We Hold These Phillies Truths to Likely Be Self-Evident (And We Love It)

We Hold These Phillies Truths to Likely Be Self-Evident (And We Love It)

Our man Rev helps us get ready for opening day next week. These are his words.

Not
long ago I wrote a post urging you to recognize and appreciate just
how amazing an era of Phillies baseball we’ve been treated to. As
a result of this success, Phils-mania has swept across the entire
Delaware
Valley. It’s getting to the point where you cannot go anywhere without
seeing something Phillies related.  Case in point - while waiting
for a prescription to be filled at CVS there was a copy of the most
recent issue of Philadelphia Magazine on the chair next to me. I picked
it up, looked at the cover, and saw Chase Utley staring back at me.
The cover promised details on which TV shows various Phillies DVR, which

teammate they’d least like to play poker against, and other similar
People Magazine/US Weekly insights into the local nine. Apparently there

are four separate covers with either Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins,
or Shane Victorino mugging for the camera. Their Phils coverage even
included an article featuring Phillies WAG’s. Yes, that’s how much
this team has captured our attention…their wives and girlfriends are
deemed worthy of coverage.

Now,
by no means am I anti all of this Phillies mania. If nothing else it’s
a reminder of how far they’ve come. However, there are certain truths
about this team which will reveal themselves over the course of a 162-game schedule. That’s the beautiful thing about following a baseball
team over the course of a season. You pick up on certain quirks,
idiosyncrasies,
and habits of your squad. You follow them day in and day out to the
point that you can anticipate what’s going to happen in any given
situation. This is especially true with a team that’s been together
as long as this one. We’ve had enough of an opportunity to watch them
to the point that we can predict, with a degree of certainty, what’ll
happen. In other words, certain truths about the Phillies have become
self-evident.

Based
on past experience, what follows is a list of things we know we can
expect to see from the two-time defending National League Champions.

  • Jimmy will go through a
    stretch where seemingly every time he steps into the box he’s already
    down 0-2 in the count. He’ll be sitting first pitch fastball and
    they’ll
    pull the cord on him. He’ll be sitting on something offspeed only
    to swing over it anticipating a fastball. During this time the chorus
    of “Jimmy’s not a leadoff hitter” will resume in full throat.
  • Shane, on a night where
    he’s batting in the two-hole in order to give Polanco a rest, will
    get thrown out trying to steal third with two outs and Ryan Howard at
    the plate. Uggghhhh. Mikey Miss will spend the entire next day killing

    him for a lack of baseball smarts.

  • Despite Charlie’s best
    but ultimately unsuccessful effort to give him days off during the
    season
    come September Chase will wear down, start opening up too early, and
    will hit .214 for the month. Everyone will freak out wondering what’s
    wrong with him only to see him hit .328 during the postseason.
  • After flailing at off-speed
    stuff away for the entire month of August The Big Fella will
    exponentially
    reduce the amount of heat on Utley with his annual September power
    surge.
    He’ll resume hitting bombs to leftfield and driving in runs by the
    bushel. Based on his September performance he’ll thrust himself into
    the NL MVP debate.
  • Towards the end of the year,
    Jayson Werth will be approaching a 30-30 season and will be forced to
    deal with a barrage of questions about his impending free agency.
    Werth
    being Werth, he’ll deflect each and every question and will reiterate
    his desire to remain a Phillie, that baseball is a business, and all
    he’s focused on is winning another World Series.
  • Pop Pop Moyer will go through
    a stretch in July where he fails to go more than 4 innings in any
    start.
    All of Philadelphia will be clamoring for Kendrick to take over the
    fifth starter’s job. Come August 3rd Jamie will face the Marlins in
    Florida and twirl a seven inning two hit gem.
  • The Scott Eyre watch. Phils
    LOOGY’s will struggle mightily the first part of the season prompting
    the beat writers to pepper Ruben Amaro Jr. with questions as to
    whether
    he’ll reach out to Scott Eyre. Ruben will deny any interest in
    bringing
    him back, but Eyre’s unwillingness to completely rule out a return
    continues to fuel speculation.
  • The lack of AB’s for the
    bench guys. If the last few years are any indication, and barring
    injury,
    Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs, Ross Gload, and Juan Castro presumably
    aren’t
    going to see a whole lot of plate appearances. I am not including
    Brian
    Schneider in this mix as he’ll likely see a fair number of Sunday
    afternoon and day game following a night game starts behind the plate.
  • Following up an 11 run 14
    hit game in which they’ve chased a top of the rotation guy in the
    4th inning only to be followed up the next day by a 1 run
    3 hit effort against some career journeyman making an emergency start.
  • Ryan Howard costing the
    Phils a game by sailing a throw into left after Cole Hamels or Jamie
    Moyer has a guy picked off of first.
  • Sarge saying “as well”
    1,037 times. Sarge talking about J.R. Richard 311 times. Sarge saying
    “slide piece” 418 times.
  • Me cringing each and every
    time Tom McCarthy says “Oppo Boppo”.
  • L.A. coming close to being
    fined by the FCC after freaking out following a blown call by umpire
    C.B. Bucknor.

