Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

Seven Things We Love About Last Night's Phillies Win

We're probably not going to do these lists after every game, but we're still feeling the "bright side" kick after the Phillies unofficially declared contention a dead issue with a lot of games still on the schedule. They're making it easy to stay positive since then, winning their second straight in Washington, 3-2, last night. Here's a quick look at another decent night to be a Phillies fan. 
Dom Brown's HoseNo that's not a new fan group for Domonic Brown, though we're not saying it shouldn't be. With two outs in the bottom of the second and Edwin Jackson on second for the Nats, Bryce Harper sent a sharp single out to left, where Brown scooped it up and fired it to home plate. Erik Kratz had a perfect blocking position, and Jackson was dead in the water, ending the inning and preventing the Nats from expanding their lead. 
J-Roll Homered Again. And Again.Having staved off the Nat Attack in the second inning, it was the Phillies' turn in the third. Jimmy Rollins had homered in the series opener (you remember the inside-the-parker), and nearly done so again leading off on Wednesday. He must have liked what Edwin Jackson was serving, because he stroked one to right, kickstarting the Phillies offense for the night. Leading off in the top of the fifth, Jimmy blasted another one, his third in the first two games of the series and 12th of the season. 
The Shierholter Opens TradingNate Schierholtz made his presence known in his first game as a Phillie, homering and making a sliding catch in right. Batting second in the lineup, his longball came right after Jimmy's second of the game, putting the Phillies ahead with the 3-2 lead they'd carry for the rest of the night. Schierholtz's defense helped ensure that W, when he charged and made a sliding catch on a Bryce Harper flare with no outs in the bottom of the eighth. Not to throw an unnecessary handful of dirt on the grave of Hunter Pence's Phillies career, but I'm pretty sure every Phils fan watching the game last night muttered, "Pence wouldn't have gotten to that" or "Pence would have kicked that halfway down the first base line," or "Pence would have slid three feet past the ball as it bounced toward the corner and Bryce Harper had his revenge for J-Roll's inside the park roundtripper the night before." You get the point, and it isn't that Nate Schierholtz is a better overall option in right. There may be some advantages though. 
Holder By Committee!Josh Lindblom, the reliever who came over in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to LA, faced the next batter after Harper's flyout. He allowed a single to Ryan Zimmerman, but got Mike Morse to strike out before himself being relieved as Charlie used three pitchers in the frame to set up Jonathan Papelbon. Jeremy Horst came in to face LaRoche, but Zimmerman ran on him, and Kratz gunned him down at second to close it out. Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratzkratz Kratz Kratz Kratz Kratzkratz EVERYBODY! 
Papelbon closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth that included a swinging strikeout to end the game. 
Vance Party!Vance Worley ducked some first inning bad luck and escaped with a win, going seven innings while allowing six hits and a walk with no strikeouts. Both runs charged to him were unearned due to … 
Another Error at Third!Wait why is this a good thing? OK it's not, at all. Kevin Frandsen's boot in the first inning with two men on loaded the bases for Adam LaRoche, who then singled in a run. Danny Espinosa then grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Chad Tracy, giving the Nationals an early 2-0 lead. The only remotely positive thing about the sequence is that, no longer in a pennant chase, the Phillies having yet another costly error at the hot corner this season serves as a reminder they'll be targeting more talent there before 2013, both at the plate and the bag. Right, Rube? 
Shane and Hunter Went 0-8We're obviously not going to hope for the worst for these two guys who were fan favorites and genuinely good people. Shane gave me some of my favorite sports memories, and I'll always be grateful. Pence was a lot of fun too, and things just didn't work out for this talented, funky player during his time with the Phils. But it's not one of those situations where we hope they go on to win elsewhere (Shane's already got one, Pence wasn't here long enough, eff both those teams, #godbacks, etc.). We'll take comfort just this once in the fact that their debuts for the stupid Dodgers and the stupid Giants, respectively, went entirely fruitless. Neither freshly former Phillie got a hit, and both of their teams lost (unfortunately, the SF loss came with a Mets win). Mmyep, their GMs and fans have to deal with the reality that Lindblom totally got that one guy out and Schierholtz's homer proved to be the winner for the Phillies, virtually GUARANTEEING that Ruben Amaro Jr got the better of the deals. No need to even keep score after this point. Haw man. That's gotta burn. 
The Phils are a game out of not-last. The Nats have a 2.5-game lead in the division. Cole's on the hill. Anyone else looking forward to some baseball tonight?

