Author Archive: Chuck Lombardi

Philer Up… Now What Rube?

So the trade deadline came and went Wednesday and the Phillies big move was talking about extending Chase Utley’s contract. Just talking about it though, the Phillies were determined not to make any news Wednesday. I really want to be pissed about this but there were very few trades made league wide. Johns Stolnis from That Ball’s Outta Here wrote a good article about how Ruben needed cooperation to get a trade done. He basically argued that Ruben had to work with other GM’s that were being stingy while trying to deal older veterans unwilling to wave their no-trade clauses. You should read it.  It’s a good article but it’s so god damn level headed and I was really hoping to agree with something a little more irrational.

Look, I get it you can’t just make a trade for the sake of getting any deal done. The price has to be right. If you are going to trade Cliff Lee you need  a close to major league ready prospect to be part of the deal in return. Lee is a clear cut number one starter with a lot of post season experience. Plus he is under contract for another two years after this season. So Amaro was right to ask for a ton of prospects. The bottom line is Cliff Lee was going to be a tough player to move. Still, there is something bugging me though.

I guess I just don’t understand in a year you had so many pieces to spare with so many needs how did nothing get done? There was Lee, Utley, Rollins, Papelbon, Young and Chooch that were all speculative trade pieces and no one was moved. Not one?! This team desperately needs another bat maybe two and bullpen help. But I don’t see where that will come from now. Free agency is kind of barren this year, the young arms in the bullpen haven’t been able to figure it out, and who knows if any of the of minor leaguers will be ready next season. We will have to see what Asche can do the last half of the season before we can declare him the everyday third baseman on this team next year.

So basically add Dom Brown back into the lineup and if you like what you see then good because that’s  the product you will most likely be getting for the next two years. If you are like me and don’t like what you see then start preparing yourself for the “if”game again. If Chase’s knees hold up, if Ryan Howard is healthy, if Jimmy and Cole have bounce back years, if Cody Asche is next years Manny Machado, if if if if if if…. It’s  going to take a lot of “ifs” to come to fruition for this team to compete in the near future.

Excitement about the Phillies is dwindling every year. The reason being is that the team has been the same for the past two seasons and it starting to look like it will be for the next two as well. Everyone is excited about the Eagles and Sixers this year and it isn’t because people think they’ll be good. It’s because they’ll be something new and people can see the new direction. Phillies have lost their rudder and are spinning in circles. Fans can’t see what direction this team is heading.  It has people asking “Now what Rube?”.

Philer Up…What The Matt Garza Trade Could Mean For The Phillies

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Matt Garza was traded to the Texas Rangers last night. The trade probably would have been the top headline on a regular day in baseball but it was over shadowed by the Ryan Braun steroid scandal. Just because you will be hearing about the Braun ordeal for the next couple of days doesn’t mean this trade doesn’t deserve to be looked over. It may in fact indirectly impact whether the Phillies are buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.

The deal consisted of five players. Matt Garza will be heading to Texas and in return the Cubs will receive Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and possibly Neil Ramirez. Last season Mike Olt was an untouchable prospect to the Rangers. He played 95 games in AA ball last year batting .288 with 28 HR’s and 82 RBI’s. He’s struggling this season hitting only .219 with 12 HR’s and 34 RBI’s through 68 games but the Cubs are betting on him bouncing back. He was a first round pick in 2010 and considered one of the best prospect in the Rangers organization. The rest of the prospects aren’t as highly touted as Olt. Although C.J. Edwards is doing well in single A ball sporting an 8-2 record with a 1.83 ERA, single A is a long way form the majors.

But the Rangers giving up four prospects one of which was supposed to be untouchable at one point tells me one thing. It’s a sellers market. Don’t get me wrong Garza is decent but I wasn’t expecting Texas to give up that much for him. He is pitching well this season going 6-1 in 11 starts with 3.17 ERA but he is a rental player. So the Rangers gave up all those players for a guy who could be wearing a different uniform after this season. Even if they resign him Garza has never won more than 15 games in a season. If Texas doesn’t win the World Series this deal will have been a bust and frankly I don’t see it working out for them.

