Priced to Move? Examining the Flyers Options as Trade Deadline Approaches

Priced to Move? Examining the Flyers Options as Trade Deadline Approaches

The Flyers are a lot like a car accident right now. Don’t
worry! Everybody is a little shaken up, some minor bumps and bruises, but
otherwise okay. The vehicle on the other hand…

Now the insurance company needs to assess the damage. It
still drives, although they suspect something is out whack with the suspension because
the ride is no longer very smooth at all. Fixing it might be as simple as
replacing the defective parts. Either way the insurance might want to total the
automobile based on the damage to the exterior alone, even if the driver prefers
to get it back on the road because some of the features are cool and might be
hard to find.

Then again, maybe it would be best not to get those crooks
involved at all, instead try to get little things fixed over time.

My apologies in advance if the metaphor runs too deep, but the Flyers
are in no-man’s land both in the standings and with regard to what they should
do at the upcoming trade deadline one week from today on April 3. They certainly
haven’t looked like a playoff team, much less a viable contender, but there is
a ton of talent on the roster, and it’s been proven time and time again anybody
can get hot and win the Stanley Cup as long as they get in the tournament
first.

So the debate is whether they should get the work done – buy
– or total it and start looking for something new – sell.

No matter what happens over the next four games, buying is likely
an option that only people within the organization would consider a reasonable solution.
The team is flawed, has been inconsistent all season, is constantly up against
the salary cap, not to mention would still be on the brink of missing the
playoffs when everything was said and done.

And at what cost do the Flyers acquire this magic cure-all?
Sean Couturier? Brayden Schenn? Would they mortgage the future for a ride that
could just wind up stranded by the side of the road anyway?

Selling is sort of a pipe dream, too. Who is the front
office able to move that will give the franchise the cap relief necessary to
make big changes in the offseason? Danny Briere was the obvious choice, and
there was said to be some interest around the league, but the obvious concern
is he would use his no-trade clause – plus now he’s out with a concussion.

What other high-priced trade chips are available that
somebody else would actually want? Scott Hartnell? Ilya Bryzgalov? Face it, the
Flyers are stuck with that old jalopy.

There was a third option though: fix it as they go. In other
words, do nothing. You and I both know it would take everything in the organization’s
power to stand pat at the trade deadline, but unless the absolute right deal
pulls on to the lot, it might make more sense to stick with the fixer-upper.

Why overreact to between 30 and 35 games of a shortened
hockey season? HockeyBuzz’s Bill Meltzer made a salient point as the Flyers
went into their five-day break last week, saying it would be “utterly asinine”
to reverse course on their current direction given the sample size and nature
of a shortened season.

Here's the No. 1 thing to keep in
mind: The Flyers have played two months of hockey. The season started on Jan
19. Today is March 20. In a normal season cycle, the Flyers would have played
fewer than their current 30 games after two months. In a legitimate full
season, it would be December, and we'd be still be several weeks away from the
statistical halfway point of the schedule.

What the Flyers’ brain trust needs to realize as the
deadline approaches is that while there are a handful of established veterans
in that locker room, the core of this team is young and still developing.
Couturier, both Schenns, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, and even Claude Giroux
are all 25 years old or younger. Matt Read is 26, and there are a bunch of
kids in their system such as Tye McGinn, Scott Laughton, Marc-Andre Bourdon,
Erik Gustafsson, and Brandon Manning that can have a major impact in the near future.

Should the Flyers really add a spoiler on to the back end of
their whip at the expense of putting the rest of it up on blocks? Should they start thinking about trading in a few of the classics for significantly less than blue-book value so they can start saving for something new? Or should they ride it out with the parts they have and worry about restoring the finish over time?

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:"";
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif";
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

Nick Pivetta excited for big-league debut — even if rainout delays it a few days

The Phillies' starting pitching rotation, for the time being, features four arms that were acquired in trades that have coincided with the team's rebuild, which started after the 2014 season.

Nick Pivetta will become the latest to join the group when he is officially activated. He was in the Phillies' clubhouse Tuesday afternoon and was scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, but those plans changed when Tuesday night's game against the Miami Marlins was postponed because of rain.

No makeup date was announced.

The rainout means Pivetta's big-league debut will be pushed back. Vince Velasquez, Tuesday's scheduled starter, will pitch Wednesday night against the Marlins and Jeremy Hellickson will start the series finale Thursday. Jerad Eickhoff and Zach Eflin are likely to stay on turn and pitch Friday and Saturday in Los Angeles. That means Pivetta's debut will likely happen Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Not a bad venue for an unveiling. He does not have to be activated until that day. In the interim, the Phils are carrying an extra reliever in Mark Leiter Jr.

Even with the weather-related change in plans, Pivetta was thrilled to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday.

