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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PHILLIES: BUYERS OR SELLERS????

   Ok so it is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies window for another World Series has almost closed.  Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the rare people that still feels that the Phillies have the ability to win a championship.  Although there is tons of evidence that this team is well past its prime, anything is possible in Major League Baseball just like any other sport.  How about a few years ago when the Phillies were the popular pick to win it all each year and then went out and were upstaged by different teams in the playoffs that carried a hot streak into October.  We had the 2009 version of the Phillies that made its second straight trip to the World Series, only to be smacked down by the New York Yankees in six games.

     After 2009, Ruben Amaro turned his attention to Pitching, mainly starting pitching as he tried to assemble a staff that could dominate the league and lead this team to another World Series Championship.  Let’s take a look back at how we got to this point.  In December of 2009, Ruben shocked the majority by trading away Ace Cliff Lee and acquiring Roy Halladay, maybe MLB’s most dominant pitcher of the past ten years.  This gave the Phillies a rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and a mixture.  But Amaro did not stop there, at the trade deadline the Phillies picked up former CY YOUNG WINNER and perennial all-star Roy Oswalt.  Oswalt gave the Phillies a three man rotation that was the best in the league.  Remember back to the end of that season…the Phillies limped into the playoffs while the San Francisco Giants were the hottest team down the stretch.  The Phillies would face the Giants in the NLCS with an opportunity to earn its third trip in a row to the big dance.  Well…we all know how that season ended…the Phillies were upset by the Giants who went onto win the World Series in a Sweep.

     No one can blame the Phillies for not trying as Ruben Amaro went one step further the following season by acquiring Cliff Lee in the Offseason signing him to a six year contract.  This was an unforgettable time in Philadelphia.  “THE FOUR ACES.”  The Phillies now had a staff of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton.  This was the modern day version of the 1990 Braves, maybe even better.  That Braves team had Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery.  Well, this staff had a chance to upstage that staff and make history.  Well, it was short lived and injuries and other distractions hurt this team.  The Phillies ultimately lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals who went onto win the World Series.  A common denominator of this season to the past season…the Cardinals were the hottest team down the stretch while the Phillies once again struggled on their way to another Division Title.  “The Four Aces” never truly had a chance to take off and the Phillies were once again eliminated from Post-Season Play.

     Then the following season…it happened again.  The Giants once again dominated the league down the stretch and won its second World Series title in three years.  Well here we are now.  After his worst season as a pro last year, Roy Halladay is on the Disabled List after early season surgery.  Cole Hamels is 4-11 so far, and looks nothing like the Pitcher that was signed to a long term contract in the off season.  The funny thing is, Cliff Lee is 11-2 after a stellar season last year with no run support.  I think its safe to say that if it wasn’t for Lee, the Phillies would not even be having this discussion of wether to be buyers or sellers.

     Here we are, one week away from the All-Star break.  Ryan Howard is on the Disabled List with a torn meniscus.  Roy Halladay remains on the DL recovering from the shoulder surgery.  Chase Utley has just returned from the DL, where he has found himself four seasons in a row.  Adams, the million dollar set-up man is out for the season.  So yes, this team is injury riddled which would be an easy excuse for Phillies management to become sellers at the trade deadline.  Except there is one key stat that stands out.  The Phillies have dominated the Division thus far with a 23-12 record.  I firmly believe that is the most important fact.  Lets forget their inconsistency.  Lets forget their age.  Lets forget all of the injuries.  What has been the common theme the past few seasons in MLB.  It is not the teams that dominate most of the season that are successful in the post season.  It is the teams that battle adversity and become hot down the stretch.

     So with this…I ask the question…are the Phillies capable of one last run with the team they have?  I feel that the answer is definitely yes.  So with that, I believe the Phillies should be buyers at the trade deadline.  We are one game out of second in the NL East and seven games behind the Braves.  One would look at the Braves and wonder how they do not have a double digit lead in the division.  The truth is, the Braves have also been totally inconsistent as well.