That being said if that is the going price for a decent rental pitcher, what is the price for Cliff Lee? An obvious number one with playoff experience and who is under contract for 2 1/2 years. Albeit a huge contract for a guy who is 34 years old, Lee has to appeal to teams in contention. And Cliff isn’t the only one. We have already heard that a dozen teams are interested in Michael Young. What’s Papelbon worth? Chooch? How about Jimmy? Or dare I say it, Utley?

Reub has been saying he wants the Phils to be buyers at the deadline. But after losing two out of three to the Mets and now head to St. Louis and then Detroit the Phillies are in a tough spot. If they lose both series other teams might smell blood in the water and may start banging down the door to get a piece from the Phils.

Reuben will be taking all calls and if a team is desperate enough they could just bowl him over with an offer. If that’s the case we could be waving bye to some of the most cherished players from arguably the greatest era of baseball this town has ever seen.

Philer Up…ICYMI Cliff Lee’s ASG Death Stare

In case you miss it, during the introduction of at the All-Star Cliff Lee had a interesting reaction to his name being called. Actually he had no reaction at all.  At first I thought, “he is such a competitor he is already zoned in”. But the more I watched the video I’m not sure if it screams competitor or sociopath. Look at the players before him. They are all smiling, happy to be there. Someone obviously told them, when the camera is on you tip your cap and smile. Cliff Lee was just like “fuck that noise I’m going to stare directly into the camera without blinking for 60 seconds”. Sure make the people at home feel comfortable by somehow making eye contact from thousands of miles away. Seriously, look at Andrew McCutchen after Lee’s introduction. He smiles and tips his cap but its a nervous smile cause he just realized he is standing next to Charles Mansion in a Phillies uniform. Cliff better watch out if Dexter Morgan starts showing up at Phillies games.

Philer Up…I Think I Hate Hunter Pence

I can’t lie. Right around July of 2011 I wanted the Phillies to trade for Hunter Pence. At that time the Phillies were rolling and living up to preseason expectations. During the month of July they had a 17-8 record and would finish the month with a 69-39 record over all (Haha I said 69). The four aces were killing it with three of the four making the all-star game. Oswalt was hurt or else he would have had a good chance of making it as well. All of us were starting to taste the World Series. But having been knocked out by San Fran the year before after finishing with the best record in baseball, Phillies fans wanted a little more insurance.

That insurance went by the name of Hunter Pence. A right handed bat who could protect Ryan Howard. A high energy guy that hustled on every play. It felt like it was the perfect match for this city. Plus he wasn’t a rental he was under contract for another year. All we had to do was convince Ed Wade to hand him over to us. Shouldn’t have be hard after Wade basically gave us Roy Oswalt the year before for practically nothing. We would get Hunter Pence but it was at a much higher price than we got Oswalt for.

When the trade went through I think most people were ecstatic. But after hearing the pieces involved it gave most knowledgable fans some pause.  We got Pence but we sent Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zied and a player to be named later which turned out to be Domingo Santana.

The big pieces were Cosart and Singleton. Cosart was the 50th ranked prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America. Singleton was ranked 34th. Cosart was expected to be a middle of the rotation pitcher but has been dominant since moving to the Astros organization. Last night was his major league debut and Cosart went 8 shutout innings striking out 2 and walking 3 and got the win. He had a no hitter through  6 1/3 innings before the Rays broke it up. Tampa had won their previous 8 games and Cosart was pitching against David Price who also pitched a gem. Price went 9 innings giving up only 2 runs.

Last year in AA ball Singleton batted .284 with 21 HR’s, 79 RBI’s in 461 AB’s. He also had 88 walks and 94 runs scored. Singleton has just been promoted to AAA ball after only playing six games in AA this season due to being suspended for failing a drug test. It wasn’t for PED’s, it was marijuana, which I think is a performance reducing drug. PRD’s? If it wasn’t for the suspension Singleton may be in the majors already and he’s only 21. Singleton is expected to be the future #3 or #4 hitter in the Astros lineup.

