Phillies Trade Howie Kendrick to the Nationals

The Philadelphia Phillies have traded Howie Kendrick to the Washington Nationals, in exchange for minor league lefthanded pitcher McKenzie Mills via Ken Rosenthal.

The Phillies will also be sending the Nationals money in the deal, that will cover most of the rest of Kendrick’s contract. The Nationals are also shipping over to the Phils’ International Amateur signing bonus pool space.

Kendrick has had troubles staying on the field this season with injuries, but when he’s been healthy, he’s been actually pretty good. He’s only played 39 games this season, but he’s batting .340 with a .397 OBP. Howie is a natural second baseman, but has played mostly left field the past two seasons. He can also play first base. He has a career .290 batting average. He’s 34 years old and is a free agent after this season.

Mills is the 18th ranked prospect in the Nats’ organization, according to MLB.com’s Prospect Watch. He was an All-Star in the South Atlantic League. He has 118 strikeouts in 104.2 innings, with an ERA of 3.01.

Initially, this seems like a good trade for both teams. Kendrick wasn’t in the Phillies future plans and they were able to get a young prospect for him. The Nationals are going all-in to win the World Series this year and Howie gives them good depth.

Twitter: @travieballin26

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Phillies Looking to Make Blockbuster Trade With Marlins?

A lot has been going on in Philadelphia sports lately. The Sixers have been one of the most talked about teams in the NBA this offseason, grabbing the #1 pick in the draft and taking Markelle Fultz. The Flyers just selected Nolan Patrick #2 in the draft, arguably the best player available. And the Eagles made many key acquisitions to improve their roster for the upcoming season. Maybe it’s time for the Phillies to make a splash…

Last week, Ken Rosenthal from FOX Sports posted on his Facebook page about a rumor floating around, about the Phillies talking to the Marlins about acquiring Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. He says he heard the rumors from three different sources. It seems as if the rumors have continued to heat up since then.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Phils’ interest in bringing in Christian Yelich is “heating up.” Yelich is a career .330 hitter at Citizens Bank Park so it seems like it’d be a good fit. The Phillies do already have a lot of talented outfielders, so they’d likely trade a couple if they were to acquire Yelich. He has one of the most team-friendly contracts in the league, under team control until 2022 with just over $58,000,000 being owed to him. The Phillies have one of the best prospect pools in baseball so they have the resources to make the trade happen. They also have the money to do a big trade, with only Odubel Herrera’s contract being on the books past 2018. Stanton has a huge contract that the Marlins may want to get rid of, and the Phillies have the money to do it. “There are no signs of the Phillies backing down from these rumors.”-Jayson Stark when he was asked about Stanton coming to Philly.

As of July 18th, Stanton is hitting .276 with 29 home runs (only behind Aaron Judge) and when he’s healthy, he is the best home run hitter in the league. He’s also a five time all-star and only 27 years old. Yelich is 25, a former gold glove winner and silver slugger. He’s a different kind of player than Stanton, but they are both very good in different ways. Stanton is a pure home run hitter, who will hit for a respectable average, solid in the outfield and has a cannon for an arm. Yelich is a great defensive center fielder with solid speed and will hit for a very good average. He isn’t known for hitting home runs, he’s more known for his career .291 batting average. The two teammates won gold playing for USA during the 2017 World Baseball Classic. They both would be incredible upgrades to the Phillies lineup.

Another rumor came out last night involving the two teams. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Phillies have “sincere interest” in Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon. That one is a bit of a head-scratcher to me. The Phillies already have a young second baseman in Cesar Hernandez. Gordon is an upgrade over Hernandez, but they are similar players. They also have 23 year old Scott Kingery who is batting .308 with 22 home runs in AA and AAA combined this season.

The trade deadline is on Tuesday, July 31st at 4:00 p.m. ET and it will be very interesting to see if the Phillies end up doing anything major.

Twitter: @travieballin26

Flyers Roster Outlook for 2017-18

The Flyers struck gold on April 29th, 2017. They were expected to pick 13th in the NHL Entry Draft, but defied the odds. They didn’t win the lottery, but they did the next best thing. They moved from 13th all the way up to 2nd. It was the biggest jump in the league’s lottery history. There was a 2.4 percent chance the Flyers would move up, but it happened. And with that 2nd pick in the draft, the Flyers selected center Nolan Patrick, who lots of experts say was the best player in the draft.

With the addition of Patrick, the Flyers are also expected to have two rookies start on defense this season. Obviously trades and signings could still happen, but according to Hextall it doesn’t sound like he’s going to make a move before the season starts. Players could also get injured, but barring any injuries, the Flyers defense will consist of Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Andrew MacDonald, and Brandon Manning. Manning is expected to be the 7th man, which means the Flyers have two open spots in the starting lineup. Look for rookies Sam Morin and Robert Hagg. Both were 2013 draft picks of the Flyers. Morin was taken in the first round, and Hagg was picked in the second. They each made their NHL debuts last season, as they both got their feet wet playing a game each. Don’t count out Travis Sanheim, either. If he has a good training camp, he could beat out one of the other two rookies.