     Ryan Howard has saw his best days pass him by and it may be a blessing in disguise that he on the Disabled List at this point.  The main reason being it gives the team a chance to see what his potential replacement Darren Ruf can do.  Secondly, the Phillies supporting cast of starters including Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, and Jonathan Pettibone have done more than hold their own.  Also, despite his recent struggles, Jonathan Papplebon has the ability to dominate the closer position as he showed earlier with 14 straight saves and an ERA under 2.00.  Domonic Brown continues to shine and is among the League Leaders in Home Runs, RBI, and Runs.  Chase Utley is back and playing like his early days.  Ben Revere has hit safely in eleven of twelve games and has Eighteen Hits in Twenty-One games.

     But more important than any of these things is the awaited return of Roy Halladay.  Now Halladay may never be the Pitcher he was in his prime.  However, no one can question his heart and competitive spirit.  Halladay has never won a World Series so you can bet he will be at his best.  That is why Amaro brought him here in the first place: to win a WORLD SERIES.  Also, Cole Hamels is once again looking like the Cole of old.  So with that, I believe the Phillies should take one last crack at this.  By being buyers, they don’t have to sacrifice the farm.  I feel this team is one bat and one reliever away from contention.  Who knows what the future holds, but I think the Phillies owe their core one last shot at a ring.  By the core, I am talking about Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee.  As seen in previous seasons, anything is possible and I feel they have one last run in them.  Please Amaro…Don’t give up to soon.  This team has been there, up and down, and back again.  Lets try this one more time and at least if we fail…no one can say you didn’t go out trying!!!!!!!!!!ImageImageImage

Remembering Darren Daulton

Almost 20 Years Ago…The Philadelphia Phillies took the city of Philadelphia on a magical run that ended in Toronto…with a loss in Game 6 of the World Series. Those of us who watched that season can remember all of the important moments that lead this team to its first World Series since 1983. Well, although that team was not able to bring home a championship…they did manage to take over the entire Philly Sports scene and during the playoffs they actually became America’s Team.

In 1992, “Dutch” as he was referred to, led the Major Leagues with 109 RBI. Daulton had 105 RBI in 1993 which was third in the league that year. During his 14 Year Career that was riddled with injuries, Daulton managed a career .245 Average, 147 HomeRuns (92-27/93-24) and 588 RBI (92-109/93-105). Of course, 1992 and 1993 were Daulton’s most prolific offensive seasons. He probably would have had many more seasons like those had he not suffered all of the knee injuries. During his total career, Daulton had a reported 14 Knee Surgeries. Knees are an important part of a Catcher’s game so that should speak volumes about his toughness.

Eventually, Daulton was traded and had a few more seasons after that. He actually was able to go out on top winning a World Series with the Florida Marlins. Daulton has been rated the 25th Best Catcher of all time in Bill James historical baseball abstract. The three time all star was a player that was loved by the fans and media alike. He would never back down from an interview. He is said to be responsible for starting a “fraternity” on that 93 Phillies Team that took care of off the field problems on their own. This Fraternity was called “Macho Row.”

Darren Daulton was the epitome of a Baseball Iron Man. Through all of the Knee Injuries he continued to rehab and come back. Actually, He won a Silver Slugger Award in 1992 and the Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1997. Well…today some very sad news about Daulton was announced. “Dutch” has been diagnosed with two brain tumors. He is scheduled for surgery. This recent determination has come as a shock to many in the sports community. It was said he was not feeling well the past few weeks and saw a doctor. Now this. This is extremely sad news.

MLB I’m sure has A Heavy Heart for Daulton today as this news was announced. We can only hope that the surgery is successful. All of our prayers and thoughts go out to Daulton as this tragedy unfolds. Anyways…I chose to remember Daulton for that magical 1993 Season where he carried the Phillies to the World Series. God…please heal this man. Prayers and thoughts abound. I will keep everyone posted.

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500

Ok…so the Phillies have finally reached the .500 mark after some very inconsistent behavior in the first half of the season. First it was Roy Halladay going on the disabled list after some of his worst outings of his career. His ERA when he went on the DL over 8.00. Then it was Chase Utley going down after having an excellent month and a half. Utley looked like he was rejuvenated and was playing his best baseball since 2009.

Their starting Center Fielder, Ben Revere, who they acquired after giving up their best pitching prospect Vance Worley, is hitting under .250 with less than ten stolen bases. This is horrible production from a player who was supposed to bring swagger to the lead off spot. Then there is Michael Young, who the Phillies picked up in the off season to fill their void at third base. Yes…Young is 36 but he was projected to bring a stellar bat to Citizens Bank. Well, after hitting .350 for the first three weeks of the season, his average has now dipped to .257.

