PITCHERS AND CATCHERS REPORT/BASEBALL FOTTER AND OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

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     Here we are, its Thursday February 13th.  The day before another Valentines Day.  Just a note, in my opinion Valentine’s Day is extremely overrated as you should always treat your loved ones to such things as flowers, jewelry, etc. on a consistent basis.  Too many people are shallow in my mind as they wait for this day to flex their muscles.  This shallow behavior is all too familiar.  Anyways, sorry to get off track, but I had to voice my opinion on the day otherwise known as Saint Valentine’s Day.  Well, today is also the official day for pitchers and catchers to report to spring training for many Baseball Teams, which marks the beginning of the longest run in sports.  Here in Philly we are having another super snow storm that has added to an already unheard of total of 52 Inches of snow so far this winter.  So as snow, sleet, ice and rain are pelting the North East once again, our baseball teams head south to sunny Florida and Arizona.

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     So as we head into another Baseball Season, there are many questions that remain for every team in the league.  I would say that this may have been the quietest offseason as far as free agency goes.  There were not many big name signings throughout the league as Robinson Cano lead the way.  Jay Z made sure his client got his pay day.  The Yankees made some noise as always as they signed Jacoby Ellsbury (Boston), Brian McCann(Atlanta), Carlos Beltran(Saint Louis), and Mashiro Tanaka(The Best Free Agent Pitcher from Japan).  So the Yankees were very proactive in Free Agency, but this is no surprise.  The Seattle Mariners signed the top free agent, Yankee’s 2B Robinson Cano.

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     There were some other Free Agent transactions, however for the most part these moves involved average players.  In a stocking move yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies signed free agent Pitcher A.J. Burnett to a one year 16 Million Dollar Contract…are you kidding me?  No folks, this is correct.  The Phillies are at the end of the line and I guess Ruben Amaro is trying to load up for one last magical run that will never come.  The Phillies window has closed.  And signing A.J. Burnett for 16 million is a major disappointment for me as a baseball fan.  If A.J. Burnett is worth 16 million, then what is Jon Lester worth.  The Red Sox signed Lester to a 13 Million Dollar Contract and Lester is a far better pitcher than Burnett, with a higher upside as well.

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     If we take a look back at the past few World Series winners, the formula remains the same.  Keep getting younger, mix in a few key free agents at position of need and build from the farm.  Well, Amaro has completely emptied the Phillies minor league system.  Since their World Series win in 2008, the Phillies have been on a constant decline.  Ryan Howard has only played in half of the Phillies games the past two seasons, due to various injuries.  Chase Utley has also missed significant time.  Jimmy Rollins is maybe one year from retirement.  The Phillies main offseason signing, Marlon Byrd is 36 Years old and definitely overrated and overpaid.  If the Phillies were going to try and revamp the outfield, why did they not just keep Shane Victorino.  Victorino is not only a better player than Byrd, but he is much younger and is a playoff beast.  Pitching, the back bone of the Phillies the past few years has also been a question mark.  Roy Halladay retired.  So that leaves Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee as the Phillies top 2 Guns.

     Well, yesterday it was reported that Cole Hamels has tendinitis in his shoulder and will not be ready for the start of the season, maybe not playing until May1st.  This is not exactly the news that the team wanted to hear that is going into the season expecting their entire roster to have career years to just have a chance of making the post season.  So what does Ruben Amaro do?  He goes and signs A.J. Burnett to a 16 Million Dollar Contract.  Don’t get me wrong, Burnett is not a horrible player.  However, he is 36 years old, and he has had major control problems his past five seasons.  He is definitely not the same pitcher he was with the Blue Jays and Marlins.  Yes he could be a nice third starter for the Phils.  However, I think this was an act of panic on Amaro’s part.  Why not save the 16 Million and ride the young talent in the pitching realm.

     The Phillies should have began rebuilding a few years back.  Instead, they head into the 2014 season with the oldest team in Major League Baseball with an average age of 33.  On top of that, they sign 40 Year Old Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract and 36 Year Old A.J. Burnett.  I would have to point to that Ruben Amaro has ruined this franchise.  But all of these moves in the offseason are typical of how the Phillies conduct business.  In a future post I will give my Preview and Predictions for MLB this season.  The Yankees have to be the favorite in the AL and the Dodgers in the NL.  However, never count out the Saint Louis Cardinals or San Francisco Giants who have won 4 of the last 5 World Series.

    Yesterday at work, I saw a coworker who had tears in his eyes.  I thought, what could possibly be wrong.  At that moment he informed me that Derek Jeter has announced that he will retire after this season.  Derek Jeter is that kind of player.  He is like Mariano Rivera.  These type of players are icons that bring fans so much joy and happiness.  Derek Jeter is one of those players that becomes a fan’s childhood idol so this is very big news for any Yankee fan, as well as Baseball Fans alike.  Of course in other notes, we had all of the Replay institutions that were put into the Rule Books.  I am sure this should ad to an already ever-changing game.

