Strange Things of Note: Andrew Bynum Does Not Have Any Problem with the Sixers

Strange Things of Note: Andrew Bynum Does Not Have Any Problem with the Sixers

Once you get passed the shock of the hair, Andrew Bynum actually spoke yesterday about the status of his knees and his outlook for the remainder of the Sixers 2013 season. He was also asked about the prospect of remaining in Philadelphia long into the future.

His answer was, like the big man himself, rather puzzling.

Dei Lynam wrote a piece this morning looking at whether Bynum and the Sixers will eventually make a long-term commitment. From her story:

When asked if he envisioned himself being a Sixer beyond this season, Bynum was true to his personality.

“I am wide open,” he said. “I want to play. I am here now and I don't
have any problem with the Sixers. They have treated me great this
entire time. I have had my trainer here. I have been working with KJ
(team trainer Kevin Johnson) and the guys, so there are no bad feelings
either way.”

I've read that quote like 15 times to try and make sure he's really saying the words it feels like I'm reading.

So while Sixers' fans hopes of a bright future lay in the joints of this big fellas knees, his outlook on the future could seemingly have nothing to do with Philadelphia. I mean, they've been nice to him and treated him great, and there are no bad feelings. There's no problem with the Sixers.

I really can't wrap my head around it. Although I suppose if an organization is paying you exorbitantly and you haven't even played a second of ball for them, why would he feel any sort of allegiance to them?

So Bynum is wide open. Just not on the basketball court where we all want him to be.

And he could stay in Philadelphia. Or not. Sigh.

Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

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Close to full health, Phillies no longer look like the worst team in baseball

BOX SCORE

Though they still have the worst record in the majors by 3½ games, the 34-62 Phillies aren't playing like the worst team in baseball right now.

Not from an offensive standpoint, not from a starting pitching standpoint, not from a bullpen standpoint.

The Phils' offense stayed hot Sunday afternoon in a 6-3 win over the Brewers, their fourth win in five games and sixth in the last 10 (see Instant Replay).

Nick Williams homered again, Howie Kendrick had a very Howie Kendrick-like at-bat with the bases loaded, Jerad Eickhoff spun a quality start and the trio of Pat Neshek, Joaquin Benoit and Luis Garcia sealed the win.

The Phillies have scored at least five runs in seven straight games, which is something none of their recent division-winning teams did in a single season. It's their longest such streak since May 31-June 7, 2005.

Their starting pitchers have allowed three runs or less in six of the last eight games.

And the Phils' bullpen has the lowest ERA in the majors since June 26 at 2.19.

A lot of things are clicking right now for a team that probably can't play worse than it did in the first half. The Phils' record remains hideous, but there are actually four teams with worse run differentials: the Reds, Blue Jays, Giants and Padres.

"My first year here as a coach was '09, and in no way am I comparing ourselves to that team, but it was reminiscent the way we've been swinging the bats of us coming back and coming from behind and catching up and beating other teams," Pete Mackanin said. "It reminds me to a certain degree."

For much of the season, Mackanin has walked into the Phillies' media room after a loss and said that his hitters aren't living up to their standard. For much of the season, the Phillies have made quick outs and life easy for the opposing pitcher. 

But with Kendrick and Cesar Hernandez back from the DL, with Odubel Herrera hitting .331 since June 1, with Maikel Franco walking as much as he's struck out the last 35 games, and with Williams' power and energy rubbing off on the rest of the team, many different Phillies are playing like they have something to prove.

"Everybody is playing for a job next year," Mackanin said. "Everybody is playing to be part of our future and I think the guys are competing among themselves. It's good to see. Everybody's more aggressive. They're into the games."

The energy added by Williams' arrival on June 30 has been impossible to ignore, though it's kind of a chicken-or-egg thing. Is there added energy because he and so many other guys started hitting, or are they hitting because there's a more positive vibe in the clubhouse and dugout?

"I like to do whatever I can to start the momentum or get guys going," Williams said. "If I do something exciting, they're like, 'Oh, he's playing hard.' But everyone's been hitting and everyone's been just playing the game right and just doing all the little things and that's how we've been able to come out with some victories.

"In close spots with the hitting, we've been able to knock a lot of guys in. It's just that hitting's contagious. I always say when one guy does it, why can't the next? That's how I think of it."

The biggest spot in Sunday's game came with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth inning. With the game tied, the Brewers switched pitchers and Kendrick quickly found himself down 0-2 before singling up the middle to score two runs.

Kendrick has missed 60 games this season and it's been frustrating for him because he's been so locked-in when he's played. After picking up two more hits Sunday, he's up to .353 with an .873 OPS. His numbers are rarely sexy because he averages about 10 home runs per season, but a versatile, perennial .290 hitter has value. It's why the Phillies' offseason acquisition of Kendrick made sense and it's why he figures to have some trade value even though Sunday was just his 36th game of the year.

"Not only is he a good hitter but he plays solid defense out there," Mackanin said. "He doesn't have the greatest range but it's not bad. He's average to maybe a tick above average. 

"I'm sure there's a lot of interest in a lot of our guys, (Pat) Neshek, [Kendrick], even (Joaquin) Benoit, (Daniel) Nava. We'll wait and see."

The non-waiver trade deadline is just eight days away and general manager Matt Klentak expects there to be some movement. The Phils' two best trade chips are Kendrick and Neshek and both had productive weekends. Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning to lower his ERA to 1.12. He's allowed runs in just two of 43 appearances.

And Kendrick has picked up right where he left off, going 4 for 10 since returning Friday from a hamstring strain.

"If I were scouting for another organization I'd recommend him," Mackanin said of Kendrick. "I'd put an acquire (label) on him."

We'll soon see what that acquire label nets the Phillies. The return won't be huge, but trading Kendrick will allow the Phils to add another young player with upside and open a spot back up for Aaron Altherr, who could return from the DL as early as Wednesday.

Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

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Eagles place Beau Allen, Sidney Jones on Active/NFI list in series of roster moves

On the eve of the official start of their 2017 training camp, the Eagles made a few roster moves Sunday.

The Eagles cut veteran cornerback Dwayne Gratz, placed defensive tackle Beau Allen (pec) and CB Sidney Jones (Achilles) on the Active/Non-football injury list, and officially signed quarterback Dane Evans out of Tulsa.

With the moves, the Eagles roster is at 89 players, one shy of the 90-man limit.

Gratz, 27, joined the Eagles late last season and has some NFL experience, but obviously didn't make a big enough impression this spring. It's likely players like C.J. Smith and Aaron Grymes were simply ahead of him.

Allen suffered a pectoral injury during the offseason and was unable to participate in spring workouts with the team. It's unclear if he'll be ready for Week 1. Allen is entering the final year of his four-year rookie contract and was reportedly in contract discussions with the Eagles before the injury.

Jones, the Eagles' second-round draft pick, fell to them in the draft because of a torn Achilles tendon he suffered at the Washington pro day. Jones has said he won't speak to reporters again until he's ready to play.

Allen and Jones can be activated off the NFI at any point during training camp if they are medically cleared. Both players count against the current roster. Before the final roster is set, the Eagles will have decisions to make about both players.