The Phillies won a title in 2008. For most of us it feels like a lifetime ago. Following that, we as Philly fans have not had much to hang our hats on. The Phillies made another trip to the World Series in 2009 but were beaten by the Yankees in 6 games. From there the roster got better but the team’s playoff stays got shorter which ultimately led to rebuilding. The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 2010 but were disposed of in 6 games by a much more talented Chicago Blackhawks team. The Eagles had a stretch of dominance in the early 2000’s but could never put it together in capturing a Super Bowl Title. Their most recent appearance was in 2004 where they lost a heartbreaker to the cheating ass Patriots 24-21. The Sixers haven’t been a contender since the Iverson days and even then Kobe and Shaq ran the league.
When will it finally be our time? When will Philadelphia get its chance to be a winning sports city? The word “rebuilding” is a dreaded one, especially in a place where patient fans are few and far between. But with all four teams rebuilding at the same time we could be looking at the Golden Age of Philly sports a few years down the line. That is if all goes as planned.
First, let’s take a look at the Eagles. This has always been a football town and always will be. I’ve often said that if the Eagles were to win a Super Bowl I don’t know if the city would survive the parade. It would be absolute bedlam.
The NFL is the toughest league to sustain success in. Players have shorter shelf lives and injuries are much more common, it’s all part of the physicality that is the sport itself. Most times it takes a transcendent player like Tom Brady or a viscous defense like the 2000 Ravens to win a title. Sometimes it takes a lot of luck, a la the 2008 and 2012 Giants. Competition is so fierce that it is extremely rare to see a team make it to the Super Bowl two years in a row, let alone repeat as champions. So I’ll be totally clear even though it hurts me to do so. I think the Eagles have the worst chance of bringing a title to Philly in the next few years due to the league they play in and the young talent and assets they currently possess.
Here we look at guys on the current roster that should be major contributors come 2020 along with their current age.
QB: Carson Wentz (23)
RB: Wendell Smallwood (22)
WR: Jordan Matthews (23), Nelson Agholor (23)
TE: Zach Ertz (25)
OL: Lane Johnson (26), Brandon Brooks (26), Isaac Seumalo (22)
DL: Fletcher Cox (25), Bennie Logan (26)
LB: Mychal Kendricks (25), Jordan Hicks (24),
SEC: Rodney McLeod (26), Eric Rowe (23), Jalen Mills (22), JaCorey Sheperd (23)
K: Cody Parkey (24)
Basically if you aren’t on this list I don’t think you’re good enough to really be a contributor or you’ll be too old by 2020 to be one. There were a couple guys who were borderline like Vinny Curry who is 27 and Reuben Randle who is 25. If I questioned you I left you off. There are also some stretches on the list like Nelson Agholor, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills and JaCorey Sheperd but they made it simply because of their age and that they were either a high pick or have gotten high praise in the media. Agholor is a huge question mark but we spent a first rounder on him so I’m hoping he figures it out. We don’t know what to expect out of the other three guys, but from what I’ve heard out of camp they seem like they can play.
The Eagles aren’t in necessarily great shape in terms of youth. It basically all falls on the shoulders of Carson Wentz. If you have an elite QB you’ll succeed and if you don’t you better hope you have an incredible defense.
Aside from Wentz I like Ertz, Matthews, Brooks and Johnson on offense. Ertz is one of the youngest starting tight ends in the league and seems to be getting better each year. Matthews had a down year in 2015 but I think he can be a really good number two receiver option on a good team. This obviously means we’re missing a number one receiver. I don’t think Agholor is that guy. He hasn’t shown me anything on the field to make me think he’s going to be a player and now he’s gotten in trouble off the field. Hopefully he can be a contributing option on the outside as Matthews can play the slot. Johnson should be our left tackle of the future and Brandon Brooks can help to sure up the line. It would be great if Seumalo can turn into a player as well. I like Smallwood but don’t think he’s an every down back. Think of him as a Darren Sproles type player.
So basically the offense will need a legitimate number one receiver, a workhorse running back and offensive line depth if they want to be a title team.