Photos by Kevin Jairaj-US Presswire

Flyers, at this point, should sell a few valuable veterans ahead of deadline

Flyers, at this point, should sell a few valuable veterans ahead of deadline

Dave Hakstol’s Flyers returned home from Vancouver on Monday not quite resembling conquering heroes.

Sure, they salvaged two points from their three-game trek to Western Canada, but for a team that supposedly sees itself as a wild card, that just ain’t gonna get it done.

The Flyers required at least four points — ideally, five — from the trip to give us some proof they’re a legit contender for the wild card.

Right now, their wild-card hopes remain on life support.

Yes, they’re only two points behind Toronto. Thing is, the field of wild-card contenders have officially caught up and even passed them.

When the Flyers left for the trip, they were even in points with the Maple Leafs while holding down the 9-seed in the Eastern Conference. Toronto had the second wild card.

Hakstol's team is the 11-seed now. Toronto, Florida and the New York Islanders are ahead of them with games in hand.

This trip should offer enough evidence to general manager Ron Hextall that his team is still floundering.

There are no moves Hextall can initiate at the trade deadline that will guarantee a playoff spot without mortgaging the future.

Since their return from the All-Star break, the Flyers are 3-5-1. Those numbers don’t suggest they’re headed to the playoffs.

And even if the Flyers were to qualify as the second wild card, they would face a very early exit against the Washington Capitals.

Again.

At this point, with the March 1 NHL trade deadline staring Hextall in the face, he has to be a seller at the deadline.

If you trust Hextall’s long-term plan of patience, you understand that what this is about is preserving assets and preparing young players to be integrated into the system next year and the year after, and the year after that.

Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto are two unrestricted free agents who could help someone else right now.

Streit has been strong this season on the power play, which is his forte. He’s the perfect deadline rental.

Even if Hextall would like to have Streit’s veteran leadership on the blue line next season on a one-year, low salary to “tutor” Robert Hagg or Sam Morin or Travis Sanheim, he could still move Streit now and re-sign him later this summer.

Del Zotto, at 26, will get a nice return in draft picks or a prospect. Del Zotto is going to want a big contract this summer (he’s making $3.87 million now).

There’s no incentive for Hextall to go that direction given the sheer number of young, outstanding defensive prospects in the system that will be arriving shortly, all of whom come with very low salary cap hits.

Don’t blame Hextall for not getting involved in the Matt Duchene/Gabriel Landeskog saga that is going on in Colorado. GM Joe Sakic is asking a lot.

Hextall seems reluctant to part with any future prospects or young players just to get the same in return.

Much of the fan base has been saying for a while now it’s time to move team captain Claude Giroux. He's in the midst of his fourth consecutive season in which his numbers have declined, and in some respects, dramatically from his two best seasons — 2011-12 (93 points) and 2013-14 (86 points).

Yet there is no indication from Hextall or anyone in the Flyers' organization that such is even being contemplated.

Or that the organization feels Giroux’s leadership abilities have been assumed by Wayne Simmonds, who is arguably the most popular Flyer, two years running now.

Hextall still sees veterans such as Giroux, who is only 29, as a player who would help the transition of younger pups coming along — Travis Konecny, German Rubtsov, Nick Cousins, Jordan Weal, etc. — and he also believes Giroux can recapture his offense.