     As we sit in our homes watching another snow storm, pitchers and catchers are on their flights to Spring Training.  This should put a smile on any sports fans face that is going through withdrawal as Football Season is over.  Baseball means nice weather.  This alone puts a smile on my face.  Well, as I said I will have my preview and predictions soon to come.  The start of a new season also means a new Fantasy Baseball season.  Im sure there will be many draft parties to come.  Until next time, enjoy your day off of work here on the East Coast.  Thanks again to INTHENEUTRALZONE.  Until next time have an awesome weekend.

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MY FLYERS WISH LIST

Well here we are…July 2nd…the 2013 Draft complete…and three days away from the Free Agent Signing Period. Ok, so let’s look at what the Flyers have done thus far in the weeks leading up to this very exciting moment for all fans of the NHL. First of all…The Flyers traded for Mark Streit’s rights from the Islanders. Streit is a 36 Year old veteran defenseman that brings the total package. Yes, he is 36 but he still had a lot of Hockey left and they signed him to a five year deal. I am happy with this move despite the fact that Streit is 36.

The second wave of transactions was the Compliance Buy-Outs on Daniel Briere and Ilya Bryzgalov. Briere’s Buy-Out was expected and frees up over 5 million dollars in Cap Space. Briere has been nothing less than a Blessing for this team and have us a lot of good memories, especially in the Playoffs. Briere has 105 Points in 100 Games in the Playoffs making him a postseason stud. Danny…you will be dearly missed 😞. Then we have Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov was supposed to finally be the answer to the Flyers Goaltending Nightmares. He was coming off Five stellar seasons for the Phoenix Coyotes and he was a top-tier goalie. However, for whatever reasons, Bryzgalov’s two year stint in Philly can only be described as drama central. Yes, I do blame the Flyers for giving him such a long term contract with the fact that he was switching conferences. But the past is the past and buy-gones will be buy-gones. Good Luck Bryz but good riddance.

Ok, this brings us to Sunday and the 2013 Entry Draft. The Flyers drafted 4 Defenseman, 1 Goalie, and 2 Forwards. I give this draft a C. However, I do believe their first two picks Sam Morin and Robert Haag, both Defenseman will be important assets a few years down the line. Morin is almost 6’7″ and is compared to Chris Pronger, but he has a lot yet to learn. Haag is more of an Offensive Defenseman and was actually a steal at the 41st pick as he was rated the 22nd best player in draft. They also added a goalie Marsden who has tremendous talent and will be playing at Boston University next season.

With the Draft over, now we get to the fun part. The Free Agent frenzy begins on Friday July 5th at Noon when teams can have at it with all of the unrestricted free agents. They have until then to resign their own free agents. And any players that have had compliance buy-outs can be signed now. Ok…so with that I am providing my wish list that I believe will make the Flyers better and improve their chances of winning a Cup.

First of all, I would make priority Number 1 to sign Vinny Lecavlier today. Levavlier’s contract was bought out so he is available now. There are at least five teams that are rumored to have interest in Vinny and the Flyers are the favorites at this point. If I am Holmgren, I am not messing around here. I go hard after this player and give him a nice contract…I mean don’t overpay but make sure you get him into the fold. Lecavlier is a 10 time 25 Goal Scorer and a 1 Time 50 Goal Scorer. At 32, he is still a Number 2 Center and he can bring an excellent presence up the ice. He also has won a Cup so he could really be a great role model and mentor for Claude Giroux who is still growing.

So…Priority Number 2 for me is a Goaltender. With the announcement of Tim Thomas making his return to the NHL…he would be an absolute perfect fit with this team. I would sign him to a two year deal with incentives. And believe me, after sitting out a season he has a lot to prove. He brings a two time Vezina resume as well as a Stanley Cup Ring. He would be perfect to play ahead of Steve Mason, who at 24 could still be the goalie of the future. Tim Thomas is definitely my number 1 Priority behind Vinny.

There has been speculation that Brayden Coburn has received a lot of trade interest. I hate to lose one of our best defenseman but with the Streit signing there is depth and A Coburn trade with give a 3.5 Million dollar cushion towards Vinny and Tim. Maybe you get a third line winger to mix in.

Simone Gagne is interested in coming back so if I am the Flyers, make this happen. Gagne is not the player he once was…however…he is a veteran with heart that has been a part of this team for most of his career. Gagne would be an excellent Third Line Player. The Flyers also need to lock up Louridsen and Manning, their two defenseman of the Future.

Ok…so here is my Wild Card. The Flyers should go after Jaromir Jagr again. We saw how he played when he was paired with Claude Giroux. Jagr still has a lot in the tank and would be an excellent veteran on this team. And then don’t forget…the Flyers need to lock up Giroux and Schenn and Voracek. I am not the Flyers GM, but if I was this is my wish list and then I feel that this team would be built for a Cup Run.

G-Tim Thomas
G-Steve Mason

1st Line
C-Claude Giroux
W-Jaromir Jagr
W-Jakub Voracek

2nd Line
C-Vinny Levavlier
W-Matt Read
W-Wayne Simmonds

3rd Line
C-Brayden Schenn
W-Simon Gagne
W-Scott Hartnell

4th Line-
C-Sean Courtier
W-Zack Rinaldo
W-Max Talbot

D1-
Kimmo Timmonen
Luke Schenn

D2-
Mark Streit
Nick Grossman

D3-
Eric Gustaffson
Oliver Lauridsen

…..Just Saying

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