Thursday, May 3, 2018

Should the Sixers be even better?

In all the Euphoria over the Sixers current playoff run, all the accolades tossed, and deservedly so, In Brett Brown’s direction, no one seems to be taking to task the man who has all but dismantled the process, Bryan Colangelo. He has squandered so many of the assets the process’ architect, Sam Hinkie, carefully acquired, it is not to be believed. I will be generous in my scoring: He traded Nerlens Noel, the sixth pick in the draft, the first piece in the process, for Justin Anderson, an energy player, one deep on the bench, but at least a contributor. Noel has played his way out of Dallas, overvaluing his skill, so let’s call this a win for Colangelo. He drafted Ben Simmons with the first pick in the draft. A big win, but one that anyone, and I mean anyone, who has the first pick in the draft would have gotten.  He traded Jerami Grant for Jump shooting power forward Ersan Ilyasova, filling a need for the Sixers, then inexplicably traded him away in the same season, for Tiago Splitter, who never contributed at all. He then, rather than taking whatever offer he had in place for the number three pick Jahlil Okafor last season, held on to him until this season, then traded for 30 year old bench player Trevor Booker, who Colangelo then released to pick up…Ersan Ilyasova.  Essentially giving away the number three pick in the draft for a player he already had given away for free.  (He does deserve credit for picking up Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli after buyouts, but those two practically begged to come here to join Brown (certainly not Colangelo)
Finally, and most damning, he traded an extra first-round pick to move up two spots to the number one pick in the draft and grab Markelle Fultz, who, it appears, is a wasted pick. If he had stayed at three, he could have drafted Jayson Tatum, last seen dropping 28 points on the Sixers in game one of their playoff series, to fill a position of need, or, as the Celtics insist, their target was Tatum all along, they could have remained at three, still drafted Fultz, and retained the first-round pick. As hated as Hinkie was around the rest of the league, and as difficult as future trades may have become I can’t imagine that he would have squandered the Sixers assets so wantonly.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Say It Ain't So

Rumor has it that the National League is considering adopting the abomination that is the DH. I know I'm tilting at windmills, but please, please don't let it happen. Having the DH removes a large part of the strategy from baseball. If your pitcher is throwing a great game, but trailing 1-0 and his spot comes up in the seventh inning, do you remove him for a pinch hitter to try to score some runs and risk turning the game over to your suspect bullpen? If the DH is in place, not even a choice.
I have heard that it makes a place for all those good hit, no field players (Ryan Howard, anyone?)...but again, baseball has always had that you squeeze Daniel Murphy into a position for which he is ill-suited (second base) to get that bat in your lineup? You may get homer runs in six straight postseason games, but you'll also get a key error in the World Series. It is part of the strategy of baseball, one of the components that can spark endless debate and second-guessing, and for me makes it the most interesting of sports.
The player's union will argue that it creates extra jobs for one-dimensional players. I have a suggestion. Eliminate the DH in both leagues, but add a 26th roster spot. This will create extra jobs without removing a key strategic element from the game. Please don't let this plague spread to the National League.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What is Chip Kelly thinking?

Chip Kelly is certainly keeping things interesting with the Eagles. In a time when the Sixers are following “the process” leading them to the number one pick in the draft, the Flyers are throwing away whatever slim chance they had for a playoff spot as they too prepare for a rebuild, the Phillies are embarking on rebuilding season that at best, leaves them three years from contention, the Eagles are making headlines seemingly every other minute.

The release of the two longest tenured team members, Todd Herremans and Trent Cole, along with starting corner Cary Williams, plus the free agent departure of top receiver Jeremy Maclin and the expected departure of defensive backs Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen were just the prelude to the two most shocking moves. The trade of Eagles all-time leading rusher LeSean McCoy to Buffalo and quarterback Nick Foles to St. Louis. That leaves the Eagles with four new starters on both offense and defense minimum (more if linebacker Kiko Alonso replaces Demeco Ryans as expected), all from a team that won 10 games each of the last two years.

All the moves can be justified, some replacing aging talent (Cole, Herremans), some as salary cap savings (McCoy, Williams) where the price tag doesn’t justify the return, with the exception of the quarterback swap, Nick Foles for Sam Bradford.

Kelly must really think Bradford is that much better than Foles, or will be with his coaching. Bradford is making almost 20 time the salary of Foles, has missed 31 of a potential 80 games due to injury, and has not won anywhere near the percentage of the games he’s started when compared with Foles.  To call Bradford  a complete bust as the number one pick in the draft s a little harsh, his stats are decent for such a bad team, when he did play,  but I still don't see it. Is his arm that much stronger? Is he that much more accurate (his completion percentage is lower than Foles’)  or has that much quicker a release? Maybe that rumored swap of first picks is still in the mix somehow, pending some future transaction, and Kelly is trying to keep people from finding out what he's up to? 

