Revisiting the Sheldon Brown Trade

Revisiting the Sheldon Brown Trade

When the Eagles' offense takes the field for the first time this season on Sunday, they'll be staring across at some familiar faces. Juqua Parker departed for Cleveland during free agency in March, joining Dimitri Patterson who exercised his rights one year earlier. Both are there to provide depth on a Browns defense that surprisingly finished second in the NFL against the pass in 2011. Their diminishing talents cast aside by the Birds' front office, neither Parker or Patterson are likely to engender much of a reaction from the Philadelphia fan base.

The same could not be said for Sheldon Brown, who arrived at this moribund franchise under far different circumstances. Once a fan favorite, his No. 24 jersey once among the shirts that would litter the parking lots and fill the seats inside the Linc, Brown was unceremoniously dumped off on Cleveland along with Chris Gocong in April of 2010. The return: fourth- and fifth-round picks, and some linebacker who made it through about a week's worth of training camp.

It was an unpopular trade to say the least, sending a borderline Pro-Bowl talent away for seemingly next to nothing, clearly weakening the roster at cornerback in the process. But as these types of deals often are, it was all about cold, hard cash.

The Eagles selected Brown in the second round of the '02 Draft, and upon becoming the starter two years later, he promptly signed a six-year extension in '04 that ran through 2012. It was a typical Joe Banner contract for that time period, done in the mold he became infamous for -- rewarding young players with long-term deals that had nice up-front bonuses, yet leaving them with all the risk down the line when the guaranteed money has dried up and multiple years still remain. Brown gritted through the dispute in '09, but by next season all his guarantees were gone, and he could be cut at any moment with no financial repercussions to the team.

The organization no longer saw Brown as a wise investment. At 31 years old, his best days were surely behind him, so handing over more money and a longer commitment was out of the question. His unhappiness with the club's stance was well-known however, and there likely was not a happy ending on the horizon had they forced him to play out another season. The Eagles had already begun the process of purging the roster of most of its highly-paid veterans over the past two offseasons. Sheldon was just next in line, followed days later by the earth-shattering Donovan news.

It would be fair to characterize the Brown move as one of the handful the franchise made around that time that did not work out so well for them. Both he and Gocong went on to become staples in Cleveland's defense -- though Gocong is currently on IR, and what that statement even means anyway on a team that can't win more than five games in a season, I'm not really sure. For whatever it's worth, Brown's play has remained reliable enough to hang on to a starting job despite his losing a step or two. Meanwhile, the Eagles went into 2010 with Ellis Hobbs at corner, then Patterson taking his place due to injury. Both were memorably torched.

The trade doesn't look a whole ton better once you see what those picks turned into. The fourth rounder was used on cornerback Trevard Lindley, who has been cut from the 53-man roster for the second year in a row. The fifth was sent to Detroit for veteran linebacker Ernie Sims, who spent one forgettable season with the Birds. They also leveraged a seventh rounder in '11 out of the Sims exchange, which as it turns out is the only remnant leftover from this apparent debacle in the form of Jamar Chaney.

Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong for Alex Hall, Ernie Sims, Trevard Lindley, and Jamar Chaney.

Of course, merely grading from the haul and the immediate outcome ignores the bigger picture. Extending Sheldon Brown in '10 wasn't the solution either, and forcing a disgruntled player to work on what both sides knew was a bad contract would have been a mess. Although corner turned out to be a glaring hole for a year, it was also a season where expectations were already low to begin with. Parting with Brown when they did at least gave the Eagles the opportunity to get something of value in return, and more importantly, it gave them the freedom to eventually cut the deal for Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and pursue Nnamdi Asomugha in free agency.

That may not come as much of a consolation to Brown's ardent supporters or plain ol' front office critics who will accurately point out the Eagles have received essentially nothing in return for a starting cornerback and linebacker. Brown is 33 and still balling. He's excellent in run support, and while he requires some safety help, No. 24 has held up in Cleveland.

