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Q: The Eagles are currently enjoying the least deserved week-long break in
the history of sports, having wrapped up the first half of their season
at 4-4. When we first saw the schedule, we all thought the first half
was cake compared to the second, especially the treacherous NFC East
run in December. What do you think the Birds' record will be when all
is said and done? Which weeks do you predict will be W's, and which
will be L's? Where will they finish in the division, and is there any
chance at the playoffs? ~Matt from Brookhaven
I'd like to preface this by saying I have about as good a chance of predicting the Eagles remaining record as Andy Reid has of giving us a straight answer. Let's take a look at their remaining schedule:
Washington @ Philly - If the Birds are serious they have to come out and go win-win in the first two before Indy.
Tennessee @ Philly - I'll give this a W, but Vince Young could give the Eagles defense fits.
Philly @ Indy - Lose. Simple.
Carolina @ Philly - Win. I've got tickets to this one so Donovan is going to put on a show on Monday night.
Philly @ Wash - Lose.
Philly @ Giants - Lose.
Philly @ Dallas - Win, just to spite T.O.
Atlanta @ Philly - Lose.
By that breakdown the Birds would be 8-8 and out of the playoffs. I really have no feel for this team any longer. They could come out and go 6-2 and I wouldn't be too surprised or they could come out and go 2-6 and I wouldn't be shocked either. Let's just hope the game on Christmas in Dallas still has some meaning.
How do you people think the Birds will finish up? Are they done? Do you care?
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.”