Defensively it all revolves around Fletcher Cox and he better be great after the boatload of money we threw his way. Having Bennie Logan beside him sures up the interior defensive line for the future but we’ll need pass rushers as there isn’t an elite option on the team that will be here to contribute in the future. At linebacker I like Hicks and Kendricks a lot, I just worry about injuries. They both seem to be fragile and that could prove to be costly down the road. If they can both stay healthy, though, look for them to be difference makers on defense for years to come. Secondary wise we’re pretty iffy. Eric Rowe could be a solid corner but I doubt he’ll ever be an elite shut down guy. Aside from him the only young guy on the roster is JaCorey Sheperd. He was having a good camp in 2014 but then went down with a season ending injury. Hopefully he can come back strong and turn into a real player which would be great since we got him in the 6th round of the draft. McLeod is a stud at safety that we should look to hold onto for the long term. Mills seems to be legit and a steal as a 7th round draft pick. He can play safety and a little bit of corner which could make him a staple in our future defenses especially in an age where versatility is so valuable.
So the defense will need pass rushers, a number one corner and linebacker depth to be successful in the future.
Non-Roster AssetsRead more
2017: 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick, 5th round pick, 6th round pick, 7th round pick, 7th round pick (conditional pick for Sanchez)
2018: 1st round pick, 3rd round pick, 4th round pick, 5th round pick, 6th round pick, 7th round pick
2019: 1st round pick, 2nd round pick, 3rd round pick, 4th round pick, 5th round pick, 6th round pick, 7th round pick
With the needs I pointed out earlier it is important that the Eagles have successful drafts in filling these needs. This can be hard to do when you don’t have a 1st or 4th round pick in 2017 and don’t have a 2nd round pick in 2018. These were all part of the Wentz deal which also saw us go without a 3rd and 4th rounder in 2016. We also didn’t have a 2nd rounder in 2016 because of the Foles deal. Not lookin so hot in the draft department.
Cap Situation in 2020
Howie went on a spending spree this offseason and did a great job of working the cap (his specialty) for the 2016 campaign. For 2020, however, this team is not necessarily in as great of shape. Above is the breakdown of the contracts on the books for 2020.
For reference, the NFL salary cap in 2016 will be about $155 million. Based on past trends, we’ll estimate the cap in 2020 is about $174 million. That means half your cap is taken up by these 8 players. For comparison, the 2016 team doesn’t get to half the salary cap until the 12th player on the roster. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it is. The Panthers, who went 15-1 last year, had that same ratio so it really proves to give you a much better chance to fill out your roster with talent. Even so, they let Josh Norman walk this offseason, showing you still have to be careful or you won’t be able to resign your stars. The most concerning part in my opinion is that the two largest numbers are taken up by defensive lineman. One who plays on the interior and the other who has never been a full time starter. It’s one thing for your top two to be a QB and a sack machine, but in our case it seems to be overspending.
This means as of right now, half of the remaining money in 2020 needs to be dispersed among 45 guys. Not to mention that the group that is under contract in 2020 is full of young guys from my list above that are hopefully performing at a high level to avoid being cut. In addition, we are all hoping Carson Wentz and some of the other young guys play well enough to merit big paydays. Where do we get the money to pay them? Contracts are frequently re-worked in the NFL and guys become “cap casualties” once their skills start to deteriorate (possibly Jenkins and Kelce) so the look of this cap situation could be very different in 4 years, but as of now it looks like the Birds have a money issue on their hands down the line.
Basically, as stated earlier, the future of this team rests solely on Carson Wentz’s shoulders. If he’s a bust it sets this team back for years. At the same time, a game-changing quarterback can be enough to carry a team on his own like we’ve seen Tom Brady do before. We don’t have impressive offensive weapons and we don’t have the makings of an elite defense. The team is also strapped for draft picks and cap space over the next few years. The moves Howie makes have to pan out, starting with the ballsy one he mad this past offseason in acquiring the second selection to take Wentz. For the sake of Eagles fans, we better hope he’s a star.
