It’s an odd occurrence when the last week in July is pivotal for more than one Philadelphia sports team. But that’s exactly what this week is for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia Flyers and, to an extent, the Philadelphia Eagles.
Only six games remain for the Phillies before the MLB trade deadline, and with the team so far out of a playoff spot – 14 games out in the NL East and 10.5 games out of a Wild Card spot – there have been rumblings about serious trades the team could make. Cole Hamels’ name has topped the list of trade bait for a while now, but the Phillies will likely make one last push to sign him to a long-term contract before sending him off to another team.
Droves of fans came out to Citizens Bank Park on Saturday to see him pitch in what could have been his last start at home in a Phillies uniform. And while he didn’t have a great day on the mound, he did hit his first Major League homerun.
Hamels is likely the first piece that needs to fall, one way or the other, before the Phillies proceed with other potential moves. Shane Victorino, Juan Pierre and Joe Blanton are all possibilities to be sent packing as well. If Hamels does re-sign, then fellow starting pitcher Cliff Lee could be shopped around the league as a money-saving proposition. Trading Lee would be a tougher move, though, since he is under contract for a few more seasons.
It’s likely that, by this time next week, the Phillies will look different than they do today. Whether that’s with or without Hamels, Lee, Victorino, Pierre and Blanton remains to be seen.
The team will host the Milwaukee Brewers for three games starting tonight, followed by three games in Atlanta starting Friday. The projected pitching matchups for the first series are Roy Halladay vs. Randy Wolf, Cliff Lee vs. Zack Greinke and Vance Worley vs. Marco Estrada.
On the NHL
The future look of the Flyers roster will take shape this week as well. The Flyers signed Nashville Predators restricted free agent Shea Weber to a massive offer sheet last week, and they’ll find out on Wednesday at the latest whether he’ll don the orange and black in 2012-2013.
The Weber outcome will either be the final major move for the Flyers this off-season or the latest disappointing swing and miss. The Flyers already missed out on big-time free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and were unable to re-sign Jaromir Jagr and Matt Carle.
If the Predators do match the offer for Weber, the Flyers will probably turn their attention to free agent forward Shane Doan before re-exploring trades for Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan or Columbus Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash.
If the Predators don’t match, Weber will anchor a Flyers’ defense that will all of a sudden be one of the better units in all of hockey.
On the NFL
Don’t forget about the Eagles. The team opened training camp at Lehigh yesterday, and full practices will begin today. The first few days of camp don’t often result in many newsworthy items, outside of injuries, so let’s hope for a quiet end to the month of July for the birds.
Defensive tackle Mike Patterson will miss all of training camp, as expected. He had surgery in January to remove a brain AVM from his skull, and the area has not healed sufficiently as of yet. There’s no timetable for Patterson’s return, but Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said he would be out “a couple months or more.”
The Eagles open their pre-season schedule on Thursday, August 9, at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.