Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Let Me Tell You About the Birds & the Knees

Our man Rev is icing a sore knee. These are his words.

While
the entire football following world, and for that matter non-football
following world (thanks for checking in TMZ), races to provide us with
breaking no news updates on where Donovan McNabb will play next season,
the Eagles continue to tweak their roster and prepare for the upcoming
draft. Predicting what they will do in free agency and the draft has
not been easy. During the Lurie/Banner/Reid era the team has continually

played things close to the vest. There are not a whole lot of leaks
coming out of One Novacare Way. No one knew ahead of time about the
Michael Vick signing. Choosing Kevin Kolb in the second round was a
surprise for which no one was prepared. Removing Jeremiah Trotter’s
franchise tag in 2002, thus making him a free agent was a shocking move.

They have shown a propensity for making unpredictable moves, and keeping

those moves under wraps.

However,
not everything the organization does is unpredictable. For years they’ve

drafted and stocked up on young linemen with perceived upside (John
Welbourn, Scott Peters, Jamaal Greene, Trey Darilek, Scott Young, Calvin

Armstrong, LaJuan Ramsey, King Dunlap, etc.). They’ve also shown a
willingness to draft players from small schools who have not played
against the stiffest of competition throughout their college years
(Bryan
Smith, Andrew Studebaker, Chris Gocong, and Todd Herremans). Some of
these moves have worked out (Welbourn, Herremans, and Gocong), while
others have not. These moves show that they occasionally do fall into
trends with their thinking and philosophy.

Recently
they’ve shown a bizarre and repeated willingness to spend draft picks
and free agent dollars on guys with major knee issues. It’s getting
to the point where they cannot help themselves when given the
opportunity
to acquire someone coming off a catastrophic knee injury. Perhaps
Trotter
is to blame for all of this. He somehow carved out a Pro Bowl career
without the benefit of knees. He jokes that his knees are so bad there’s

no shot he would pass a team physical.  How the guy played middle
linebacker in the NFL without knees is beyond me.

Here
is the roll call of guys they’ve drafted or signed over the last two
years who’ve had knee problems:

  • Jack Ikegwuonu (invested
    a 4th round pick in 2008, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Cornelius Ingram (invested
    a 5th round pick in 2009, despite suffering from a torn
    ACL)
  • Stacy Andrews (as a free
    agent in 2009
    , and coming off ACL surgery he signed for 6 years $38.9
    million)
  • Marlin Jackson (as a free
    agent in 2010
    , and coming off ACL surgeries in each of the last two
    years, signed for 2 years $6 million)

Now,
I can somewhat understand the Ikegwuonu and Ingram picks. Essentially
they could bring them along slowly, let them rehab, get acclimated to
professional football, and ostensibly give them what amounts to a
redshirt
year with that hope that the investment will pay off down the road.
That I understand. I do not understand the Andrews and Jackson signings
though. These are guys who play positions of need. Their entire
offensive
line was thrown into flux due to, among other things, Stacy Andrews
not being healthy. They have a glaring need at safety, so what do they
do? They go out and sign a guy who has had his last two seasons cut
short thanks to knee injuries. They continue to put a large number of
their eggs in the same injury riddled basket. I don’t get it.

You
know how when teams have a ridiculous trade proposal which seemingly
no one will accept they pick up the phone and call Al Davis and the
Raiders? Yeah, that’s the way agents must feel when they have a client
coming off a knee injury. Hmmm, my client has no cartilage or ligaments
in his knees? Which organization would possibly draft/sign my guy? 
I know, I’ll holla at the Eagles…they love guys with leg issues.
It’s a no brainer. It’s so bad that I am convinced that if they
were available, and the least bit athletic, the Birds would seriously
consider offering contracts to Spider from Goodfellas after being shot
in the foot by Tommy, James Caan’s character with the shattered legs
from Misery, and Lieutenant Dan. Must. Sign. Guy. With. Damaged. Legs.

Obviously
I am at total loss to explain why they’ve made the organizational
decision to acquire players with such significant injuries. They do
not strike me as the kind of team which makes rash decisions and
formulates
an action plan without first doing their homework. You’d like to assume
they’re employing some sort of sound methodology.  So, how do
you explain these decisions? FYI, during the draft keep an eye out for
Oregon cornerback Walter Thurmond III. The Birds have a (k)need (see
how I did that?) in the secondary and he’s coming off ACL surgery.
They’re bound to take him.