And probably the most disappointing aspect of the season so far, Cole Hamels with Nine losses and one win going into today. Also, an over 4.00 ERA. All this without getting more than 2.25 Runs a game on offense during his starts. Actually, that’s the third worst in MLB. Ouch! All of these very disheartening aspects and the Phillies were still one game under .500 going into today’s game against the Marlins. This is truly a testament to how well other aspects are going for the Phillies.

Today, The Phillies won 6-1 after winning 7-4 last night in extra innings on a walk off Grand Slam from John Mayberry. Today they were tied 1-1 going into the bottom of the seventh with Cole Hamels coming out of the game. Then wham…a two run triple for Ryan Howard and Bam…a Two Run Home Run by Dominic Brown.

Brown is finally coming into his own and is the hottest hitter in the Major Leagues right now. He has 10 Home Runs in Fourteen Games and now is second in the league with 18 Home Runs and 46RBI. Brown has been on fire and is finally showing why the Phillies would not trade him for anyone. He was their only “Untouchable Prospect.” Fans were getting weary after two seasons of disappointing call ups for Brown. Now he is their starting Left Fielder and is carrying this team on his BACK.

Ryan Howard has ten Home Runs and 30 RBI, despite seeing his production drop. And Freddy Galvis has been stellar on offense and defense in Chase Utley’s stead. In a cruel twist in events, Cliff Lee, who could not buy a win last year, is 7-2 with a 2.45 ERA and 88 Strikeouts. He is in the Top 10 in every pitching statistical category. If he keeps up this pace, Lee will be a CY Young Candidate.

The Phillies are now .500 and are looking up. They are only 5.5 games back of the Division Lead. If the Phillies can keep playing this way, they should be in great shape. Halladay is on track to come back healthy which would be like getting a star at the trade deadline as long as his shoulder is fully healed. Well, well, well. I would never have predicted this two weeks ago. The Phillies are Hot. And it’s not even the All Star Break Yet. Keep it up Boys.

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SPRING IN STEP

Spring Training is more than half way over and so far the Phillies Brass as well as its fans have to be happy with what they are seeing on the field. Cole Hamels has 2 Wins, 10 Strikeouts, a league leading .70 WHIP, and 12 innings pitched and a micro .90ERA. Well, that’s really not much of a surprise after Hamels coming off a career year in 2012 and a CY YOUNG shot.

In retrospect, not many people had high expectations for Roy Halladay who is coming off one of his worst pro seasons in which he was ravaged by injury. Well, so far Doc looks in Mid Season Form with a 2-0 Record, 2.16ERA, 8 Strikeouts in 10 Innings, a 1.01 WHIP. Yes, there are still questions about DOC’s velocity but no one can ever question his competitive spirit. If he has lost velocity, he has not let it effect him in the mound.

Cliff Lee has started 3 games and has a 5.13 ERA thus far. This should not really scare anyone as Lee is generally not a good spring training star. I am not worried about Lee and Kendrick who also has struggled. Mike Adams has a 0.00 ERA in 4 appearances out if the BullPen which bodes well for this relief core. He has 3 strikeouts in 3 innings. Adams is the set up man we lost in Ryan Madson. Papplebon has struggled, but not many closers flourish during the Florida Heat.

However, the biggest surprise thus far this spring for the Phillies and maybe the entire league is the way Ryan Howard is swinging the bat. Howard has hit over .300, leads the league with 4 Home Runs and is second with 13 RBI. He also has only struck out 5x. Most people would say wow Five Strikeouts is a lot. Well, not Phillies fans…we know Howard usually gets killed by the K.

All American Prospect Domenic Brown has been tearing it up. He is hitting .432 with 3 HR and 4 RBI. His slugging Percentage is .700. He looks like he is finally getting it. Chase Utley is only hitting .200 but has not missed a game and appears to be healthy for the first time in five years. Michael Young is also tearing it up hitting .391 with 1 HR and 9 RBI. This offense should be potent at the BANK.

Of course, there are always questions but this looks like a Phillies team that is determined to prove all of the National Media wrong…with comments like the Phillies are done, the Phillies are too old, etc. This team looks like it will definitely contend for the Division and if these star players can build on their strong Springs then we are in for an exciting season.

