Morning (Almost Lunch) Extras: Phillies Kick Gagne's Tires & Birds Stuff

Morning (Almost Lunch) Extras: Phillies Kick Gagne's Tires & Birds Stuff

Still hoping to bolster their bullpen, the Phils are once again looking into big names from five years ago. The latest is former Cy Young winner and owner of the longest consecutive saves streak in MLB history, Eric Gagne. He last pitched in the bigs for Milwaukee in 2008, going 4-3 in 50 appearances with a 5.44 ERA and 10 saves.

It's cool Amaro is willing to give former All Stars such as Pedro Martinez a look, and that one certainly didn't work out too badly for them. Gagne just seems too far removed from those three seasons between '02 and '04, when he pitched in an astounding 224 games for the Dodgers. Now he has the appearance of a broken down player, one whose name has come up in the steroid scandal at that.

Gagne, a Montreal native, pitched for the Quebec Capitales in the independent Can-Am league in '09. In 17 starts, he went 6-6 with a 4.65 ERA, and 64 strikeouts to 34 walks. Not sure how much to read into those statistics, but the strikeout to walk ratio is telling. In his best days, that number was closer to 7:1. In recent years, it's been 2:1. It's unclear what kind of ball player the Phillies would be getting, but it will never be the same guy who broke records and won awards.

It's just a tryout though. Thoughts on the possibility of adding Eric Gagne?

Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos became the seventh Eagle to make this year's Pro Bowl in Miami. It's not terribly interesting news, but it is notable how he made the team: Wade Phillips.

The Cowboys head man will run the NFC squad this year (rather than the loser of NFC Championship, due to the game being moved up two weeks), and as Michael David Smith explains at PFT, the coach is allowed to select two additional "need" players for the game. Phillips chose Dorenbos, who has been solid since joining the club in 2006.

Donovan McNabb is expected to replace either Brees or Favre on the roster, giving Philly eight representatives in the game.

Quote of the moment by Shawn Andrews, heard on Sports Bash with Mike Gill on ESPN Radio 97.3, relayed by Moving the Chains:

"When I came out to LA after my back issue, I had to look coach Reid in the eye and tell him I owe him," Andrews said. "It’s bigger than football with me right now. If nothing else, I just wish that I could get just one more season just so I can pay coach Reid and just prove to the fans that I still have it, I still want to be a part of this organization. And for coach Reid sticking by me with my situation in 2008, and I definitely owe the city of Philadelphia so hopefully lord willing, I can get back to 100 percent and get to mashing people again."

CSN went to the trouble of compiling a list of what Eagles quarterbacks might fetch in a trade. The results are kind of all over the board, but the consensus was McNabb for a first or high second, Kolb anywhere from a late first to not even a second, and Vick some kind of conditional mid-round pick.

I think they're right on the money with McNabb, who could be worth as high as a first and a third. Vick too, who could easily go for a fourth as we discussed yesterday. Not surprisingly, it's Kolb who didn't get the respect of the panel. Some really smart football guys (Brian Baldinger, Ray Didinger) had him rated no higher than a third round pick. Obviously nobody knows yet what the true market is for any of these guys, but it seems like the Eagles would want a closer return on their investment. A high second round pick who became the first player to throw for 350-plus in his first two starts?

Starting quarterbacks are worth a premium. If a team believes in Kevin Kolb enough to trade for him, the Eagles will almost certainly ask for more.

The Sixers are back in action at the Wach tonight against Portland. Tip at 7:00. That's all I have to say about that.

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake the Union's first MLS Best XI team member since 2010

Andre Blake continues to rack up the accolades.

A couple of weeks after being named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, the rising Philadelphia Union star was named to the MLS Best XI team as one of the league’s top players in 2016.

The rest of the team included:

• Forwards Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), David Villa (New York City FC) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
• Midfielders Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), Sacha Kljestan (Red Bulls), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas) and Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
• Defenders Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids) and Jelle Van Damme (Galaxy)

Blake’s inclusion on the Best XI is not a surprise considering he already took home top goalkeeper honors. Even though he didn’t have the best numbers in the league, he made the spectacular look ordinary in his first full season as an MLS starter.

But it is unique for the Union, who haven’t had a player make the Best XI since Sebastien Le Toux was included for his 14-goal, 11-assist effort in Philly's 2010 expansion season.

Union winger Chris Pontius, who recently won the 2016 MLS Breakout Player of the Year award, made Best XI while with D.C. United in 2012. Former Union players to be honored on the prestigious list were Bakary Soumare with Chicago in 2008 and Justin Mapp with Chicago in 2006.

Another big honor like this will likely only increase the chatter that Blake could be sold to a big team in Europe soon. But a couple of weeks ago, the Union goalkeeper insisted his only focus for 2017 is on Philadelphia.

“From a personal standpoint, I’m hoping to have an even better season than 2016,” he said at the time. “To be able to go in and be consistent and do everything I can for the Union — and maybe be the goalkeeper to get them their first [MLS] Cup.”

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

Steve Mason named NHL's 1st star after strong week

There’s a number of reasons why the Flyers have a five-game winning streak, why they’re playing better hockey, and why they own the No. 1 wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
 
Perhaps the biggest reason of all is goaltender Steve Mason, who has won four of those games, compiling a 1.71 goals against average and .945 save percentage during that span.
 
Mason was named the NHL’s first “Star of the Week” on Monday. St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko and San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones were second and third stars.
 
“The team is on a roll right now and I’m a benefactor of that,” said Mason, who needs a win Tuesday against Florida to tie his career-high streak of five set Dec. 17-30 in 2013, during his first, full season as a Flyer.
 
“There’s strong play in front of me. The team is playing a little tighter in our defensive zone of late and making the goaltender reads that much more simple. 
 
“Right now, there’s a comfort level with the guys in front of me … Winning five in a row is nice and we’d like to keep making ground in the standings.”
 
His four victories last week were tops in the NHL. Among them, he had a season-high 45 saves in a 3-2 shootout win against Boston. 
 
Like many goalies, Mason prefers action. Games such as the 3-2 overtime win at Ottawa last week when the Senators only fired 21 shots, bother him.
 
“Those games, when you are not getting a lot of shots, the ones you do get will be a high-grade scoring chance,” he said. “And when you’re sitting around a few minutes not seeing the puck and all of a sudden see a chance like that …
 
“It’s more difficult to play [those games] than the games where there is a constant workload and you’re not thinking, but just playing. For myself personally, those are the games I enjoy the most. When I see a lot of pucks.”
 
The Flyers have seen dramatic improvement over the past month in their overall defensive play, from both their defensemen in down-low coverage in the slow and with their forwards on the backcheck.
 
Mason said the team has gone through “growing pains” with trying to integrate some younger bodies to the lineup this season – Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, and Nick Cousins  come to mind.
 
“You have to familiar with everybody,” he said. “Have a constant lineup where guys go out  shift after shift and night after night, you know what to expect from one another. When you have that kind of confidence in guys, it makes playing easier.” 
 
Mason’s 4-2 victory at Nashville on Sunday saw him go over .500 for the first time this season with a 9-8-3 record. 
 
His GAA is coming down at 2.76 while his save percentage has risen to .904.
 
“I was aware of it obviously, just because of the way the year started,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of work to get it above the .900 level.
 
“We’re obviously going to continue to work at getting it even better. The way the team’s playing right now and the way everybody’s clicking, we’re going at a good pace right now.”