Broken Twigs: Culture changing and the FGSB Mailbag

Broken Twigs: Culture changing and the FGSB Mailbag

Paul Holmgren will not be fired this year so get used to it.

Ala-kazam! You’re welcome.

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Mike Sielski’s not wrong, he’s just an asshole.

Or to put more specifically, being an asshole about this.

Far be it from me to defend poor MISTER Snider or Paul Holmgren or any of the Flyers brass that has come but not gone over the past two decades, but it’s easy (and lazy) to attack a franchise that hasn’t won a championship in almost 40 years because, well, they haven’t won a championship in almost 40 years.

I agree with the sentiment of his Inquirer column – maybe it is time the Flyers change things up in the front office, maybe they get some new (possibly young) faces in there. But simply telling people they need broad sweeping change when something doesn’t seem to be working is like shooting fish in a barrel. And the thing is, Snider’s actually right in a certain sense, and the case of the Blackhawks doesn’t make him wrong. Just like every other team the Flyers have a 3.33% chance of winning the Stanley Cup at the onset of every season. Every spring the media in 29 NHL towns analyze what went wrong, why their team came up short, and what could be done to avoid the same failure next season. Rooting for a sports team has worse odds than your average scratch ticket. In the end almost everyone is going to lose.

So you haven’t reached the top of the pile in 38 years, ever thought about changing everything!?! Duh, dude. Duh. It’s funny to me that the media can be on both sides of this argument. The only entity that rivals the organization itself in identifying Flyers culture is the local media. Actually, they may have done more. Who has been perpetrating the idea of The Broad Street Bullies for the past 4 decades? Who has been feeding its readers this identity for 40 years? Who asks every single draftee if they think they fit into this idea that is Flyers hockey (whatever that is)? This whole time while the Flyers have been the production and distribution in this arrangement the Philadelphia media has been the marketing department. For a member of that same entity to come back and decry the monster it created without acknowledging its role in said creation seems naïve at best, and cowardly at worst.

Asking the chairman of a company if he needs to change the Flyers culture is akin to asking the President if we need to change the American culture after a school shooting. Like, how do you even answer that/what are you even talking about? You deserve to get spanked. Thanks for the insightful question. Let’s change the culture to a Stanley Cup winning one. That will be better for everyone.

It’s true that many Flyers executives formerly played for the organization, but since retiring each one of these individuals has taken a different path to get where they are today. And they continue to do so. Each coach, GM or scout makes decisions based on what he thinks is best for the team, finding some common ground between his own personal opinion and input from people he trusts. Holmgren made different decisions than Clarke would have. Hextall will make different decisions than Holmgren. Edmonton GM and former Flyer Craig McTavish would make different decisions than both of them.

Now if Sielski’s question and ensuing article are a call for just Ed Snider to distance himself from the operations of the team I think there could be some merit to that. But I don’t see the need to have only people who never played for the Flyers in the front office. Former Flyer or former Haliburton VP of Operations, doesn’t matter me to me. How each person performs in that role is what matters.

You have questions, I have answers. FlyersMailBagGo!

Question from myself…to myself: How did it feel when the coach got fired 4 days after you wrote a post for which the headlines was “Peter Laviolette will not be fired this year so get used to it.”
It’s not my fault. It’s the internet. What’s supposed to happen is that I write that headline and that post and then it gets buried in the annals of the internet and everyone forgets about it and Laviollette gets fired and no one cares that I was wrong. That’s how it generally goes. I’m going to bring you back behind the blogger’s curtain and tell you a secret – the internet is full of shit and a lot of it is the same exact thing posted on different sites by different people. So my writing prep generally goes like this – what is everyone in the mainstream media writing about ok I’m going to write the opposite because why not. You have to differentiate you’re product, son!

@DownGoesOskars - Which current flyer do you think would best be suited for a successful career in graphic design?
I’m wondering what angle you’re approaching this from…who is the most creative Flyer or who is the best at doing what they’re told (burn!). I actually wondered if there was a little internet café in the Flyers new locker room when I was reading about how great it was. Jay Rosehill, who has somehow made himself the voice of the Flyers and one of the only things we all talk about, said that it was the kind of place that made you want to come in early and leave late. For some reason I immediately pictured some kiosk/cubicle computer room where guys come in and surf the web. But then I figured they all just use their phones, and finally that these guys don’t really read anything online unless you count the word “Brazzers.” Aint’ nobody got time for computers when you could be working on your snap shot.

@Jmager_22 - how long until Berube punches a player to prove a point?
For some reason I think Berube is a quite/big stick kind of guy who knows that the threat of him coming down on you is way worse than the reality, at least in his post-enforcer days. As a coach you can really only scream at these young millionaires once or twice a year. What you need to do is bench, or even better scratch, a high profile player because then you’re messing with his livelihood and that will get everyone’s attention. All that being said, Berube’s definitely slapped Steve Hartnell in the back of the head.

