The Sixers held a press conference this morning at which Mo Cheeks talked about being fired as head basketball coach of the team he once led to a championship as a player. We haven't chimed in much here about the decision mostly because we're torn. Cheeks is a class act and the kind of individual you want representing your organization. He was my favorite player growing up even playing alongside the Doc. That said, this team was not clicking and they certainly weren't winning.
Kate Fagan of the Inquirer summarizes Mo's press conference this morning quite well.
Cheeks started by thanking the organization, Ed Stefanski, and the
city for the opportunity to be the head coach in the city in which he
started his playing career. Many times throughout the morning he said
this was his city, he loved this city, and he would be open to working
with the Sixers in a different capacity. Although he said no one has
approached him yet on the topic. Stefanski did say on Saturday that he
would talk to Mo about this after the Holidays.
Cheeks said, "This is a tough situation for me, but it's part of the
business. If you're not winning games, things happen. I can't express
my appreciation as much as I'd like. No one understands the feelings
inside when you get fired." (In such a public forum.)
"I used to say when we had a bad game, 'It's a moment, and it will
pass.' Well this is a moment. I take solace in the fact I did the best
I could. This is not about pointing fingers. I'm not even going to go
into the X's and O's part of it. I'm not going to go into the blame
game. No one that gets fired can come up here and say, 'Look' no one
feels good about it. I would assume the Sixer organization doesn't feel
good about it."
Cheeks will always be remembered more as a player who brought a Championship Parade to this city. Unfortunately, his time as a coach never really had any milestone memories.
I hope Cheeks bounces back and get a job he loves. If that job is a role within the Sixers organization, all the better. The man is a class act in a sports world full of egos.
>>Parting Words [Inquirer]
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
Don’t worry about the role.
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.
There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
But for now, it’s just these four.
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.
Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”