Phillies: Buy or Sell?

Phillies: Buy or Sell?

With the Phillies playing a rather unexciting brand of baseball lately, the topic of conversation on the Internet and among Phillie faithful has been whether the Phillies should be buyers or sellers with the trade deadline in sight.

A Citizen's blog, which I agree with a good deal of the time, has this to say:

-I think the Phillies should be active at the trading deadline and make
some deals. Instead of doing their usual thing and deal prospects for
relief pitching, I think the Phillies should deal David Bell (if possible), and Mike Lieberthal.  This team needs help at third base and catcher if it is going to make the playoffs.

I would trade David Bell and Lieberthal in a heartbeat.  The problem is, you probably couldn't get a Von Hayes baseball card for them.  Who wants to take on Lieberthal's contract?  Granted CitBlog noted if possible, I just don't see it being possible.  Where I completely disagree with him are with his comments on Billy Wags:

-Billy Wagner is a terrific, “lights out” closer. But I’d deal him for
those defeatist comments he made. Having someone in your clubhouse
bitching and moaning like that is unacceptable. If you want to play on
a team that doesn’t have a chance, Billy, I’ll give you a plane ticket
to Colorado to play with the Rockies. Pack him off to the Red Sox in
exchange for some prospects to restock the farm system and give Ryan
Madson the job. I think he’ll pick it up with virtually no slack.

While I wouldn't have a problem dealing Mr. Wagner, I disagree that he has a defeatist attitude.  I think he is one of the only Phillies to point out the obvious.  Good for Wags for saying how he really feels.  Somebody in the Phillies organization not trying to make excuses.  Like John Marzano has been saying lately, the players need to be held accountable.

One of my other favorite Phillies sites, Beerleaguer.com, put my thoughts together much better than I could have:

The Phils should seize any opportunity to get younger, and the
easiest way is to keep existing prospects. The latest rumor says the
Phils owners do not want Ed Wade to trade Ryan Howard, and I applaud
that. Players like Howard and Chase Utley are future of this franchise,
plus, they’re attractions on a team that’s grown too stale.

It
seems fans are clamoring for more young guys: Howard, Madson, Utley.
Personally, I’m more likely to buy a ticket now to see Utley and Howard
than Polanco and Thome two months ago, and in my experience reading
other sites and comments from fans, I’m not alone.

There’s
no question, however, the Phils need pitching and won’t make the
playoffs or get very far in the post season with the existing options.
In light of their long-term contract situations, it’s time to bite the
bullet and patch those holes with young players. I get the sense most
fans do not wish to mortgage the future. That means Gavin Floyd,
Madson, Robinson Tejeda or even Cole Hamels are all better options than
Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, etc.

I'm all for the Phillies making any kind of move to get younger and build for the future.  So should the Phillies buy or sell?  Sure, they have a shot at making the playoffs this year.  The East has a good deal of parity and anything could happen.  I said way back in May that "they will linger around for a while and eventually crumble."  And I still feel pretty much the same way.  They are a decent team, but they just don't have what it takes to win a pennant.  Sure it could happen, but I still haven't won the lottery either.

So I say sell for the most part, but there isn't really much to sell.  If Wags can get you some prospects, do it.  I'm with Beerleaguer, the younger the better.

 

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles — big salary and all — for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).

Trade Deadline 2017: Just. Don't. Trade. Nerlens.

Trade Deadline 2017: Just. Don't. Trade. Nerlens.

So the Sixers' trade deadline got off to an interesting early start last night, with Ersan Ilaysova -- power forward and arguable MVP of the Philadelphia 76ers' early season -- being traded to Atlanta for Tiago Splitter's expiring contract and two future second-rounders. The exchange was a strikingly bloodless one for the Colangelos, dealing a productive veteran in what amounted to a minor asset grab, and an opportunity to give extra minutes to Dario Saric, the rookie combo forward whose strong play of late arguably made Ilyasova expendable. Simply put, it was the kind of deal our Once and Always Dark Lord would've made. 

That's cool, but I don't really care about that. Chicago's supposedly still interested in Jahlil Okafor, and that's cool, too. But I don't really care about that either. I only care about one thing this trade deadline -- that we don't blow it at the last second and trade Nerlens Noel. 

