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Roy Oswalt to Philly done pending the pitcher’s approval

Posted by Dany Sloan On July - 29 - 2010

UPDATE: It appears as if Roy Oswalt has agreed to waive his no trade clause and head to Philly, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The Phillies will send J.A. Happ and two prospects, rumored to be Vance Worley and Anthony Gose, to Houston and will get Oswalt and $10 million from the Astros.

More updates and reactions as news comes in.

According to a report from Fox 26 of Houston, the Astros have a deal in place to send Roy Oswalt to the Phillies. The deal hinges on the pitcher waiving his no-trade clause. Despite the rumors that he didn’t want to play in a tough media market, getting out of Houston and playing for a contender appears to be his top concern.

Philly and Houston have agreed on the amount of money Houston will take back in the deal and the two teams have agreed on the players Philadelphia will be sending. Oswalt is owed another $5 million this season and $16 million next year. He has a 2012 option for $16 million with a $2 million buyout, but it’s not confirmed as to whether the Phils will guarantee that.

J.A. Happ will likely be one of the players headed to the Astros. The other names involved in the deal are currently unclear, but if Ed Wade sticks to script, the Phils will hold onto their best prospects.

Oswalt’s next start for Houston is slated for Friday against the Brewers. He is is 6-12 with a 3.42 ERA in 129 innings with 120 strikeouts.

If this trade is approved, it will give the Phillies one hell of a 1-2-3 punch with Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt through at least 2011. Stay tuned for more info.

Allen signs, Cooper impresses, offensive line issues

Posted by Dany Sloan On July - 28 - 2010

The first three days of training camp are in the books and what have we seen so far? Honestly, not much. First round pick Brandon Graham still has yet to sign a contract, and contrary to his words from a couple of weeks ago, he’s a camp no- show. While I am still confident that this isn’t going to be an issue beyond the next few days, bear in mind that there are only two first rounders that have signed with their respective teams.

Nate Allen, the other draft pick who was still unsigned, agreed to a 4-year deal late yesterday with the team. He arrived in camp late Tuesday night, and with just four hours of sleep, he was up at 6:15 am and on the field ready to practice. According to coach Reid, Allen is the team’s starting free safety.

Being that he was chosen in the second round at #37, otherwise known as the Donovan McNabb pick, there’s some added pressure. Despite being a bit behind, he’s ready to work with his only objective is to “come in and produce right away and [show] that I was a good pick for them.”

By all indications, Allen spent Wednesday getting acclimated to the system and his teammates, working out, getting involved in 7×7, and spending some one-on-one time with secondary coach Dick Jauron.

To make room for him on the 80-man roster, OLB/DE Alex Hall got the axe. You might remember him as being a throw in from the deal that sent Chris Gocong and Sheldon Brown to Cleveland.

Sticking with the defense, it seems that Reid has been impressed with rookie Daniel Te’o-Nesheim. His play over the first two practices has really stood out, especially in the offensive line / defensive line one-on-ones.

Another guy that has been getting a ton of ink is wide receiver Riley Cooper. Reid likes his speed and his play within the red zone. Right now he’s fighting for the #4 spot with Hank Baskett, and may have an edge with his 6’3″ 222 pound frame. While he’s just duking it out rookies and selected vets, the real test comes Saturday when the starters arrive.

There is still some concern over left guard Todd Herremans’ foot, which was operated in on last year. He missed OTAs with this issue, and he will likely be out the first preseason game as well. While the team insists this is all precautionary, if the injury is bigger than they’re letting on, the domino effect it causes will be damaging.

To end on a good note, according to CSN Philly, center Jamaal Jackson is “a little bit ahead of schedule,” according to coach Reid. You may remember that he tore the ACL in his left knee against Denver last season, which exposed an already weak offensive line.

Photo courtesy of the Inquirer (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)

Training camp preview: quarterbacks and receivers

Posted by Dany Sloan On July - 25 - 2010

With just a day from the start of training camp at Lehigh, it’s time for us to bring you the second installment in our preview series. A few days ago we looked at the pros and cons of the offensive line going into camp, and now it’s time to focus on some of the guys they’re trying to protect – the quarterbacks and receivers.

The Birds’ offense unit is young, with many of the guys still unable to rent cars on their own (or without a significant surcharge). Guys like wide receiver DeSean Jackson and tight end Brent Celek have already shown that they are among the NFL’s elite at their position, while receiver Jeremy Maclin and quarterback Kevin Kolb are part of the young core that will need to prove themselves as the #1 guys on a weekly basis.

Looking forward, this is Kevin Kolb’s offense. Although it can still be argued that this team would have been better off with Donovan McNabb (I wanted him to stay, for the record), he’s moved on to the next phase of his career in Washington. Kolb is young and while he doesn’t have the same speed or raw athleticism of his predecessor, he’s a QB that has the tools to be more memorable than Bobby Hoying.

He has gotten a taste of running the offense in the past, from the ’08 game against Baltimore when #5 was benched in the second half, to the two games last season against New Orleans and Kansas City. What we saw was a raw talent that became increasing confident and was quick to find his targets.

Expect to see less of those glorious downfield bombs to DeSean Jackson and more short yardage plays. Best friend Brent Celek was a popular target in those two games last year when Donovan was down, and with the shifting scope of the offense, the tight end is likely to get more than his fair share of passes.

