Monday, January 21, 2008

Say Goodbye

I'm not closing this one, but I'm making a move. My new address is:

For reasons mentioned in the inaugural post made over there. This will stay up as an archive for what I've written before, but it was just time for a change. Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you at the new blog.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

2007 NFL Review: Browns and Ravens

Since I'm fishing for updates, let's review my 2007 NFL previews.

Cleveland Browns:

Cheers: Their Offensive Line was very good. They improved their running game tremendously and their pass protection was much better. Not only that, they did it all without LeCharles Bentley. D’Qwell Jackson is really the only guy who delivered. Davis missed some starts, McGinest was never that good and Wimbley took a step back.

Jeers: They became very settled at the skill positions in a hurry. Derek Anderson, a guy that was irrelevant to pro football, steps in for Charlie Frye and leads one of the league’s highest scoring offenses. Braylon Edwards broke out and emerged as a star. Winslow helped out a lot, and Jamal Lewis played well. Their defense was as poor as advertised.

On second thought… they beat expectations easily. They nearly made the playoffs, and in the beginning of the year, I was really worried the Cowboys would get their pick and get an elite talent.

New guy who won’t meet expectations: Jamal Lewis. He proved his tank wasn’t empty yet. He had his best YPC in three years and he set career highs in the receiving game. They want to bring him back for next year, and why not?

New guy who will meet expectations: Brady Quinn. Maybe next year. He really didn’t play that much, and there was no reason for him to with the way Anderson emerged. I figured he would play more than he did.

As for next year… they’re definitely going in the right direction now. They don’t have a first round pick, so they’re going to have to draft smartly and find a way to improve the defense. They also have a decision to make at Quarterback. Derek Anderson is a restricted free agent, so the Browns will be able to match any offer. He could be traded; without a first round pick, moving Anderson for a nice package could really help them address their needs.

Baltimore Ravens:

Cheers: Their defense was not as good, and their record, and ultimately their head coach, paid the price. The scoring defense allowed twice as many points as last year. They allowed more yards, and to be frank, their truly strong unit wasn’t good this year. If the Ravens don’t have defense, they’re in a lot of trouble and it showed. McGahee had his best YPC, but he didn’t find the end zone as much as the Ravens would’ve liked.

Jeers: It wasn’t exactly a difficult prediction, but their offense stunk. Their offense wasn’t even close to adequate. Steve McNair was banged up and not effective, and Kyle Boller was equally ineffective. Troy Smith provided a spark for a few quarters at the end of the year, but the Ravens need stability in the passing game.

On second thought… they went as far as their offense took them: not far. Todd Heap was banged up again, and Mark Clayton went to the Reggie Brown school of development. When their defense didn’t play as well as they have in recent years, it was all over. They didn’t replace Adalius Thomas’ pass rushing ability, and that could’ve been a factor in their defensive struggles.

New guy who won’t meet expectations: Willis McGahee. Eh, I’d say he played pretty well, considering the circumstances. He was a decent runner and might’ve been the best player on this putrid offense. He wore down the Patriots and almost gave Baltimore a chance to pull that upset.

New guy who will meet expectations: Ben Grubbs. He wasn’t bad. He played in all 16 games and got 12 starts, which isn’t bad for a rookie. The Ravens are hoping he continues his development and helps out the running game between the tackles.

As for next year… the Ravens have a lot of questions to answer, and their head coach is one of them. I think they might’ve made a mistake firing Rex Ryan. I know they wanted to clean house, but Ryan is a quality coach that should’ve been kept on. Their offense is awful and with Suggs leaving, they have another defensive player to replace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

City Six

We’re two months into the college hoops season, and frankly, it’s probably been that long since my last update. Let’s take a look at City Six basketball and see how the season is going.

Villanova 9-1

W Penn 87-61

W Temple 101-93

They’re unbeaten in the city so far, and with two games left, they’ll probably maintain their dominance. They’re just so far and away better than the rest of Philadelphia. Their only loss on the season is against NC State, a mediocre ACC team whose best player is a big guy, who you would expect to be about to beat the Wildcats. Scottie Reynolds is leading the team in scoring again, but perhaps the biggest key to their season as they enter Big East play is how well their two other experienced players do: Dante Cunningham and Shane Clark. Both of these guys having taken larger roles in the offense this year, and they’ve improved their averages from a year ago. These two juniors are really the only big plays Jay Wright has to work with, so as Cunningham and Clark go, so do the Wildcats.

