As fans of sports in this city, we are fueled with passion. We have extremely high expectations, and we bleed for our teams. It is true, we will get on management, the players, and even ownership if it is not meeting our standards. We often see our teams as an extension of ourselves, in some ways, a part of life, and in the most extreme of conditions, we view them as our family. It is part of the fabric that makes this city great, it is why I chose to settle here as an adult, more importantly, its why I love our fans, and are vested rooting interest.
Daily life, work, family, and adult responsibilities, can be difficult. Often times things pop up that are unexpected, and sometimes, seem to be more than you think you will be able to handle. In time, you figure it out, and you move on, this is what life constitutes.
As a distraction, and sometimes even an escape, fans will turn to sports to put the real life responsibilities behind them. Even if it is only for a few hours out of each day, the fandom takes over, and you begin to look at issues with your own teams, not meeting your expectations, as a fan.
Currently the Philadelphia sports scene is at a place for the most part we, are unfamiliar with. It is not all bad, and it is not all good, but the feeling is a different one, and I feel expectations are growing. Part of the feeling, is the fact, for the first time in history, the Eagles are defending Super Bowl Champions, a lifetime in the making event. Add, to that, the Sixers are finally, prospering from the period known as “the process.” The Phillies youth movement, and push for younger developed talent, seems to be ahead of schedule, and a Flyers team who is trying to build around a new style of hockey.
Here are five moves, that I have high to almost full blown confidence are going to happen. There is a good amount of chatter, and rumors that you will read all over the internet, I do have some inside information from some unnamed sources, which is their decision not mine, which have led me to develop this list of expectations.
I will begin them now, I am going to start with the Phillies, as they are the team actively in the regular season right now.
I fully expect, both Cole Hamels and Manny Machado here by the deadline…
For the Phillies right now, we need to raise our expectations. Currently, the team is a half game out of first place, and could have the lead, as soon as Wednesday night. The biggest question marks for the team going into this year, were the pitching staff, especially the starters, and their new age, second level thinking, analytics driven manager, would he be able to survive at the MLB game.
So far, things have held up, and some have been better then suspected. Odubel Herrera, is having an all-star caliber season, the Arietta signing, so far seems like a steal. On top of that, Aaron Nola is pitching like an ace and Carlos Santana is starting to turn it around. Jorge Alforo is a seed throwing catcher. Along with that, the emergence of Nick Pivetta and a more consistent Vince Valasquez, and the growth of a possible closer in Seranthony Dominguez, and all looks well for the Phils right now.
Even with all that, the season is still young. While showing growth and development over their last several starts, I can not fully get behind Pivetta and Valasquez as consistent MLB rotation pitchers. ***THIS HAS YET TO BE PROVEN**
As, I look down the road, and my expectations are a playoff run, my opinion is that we will need pitching to win a 7 game series. The Phillies starting rotation also lacks, a left handed arm. While not fully necessary to be a successful major league team anymore, a lefty can help as it leads to more lineup adjustments from the opposition. Here is my case for Cole Hamels.
First in case you forgot, its the 10 year anniversary of the last Phillies team to win a World Series championship, led for the most part, by the dominance of Cole Hamels. Secondly, the Rangers are 18-31, last in the AL West and already 12.5 games behind the defending World Champion Houston Astros. The current roster is over populated with Veterans. Players such as Adrian Beltre, Shin-Soo Choo, Doug Fister, and yes even 1,1724 year old Bartolo Colon. They will be looking to dump salary, and being their youth movement with Jurickson Profar and Roughned Odur, sooner, rather than later. I SMELL A FIRE SALE!!
Cole Hamels is 34 years old. His contract is a bit of a haul. There are 2 years left on his current 6 year 144 million dollar deal, and he has a buy out of 6 million dollars next year.
At 34 years old, on a team set for a rebuild, the cost won’t be that high. Don’t get caught up in the salary numbers to much, even with Arietta and Santana signing, the Phillies roster is young, cheap, and the team has money. Since moving to CBP, money has not really been an issue for this ownership. What better way to move forward then to acquire a solid, left handed starter, who is beloved in Philly, to help us in another playoff run. He instantly becomes your third starter, and the combination of Nola, Arietta, and Hamels looks formidable in a 7 game series, regardless of the opponent.
