Monday, December 31, 2012

So long, Andy

As expected the Eagles have fired Andy Reid after an awful  4-12 season, marred by high priced free agents failing to live up to expectations , the firing of overmatched assistant coaches, and, most damaging of all, the team quitting on the coach. Yes, it was time for Reid to go, yet he was, and by a large margin, the best coach the Eagles have ever had. Their run of success, 9 playoff appearances in his first eleven years was unprecedented in the teams mostly sorry history. He had his weaknesses, certainly, most of them stemming from his strengths. He was a meticulous planner, he famously claimed the Eagles job as a dark horse candidate by displaying a thick binder detailing every facet of his plans for a team as head coach, and he firmly believed his plan was the correct, and only way. While this generally resulted in his teams being well prepared and ready to play, it became his downfall when things went awry. He couldn’t adjust midgame (as evidences by wasted timeouts, inability to switch to the run when teams took away his passing options, options he firmly believed were the best way to run an offense).  When his plan worked, the Eagles often appeared unstoppable( the 2000 season opening game against the Cowboys (the pickle juice game ) where the Eagles started with an onside kick and won going away 41-14, and the Monday night game against the Redskins where Michael Vick led the Eagles to  a 28-0 lead in the first quarter before winning 59-28 come to mind.  When it didn’t, well the last two seasons are full of examples of what could result. It always perplexed me that such a meticulous planer couldn’t see his own weakness, and hire a coach to help him make these adjustments in the heat of battle. Late defensive coordinator Jim Johnson excelled at in game adjustments on the defensive side, and this often helped the Eagles while he was here. The Eagles haven’t been the same since his passing.

I believe Reid will get his due as we look back on his tenure and the memory of his two most recent seasons fade, and I firmly believe some other team will quickly snap him up and benefit from his strengths.  Hopefully, the Eagles will strike gold again with their next coach, someone who can come in and build on the expectation of excellence that Reid engendered in a formerly forlorn franchise.

Monday, December 24, 2012

The Phillies Offseason Part 3: Pitching

Now that the Phillies have addressed some of their needs, a fine run and catch centerfielder in Ben Revere (his throwing arm, unfortunately is reminiscent of former Phillie Juan Pierre), and a stopgap third baseman, Michael Young, who should do fine filling in until young prospect Cody Asche is ready, especially if he is motivated to prove his final year in Texas an aberration, it is time to address the pitching staff. In reality, unless GM Ruben Amaro has a magic trick up his sleeve, the staff is virtually finalized. The biggest needs were a reliable eight inning setup man, and the Phillies signed the man who has been the best in the majors at that role for the past 6 years in Mike Adams. with Adams controlling the eighth inning and closer Jonathan Papelbon holding down the ninth, the remainder of the relief corps can be manned by young arms in the organization (of which there are plenty) and gain experience in less stressful situations. Antonio Bastardo and Jeremy Horst are the front runners for the lefty specialist roles, with Jake Diekman (he of the outstanding stuff and questionable control) in the mix. From the right side, rocket armed B.J. Rosenberg, Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimmer, and 2011 sensation Michael Stutes should all compete for the remaining spots in the seven member relief corps.  September call up, soft-tossing Tyler Cloyd will compete for a spot in the rotation,  and failing to earn that, may be slotted into the long-man sixth starter slot ably manned by Kyle Kendrick in past years.

The rotation should be filled by returning aces Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay , who will comeback as an equally effective, if modified style pitcher (no one will work harder, and he has remade himself before), along with the aforementioned Kyle Kendrick, and recently signed former Washington Nationals lefthander John Lannan who will be highly motivated to prove the Nationals made a mistake in dropping him from their rotation last year.  Should any of these falter, the Phillies have Cloyd, Jonathan Petitbone, and Ethan Martin (acquired last year in the Shane Victorino trade) being groomed at Triple A Lehigh Valley. Pitching should once again be the strength of the 2013 Phillies.