One Night, Three Games

Monday night was a great night of sports watching for me, as I watched three games, one in person and two on TV, and all three were good wins for Philly sports fans.  I was in North Philly for the 7PM tip-off of 19th-ranked Temple’s rout of Bowling Green.  Then I was back at my parents’ house in the suburbs to see the Bears knock off the Vikings, keeping the Eagles’ hopes of a first-round bye alive, and the Sixers pick up a nice win in Portland.

jacksonThe Bears-Vikings game was the best of the bunch and, ironically since it was the only game that didn’t involve a Philly team, it was the game I was rooting for the most.  The Eagles lost to the Raiders in mid-October and they were just 5-4 in mid-November.  They’ve had their three best offensive players (McNabb, Westbrook, Jackson) each miss at least one game due to injury.  The offensive line and linebacking corps have been patched together with whatever they could find (Jeremiah Trotter? Winston Justice? Moise Fokou?) all season.  And yet, despite it all, they’re now just one win away from a first-round bye and a home playoff game in the divisional round.

The Birds have won six in a row, and with the recent slides of the Saints and Vikings, they might be playing the best football of any team in the NFC.  A note of caution: if the Eagles lose to Dallas, then they may have gone the whole season without beating a team with a winning record, as their “best” wins right now are against the 8-7 Giants and Broncos. 

That being said, the offense has looked so good that it’s hard to imagine they couldn’t keep that going against higher quality opponents.  We’ll see on Sunday, as the Cowboys have surrendered the fewest points of any team in the NFC.  If the Eagles are going to take the coveted 2-seed, then they’ll have to earn it by going into Dallas and picking up what would be their most impressive win of the season.  If they can do that, we have a title contender on our hands, if not it’s most likely “wait ’till next year.”  Another note of caution: center Jamaal Jackson is done for the year with an ACL tear.  It looks like the plan is to move Nick Cole to center and insert Max Jean-Gillies at right guard.  Hopefully this isn’t the one offensive line issue that will finally ruin the unit.

If anyone missed the Vikings-Bears game, the second-half (and overtime) was a classic.  favreAs much as I don’t like Brett Favre, he will always be interesting to watch.  All of the off-season hoopla that surrounded him and Jay Cutler just added to the spectacle of them playing gun-slinger against each other in a tight game.  Favre led the Vikings back from a 23-6 deficit to tie it at 23.  Cutler and the Bears answered quickly, 30-23.  Favre still had 5 minutes to work with, and he got it done with 16 ticks left, on a perfect pass to Sidney Rice, tied at 30.  It went back and forth in the OT before Cutler ended it with a long strike for the game-ending score, 36-30.

That game-winner was set-up by an Adrian Peterson fumble.  On Saturday night, me and Bry debated who is the best back in the league, Peterson or Chris Johnson.  He said Johnson, I said Peterson.  But if Peterson keeps fumbling, I’m not so sure.  He also needs to stay healthy.  I think it’s a push right now and it’s something to watch in 2010.

iversonThe Sixers somewhat shockingly went into Portland and beat the excellent Blazers, 104-93.  Nights like these are the reason I wanted Iverson to come back.  It felt like old times, sitting on my parents’ couch, watching AI drive by defenders to the rim, or pull up and knock down an 18-footer.  He scored 19 on 7-11 shooting, in his return after missing four games with an injury.  And yes, in the old days you would’ve had to tie one arm behind his back to get him to only shoot 11 times, but flashes of the old AI were there.  And speaking of flashes of old times, Elton Brand scored 25 points with 9 boards.  I won’t suggest that this game is a sign of anything, but having Lou Williams, Iverson, and Iguodala playing together worked well in this one.  The Sixers were definitely able to take advantage of the Blazers missing their centers, Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, as they drove to the basket repeatedly without fear of a shot-blocker waiting for them.  And, of course, it probably didn’t hurt that Willie Green missed the game with an ankle injury!