Temple 6-5

L Villanova 101-93

W Drexel 64-51

Temple is in its second year under Fran Dunphy, and once again, they’re playing a pretty tough schedule. With games against Tennessee, Florida and Duke, the Owls are pretty much asking for punishment. Dionte Christmas and Mark Tyndale are once again providing the scoring, but they’re not getting so much from anyone else. They’re still a pretty young team, so Temple is going to go through some growing pains in A10 play. Someone besides Christmas or Tyndale is going to have to step up before this Owls team breaks through and stops sputtering around .500.

St. Joe’s 5-4

The Hawks have had a couple tough losses to top 25 teams. Besides maybe Holy Cross, all of their losses are against tough teams, so they might be a little better than their record indicates. Like Temple, Phil Martelli is working with a pretty young team. Pat Calathes, Ahmad Nivins and Rob Ferguson are veteran players, but some of the younger players on this team could help get the Hawks back onto the national scene very soon.

La Salle 4-6

I hate to just keep saying “they’re a young team” for everyone that isn’t Villanova, but the Explorers are. Unfortunately, their best player will not be back for next season. Darnell Harris leads the team in scoring as a senior. They don’t get much scoring from anyone else, so other guys need to chip in for La Salle to start playing better. Two of their others players, Rodney Green and Ruben Guillandeaux, are sophomores, so when they continue to get better, the Explorers could start winning some games.

Drexel 6-5, 0-1

W Penn 67-59

L Temple 64-51

After a strong 06-07 campaign, Drexel looked to build on their success with a potential tournament berth. Unfortunately for the Dragons, it looks unlikely. They lost three key players, and they haven’t adequately replaced their ability. Frank Elegar is the best player on the team for the second consecutive season, but he doesn’t have any help. I know Bruiser Flint runs an aggressive defensive style of play, but someone else needs to score points. Tramayne Hawthorne has been turning the ball over more than last year, and the Dragons cannot afford to make many mistakes. If their huge loss to George Mason is any indication on how conference play will go, the CAA will not treat Drexel kindly this year.

Penn 4-7

L Drexel 67-69

L Villanova 87-61

It was expected to be a down year for the Quakers. They weren’t the preseason favorite to win the Ivy League for the first time since Herbert Hoover’s presidency, but they’ve had a rougher go of things than anyone expected. Mark Zoller and Ibrahim Jaaber were great players, and it’s tough to replace guys that completely carried the team. Two of Penn’s key players, Tyler Bernardini and Jack Eggleston are freshmen, so their experience now is going to help the Quakers in the future.

There’s my uninformed outlook on City Six basketball. Look for me to continue to be uninformed in later entries.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Feeley? You kidding me, Feeley? I just hope we can complete a pass!

For the first time all season, the Eagles have won two games in a row and sitting at .500. Of course, they figure to be below .500 after next week, but I’ll get to that later.

They only won by 10 points, but they outplayed the Dolphins by more than that. The defense was great. Although they didn’t sack John Beck or even force a turnover, they won the game today. With the exception of a few nice runs, Chatman was bottled up and a non-factor. Despite being kept clean most of the game, Beck looked uncomfortable in the pocket, but Rich Gannon might’ve been the most flustered QB in Philadelphia today.

Although it was late in the game, the incredible goal line stand by the defense was the backbreaker. The Dolphins had made some big plays on that drive, and it looked like the momentum was swinging back in their favor. After a Trent Cole tackle for loss, a lucky deflection by Takeo Spikes and another nice play by Spikes to stop Chatman short of the goal line, Cam Cameron made an explicitly poor play call, in which Juqua Thomas tackled Chatman 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage on a toss play. It was a dumb play to call with the game on the line, and the play design is so bad it should be tossed out of the playbook.

Brian Westbrook had one of his best games, and he was completely taken out of the passing game. He had career highs in carries and rushing yards, which we should’ve expected going into a game against one of the league’s worst run defenses. However, one might wonder if that would’ve happened if McNabb didn’t get hurt.

On a play before halftime, a DB hit McNabb hard on a blitz, and he limped off the field. After a collective groan from Eagles fans, the prevailing feeling of “here we go again,” and some x-rays, McNabb only has an ankle sprain, and he should be good to go pretty soon.

