Valdez and Polanco Provide the Runs, Doc Shuts Mets Down as Phils Improve to 5-1

Valdez and Polanco Provide the Runs, Doc Shuts Mets Down as Phils Improve to 5-1

When Everybody Hits. And Doc pitches. The Phillies win.

It's a tried and true recipie, and that's what happened Thursday
afternoon at Citizens Bank Park as the Phillies put on a fantastic
display of what this team is capable of doing to teams like the New York
Mets. Every single Phillies starter, including Roy Halladay, notched at
least one hit in the Phils 11-0 victory over the Mets, but it was
Wilson Valdez and Placido Polanco who did the most damage. Polly was 2-5
on the day with 4 RBIs while Valdez had his first career 4-hit game,
adding 3 RBIs and crossing the plate 3 times on his own.

"Polanco and Valdez were the ones who did the big hitting today,"
Charlie Manuel said. "Their hitting today definitely put us in a
position, not only to set the game up, but they also knocked in some big
runs."

You expect it from Polanco, but Valdez's hot start has been one of
the more unexpected story lines of the season, as is the manufacturing.

This
Phillies team isn't relying on the long ball, although Raul Ibanez did
ring the bell once on Thursday. The Fightins almost have that Doug
Collins' Sixers-vibe going, where any guy can step up and be the impact
player on any given night.

"I think we're doing a nice job of stringing together good at bats
and getting a lot of people on base, and then getting big hits," Raul
Ibanez said. "Not trying to create something that's not there. If they
throw you a base hit, you can get a base hit. Don't try to hit a homer
on a pitch that's a base hit. So trying not to do too much."

"We just kinda took what [Niese] was giving us," Charlie Manuel said
of the Phils success against the Mets' lefty. "We weren't trying to do a
whole lot against him. We were just trying to hit the ball hard it
looked like. It paid of for us."

Just play baseball, as Manuel loves to say.

But not every Phillie is satisfied with simply earning the 'W.' Roy
Halladay wants to improve his own performance every time he gets the
ball.

"I try and avoid evaluating myself based on results," Halladay said.
"If I can do it more on how I executed pitches, then I think I'm better
off. I can learn more. As soon as you start evaluating your start on
earned runs, or wins and losses, that makes it tough."

So does Doc feel as sharp and honed in as he's capable of being?

"There were times where I felt like I was battling myself a little
bit, especially from the windup," Roy said of his outing against the
Mets. "Those are things I still want to work on. I felt better. I'm
happy where I'm at, but I would like to pitch deeper. I would like to do
it with less pitches."

The idea that Doc isn't as efficient as he wants to be should be
scary for opposing teams. He only threw 21 first-pitch strikes on
Thursday against the Mets.

As for the Phillies offense that was supposedly a question mark coming into this season? How's 21 runs in the last two games?

"It was never a question mark in here," Ryan Howard, who is batting
.480 to start the season, said of the Phillies clubhouse. "In here, I
think everybody had the utmost confidence, staying within yourself,
doing what you do. There were a lot of outside people saying 'This
offense this, this offense that.' They can keep talking, but we're just
going out there and playing our game."

And winning five of six to start the season.

So where do the Phils go from here, besides Atlanta obviously.

"Even-keeled. Don't get too high, don't get too low. Just keep
playing. I just leave my guys alone," Charlie said. "Let 'em go out
there and see what they can do when they're playing good. Let's see what
we can do."

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

Jahlil Okafor trade watch: Bulls reportedly unwilling to trade first-round pick

With the NBA trade deadline nearly upon us — 3 p.m. Thursday — here is the latest on Jahlil Okafor. (We'll update this with news on Okafor throughout the afternoon.)

• The Bulls are still pushing to acquire Okafor, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Chicago has been one of the rumored destinations for weeks — in fact, the Bulls were reported as a suitor for Okafor before the Pelicans, Blazers and Pacers.

• What's the hold-up? According to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls "have shown no inclination to this point of including" their first-round pick, along with a player, which is what the Sixers have been seeking for Okafor.

Johnson notes that forward Nikola Mirotic is available. Mirotic, 26, is a restricted free agent after the season. With Ersan Ilyasova traded to Atlanta Wednesday night, perhaps the Sixers could look at Mirotic as a backup four to Dario Saric. 

Mirotic's value is in his outside shooting — he's a 6-foot-10 forward who made 39 percent of his threes last season. But his numbers have dipped across the board this season and he's shooting just 38 percent from the field and 30 percent from three.

• According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Okafor's preferred landing spot is Chicago, his hometown.

• Obviously, it's not up to Jah — the Sixers will go with whichever offer is best.

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

Eagles wise to bring Jason Peters back, even with full salary

This isn't a big surprise, but Jason Peters will be back with the Eagles — big salary and all — for the 2017 season.

While the Eagles approached the veteran left tackle about his contract in January, Peters has not restructured his deal, according to a league source. 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport on Thursday morning reported that Peters will be back next season on his normal contract. 

Yes, Peters is expensive in 2017. His base salary after hitting another Pro Bowl escalator written into his contract is up to $10.45 million for next season (plus a $250K workout bonus), which comes with a big cap hit of $11.7 million. That cap hit is the highest on the team, but not outlandish for a high-caliber left tackle. 

The Eagles could have very well cut Peters and moved on. It would have saved them significant cap space to use elsewhere. They just wouldn't have found any player more valuable to pay with that money. 

Peters, 35, is still their best option to protect Carson Wentz's blind side. He made his ninth Pro Bowl in 2016 after playing all 16 games. The team hasn't been shy about wanting him back and Peters toward the end of the season said he wanted to return for another year. 

"We certainly want to have him back," Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said of Peters in early January.

“I love him. I want him on the team,” head coach Doug Pederson said with two games remaining this past season. “I don’t want him to go anywhere."

With Peters back, it means Lane Johnson's eventual trip to left tackle will be held off for another year. Eventually, he'll take over that spot … just not right now. 

During the season, Peters opened up about his future, saying he hopes Wentz can be the guy who finally gets him a Super Bowl ring (see story).