In short, Hextall is not going to tear his roster apart nor is he going to make a blockbuster trade next Wednesday. But he will likely try to sell veteran assets that make the team younger in some way.

Which is the correct thinking for the Flyers now and right into this summer, as well.

Why the Eagles should ignore big names and buy low at wide receiver

Why the Eagles should ignore big names and buy low at wide receiver

It won't be a surprise if the Eagles go after a big name wide receiver.

The team's receivers were a disaster last year. There's the fact that among the Eagles' receivers, Jordan Matthews' 11 yards per catch led the group (minimum 10 catches). Matthews' also led the receivers in touchdowns with four. The team dropped 24 Carson Wentz passes, the fourth-most for a quarterback last season.

So Alshon Jeffery or DeSean Jackson would be a no-brainer, right? Maybe not.

At the moment, the Eagles' cap situation isn't ideal. Surely they'll take a few more steps to clear space, but signing a high-priced receiver isn't the right way to allocate that money.

Jeffery and Jackson have their pros and cons. Jeffery had two elite seasons in 2013 and 2014, but his last two seasons have been mired by injuries and a PED suspension. Despite being 30, Jackson still has the ability to stretch the field, but his red flags are well-documented. According to Sprotrac, Jeffery is scheduled to become the sixth-highest paid receiver, while Jackson will be the 19th-highest paid.

Sure, there are other options. Veteran Kenny Britt enjoyed a renaissance season under new Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh in L.A. and he's still only 28. He's also coming off a 1,000-yard season and could cash in on that. There's also Kenny Stills, who is only 24 and coming off a season where he averaged 17.3 yards a catch and caught nine touchdowns for Miami. Terrelle Pryor is still learning the position but finished with 77 catches for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns for the Browns.

Any of those guys makes the Eagles' offense better immediately. But in reality, just about any decent receiver would make this group better. Howie Roseman is better off buying low in free agency and building the receiver corps through the draft.

CSNPhilly.com Eagles Insider Reuben Frank recently highlighted the lack of success the Eagles' have had in signing free-agent receivers. The list is basically Irving Fryar and a bunch of guys. While the occasional trade (Terrell Owens) has worked out, the Eagles have been better off drafting receivers.

Looking ahead to the draft, this receiver class is extremely deep. There may not be the elite talent of the 2014 receiver class, but there are plenty of intriguing players to explore. In the first round, Clemson's Mike Williams or Western Michigan's Corey Davis could be available to the Eagles. Oklahoma's Dede Westbrook or Eastern Washington's Cooper Kupp could be there in the second. Even in the middle rounds, guys like Louisiana Tech's Carlos Henderson, Western Kentucky's Taywan Taylor and ECU's Zay Jones could be impactful.

As far as free agents go, the Eagles have other options beyond the big names. Kamar Aiken of the Baltimore Ravens is an intriguing name. The 27 year old had a breakout 2015 (75 catches, 944 yards, five touchdowns) followed by a disappointing 2016 (29 catches, 328 yards, one touchdown). He lost snaps to a healthy Steve Smith, free-agent signee Mike Wallace and former first-round pick Breshad Perriman. The Eagles can buy low on Aiken and hope his production is similar to 2015.

Kendall Wright, also 27, had a breakout season in 2013 (94 catches, 1,079 yards) but has fought injuries and inconsistencies over the last few seasons in Tennessee. Then there's Brian Quick from the L.A. Rams, another 27 year old who hasn't quite put it together. He had a career year in 2016, hauling in 41 catches for 564 yards under new Eagles receivers coach Mike Groh.

The Eagles' best bet would be to take a flyer and buy low on one of these receivers and dig deep on this draft. Aiken or Wright and two rookies could help overhaul the position and create serious competition.

Can the Eagles count on Roseman to deliver the next Irving Fryar? The safer bet is him delivering the next DeSean Jackson... instead of the actual DeSean Jackson.