If not, it’s quite a gamble, Kelly has paid a huge price, both in dollars and talent, in the hopes that Bradford will stay healthy and that Kelly will be able to bring to the fore the promise that made Bradford the number one pick in the draft.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Phil's Approach Pales in Comparison to Sixers

The Phillies have been trying to hang on to their glory years, keeping their well beyond their prime stars after having devastated their farm system in the attempt to stay on top after their 2008 World Series Victory.  Their recent signings have been older players such as A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd, players whose contacts will expire at approximately the same time as the core 4 of Utley, Rollins, Howard, and Ruiz (along with Lee and Papelbon). At that time, the cupboard will be bare. The farm system has failed to produce viable replacements, with such disappointments as Domonic Brown,  Freddy Galvis, and Cesar Hernandez, and utter failures such as Sebastian Valle, Tyson Gillies, and Tommy Joseph.  Only Cody Asche and a few of the bullpen arms (Justin DeFratus, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands, and Ken Giles) show promise.  The farm system was also devastated by high risk/high reward draft picks the Phillies made when they were drafting low in the order thanks to all their first division finishes. Few of these panned out, others are years away, leaving the cupboard bare at the upper levels. Recent drafts have focused on more major league ready players, but no one ready to step in to help today, or even tomorrow.

Additionally, the training in the system has to be questioned, when so few prospects appear to be major league ready when they do arrive, some, such as Domonic Brown, display a shocking lack of knowledge of how to play the game, running poor routs in the outfield, swinging at the first pitch after the opposing pitcher has walked three in a row, etc.

The Phillies are in a bind.  Other teams are locking up young stars before they become free agents, and trades are difficult with nothing to send back except high contracts. The only real solution is the long route, draft well, focus on development, and perhaps step up international scouting and signing. Unlike the Sixers, the Phillies future is not so rosy, even for a few years down the road.

Monday, June 30, 2014

A Tale of Two Approaches

                In Philadelphia, two of the 4 “major” sports franchises are in rebuilding mode, the main difference is only one will admit to being in such a state. The Sixers are flat out admitting they are rebuilding, all their energies are focused on the future. The Phillies are in denial, insisting they are trying to win now with the aging remnants of their 2008 World Series champions.  Both are losing (or expect to lose once the season starts) games at a rapid pace. The difference? The Sixers have told the fans what they are attempting, and so far, their actions have been in support of their words.  Last season amounted to an extended tryout of young players, (not a tanking of the season as many in the media have called it) many of whom had been first round draft picks of other teams (usually draft picks of good teams that picked well after the lottery picks). These players had trouble cracking the starting lineup of their playoff contending teams, but they were first round picks for a reason. The Sixers may have found a few keepers amidst all the losing, players such a s Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Henry Sims, and James Anderson, players who may never be stars but still be valuable role players.  Additionally, last year they  had two lottery picks in the draft, one of whom, Michael Carter-Williams was rookie of the year, and one, who most likely would have been the number one pick in the draft if he hadn’t been injured, Nerlens Noel. The Sixers provide Noel an entire season to heal and develop his game, without the pressure of having to win now.

Al the losing pushed them into the draft lottery again, of course, once again, with two picks. This time, they again selected the player expected to go number one but for an injury, Joel Embiid, and once again will likely give him an entire season to recover. Additionally, they shrewdly selected a point guard coveted by another team, then traded him for a more talented forward plus an additional future first round pick. This forward, Dario Saric. like Embiid, will likely not play for the team this year, preferring to hone his game in Turkey before joining the NBA. 

The Sixers, despite having Noel for this season, will likely continue losing without help from this year’s draft, landing them in the lottery once again.   Next year, they should have Carter-Williams, Noel, Embiid, their 2015 fist round pick, and perhaps holder Thaddeus Young in their lineup, with Saric due from Turkey the year after that, just as these high picks start to become veteran NBA players, and hopefully stars.   The pain of losing now is paving eh way to a bright future. Tomorrow, I’ll contrast that with the Phillies approach

Friday, May 9, 2014

Eagles Trade First Round pick for two Third Rounders

I'm not sure trading a first round pick for two third round picks was the best idea. Okay, Okay, I know technically Marcus Smith was a first rounder, but almost no one had him rated higher than a second rounder. I wanted Marqise Lee at 22, when he was still there at 26 I thought they were brilliant, then I, heard the commissioner say Marc...wait...what? Who?

So much for taking the best available player and not reaching for need (yes, a pass rusher was a need). It was just this kind of drafting, the we're smarter than everyone else mindset,  that ended the Andy Reid era.

Let's hope the Eagles are right and everyone else is wrong, but somehow, I don't think so.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

This is how the season ends, not with a bang, but a whimper...

Well, perhaps not a whimper, but a horrible second period. the Flyers started game seven against the Rangers strong, flying around, forechecking like demons, finishing checks, so strong in fact, that it appeared to be only a matter of time before they pushed on past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist. Unfortunately, they were unable to do so, and this failure seemed to leave them dispirited. they came out so flat in the second period, were so sloppy and so disorganized that only the stellar play of goalie Steve Mason kept it from being 5 or 6 to 0 entering the third instead of the actual score of 2-0.
The Flyers came back in the third, carrying play for most of the period, but were only able to push one goal past Lundquist, and that was that, time for the season ending handshakes.

Every year, I root for the Flyers to win the Stanley Cup, and failing that, I root for whoever knocks out the Rangers (this year, I may be in the unhappy position of rooting for Sydney Crosby and the Penguins).
At least it appears the Flyers may have found their answer to their never ending goalie problems in Steve Mason. Let's hope so as they retool in the offseason once again.