Finally, those nationally-ranked Temple Owls got off to a slow start but turned it on to overpower and blow away Bowling Green, 64-39.  The Owl defense has been great.  The talented trio of Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen, and Juan Fernandez will lead this team to the tournament for the third straight season.  I’m not sure how they’ll fare against Kansas on Saturday, but this bunch will be a tough out all season, and certainly in March. 

  

Is Anyone Else Out There Excited?

The Eagles are 9-4 and well on their way to yet another NFC East title.  And, right now, they are probably the best under-the-radar team in the NFC.  All the talk is around the two undefeateds (and rightfully so) or the Favre-led Vikings or the “Dallas Swoon.”  But, with the exception of the Chargers (who, by the way, have now won an amazing SIXTEEN consecutive games in the month of December), the Eagles are probably the best team in the league that no one is talking about.  Not even Eagles fans (though, you can probably blame the Phillies for that).  So, let’s get the talk going, considering our beloved Birds have swept the Giants and Redskins and find themselves in first place the week before Christmas.

So, What Do We Want to Happen Over the Rest of the NFC?
#1: The Cowboys lose.  No, the Eagles haven’t yet clinched the NFC East, so number one, let’s root for another division title and, therefore, a home game in the first round.  So, as always, we should be rooting against all the hated division rivals in New York and Dallas, but more so, Dallas.  It would take a near miracle, at this point, for the Giants to catch the Eagles (3-0 for the G-men, 0-3 for the Eagles, unless there ends up a 3-way tie), considering the Birds hold the tiebreaker with their season sweep, so really we are looking at the Cowboys.  And a quick look at the schedule tells us that the Cowboys are really behind the eight-ball right now when it comes to the division.  The teams play in Week 17 in Dallas, and since the Cowboys won the first meeting, they will only have to be within a game for that game to matter.  But, can they play even with the Eagles over the next two weeks?  The Eagles have home games against San Francisco and Denver.  While, the Cowboys have to play on the road at New Orleans and at Washington.  I would think that the best-case scenario for Dallas is a split, while the worst-case scenario for the Eagles is a split.  So, even if all the chips fall into place for Dallas over the next two weeks, they still have to beat the Eagles in Week 17.  I like the Birds chances a lot to win the division.  So…

#2: The Cardinals lose.  If I wasn’t so superstitious and believed that to assume the division title would be to concede the division title because of the Football Gods, I would have had this as the #1 thing to root for as an Eagles fan.  But, you have to win that division.  But, I think that, with the ultimate goal, obviously, winning a championship, we do have to think about the “road” to that championship.  And, the #3 seed, to me, is paramount.  With the #3 seed, the Eagles will, most likely, be able to avoid the Packers in Round 1 (a pretty scary team right now) and, more importantly, avoid the Saints in Round Two.  Yes, a 3-seed would mean that they will almost definitely be playing a hated division rival (Dallas or New York), and those games are always brutal, but that is still the best path, especially considering that those two teams are pretty seriously flawed.

#3: The Packers win.  This is a bit tricky because, technically, the Packers are the Eagles competitors for a Wild Card and, just as important, wild card positioning.  Avoiding the Saints in Round Two means that you must avoid the #6 seed.  However, under the assumption that the Eagles should win the division, Packers wins won’t hurt.  And, the reason I want the Packers to win is simply because I think that they are a better team than either the Cowboys or Giants and, therefore, would like to avoid having to play them in Round One.  And, looking even more into it, I think that the Cowboys and Giants would have very little chance to beat Arizona in Round One, and almost NO chance to beat New Orleans in Round Two.  The Packers, on the other hand, are a team that I could see going into Arizona and winning and then going into New Orleans and winning.  THAT is what we’re rooting for, because then the Birds would be in line to host the NFC Championship Game against a Green Bay team that they can beat.

