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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – A Christmas Day look at the 2014 Phillies

In Philadelphia Phillies on December 25, 2013 at 1:21 pm

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With all the hoopla going on about the Eagles and their upcoming trip to Dallas to win the NFC East title and make a trip to the playoffs we wanted to take a step back and take a winter look at the Fightin Phils. Spring Training is right around the corner!

Many feel that it’s time to rebuild the Phillies from the ground up, however, that doesn’t seem to be the approach being taken by General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. The resigning of fan favorites Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz to three year contracts indicated one of two things, the organizations feels that it can win now with the players they have or the minor leagues are so depleted that there won’t be anyone ready at those positions for several years. We’re favoring that they think they can win now.

Lets take a look at the roster as it stands today:

The projected outfield: LF – Dom Brown, CF- Ben Revere, RF- Marlon Byrd, Reserves – Darin Ruf and John Mayberry Jr.

Dom Brown is coming off the best season of his career. The 26-year-old hit .272 with 27 HR’s and 83 RBI’s. The question about Brown is this, can you trust him to duplicate or improve on those numbers? Brown has been given the job several times over the last few years and hasn’t been able to hold it. Is he for real?

Ben Revere got off to a terrible start while adjusting to NL pitching. He got hot and stayed hot, raising his average from under .200 to .305 with 22 stolen bases before his season ending injury. The 25-year-old has a lot of upside as a hitter and base stealer from the lead off spot.

Marlon Byrd comes over from the Pittsburgh Pirates as an off-season free agent signing. The 36-year-old is coming off the best season of his career, hitting .291 with 24 HRs and 88 RBI’s, while splitting time between the Mets and Pirates. As with Brown the question is this, can Byrd duplicate or improve on last season?

Darin Ruf is an interesting story. He seems to show serious Home Run power but seems to find his way out of the line up by striking out way to much. The 27 -year- old has hit 17 HR’s in 284 At Bats witch would equate to a 35 HR season if he played every day. He has also struck out 103 times in those 284 AB’s which would equate to 206 K’s. There are a lot of questions about keeping a player like Ruf around if he’s not going to play every day so he can continue to improve.

John Mayberry Jr just celebrated his 30th birthday. Mayberry is a career .245 hitter that has averaged 13 HR’s and 45 RBI’s as a part-time player for the Phillies over the last 3 seasons. Is he good enough to be a reserve or can the Phillies upgrade that position without spending a lot of money?

The projected infield looks like this: 1B – Ryan Howard, 2B – Chase Utley, SS – Jimmy Rollins, 3B – Cody Asche. Reserves – Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.

Will the Phillies get a healthy Ryan Howard back in 2014? That’s the question that another season hinges on. Prior to the injuries that ended the 2011 season, Howard had only hit less than 31 HR’s one time in his career and that was his rookie year in 2005 when he hit 22. Since his injury he has hit 25 in 2012 and 2013 combined. Howard is now 34 years old. Many fans are down on Howard but here’s a misconception, in spite of striking out way too much he has driven in 100+ runs every year that he’s been a full time player and was on pace to do it again in 2012 before being injured. His 2013 numbers project out to near 90. The hope is, that after nearly a year of rehab, the Phils get another chance to see the old Ryan Howard that can hit 30 HRs and drive in 100+ runs.

Chase Utley – Chase “You are the Man” looks like he will finish his career as a Phillie. Utley who’s now 35 years old, played in 131 games in 2012, his most since 2009. He hit a solid .284 with 18 HR’s and 69 RBIs without a legit clean up man hitting behind him. With Utley, what you see is what you get from here on out. His superstar days are behind him yet he’s a solid player who’s now healthy. Unless Howard comes back with a huge season that gives Utley some more fastballs to hit, .285. 20 and 70 is where he’ll be and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Jimmy Rollins – JRoll is also now 35 years old and entering the final year of his contract with the Phils. Rollins offensive skills have tapered off ever since his MVP season of 2007. He hit just .252 in 2013 and hit only 6 HR’s with 39 RBI’s while still playing in 160 games. This will likely be the swan song for the 3 time all star and 4 time gold glove winner UNLESS he buys what Ryne Sandberg is selling and changes his hitting approach at the plate.

Cody Asche – There is nothing but up side for the 23-year-old 3rd baseman. Asche showed he has a big league glove and arm in his 50 game audition in 2013. He hit just .235 but showed some pop with 5 HRs and 22 RBIs in just 160 AB’s. A full season in the big leagues should bring nothing but improvement to Asche. He’s got 20+ HR and 90+ RBI potential.

Kevin Frandsen – Due to all of the injuries in 2013 Frandsen was pushed in to a lot more duty than expected at 1B, 2B and 3rd base. He ended up playing in 119 games and batting 252 times, finishing with a .234 average well below his career .259 average. Frandsen isn’t going to hit for power but will provide depth at the infield positions.

