LeBrun Links Flyers to Bobby Ryan on Eve of Draft

LeBrun Links Flyers to Bobby Ryan on Eve of Draft

Philadelphia Flyers fans have clamored for the acquisition of Cherry Hill's Bobby Ryan since oh I don't know, his conception? Thursday afternoon, on the eve of the NHL Entry Draft, ESPN's Pierre LeBrun reported that the Flyers are themselves interested in Ryan. It's not the first time we've heard it, but it's worth considering even if it's somewhat unlikely. 
Of course, the Flyers are linked to a handful of big-name players at every major player movement date, and Ryan is just one of a few mentioned in connection to Philadelphia this off-season. Most attention to date has been focused on a pair of defensemen from Nashville, a certain Mr. Nash out of Columbus, and Zach Parise. Each of those four players also have stories attached as to why they are unlikely at best to dress in Orange & Black next season. 
But what about Ryan? 
Nash is expensive, both in terms of his huge cap hit/contract duration and what Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson will likely require to deal him. Parise will be the most sought after forward in the free agent market by a large margin, and there's been a report that he's unlikely to choose a Devils rival. Will the difficult in acquiring one of those two drive up the Ryan market? If so, what would he cost?
The challenge that comes with having high-ceiling young players like Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier on your roster this time of year is that any trade partner is going to start negotiations by naming one of them. In this case, LeBrun has a source saying any deal for Ryan would need to center around Schenn going the other way. 
Coming to Philadelphia along with Wayne Simmonds in exchange for future Stanley Cup Champion Mike Richards, Schenn is a player the Flyers would and should be intensely reluctant to deal. He came over complete with the billing of the best prospect not currently in the NHL, and the Flyers have him locked up for at least the next two seasons, during which he could develop out of potential stud mode into total-stud-right-now mode. 
Ryan's no slouch either, topping 30 goals in his four full seasons (the first being only 64 games). The second overall pick in 2005 checks in at 6'2, 200+, with a cap hit just north of $5M through 2014-2015. 
It's no secret that the Flyers would likely prefer to trade James van Riemsdyk, whose name has fueled most trade rumors lately. But, how likely is it that the Ducks are interested in swapping their big winger from Jersey for another one who has lower production and more injury questions? 
Although the speculation winds seem to be at JVR's back, it's not exactly the ideal time to trade him. Coming off an injury-shortened season and sitting in rehab vs. surgery limbo, it's hard to imagine the Flyers getting full value for the former 2nd overall pick. Just last year, JVR was deemed worthy of a sizable extension. This off-season, perhaps this weekend, the Flyers need to decide whether he's still worth that deal, or they need to convince someone else he is.
In short, if there's any meat on this rumor bone, it would take more cargo being loaded onto the flight to California than JVR. The Flyers' 20th overall is a start, but it'd likely require another rostered player such as a mid-pairing defenseman and/or one of the young forwards not named Schenn or Couturier. Can they afford to give up that kind of defenseman, particularly with Matt Carle ready to test free agency? 
In all of the discussion focusing on Nash, Parise, and Ryan, there is the reality that scoring was not the Flyers' biggest issue, not by a long shot. But with no easy answers on the blue line and the goaltending situation locked in place, it appears Paul Holmgren is in pursuit of another lamp-lighter. If Jaromir Jagr leaves and/or JVR is traded, there will be some opportunities for other forwards to get more minutes. But, also the opportunity for the GM to fill the void with a more proven acquisition. 
There's good reason to assume LeBrun is right that the Flyers are interested in Ryan. The hard part is figuring out a deal that would land him without hobbling the current roster. 
This all might be too deep a look into a simple "Rumblings" report, but with temperatures in the 90s, why not chat some hockey? After last year's draft dealings, nothing can be easily dismissed.
Check out LeBrun's piece for more Flyers discussion points, including St. Louis' interest in Carle and why money won't be the factor that determines whether Jagr is back in Philly next season. 
Stay tuned as things could get interesting ahead of tonight's draft in Pittsburgh… 

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies-Mets 5 things: All the pressure on Mets, Gsellman

Phillies (70-85) at Mets (82-73)
1:10 p.m. on CSN

After two rough losses for the Phillies and their pitching staff, the offense picked them up and came through with a 10-8 win. 22-year-old Jake Thompson takes the hill this afternoon while Robert Gsellman starts a crucial game for the Mets.

