Eagles Acquire J.J. Arrington from Broncos

The Eagles made a trade yesterday acquiring J.J. Arrington from the denver Broncos, while giving up linebacker Joe Mays. Arrington did not play last season at all with knee problems, and will still need to pass a physical today.

Arrington was a 2nd round draft pick by the Arizona Cardinals in 2005, but never really had abreakout season. Arrington's career high in yards was his rookie year when he ran for 370 yards and 3 TD's.

Joe Mays was a 6th round draft pick by the Eagles in 2008 out of North Dakota State. The Eagles had high hopes for Mays, and made him a starter last season at the middle linebacker position at one point in place of Stewart Bradley, but Mays struggled as a starter, and never ended up getting into games very much. It was tough to imagine a spot for Mays getting much time this season at the linebacker spot with a crowded situation.

If J.J. Arrington does not make the team, the Eagles will receive a 6th round draft pick in 2012, which might end up being the case.


Phillies Win 8th Straight

The Phillies have been on a tear lately, and a lot has been going on down at Citizens Bank Park, as the Phillies try to catch up to the Atlanta Braves.

The Phillies gained another game on the Braves today with their 8th win in a row tonight. They did it in walk off style to sweep the Diamondbacks, on an 11th inning RBI single from Wilson Valdez. How many people when the season started would have thought the Phillies would be winning a big game in late July on a walk off hit by Wilson Valdez, scoring Cody Ransom. Well tonight, the 6-7-8 hitters were huge, as Ransom, Ruiz, and Valdez all had good games. Ruiz has been ripping the cover off the ball the past few games.

This all comes the day after yesterday's 7-1 win... also known as the debut of Domonic Brown. Brown had a huge debut, going 2-3 with a double, a single, 2 RBI's, and 2 runs scored. Brown took his first at bat and almost went deep, taking a pitch and going off the top of the fence in right field. Brown is a 5 tool player who looks like he is the real deal. Roy Halladay's starts rarely go unnoticed, but when Domonic Brown was doing what he was doing, not many people noticed Halladay quietly dominating, as he has basically done all year long.

This is all being done as the Phillies are still missing key players in the lineup. Chase Utley remains out of the lineup, and will probably be out for another 3 weeks or so. Jimmy Rollins fouled a ball off his foot, and missed the last 3 games, but hopefully will return to the lineup. Shane Victorino strained his oblique in Tuesday night's game, which is why Domonic Brown is in the lineup. As much as I rip of Victorino, I don't like both him and Rollins being out of the lineup, as they are our 2 fastest players on the team.

With all the injuries, Ryan Howard has been a rock in the lineup. I believe there should start being some Ryan Howard MVP talk. Howard has struggled the past 2 days, but is batting .295 currently, and has been above .300 a lot of the season. He has 23 home runs, and leads the NL in RBI's by a long shot. Howard is probably around 2nd or 3rd in the current NL MVP pecking order but if the Phillies make the playoffs, Ryan Howard has to be strongly considered to win the award. Guys like Joey Votto, Adrian Gonzalez, and Albert Pujols are probably also in the mix.

Not only has Howard put up solid numbers all year long, he has been the guy who has stayed healthy. I am not blaming the guys who have been injured, but at any point if we lost Howard along with a Rollins, or Victorino, or especially Utley, the lineup would struggle big time. Howard has been the rock in the lineup, and there is no replacing him as the clean up hitter. Placido Polanco has been the only other guy who has been healthy and not gone into any type of slump.

Any way you look at it, the Phillies are playing great baseball right now, and hopefully will keep it up with Roy Oswalt joining the squad. The Phillies go on the road now, and start with a 3 game series in Washington. Roy Oswalt will be on the bump tomorrow night for the Phillies. The Phillies currently sit 2.5 games back of the first place Atlanta Braves, and it feels like they were about 7 games back a week ago.
Even though we were very frustrated as of recently, it is nice to have an enjoyable Phillies team to watch, and have a team to root for going into August and September, and then hopefully into the playoffs.

Phillies Trade for Roy Oswalt

For the 2nd straight year, the Phillies have acquired a top pitcher at the trade deadline. Today, the Phillies traded with their old friend Ed Wade, and got pitcher Roy Oswalt in a deal. In the trade, the Phillies gave up J.A. Happ, and minor leaguers Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar.