If these guys meet their expectations we will have paid a huge price for a player we didn’t get much out of. I’m not saying he’s a bad player, I think he is decent. But put it this way, in the 105 games before the Pence trade, the Phillies scored 4.32 runs per game, while scoring 4.54 runs per game in the 57 games after the Pence trade. In the 2011 NLDS he went 4-19 with 4 RBI’s and no extra base hits in five games. That’s a .211 batting average.

We still are in need of a right fielder and a right handed bat that can hit fifth. If Pence was that good he would still be on this team. Unless Tommy Joseph is a stud Hunter Pence costs way more than he was worth. Pence is a good guy and I don’t really hate him but if Cosart and Singleton become studs I will curse Pence forever.

Sixers Balls…Aaron Gordon Might be on the Sixers Radar in 2014

Most Sixers fans are probably looking forward to the 2014 draft. That’s because the Sixers have put themselves in a great position for a draft that looks to be one of the deepest in years. It’s drawing comparisons to the 2003 draft. In case you forgot that is the year Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, D Wade and Chris Bosh were drafted.

Most of the hype about the 2014 draft is surrounding Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins is  expected to be the number one overall pick and supposedly the best prospect since Lebron. Jabari Parker and Julius Randle are the other top prospects that have garnered a lot of attention. But as of yet, I haven’t heard much talk about Aaron Gordon. A top prospect that hasn’t received as much fan fair as Wiggins, Parker or Randle but is about to make some noise as a freshman.

Gordon is a 6-8 210 lb forward who is crazy athletic. Aaron will be attending Arizona next season and will be joined by Chester High Schools Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. He went to Archbishop Mitty High School in California. Gordon played in the McDonald’s All American game scoring 24 points and pulled 8 boards, leading the West to a 110–99 victory. He was the games MVP. Gordon also played on the gold-medal winning FIBA USA U-19 team. He averaged a team best 12.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in only 18.8 minutes per game. He was awarded MVP of the tournament. Check out what he does with this lob pass in the USA training camp:

Aaron is less heralded because although he is seen as having immense potential the other three already look polished. Most people are targeting him as a four but he has said he wants to eventually become a two or three. I’ve also read that his handle is shaky and his jumper is inconsistent. But he’s young. Gordon doesn’t turn 18 until September. Plus, check out this kid’s highlight reel. I think it compares with anything you will see from Wiggins, Parker or Randle. It looks like Gordon is capable of being in the same class as them. You be the judge:

Arizona’s team looks to be shaping up nice. So as they start to receive more national coverage the more you’ll hear Aaron Gordon’s name. And if the Sixers don’t get the first pick in the draft but end up with Gordon, that might not be such a bad thing.

WAG Wednesday….Kerry Washington, Unfortunately

You know you’ve missed it. It’s the WAG of the week again.  WAG stands for Wives And Girlfriend’s and here at PhillyTugger we bring you the hottest WAGs of professional athletes from all sports across the world. This weeks WAG is Kerry Washington… Unfortunately.

I say unfortunately for two reasons. Number 1, I love Kerry Washington. This girl has it all, she’s beautiful, she’s smart and talented. She doesn’t seem to be the smoking hot but shallow actress you might see out of Hollywood. She is a member of V-Day, a global movement that brings awareness to violence against women and girls. Washington has also spent time volunteering through the Adopt-a-Classroom program in New York as well as Green America,  a nonprofit organization that promotes ethical consumerism. She seems like a decent person.

The second reason I’m upset is she married Nnamdi Asomugha. The dude was one of the best corners in the league but comes to Philadelphia, stinks up the joint for two years, eats his lunch in his car and heads off to San Fran to marry Kerry Washington! Bastard! I guess it makes sense. Nnamdi is a smart dude and he also dabbles in acting. If he came here and was a shutdown corner I would feel better about this.

If you by any chance feel the same way that I do there’s still hope. Although it’s being reported that Washington and Nnamdi were married their relationship was kept quiet and  neither of them have confirmed the marriage. Maybe it’s not true and it will spare us from being pissed off at  Nnamdi a second time. Or maybe it’s worse then that, maybe Kerry Washington got Nnamdi’d:

 

Philer Up…Did Charlie Bust Ass?!!