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Philly Needs an Overhaul

My how things have changed the past few years. I can remember back as recently as 2010 when the Flyers were in the Stanley Cup, The Phillies made the NLCS, The 76ers made the playoffs and the Eagles had a stellar season behind Michael Vick. Fast Forward 2 years! The NHL is probably going to skip a season (already half way into the labor dispute and lockout), The Phillies missed the playoffs and finished close to the basement in the NL East, The Sixers are still inconsistent and not close to winning a championship and the Eagles???? The Eagles?? Well, the Eagles are fading fast and are in a state of disarray. At 3-7 now, the Eagles are well on their way to their worst record since 1998 when Andy Reid took over this team, 14 seasons ago. When Andy Reid arrived in Philly, the Eagles were a team with some talent that needed a good leader and strategist. When Andy Reid and the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb in 1998, the tables were turning. Jim Johnson built one of the most powerful defenses in the Eagles history. Five straight NFC Championships, One Superbowl, Countless memories followed as the Eagles closed down the VET, moved into the LINC, Grew into one of the real powerhouses in the NFL. The Eagles were the NFC version of the New England Patriots…without the Superbowl wins lol. The Eagles were a very successful team and provided Philadelphia with many great memories. However, the past few seasons have been inconsistent and disheartening to say the least. A few seasons back, the Eagles signed Michael Vick and traded Donovan McNabb. McNabb took most of the blame for the Eagle’s failure in the 11 years under his reign. Yes, McNabb was not the most accurate quarterback the Eagles ever had. McNabb did blow it in the Superbowl. McNabb did get injured a lot. Nonetheless, McNabb holds every Eagles quarterback record in history. He was the winningest quarterback they ever had. McNabb was a good leader at one point in his career. Let us not forget, the NFL is a team game (just ask the New England Patriots and New York Giants). After McNabb was traded, Michael Vick had one good season and all of the experts were saying…see…it was McNabb’s fault. These experts failed to place any blame on the team’s coach, Andy Reid. Jim Johmson’s untimely passing was another turning point in the Philadelphia Eagles history. The Defense has not been the same and the Eagles made Juan Castillo the Defensive Coordinator last year. No one could argue that the Eagles did not have talent on that side of the ball. I mean, they signed Namdi Asomgha to one of the largest contracts for a Cornerback in the history of the NFL. They also boasted the NFL’s sack leader and a very good defensive line. Fast forward to 2012…Juan Castillo is fired and he takes the blame for the Philadelphia Eagles failures. Well, Castillo is gone and this defense is playing even worse. It’s truly time for Jeff Lurie to throw loyalty to the side and replace Andy Reid now. This version of the Philadelphia Eagles is pathetic. It is obvious that Andy Reid has lost this team. The team lacks respect for him and there is no leadership. They have the arguably the worst offensive line in NFL history. Michael Vick showed his true colors, that he really is not the Quarterback that will take this team to Championship. Now LeSean McCoy, their superstar running back, the one weapon that this team has that really is one of the best in the NFL, has received a concussion after taking a hard hit in the last two minutes of a game. The Eagles, who were losing by 30 points to the Washington Redskins were finished. Andy Reid, when asked why McCoy was still in the game, answered “We were trying to win the game.” C’MON Andy….get real!!!! You have lost your marbles. This team is finished. The time for rebuilding is now. Why wait until the end of the season. This team needs a drastic change now. Andy Reid is done. Forget all of the good things he has done for this team. The goal of any NFL franchise is to WIN the Superbowl! Well, in 14 seasons under Reid the Eagles have exactly one appearance (a loss to the Patriots) in a Superbowl. If this was any other company or corporation, Reid would have been replaced a long time ago. Well, Reid is still here. Jeff Lurie has let loyalty reign above results. This is a huge mistake. Lurie, I hope that you will finally listen to the fans…we really are not stoopid. We really are NFL fans and we DO understand the game. It is so obvious that Andy Reid has lost this team and a change is necessary. Why are you waiting…Andy Reid should be with his family anyway, after losing his son earlier this season. Please restore the good feeling in Philly again. Bring the Eagles back to respectable again in the NFL. Andy Reid must go. This is not personal, this is an anomaly. It is time for this team to rebuild from the top on down. If I’m Lurie, everyone goes except LeSean McCoy!!! He is the only true talent that is untouchable. We need a DEFENSIVE minded coach again. Defense really does still win Championships. As good as the Patriots Offense has been under their dominance the past fifteen years, Their Defense has truly been their backbone. We need a change. This does not just go for this Football Team. The Baseball Team also needs to rebuild. After their World Series win in 2008, this team has still had playoff success but if you really look close at the team they have gotten old. They have declined tremendously both in talent and success. It’s ashame, after the Phillies traded for and signed Roy Halladay, it looked like they may be on their way to a dynasty. Then the Four Aces…Halladay, Lee, Hammels, and Oswalt. Fast forward, Oswalt is gone, Halladay was injured and had his worst season in ten years, Lee was inconsistent and not the dominant force he had been the previous five years, only Hammels was good as promised. Chase Utley is done. Ryan Howard is on a decline. They do not have a young nucleus. This team also needs to rebuild. Charlie it’s been nice knowing you. Back to the Eagles, C’MON!!! Nick Foles first start in the NFL, and you make him drop back 43X!!!!! Four Sacks, countless rushes and hurries! Reid…you will never get it!!!! Quarterbacks have changed, lines have changed, defenses have changed. The one mainstay is Reid. Now it is time for Jeff Lurie to give this city some hope! Please hear the voice of the FAN!