All things considered, this seems like a really good trade for the Phillies. While maybe a little overrated, Roy Oswalt is still an elite pitcher in this league, and Ruben Amaro really got the best of this trade. The Phillies do not have to pick up the club option in the 3rd year of Oswalt's deal, which means his deal will only go through next season, and the Astros are paying $11 million of Oswalt's $23 million that he is owed through the next 2 seasons.

Oswalt initially seemed hesitant to want to come play in Philly for the next couple years because he is from the south, but I guess when some other teams, mainly the Cardinals, backed off the deal, Oswalt seemed like he would rather have a chance at contending with the Phillies than staying in Houston.

The Phillies not only now have 3 very good pitchers, they also didn't have to give up on their best hitting prospect, Jonathan Singleton, who is in Single A. J.A. Happ is a good pitcher, but he isn't anything special.

Ruben Amaro seems like he actually got this deal right. Unfortunately, it wouldn't even have needed to be done if Amaro got rid of Cliff Lee in the offseason for a few crappy prospects. Without Amaro saying it, this deal kind of admits that he made a mistake getting rid of Cliff Lee, which the fans have been saying since that deal was done. It still hurts not having Cliff Lee on the team, but Roy Oswalt should slide into the #3 spot in the rotation nicely. Oswalt is 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA this season.

Unfortunately, this probably means that the Phillies can't re-sign Jayson Werth unless they greatly increase their payroll next season, or they are able to trade Raul Ibanez or Shane Victorino. Getting a trade done for Raul Ibanez would be optimal, but it probably won't be able to be done. Another horrible move by Amaro was giving Ibanez a 3 year deal. I would have no problem trading Victorino this offseason if it means keeping Werth and sliding him to center field, and playing Domonic Brown in right field.

Either way, this was a very good trade, and it definitely makes the Phillies a much better team than before the trade, and they didn't seem like they had to give up much to do it.


Brandon Graham Signs With Birds

The Eagles locked up first round pick Brandon Graham tonight, agreeing to terms on a 5 year deal. It's nice to have him in camp, as he seems like the type of guy who really wanted to be here the whole time.

It shouldn't really be a big deal that Graham has missed a couple of days, especially because the whole team hasn't been at camp as of yet. Graham actually signed earlier than most first round picks, as there are still only a hand full of first round picks signed.

Brandon Graham is expected to compete for the starting job at the defensive end position opposite Trent Cole, and hopefully he can win that job and be successful, since nobody else has really been able to take over that spot.


Jameel Poteat Commits to Pitt

The University of Pittsburgh finally got the verbal they were looking for from star running back Jameel Poteat.

Poteat took over the running back position vacated at Bishop McDevitt high school in Harrisburg from Shady McCoy after McCoy went to Pitt, and now it looks like Poteat will follow in McCoy's footsteps again to the Pitt Panthers. According to various recruiting sites, Poteat is ranked anywhere from 18th to top 10 among running backs in the 2011 class. Poteat had offers from many other schools, and this is a great get for Pitt, as if Poteat lives up to his potential, it looks like Pitt will continue to have strong play from the running back position.

Eagles Sign Nate Allen

The Eagles signed 2nd round draft pick Nate Allen from South Florida yesterday, which is important, especially because Nate Allen is technically the starting strong safety. Allen signing means that only 1st round pick Brandon Graham is unsigned with the Eagles. It is sort of good news for all the teams and 1st round draft picks as the 2nd first round draft pick signed today, so at least that is some progress. Hopefully Allen can use his time in camp to start the season at the free safety position.

Domonic Brown to Make Phillies Debut

Domonic Brown will make his Phillies debut tonight as the Phillies ride their 6 game winning streak into another matchup against the Diamondbacks.

Brown's arrival is sort of overdue, and the only reason he was called up now is due to an injury to Shane Victorino. Victorino was placed on the 15 day DL today with a strained oblique, and it opens the door for Domonic Brown to make his debut. Jayson Werth will slide over to center field, and Domonic Brown will play his familiar position of right field. Domonic Brown is due to bat 6th in the order tonight.