Freddie Galvis – The 24-year-old Galvis has shown some great promise with the glove during several stints in the big leagues, his problem is that he struggles at the plate. Freddie currently has a career .230 batting average. The problem is that he’s never been a hitter in the minor leagues either. He’s presently on the depth chart as the back up at SS , 2B and 3B along with Frandsen. If Galvis gets enough work and can show he belongs he could be the front runner to replace Rollins in 2015.

The Catchers:

Carlos “Chooch” Ruiz – Chooch is a fan favorite who tested the free agent market and ended up right back with the Phillies for three more seasons. He will turn 35 prior to the start of Spring Training but has been a work horse behind the plate. He carries a .274 career batting average but his strength is working the pitching staff. With as many youngsters as the Phillies bullpen are likely to have in 2014 this phase of his game will again be critical.

Will Nieves – The 36-year-old Nieves has played parts of 7 seasons on a major league roster but has never had more than 224 At Bats in any of those years. He carries a career .242 average, although he hit .297 in 2013 for Arizona in 195 ABs, and has hit only 8 career HRs. Nieves will be expected to play in 40-50 games to provide rest for Ruiz. We will need to see if Nieves has the ability to work with the pitching staff.

Cameron Rupp – The 25-year-old Rupp is currently on the Phillies 40 man roster. He got his first sniff of big league life in 2013 appearing in 4 games and hitting .308 in just 13 ABs. Rupp appears to have climbed to the top of the Phils minor league system ahead of a couple catchers that were more highly touted entering 2013. It remains to be seen if Rupp will spend 2014 with the Phillies or spend another season in Lehigh Valley. Since he’s only had a half season at AAA the smart money says he spends a good part of the season there.

Starting Pitchers: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick and ???????

Cole Hamels is now a 30-year-old pitcher for the Phils. He pitched poorly at times in 2013 but mostly pitched through lack of run support. He is clearly the “ace” of the staff although he finished 8-14 last season. Hamels has now won 99 big league games as a Phillie while sporting a career 3.38 ERA. From 2007 – 2013 Hamels has pitched between 183 and 227 innings every season. Barring injury there’s no reason that another 220 innings won’t come his away again in 2014.

Cliff Lee – The 35-year-old Lee is coming off an outstanding 2013 where he won 14 lost 8 and had a 2.87 ERA while logging 222.2 innings and striking out 222 batters. Lee is a solid starter that would the #1 on many clubs and could be on the Phils as well. Lee is a workhorse that has thrown over 200 innings 8 times in his career. Expect him to be a solid winner again in 2014.

Roberto Hernandez – The 33-year-old Hernandez was signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay where he was 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA in 2013. In 2009 Hernandez won 19 games for the Cleveland Indians, however, has only won more than 10 one other time. His career numbers are 59-82 with an ERA of 4.67. The hope is that Hernandez can win 12-15 games as the #3 starter.

Kyle Kendrick – Kendrick started out strong but finished the season with 10-13, 4.70 ERA in 30 starts. Over the last four seasons, almost all as a starter, Kendrick has won 40 games and lost 41. The 29-year-old Kendrick is what he is a .500 pitcher. To expect any more than 10 -12 wins from him is expecting too much.

The 5th starter – This could be Jonathan Petibone, Ethan Martin, Miguel Gonzalez or someone who isn’t with the team yet. If Spring Training started today it would be the 23-year-old Petibone. Petibone was 5-4 in his first visit to the majors in 2013 before being shutdown with an arm injury.

The Bullpen: What we think we know right now.

The closer will be Jonathan Papelbon. There is a lot of speculation that Papelbon will be moved this off season but at this time it hasn’t happened. The Phils need to decide whether to eat his contract or keep him in the closer role. In his 2 seasons with the Phils he has a 10-7 record with a below 3.00 ERA while saving 67 of 78 opportunities.

Possible closer: Jake Deikman, Deikman has a live left arm that reaches close to 100 mph. The 6’4″ Deikman will turn 26 prior to the start of Spring Training. If Papelbon is moved, Deikman will have the first shot at the closer spot.

Set Up Men – Antonio Bastardo and Mike Adams are those guys. Bastardo has been a bit inconsistent at times, however the 28-year-old lefty has gotten the job done. He finished 2013 with 3-2. 2.32 ERA with 5 saves in 48 games.

Adams, the 35-year-old righthander, will be expected to fill the right side of the set up role. Adams was pitching fairly well before an injury shut him down in June. Adams can be a workhorse having appeared in over 60 games in a season 3 times.

Possible Set Up Man – Brad Lincoln. The 28-year old righthander was brought to the Phillies in an offseason trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. His role is undefined at this time. He’s been a reliever in the big leagues but a starter in the minor leagues. His career record is 9-11 with a 4.66 ERA in 97 games.

