Marlon Byrd claims Phillies aren’t old, needs a dictionary

Marlon Byrd claims Phillies aren’t old, needs a dictionary

Say what you want about the Philadelphia Phillies and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., they’re not worried about perceptions. The organization’s relentless pursuit of players approaching their 40s is both funny and sad at the same time, but people affiliated with the team still seem to believe in what they’re doing, or at least they act like it.

Take Marlon Byrd, one of the newest members of Philly’s 35-and-older crowd. Our sources tell us the Byrd can give Amaro a run for his money on the shuffleboard court, and the veteran outfielder is already challenging for who can make the most upbeat comments about the 2014 Phillies.

In fact, Byrd’s talents in this area might be unrivaled. Why, he’s only been here a couple of months and has already moved on to making delusional statements about the age inside the clubhouse. Via Corey Seidman for CSNPhilly.com:

"All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old ... we're not an old team," Byrd said. "We can still play. Once you can't play, then you're old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy.

"If I was a fan I'd rather have Robinson Cano, I'd rather have [Masahiro] Tanaka. I want those guys. Ruben [Amaro Jr.] wants the guys who he thought would help his team.

"And until we get on the field and actually get to show it ... the fan base is kinda looking at this team like, 'In two years we need to get back to the promised land, we need 10 Robinson Canos. We need the best lineup and a whole staff full of Tanakas.'

"I think they'll be happy once we get on the field and start to produce."

I tend to be something of a Phillies apologist at this point in time. Amaro is trying to do the best he can with the costly, aging core he left himself, and yeah, if miraculously everyone stays healthy, Byrd might be right—this team could surprise a few fans.

To pretend they aren’t an old team though is outrageous. If Byrd wants to debate whether old is a bad thing or not, there are plenty of folks willing to have that debate, but how do you even respond to somebody who flat out denies that by Major League ballplayer standards the Phillies are friggin’ ancient?

>> Byrd denies Phillies are old: ‘We can still play’ [CSN]

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

Wayne Simmonds stars as Flyers top Predators, push win streak to 5 games

BOX SCORE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Dave Hakstol likes Wayne Simmonds’ net-front play more than that of any player in the league.

The Flyers' power forward showed on Sunday why his coach thinks that way.

Simmonds’ two power-play goals in front of the crease helped extend the Flyers’ win streak to five, their longest of the season, in a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday night (see Instant Replay).

“If there’s a better guy in the league at net front, whether it’s on power play or 5 on 5, I don’t know who that is,” said Hakstol said after Sunday's victory. “He did a great job there tonight.”

Simmonds’ first goal came when he deflected Jake Voracek’s shot past Juuse Saros, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 18:12 of the first period.

“They had great movement around the top of the box and Jake told me to go back door if he was going to get it for a one-timer,” Simmonds said. “So I stuck my stick out back door and he hit it, and it went in the net.”

Then Simmonds batted a puck through Saros' legs for a 2-1 advantage at 6:47 of the second period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.

“It was kind of a little bit of a cluster and the puck comes to me, and I’m alone in front of the net so I just put it five-hole and it worked,” Simmonds said.

The right wing’s father was watching in the sellout crowd of 17,113 at Bridgestone Arena during the Flyers' annual father-son trip.

“It was nice, obviously,” Simmonds said. “I just went outside and saw him. He didn’t really say much to me, but I know he’s glowing on the inside.”

Simmonds has now scored 10 career goals in 20 games against Nashville.

“What I really like about Simmer is he’s at net-front, he’s scoring goals, he’s on the power play, but he’s a great, hard-nosed, 200-foot player,” Hakstol said.

Simmonds’ goals gave the Flyers an early spark on Sunday.

“It was huge,” said Flyers left wing Michael Raffl, who scored the winning goal at 16:37 of the second period when made a power move on a rush and tucked the puck past Saros. “That gives us all the momentum.”

The Flyers improved to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

“We’re just trying to take care of pucks and maintain the pressure that we have,” Simmonds said. “The next shift up every game is the most important shift and that’s how we’re trying to play it here.”

Predators coach Peter Laviolette, a former Flyers coach, wasn’t surprised by his former team’s power-play success. The Flyers entered the game tied for the third best power play in the league cashed in twice on seven chances on Sunday.

“We knew going in that their power play was really good,” Laviolette said. “Their players have a lot of time together and cohesiveness and they’re pretty set in what they do. They bring pucks to the net and when they do that, things can happen. That was a difference in the game tonight.”

Winning goalie Steve Mason has started 10 of the last 11 games. He made 30 saves Sunday to improve his record to 8-8-3.

“This is the situation I want to be in, so it’s a workload that all summer you prepare for even when I was not getting the work load I wanted,” Mason said. “You prepare for it and now that it’s here I’m making the most of it.”

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

Sources: Phillies close to signing reliever Joaquin Benoit

WASHINGTON – It looks as if the Phillies will have some action at the winter meetings.

The team is close to signing veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit, sources tell CSNPhilly.com. The winter meetings officially begin on Monday. The signing is expected to be announced before the meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, is a veteran of 15 seasons in the majors. He is coming off a strong 2016 season in which he pitched in 51 games for Seattle and Toronto and recorded a 2.81 ERA.

Benoit began the 2016 season with the Mariners and had a 5.18 ERA in 26 games. He was traded to Toronto in July and gave up just one run in 23 2/3 innings over 25 games, but did not pitch in the postseason after suffering a torn calf muscle in late September.

The right-hander has pitched for six teams in his career and has a lifetime 3.79 ERA in 712 games.

Entering the offseason, Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he wanted to improve the bullpen. He opened the offseason by trading for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and last week claimed lefty David Rollins off waivers from Texas. Now, Klentak is poised to add Benoit.

Benoit has mostly pitched in a setup role in his career, but he does have closer experience. It is unclear what role he’d pitch in for the Phillies. The Phils have Jeanmar Gomez and Hector Neris returning to the back of their bullpen in 2017. Benoit could complement that pair or the Phillies could choose to trade Gomez or Neris.

Neris pitched in 79 games in 2016 and had a 2.58 ERA, so the Phillies would only deal him if they were to get a strong package of talent in return.