As much as I rip Victorino, it is never good when both Victorino and Jimmy Rollins are not in the lineup. J. Roll is only expected to miss tonight's game and maybe tomorrows, but is still is tough without the 2 fastest players on the team, especially when you are already missing Chase Utley.

It will be exciting to check out Domonic Brown tonight, and hopefully he has a solid debut. Tonight's matchup is also a matchup of 2 pitchers who have thrown no hitters this season. Roy Halladay threw a perfect game earlier in the year, and Diamondbacks pitcher Edwin Jackson threw a no hitter against the Rays.

The Phillies need to keep this winning streak going, especially being at home, and playing against a bad Diamondbacks team. They are still 3.5 games back in the NL East of the first place Braves.


Eagles Open Camp

The Philadelphia Eagles opened camp today as all rookies, and selected veterans reported to Lehigh University to begin another grueling few weeks in the heat.

Neither 1st round pick Brandon Graham or 2nd round pick Nate Allen are signed as of yet. According to Andy Reid at his press conference, the team is fairly close to signing Nate Allen, but not necessarily Brandon Graham. Only 1 first round pick is currently signed, and it is Dallas Cowboy, Dez Bryant.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal for any rookie to miss some time at camp, especially these first few days, but both Allen and Graham could be starting for this team this season from the start. With the injury to Marlin Jackson, Nate Allen is currently penciled in as the starting free safety. And with the free safety play the Eagles got last season after the departure of Brian Dawkins, Nate Allen will need to get in all the work and practices possible.

Graham fills another position that the Eagles have not gotten much out of in recent years; the left defensive end spot, opposite Trent Cole. Even though there are a lot of candidates to fill this spot, Graham could see a lot of time this season, and thus like Allen, would benefit from being at camp as soon as possible.

Other than that, no practices actually took place today, just Michael Vick and Andy Reid at the podium. Reid didn't give anybody any information, and was annoyed by all the Michael Vick questions, and let it be known, as is usually the case since he is a pompous ass. One possible piece of good news coming out of Reid's press conference was a softball lobbed to him by Merrill Reese. Does this possibly mean that kiss ass Dave Spadaro was not present? If this is true, this is obviously a good thing... for everyone. The less Dave Spadaro this season, the better.

Camp stories will be a little more interesting starting later in the week when they roll out the red carpet for all the rest of the players to arrive.


Lots of Camp Battles Expected for Eagles

The Eagles rookies and selected veterans report to training camp on Monday, July 26. The rest of the team will report on July 29, and there figure to be a lot of training camp position battles this year.

On offense, Kevin Kolb is obviously the starter at quarterback going into the season. Unfortunately, we have a backup quarterback who is going to have the cameras on him all throughout training camp. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles utilize Vick this season. At running back, LeSean "Shady" McCoy is the starter, and I expect him to have a very good season, and quickly establish himself as an elite running back. Mike Bell backs McCoy up for now, and the 3rd RB battle will between Eldra Buckley, and rookie draft pick from LSU, Charles Scott. At fullback, Leonard Weaver has a lock on that spot, and is one of the best in the game.

At wide receiver, the Eagles are very young, and will have DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin as the top 2 receivers. The 3rd receiver in the slot will be Jason Avant, who seems to get better every year. He will be counted on to have a bigger role this year. The battle for the 4th and 5th wide receivers looks like it will be between Hank Baskett and rookie Riley Cooper. At tight end, Brent Celek is coming off a great year, and can hopefully continue to improve on that. Cornelius Ingram should be able to win the backup job, assuming he can stay healthy. I am very interested to see what Ingram can bring to the table, as I had high hopes for him when the Eagles drafted him.

On the offensive line, there are a few battles that will look to take place. Winston Justice and Jason Peters are the tackles. Winston Justice needs to show he can continue to improve upon his solid season last season. At the one guard position, Todd Herramans is the starter, assuming he is healthy. At the other guard, it could be a battle between Stacy Andrews, and Max Jean-Gilles. Neither player showed much last season. At center, Jamaal Jackson will start the season injured, and it looks like Nick Cole has the edge to start the season at center. I think Mike McGlynn should get a serious look to start at center, and could outplay Nick Cole in training camp.

