Stuck on You: Why DeSean Is Not Going Anywhere in 2012

Stuck on You: Why DeSean Is Not Going Anywhere in 2012

Let's clear the air on what the Eagles using the franchise tag on DeSean Jackson means for this season. However they arrive at training camp in Lehigh -- either on a one-year deal, or a long-term extension -- what's important now is they will arrive there together.

I know a trade technically is still on the table, but look at the hang-ups. First, any team willing to take on Jackson would have to send draft picks or players to Philadelphia, PLUS reach an agreement on a multi-year contract. As if that weren't enough, the Eagles need to willfully downgrade their wide receiving corps, and in turn, the entire offense.

There's almost no way around it.

We'll get into that last part in a moment. The immediate question is why would any team be inclined to exchange picks and players for DJacc at this time? The free agent market is plentiful. If a GM really wants to add a play-making wide receiver, he can run out and sign Vincent Jackson, or a handful of other guys, without giving up anything at all.

That's not to say there would be no market whatsoever, but further complicating matters is the fact that no front office would be willing to do that unless they are able to reach a long-term deal with Jackson. We know he wants to be paid like one of the top receivers in the NFL, but who would okay that with so many questions about his attitude, his durability, his production?

Believe it or not though, those aren't even the biggest issues preventing the Eagles from moving DeSean. Let's say they get around all that -- another club makes a decent offer, and decides to build their offense around his speed.

Who then is starting at wide receiver across from Jeremy Maclin?

Now that Jackson has been tagged, the Eagles aren't exactly at liberty to pursue one of these touted FA's we've been talking about. They've committed $9.4 million to DJacc, a tender he could sign tomorrow. Once he does, they are stuck with him, and there isn't room under the cap to bring in another eight-figures-a-year player at the same position.

They're stuck with him because Jackson doesn't become any easier to move once he's put his name on the dotted line, which at least one report claims he intends to do "ASAP." Any team that was seriously considering meeting Jackson's salary demands isn't likely to find $9.4 million in the first year of the contract a reasonable jumping-off point for negotiations.

Even if the Eagles were open to that risk, Jackson's trade value falls off a cliff when they sign another receiver. Everybody knows they can't afford both players, so Howie Roseman has absolutely no leverage in that scenario. They would have to take whatever they could get, and trust me, it wouldn't be much -- certainly not worth all this trouble.

And for those thinking the Eagles could rescind the franchise tag once they've signed another receiver, don't you think DeSean would quickly sign it (if he hasn't already) once word got out a deal was imminent?

The only hope they have of reasonably swapping DeSean is to wait a month or so after free agency begins, once the league-wide shake up is largely complete, and hope one of the teams that still needs a wide receiver is ready to deal.

But what's the point of that? Why take the explosive element away from their offense -- without a proper replacement -- for draft picks that may or may not pan out years down the road?

This team is worse in 2012 if they trade DeSean. There is no way to trade him and get better now. Franchising him, then attempting to to replace him, is nothing but a headache, and hardly can be considered a viable option.

It's obvious. DJacc will be wearing midnight green next season. There is no longer any point in looking to free agency, or what they might get back in a trade. In this market, with this player, the franchise tag becomes an adhesive.

The Eagles need a wide receiver, and DeSean Jackson needs the Eagles.

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

Matt Klentak: Trade was about doing the right thing for Carlos Ruiz

The Phillies’ decision to trade beloved catcher Carlos Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday was ultimately made by Ruiz himself.

“This was about doing the right thing for Carlos because he has meant so much to this organization,” general manager Matt Klentak said Thursday night.

“Once Carlos cleared trade waivers last week, we started thinking about it. The Dodgers expressed some interest. Pete [Mackanin] and I talked to Carlos over the weekend. We discussed whether he wanted to finish the year with us or get the chance to chase another championship ring.

"He took a few days to discuss it with his family and got back to us Wednesday in Chicago and said that he'd be interested in exploring the opportunity and we finalized things with the Dodgers today.”

As a veteran of 10 seasons in the majors and five consecutive with the same team, Ruiz, 37, could have vetoed the deal. He chose to accept the deal because he wanted another chance to play in the postseason. He will serve as a backup to catcher Yasmani Grandal with the Dodgers, but is expected to get playing time. Ruiz's .368 on-base percentage from the right side of the plate could be a nice complement to the lefty-hitting Grandal.

The Phillies acquired the Dodgers’ backup catcher, veteran A.J. Ellis, minor-league pitching prospect Tommy Bergjans and a player to be named later in the deal. The Phils will not decide on the player to be named until after the minor-league season ends in mid-September. The Phils also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to the Dodgers. Ruiz is owed about $2 million in the form of salary and a contract buyout for 2017. Ellis, 35, is finishing up a one-year deal that pays him $4.5 million.

"This deal was not motivated by cash,” Klentak said. “It was about doing the right thing for Carlos, giving him the chance to get another ring.”

Klentak said he was "adamant" about getting Ellis back in the deal. The Phillies have two catching prospects in the upper minors in Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp, but the club would like to see them finish their minor-league seasons.

