, Utley raised one hand slightly in the direction of the Dodgers' bench to keep teammates calm -- and later answered by doing all sorts of damage with his bat.

Kenta Maeda (4-3) shook off an early line drive that appeared to hit him in the pitching hand and threw five shutout innings for the win. The right-hander yielded two hits, both in the first, and snapped his three-game losing streak.

Adrian Gonzalez homered and had four hits for the Dodgers, who spoiled the Mets' 30th anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Series championship. Corey Seager and Howie Kendrick also connected, all after Syndergaard was gone.

Pinch-hitter Juan Lagares homered in the eighth for New York, long after the outcome was decided.

The stoic Utley is playing at Citi Field this weekend for the first time since Tejada was injured. The Mets -- and their fans -- were incensed by the aggressive slide, which led to a change in baseball rules this season designed to protect infielders in what some call the Utley Rule.

But the Mets had not tried to retaliate until Saturday night.

With one out and nobody on in the third inning of a scoreless game, Syndergaard's first pitch to Utley sailed behind the second baseman's back by a considerable margin.

Hamari immediately ejected Syndergaard, prompting Collins to come storming out of the dugout. Collins also was ejected after screaming at Hamari and pointing in his face during an animated argument. The manager was finally escorted back toward the New York dugout by another umpire.

After waiting near the mound with teammates for some time, Syndergaard walked calmly to the Mets' dugout without showing any emotion as the crowd cheered him.

Logan Verrett (3-2) entered for the Mets and, with a vocal contingent in the sellout crowd of 42,227 urging him to hit Utley with a pitch, eventually threw a called third strike past him. But then Utley homered on Verrett's first pitch of the sixth to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Booed all night, Utley added his sixth career slam off Hansel Robles in the seventh, giving Los Angeles a 6-0 cushion with his 38th career homer against the Mets.

In the series opener Friday night, Utley was greeted with loud jeers and derisive chants. He had four RBIs in a 6-5 loss, including a three-run double that tied the score with two outs in the ninth.

Where are you now?
Tejada was released by the Mets during spring training and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals, who designated him for assignment Saturday.

Trainer's room
Dodgers: RF Trayce Thompson exited in the fifth with lower back soreness. He was replaced by Yasiel Puig, who hit an RBI single off Verrett in the sixth.

Mets: INF Wilmer Flores (hamstring) went 1 for 2 with a sacrifice fly in his fifth rehab game for Double-A Binghamton. Before the game, Collins said it was reasonable to think Flores could come off the disabled list Sunday.

Up next
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 1.48 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday night against 43-year-old Bartolo Colon (4-3, 3.44). Kershaw, coming off a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati, is 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 starts against the Mets. He is 5-0 with a 0.64 ERA in May -- including a three-hit shutout of New York on May 12 at Dodger Stadium. The three-time Cy Young Award winner has struck out 55 and walked two this month.