On the defensive side of the ball, there will be even more position battles. The Eagles really struggled last season on defense, and need to bounce back this year. Up front, the defensive tackles will be the same - Broderick Bunkley and Mike Patterson - both solid players, but both of whom struggled at times against the run up the middle. Pro bowler Trent Cole has been solid ever since being drafted by the Eagles. Unfortunately, he has never had any help from the opposite defensive end. This could all change with first round draft pick Brandon Graham from Michigan. Graham could end up starting at the opposite end. However, Graham, like every other 1st round pick is unsigned, so he will need to get into camp as soon as possible if he wants to battle for the starting end spot. Darryl Tapp, the acquired free agent from Seattle, Victor Abiamiri, and Juqua Parker will also get a look to start. This left defensive end position looks to be one of the better camp battles to keep an eye on.

At linebacker, the Eagles appear like they are set. Obviously Stewart Bradley holds down the middle linebacker position, if healthy. The outside linebacker spots look to be held down by Ernie Sims, acquired in the offseason from the Detroit Lions, and 2nd year player Moise Fokou. Fokou will need to improve on a somewhat disappointing rookie season, but the Eagles appear to really like him.

The secondary is a large concern in my opinion, and a lot thinner than most people are talking about. At the cornerback position, the Eagle are no longer with Sheldon Brown, who will be replaced by Ellis Hobbs it looks like. Asante Samuel has the other cornerback spot locked up. Hobbs is good, but I'm not sure can step in and be a 2nd cornerback. This also means Joselio Hanson will step in to be the 3rd cornerback possibly, which I'm not sure I like either. Look for rookie Trevard Lindley to get a strong look this camp also.

At safety, Quintin Mikell is the starting strong safety. He will need to improve on his play last season, as he really struggled without Brian Dawkins. The Eagles brought in Marlin Jackson, but he already is out for the season. This means that rookie 2nd round draft pick Nate Allen is the starter right now at the free safety position. Nate Allen is also unsigned currently. The Eagles got absolutely nothing from the free safety position last season, and never adequately replaced Brian Dawkins. Hopefully Nate Allen is that player, but I'm not so sure he is. Quintin Demps should also get a look here, but never looked very good when he was in the game. Macho Harris was just terrible last season.

The Eagles are counting on their top 2 rookie picks this year to play big roles on defense, and need to get both guys signed and in camp, as they need to contribute right away. Either way, training camp should be interesting this season to see how all of these battles play out.

Phillies Need a Lot of Help

The Phillies right now have a lot of issues, and will need a lot of help to not only try to win the division, but even get the wild card in the National League.

With the trade deadline a little over a week away, it looks like the Phillies have targeted an elite starter to attempt to acquire. Roy Oswalt is the name that has been mentioned most in this situation. It seems kind of stupid that the Phillies need to acquire a starting pitcher at the trade deadline this season when they had Cliff Lee on the team signed through the season. It's actually beyond stupid; it's moronic; it's asinine; and the series of moves that Ruben Amaro has made since taking over are basically all moronic, and they leave the Phillies in a horrible position as it stands right now.

Since the Phillies got rid of 7 of their top 10 prospects in the Lee and Halladay deals respectively, and since I would imagine Domonic Brown will not be traded, the Phillies don't have many prospects right now, and almost all the ones that they do are at the single A level. This means that the Phillies might have to include Jayson Werth and J.A. Happ in a trade. Since Werth is a free agent in the offseason, it makes sense to trade him; however, trading Werth really puts the already struggling lineup in an even tougher position.

If you trade Werth, you can replace him in the field with top prospect Domonic Brown, who is a natural right fielder. That is fine, as Domonic Brown is overdue to join the major leagues in my opinion. However, Jayson Werth, even though he is struggling, fills the #5 hole in the Phillies batting order, and is the right handed bat there. Batting behind Ryan Howard is not as easy thing to do. Domonic Brown is a lefty, and will join and already lefty heavy Phillies batting order. Also, you can't expect Domonic Brown to jump into the #5 hole behind Utley and Howard, as a lefty.

This means that you would have to probably put Rollins or Victorino in the #5 hole, both of whom are switch hitters, and unfortunately, both of whom are struggling at the plate. Rollins can hopefully turn it around and have a good end to the season; Shane Victorino just flat out sucks. If you put Rollins there, he can swing away like he always wants to anyways, but you then have Victorino at the leadoff spot, popping up the first pitch he sees every at bat. Either decision is not optimal.