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Thursday Night Football Pick, Fantasy, Phillies

Week #4 already…which means another Thursday Night Football Game featuring the Baltimore Ravens VS the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens beat New England by 1 point and they are firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. The Browns have not played horrible this season, but they will not stand a chance against a Baltimore Ravens team that now has a potent offense to go with it’s stellar defense. I’m taking the Ravens by 10 points in this game. As far as fantasy goes…Start Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, And Baltimore’s Defense. Sit Anquan Boldin, Brandon Weeden, and Trent Richardson. This game should be the lock of the week. In other news…The Philadelphia Phillies Have failed to make that run that I predicted. They do not deserve to get into the playoffs. Being swept by the Astros was the turning point….unacceptable. Rumor has it that next year the Phillies will bring up Freddy Galvis to play 2B and move Chase Utley to 3B. Utley has had a comeback year and this move should benefit his health as 3B puts less wear and tear on his hips. As far as injuries go I would just sit Roy Halladay the remainder of the season. And yes…injuries did play a part in the disappointing season, but in my opinion they were not an excuse to not make the playoffs. This team was talented enough to overcome these injuries. Poor coaching, playing down to talent, and inconsistent offense were the main reasons this team will fail to make the playoffs for the first time in 6 years. Oh well…there is always next year.

Phillies Still In This

Well…you cant teach an old dog new tricks. However, an old dog can always find it’s way through difficult challenges. The Phillies have been fighting an uphill battle all season. They have truly been hit hard by the injury bug…and their Starting Pitching minus Cole Hamels has been inconsistent at best. They traded fan favorites Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at the deadline as well as Joe Blanton at the waiver wire. There was also rumblings that they may move Cliff Lee. However…through all of this adversity the Phillies are only 2.5 games back of the 2nd Wildcard. As history has shown…once you get to the post season it’s anyone’s Game to win. After tonights win against the #1 Wildcard Team the Atlanta Braves…they are still in this race. They have won 4 in a row after dropping 3 out of 4 to the Astros. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley both homered again and continue to swing red hot bats. Kyle Kendrick…now the Number 4 starter went six innings and only gave up 2 runs lowering his ERA to 3.89. Cole, Cliff, and Roy have also been much more consistent as of late. Jimmy Rollins and Domenic Brown have also contributed immensely in the last month. Now they get Carlos Ruiz back for the stretch run…huge boost he is batting .332. Well…the Brewers and Cardinals are also hot but anything can happen. And the XFAcTOr is the bullpen which has really come on the past 2 weeks. 1 could argue that Jonathan Paplebon, who has been lights out, should be the Team MVP! Anyways….anything can happen…just ask the Saint Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants who both beat out the Phillies after Red Hot Septembers and rode those streaks to World Series Championships. All you die hard Phills fans…keep the faith…don’t jump off now! GO PHILLs!