Last night in the post game interview it sounded like Charlie was talking out of his ass. Literally! Check it out it’s about 20 seconds in. Right when Charlie says “we got to grind it out”, it sounds like he is grinding one out in his pants. Tell me if you think Charlie busted ass. The video is curtesy of my brother Matt Lombardi. Follow him on Twitter @VoiceofPhila

Sixers Balls…Bynum Won’t Workout for Teams Before Signing

Andrew Bynum’s agent is telling teams interested in him that he WON’T workout for them before signing! Is this dude serious? I mean come on. Bynum’s agent has to feel like an idiot even saying that out loud to himself. For a guy who played as many minutes as I did this past NBA season he’s got stones for that to even cross his mind. Joe Hickman was in that building more than Andrew Bynum was last season. Seriously, Joe worked there and he may have set foot on the court more the Andrew did too (that’s speculation but possible, for further questions tweet him @PhillyTugger).

This is what the report from yahoo sports said:

Bynum’s agent, David Lee, said Bynum will begin training in July in Atlanta in preparation for next season after completing his rehabilitation from knee surgery. The knee injury caused Bynum to miss the entire 2012-13 season with the Sixers. Lee said there are a “half dozen teams” interested in Bynum and they will be given MRI and other needed medical reports. Bynum, however, will not work out for teams. via Yahoo!Sports.com

If I was an NBA GM there is no way I’m giving Bynum big money before I see what he can do on the court. Not after what he pulled last year. He showed he was completely comfortable with sitting out, while collecting 16 million and change, to get prepare for what is really important to him. Salsa dancing in Madrid. Again if I was GM and he isn’t working out before signing the only way I would do it is if he signs a low ball contract. That way Bynum would become a low risk high reward signing. But some team, probably one that wants Dwight Howard but is unable to sign him, will overpay for Bynum.

Andrew could have a bounce back season next year but I would be surprised if he stays healthy through the entirety of a multi year deal. Another thing interested teams will have to take into account is along with Bynum’s knee issues it seems he also has issues above the neck. So for those teams interest in Bynum one piece of advice from this Sixer fan, buyer beware. Oh yeah and Andrew will be sending this tape of his workout along with his MRI’s and Medical records.

Philer UP…Injuries Earn Utley the Label of Highest Paid Bench Warmer

Forbes Magazine does a list of the highest paid players throughout professional sports that have been unable to keep themselves in the game for one reason or another.  Guess who topped this years list? Our boy Chase Utley. That’s right, Chase Utley, you are reading that correctly. I know none of us think of Chase as a bench warmer but Forbes points out something staggering that not many of us in the city  acknowledge.

The magazine does a good job of explaining. Here’s what they  said:

Utley’s recent month on the disabled list is only the latest in a series of bumps, bruises and tears that have kept him out of more than 200 games since the beginning of the 2010 season, all while collecting some $60 million. So as much as we love him, there’s little choice but to declare Utley as sports’ best-paid bench warmer. via www.Forbes.com

Ahh Snap! Forbes also points out that they realize that injuries deserve some sympathy. But perpetually being hurt affects a players value and at some point the player must prove that they can stay on the field. I heard Ike Reese say yesterday when comparing J Roll and Chase that availability is sometimes  more important than ability. I agree with that. At some point the player who is able to contribute to a team everyday will be more valuable then a more talented player who contributes a lot but only when they are able to make it on the field.

Utley is joined on the list by mostly NBA players. As long as the NBA maintains the way they work their salary there will alway be high paid bums floating around eating up cap space.  Some of the accompanying names are Rashard Lewis, Ben Gordon, Kris Humphries and a couple of other NBA pine riders. Brian Roberts of the Orioles was the only other baseball player on list who basically is in a similar situation as Utley. Laurent Robinson was the only NFL player to make the list.

Justin Pugh: 19th Pick Gets Top Celebration

Even though Justin Pugh is now a part of the dreaded New York Giant it’s good to see a local kid make it. Pugh is from the Bucks County area and it would have been nice to see him in an Eagles uniform. From everything I’ve heard of the kid  it couldn’t have happen to a better guy. And as you can see from this video he has a lot of people around him that feel the same way. I’d take this reaction over anything that could’ve been provided at Radio City Music Hall.