Bottom line, the lineup right now isn't good enough to make the playoffs. In fact, the offense has been so bad that the Phillies fired hitting coach Milt Thompson tonight. Thompson will be replaced with Greg Gross, who has already been the Phillies hitting coach. The offense is flat out bad no matter who is the hitting coach right now, and I can't even remember the last time I said that about the Phillies. Chase Utley coming back obviously can't hurt, but I don't think it will do enough to revive the offense. Utley isn't going to fire anybody up with his personality, and Utley wasn't even hitting the ball anyways before he got injured.

Therefore, if the Phillies do make a trade, it will need to be for a pitcher, and this is what will need to carry the Phillies into the playoffs; because it sure isn't going to be the hitting.


Jabaal Sheard Suspended

Pitt Panthers defensive end Jabaal Sheard was has bene suspended indefinitely after being arrested early Sunday morning for throwing another man through a glass window of an art gallery on Pittsburgh's South Side.

Sheard's suspension is technically indefinitely, but that could mean a lot of different things. The preliminary hearing in the case is July 28th, and until the suspension is lifted, Sheard cannot even participate in any team activities.

Sheard is the Panthers starting left defensive end, and plays opposite Greg Romeus, who is a possible 1st round draft pick next year. It will hurt the entire defense if Sheard misses any time, as the Panthers rely heavily on their pass rush for their defense to be successful. If you had to pick a weakness of Pitt's defense, it is the secondary, and without Sheard in the lineup, you are missing a vital part of the pass rush, and allowing opposing quarterbacks to have time to pick apart the Panthers secondary. This also will probably bring more double teams to Romeus' side of the ball for any game(s) that Sheard misses.

Unfortunately, even missing 1 game is a big deal, as the Panthers actually schedule real teams on their non-conference schedule - something Penn State knows nothing about - and open the season at Utah. The 2nd game of the season is against D-1AA New Hampshire, and Game 3 is against Miami. So, seems easy enough to me. Continue to state that we are looking into this issue, and doing our due diligence on that matter until after Sheard plays in Week 1 at Utah, then suspend him for the New Hampshire game, and then bring him back to play Miami.


Phillies Need a Wake Up Call - Badly

The Phillies are in much need of a wake up call. The 2nd half of the season has gotten underway, and the Phillies have not yet started to play. They are a very easy Geovany Soto mishandled hop away from starting out the 2nd half 0-5.

The Phillies need someone on the team or on the coaching staff to get in the players faces, throw some chairs around, and start benching players. The Phillies are flat out a bad team right now, and since no one on the team is man enough to get in the other players faces, I will do my best to do it here.

Shane Victorino - You are playing like complete shit. In the top of the 7th tonight, with 2 on and 2 out, Shane Victorino came up and popped up the first pitch to the catcher. Sadly, we have seen Victorino and his stupid uppercut swing do this way too many times. Victorino is one of the dumbest baseball players I have ever seen, and actually had the audacity to sort of blame the fans for some of the Phillies struggles for not picking the Phillies up. You're right Shane, I forgot. It is our job as fans to pay money to come see you, and even though you make millions, it is our job to pick you up and cheer you on, and say go get 'em next time as you pop up first pitches. What is this, freakin little league? Should we have cheered, and said "nice try" as Shane jogged back to the dugout? Maybe Victorino should stay in St. Louis, where fans actually might do that. Just as an aside, Shane Victorino has 69 at bats this month, and has walked a grand total of 1 time. 1 time he took a walk.

This article was supposed to destroy a lot of players on the team, but I can't see to get past how bad Shane Victorino is. Let's try to move on. Jimmy Rollins is batting like .140 since he came back from the DL for good, which clearly isn't good from the leadoff spot. Since Rollins also never walks, the Phillies are getting from the leadoff spot. Jayson Werth is completely lost right now, and strikes out way too much. Werth actually has as many strikeouts as Ryan Howard does this year, and in about 50 fewer at bats. Not good.

Raul Ibanez is actually playing a little better the past month, but is well past his prime overall. I guess Ruben Amaro should be blamed for that more so than Ibanez, but he needs to step up his game also. I'm not going to blame Wilson Valdez, who shouldn't really be in a any position to be the man to try to jump start this pathetic offense.

Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco, and Carlos Ruiz have been solid all season. You can usually say that about Chase Utley, and even though he is on the injured list, he was not playing very well before he was on the injured list. If he continues to struggle down the stretch when he comes off the DL, Utley needs to be blamed as much as anyone for the Phillies season.

As for the pitching, the Phillies really only have 2 good starters, and everyone knew this coming into the season. Halladay has done everything he can do, and Cole Hamels has been better than most people actually thought he would be, including myself. Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick, and Jaime Moyer are jokes, and below average pitchers, and that is 60% of our starting staff. Cliff Lee would look real good right now, huh?

Also, Ruben Amaro deserves some of the blame as well. I don't need to re-hash the worst trade in Philadelphia sports that he pulled off, and the fact that Domonic Brown is still in the minors, destroying every level, as Raul Ibanez bats .250 in left field. You need to do everything you can to trade Ibanez. If not, I have been on record that you shouldn't trade Jayson Werth, but I wasn't expecting the Phillies to possibly be sellers at the deadline, and if the Phillies continue this free fall, they should try to trade Werth I think to get what they can, as he definitely will not be back next season.

Either way, the Phillies need some type of wake up call. I really hope one of the players steps up to the plate - not on the field - but instead in the locker room, to rustle a few feathers, and get in some players faces, to hopefully turn this season around.

Simon Gagne No Longer a Flyer

The Flyers traded Simon Gagne today to the Tampa Bay Lightning, which ends Gagne's time as the longest tenured Flyer. The Flyers traded Gagne to the Lightning in exchange for defenseman Matt Walker and a 4th round draft pick.

The move was not necessarily done to bring is equal talent value, but was done to get rid of the contract of Simon Gagne. The Flyers needed to and were able to make this move after they signed Nikolai Zherdev last week. Zherdev is the man who will take Gagne's spot at the forward spot. By getting rid of Gagne, they Flyers are able to get back under the salary cap. Gagne was owed $5.25 million this season, and was under contract for 1 more season.

Even though Gagne was oft-injured, and appears to be older than his current age of 30, Gagne still will be missed simply because he has been on the Flyers for 10 years. Gagne was a former first round pick of the Flyers in 1998. And in today's sports, it is rare to see a player stay on the same team for even close to that amount of time. In fact, only David Akers can claim he was on a Philadelphia team for longer than Gagne currently up until today.
Gagne leaves the Flyers ranked 10th in both career games played for the Flyers, and 10th in career points for the Flyers. Even though it just happened very recently, Gagne will always be remembered as scoring one of the best goals in Flyers history - the Game 7 goal against the Boston Bruins that put the Flyers ahead 4-3 in the game, capping off the 3-0 series and 3-0 in game deficit.


76ers Lineup Shaping Up

The Sixers lineup is shaping up now that the draft is concluded, and the Sixers signed Evan Turner.

I still would like to see the Sixers make one offseason move; that move would be to get rid of Andre Iguodala, obviously via trade. Iguodala makes a lot of money, a bad signing by Ed Stefanski, but still is a good player, just not a #1 option. I think Iguodala makes a lot of sense for certain teams, including the Chicago Bulls, who missed out of signing LeBron. If you can unload Iguodala, it will open up room for Thaddeus Young to start at the #3.

This is the year you need to find out if Thaddeus Young can play or not. Young looked good and showed flashes early in his career, but struggled for the most part last season. This is the year you need to find out in Young can be a starter in this league, or if he is just a serviceable player. In this scenario, Jrue Holiday would start at the point, and Evan Turner at shooting guard. With Thaddeus Young at the small forward, this would give the Sixers maybe the tallest 1, 2, 3 combo in the league. Holiday is big for a point guard, Turner is big for a shooting guard, and Young is big for a small forward. This would allow the Sixers to create a lot of matchup problems for any other team.

If Iguodala stays on the roster, which is probably likely, then Iguodala will probably start at the small forward position, and Thaddeus Young will come off the bench. The Sixers have tried putting Iguodala at the 2, and Young at the 3, but that didn't really work, and Iguodala has said he feels more comfortable at the small forward position.