#4: The Vikings lose.  This is a bit of a long-shot, so we can talk more about this next week if the Vikings give one away this week in Carolina, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that the #2 seed (and a bye and a home game in Round Two) is not completely out of the question.  I do not think it’s unrealistic to think that the Eagles can win out and finish 12-4 (10-2 in conference).  If they do that, it would only take two losses by the Vikings (they already have one conference loss and all three remaining games are against NFC teams, so the Eagles would win the tiebreaker) for the Eagles to get that all-important #2 seed.  Will it happen?  Probably not.  But, it’s certainly not unlikely.  The Vikings travel to Carolina this week (not a gimme).  Then, next week, they go to Soldier Field to face the Bears.  They have an old quarterback who really doesn’t like the cold (much to the contrary of one of the most prevalant myths in football), and the Bears are a pretty talented team who probably only have one thing left to play for–this game.  There’s a chance.  And then…in a possibly strange twist of fate, we, as Eagles fans, might be rooting hard for Big Blue in Week 17, as the Giants travel to Minnesota.  Chances are the Giants will still be alive for a playoff spot, so this would be their season.  If they can beat Minnesota in Week 17, and the Vikings trip up at Carolina or at Chicago, the Eagles would take the #2 seed if they win out.  Not incredibly likely, but not crazy by any stretch.

May We Have Been Wrong?
Yes.  At least I was.  I wanted Anquan Bolden.  I wanted a veteran running back just in case Westbrook went down.  I wanted Tony Gonzalez, or at least another veteran tight end.  I wanted Brian Dawkins to stay.  I wanted Jim Johnson still calling the signals on defense.  Well, I was wrong.

The receivers have been stellar (well, minus Jackson, they have been “good,”  but with Jackson’s other-worldly performances, the group has been “stellar”).  Westbrook did go down, and the offense hasn’t missed a beat (maybe even, dare I say, more consistent on the ground) with LeSean McCoy and Leonard Weaver.  Brent Celek has taken that next step and become a top-tier pass-catching tight end and even made himself into a decent blocker.  Quentin Mikell (Sunday night’s disastrous performance notwithstanding) has played, in my opinion, just as well, if not considerably better, than a 36-year old Brian Dawkins could have played this year (just talking about on-the-field here–I’m not touching the clubhouse factor).  And, Sean McDermott (again, trying not to think of the most recent defensive showing Sunday night) has brought the same aggressive, blitzing tenacity as JJ.

Who Is This Guy?
DeSean Jackson is absolutely incredible.  Simply amazing.  At times, he looks like a high school superstar running circles around the inferior athletes on the field with him.  He is a joy to watch, and I am so glad he’s on our team.

The Regular McNabb Support Paragraph
Can we please, now, finally, stop the McNabb hatred?  The guy is great.  For every time he throws at a guy’s feet on a screen pass, he gives us 5 perfectly accurate downfield passes.  This is one of the most potent, quick-strike offenses in the NFL.  They draw up a deep pass, seemingly, once every set of downs.  And, yet, this guy still doesn’t throw interceptions.  Yes, D-Jack is always open, but McNabb always hits him in stride–FORTY YARDS down the field.  And, his presence in the pocket is not something that is “created by the system.”  This guy is probably playing the finest football of his Hall of Fame career.  Let’s start–FINALLY–realizing what we have under center, people.  Please.

A Halladay Extravaganza

Wow, how can baseball–in December, no less–cause someone to experience, at least a little, of just about all emotions under the sun?  In the past 48 hours, because of this trade, I have felt joy, sadness, bitterness, exuberance, fear, arrogance, anger, adoration,, entitlement, jubilation, pride, contentment, and contempt.  Okay, maybe that was all overstated, but this is a crazy trade, is it not?  The ultimate emotion, though for me, is excitement.  I have wanted Halladay since the Larry Bowa days (I even said to Doogan sometime around 2003 or so that we should just “back up the truck to Toronto and offer their our entire farm for that Halladay guy.”), and now we have him.  Awesome!  But, there is so much more to this deal.  And, there is no chance of me encapsulating it in a coherent article here, so I had to break it down into sporadic chapters that attempt to cover the whole multitude of issues with this deal.  Good luck trying to follow this.  I can’t even get my thoughts together, let alone put them into words, so this might be jibberish, and if so, I guess I’m sorry; I don’t know.  I’m just lost in all of this…

Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay.  ROY HALLADAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Yes, I have openly coveted Roy Halladay for most of my adult life.  He wasn’t on the market, and the Phillies clearly weren’t a “prime destination,” so it seemed sort of like the Sixers chasing Lebron James, but I wanted him.  And, now we have him.  In all of this, let us not lose sight of that fact.  The guy is, arguably, the best pitcher on the planet (at least in the top 3), and now he’s a Phillie.  People throw around the term “innings eater” in baseball, like they throw around “game manager” in football.  It’s sort of a compliment, but not really.  Well, Halladay is the ultimate “innings eater,” and that is meant with the highest regard because not only does he “eat innings,” but he gets people out, too.  Let’s take a quick look at the stats of Roy Halladay (keep in mind not only did he face the DH every night, but 38 times every year, his team faced the Yankees or Red Sox).  Let us start in 2002, leaving out 2004, where he suffered a non-thowing injury and missed some time (he also suffered a non-throwing injury in 2005, which is why those numbers a little down):

  • Innings pitched:  239, 266, 142, 220, 225, 246, 239
  • Complete Games:  2, 9, 5, 4, 7, 9, 9 (led the league 5 times)
  • Wins:  19, 22, 12, 16, 16, 20, 17
  • ERA:  2.93, 3.25, 2.41, 3.19, 3.71, 2.78, 2.79
  • K:  168, 204, 108, 132, 139, 206, 208
  • WHIP:  1.19, 1.07, 0.96, 1.10, 1.24, 1.05, 1.12
  • Averages over those 7 seasons:  18-7, 3.04 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 166 K, 225 IP, 7 CG
  • Awards:  6 All-Star appearances, 5 times in the Top 5 of Cy Young voting

This is who the Phillies acquired today.  This is who will be pitching in red pinstripes through, at the very least, 2013.  I would like to present all sides of each point here, but I cannot find a downside to adding Roy Halladay, especially because he is so excited to play for the Phillies that he is giving them a pretty substantial discount from what he could command on the open market AND the Blue Jays are paying 40% of his salary this year.  Plus, the Phillies didn’t break their “organizational philosophy” of never giving a pitcher more than 3 years, guaranteed.  I won’t give you my opinion of steadfast “philosophies” right here, but let’s just say that it’s a good thing that it didn’t hold up the deal.  And, yes, I know that I wrote a Tell Me I’m Crazy about the fact that the Phillies should not trade for Halladay, but that was under the impression that they could have gotten an extension done with Lee, which looks like it would have been a long-shot, so, yes, I love the addition of Halladay. 

Cliff Lee
This is a big loss, no doubt.  Cliff Lee is a 31-year old left-handed pitcher who won the AL Cy Young two years ago and just gave the Phillies one of the best postseasons in baseball history.  He is also a very hard-working, but laid-back guy whose makeup is just about perfect for the city of Philadelphia.  If the Phillies kept him AND Halladay, Lee would have to be considered the annual Don Drysdale award winner for the best #2 starter in baseball.  The downside to Cliff Lee, were he to stay, is that he is looking for BIG BUCKS after this season.  He was not going to sign an extension for less than market-value (CC dollars), no matter what the agent may say.  And, the Phillies were not going to give him market value if their alternative was a better pitcher (Halladay) for less than market value.  However, that doesn’t change the fact that Lee was an incredible bargain this year at $9 million.