But in some respects, this is not entirely different from the trade that sent Asante Samuel to Atlanta for a seventh round pick just this past offseason. While the deal itself did not produce much of value, it was a business decision where both sides ultimately got what they wanted: Brown a contract, the Eagles moving on so they could get younger and better at a key position.

Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

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Sixers to host 6 more prospects for pre-draft workouts Monday

After attending private, agency-run pre-draft workouts, the Sixers will host six players Monday at their practice facility for more workouts.

Joel Bolomboy, James Webb III, Tim Quarterman, Brannen Greene, Danuel House and Isaiah Taylor are all members of the third group of prospects to participate in team-run workouts in Philadelphia.

Bolomboy, a power forward, averaged 17.1 points, 12.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks his senior season at Weber State.

Quarterman entered the draft following his junior year at LSU, where he played with Ben Simmons. The point guard averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last year in Baton Rouge.

Webb, a forward, left Boise State following his sophomore year. He averaged 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals last season.

Greene declared for the draft after his junior year at Kansas. The guard averaged 5.4 points and 2.1 rebounds while shooting 49.2 percent from three last season for the Jayhawks.

House, a guard, transferred from the University of Houston to play his junior and senior seasons at Texas A&M. He posted 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists last season.

After three seasons at Texas, Taylor, a point guard, declared for the draft. He averaged 15.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists this past season while helping the Longhorns reach the NCAA Tournament.

The Sixers hold the first, 24th and 26th picks in the draft, which takes place on June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

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Simmering issue: Pete Mackanin says he will continue to trim Ryan Howard's playing time

CHICAGO – The Ryan Howard drama continues to simmer.
 
Howard’s dwindling production has led to dwindling playing time. He did not start against a right-handed pitcher for the second time in eight days on Sunday (see game recap).
 
After the game, manager Pete Mackanin addressed the uncomfortable situation and said he would continue to trim Howard’s playing time against right-handers because he wants to look at Tommy Joseph, who has 10 hits, including three homers and a double, in his first 35 big-league at-bats.
 
“We brought Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him,” Mackanin said. “I can’t let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he’s going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing. I don’t know when the next time we’re going to face a left-handed pitcher is, but I’m going to use (Joseph) a little bit more often than I did Ruf.”
 
Since the end of last July, Howard has gone from being a full-time player to a platoon guy, facing just righties. Now, he’s migrating toward more of a reserve role.
 
Taking away playing time from a club icon – Howard is a former NL MVP and World Series champion -- is not easy, but Mackanin has little choice. Howard is hitting .154 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats over 44 games. He has struck out in 33 percent of his plate appearances. Howard’s average for the month of May is .097 (6 for 62) and he has 25 strikeouts. He recently used the word “brutal” to describe how the month of May has been going.
 
Mackanin was asked about Howard’s mindset in relation to losing playing time.
 
“I don’t know how he feels,” Mackanin said. “I’m sure we’ll talk to him and we’ll go from there. The important thing is that we brought Joseph up here to get a look at him, and as I said, if he sits on the bench for a week or 10 days and we don’t get a look at him, what’s the point of bringing him up?”
 
Howard started Saturday against Cubs’ righty Kyle Hendricks and went hitless.
 
After Sunday's game, Howard was asked if he was surprised to see he was not in the lineup.
 
“I guess, yeah,” he said. “But I don’t make the lineup. The manager makes the lineup. I just show up. If I’m in there, I’m in there, if I’m not, I’m not."
 
Howard said he was unaware of Mackanin’s intention to sit him more against righties.
 
“I haven’t heard anything about sitting more against righties,” he said. “I haven’t been called into the office and talked to about it, so you guys apparently have breaking news before I do.”
 
Howard's status in the lineup and with the team has been an issue for almost two years. Before the 2015 season, former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. admitted it would be best if Howard moved on. The Phillies tried to trade him last year, but there was no interest. 