The remaining few spots, depending on the catching decision, is anybodys guess. We can be fairly sure that the spots will be filled by young players that we got a glimpse of in 2013. That list includes BJ Rosenberg, Ethan Martin, Justin DeFratus, Jeremy Horst, Michael Stutts, Joe Savery and Phillippe Aumont. All are young and all have potential to be big league pitchers.

All of the players above are on the present 40 man roster.

The most glaring questions are these:

Is this the roster that will come out of Spring Training?

Can Ryan Howard come back from his injuries and be the 30 HR and 100 RBI player he’s been in the past?

Will this be the end for Jimmy Rollins as a Phillie?

Nearly everyone on the roster is in their 30’s, can they stay injury free so the Phils aren’t running a AAA lineup out all summer?

Is this the year that Hamels and Lee can both avoid hard luck seasons and post 18+ wins each?

Most importantly, can this roster compete for a pennant under first year manager Ryan Sandberg and a partially new staff?

Philly Pressbox is proud of our association with the Kisses for Kyle Foundation. Please check out their link at http://www.shop.com/kissesforkyle  Every purchase you make helps families battling childhood cancer in the Delaware Valley.

Kisses for Kyle

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – How to Beat the Bears

In Philadelphia Eagles on December 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

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The Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears roll in to the week 15 Sunday night matchup with everything on the line, of course, this depends on whether the Dallas Cowboys show up to play the Washington Redskins or fold their tent and go home after last weeks 2nd half meltdown against the Green Bay Packers. Both teams sit atop their respective divisions by the slimmest of margins. For the Eagles, they need to take care of their own business so they won’t have to worry about Dallas. The Birds will face the most well rounded offense they’ve faced all season. The Bears have a terrific back in Matt Forte, who is currently 3rd in the NFL in rushing with 1200 yards while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. He also has 66 catches for 522 yards Also, the Bears are the only team in the NFL with 2-1000 yard receivers in Alshon Jeffery, 1265 yards and Brandon Marshall with 1185 yards. The pair have combined for 170 catches. Offensively the Bears can be very good while the Eagles defense, that ranks #31 in the NFL in pass defense, can be very suspect. Jay Cutler will again be the starting QB for the Bears.

Offensively the Eagles have their own weapons. LeSean McCoy still leads the NFL in rushing with 1343 yards and has added 45 catches for 507 yards. DeSean Jackson is 5th in the NFL with 1275 yards on 75 catches with 9 TD’s. Jackson is also 134 receiving yards from tying Mike Quicks’ Eagles single season record. Nick Foles still leads the NFL in QB Efficiency with a 117.0 rating. Peyton Manning is second at 112.9.

What do the Eagles need to do to win the game? They will have to do something they haven’t done real well this season, be patient on offense and don’t panic! The Eagles have the #1 rushing offense in the NFL while the Bears have the #32, or last, rushing defense in the NFL. The Eagles boast the #2 statistical offense while the Bears have the #27 defense. The Eagles need to run the ball, throw screens, control the time of possession and strike big occasionally with Jackson, Riley Cooper and the Tight Ends. The O-Line must control the line of scrimmage, something they didn’t do as well last week. The flip side is the Eagles have the #31 ranked defense against the pass and the #30 ranked total defense. With the weapons the Bears have, keeping their offense off the field will be their best defense.

What the Eagles don’t need is a shootout! They have given up more than 21 points 5 times this season and lost 4 of the games. The only win coming in week 1 against the Redskins. The Birds need to play this one close to the vest early, get a lead and open the game up some after that. Also, control the field position, no 4th and 1’s from your own 26, and don’t get beat on special teams.

This should be a really good game!

Fly Eagles Fly!!!!!

Philly Pressbox is proud of our association with the Kisses for Kyle Foundation. Please check out their link at http://www.shop.com/kissesforkyle  Every purchase you make helps families battling childhood cancer in the Delaware Valley.

Kisses for Kyle

“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Do the Eagles have a Secret Weapon?

In Philadelphia Eagles on December 18, 2013 at 9:35 am

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As the Eagles head in to the final two games of the season and, hopefully, in to the playoffs is it time to see if they truly have a secret weapon as part of their team?

We all know that as you enter the playoff run that the defenses get better, well maybe not the Dallas Cowboys, and offenses have to be on top of their game. We know that the Eagles defense can be suspect itself so keeping the offense operating on all cylinders is critical. The Minnesota Viking exposed some weaknesses in the Eagles offense by rushing Nick Foles relentlessly throughout the game. The O-Line struggled some for the first time in several weeks and Foles looked a bit rattled early before settling in while playing from behind. Whether it be the Vikings defense or Chip Kelly’s play calling the running game disappeared with LeSean McCoy getting only 8 carries for 38 yards and Foles 5 carries for 41, a whopping total of 79 yards rushing. It’s safe to say the leading rusher in the NFL needs 18-25 carries and he will get 100 yards.