Halladay vs. Lee
So, if the trade were straight-up Halladay for Lee, which side wins?  Well, I have already given my opinion that Halladay is the better pitcher, with a better contract, so it’s easy to say Halladay.  But, I will go even further.  Yes, Lee’s 2008 was absolutely remarkable.  Yes, Lee’s 2009 postseason was historic.  Yes, Cliff Lee is probably among the 10-15 best pitchers in baseball.  But, let us not forget that we are only two seasons removed from the Indians sending him to AAA because he couldn’t get anyone out.  No, I am not a Cliff Lee-hater–far from it, as you will see in the rest of this post–but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that Lee is on the same level (or even all that close) as Roy Halladay.  Halladay has proven he is a top 3 pitcher for almost a decade now.  And, he’s only 32, built like a horse, and has never had any major arm problems.  There is no reason not to expect Cy Young contention from him for the length of his contract.  There are doubts about that from Lee.  But, let’s go even further from the numbers and look at the fit for the Phillies.  With the Phils decision to keep Happ and move Drabek, you can pretty much pencil in a Halladay-Hamels-Happ top three for the foreseeable future.  With Hamels and Happ both being left-handed, it is very important to have a right-hander to balance that (another point for Halladay).  Also, Halladay is one of the best ground-ball pitchers in the game, with a very heavy sinkerball.  Cliff Lee is a flyball pitcher.  Now, Lee has been exceptional in the past couple of years at not allowing the long ball, but he ages, the home runs may really start to creep in on him.  And, though The Bank is not NEARLY the bandbox that the media would have you believe (the numbers are skewed because the Phillies offense plays 81 games there), it is still a hitter’s park that lends itself much better to groundball pitchers, like Halladay, than it does to flyball pitchers, like Lee.  Again, this is not an argument against keeping Lee, this is just saying that if you gave me the choice between the two guys, there is NO DOUBT that Roy Halladay is a MUCH BETTER fit for the Phillies than Cliff Lee.  Ps…I think it’s a bit ironic that Halladay took #34–the number most recently worn by one, Cliff Lee.

Continue reading “A Halladay Extravaganza”

Charting a Course to March: Kentucky Wildcats

December 5th: #4 Kentucky 68, #10 North Carolina 66, at Kentucky

December 9th: #4 Kentucky 64, #13 UConn 61, at Madison Square Garden

December 12th: #4 Kentucky 90, Indiana 73, at Indiana

wallWith the arrival of John Calipari and the top recruting class in the nation, Kentucky has really emerged as the most talked-about team in the country so far this season.  I’ve been able to watch their last three games, ending with a win at Indiana on Saturday that pushed their record to 10-0.  It’s hard to imagine there is a more fun team to watch in college basketball.  They’re probably the most purely talented team in the nation and, at least physically, they look more like an NBA team than a college team.

Any conversation about Kentucky has to start with freshman PG John Wall.  The word “electrifying” gets thrown around a lot in sports, but it fits the bill with Wall.  Opposing coaches have described him as “better than Derrick Rose” and “the best point guard to come into college basketball since Jason Kidd.”  The kid has it all: size (6’4″, will need to add some muscle), athleticism, quickness, defense, shooting, passing.  He turns it over too much right now, but he makes a few plays a game that just leave you shaking your head, or laughing out loud.  He’s a legit national player of the year candidate, and will almost certainly be the top pick in next year’s NBA draft.

The key veteran for Kentucky is junior F/C Patrick Patterson.  Kansas’s Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich were both pre-season All-Americans, but Wall and Patterson might just form the best duo in the game.  Patterson is an elite rebounder and has added a very effective jump shot to his game.  He can run the pick-and-pop like a pro right now.  He’s the best big man I’ve seen so far this year, and he should join Wall as a top-10 pick in the June draft.