"I've achieved my goal of getting here eventually," the 24-year-old right-hander said. "I'm happy to be here. I want to get my feet on solid ground right now and just take it one step at a time.”

Pivetta is a Canadian from Victoria, British Columbia, about 100 miles northwest of Seattle. As a kid, he watched Toronto Blue Jays' games on television and idolized Roy Halladay. (see story).

Victoria must now be Phillies territory. Michael Saunders, the team's rightfielder, also hails from the town.

"You see it more and more, more Canadians getting into the game of baseball, so it’s always nice to see another one in the locker room," said Saunders, 30. "Clearly he’s pitched well enough to earn his way up here and I’m looking forward to seeing him play."

Pivetta is 6-5, 225 pounds. He was originally selected by the Washington Nationals in the fourth round of the 2013 draft. The Phillies acquired him for Jonathan Papelbon and cash in July 2015.

Pivetta will take Aaron Nola's spot in the rotation. Nola is on the disabled list with tightness in his lower back. He could be back as soon as early next week.

Nola said he probably could have pushed himself and stayed in the rotation, but the team chose to be cautious.

"I don’t think it's any big thing," Nola said.

With Pivetta on board, the Phillies now have four pitchers in their rotation that came over in "rebuild" trades.

Eflin arrived in the December 2014 deal that sent Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.

Eickhoff came in the July 2015 deal that sent Cole Hamels to the Rangers.

Velasquez came in the December 2015 trade that sent Ken Giles to the Astros.

Pivetta did not immediately pitch well upon joining the Phillies organization. He had a 7.31 ERA in seven starts for Double A Reading in the summer of 2015. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 25 and walked 19.

Pivetta was a different pitcher last season. He registered a 3.27 ERA in 148 2/3 innings between Double A and Triple A, struck out 138 and walked 51. That performance earned him a spot on the team's 40-man roster.

“In 2016, he showed us the potential to be a really good major-league pitcher,” said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. “He was a little excitable after the trade in 2015, but he came back calm and confident last year. His stuff is legit — 93 to 96 (mph) with life on the fastball, good breaking ball and good feel for the changeup.”

His control continued to improve this season as he got off to a 3-0 start at Triple A. He pitched 19 innings, gave up just two earned runs, walked just two and struck out 24.

"Just getting ahead with my fastball," said Pivetta, explaining the early-season success that put him in line for the promotion. "First-pitch strikes are big. Even if I get into that 0-1 count or that 1-1 count, getting back to that 1-2 count is big. So being able to even up those counts have been really big for me, as well, and being able to finish off with my off-speed later in the counts, too.”

Pivetta pitched for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March. He made one start and took a no-decision in the team's 4-1 loss to Columbia. Pivetta worked four innings and allowed one run.

“That helped me," Pivetta said. "It was awesome. It was like having playoff baseball in March."

It's not clear how long Pivetta will stay in the big-league rotation. But he has more than put himself on the map, and if he continues to pitch well, he'll make more starts with the big club this season.

“I did not expect to be here this early in the season," he said. "I am happy to be here right now. I'll see how long I stay and just have fun while I am here.”

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Ron Jaworski: Carson Wentz shouldn't 'have any input' in Eagles' 2017 NFL draft

Should the Eagles give Carson Wentz a say in who they take in the draft?

He is the future of the franchise after all.

"If there's any player on our roster that has insight into a guy in free agency or the draft, it's part of our information gathering," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said last Thursday.

So the Eagles will at least listen to Wentz — and others — about certain prospects. The second-year QB got a firsthand look at a few receiving prospects during offseason workouts. 

However, former Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski thinks it would be a "mistake" to give Wentz any input into the team's draft decision-making. 

"I don't think the quarterback should have any input in the draft," Jaworski said Tuesday. "Plain and simple. The quarterback should quarterback his football team. I know he'll be a teammate, but the Eagles — like every other team in this league — do extensive scouting. They know what they're doing, they'll select the player they believe is the best player."

Jaws would know -- he made that very mistake once.

"I had someone ask me a question back in 1978 or '79," Jaworski said. "They said, 'Hey Jaws, what do you think the Eagles need?' And I said we could probably improve our wide receiver position. 

"Oh, by the way, Harold Carmichael is one of our wide receivers, the next time I saw him he said, 'Hey, what are you talking about?' So it was a mistake, and I apologized to Harold and that was the last comment I ever made about the draft and my teammates. So I think players ought to shut up and let the front office make those decisions."

To be fair, Carmichael held a little more weight in his day than Nelson Agholor or Dorial Green-Beckham do now. 

Jaworski went on to tell a wild story of his own draft day in 1973 (watch video here), and also made the case for the Eagles to stock up on cornerbacks in the draft (watch video here).