This probably won't happen. Okafor has been the subject of roughly ten times the trade rumors of Noel, the latter having (hopefully) proven his worth over the last month or so as Jah has largely fallen out of the rotation. Even last night, the hot-off-the-presses discussion was mostly about the Chicago Bulls' continued interest in Okafor, with the main debate being whether or not the Sixers would take on Nikola Mirotic's moderate salary in a deal for our lottery big. 

But this Facebook video the other day from NBA trade-deadline guru Adrian Wojnarowksi -- paraphrased below by the venerable Derek Bodner -- gave me serious heartburn: 

Summary: Sixers prefer to trade Okafor, but may revisit Noel discussions if they can't get what they want. Sixers are valuing Okafor as the 3rd overall pick, teams are valuing him based on his NBA play.

Ugh. 

Now, as anyone has followed the Sixers for long enough to see Robert Covington hoist a questionable three this season knows, this team has too many big men. It's tried to give minutes to all of them and it hasn't worked. The conventional thinking, as of season's beginning, was that one of the three -- four if you count Richaun Holmes, but we probably shouldn't and won't here anyway -- would have to be traded. This, we now know, is a foolish line of thinking. One of them has to be traded, but we know which one it is, and it's only that one. So let me say this one more time, as loudly and as unequivocally as I possibly can: 

The Sixers do not have a big man problem. The Sixers have a Jahlil Okafor problem. 

Not that even that is a particularly urgent issue. Okafor has been surprisingly pliable in his extended passages riding the pine, and has groused surprisingly little over his minutes-slashing; an impressive maturity for the 20-year-old big, even if the Marcus Hayeses of the world somehow interpret his cooperation as heartlessness. If he were to finish out the year on the roster behind Embiid and Noel -- and even at worst-case, he'd probably still get semi-regular minutes as one or more of those guys rested or sat with injury -- there's no real reason to believe he would fester on the bench, or would become a malcontent case of any particular distraction. 

But let's be real here. The reason it behooves the 76ers to trade Okafor as soon as possible is because he's not very good, and the more he plays, the more potential trade partners ostensibly should be able to notice that. Which isn't to say he couldn't be sort of good, eventually, for another team -- though it's gonna take a doozy of a squad to put him in such a situtation -- but on this Sixers team, he clearly isn't the guy who's gonna win games for us holding down the middle. We've seen it, and it's not there. And that's fine, basically; can't win 'em all in the draft, and if the worst thing Sam Hinkie ever did was draft Jahlil Okafor, this season's events have ensured he's still coming out well on top. 

This is all just to say that Okafor's role is not worth protecting, particularly if it comes with the slightest risk of losing Nerlens Noel in the process. Nerlens is a legitimately great basketball prospect having an early career year, with a PER at All-Star level (20.9), an absurdly high steals rate (2.7 per 36 minutes), and the highest offensive rating (119) on the Sixers. Consider that Noel, who was supposed to be the defensive ace while Okafor excelled on offense, is only scoring 1.5 fewer points per 36 mintues than Jah, and shooting 10 percent higher from the floor while doing so. Also consider that the team actually has a better record without Joel Embiid in the lineup (8-17) than they do without Nerlens (7-20). 

Now again, I'm not saying all of this to insist that Nerlens somehow needs to remain a Sixer forever. He does play the same position as Joel -- though I'd still like to see them play together a little more before I rule out their ability to meaningfully co-exist -- and if the right trade came along for The Eraser, I don't think we need to turn it down on principle. But understand: The right trade doesn't mean trading Nerlens for rotation players and future draft considerations, but using him as the linchpin of a trade to get a superstar player like Jimmy Butler or Paul George. Such trades might not be available, and other teams might not value Nerlens quite as highly as those of us who get to watch him regularly do, but trading Nerlens -- a 22-year-old big with limitless defensive potential and emerging offensive effectiveness -- for less than a star at this point is just a mistake. 
 

Truthfully, Okafor shouldn't even consider into this discussion. He's small potatoes: Trade him now, cut him later, hoard him forever -- it matters little. If the Colangelos decided they absolutely had to get rid of one of our bigs, and Okafor's trade market was literally nil, they'd still be better off releasing Jahlil for literally nothing than they would trading Nerlens for 65 cents on the dollar. The signs point to Sixers brass having the fortitude to not resort to the latter this season, but I won't feel safe until we're comfortably out of the 3:00 range today. A needless Nerlens trade could be the most damaging thing to process-trust since we drafted Jah in the first place.