Second year receiver Jeremy Maclin will benefit as well. While he’s not as flashy as #10, he quietly does things very well, and I expect him to pull down more balls than Jackson. As we saw at the end of last season, opposing secondaries were neutralizing him, and this year we’ll see how well he adapts. In the meantime, expect the pass happy Birds to look towards Maclin even more.

On the depth chart, Jason Avant may come in as the #3 guy, but his contributions are just as important. He emerged as a huge threat last season, especially on third down. In a way, he’s the anti-receiver. He quietly pulls down catches with increasing regularly, and there is absolutely no show about it. He’s a blue collar player for a blue collar town.

Hank Baskett, who is back through free agency, and rookie Riley Cooper, will more than likely be the fourth and fifth receivers. Cooper, coming out of Florida, made his mark this spring and should be a shoe-in with the team if he keeps up that play at Lehigh.

The number one guy at tight end is the aforementioned Brent Celek. Last year was his first full year as a starter and he made it count. This season will be his league wide coming out party, and if past numbers are of any indication, he’ll be make a trip to the Pro Bowl, both for his receiving and blocking.

Also in the mix are second-year guy Cornelius Ingram, who is back after a torn ACL. If healthy, he’ll be just what the teams needs, but his health makes him a big question mark right now. There’s also rookie Clay Harbor, who has shown the ability to catch and block, a definite plus for any tight end hoping to make the team.

Beyond the starters, there are a few options on the bench depending on how many tight ends and receivers the team decides to keep. Vet Martin Rucker could be an interesting option should Harbor not work out or Ingram goes down with another injury. There’s also the question of a sixth receiver and whether the team feels they’ll need a guy like Jordan Norwood or Chad Hall. With five promising receivers, it’s probably superfluous, but a brilliant training camp performance could force the team’s hand.

Barring an injury, we won’t see rookie third-string QB Mike Kafka take any snaps. The team will likely give Michael Vick more playing, both as a traditional guy under center and in the Wildcat formation. Now that he’s completely back in playing shape, he’ll be more of a factor on the field. While we won’t ever see the Vick of yore again, his speed athleticism will help the team down the stretch. And not to open debate, but on the off chance that Kolb is a bust, we could see more of #7 than we ever bargained for.

In this QB-driven league, the Eagles may have some uncertainty with a new guy taking the reins this year, but they’re 100% set with the receiving corps. On any given play, Jackson, Maclin, Celek, or Avant all have the potential to make a big catch. With all of the changes on the team, it’s comforting to know that at least one area of the team will excel in 2010.

The Sixers fork in the road

Posted by Mike Santa Barbara On July - 17 - 2010

The Sixers may have benefited from a short lived buzz due to the drafting of Evan Turner, the work is not finished.  In all reality, the work may not be finished before the start of the 2010/11 campaign. The Sixers have reached the proverbial  “fork in the road.”

It’s where decisions must be made, like it or not. Mainly, the Sixers must figure out which direction they want this team to travel. That direction isn’t just winning or losing, it’s much more complicated than that. With the team the Sixers have now, it would be no surprise to most if they were to make the playoffs. However, now that the East has gotten even tougher this off-season, it’s clear the Sixers are still light years away from contending.

The Sixers have options, trading Andre Iguodala for one, though it seems the team has soured on moving him right now. Some of that new found attitude has to do with the hiring of Doug Collins, and of course the Sixers lucking into the 2nd pick overall, Evan Turner. Though, a lot of it has to do with Andre Iguodala himself. When things were at their worst, he stuck by this franchise, and made it clear he wants to stay. Iguodala’s leadership has jumped leaps and bounds from a few years ago. A coach like Doug Collins has to be excited about working with Iguodala, it’s felt by Collins and others that Iggy has untapped potential just waiting to break out. This untapped potential may come mainly from the defensive side of the ball. Iguodala is regarded as a solid NBA defender, but many believe he can be better.

Along with Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner, who both have the ability to defend well, the Sixers will be a much better team on the defensive end. Which means they’ll be in a lot more games than they were last year. Will it make them a contender in the East, probably-most likely, not. Though, good feelings come from winning, with winning builds an identity, something the Sixers need badly to regain.

So, if the Sixers stay the course, keep Iguodala and let Collins mold this team, they will compete. Though, most likely they’ll be playing out the years of Elton Brand’s contract and perhaps wasting a few years from young players like Holiday and Turner. This has been Thaddeus Young’s story in a nut shell. He’s gone from a very promising player, to a struggling bench player, who again will be blocked from playing time this upcoming year by Andres Nocioni. Do the Sixers want to risk the same thing happening to the likes of Holiday and Turner?

Now, if the Sixers were to trade Iguodala, it would most likely mean Thaddeus Young would be starting at the 3, along with Holiday and Turner at the guard positions. Even though they’d still have Brand it would allow those three to play a lot of minutes together. Also, if Brand has the kind of year he did the previous two, he’ll find himself on the bench for Marreese Speights a lot of the time. Speights, yet another young player who seemed to have promise, only to struggle last season as well.

With that team you’d have growing pains, no doubt. Though, you’d have a good look at all three together. The time to evaluate where their games are, and what pieces the team needs to add. Something the Sixers will do regardless if they trade Iggy or not before the season. The only difference is, they would have the money to add pieces next off season if Iguodala is traded. Not to mention, another possible lottery pick to go along with it.

It’s time for the Sixers to make a decision, the decision isn’t an easy one, but one that has to be made before the season starts.

-Mike Santa Barbara

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