@lonis119 - Which Flyer will be the first filmed singing Don't Stop til you get Enough after a win, if they do win again?
If we’re going just based on their propensity to be caught on camera than it’s Zac Rinaldo. When he was talking to Jay Rosehill (there he is again!) on the bench on Tuesday I was paralyzed with fear. That look. I thought he was going to come right out of the TV ad dry hump me to death. If I was Berube I’d actually talk to him about that. Not that I care who he’s banging in the crowd, but during the game you focus on the freaking game. Only. Not just when you’re on the ice. Stop talking about boning chicks while you’re on the bench unless you’re up by 5 goals and your coach wasn’t fired the day before.

@treblaw - which Flyer would make a solid, if unspectacular, NBA shooting guard?
I feel like Mark Streit might be able to stroke the occasional three. He might actually be better suited at the point, but I can’t even picture any other Flyers dribbling a basketball. Streit would be best suited to the Harlem Globe-Trotters style of play, but I don’t think he’d be on board with cashing in the NHL lifestyle to ride around on a sleeper bus, eventually arriving in Louisville just to pants a referee and steal the ball from him.

@DirectingTitan - What is the official Craig Berube stance on spanking as a means of instilling discipline?
Well he brought it up so apparently it’s a tool he’s familiar with. Man is that going to be awkward after a blowout loss to the Blue Jackets. Berube in the middle of the locker room spanking Matt Read, staring right in Claude Giroux’s eyes.

Look what I found. Some of you probably weren’t even born yet.

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

Vince Velasquez is subject of serious trade talks between Phillies, Rangers

ATLANTA — Seven months after he was acquired from the Houston Astros and anointed a key piece in the Phillies’ rebuild, pitcher Vince Velasquez could be on the move again.

The Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez, a major league source told CSNPhilly.com on Friday night (see story).

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network earlier in the week and essentially confirmed when three Rangers scouts, including Scott Littlefield, one of that club’s top talent evaluators, showed up at Turner Field for Velasquez’s start against the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Velasquez delivered a solid but unspectacular performance in a 2-1 loss to the Braves, but he still has the qualities that attracted the Phillies to him last winter. He’s just 24 years old and has a power arm that has produced a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has the upside to pitch at or near the top of a rotation if his development goes in the right direction and he stays healthy. That is a legitimate concern because he had Tommy John surgery as a young minor leaguer and spent time on the disabled list earlier this season with a biceps strain.

The question now is: where will Velasquez continue his development? Philadelphia? Texas? Somewhere else?

Clearly, the Phillies’ big wintertime acquisition is in play as Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline approaches.

Manager Pete Mackanin said he knows nothing of the front office’s trade plans, but he offered his opinion on trading a young pitcher like Velasquez.

“Our whole goal was to get young pitchers because they’re the most expensive commodity and if you can develop young pitchers like him and have four or five of those guys, then you’re ahead of the game,” Mackanin said. “But at the same time, at least as far as I’m concerned, I’ll listen to any offers. If you get three guys that are really good looking prospects because pitching is such a commodity, I’m sure you have to consider it.”

With the Rangers' scouts looking on, Velasquez pitched six innings and gave up seven hits and two runs. He walked two and struck out five. His fastball reached 96 mph, proving that his stuff is good. Mackanin, however, said he thought Velasquez relied too much on his off-speed stuff instead of his power fastball.

“It was unusual to me the way he pitched,” Mackanin said. “It was almost like a finesse pitcher instead of a power pitcher. I’m not arguing with it because he did a good job, but he made me a little nervous here and there. I like the 16 strikeouts.”

That, of course, was a reference to Velasquez’s 16-strikeout complete game win over the Padres on April 14. Could anyone have imagined that he'd be the subject of trade talks 3½ months later?

Velasquez said he was aware of the trade buzz surrounding him and unbothered by it. He’s been down this road before. He said he would not be disappointed if he were traded because he understands baseball is a business.

“At first when I got traded from the Astros it was kind of tough for me, but you have to move on and make the best of what you've got,” Velasquez said. “If things happen, just let it happen. If I go to another team, then I've got to make the best of what I've got there. There's a lot of things that are in the future. I don't know what to expect is what I'm saying. Again, all I can do is live in the present and live another day tomorrow. If something happens, something happens. I've got to make the best of what you've got today.

“It's just one of those things I can't control. I had to fight, had to battle for a spot here in Philadelphia and I'm very thankful for the opportunity and everything. Again, I've still got to keep working hard and make the best of what I've got.”

Any team looking to acquire Velasquez would have to pay a steep price. In addition to having talent and upside, he won’t be eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2018 season and free agency until after the 2021 season.

The Phillies have a good knowledge of Texas’ deep farm system having scouted it extensively — and plucked from it — in making the deal for Cole Hamels a year ago. Are the Phillies about to fuel their rebuild with more talent from the Texas system? Stay tuned.