Manny Machado, while my expectation is that it will happen, will not be as easy off an acquisition. Yes, it is true, Baltimore stinks. Their season is also over, before Memorial Day. They sit at 15-32, and in last place in the AL East, 17.5 games out of first. That division will be a two horse race all year between, the Yankees and the Red Sox. All that in focus, lets take a deeper look into Machado.
His numbers are off the chart.
Easily, one of the best players in baseball, his power numbers are consistently, in the 30 HR, 95 RBI range and ridiculously high upside. Here is why it will take a haul to acquire. First, Machado is 25 years old, so you would assume he has 10-12 years left of high productivity. He is also on an arbitration year, making 16 million dollars this year. It was a deal to avoid arbitration, but becomes a free agent after this season. While it is possible, that the Phillies could offer him something like a 10 year 450 million 12 year, 500 million dollar contract in the off season, the possibility of getting outbid, especially by the filthy Yankees, or Dodgers also exists. So, acquiring him might also come with a risk as he could just be a rental and bolt to the Free Agency market, to get paid, as he should.
Either one of these options, does not offer a sure fire thing that he ends up here, or stays around for the long haul. For Baltimore to trade him as well knowing this, they are going to need a haul. If the offer is not good enough for them, they could just hang on to him and make him ride out the entire year. This is a move that would potentially catastrophic for them as well, as he intends to leave Baltimore at season’s ends, and they would literally get nothing in return and lose their biggest piece.
My expectations, are for the Phillies to trade for Machado and then make him some unreal offer for the 2019 season and going forward. What would it take? Prospects, good ones, and many of them. This is the asking price for a 25 year old player who gives you 30 HR and 95 RBIs consistently per season. I wonder what those numbers would be at CBP, a concentration camp for pitchers?
My general belief and what I have been hearing is the following.
Contract Extension: 10 years, 350 million dollars
Prospects Given Up: Mickey Moniak, Sixto Sanchez, and J.P. Crawford and possibly Mikeal Franco.
Before we go nuts, with the were giving up the future talk. Manny Machado is a sure thing, a corner piece of a franchise for the next 10-12 years. Mickey Moniak is .244 hitter since being drafted number 1 by the Phillies, JP Crawford, what has he shown you, that states hes a solid piece for this team as it is currently constructed. Would you rather have him as your starting SS or Machado. Sixto does have a ton of upside, but I would rather have a guy who can staple in at 3rd or SS, for the next 10 years and provide me 30 HRs and 95 RBIs consistently. It would take quite the haul to get it done, but the pieces are there, and this trade could be made. Trying to overbid, the Yankees or Dodgers in free agency is not a risk worth the taking, not for a a player of this level.
Let’s move on…
I am Expecting the Philadelphia Eagles to appear in the NFC Championship Game…
This expectation maybe too low. It is hard for me to say Super Bowl or bust, especially after we just won our first, but this is a football town, we all love it. I also don’t want to be that guy who sets the expectation so high, that the season becomes a complete failure. Are there question marks, sure? But what team does not have those. The biggest concern/question is the health of Carson Wentz.
The team returns almost fully in tact, especially at the key positions. More importantly, they might even be stronger in some spots, then last years team. We touched on the team pre and post draft. Thinking about some of the areas to be addressed by the team coming into the season, were Tight End with the losses in free agency and the need for a corner even with Sidney Jones coming off of injury, the Eagles aggressively targeted these positions and drafted accordingly.
More importantly, they added to the depth of this teams strength. They added on the defensive line, the deepest part of this team, and may have even gotten better, through trades, signings and the draft. I really like the players they added in free agency, along with this teams already culture.
It almost seems like the disrespect felt by Kelce, runs through this team, even its new players. Michael Bennet was an anchor at defensive line for the Legion of Boom. Last year, the thought in Seattle, is that the unit was aging, no longer cohesive, and was holding back the team. Earl Thomas had been seen telling the Cowboys to come get him to play for them, RIchard Sherman, negotiated his own contract to sign with the 49ers, and Jimmy Graham left for Green Bay. The team is going in the direction of building around offense, mainly Russel Wilson and getting him weapons. It appears Michael Bennett still has a good amount left in the tank. He can still line up at all positions on the line, get pressure, and give quarterbacks problems.
