Harry Z. Got Sent Down Which Gives Us an Excuse to Use This Crazy Photo

Harry Z. Got Sent Down Which Gives Us an Excuse to Use This Crazy Photo

The Flyers could really use Andrej Meszaros' help on defense -- Kimmo's legs need a breather, man. The move on Friday morning of the team assigning Harry Z. to the Phantoms could be a precurser to Mesz making his return on Saturday in Boston.

Sarah Baicker writes
:

On Friday morning, the Flyers assigned forward Harry Zolnierczyk to the
Adirondack Phantoms, freeing up a roster spot for Meszaros. The
27-year-old defenseman has been on long-term injured reserve since Feb.
23.

But Meszaros, who said he felt “all right” participating in a brief
practice before departing for Boston working alongside partner Erik
Gustafsson, remained noncommittal about plans to return.

Harry Z. is in the middle of a 4-game suspension for the rough hit on Ottawa's Mike Lundin last weekend. According to PHT, Zolnierczyk can actually play in the AHL while suspended in the NHL.

He's played hard and is trying to establish himself this season, but the Flyers are pretty deep at forward. Talbot and Fedotenko aren't doing all that much but are pretty good on the PK. Plus they added Knuble and Gagne. Not everybody can stay.

But hopefully Big Mesz gets back real soon.

>>Signs point to a Saturday return for Andrej Meszaros [CSN]

Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

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Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

Though they still have the worst record in the majors by 3½ games, the 34-62 Phillies aren't playing like the worst team in baseball right now.

Not from an offensive standpoint, not from a starting pitching standpoint, not from a bullpen standpoint.

The Phils' offense stayed hot Sunday afternoon in a 6-3 win over the Brewers, their fourth win in five games and sixth in the last 10 (see Instant Replay).

Nick Williams homered again, Howie Kendrick had a very Howie Kendrick-like at-bat with the bases loaded, Jerad Eickhoff spun a quality start and the trio of Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Luis Garcia sealed the win.

The Phillies have scored at least five runs in seven straight games, which is something none of their recent division-winning teams did in a single season. It's their longest such streak since May 31-June 7, 2005.

Their starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in six of the last eight games.

And the Phils' bullpen has the lowest ERA in the majors since June 26 at 2.19.

A lot of things are clicking right now for a team that probably can't play worse than it did in the first half. The Phils' record remains hideous, but there are actually four teams with worse run differentials: the Reds, Blue Jays, Giants and Padres.

"My first year here as a coach was '09, and in no way am I comparing ourselves to that team, but it was reminiscent the way we've been swinging the bats of us coming back and coming from behind and catching up and beating other teams," Pete Mackanin said. "It reminds me to a certain degree."

For much of the season, Mackanin has walked into the Phillies' media room after a loss and said that his hitters aren't living up to their standard. For much of the season, the Phillies have made quick outs and life easy for the opposing pitcher. 

But with Kendrick and Cesar Hernandez back from the DL, with Odubel Herrera hitting .331 since June 1, with Maikel Franco walking as much as he's struck out the last 35 games, and with Williams' power and energy rubbing off on the rest of the team, many different Phillies are playing like they have something to prove.

"Everybody is playing for a job next year," Mackanin said. "Everybody is playing to be part of our future and I think the guys are competing among themselves. It's good to see. Everybody's more aggressive. They're into the games."

The energy added by Williams' arrival on June 30 has been impossible to ignore, though it's kind of a chicken-or-egg thing. Is there added energy because he and so many other guys started hitting, or are they hitting because there's a more positive vibe in the clubhouse and dugout?

"I like to do whatever I can to start the momentum or get guys going," Williams said. "If I do something exciting, they're like, 'Oh, he's playing hard.' But everyone's been hitting and everyone's been just playing the game right and just doing all the little things and that's how we've been able to come out with some victories.

"In close spots with the hitting, we've been able to knock a lot of guys in. It's just that hitting's contagious. I always say when one guy does it, why can't the next? That's how I think of it."

The biggest spot in Sunday's game came with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning. With the game tied, the Brewers switched pitchers and Kendrick quickly found himself down 0-2 before singling up the middle to score two runs.

Kendrick has missed 60 games this season and it's been frustrating for him because he's been so locked-in when he's played. After picking up two more hits Sunday, he's up to .353 with an .873 OPS. His numbers are rarely sexy because he averages about 10 home runs per season, but a versatile, perennial .290 hitter has value. It's why the Phillies' offseason acquisition of Kendrick made sense and it's why he figures to have some trade value even though Sunday was just his 36th game of the year.

"Not only is he a good hitter but he plays solid defense out there," Mackanin said. "He doesn't have the greatest range but it's not bad. He's average to maybe a tick above average. 

"I'm sure there's a lot of interest in a lot of our guys, (Pat) Neshek, [Kendrick], even (Joaquin) Benoit, (Daniel) Nava. We'll wait and see."

The non-waiver trade deadline is just eight days away and GM Matt Klentak expects there to be some movement. The Phils' two best trade chips are Kendrick and Neshek and both had productive weekends. Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning to lower his ERA to 1.12. He's allowed runs in just two of 43 appearances.

And Kendrick has picked up right where he left off, going 4 for 10 since returning Friday from a hamstring strain.

"If I were scouting for another organization I'd recommend him," Mackanin said of Kendrick. "I'd put an acquire (label) on him."

We'll soon see what that acquire label nets the Phillies. The return won't be huge, but trading Kendrick will allow the Phils to add another young player with upside and open a spot back up for Aaron Altherr, who could return from the DL as early as Wednesday.

Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

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Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

On the eve of the official start of their 2017 training camp, the Eagles made a few roster moves Sunday.

The Eagles cut veteran cornerback Dwayne Gratz, placed defensive tackle Beau Allen (pec) and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles) on the Active/Non-football injury list, and officially signed quarterback Dane Evans out of Tulsa.

With the moves, the Eagles roster is at 89 players, one shy of the 90-man limit.

Gratz, 27, joined the Eagles late last season and has some NFL experience, but obviously didn't make a big enough impression this spring. It's likely players like C.J. Smith and Aaron Grymes were simply ahead of him.

Allen suffered a pectoral injury during the offseason and was unable to participate in spring workouts with the team. It's unclear if he'll be ready for Week 1. Allen is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract and was reportedly in contract discussions with the Eagles before the injury.

Jones, the Eagles' second-round draft pick, fell to them in the draft because of a torn Achilles tendon he suffered at the Washington pro day. Jones has said he won't speak to reporters again until he's ready to play.

Allen and Jones can be activated off the NFI at any point during training camp if they are medically cleared. Both players count against the current roster. Before the final roster is set, the Eagles will have decisions to make about both players.