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Thursday Night Football/Fantasy Start Ems and Sit Ems, and Can the Phillies Still Make a Run?

So tonight will air the 3rd Week of Thursday Night Football. So far we have had 2 fairly competitive games. Tonights game could be an offensive shoot out as both teams come into the game with Top 5 Offenses. Carolina is potent on the ground with a healthy Jonathan Stewart and a resurgent D’Eangelo Williams. They will look to pound the ball against a tired Giants Defense. Cam Newton has answered the question wether or not his rookie season was a fluke by having 2 stellar games in the pocket. Cam can throw the short stuff, but he is very accurate with the deep ball. I’m expecting a big game from Steve Smith tonight…at least 100 Yards and a Touchdown. The Giants come into the game in a weird position. They almost fell to 0-2, but rallied in the 4th Quarter to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was the tale of 2 Halves for Eli Manning. He had 3 turnovers in the 1st half then threw 4 Touchdowns in the 2nd half. He also ended up with a career high of 510 yards passing!! Pretty impressive for the Quarterback that continues to get no respect in the NFL as well as Fantasy Football. The main problem for the Giants will be the injury factor. Their Number 1 Receiver Hakeem Nicks who had 199 yards and 2 Touchdowns in his last game did not even make the trip to Carolina. The Giants will also be without their starting running back Ahamad Bradshaw, WR/KR Domenic Hixon, and starting Pro Bowl Tackle David Diehl. These are 4 significant injuries which decimates 3 key positions on offense. Look for Carolina’s Defensive End Charles Johnson to create havoc with the outside rush hoping to draw Eli into the arms of Defensive Tackle Dwan Edwards. Lost in last week’s crazy game was Eli’s impressive ability to avoid being pressured too much. The Panthers have a better pass rush than the Buccaneers so look for them to generate pressure and cause Eli to make some mistakes. Carolina holds the home field advantage, which always comes into play during prime time games. 4th Year Running Back Andre Brown will carry the load for the Giants at Running Back and he had a fumble problem in college so I would not be surprised to see him cough up the ball. This game will finish closer in points than the actual game itself. I’m taking Carolina to Beat the Giants 31-24 in a hard fought game. I just cannot see the Defending Superbowl Champs being able to overcome these 4 significant injuries. As far as Fantasy goes for tonights game…I would start Cam Newton and Eli Manning, Deangelo Williams, Steve Smith and Victor Cruz. I would sit Andre Brown from the Giants. I will have a more detailed Start Em and Sit Em list closer to Sunday as I get a better look at the matchups. Some Quick Baseball notes….The Phillies still have a chance to make the playoffs as slim as it may be. If you look at all the teams in the WildCard race…the Phillies still have the Best Starting Staff and Jonathan Papplebon has been lights out lately. Chase Utley has had a pretty decent season after last years debacle and last night proved that he can still be a catalyst for a deep post season run as he worked a walk and then scored on Ryan Howard’s game winning 2Run Homer. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins have been swinging hot bats lately so this is still a possibility. Only time and the next two weeks will tell. I would still put my money on the Phillies making the playoffs…even if it is as the 2nd WildCard team to play a single game to see who moves on. Thumbs down to Toronto Blue Jays star Yuniel Escobar who painted a gay slur on his face during a game over the weekend. Shame on him. He said he was just joking. The league should suspend him the rest of the season. Stay tuned for more football posts later this week when Aaron and I give our weekly picks and Fantasy Starts and Sits. Till then….enjoy some Football 🙂

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Tyler Cloyd Debut/Steel Panther

With Cole Hamels of the Phillies getting the night off because he was sick, Tyler Cloyd made his Major League Debut against Mets rookie standout Harvey and took the loss. Cloyd won the MVP Award in the International League with a 12-1 record and 2.35 ERA and went 15-1 overall with a 2.58 ERA and 125 K’s. He pitched ok going 6IP and giving up 3 runs while striking out 5. Phillies fans had Been wondering when Cloyd would get a shot. In other news, SP Vance Worley had season ending shoulder surgery today. Also it was announced that Chase Utley would be open to the idea of trying 3B. This would allow the Phillies to promote Freddy Galvis, their young 2B prospect. In Metal news, All That Remains is putting out a new Album and Steel Panther announced that they will be releasing a DVD.

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