Howard is in the final year of a five-year, $125 million contract that did not kick in until after he suffered a devastating Achilles tendon rupture on his final swing of the 2011 season.
 
He is still owed more that $26 million in salary for 2016 and an option year buyout for 2017.

Howard isn't walking away from that kind of money.

Would the team release him to solve this uncomfortable situation? Or will it ride out the final four months of the season and the contract with Howard as a part-time player?

Time will tell.

Phillies swept out of Chicago with another loss to MLB-best Cubs

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Phillies swept out of Chicago with another loss to MLB-best Cubs

CHICAGO – The Phillies are rebuilding.

The Chicago Cubs are focused on winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

And they have a team that can do it.

So the events of the last three days at Wrigley Field were not that surprising.

The Phillies suffered a three-game sweep, capped off by Sunday afternoon’s 7-2 loss.

When the Phillies departed Citizens Bank Park last week, they had a 25-19 record and were one of the surprise teams in the majors.

But the trip to Detroit and Chicago figured to be a stiff test. The Tigers pound the baseball. The Cubs do everything.

In the end, the Phillies won just one of the six games on the trip. They limp home at 26-24 for a matchup Monday night with the Washington Nationals.

Is the Phillies’ unexpected, early-season magic fading?

“That’s up for debate, I guess,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “Every team goes through a hot streak and a cold streak. How you come out those streaks, especially now with a cold streak, determines how good of a team you are. I choose to believe we’re at the bottom of the roller coaster and on our way up.”

The Phils were outscored 17-5 by the Cubs in this weekend’s series. The Cubs’ starting pitchers – Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey – combined to allow just three earned runs in 22 ⅓ innings. And Jake Arrieta, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, did not appear in the series.

After Sunday’s game, Mackanin was asked what he learned about his club on the trip.

“I didn’t learn anything about my team,” he said. “I learned first-hand that the Cubs have a lot going for them. They’re a good team, probably the best team in baseball right now and they beat us fair and square.”

They do have the best record in the majors at 34-14.

It was not surprising to hear that Mackanin didn’t learn anything about his club during the trip. He knows the Phillies are rebuilding and have glaring holes. He knows the pitching has kept them in games and allowed them to win a bunch by one run. He also knows it’s difficult to sustain that with a team that averages just 3.22 runs per game, second-lowest in the majors. Sunday marked the 19th time the Phillies have scored two or fewer runs.

Looking for more offense, Mackanin sent Ryan Howard to the bench Sunday against a right-handed pitcher and used Tommy Joseph. Joseph hit a homer in the ninth inning. After the game, Mackanin said he would continue to get Joseph playing time against right-handers.

Power-armed right-hander Vince Velasquez had a difficult trip. Against two of the toughest lineups in baseball, he pitched 8 ⅔ innings over two starts. He gave up 18 hits, five of which were homers, and 10 earned runs. The Cubs got him for nine hits and seven runs in 4 ⅔ innings. He gave up two homers, a solo shot in the second and a three-run blow in the third.

The three-run homer, by Ben Zobrist, gave the Cubs a 5-0 lead and ignited the daily Happy Hour in the stands.

Two batters before Zobrist homered, Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis failed to make a play on a hard-hit one-hopper by Kris Bryant. Galvis backed up and gloved the hot smash, but threw quickly, off-balance and wildly to first. It was ruled a hit. Had Galvis made the play, it would have ended the inning. Instead, Velasquez issued a two-out walk to extend the inning further and Zobrist hit the two-out homer.

“I don’t know why Freddy got rid of the ball so quick,” Mackanin said. “I thought he could have planted and thrown it over there. But I’m not going to be critical of Freddy Galvis. He’s been unbelievable, just outstanding.”

Zobrist’s homer was one of six the Cubs hit in the three games. Two of them were three-run shots. The Phillies had just two homers in the series. Both came Sunday after the club was down 7-0.

“We didn’t string hits together,” Mackanin said.