Mike Wallace is another guy. Hes a veteran, hes been around, and has played on many one year deals. Wallace said himself the main reason for coming here was to play with Carson Wentz and chase that ring. I openly admit, to saying, I will take a low risk/high reward contract on any player with 4.3 speed who can tilt the field. I will second that notion, when the quarterback is say Carson Wentz and not Joe Flacco. I can say the same about Holati Ngata, who at one time was one of if not the best defensive tackles in football. Who also came here on a one year deal looking to silence his critics.
Expectations this year have never been higher, especially after last year. I do feel this team is on the verge of a dynasty, just based on the way it is currently constructed from the top down. I have said this myself, multiple times.
However, repeating in the NFL is hard. The schedule the following year, becomes brutal. Speaking of which, has anyone seen the schedule this year. ALERT: Its a bit BRUTAL! And if we look back at the turn of the century, the team coming off the Championship has had mixed results.
The following year 7 Super Bowl winning teams, did not even make the playoffs. The Patriots are the only team to repeat, and the Seahawks are the only other team to appear in back to back title games. So while I am high on the team, and believe that they have the right players, management, coaching and culture to repeat, its not all that easy, especially in todays NFL.
My level of confidence in this team, is at an all time high. You have heard me praise with the highest of accolades, from his ability and leadership both on and off the field, Carson Wentz. Having a franchise QB who the rest of the team believes in to make a play, when a play is needed and to keep you in the game, breeds effort, and trust from the rest of the team. It is the ultimate trickle down effect. More importantly if we learned anything, Doug has control of this team, and does a fantastic job of keeping it altogether even when times are bad. If we learned anything from last years run, never count this team out.
So while, I think this team is primed to repeat. I also do not want to set my/your expectations to high, with the brutal upcoming road ahead.
I can’t wait for September!!!
The Flyers are going to part ways with Claude Giroux…
This is an easy call. More importantly, what other choice is there. Never has a superstar in this town, getting so many free passes for showing up small when it matters. This goes for Ryan Howard, Donovan McNabb, or Allen Iverson. After another disappointing end to a season, I still do not know why Flyer fans are surprised.
First as I broke down in the above mentioned article. There is the salary. Much more then Sean Couturier, who should be the Captain of this team, and its future building block.
I really do not care about Regular Season numbers and what they represent. In a system where more then half the teams make the playoffs, those numbers do not matter. What matters to me is what you do in the post season when it matters, and to advance your playing better competition. With that in mind:
69 Career playoff games, 24 goals, 41 assists, and a +3 rating. The numbers are somewhat impressive, I will say. Not if you consider, 2009-2010 when Giroux was not a top line center, and the team went all the way to the Cup. It is more about his ability to lead, and perform when it matters most, as the “superstar” of the team.
Its not like I hate Giroux, he just has not lived up to expectations, especially in the playoffs. Plus this team needs depth. Its obvious, they do not have the skating ability of these other teams or offensive talent on the 3rd and 4th lines. Pittsburgh is light years, ahead of this team in terms of its ability to skate, and has 4 complete lines. Giroux is not the only problem on this team, but continue to pay him and keep him on this team, means 3rd and 4th line players, such as Jordan Weal and Michael Raffl.
Third and Fourth line players like the above mentioned, mean roughly a 6-8 seed in the playoffs, and an early playoff oust, thanks to a far superior more complete team. To be fair, the cap situation for the Flyers is not ideal, and eventually the pay day for the youth is going to come. I am not sure if it will be a trade or an outright buyout, but if the right partner offers a decent offer, I would jump on it. If not, and Giroux is not willing to take a pay cut, then I see no other option, then him and the team parting ways with some type of extended buy out, just for the cap space alone.
In a hockey season, in which we just watched an expansion team make the cup final in their first year of existence, the Flyers remain looking for answers without a title since 1975. There are many areas on this team that need to be improved and that is going to take youth and money. Claude Giroux although not a bad guy, and a good player is expendable for the right value in return.