The fans calling for McNabb’s head and demanding Feeley or Kolb to play got their wish. However, A.J. only showed that McNabb is still the best option for this team. Don’t get me wrong; Feeley did enough to win, but this wasn’t a full game. I don’t trust him for a big chunk of games. He’s okay if he has to fill in, but the Eagles are looking to win games, and over the course of a month or two, he’d prove to be detrimental.

Almost immediately after he came into the game, Feeley did nothing to stop the Eagles’ turnover problems. He became part of the problem when he badly underthrew a receiver on top of making a bad decision to throw that way in the first place. It was another Dolphin red zone pick, taking more points off the scoreboard for the Eagles. He doesn’t have the arm strength to make difficult throws, and he has pretty spotty accuracy, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He made some nice plays, including a great touch pass in the seam to LJ Smith and a tough TD pass to Jason Avant, who was missing in action since the Green Bay game.

I’m not defending McNabb’s play today though. He played poorly in the poor weather conditions. His throws were off and he was taking some hard hits. The picks were bad passes and it just wasn’t one of his games. However, I’m not sure what McNabb was doing throwing so many times in the heavy wind and precipitation, which actually cleared up by the end of the game. They should’ve come out pounding the ball from the start. We shouldn’t need to wait for McNabb to get beat up and taken out of the game before we start using Westbrook. Notice how we finally used Buckhalter and Westbrook in the same formation and it worked?

That leads me into next week. The Patriots just destroyed another opponent, and the Eagles are in the crosshairs next. If the Eagles are going to do the impossible, and let me go on the record right now as saying it won’t happen, things have to be perfect, from the coaching staff all the way down to Reno Mahe.

They need to run the ball. They need to use Westbrook, Buckhalter, Stanley Pritchett, whoever. They need to throw the kitchen sink at the Patriots’ front seven. Don’t get me wrong; they can stop the run, but their best chance at beating the Patriots involves keeping their offense off the field. I’m not sure if this O-Line can hold up in pass protection long enough to give McNabb a chance to win this game himself.

Trent Cole is going to have to play the game of his life. This was his third straight game without a sack, so it’s time for him to break out again. The Eagles need to be able to generate pressure with their front four. If they have to bring the blitz, it’s going to leave too many holes in coverage, which the Patriots weapons will easily be able to exploit.

One final thing to ponder: If the Eagles were able to beat the Patriots, would this avenge the Super Bowl loss? I guess some could say that ending the perfect season is revenge for being beat in the big game, but I disagree. I never bought into the revenge game hype. I don’t think a championship loser feels any better about their loss if they emerge victorious in the regular season the next year.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Philadelphia Quick Hits

I’ll get back into the blogging game with this relatively cheap entry. If I like how it goes, maybe I’ll turn this into a regular feature- as regular as I can get, anyway.


They’ll take on the winless Dolphins on Sunday. However, they could be without Brian Westbrook, who hurt his knee lifting weights on Wednesday. Against the Dolphins, he could afford a week off, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. It’s going to be interesting to see if he does suit up but the Eagles aren’t confident in his health. Will they activate both Buckhalter and Hunt? I wouldn’t count on it.

Jim Johnson basically said this week that Juqua Thomas is the new starter at LDE, and Kearse is losing his snaps to Thomas and second rounder Victor Abiamiri. It’s about time. Kearse has lost his explosiveness, and he plays like he knows it. He doesn’t use his athleticism to rush the passer anymore, and he tries to use a bull rush to generate pressure. It’s not a very effective move for someone who lost a lot of weight.

The Eagles are struggling, but they could still have a number of Pro Bowlers. Donovan McNabb and Kevin Curtis are surprisingly close; Brian Westbrook is a lock if he remains healthy; Andrews or Runyan could get a spot; both of the starting Defensive Tackles, Brodrick Bunkley and Mike Patterson, are playing great and have been the key to improving the defense.


They’re clearly committed to blocking shots, which is very admirable. However, at some point, they need to start playing more soundly in their own zone. They aren’t very aggressive on the back check and they make sloppy passes resulting in turnovers. Martin Biron has been playing great so far, but I’m not sure how long he can keep up with his team constantly being out shot.

Simon Gagne continues to be out of the lineup. Getting Scottie Upshall back was a nice boost because he’s an athletic skater who can score goals. If this team can manage to stay the least bit healthy for a little bit, it will be a first.