Despite knowing
in advance that all of these things are likely to happen it will do
nothing to take away from the enjoyment of watching them. Whether in
person, on television, or on the radio following a baseball team over
the course of a 162 game season is comforting and familiar. They become
part of your daily routine. Who’s pitching that day? How did Chase
deposit two balls over Utley’s corner and into the seats against Johan
Santana? How hot is Howard going to get when they visit St. Louis? It
never gets old. The daily drama is the best.

T-minus one week
until Opening Day.

Report: Eagles to re-sign QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Report: Eagles to re-sign QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson

The Eagles are reportedly bringing back a familiar face at quarterback, and no, it's not Tim Tebow. 

The team will re-sign quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, according to ESPN's Adam Caplan

With the addition, the current roster will be capped out at 90 after the reported signings of former Villanova LB Don Cherry and Alabama S Nick Perry go through (see story).  

The Eagles first signed Bethel-Thompson in February to pair with Mark Sanchez at the lone quarterback on the roster. A lot has changed since then, with the team re-signing Sam Bradford and drafting Carson Wentz. Bethel-Thompson was then cut by the Eagles in May. 

Bethel-Thompson has been in the NFL since 2011, after going undrafted out of Sacramento State. The 6-foot-4, 230 pounder has spent time with the Dolphins, the Vikings twice, Patriots and the 49ers three times. He has never played in a game. 

It'll be an uphill battle for the 27-year-old to make the roster with the quarterback position locked up with Bradford, Chase Daniel and Wentz. 

Today's Lineup: Rupp and Franco out, Howard, Ruiz in

Today's Lineup: Rupp and Franco out, Howard, Ruiz in

Going for the series win today, Pete Mackanin has shaken up the lineup.

Maikel Franco is still out. After taking a pitch off the wrist on Friday, Franco was listed as day to day with a sore wrist (see story). Andres Blanco will again hit and play third.

Both Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz crack the lineup today. Ruiz has caught Vince Velasquez just once this season, a five inning shutout with 10 strikeouts vs. the Marlins on May 17. 

Ruiz replaced Cameron Rupp in the third inning of Saturday's game as a precaution after Rupp took a pitch off the helmet. (see story)

After being on fire for much of the past month, Peter Bourjos has posted consecutive 0 for 5 nights in the leadoff spot. He will drop down to ninth today, allowing another hot hitter, Cesar Hernandez to hit leadoff.

Odubel Herrara will remain in the two-spot, where he has looked resurgent in this series, going 6 for 9 with four runs scored. 

Much like Bourjos, Cody Asche has not yet recorded a hit in this series and will be lowered to the seven-hole, while Freddy Galvis will hit sixth.

Velasquez takes the mound for the Phillies today. In his four starts since returning from a biceps injury in early June, Velasquez has been arguably the team's best pitcher. In those starts, the flamethrower has been going deeper into ball games than earlier this season, averaging six innings per start, while allowing just five runs during that span. 

Here is today's lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Odubel Herrara CF
3. Andres Blanco 3B
4. Ryan Howard 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz C
6. Freddy Galvis SS
7. Coday Asche LF
8. Peter Bourjos RF
9. Vince Velasquez P

Reuben Frank's way-too-early 2016 Eagles predictions

Reuben Frank's way-too-early 2016 Eagles predictions

Will offensive linemen Jason Peters and Jason Kelce bounce back from disappointing seasons? Who will the Eagles’ top cornerback be? How many games will Carson Wentz start? Will the Eagles win a playoff game for the first time since 2008?

We take our best shot at these questions and many others facing the Eagles in our way-too-early 2016 predictions.

See you in the comments section!

1. I’ll start with Zach Ertz. He caught 75 passes for 853 yards last year, but I feel like he can do so much more. Sam Bradford and Ertz really clicked late last season, connecting 35 times for 450 yards the last four games of the year. Nobody can keep that up for an entire season, but I think this is finally the huge breakout season we’ve been expecting from Ertz since he got here in 2013.

THE PREDICTION: 90 catches for 1,089 yards.

2. Staying on offense, much has been made of Kelce’s sub-par season in 2015. It was strange to see Kelce, coming off a Pro Bowl season, apparently healthy and in the prime of his career, struggle the way he did. But I still think Kelce is an elite center. Yeah, he’s a little undersized, but he was undersized when he dominated in 2013 and made the Pro Bowl in 2014. He succeeds when he keeps his technique and uses his strength and leverage to overcome his lack of bulk. I think Kelce returns to form.

THE PREDICTION: A second Pro Bowl in three years for Kelce.

3. Sticking with the offensive line, I see Jason Peters also rebounding in 2016. Nobody benefited less than Peters from Chip Kelly’s full-speed, non-stop practices. His body broke down and when he was healthy enough to start, he often wasn’t healthy enough to finish. He made another Pro Bowl, but it was really a lost season for Peters. But with the hurry-up offense gone and a head coach who promises to take it easy on the older guys the way Reid did, there’s no reason Peters shouldn’t rebound.