On now to the Sixers!
Confirmed: Lebron James will be a Sixer for the 2018-2019 Season…
Let us all be fair, and call it what it is. Even though we all feel the Sixers, should still be playing, this season as a whole the team, over delivered. Even the most well thought out pre season expectations, no one had this team at 50 plus wins, a 3 seed in the east and a series victory. The team has a bright future, with the NBA’s next generational superstar, and a big man the likes of which this league has not seen in years.
The season ended on a difficult note to swallow, and the team was exposed for its weaknesses. Once it was exposed, the problem became fixing it. That is when the chatter of the big 3 started. Everybody was trying to figure out in their head, how could we get one of them here and who would be the best fit.
The answer is simple. Lebron James is the best fit, and he will be here this off season. As you know the shameless self recruiting has already started.
Lebron has a player option which he can use at the end of the season. He signed a 3 year contract worth roughly 100 million dollar deal after the 2015-2016 season with the options built in. The details of that are below.
Should he choose to stay in Cleveland, his salary next year, would be in the 36 million dollar range. However, this is where things get interesting. My sources who are not close to Lebron at all, but are close to his inner circle, have stated different opinions. I am paraphrasing here, but here it is in brief:
“Lebron’s decision will ultimately wait till after the playoffs, as to be fair to his teammates, coaching, ownership and fans of the Cavs. Lebron feels he has nothing left to do to prove his legacy either as an NBA player, or a Cavalier, as he delivered the title to them. A return to Cleveland would be unlikely as he continues to have feuds with ownership and does not see a solid future direction, or plan to build a championship caliber team around him.
As his career moves more towards its end, Lebron has stated a desire, to lead a team of young talent, and play off the ball. While injuries, have never been a problem in Lebron’s career, and he keeps himself in peek physical condition. Since about the age of 30 off season workouts, and development have become a more grueling process.
Lebron wants to go to a place where he can lead. He also wants to go to a place where he has the abilities to win titles. While 6 is no longer a goal or a desire for him, he still knows it is how he will be measured when compared to the other greats. He is also interested in not being the main piece on a team anymore where he feels he has to carry them as well as the city on his shoulders. He would like to be able to continue his legacy while also helping young players grow into their full potential.
Talks have really only ever led, to a discussion of 3 destinations. Those 3 destinations are Cleveland, as it is where he is familiar, and currently settled, LA, and Philadelphia. LA is appealing to him cause he has a home out there and he is on a mission to be come the first billion dollar athlete, and it is a platform to promote his business aspirations. Philadelphia is very intriguing to him, for three reasons. For one, he has never played with a big man with the skill set of Joel Embiid, he admires the work ethic of backup point guard TJ McConell, and believes that Ben Simmons is the future of the NBA.
Currently he is focused on the Cavaliers and their playoff run. In his heart the decision appears to be between Philly and Cleveland. If he had more trust in ownership, his desire would be to retire in Cleveland. However, the tension between the two sides has continued to grow in opposite directions. The idea of leading a young team to a title as the missing piece and not the main piece is really what is driving him toward his decision. While both Philadelphia and LA have money, and it is not at issue here, the bigger aspect driving his final decision, is where he feels he has the best chance of winning multiple championships, in his remaining years. In his heart, he still feels, he can play at a high level, for at least the next 5-8 seasons. His off season programs, his commitment to being the league’s best player and his desire to be remembered as one of the all time greats, are what fuels him at this time. Well ultimately, Lebron himself is the only one who ultimately knows what he is going to do, I do not expect this decision to linger over the summer, as I am pretty sure he has already made up his mind for the next chapter in his life. Ultimately, at this point in his career, its about stability for his family, and playing for a team who shows a commitment to winning, with talent.”
Sounds pretty good to me. I told you my love for Lebron many many times in the past, and what I think he could do for this team. I also stated I would throw whatever it took at him, to get him here. Pair him with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, and you instantly become the best team in the Eastern Conference. At that point appearances in the Championship become more of a given, then a process to build for. Would it not be nice every year to go into basketball season with expectations of a Championship. What if we got to the same feeling with the Sixers that we have with the Eagles currently.