I wasn’t so sure that Steve Downie would join the Flyers when his suspension ended, but now I think it’s possible. Ben Eager isn’t showing any offensive ability at all, and the failed 3 on 1 breakaway attempt last night was a huge turning point. Riley Cote hasn’t added much himself. You want a tough guy on the team, but shouldn’t they contribute something else?


They just completed a great comeback against Portland, and not many people were in South Philadelphia to see it. After being outplayed for the entire first half and leaving Sixers fans groaning, they dominated the fourth quarter to pull out the win. They’ve struggled early this season, but like past years, I don’t think we’ll see them tank or stop playing hard.

Believe it or not, young players helped fuel the comeback against the Trailblazers. Thaddeus Young saw significant action for really the first time all season. Jason Smith continued to play a key role in a rotation down low, and Lou Williams provided a scoring spark. It’s time for these guys to start playing a lot of minutes. Their athleticism improves the entire team on the floor.

I don’t know what’s wrong with Andre Miller, but he’s not playing as well as we saw last year. He’s been a very good PG during his career, but this year, Miller has played a different game. He’s taking more shots and not being the distributor he has been his entire career. He’s hurting any trade value he had prior to the season.


Reports say that they have about 10-15 million dollars left in the budget to spend. At some point in the coming days, I’m going to take another look at the numbers and confirm the total.

Pat Gillick says the rest of the resources available will be spent on pitching, but as we’ve seen in his tenure, he doesn’t do what he says, and in fact, he often does the opposite. He names Brett Myers the closer, and trades for Brad Lidge the next day. Fans think the rotation is set when he signs Adam Eaton, and they trade for Freddy Garcia. Don’t take his word too seriously.

I like Shawn Green as a platoon player with Jayson Werth. He’s a very good option against righties, so a straight platoon would help both players. Green can no longer hit lefties, so that could create some matchup problems late, but they need another guy in RF.

City Six

I learned that “City Six” is the proper way to talk about Philly college hoops, and not “Big Five Plus One.” We’ll start with the one in the major conference in Villanova. They lost Curtis Sumpter, which means their front court is weaker than it usually is. Scottie Reynolds is a great player, but other guys are going to have to step up. Verdict: about the same as last year. They should get into the tournament and lose early again.

Drexel was the underdog story of the year in the city, but they lost a lot. Mejias, Mason and Crawford were some key losses, but they do get their best player back in Frank Elegar. Bruiser Flint is a great coach, and if he can get his guys to keep working hard, they could make some noise in the CAA again. Verdict: probably worse than last year. They’re inexperienced.

La Salle struggled last season after losing Stephen Smith, and I expect the same from them this year. I really don’t know that much about them, so I’m not going to pretend that I do.

St Joe’s played well in front of the nation earlier this week against Syracuse. They’re pretty young, but they could develop into one of the better teams in the A10. Pat Calathes has been around through the rebuilding since the Elite Eight run, and he could lead this otherwise inexperienced team. Verdict: they should improve on last year.

Temple is another young team looking to get better in the A10, but they’ve struggled early on this year. They’ve blown a couple of big leads and didn’t wrap up games when they should have. However, when push comes to shove, Fran Dunphy is a good coach and will get these guys ready to play more often than not. Dionte Christmas is just one player looking to continue to revive Temple basketball. Verdict: they should improve on last year.

Penn is another team I don’t know much about. I do know they lost their two best players from last year, and their dynasty of sorts in the Ivy League could be in danger.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why I'm afraid of the Chicago Bears

I return to blogging with this game day entry.

Around the internet this week, there are a lot of people calling this game in the Eagles’ favor. The Bears aren’t very good on the road, but this game is going to be a challenge. I don’t see a lopsided game like some are predicting.

The Bears defense hasn’t been very good so far, but it’s still going to present difficulties for the Eagles offense. They run a defense similar to the fabled Tampa 2 scheme. This means that, for most of the game, the Chicago corners are going to be playing physical with our receivers and jamming them at the line. The Eagles have struggled with this so far in 2007. Their record when the defense doesn’t employ press coverage: 2-0. Their record when they do? 0-3.

It throws off the timing of the passing game. If the receivers aren’t quick or strong enough to get off the line, McNabb is going to take his three or five step drops and not find anyone open. That will make McNabb hold onto the ball too long, and he ends up on his back like we’ve seen throughout the year. Chicago has a great pass rush, so the line is going to have to hold up today.