Here are five things to watch on Sunday.

1. All the pressure on New York, Gsellman
The Mets remain 0.5 games up on the final National League playoff spot. 

While their pitching staff was falling apart at the seams going into (and during) this series, the one saving grace for New York was its soft schedule, facing the Phillies seven times in its last 10. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Cardinals have to deal with the MLB best Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants end the year vs. the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers.

However, a loss on Saturday (thanks in part to Noah Syndergaard getting scratched with strep throat) puts the Mets in a precarious position. They're tied in the loss column with the Cards and Giants while fighting for one of two playoff spots and their rotation most closely resembles their Triple A team from Opening Day. 

Gsellman is one of those pitchers who started the year never having tasted the major leagues. In fact, he started the year in Double A. His first career start came at Citi Field last month against the Phillies and resulted in his first career loss after he allowed four runs in six innings. 

He's been better since that start, carrying a 3.13 ERA into Sunday. The 23-year-old righty will likely start vs. the Phillies again next weekend, meaning the Mets' season rides in part on a rookie with just 31 2/3 innings in the majors. 

2. Young man on a roll
While Gsellman lost his last start, Thompson has won his last two starts. The young righty is on a hot streak as his season nears an end.

Thompson's ERA has goe down in each of his last five starts, a stat made less impressive by the fact that he began that run with a 9.78 ERA. He has gone at least five innings in his last eight starts and has shown glimpses of why he was such a valued prospects.

In September, Thompson is 2-1 with a 3.09 ERA over four starts. He's still allowed 33 baserunners in 23 1/3 innings during that span, but it's been much better than his lackluster August.

While Thompson is in line to start next weekend against the Mets as well, today could be his final start of the season. He has already set a career-high in innings and the Phillies may not want to extend him one more start.

3. What to look for in the season's final week
Including Sunday, the Phillies have just seven games left in their season. They're eliminated from playoff contention, but there's still plenty to watch as the Phils take on Braves and Mets.

Ryan Howard's final fairwell: With his five-year, $125 million deal coming to a close this year, Howard is almost certainly playing his final games in Philadelphia next week. He'll get plenty of starts and may even face the Mets' Bartolo Colon, who he's smacked three home runs off of in his career.

Playing spoiler: As mentioned above, the Mets have everything on the line both today and next weekend in Philadelphia. There are few better ways to end a postseason-less season than knocking a rival out of playoff contention.

More looks at the kids: Roman Quinn's emergence over the last two weeks has been fun to watch and Jorge Alfaro may get more chances in the last seven games. Beyond them, Thompson, Tommy Joseph and others close out a nice first season. 

4. Players to watch
Phillies: Maikel Franco has looked more like his 2015 self over the last few weeks. He's batting .310 in September with three home runs, matching his August total. His 15 RBI this month are his most in a month other than July. 

Mets: Asdrubal Cabrera has been on fire this month as well. After battting .405 in August, he's batting .333 and has five home runs, including the walk-off homer on Thursday. He's slugging .628 this month after putting up a .786 slugging percentage in August. 

5. This and that
• In Gsellman's August start vs. the Phillies, he only allowed one run while he was in the game. However, he left the bases loaded in the 7th with no outs before A.J. Ellis knocked in the decisive two-run double to give the Phils a lead they would not relinquish.

• Six different Phillies batters had hits off Gsellman, including Jimmy Paredes who went 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI. 

• Despite pitching injuries, the Mets have the eighth-best team ERA in September with a 3.64 average. The Phillies are 15th in baseball with a 4.10 ERA this month.

• The Phillies are 6-9 against the Mets this year. They're already ensured of a better finish than last year's 5-14 mark vs. New York.

Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

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Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, killed in boating accident

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.

The Marlins announced Fernandez's death, and the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.

In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with a jetty, said Lorenzo Veloz of the Fish Commission.

A news conference was planned for later Sunday morning.

Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL's Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year.

He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times -- landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries -- before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.

The Marlins' game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.