Phillies Should Explore A-Rod

The Phillies have a need, in fact, they have lots of needs. It should be an interesting off-season for fans as GM, Ruben Amaro, Jr., tries to re-tool this roster and turn it back into a championship contender. There’s lot of debate as to who the Phillies must pursue in free agency or via trades, but the one thing he must do before the start of spring training, is to find a way to get Alex Rodriguez into Phillies’ pinstripes.

If you’ve paid any attention to the playoffs, the New York Yankees were swept out by the Detroit Tigers and Rodriguez was benched for the last two games. He hit an embarrassing .120 with no RBIs during the playoffs, and only added to his reputation as not being clutch in the post-season.

Even with this latest performance, he would flourish in the Phillies lineup. Picture him batting third in front of a healthy, Ryan Howard and in back of a hopefully healthy, Chase Utley. He’d see plenty of fastballs to hit and playing in the band-box that is Citizen’s Bank Park, he’d hit about 20-25 home runs here. Although he’s 37, he still can play an above average 3rd base and can fill in at 1st against a tough left-handed pitcher when sitting Howard.

Another reason Rodriguez would thrive here, is that he no longer would have to be in the shadow of Mr. Yankee, Derek Jeter. He would have a fresh start in a new league without having to defer to Jeter. And after the way things ended for New York this week, Yankees’ GM, Brian Cashman, may be more eager to get A-Rod out of what’s left of manager, Joe Girardi’s hair.

The biggest pitfall obviously is what’s left on his contract. Rodriguez has 5 years and $114 million left on it with a no-trade clause. The Yankees would have to probably eat at least more than half to make it worth Ruben’s and the ownership group’s while. But New York has to be thinking about re-tooling that overpaid lineup after being shut down in the playoffs.

The 2013 free agent market at 3rd doesn’t look remotely appealing, unless the Mets get a brain-cramp and don’t exercise their option on David Wright, Rodriguez needs to be on the Phillies radar.

Incumbent, Kevin Frandsen, was definitely a surprise, but how much can he be counted on to produce for a full season. The Phillies already have a track record of putting their eggs in the basket of journeymen, career minor-leaguers, like John Mayberry, Jr., who can’t sustain a promising stretch from the previous season.

Phillies fans seem to love guys like this and hate guys like Rodriguez because he played for the enemy or they just don’t like the personalities. It’s not just Phillies fans, it’s all Philly sports fans, who would rather root for an underdog story, opposed to one that has already been proven.

No matter what the fans think, the Phillies should make the call and see what it will take to bring him here, but one thing’s for sure, if he somehow comes, guys, don’t take your girlfriends to the game.

Asante Samuel Trash Talks Philadelphia Eagles on Twitter

Former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel knows how to create a stir both on and off the field. We all know very well that he enjoys spending his time taking vocal shots wherever and whenever he can. Today is no different.

Today, the nine-year veteran took to Twitter to display his antics posting a rash of tweets directed towards the Eagles organization. Asante didn’t get much love from Eagles fan as they taunted him regarding the amount of blown coverages and severe lack of tackling ability he had during his tenure in Philly.

As we all know the Eagles front office decided to part ways with Samuel this offseason in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons. And in return for Samuel’s services, Philadelphia asked, and received, a seventh-round draft pick. Maybe the trade had something to do with the lack of production on Samuel’s part — especially during the 2011 season. However, most believe it was due to Asante simply not being a fit for the type of defense the Eagles look to employ. Combine that with his age (31) and the two other cornerbacks the Eagles currently have on their roster how better fit the bill on the defense, Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, the move to trade Samuel was as obvious as it gets.

Below are the various tweets Samuel made this afternoon.

Samuel has had a fine career in the NFL, no doubt about it. A definite candidate as a future Hall of Fame player, Samuel has racked up 45 regular season INT’s, five of which led to a pick-six. However he’s not getting any younger and despite as fine of a player as Asante has been (should I have combined those words?), his production in 2011 was his worse season since 2005 in terms of getting the best of opposing QB’s — that’s how he’s made his living in the NFL.

Samuel went on record just 3 INT’s,  1 pick-six and 1 forced fumble. Combined with his atrocious tackling in which he notched just 34 (combined/solo) it was just the better move to make by the Eagles organization.

Asante will get his chance to put his money where his mouth is on October 28, 2012 when the Atlanta Falcons fly north to face the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. I can’t wait to see a happy DeSean Jackson toast Samuel as he’s done in every practice prior to Asante’s departure. It’s going to be a great day, only thing that would make it better, seeing QB Michael Vick run the ball, lower his pads, and plant Samuel flat on his back!

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Flyers: So much to like about Giroux

Claude Giroux has had his finest moments as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers in a short amount of time.

He provided another one yesterday afternoon in leading the Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Penguins, which help them advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He set the tone early in the first period by hitting Sidney Crosby on the ice follow by scoring the first Flyers goal.

Giroux’s performance inspired Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette to say he is the best player in the world during yesterday’s postgame conference.

It’s the type of leadership Philadelphia sports fans crave, and it’s why Gioroux  is beloved by them. He knows how to get it done. One can appreciate what he does by leading by example with his play. It’s why he is a fan favorite. It’s why he is successful.

Giroux’s postseason success goes back to 2010 when he garnered 10 goals and 11 assists, and that played a role in the Flyers getting to the Stanley Cup Finals that year. He backed up his postseason success with 25 goals and 51 assists in the 2011 regular season. This year, he has 25 goals and 51 assists.