If the Cover 2 has one weakness in pass defense, it’s how the middle of the defense is open. When the safeties are splitting the field deep and the corners are staying around the flats, the linebackers are relied on to cover just about the entire field. Ask any Tight End at any level of football, and they will tell you they love the Cover 2. It leaves seams and windows open in the defense for them to roam around and make plays. Unfortunately, the Eagles can’t take advantage of this weakness. LJ Smith is out again, and Matt Schobel and Brent Celek haven’t come close to matching Smith’s production so far.

If the Eagles are going to score a lot of points, they need to run the ball. Everyone says that every week, but it’s especially true today. Chicago’s run defense has been awful, and they’re really banged up. The middle of the defense hasn’t been strong for a couple years now, mostly because Tommie Harris spends a lot of time on the sideline and they have little depth behind him. They need to find a way to get as many as 35 carries for Westbrook, Buckhalter and maybe even Tony Hunt.

The Bears have one weapon on offense and special teams. I’m not worried about Brian Griese. He’s going to make his throws, but he’ll always make his share of mistakes. Cedric Benson hasn’t played up to his draft status and contract so far in his career. Muhammad’s physical, but the Eagles can handle him. Berrian’s fast, but the Eagles can handle him. Tight Ends haven’t had success against the Eagles all year, so I think Gocong can handle Olsen. They need to find a way to stop Devin Hester.

He’s obviously a weapon in the return game. This doesn’t bode well for the Eagles, whose coverage units have been mediocre at best in recent years. Gone are the days of someone racing down the field and making a huge hit inside the 20. The kick cover unit just makes you hope the other team doesn’t run one back. They need to do whatever it takes to contain the return game, whether it be punting it out of bounds every time or popping a kickoff up to an up man.

However, last week, Hester showed that he can make plays on offense. He caught an 80+ yard TD to tie up the game against Minnesota. I’m sure the Bears know the Eagles’ corners play sides, so if Lito Sheppard isn’t completely healthy and isn’t playing every snap on defense, I’m sure they’ll try and get Hester lined up against William James. That could be bad news for the Eagles, so hopefully Sheppard can go the whole game.

After all that, I still think the Eagles will win. They’re back at home where they had a little offensive success against Detroit, so hopefully they can duplicate it, or at least score more than 16 points. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking this will be an easy game because Chicago’s record is bad though.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A look to 08

After that quick end to the Phillies’ postseason chase, it’s time to look towards 2008. I’m not going to mention any specific potential free agent or trade targets, and I’m only going to look at what we have on the payroll for 2008, how much money there will be to spend and some areas the Phillies need to improve on. For players that are under team control, whether they be in arbitration or not, I’ll try and estimate what they’ll be paid, even though that’ll be pretty tough.

Players that will be under contract


Carlos Ruiz: $450,000 (second year of team control-) He emerged as a very good defensive catcher in his rookie season, and it didn’t take him long to dominate the catcher platoon. Although his hitting didn’t remain hot throughout the season, he’s not that bad of an 8 hole hitter.

Chris Coste: $450,000 (second year of team control-) He didn’t hit well down the stretch, but I still think he’s a decent backup catcher. His defense isn’t very good, but as a bench player, he has some value because he’s not a bad pinch hitter. However, I could see him getting lost in a numbers game, and he still has a couple of option years left.


1B Ryan Howard: $7.5 million (first year of arbitration-) It’s possible that he’s locked up long term and this number could be a little less in the first year of a new deal, but he’s going to get his dough this offseason. Although he set the strikeout record, he was still a huge power threat in the middle of the lineup. Miguel Cabrera got 7.4 in his first year of arbitration last offseason, and I think Howard’s 2006 season will carry a lot of weight.

2B Chase Utley: $7.5 million (second year of long-term contract-) Utley’s salary takes a big jump from 07 to 08, but he deserves every penny. I think he would be MVP if he didn’t break his hand. After 06, I didn’t think there was any way the guy could get better. He did. Hopefully he surprises me again.

SS Jimmy Rollins: $7 million (third year of long-term contract-) After predicting the Phillies would topple the Mets in spring, Jimmy was not only proven correct, he might be awarded with the MVP award after a career season. He does so much for this team, and his contract is really looking like a bargain now.