Nick Foles has done an outstanding job of running the Eagles offense, making good decisions, and maybe most importantly protecting the football.  Foles biggest weakness in the read option offense is his inability to run the ball well. He’s made the best of the situation and done nothing wrong while he’s running the ball but there could be more. That brings us to Michael Vick, the secret weapon! It’s time to have a read option package for Vick, from time to time, against these tough defenses. If nothing else the defense will have to respect him running the football. If keeping one man home gives McCoy more space to run or allows the O-Line to get a better match up then why not. If no one stays home then Vick can run for a lot more yards than Foles and open the field up for the rest of the offense.

Don’t get me wrong, Nick Foles is the starting QB. What I’m talking about is maybe 5-7 situational snaps per game. I don’t want Vick in there throwing the ball and being reckless. Foles has handled everything that’s been thrown his way so I don’t see this as a distraction to him or a break in his consistency but rather utilizing all the talent you have available on the 53 man roster.

Going down the stretch don’t be surprised to see #7 on the field. It won’t be a bad thing!!

Philly Pressbox is proud of our association with the Kisses for Kyle Foundation. Please check out their link at http://www.shop.com/kissesforkyle  Every purchase you make helps families battling childhood cancer in the Delaware Valley.

Kisses for Kyle

RILEY COOPER AUTOGRAPH SIGNING

In Philadelphia Eagles on December 11, 2013 at 6:00 pm

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Philadelphia Eagles and former Florida Gator Wide Receiver Riley Cooper will be signing autographs this week. the Philly Pressbox is offering pre-sales.

Following are the available signed items and price list for both Eagles and Gator items:

Full Size Pro Line Helmet $275
Full Size Replica Helmet $150
Mini helmet $45
16×20 $40
8×10 $30
Logo Football $50

Shipping cost will vary from $15 for the full size helmets, $7 for footballs and mini helmets and $3 for photos. Our deadline is 12/15 so we need to know before then. You don’t have a lot of time to decide.

All items will come with a Certificate of Authenticity and hologram from the promoter.

Payments will be by PayPal.

If you have any questions please leave them in the “comments” area below and we will respond quickly.

“View from the Philly Pressbox” – FOR THE EAGLES THIS IS THE WEEK!!!

In Philadelphia Eagles on December 6, 2013 at 7:49 am

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The Philadelphia Eagles have run off four victories in a row, however, there is no bigger game in the season to date than this weeks matchup against the Detroit lions at Lincoln Financial Field. Here’s why this is a must win for The Birds:

  • The Eagles are presently 7-5 and sitting in the #7 playoff position making them the first team on the outside looking in.
  • The Eagles must gain at least one game on the Cowboys prior to the final week showdown in Dallas. As it stands now, Dallas wins the tiebreaker even if the Eagles beat them.
  • Detroit will be the toughest opponent remaining on the Eagles schedule.
  • An Eagles loss to a Detroit Lions team, that is presently in 1st place in the NFC North, would be difficult to overcome especially if the Cowboys beat the Chicago Bears.
  • The Eagles have the Lions followed by the Bears and Minnesota Vikings while the Cowboys have the Bears, Green Bay Packers and the lowly Washington Redskins remaining.

So what’s the good news?

  • The Eagles are the hottest team in the NFL other than Seattle and Carolina.
  • The Eagles have a 1000 yard rusher, LeSean McCoy, 1088, a 1000 yard receiver, DeSean Jackson, 1021, and a QB, Nick Foles, that has thrown 19 TD’s with 0 interceptions.
  • The Eagles defense has allowed just 102 points over the last 6 games.
  • Dallas is 11-16 in December with Tony Romo as the starting QB.
  • Aaron Rodgers should be back for the December 15 game between the Packers and the Cowboys in Dallas. The Cowboys are 5-1 at home, however the Packers are a completely different team with Rodgers.
  • The Bears will start Josh McCown against Dallas. McGown has done a nice job replacing Jay Cutler. Cutler may be ready to go the following week against the Eagles.

The bottom line:

The Eagles must win Sunday against the Lions in order to keep pace. A Cowboys loss to the Bears would be helpful but not a must. An Eagles loss and a Cowboys win dropping the Birds back a game and behind in the tiebreakers, with 3 games to go, would nearly kill the season.

The Eagles control their own destiny, just keep winning!!!!!

Philly Pressbox is proud of our association with the Kisses for Kyle Foundation. Please check out their link at http://www.shop.com/kissesforkyle  Every purchase you make helps families battling childhood cancer in the Delaware Valley.

Kisses for Kyle

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