The team has two other players that could end up as lottery picks (especially if they stick around for at least one more season): freshmen Eric Bledsoe and Demarcus Cousins.  Bledsoe would be a star PG at just about any other school, but with Wall around, he’s playing off the ball.  Cousins is a power forward with NBA size and athleticism, and a lot of skill to go with it.  He’s had a lot of foul trouble and probably needs to mature a bit, but he’s already averaging 14 pts and 8 boards.

The supporting cast to those four future pros includes three solid, 6’7″ guards, Darius Miller, Darnell Dodson, and Ramon Harris, along with a promising freshman F/C, Daniel Orton.

With three of their top four players being freshmen, they have the expected mental lapses.  The best thing that can happen to this team will be to lose a few games so they realize that they can’t just rely on their talent.  Calipari has been trying hard to get that across to them, but it will probably take them getting beat before they really start to listen.  It will happen though, and this will be a very tough team to beat.

Best-Case Scenario: National Champions

Best Guess: Final Four (They’re not the best team in the country right now, but they definitely could be by March)

BSB’s 2009 MLB Preview Challenge (Final Results)

So, we are on the doorstep of another season.  A season in which the Phillies are going to try and DEFEND THEIR WORLD SERIES TITLE!!!  Oh, if no one realized, the Phillies did win the World Series last year.  Just wanted to remind everyone.  Anyway, we, here at BSB, like to preview sports seasons in a bit of a different way.  If you want to see how it works, check out last year’s MLB preview.

UPDATE:  Now that we are at the proverbial “halfway” point of the season, it is time to update the BSB baseball preview to see who is doing a better job so far.  The underlined italics are the updates.  The scores at the end of each update show the points (as they stand now) and then in parentheses are the “solid” points–ones that almost definitely will not be changing.

FINAL:  Okay, it is time to catch up on the results of the Second Annual BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  Bry won last year’s MLB Preview Challenge 17-13, but Doogan held a close 16-14 lead in this one at the halfway point.  It is important for Bry to comeback here because Doogan won the Inaugural BSB NFL Preview Challenge, and he also led this year’s NFL version at the halfway point.  Bry won the only NBA version that BSB has done.  So, let’s get on to the final tally for the Second Annual (2009 edition) BSB MLB Preview Challenge.  The Final Updates will be in bold, so you can skip down to the bold parts, if you just want the final updates.

Anyway, without any further ado, Bry will kick off the 2009 BSB MLB Preview with the first pick:

BRY 1. Tampa Bay Rays UNDER 97 wins:  My first selection last year was the Rays and the OVER of 66 wins.  That worked out, well, pretty well for me, so I figure I’ll make them my first pick again this year.  I know that it’s generally a bad idea to pick the UNDER on a team of all young players that is bringing back the same team as last year, but 97 is just a whole lot of wins in this killer division.  Plus, they were the darlings of the MLB season last year; they didn’t face pressure until September and October.  Now, they are the hunted.  Not to mention all the talent added by the Yankees this year and an Orioles team that may not be a doormat this year (okay, maybe I listen to too much Baltimore sports talk radio).  And, the Red Sox still have the best front-end starting rotation in baseball.  I’m not saying that the Rays won’t go back to the playoffs.  I’m not even saying they won’t repeat as AL champs.  All I’m saying is that they will not win 97 regular season games again this year.

UPDATE:  This looked like an easy win at #1 for Bry when the Rays got off to a very slow start.  But, they have started playing really well again and are clearly in the hunt for the AL East.  Currently, they are only on pace for 87 wins, but considering their start, 98 is not out of the question at all.  Losing the #1 pick would be a bad start for Bry, especially coming off a defeat in the NFL Preview.  But, as it stands now, we will give Bry the point, but not a solid one.
BRY 1(0) – DOOGAN 0(0)

POINT:  BRY (1-0)
Bry gets the first pick correct, as the Rays do finish above .500, but not by much (84-78).  Maybe it was Pat Burrell…  This should be an interesting mid-round pick next year because who knows where this team goes from here.

