Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

Extra Time: Mondragon Leaving? Le Toux Staying? Mwanga Leaving, but Coming Back?

For the unfamiliar, soccer transfer windows are like the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL trade deadlines on steroids. It's a global game. Players move from continent to continent. Teams send scouts all over the world to identify talent. Media from around the globe speculate, rumor monger, and generally throw anything and everything against the wall and hope something sticks.
Imagine a global army of Buster Olney's, Jay Glazer's, Ric Bucher's, and Darren Dreger's racing to concoct transfer scenarios and news. It's a page-view driven world, and the more wild the speculation the better. 
My point? Take everything with a grain of salt.
What does that mean as it relates to the Philadelphia Union? Well, last night Goal.com's US Latino Chief Editor Eric Gómez tweeted that Union goalkeeper "Faryd Mondragon is rumored to be close to signing with Deportivo Cali in Colombia".
On the surface, the rumor makes some sense. Mondragon, who is from Colombia, started his professional career with Deportivo Cali. He's also 40 years old and in the twilight of his career. Returning to Colombia end his playing career would seem to have some appeal. Goal.com's Gómez later tweeted there could be some post-playing career considerations - namely becoming the goalkeeper coach for the Colombian National Team:
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@goaleric
Eric Gómez Mondragon's sudden departure has to do with the supposed offer to be the Colombia NT Goalkeeper coach, according to @jrojasa75
Jan 28 via web Favorite Retweet Reply

If Mondragon leaves, which is not a given, the Union would turn to former first round pick and second year man Zac MacMath to handle the first team goalkeeping duties.
Elsewhere, after leaving for a week long training spell with Premier League side Bolton Wanderers, Sebastien Le Toux is back in the area. Bolton manager Owen Coyle apparently was not impressed enough to pursue a transfer. CSNPhilly.com's Ryan Bright pulls a few quotes from Coyle via Sportinglife.com. Coyle said:
"Sebastien came in for a couple of days, and to be fair to him he hadn't trained for four or five weeks. He did fine and that's where it is. We'd have probably needed a longer look."
So where does this leave the Union in terms of depth at the forward position? As it stands, they currently they have Le Toux, Danny Mwanga, Jack McInerney, first round pick Chandler Hoffman, and new signing Josue Martinez. I cannot imagine they'd carry five forwards in the regular season.
What are they going to do? Well, in what can only be described as oddly-timed news, the Union released a statement yesterday announcing that Mwanga had departed for "a 10-day training stint with Barclay's English Premier League side Aston Villa". Why is the timing odd? Well, training camp opens next week (fitness testing has actually already begun).
Yes, a number of Union players have trained with European clubs this offseason (Freddy Adu, MacMath, Amobi Okugo, Zach Pfeffer, Michael Farfan, and Le Toux), but the key word there is "offseason". Why allow Mwanga to leave on a training spell on the eve of preseason camp?
I don't think Mwanga is even close to being ready to make the jump to the Premier League, so I am not too concerned about a transfer to Aston Villa, but the timing is certainly odd.
Finally, just because it was so absurd, here is video of Barcelona's Dani Alves striking an absolute laser guided missile of a goal from earlier in the week against Real Madrid in the second leg of the Copa Del Rey quaterfinals.

Photo Credit: Brett Davis, US-Presswire

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

The Phillies' starting pitching rotation, for the time being, features four arms that were acquired in trades that have coincided with the team's rebuild, which started after the 2014 season.

Nick Pivetta will become the latest to join the group when he is officially activated. He was in the Phillies' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but those plans changed when Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins was postponed because of rain.

No makeup date was announced.

The rainout means Pivetta's big-league debut will be pushed back. Vince Velasquez, Tuesday's scheduled starter, will pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins and Jeremy Hellickson will start the series finale Thursday. Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin are likely to stay on turn and pitch Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. That means Pivetta's debut will likely happen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not a bad venue for an unveiling. He does not have to be activated until that day. In the interim, the Phils are carrying an extra reliever in Mark Leiter Jr.

Even with the weather-related change in plans, Pivetta was thrilled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"I've achieved my goal of getting here eventually," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm happy to be here. I want to get my feet on solid ground right now and just take it one step at a time.”

