Kolb-Watch, Day 1,475: Yours for the Bargain Price of Two Seconds?

Kolb-Watch, Day 1,475: Yours for the Bargain Price of Two Seconds?

One Cardinals beat writer thinks so. Kent Somers with the Arizona Republic blogged about Kevin Kolb's value yesterday, and he concluded a package of picks headlined by a first may be too rich for the Eagles quarterback.

Somers compared Kolb's situation to that of Matt Schaub, which is funny because he too was blocked by Mike Vick at one point in his career. Schaub, a third rounder out of Virginia, showcased the tools to be an NFL quarterback in several relief appearances, and the Texans made him their franchise quarterback in 2007. The price: Houston and Atlanta swapped first round picks (numbers 8 and 10), and the Falcons threw in a pair of second rounders.

What Somers is getting at is that trade could provide a template for any possible Kolb-to-the-Cards deal, and the similarities are certainly there. Two largely unproven quarterbacks who weren't exactly top prospects coming out of college, with no apparent chance to be named the starter ahead of Vick.

It's a shot in the gut, as we've speculated for a long time the Eagles could get at least a first for Kolb. However, there are still several key differences between Schaub in '07 and Kolb present day that lead me to believe they can still get that kind of compensation.

First of all, we can't truly use that trade as a template, because the move in the first round is a big deal. It may only be two spots, but that early in the draft, two spots can be the difference between a Pro Bowler and a Hall of Famer--though Atlanta wound up with DE Jamaal Anderson, a huge bust.

Furthermore, the Falcons had the advantage of doing that deal a month before the draft. The Eagles and Cardinals can't swap first round picks now because this year's draft is already over, and who knows where anybody will finish in 2011. That takes one component of the deal right off the table.

Then there is the comparison between Schaub and Kolb. Granted, nobody is saying Kolb is any kind of sure thing, but his small body of work dwarfs the Texans QB's at that stage of his career. Schaub started two games for the Falcons, went 0-2, and threw 161 total passes. Kolb has seven starts, is 3-4, and two NFC Offensive Player of the Week awards.

Plus, the two have slightly different pedigrees. Schaub was the fifth quarterback taken in '04, and 90th overall. Kolb was the third signal caller off the board in '07, 36 overall. Ultimately, that may mean nothing, but there were greater expectations for Kolb in the NFL.

Then again, Schaub has gone on to develop into one of the better passers in the league, throwing for over 4,000 yards in consecutive seasons, and making the Texans relevant in the process. Maybe Somers is right, and some seconds are about what the Birds can hope for in the exchange.

I still don't think so. That may have been fine for Atlanta and Houston, but there are far more examples where young, franchise-type quarterbacks go for firsts than examples where they go for less. Look at Matt Hasselbeck, Jay Cutler, Brett Favre. Every situation is different, but even with Schaub, firsts were exchanged.

And of course, there are the various reports that at least one team already has a first on the table. It's only a rumor, but one that contradicts the idea the Eagles won't receive at least that.

Why not? If Kolb is an NFL-caliber quarterback and can stay healthy, there's no reason Arizona should be picking in the top five again next year. Is it a risk? Hell yeah. I think Kolb could be a fine quarterback, but I've also seen A.J. Feeley have success in Andy Reid's system.

That's the price you pay though, Mr. Somers. The Cardinals had the opportunity to draft a franchise quarterback in the first round, and didn't. That doesn't mean the Eagles should treat them like a charity case, taking less than the perceived value.

>> Setting a trade value for Kevin Kolb [Arizona Republic]

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

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The Phillies have scored just two runs in 13 innings against a pair of rookie starting pitchers and the eventual outcome has been two losses to the Colorado Rockies the last couple of nights. The latest was an 8-2 setback on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). That followed an 8-1 loss on Monday night.

What's happening right now at Citizens Bank Park is ugly. The Phillies are in the midst of a freefall that has seen them lose 19 of their last 23 games. They have been outscored 134-91 over that span.

Now, before we completely lose perspective here, the Phillies remain a building team and they were not expected to contend this season. But they weren't supposed to be this bad, either, and right now they are embarrassingly bad at 15-28.

John Middleton, the team's fiery managing partner, watched several innings of Tuesday night's debacle sitting beside Andy MacPhail in the club president's box. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. Middleton is committed to a patient rebuild from the ground up, but he's also a man who has made it no secret that he likes to win a little. The show that the Phillies are putting on out on the field these days can't sit well with him. Surely it's not sitting well with the fans. Tuesday night's attendance was just 17,109, the lowest of the season, and many in that group headed home after Gerardo Parra's sixth-inning homer gave the Rockies an 8-1 lead.

"We're just in a big rut right now," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis added that he couldn't remember going through anything this bad.

"We have to keep grinding," he said. "Keep grinding, man. It’s pretty tough right now."

Tuesday night's loss offered a tale of two young pitchers. Zach Eflin, the Phillies' 23-year-old right-hander and a veteran of just 18 big-league starts, was hit hard. Meanwhile, German Marquez, the Rockies' 22-year-old rookie, was impressive. He held the Phillies to one run over six innings. He twice faced bases-loaded jams and gave up just one run when he walked a batter.

On Monday night, the Phils were held to one run over seven innings by another rookie, Jeff Hoffman.

Rookie pitchers are often good medicine for struggling teams.

"That’s the way I look at it," Mackanin said. "Unfortunately it hasn't happened.

"I know we're better than this. I think the team knows they're better than this. I can't fault the hustle. Someone might say there's no energy. Well, when you don’t get any hits there's no energy."

The Phillies have scored just three runs in the last three games.

The scarcity of runs gives the pitching very little room for error. But in this game, Eflin simply did not keep it close. He gave up 10 hits and eight runs over six innings of work. Phillies killer Charlie Blackmon torched Eflin for a pair of two-run homers and Parra got him for a solo shot.

"A poor outing," Mackanin said of Eflin's work. "He couldn't locate. The ball was up in the zone. He's struggling to keep the ball down.

"When he struck out Blackmon in the first inning, it was a two-seamer with great movement, I thought we’re in for a good outing here. But then he couldn't keep the ball down. You have to pitch down or you're going to get hurt."

Eflin has given up 21 hits and 15 runs in his last two starts.

"It’s frustrating, but it happens. It’s baseball," he said. "There are going to be a lot of times in my career where I give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs. But I’m really not worried about it right now. I know that I’m going to continue to work hard and go out every fifth day and, you know, put up a line of winning baseball."

Blackmon has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. He has three multi-homer games in Philadelphia.

"He seems to like hitting here," Eflin said. "But I just have to execute pitches. There’s no excuse. I just have to be on top of my game."

Right now, the Phillies are at the bottom of their game.

"We have to stay together as a team and keep fighting, try to get out of what's happening right now," Galvis said. "It's a really tough situation, but we have keep playing hard."

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

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OTTAWA, Ontario -- Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to give the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night and force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third.

Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa and Craig Anderson stopped 45 shots, including 22 in the second period.

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.

Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.

The Senators managed to quickly forget a 7-0 loss two days earlier in Game 5 and extend their season for one more shoot at a return to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 10 years. and land one more shot at a first Stanley Cup final appearance in 10 years.

Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start -- which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.

Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. The 35-year-old struggled through Games 4 and 5 -- allowing seven goals -- but it was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.

Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.

The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.

Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.

It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin -- three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr -- who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.

The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).