The Flyers will have a new goaltending tandem this season. That’s nothing new. As any hockey fan knows, the Flyers have had goalie problems since the ’90s. Since 2010, when they lost to the Blackhawks in the finals and their goaltending was atrocious, they’ve used 10 different goalies, which is A LOT in just 7 years. They signed former Flames goalie Brian Elliot to a two-year deal. He’s coming off an up and down season. He started off the season slow, then played great the last couple months of the season, but struggled in the playoffs. Elliot led the NHL in save percentage in the 2011-12  season, as well as the 2015-16 season. He’s expected to split time with Michael Neuvirth. Anthony Stolarz will likely be recalled if either of the two ever get injured. Steve Mason, who has been the starting goalie for the Flyers for the past couple seasons has moved on, signing a new contract with the Jets. Mason was very good his first two and a half seasons in Philly, but was inconsistent in the last two years, and it was clear he wasn’t happy with how coach Dave Hakstol used him.

The forward core is where things get interesting. The Flyers made a few interesting moves this offseason. Brayden Schenn, who was 2nd on the team in goals, was traded to the Blues for Jori Lehtera and two high draft picks. The team also traded Nick Cousins to the Coyotes for a draft pick and minor leaguer. They lost Pierre Eduard-Bellemare to the Vegas Golden Knights. Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Travis Konecny, Jordan Weal, and Michael Raffl will all be in the starting lineup, as long as nobody gets injured. Jori Lehtera, Matt Read, and Dale Weise are three overpaid players, but will probably be on the roster. Whether they make the starting lineup is a different story. Nolan Patrick, who the Flyers selected 2nd overall, will likely be on the team, but he is only 18 (will be 19 when the season starts) and he’ll have to earn his spot. Oskar Lindblom is a rookie from Sweden, who has a good chance to make the team, but it won’t be given to him. Michael Vecchione and Scott Laughton will battle it out in camp to see who gets the last roster spot. Don’t count out Taylor Leier, who if he has a good preseason, could push his way onto the roster. The team really needs Giroux to have a bounce back season. The captain had a down year, scoring just 14 goals and 58 points. They need him to get back to scoring 70+ points or they don’t have much of a chance at the playoffs.

This would be my roster/lineup going into the season:

Weal-Giroux-Simmonds

Filppula-Patrick-Voracek

Lindblom-Couturier-Konecny

Raffl-Laughton-Lehtera

 

Provorov-Gudas

Gostisbehere-Morin

Hagg-MacDonald

Matt Read and Dale Weise would be my healthy scratches. Mike Veccione and Taylor Leier would be sent to the Phantoms, the minor league affiliate of the Flyers. Brandon Manning would be my scratched/7th defenseman. Elliot would be my starting goalie, backed up by Neuvirth. This training camp looks to be an exciting one for the Flyers.

Twitter: @travieballin26

Is Chase Utley a Hall Of Famer?

A few nights ago, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley reached a career milestone. He notched his 1000th career RBI. After seeing this, I asked myself, “Will Chase get into the Hall after he retires?” It brings up an interesting debate.

Chase made his MLB debut in 2003 with the Phillies as a 24 year old. He wasn’t a full time starter until 2004. He spent 13 years with the Phillies before being traded to the Dodgers in 2015. In 2005, he had his break out season. From 2005-2010, Chase was the best second baseman in the league. 5 all star appearances, 4 silver sluggers, many MVP votes, and a World Series Champion in 2008. He was one of the best players in the entire MLB.

It was in 2010, though, where Utley’s career started to take a dip. He couldn’t stay on the field. In 2010 he sprained his thumb and only played 115 games. In 2011, he had knee problems that included patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia, and bone inflammation which limited him to 103 games. In 2012, he had more chronic knee issues that made him miss April, May, and most of June.

The injuries is what will really hurt Chase’s chances at making it into the Hall of Fame. After all these injuries, he didn’t hit more than 18 home runs, didn’t hit higher than .284, and only made one more all star appearance. When he was in his prime, Chase always hit 30+ homers, 100+ RBIs, and a .290+ batting average. Yes, he was a GREAT player while in his prime, but due to injuries his prime only lasted 6 or 7 years. Are those 6 or 7 years good enough to get him into the hall?

Utley has the 11th highest “JAWS” all time out of second baseman. A player’s “JAWS” is their career WAR averaged with their 7-year peak WAR. He is higher than 13 second baseman who are already in the Hall of Fame, including greats Jackie Robinson, Roberto Alomar, and Craig Biggio. That shows that when Chase was in the prime of his career, he was one of the best.

Chase has the 5th best WAR out of all active major leaguers. The only players ahead of him are Albert Pujols, Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, and Miguel Cabrera. Pujols and Cabrera are considered by most to be no-doubt HOFers, while Beltre and Beltran have very good chances. Utley never had the greatest speed, but he was a heads up player, and is currently 2nd all time in career stolen base percentage.

One last thing (but certainly not least) that Chase had was heart. It isn’t something you can measure with stats, but Chase played the game harder than anybody. “He’s a gamer. And I think the bigger the situation, he thrives on it. And you can’t teach that.”-Former Major Leaguer Jim Thome. “I think his hustle, determination and Pete Rose style make people look to him as a leader. His opinion counts. He’s the heart of this team.” – his former manager Charlie Manuel.

Chase Utley is still playing, and he probably has a year or two left in the tank, so he has time to improve on his resume. He also has a chance to get another ring, this time with the Dodgers who currently have the best record in the MLB. It’s a very interesting debate with Utley, but if I had to vote on who gets in the Hall, he’d be on my ballot.

Twitter: @travieballin26