It’s safe to say he is a star in the NHL even if the mainstream media refuse to acknowledge it. His playoff performance against the Penguins should back it up with his 5 goals and 6 assists. The Flyers do not advance without his play.

It is hard to score goals in the postseason. The action is faster, and playoff teams often sharpen up on defense. Plus, there is psychological mindset at work when it comes to scorers, especially when they struggle in the postseason to the point it becomes a lost cause.

If it was easy to score postseason goals, Marian Gaborik, Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and Brandon Dubinsky would not be having hard time doing so.

Giroux is different. He knows what he is doing when he is out on the ice. He finds a way to make it happen by creating many scoring chances for himself.  He will find a way to crash into the net just to get the puck through the goaltender. He has a good vision for the puck, which helps his linemates be in a position to score.

He is also good on defense, and he demonstrated that by shutting down Crosby in this entire series.

When a player is willing to do both, he garners respect among his teammates and his coaches. It’s why Kimmo Timonen felt the need to say Giroux is the Flyers’ engine after talking to the media about his teammate’s performance.

If Giroux continues to play at the level he is playing in the postseason, it won’t be long until he becomes the best athlete to currently play in Philadelphia. That’s what happens when he does his thing in the playoffs.

It’s amazing he is overlooked by the national media when one looks at his work. He may not be as flashy as Crosby or be as chrematistic as Alexander Ovechkin, but he produces, especially in the playoffs. While obscure players stand out more in scoring postseason goals, it should not diminish this theory that stars must play like stars in the second season for a team to win a championship. It’s not a coincidence Flyers have a shot to win the Stanley Cup based on his play.

Believe it or not, Giroux still have his best hockey days ahead of him being that he is 24 years old. It won’t be long until he starts scoring 40 goals a year.

The Flyers have him for several more years, so they can look for more heroics out of him every year. It’s why the Flyers will always have a chance to win the Stanley Cup every year.

The Flyers have been looking for a star that can help them achieve their objective of winning the Stanley Cup for a long time. They were hoping stars such as Eric Lindros, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter would be the guys that would help them, but it never happened. They put good numbers, but in the playoffs, they seem to wilt rather than rise to the occasion.

Giroux is different. He flourishes in big games, and he will pay the price to win a championship whether it’s sacrificing his scoring power to play defense or passing the puck to a linemate. He does a great job of leading by example.

It’s why one day he will be the captain of the Flyers and why he will hoist the Stanley Cup as a Flyer.

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2013 NFL Draft Prospect Watch: T.J. McDonald

Last week I broke down the performance of West Virginia’s quarterback Geno Smith on the road against the Texas Longhorns. He lead the Mountaineers to a big win on the road as he cemented himself as the top quarterback prospect in the nation. This week I break down one of the top two safety prospects, T.J. McDonald out of USC.

McDonald has been getting some comparisons to another former Trojan, Taylor Mays. To me that is just lazy. The two are nothing alike. Mays was nothing more than a big hitter and a straight line runner. He couldn’t back pedal very well in coverage and didn’t have great instincts. I like to think of McDonald as the second coming of Troy Polamalu, another former Trojan safety.

What these two players have in common is the versatility they bring to the position and what they do to confuse the quarterback before the snap. McDonald is always moving before the snap. Sometimes he shows blitz and backs off, sometimes he comes off a delay blitz. Sometimes he starts out as a deep safety and moves right up to the line of scrimmage and vice versa. It’s pointless for opposing quarterbacks to try and locate these players before the snap because they don’t usually play where they initially line up.

The game plan for McDonald against Washington was pretty conservative. He spent most of the game as a deep safety, lining up about 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. USC didn’t want to give up the big play, so they maintained a conservative approach on defense and let their line handle the pass rush. I counted just one passing down that McDonald blitzed on.

Only two plays really jumped out at you from McDonald, but that isn’t a bad thing. He isn’t the type of player that makes five highlight reel plays a game and then disappear. He is a consistent, 60 play type of guy. He has a variety of duties on the field, but he mans up and takes care of his assignment on every player and never over pursues and hurts his team.

The first big play he had came late in the third quarter on a third and five from the Trojans 26 yard line. McDoanld lined up like an outside linebacker and blitzed from the outside. The play call was a running back draw and he read it beautifully and brought the runner down behind the line of scrimmage and forced a long field goal. The kick was missed and USC held on to a 24-14 lead at that point

His second big play came deep on Trojans territory, as the Washington Huskies were just a few yards away from making this a field goal game. He was in man coverage and was following the running back, Bishop Sankey, who motioned from one side to other before the snap. The play was an option out of the shotgun and he took away Sankey on the play. Huskies’ quarterback Keith Price was forced to cut the play inside and was met by several Trojan linemen. Price fumbled the ball and the defense recovered.

Both plays took 10 points off the board, or at least six, for the Huskies and were the difference in the game. Both plays were just a matter of maintaining his assignment and reading the play.

McDonald isn’t an elite coverage safety, but he doesn’t have to be. You want him playing closer to the line of scrimmage when he needs to be, and covering the deep part of the field during obvious passing downs. Because he is so good at reading plays and reacting quickly, you want to play in a lot of different snaps and continue to show the quarterback different looks.

From what I have seen so far from T.J. McDonald, I would say he is the best safety prospect in terms of what he can do now and what type of player he could develop into over the next three or four seasons in the NFL. I don’t think Eagles’ fans would mind seeing another ultra-versatile safety in their secondary.