Photo by Jonathan
Daniel / Getty Images

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

Jake Thompson left searching for answers after latest rough start

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — On the whole, the Phillies have made steady progress in their rebuild this season.

Cameron Rupp has improved. Maikel Franco has had a nice year. Odubel Herrera, even with his recent inconsistency, has had more ups than downs. Cesar Hernandez has been on a good roll. Freddy Galvis has 36 extra-base hits, and Tommy Joseph has opened eyes with his power. In the bullpen, Hector Neris and Edubray Ramos have shown that they just might be future studs.
 
For a good chunk of the season, the young starting pitching has shown promise, as well.
 
But lately, that corner of the team has taken some hits. Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin were both ruled out for the remainder of the season last week with elbow and knee injuries, respectively, and hard-throwing Vince Velasquez has been tagged for 19 earned runs in 16 1/3 innings over his last three starts.
 
Jake Thompson’s first four major-league starts haven’t exactly inspired confidence, either. The 22-year-old right-hander was hit hard in a 9-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). He gave up eight hits, including five for extra bases, and seven runs as his ERA swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
“I’m not used to this,” Thompson said after the defeat. “I feel certain that I’m a lot better than my performance has indicated.”
 
Few pitchers come to the big leagues and dazzle right away. There is a learning curve and occasionally growing pains. But no one expected Thompson to have this much trouble out of the chute, not after what he did in his final 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley.
 
Thompson went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
He was advertised as a control and command pitcher. He has yet to show that in the majors.
 
“A lot of it has to do with his age and, I think, the fact he’s in the big leagues for the first time trying to make a good impression,” manager Peter Mackanin said. “He probably feels like he needs to make perfect pitches every time. All he’s got to do is keep the ball down. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He relies on command and control and he hasn’t shown that. I attribute a lot of that to his youth and inexperience.”
 
So does Rupp, the catcher.
 
“How many guys do you see come to the big leagues at 22 years old and just flat out dominate every time they go out?” Rupp said. “Not very many. He's young. It was his first time in Triple A this year and he pitched really well and now he's got a chance in the big leagues. I'm sure he feels like there's pressure. When you come up and you pitch so well all year and then you finally get your opportunity, you want to impress. It puts a lot on you. And as a kid, you've got to be able to control it and it's tough. It's hard.

“Nobody wants to see anybody fail. It's hard to go through. It's something that's going to make him better when he does finally figure it out."
 
Two of the walks Thompson gave up Tuesday night became runs. He gave up back-to-back homers to Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau in the fifth inning as the White Sox turned it into a rout.
 
“Just too many pitches up in the strike zone,” Mackanin said. “Everything he threw was thigh high, waist high. He couldn’t get the ball down. It’s as simple as that.”
 
Thompson concurred with his manager.
 
“The issue is pretty evident,” he said. “I'm not throwing strikes and when I am throwing strikes, they're not good strikes. It’s a frustrating thing because it's a relatively easy thing to do. I don't really have the answer right now to fix it.”
 
The game moves fast at the big-league level and confidence can become bruised quickly. Thompson said his confidence was unshaken. Still, Phillies officials have to be careful that this difficult baptism to the majors does not snowball and become something that adversely impacts Thompson's growth.
 
“It’s something that you’re concerned about and I’m concerned about,” Mackanin said.
 
Concerned enough that Thompson might not make his next start?
 
Mackanin said he expected Thompson to stay in the rotation, but added that he would speak with general manager Matt Klentak on the topic.
 
“I don’t want to see him keep getting beat up and keep struggling like this,” Mackanin said. “We’ll talk about it and see what Matt wants to do.”

Best of MLB: Royals shut out Marlins for 9th straight win

Best of MLB: Royals shut out Marlins for 9th straight win

MIAMI -- Yordano Ventura escaped two threats while pitching six innings, and the Kansas City Royals extended their winning streak to nine games by beating the Miami Marlins 1-0 on Tuesday night.