Velasquez isn’t the only Phillies starter who could move. Several teams remain interested in Jeremy Hellickson (see story), who is scheduled to pitch against Atlanta on Saturday night. The Rangers, in fact, have some interest in Hellickson as a fallback option if they don’t get a pitcher elsewhere. Velasquez is not the only pitcher the Rangers have on their radar, but from a Phillies’ perspective, he is certainly the most interesting.

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

Best of MLB: Rougned Odor homers twice for Rangers in 8-3 win over Royals

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Rougned Odor homered twice, A.J. Griffin pitched into the sixth inning and the Texas Rangers beat the Kansas City Royals 8-3 on Friday night.

Jurickson Profar also went deep for the Rangers, and scored three runs.

Odor hit a solo homer in the first that put AL West-leading Texas up 3-0 against Edinson Volquez (8-9). That 443-foot drive into the second deck of seats in right field came a night after Odor's 465-footer that is the longest in his career. He had another solo shot in the seventh, his 21st of the season barely clearing the 8-foot wall in right.

Eric Hosmer homered for the defending World Series champion Royals, who dropped to 10 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.

Griffin (4-1) had his longest outing in seven starts in just over a month since coming off the disabled list because of right shoulder stiffness. The right-hander struck out one and walked two while throwing 66 of 98 pitches for strikes in 5 2-3 innings (see full recap)

Chatwood, Gonzalez lead Rockies over Mets for 4th win in row
NEW YORK -- Tyler Chatwood kept winning on the road, Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs and the Colorado Rockies defeated the New York Mets 6-1 Friday night for their fourth straight victory.

Mark Reynolds also homered for the surging Rockies, who are 11-4 since the All-Star break and have moved within four games of Miami for the second NL wild-card spot.

Chatwood (10-6) improved to 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA away from Coors Field this season. The 26-year-old is 4-6 with a 5.69 ERA at home.

Gonzalez matched a season-high hitting streak of 11 games with an RBI double in the first. He hit a 448-foot, three-run drive in the ninth for his 21st homer.

Steven Matz (8-7) gave up two runs and 10 hits in six innings (see full recap)

Lester recovers from rut of bad starts, Cubs rout Mariners
CHICAGO -- Jon Lester recovered from a rut of bad starts, pitching six shutout innings that led the Chicago Cubs over the Seattle Mariners 12-1 Friday for their third straight win.

Jason Heyward and David Ross homered as the NL Central leaders improved to 9-5 since the All-Star break following a 1-9 slump. Seattle lost in its first trip to Wrigley Field since 2007.

Lester (11-4) had lasted just 16 innings over his previous four starts, going 1-1 with a 10.13 ERA. That skid came after he had gone 9-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his first 16 starts.

Lester gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked two. He was already done when there was a 74-minute rain delay in the seventh.

Mike Montgomery, traded last week from Seattle to the Cubs, pitched the final two innings. He gave up a single to Shawn O'Malley in the ninth for the Mariners' run.

Hisashi Iwakuma (11-7) had won his last five starts, but gave up five runs and eight hits in three innings (see full recap).

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

Source: Phillies, Rangers in 'pretty deep' trade talks about Vince Velasquez

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — The Phillies lost, 2-1, to the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

The big news from this game, however, was that Vince Velasquez might have made his last start with the Phillies. A major league source told CSNPhilly.com that the Phillies and Texas Rangers are “pretty deep” in trade discussions involving Velasquez. The Rangers, the source said, also have some interest in Jeremy Hellickson, who pitches for the Phillies on Saturday night, but he appears to be a secondary target (see story).

It would take top talent to get Velasquez, a 24-year-old right-hander with a power arm. The Phillies acquired him over the winter from Houston as the centerpiece in the deal that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

The Rangers had several scouts at the game, including Scott Littlefield, one of their top talent evaluators.

The Rangers’ interest in Velasquez was reported earlier in the week by Jon Morosi of MLB Network.

Apparently there’s more than just interest (see story). Stay tuned as Monday’s trade deadline approaches.

Starting pitching report
Velasquez scattered seven hits and two runs over six innings. He walked two and struck out five. Velasquez battled some command issues and needed 91 pitches to complete the six innings.

He is 8-3 with a 3.32 ERA in 18 starts. He has a 2.75 ERA in six starts since a brief stint on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.

Braves right-hander Tyrell Jenkins gave up just one unearned run over six innings.

Bullpen report
Both bullpens pitched scoreless ball.

At the plate
Phillies leadoff man Cesar Hernandez reached base in his first three at-bats and scored the Phillies’ only run on an error in the third inning. 

The Braves scored two runs in the third inning on three singles, a sacrifice bunt and a walk against Velasquez. Gordon Beckham and Nick Markakis drove in the runs with base hits.

Up next
Hellickson (7-7, 3.65) makes perhaps his final start with the Phillies on Saturday night. He will face Braves right-hander Julio Teheran (3-8, 2.71).