As for the big men, the Sixers are not great up front. Elton Brand is a natural power forward, but as we have seen the last 2 seasons, is well past his prime, but locked into starting with all the money they are paying him. He is also unfortunately sort of blocking the process of Marreese Speights, who has shown a lot of skill when in the game. He is another guy the Sixers need to see if he can be a long term starter in this league.

Finally, the Sixers do not have to run out Samuel Dalembert at center. It wasn't a very significant trade, but just getting rid of Dalembert is one of the best trades in Sixers history. Basically the opposite of the Cliff Lee trade. In return, the Sixers received Spencer Hawes and Andres Nocioni. Hawes will probably be penciled in as the starting center. Hawes isn't great, but has size, and is decent, and still young.

If the Sixers want to play around, they can put Thaddeus Young at the 4 from time to time, or Speights, and Elton Brand can play center. Jason Smith will also get some time up front this year to see if he can show us something.

Lou Williams will probably be one of the first players off the bench, and even though Williams didn't show much last year as the starting point guard, he can still play, and is a solid backup to Jrue Holiday. Throw in the fact that the Sixers now have a respectable coach in Doug Collins who can help groom the young players, and will make the guys work hard, and the Sixers should at the very least have more wins than last season.

Phillies Begin 2nd Half of Season

The All-Star break is over, and the Phillies begin the 2nd half of their season tonight with a 4 game series in Chicago to play the Cubs.

The Phillies unfortunately with their poor play over the past month and a half leave them with a lot of work to do in the 2nd half of the season. The Phillies are perenially a very good 2nd half team recently, but you hate to have to rely on that in order to make the playoffs. The Phillies currently sit 4.5 games back of the NL East leading Atlanta Braves. The Mets are in 2nd place, 4 games behind the Braves.

The Phillies have had their injury issues, but you don't want to blame all of their problems on the injuries. Bottom line, the Phillies offense the first half of the season is the worst it has been in a long time. Sitting out parts of the first half of the season were Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz. The Phillies still are without Polanco, who is due back possibly this weekend, and Chase Utley, who will probably be out for another month. Ryan Howard has been the only real consistent bat in the lineup, as he had an all-star first half of the season, and is almost batting .300.

The pitching staff has been up and down, but better than expected. The only reason the Phillies are even 4.5 games back is due to the pitching, which has picked up the hitting. In fact, the final 2 games before the all-star break, the Phillies won consecutive games 1-0, behind solid starting pitching from Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels. Halladay has been everything he was brought in to be. Cole Hamels has been solid this year so far. Kyle Kendrick and Jaime Moyer have been very up and down, and Joe Blanton has been flat out bad.

I hate to keep bringing up the worst trade in Philadelphia sports in my lifetime, but trading away Cliff Lee was a horrible mistake by Ruben Amaro, Jr. People say get over the trade and stop talking about it; however, the trade is significant and applicable to how the Phillies are playing now. If you want to agree with Amaro and say the Phillies couldn't spend the money, then you can blame Amaro for giving Moyer a 2 year deal, and not trading Joe Blanton, although there wasn't much demand for Blanton. Also, if you want to agree with Amaro and say the Phillies needed to replenish the farm system, this is just untrue, because if the Phillies had kept Cliff Lee this year and then let him walk, they would receive 2 first round draft picks as compensation. You could easily argue that these 2 first round picks would be much better than the prospects that the Phillies did get.

Also, Ruben Amaro needs to make the correct decision and try to trade Raul Ibanez. Ibanez is having a bad year, which you kind of had to expect, as Ibanez is up there in age. If no one wants Ibanez, most people feel like the Phillies should trade Jayson Werth. I do not however. You need Werth in the lineup, as he is one of the positives in a poor lineup, and is the only power right handed bat. Bottom line, Dominic Brown absolutely needs to be a starter on this Phillies team, like yesterday. According to Ruben Amaro, Brown can't replace Ibanez because Brown isn't a left fielder. Ohh right, I forgot Ibanez is an outfield covering gold glover out there. Brown technically is a right fielder, but I have to imagine can fill in left field for the rest of the season. Dominic Brown was recently listed as the #1 prospect currently not in MLB by ESPN.com. He can definitely give a jolt to the lineup.

Either way, the Phillies need to step up their game, and have a solid 2nd half if they want to make the playoffs. Luckily, this is nothing new for the Phillies, as they usually do have very good 2nd halves.