3B Greg Dobbs: $475,000 (third year of team control-) Dobbs was a nice surprise for the Phillies in 2007. He was a waiver claim from Seattle, killed the ball in spring and forced the Phillies to eventually add him to the starting lineup. He can’t hit lefties and he doesn’t play defense very well, but at the very least, he can be a part of a platoon at several different positions.

3B Wes Helms: $2.15 million (final year of FA contract-) Helms was a huge disappointment in 2007. He was expected to strengthen the bottom of the Phillies lineup and provide some much needed power from 3B. He did neither, and eventually lost just about all of his ABs. He’s a relatively cheap bench player, so I’m not going to complain about the 2 mil.


Pat Burrell: $14 million (final year of long-term contract-) After a miserable May and June which saw Pat lose a lot of starts, he became one of the best players in baseball in the second half. He ended up with 30 home runs and really did a good job picking up the slack when Utley got hurt. Some people want him traded now that he may have a bit of value after his hot finish, and I disagree. There’s only one year left on his deal and it’s tough to replace production like we got from him.

Michael Bourn: $450,000 (second year of team control-) He provided a nice spark off the bench with his game changing speed. For a few starts in June when Burrell was sat down, he collected a few hits and played good defense. You’d love to keep someone as fast as he is, but there are some teams that will be calling for him, and he could be used as trade bait to improve the pitching.

Shane Victorino: $475,000 (third year of team control-) Victorino really developed in 2007. This was his first full year of starting and he emerged as a great defender and a great base runner. He could end up having 20 home run power and if he becomes a bit more patient, he could be dangerous at the top of a lineup. As is the case with Michael Bourn, his tools could garner interest from several teams and could be used to improve pitching. However, with Aaron Rowand likely on the move, he could take over in CF for the Phillies.

Jayson Werth: $2.5 million (first year of arbitration-) Werth struggled early on in the season, but he got hot after returning from a wrist injury and did a great job of filling in after Victorino got hurt. He’s great against left handed pitchers so he could be valuable as either a platoon player or a good bat off the bench.


Cole Hamels: $500,000 (second year of team control, likely to become a super two after next year-) Cole has clearly became the ace of the staff, and had he not gotten hurt, he could’ve potentially won 20 games. He had a bit of a down period in the middle months of the season, but overall, he had a breakout year and is developing into one of the best starters in the league.

Brett Myers: $8.5 million (second year of long-term contract-) What’s Brett doing here, you might ask? I’m penciling him back into the rotation. I just think it makes sense. You’re paying him starter’s money; he’s had success as a starter; you have a huge hole at the top of the rotation. You have to do it. In this free agent market, it’s going to be easier and cheaper to find a good reliever than it will be to find a top of the line starter like Brett.

Kyle Kendrick: $400,000 (first year of team control-) The Phillies and their fans were pleasantly surprised with what they got from Kyle after a June call up. No one expected him to stick, and he made some good starts in big games down the stretch. His peripherals indicate that he might not be as good next year, but he always seemed to get out of jams.

Adam Eaton, or at the very least, his contract: 7.635 million (second year of FA contract-) I don’t know if he’s going to pitch here in 2008, but I’m going to lean towards “yes” because no one except Dave Littlefield would ever take his contract. Littlefield being out of a job, the Phillies will be stuck with him for the duration. There’s no way he can be this bad again next year, right?

Jamie Moyer: 5.5 million (final year of contract extension-) Jamie was pretty inconsistent in 2007, but he had two great starts to finish the year, and I hope we haven’t seen the last of him. He can generally throw enough innings to keep you in the game, and he’s durable, which is huge at the end of the rotation. His influence over younger guys is irreplaceable.


Tom Gordon: 5.5 million (final year of free agent contract-) He was hurt for much of the year and in April he might’ve cost the team some games, but he was big in late September. He cannot be the closer next year, but as a set up man, I’m fine with one more year of Gordon.

Ryan Madson: 2.5 million (second year of arbitration-) Losing Mad Dog to a shoulder injury really depleted the pen, and he could’ve made a world of difference. He was consistent in a 7th inning role and has been one of the team’s best relievers the past few years. Hopefully he can come back healthy and contribute again in 2008.

Geoff Geary: 1.1 million (second year of arbitration-) I’m not positive on whether or not this is Geary’s second year, but I’ll go ahead and say yes. He got hit hard in the early and middle parts of the year, but he came back to the majors and really gave them some key innings late in the year. He’ll probably come back in a middle relief role next year.