Ventura (9-9), who reached 101 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, allowed six hits and one walk while striking out six. Royals starters have an ERA of 1.69 during the winning streak, Kansas City's longest since June 2014.

Three relievers closed out the win and extended the bullpen's streak of 32 consecutive shutout innings since Aug. 10. Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

The Marlins had won three straight but were shut out despite totaling seven hits. They went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position (see full recap).

Nova, Pirates beat Astros to snap 4-game skid
PITTSBURGH -- Ivan Nova took a shutout into the ninth inning and finished with a six-hitter while Gregory Polanco hit two home runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Tuesday night.

Nova (10-6) struck out six, walked one and threw 69 of his 98 pitches for strikes while improving to 3-0 in four starts since being acquired from the New York Yankees in an Aug. 1 trade.

It was the fourth complete game of the right-hander's seven-year career with the others coming in 2013.

His bid for his third career shutout ended when Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve led off the ninth with consecutive doubles.

After the Pirates scored four runs in the first inning, Polanco hit solo shots in the third and fifth off Joe Musgrove and Tony Sipp to extend the lead to 6-0 and raise his season total to a team-high 19 homers (see full recap).

Gausman, Jones help Orioles roll over Nationals
BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman scattered six hits over six shutout innings, Adam Jones went 4 for 5 and the Baltimore Orioles breezed past the Washington Nationals 8-1 on Tuesday night.

Chris Davis hit his 30th home run for the Orioles, who won two straight over Washington to conclude a 3-5 homestand.

Baltimore is 34-24 against the Nationals in a rivalry that began in 2006. The series shifts 38 miles south to Nationals Park on Wednesday for the first of two games.

Gausman (5-10) walked two, struck out two and permitted only one runner past second base. He's 5-1 at home and 0-9 on the road.

The 25-year-old Gausman outpitched Nationals rookie Reynaldo Lopez, a 22-year-old making his fifth major league start. Lopez (2-2) yielded six runs, four earned, and seven hits in 2 2/3 rocky innings (see full recap).

Instant Replay: White Sox 9, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: White Sox 9, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

CHICAGO — Jake Thompson’s difficult big-league baptism continued in the Phillies’ 9-1 interleague loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday night.
 
The rookie right-hander was tagged for seven runs in five innings. He allowed eight hits and walked four as his ERA in four starts since coming up from Triple A swelled to 9.78. Only Mike Maddux (9.98) in 1986 had a higher ERA for the Phillies in his first four big-league starts.
 
Offensively, the Phillies did little against White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon. They had just five hits for the game.
 
The Phillies have lost five of their last seven and are 58-68 on the season. They have been outscored 18-1 in their last two games.
 
Starting pitching report
Thompson, 22, has been a much different pitcher since coming to the majors than he was in his last 11 starts at Triple A Lehigh Valley. He went 8-0 in those 11 starts and recorded a 1.21 ERA while allowing just 10 earned runs in 74 1/3 innings. He gave up just 52 hits and 18 walks over that span while striking out 42.
 
In four starts with the big club, he has given up 22 hits and 21 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. He has walked 13 and struck out 13.
 
Two of the four walks that Thompson gave up in this game became runs.
 
Five of the eight hits he allowed were for extra bases, including a pair of homers.
 
Rodon, 23, was the third pick in the 2014 draft, four ahead of Aaron Nola. The lefty held the Phillies to three hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He walked one.
 
Bullpen report
David Hernandez was tagged for two runs.
 
At the plate
Freddy Galvis broke up the White Sox’s shutout bid with a solo homer off reliever Chris Beck in the seventh. Galvis has 13 homers.
 
Jose Abreu and Justin Morneau hit back-to-back homers against Thompson in the fifth inning to help the Sox pull away.
 
Abreu has homered in three straight games.
 
Minor matters
Pitcher Alec Asher, who serving an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a PED, has begun a minor-league rehabilitation assignment with the Phillies’ Gulf Coast League team. Asher is expected to be activated by the big club during the second week of September and he could make several starts down the stretch as the club watches the workload of several pitchers.
 
Up next
The two-game series concludes on Wednesday night. Jerad Eickhoff (8-12, 3.91) opposes right-hander James Shields (5-15, 5.98).