THE PREDICTION: Peters returns to form and continues his late-career Hall of Fame push with his ninth Pro Bowl in 10 years, the only exception being the 2012 season he missed while rehabbing his torn Achilles.

4. I know he’s No. 3 now, but I’m just going on common sense, which says that if Sam Bradford gets hurt or gets benched, Carson Wentz and not Chase Daniel will replace him. Imagine if it’s Week 13 and Bradford hobbles off the field and Daniel – who has one career touchdown pass in six NFL seasons – jogs out to replace him? It would not be pretty. I say Wentz starts the last four games this year and plays fairly well.

THE PREDICTION: Wentz completes 61 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.

5. I think Jordan Matthews is a good, solid, functional NFL wide receiver, but I don’t think there is a star in this wide receiver group. The Eagles last year were the only NFL team with just one wide receiver with 30 receptions, the first time that’s happened in 26 years (Cris Carter was the only one in 1989). And honestly, I don’t see the situation improving that much. Maybe Nelson Agholor or Josh Huff or Rueben Randle will surprise me, but I just feel like this wide receiving corps doesn’t have the oomph it needs to really compete at a high level.

THE PREDICTION: Matthews catches another 80 to 90 passes but nobody else emerges as a big-time second wide receiving threat, and the Eagles once again go into the offseason desperate for an over-the-top threat like DeSean Jackson or Jeremy Maclin.

6. Moving to defense, I think when all is said and done, Eric Rowe will emerge as the Eagles’ No. 1 cornerback. I wonder about Leodis McKelvin’s ability at 31 years old to run the way a corner has to in a division with DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Odell Beckham and Dez Bryant. Think of some Eagles corners who were 31 and older. Nnamdi. Charles Dimry. Roynell Young and Herm Edwards at the end. The only one who played at a high level at that age was Troy Vincent, and Leodis McKelvin is not Troy Vincent. I think Rowe will have his ups and downs, but, by the end of the year, he’ll be a solid NFL starter.

THE PREDICTION: Rowe leads the Eagles with five interceptions.

7. The Eagles have a lot of different guys who can rush the passer, and in Jim Schwartz’s scheme, there should be plenty of opportunities for them to attack the quarterback. Two years ago, Connor Barwin had 14 ½ sacks and Vinny Curry had 9 and last year Fletcher Cox had 9 ½ sacks and Brandon Graham had a career-high 6 ½. Now, this is a new world, with a 4-3 defense, and nobody is quite sure how all the pieces will fit together. But I do think the Eagles will be among the NFL leaders in sacks.

THE PREDICTION: The Eagles had 37 sacks last year and averaged just 41 during the Bill Davis Era, but I say they get 50 this year, which they’ve only done once since 2003 – in 2011 under defensive coordinator Juan Castillo.

8. I’m less confident in the back seven, and I’m not convinced the Eagles have solved their pass defense issues. We’ve seen a lot of new faces come and go over the years – from DRC and Nnamdi to Cary Williams and Bradley Fletcher – with nothing really changing. The Eagles are the only team in NFL history to allow 25 or more touchdown passes in seven straight years (after not allowing 25 passing TDs since 1989). Malcolm Jenkins is a beast, but a lot of question marks surround him in the defensive backfield.

THE PREDICTION: The Eagles extend their NFL record of allowing at least 25 touchdown passes to eight straight seasons.

9. This group of linebackers scares me. I feel like Mychal Kendricks has a ton of talent, but don’t think he’s ever put together the type of full season he’s capable of. I love what Jordan Hicks did the first half of last year, but I wonder if he can come close to repeating that or if he can stay healthy. Nigel Bradham? Not sure what he brings to the table. And behind that group there’s guys like Najee Goode, Deontae Skinner and Travis Long. There’s talent here, but it’s a precarious group.

THE PREDICTION: By the end of the season, only one of those three linebackers will still be in the starting lineup.

10. It’s silly to make a prediction for the season now, before we even know who’s on the team. But I’m going to do that anyway. I don’t think they’re that bad. But I don’t think they’re that good. I’m a Wentz guy and don’t think the Eagles are really going to accomplish anything substantial until Wentz is behind center. That said, I like Bradford more than most people. I think he’s an adequate NFL starter. But I don’t like his TD-INT ratio and don’t think he can generate enough points against good teams to get the Eagles beyond mediocre. I think the Eagles are missing the elite offensive weapons and defensive playmakers to be a playoff team. In this division, who knows? If the Eagles can go 4-2 in the division and scratch out five wins in their 10 games out of the gate, it could be enough to win the NFC East. But ultimately, I think they’ll fall short. Too many question marks. Too many areas that just aren’t good enough. Too many unknowns with Doug Pederson. The Eagles haven’t won a playoff game in seven years and I fear that number will increase to eight this year.

THE PREDICTION: Eagles go 7-9 this year and finish two games behind the Redskins in the NFC East.