DOOGAN 2. Atlanta Braves- OVER 72 wins:  I’m not as high on this team as some out there and I don’t think they’ll hang with the Phils and Mets, but they are definitely better than a 72 win team.  They have two workhorses, Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez, joining the rotation and two potential Rookie of the Year candidates in CF Jordan Schafer and SP Tommy Hanson, who will be up later in the season.  They should be good for at least a 10-win improvement.

UPDATE:  The Braves have hovered around .500 most of the season and enter the All-Star Break two games under.  This puts them on a pace to win 79.  This is a decent cushion for Doogan’s pick, but is certainly not completely comfortable.  We will give a tenative point to Doogan here.
DOOGAN 1(0) – BRY 1(0)

POINT:  DOOGAN (1-1)
A great second-half for the Braves is scary for the Phils heading into 2010, but it is good for Doogan, as he actually gets this pick easily, even though it looked shaky for a while.  The Braves were actually alive for the playoffs until the final week, finishing with 86 wins.  We will see how this team shapes up for 2010, but I would say that they certainly won’t be a top 2 pick again next year.  That 86 number looks pretty tough to work with.

Continue reading “BSB’s 2009 MLB Preview Challenge (Final Results)”

Tell Me I’m Crazy

Okay, this one may even go too far, and I can’t believe I’m even going to try and argue for this one, but:

Tell me I’m crazy, but the Phillies are probably better off, in the long-term, by not trading for Roy Halladay.

With one BIG caveat…UNLESS, they are willing to ink both Halladay and Cliff Lee to long-term deals (which would be AMAZING, by the way!) OR they are pretty sure that they cannot sign Cliff Lee long-term and would risk not having either in 2011.

Now, please understand that if I load up ESPN’s front page and it says “Phillies acquire Roy Halladay…” I will leap up from my chair and probably do cartwheels through the office BEFORE I even read further as to who they gave up to get him.  In fact, just writing this blog post is getting the pure fan in me very, VERY excited at the possibility.  That pure fan doesn’t care if they gave Toronto the entire minor league system, just as long as the Nationals have to face Lee, Halladay, and Hamels to open the season on April 5, 7, and 8.  But, that is the fan in me, not the armchair general manager.  GMs have to really look at the long-term implications much more than fans, managers, or even owners.  And, that is why, with my wannabe GM hat on, I hesitate on this move, even though, from all reports, Halladay is out there to be had, and all Amaro has to do is say “yes,” because they have the best package of any of the contending teams.

But, let’s just think about it for a second, and let’s think about past 2010.  I think it’s safe to assume that, no matter what happens this offseason, that the Phillies 2011 rotation will not feature BOTH Halladay and Lee, right?  And, I think it’s safe to say that the Phillies at least have a shot at extending Cliff Lee after 2010, right?  (ps…if that is not the case, and Lee is hell-bent on testing the market, then this whole argument goes out the window, and there is no doubt that the Phils should immediately go get Halladay and sign him long-term.)  So, then for all intents and purposes, trading for Halladay is a one-year rental because they will add an ace at the beginning of the season and, because of that addition, they will lose an ace at the end of the year (even if it’s Halladay who stays and Lee who goes).  Joe Blanton is eligible for free agency after 2010, and I seriously doubt that the Phils will resign him.  Jamie Moyer will be 97 in 2011, so he’s not in the picture.  Pedro will be 96, so he’s probably out, too.  That leaves Lee/Halladay, Cole Hamels, and whomever is left over from the Halladay deal (be it Happ or Drabek or, god forbid, neither).  What do the Phillies do?  They won’t be able to go get a free agent because with the built-in raises to Rollins, Utley, and Howard, the already large expenses of Brad Lidge, Placido Polanco, and Raul Ibanez, the extension demands of Hamels, the questions about the futures of free-agent-to-be OFs Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino, and the humongous contract they will have to give to Lee/Halladay, they will be seriously strapped for cash.  And, they won’t be able to trade for a front-line starter because the Halladay deal will, at the very least cost them a SP and an OF, so the other SP will be needed as the #3 starter and the OF will probably be needed to replace either Werth or Victorino, whomever they decide to let go.  So, the once “loaded” farm system will be stripped.