Pivetta is a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. As a kid, he watched Toronto Blue Jays' games on television and idolized Roy Halladay. (see story).

Victoria must now be Phillies territory. Michael Saunders, the team's rightfielder, also hails from the town.

"You see it more and more, more Canadians getting into the game of baseball, so it’s always nice to see another one in the locker room," said Saunders, 30. "Clearly he’s pitched well enough to earn his way up here and I’m looking forward to seeing him play."

Pivetta is 6-5, 225 pounds. He was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The Phillies acquired him for Jonathan Papelbon and cash in July 2015.

Pivetta will take Aaron Nola's spot in the rotation. Nola is on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back. He could be back as soon as early next week.

Nola said he probably could have pushed himself and stayed in the rotation, but the team chose to be cautious.

"I don’t think it's any big thing," Nola said.

With Pivetta on board, the Phillies now have four pitchers in their rotation that came over in "rebuild" trades.

Eflin arrived in the December 2014 deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eickhoff came in the July 2015 deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers.

Velasquez came in the December 2015 trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

Pivetta did not immediately pitch well upon joining the Phillies organization. He had a 7.31 ERA in seven starts for Double A Reading in the summer of 2015. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 25 and walked 19.

Pivetta was a different pitcher last season. He registered a 3.27 ERA in 148 2/3 innings between Double A and Triple A, struck out 138 and walked 51. That performance earned him a spot on the team's 40-man roster.

“In 2016, he showed us the potential to be a really good major-league pitcher,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. “He was a little excitable after the trade in 2015, but he came back calm and confident last year. His stuff is legit — 93 to 96 (mph) with life on the fastball, good breaking ball and good feel for the changeup.”

His control continued to improve this season as he got off to a 3-0 start at Triple A. He pitched 19 innings, gave up just two earned runs, walked just two and struck out 24.

"Just getting ahead with my fastball," said Pivetta, explaining the early-season success that put him in line for the promotion. "First-pitch strikes are big. Even if I get into that 0-1 count or that 1-1 count, getting back to that 1-2 count is big. So being able to even up those counts have been really big for me, as well, and being able to finish off with my off-speed later in the counts, too.”

Pivetta pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. He made one start and took a no-decision in the team's 4-1 loss to Columbia. Pivetta worked four innings and allowed one run.

“That helped me," Pivetta said. "It was awesome. It was like having playoff baseball in March."

It's not clear how long Pivetta will stay in the big-league rotation. But he has more than put himself on the map, and if he continues to pitch well, he'll make more starts with the big club this season.

“I did not expect to be here this early in the season," he said. "I am happy to be here right now. I'll see how long I stay and just have fun while I am here.”

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Should the Eagles give Carson Wentz a say in who they take in the draft?

He is the future of the franchise after all.

"If there's any player on our roster that has insight into a guy in free agency or the draft, it's part of our information gathering," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said last Thursday.

So the Eagles will at least listen to Wentz — and others — about certain prospects. The second-year QB got a firsthand look at a few receiving prospects during offseason workouts. 

However, former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski thinks it would be a "mistake" to give Wentz any input into the team's draft decision-making. 

"I don't think the quarterback should have any input in the draft," Jaworski said Tuesday. "Plain and simple. The quarterback should quarterback his football team. I know he'll be a teammate, but the Eagles — like every other team in this league — do extensive scouting. They know what they're doing, they'll select the player they believe is the best player."

Jaws would know -- he made that very mistake once.

"I had someone ask me a question back in 1978 or '79," Jaworski said. "They said, 'Hey Jaws, what do you think the Eagles need?' And I said we could probably improve our wide receiver position. 

"Oh, by the way, Harold Carmichael is one of our wide receivers, the next time I saw him he said, 'Hey, what are you talking about?' So it was a mistake, and I apologized to Harold and that was the last comment I ever made about the draft and my teammates. So I think players ought to shut up and let the front office make those decisions."

To be fair, Carmichael held a little more weight in his day than Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham do now. 

Jaworski went on to tell a wild story of his own draft day in 1973 (watch video here), and also made the case for the Eagles to stock up on cornerbacks in the draft (watch video here).