“Carlos has been such an important leader for so long, we knew we had to fill a role on and off the field,” Klentak said. “There is a reasonably good chance one of our young catching prospects will be in the big leagues before the season is over. Both our Double A and Triple A teams are in pennant races and we believe it's important for them to continue to get meaningful at-bats and play in meaningful games.”

Ellis is expected to join the Phillies in New York this weekend. It’s not easy going from a first-place team with legitimate World Series hopes to a rebuilding club.

“I talked to A.J. this afternoon,” Klentak said. “He is a true professional. It's never easy for a guy who has been in one place his whole career to be told out of the blue that it's time to go. A.J. is determined and excited about contributing to the Phillies.”

Bergjans, a 23-year-old right-hander, pitched at Haverford College. He was an eighth-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2015 and is 3-13 with a 4.98 ERA for Single A Rancho Cucamonga this season. He has 133 strikeouts and just 29 walks in 130 innings.

"Tommy was an excellent college performer,” Klentak said. “He has controlled the strike zone well in a tough league. We're always looking to add starting pitching and we had a chance to do it. He strikes out better than a batter an inning and limits walks which was appealing.”

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

Sources: Phillies shake up amateur scouting department

The Phillies have undergone massive changes on the field and off over the last couple of seasons.
 
Those changes have reached the club’s amateur scouting department.
 
According to major league sources, the club recently fired three longtime members of that department, including Mike Ledna, a high-ranking coordinator and national cross-checker. Ledna was the No. 2 man under former scouting boss Marti Wolever, who was let go two years ago and replaced by Johnny Almaraz.
 
Almaraz has overseen the last two drafts with a staff of mostly holdover scouts. He has clearly begun to put his stamp on the department with his recent shakeup. Ledna’s firing was preceded by the club’s decision to part with Steve Cohen and Paul Scott. They covered the talent-rich state of Texas.
 
It is not clear whether more changes on the scouting staff are coming. Over the last year or so, the Phillies have hired a new club president (Andy MacPhail), general manager (Matt Klentak) and manager (Pete Mackanin). The playing roster has also been churned, most recently with Carlos Ruiz being traded to the Dodgers on Thursday (see story). His parting leaves Ryan Howard as the lone member of the 2008 World Series championship team still with the club.

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

Soul's ArenaBowl chances hinge on slowing Rattlers' potent offense

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The postseason accolades and awards are nice, but Soul defensive back Tracy Belton has a much higher goal.

Named as the Arena League Football Defensive Player of the Year during an awards ceremony Friday, Belton, considered the passion and spirit of the Soul defense, is more than comfortable putting aside individual honors and pushing his teammates to greater heights.

Reaching the ArenaBowl against the Arizona Rattlers Friday in the Gila River Arena (7 p.m./ESPN) the prize is out there, and Belton has his blinders firmly affixed. The focus and concentration is not in question, so the task ahead remains paramount.

“I want that ring, I need that jewelry,” Belton said during media day Friday. “Oh yeah, it would definitely be nice to get that ring.”

To obtain that shiny piece of hardware, Belton and his defensive teammates have the task of trying to shut down the most potent offense in the league.

Guided by quarterback Nick Davila, the AFL’s Most Valuable Player, the Rattlers are averaging 80.3 points per game. From an offensive standpoint, Arizona led the AFL in many offensive categories, including scoring, total offense, rushing, third-down conversion and fourth-down conversion.

To complement the offense, the Arizona defense ranked first in the league in defensive scoring defense, rushing defense, interceptions, turnover ratio and sacks allowed.

In a league which glorifies offense, the task ahead for the Soul defense is considered a challenge. After all, these teams each finished with a 13-3 mark and each defeated the other team on their home turf.

“To win this game, we hope they make mistakes,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “They are very explosive, but our secondary is playing at a high level. For us, we need to limit our mistakes.”

If Davila, who is the first player in AFL history to win the MVP award three times, is to be challenged, the Soul’s offense need to be proficient. Coming into the ArenaBowl, the Soul averaged 59.0 points per game. That was good enough for fourth in the league, but quarterback Dan Raudabaugh put up better numbers, in certain categories, than Davila.

In head-to-head competition, Raudabaugh tossed more touchdown passes (14 to 13), passed for more yards (541 to 431), completed more passes (48 to 32) and averaged more yards per game (270.5 to 215.5) through the air. Yet, the Rattlers’ offense is swift, quick, efficient and lethal.

“In this league, the quarterback is the most important position,” Davila said. “You have to make decisions quickly, and facing a defense like Philly, that’s the challenge for us. It’s about limiting mistakes. The team which makes fewer mistakes is the team that usually wins.”

Notes
Since the Phoenix Mercury are scheduled for a home game in Talking Stick Arena in downtown Phoenix Friday night, home site for the Rattlers, the title game was switched to home of the NHL's Arizona Coyotes. … Among league leaders this past season for the Soul, Belton was fourth in tackles, Jake Metz led in sacks, Darius Reynolds was sixth in receiving and Jeramie Richardson was second in rushing. … In comparison of QBs, Raudabaugh was second in the league in passing (101 TDs, 63.3 passing percentage) and Davila placed third (110 TD passes, 69.6 passing rating). … This is the third league title meeting between these two teams. The Soul dropped the previous two championship games, 72-54 in 2012 and 48-39 in 2013.