Julio Mateo: 1.5 million (team option-) At this price, I see no reason why they wouldn’t pick up the option. He was a mediocre pitcher in Seattle, but in a bullpen that prominently featured Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca, we could use mediocre in those middle innings. We didn’t see him in 2007, but he should get a shot to make the team out of camp in March.


C Rod Barajas: $500,000- It’s either this or pay him $5 million. I don’t think so.

3B Abraham Nunez: $175,000- I like his glove, but it doesn’t make up for how bad he is at the plate.

Jim Thome

DH Jim Thome: 5.5 million- I like the guy, but I’m sick of him being on the payroll.

That all totals up to $82,260,000. Of course, my team control and arbitration estimates could be and probably will be way off, but they’re just there to give us an idea on how much we’re spending. With that in mind, let’s look at some of our free agents and the contracts I think they’ll sign:

Free Agents

CF Aaron Rowand: 4 years, 48 million- This is a lot of cash for a guy who’s coming off a career year. I think I’m going to have to pass on him, as much as I like the guy. Money needs to be spent on pitching, and we just might not have that much cash to go around this offseason.

RP J.C. Romero: 4 years, 16 million- Game 3 aside, Romero was a shutdown reliever after joining the Phillies. He absolutely has to be re-signed. He’s effective against both right and left handed batters and despite the walks, most people were confident with him coming in the game every time.

2B Tadahito Iguchi: 2 years, 8 million- If he’s willing to come back and learn third, with no guarantee for at bats, you almost have to pull the trigger on this. Unfortunately, I don’t think he will be. He’s a good contact hitter who plays a solid all around game. He’s a great guy to have off the bench, but he’s going to want to play.

Freddy Garcia: 1 year, 9 million- Not all of that will be guaranteed, but a team’s going to be taking a chance on his health. I think he’ll end up in the AL again so he doesn’t have to hit. He wasn’t happy about being taken out because his AB was coming up, and he prefers the management style of the American League.

Jon Lieber: 2 years, 16 million- He was out of shape again, and it might’ve cost him a decent contract. However, with teams in dire need of pitching, someone’s going to spend this much on him. He probably wouldn’t be a bad guy to have at the back of the rotation, but at that price, I’m going to have to decline.

I’d like to bring back Iguchi and Romero, so we’ll add 8 million onto my payroll projection, putting the Phillies at $92,260,000. The owners like to stay around the $95 million mark, but with this year’s great attendance and additional playoff revenue, let’s say they’ll bump it up to $100 million.

I think the Phillies might look to do a few things in the offseason. Some questions can be answered internally, but some free agents or trades will have to be added or made.

They might choose to add a third catcher again. Carlos Ruiz has gotten to the point where he doesn’t need a veteran, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Jason Jaramillo gets the nod. He’s a good defensive catcher who wouldn’t be bad starting 20-30 games.

If they buy out Nunez and Iguchi doesn’t come back, they’ll probably want a defensive specialist infielder. I’m now high on Jason Donald, but he only played at High A Clearwater in 2007. He plays very good defense and could move all around the infield, but he might not be ready for the majors. Defensive infielders can be had through free agency.

If Rowand walks, they’ll want to add another OF. This guy could be a left handed bat to platoon with Werth in right, or maybe a righty to pinch hit off the bench against a left handed pitcher. That sentence did not answer any of your questions.

If they trade Bourn or Victorino, another new OF will be needed. In this case, I think the answer could come from the system in Javon Moran. Since they’d be trading one of their speedy guys, they’ll want another athlete to replace them. I don’t want to see Chris Roberson ever again.

Do they want to add another starter? Even if Myers goes back to the rotation, I think they’ll try. You obviously can’t count on Eaton, so if you can improve the back end, it would be nice. Unfortunately, cheap free agent solutions probably won’t be out there, so Gillick’s going to have to get something done with a trade.

If Myers does in fact go back to starting, you need a closer. I don’t have confidence in Gordon doing it. Otherwise, middle relief is fine. There are a couple closer options out there, both in free agency and trades. There are some teams with some pretty deep bullpens that could part with one of their relievers to upgrade elsewhere.

So after making the playoffs in 2007, there should be reason for optimism in 2008. Although we already have a lot of money committed, there aren’t that many holes to fill. With an increased payroll and hopefully smarter spending, this team could be right back in the thick of things next year.