So the question is:  Is Roy Halladay in 2010 worth living with Kyle Kendrick as your #3/4 starter in 2011?  I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s not really that big of a stretch.  And, please don’t even think about 2012 and beyond, when you have to extend or lose Hamels, you have to make major decisions on Rollins and Howard, you have to think about replacements for an aging Polanco and an aging Ibanez, and you have to eventually (depending on ML playing time) start thinking about the arbitration demands of a Drabek, a Taylor, a Brown, or a Gose.

Tell me I’m crazy…….

Hold on, there is a good news in all of this, and that is………….WOW, these are GREAT problems to have.  And, to play the other sidefor a minute (which sort of defeats the purpose of this post, but whatever), I kind of think Happ is, at best, a #3 starter, and Michael Taylor is not needed now and probably not needed later because of Brown and Gose, so if you can package Happ and Taylor and get Halladay, even for one year.  Just do it.  And, honestly, I think Ruben will do just that.  Happ’s value is at an all-time high, and Taylor is too good for AAA, but does not fit the Phils outfield right now.  If that will get it done, do it.  Please…

A Weak Attempt at Impartiality: An AI Inquisition

Sorry that I have been MIA for a while on the blog; we just moved and, wow, is a new place a ton of work.  Anyway, as things are settling down, it’s time to weigh in on one of two athletes that have ever received “unconditional sports love” from me.  Allen Iverson can do absolutely no wrong for me because of what I perceive as a complete and total genuineness and stark, human honesty.  Plus, as Doogan so perfectly expressed, the fact that one of my biggest complaints about professional athletes is that they don’t care–they don’t care about winning and they don’t care about fans.  NOTHING can be further from the truth about Iverson.  Yes, he has his faults, but goddammit, the man cares.

Okay, I’m getting off track (which I often do, especially when there’s a chance to express my love of AI), but what I’m going to try to do here is present a litany of questions surrounding the Sixers (re)signing of Iverson in a way that covers all sides.  I won’t try and hide my partiality, but I will try and present all the sides–at least all those that I can see.

Why did the Sixers (re)sign Allen Iverson?
As happy as I am to see him back, and as great as his years here were, no one should be naive in thinking that this was purely a basketball decision.  In fact, if you gave Ed Stefanski and Ed Snider truth serum, you may even hear them say that any basketball effects (positive or negative) had no impact whatsoever on this decision.  This was a business decision.  The Sixers were next-to-last in the league in attendance, and there was no end to that apathy in sight.  Now, they have ticket lines out the door.  This was a really easy decision for the Sixers, as a business.  And, for the rest of the discussion, let us leave the business out of it (if we can) because I would be kidding myself if I thought I was qualified, in any way, to comment on the business of professional sports.

Does this help the Sixers on the court?
This, obviously, remains to be seen, but I think it does.  It is certainly not without potentially significant ramifications (which we will get to in a minute), but as far as positives, from a basketball standpoint, I think they are a better team now than they were last week, especially because…

Would they have made this move if Lou Williams was still healthy?
Maybe.

Would it have been a good move, basketball-wise, if Williams was still healthy?
Probably not.  Definitely not in the long-term (more on that in a minute), but I don’t even know if it would have made sense in the short-term.  The injury to Williams opened up a spot for Iverson…in fact, I would even argue that it opened up a need for Iverson.  They are not going to move Iggy to the #1 (clearly), and Willie Green, well, stinks to put it bluntly.  And Jrue Holliday, as much as I think he’ll be a player, if clearly not ready to start–he’s probably not even ready to give you 18-20 minutes in the Association yet.  So, without Williams, the Sixers need Iverson just to field a legitimate team night in and night out.

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