For the first time in 10 years, the Philadelphia Flyers held picks in all 7 rounds in the NHL Entry draft. The last time we had picks in all 7 rounds of the draft was 2006. In that 2006 draft, we drafted the most talented ginger to play the game of hockey in the last decade. Three seasons later, Claude Giroux is on his way up to stardom and helping the Flyers get to the Stanley Cup, only to lose to the Blackhawks and rapist Patrick Kane. That 2009-2010 team had a strong core of players. Richards, Carter, Pronger, Timonen, Hartnell, Briere and the list goes on and on. I find the situation in 2006 to be very similar to where the Flyers stand now. As much as I will always love and miss Ed Snider and his passion, he is no longer around and this is really Ron Hextall’s ship to sail by himself from here on out.
A big difference between now and 10 years ago is the Chris Pronger effect. Before the 2009 season, the organization believed they had enough talent to let loose of a decent chunk of the future to snag Chris Pronger from the Ducks. That trade made complete sense for the Flyers, and it almost got the job done. The problem was, the Pronger effect hurt us for years down the road. The mindset of giving up important draft picks and young pieces to fill gaps never got us anywhere. Chris Pronger couldn’t stay healthy (As most 6’6 38 year olds don’t) and we were stuck trying to replace big Chris for years. Ed Snider screaming “win now” in Holmgrens ear every year got us to the playoffs just about every season, but we were never deep enough to hoist lord Stanley.
Paul Holmgren Didn’t do a Good Job.
Paul Holmgren’s problem as GM was his lack of finding defense for sure. Once Chris Pronger was ruled out of hockey with concussions, Paul made some pretty shitty moves. We saw Paul give away draft picks for players like Pavel Kubina, Nicklas Grossman, Andrew Macdonald, and Mark Streit to top the list. All of these players came over here with decent value, but short-termed value. As time went on, Paul was unable to replace these short term replacements, and had little in the prospect pool on defense. He made poor decisions on a lot of contracts to make matters a lot worse. Giving Ilya Bryzgalov 9 years, 51 million, signing Lecavalier to 4 years and Andrew Macdonald to 6 years cost Paul his job and any hope for the Flyers to have a serious team to compete for a cup.
Hextall is going to do none of that shit.
Everything changes with a poised general manager like Ron Hextall in charge. Even though Ron was only Assistant GM in LA, he was still a huge part of bringing them two Stanley Cups. Ron is bringing a similar approach to Philadelphia, build from the net out and draft well. I have a hard time seeing Ron making the mistakes Holmgren made with contracts down the road.
In the matter of a few years, Hextall has already compiled the NHL’s most impressive list of defenseman under the age of 22. Without even having any legitimate scoring prospects besides Konecny, he already has a top 5 farm system in the NHL.
TSN’s Craig Button (Probably the smartest hockey guy on TV) has four Flyers prospect’s in his list of top 50 prospects in the NHL. With three of them being defenseman, that’s something to get very excited for come the year 2020.
Flyers in the Top 50
Ivan Provorov (#4) 19 years old.
Travis Sanheim (#23) 19 years old.
Travis Konecny (#29) 18 years old.
Philippe Myers (#38) 19 years old.
Ivan Provorov is listed as the best defensive prospect in the NHL right now. He is believed to make the team out of training camp as fast as this year and he’s only 19 freaking years old. The 19 year old kids I know make $9 an hour and get drunk 3 nights a week.
There will never be another Chris Pronger in the NHL, but the Flyers aren’t going to have to go out and trade a chunk of the future to acquire a defenseman as talented as Pronger. We have one right in our backyard who isn’t even legal to drink yet.
Prospects By Position
Since the average fan probably doesn’t know who Robert Hagg or Taylor Leier is, I will breakdown the prospects by position and tell you what you should know.
I love Ron’s approach with handling goalies in the farm system. He’s not using any of his first round picks on a goalie so far, and prefers to stockpile a larger quantity of quality goaltenders rather than focus on developing one goalie. Here’s my list:
Anthony Stolarz (22 years old)
Carter Hart (17 years old)
Alex Lyon (23 years old)
Merrick Madsen (20 years old)
Anthony Stolarz is the most intriguing to me. By 2020, I really think he will be the starting goaltender. He’s 6 feet, 6 inches tall and is already playing well for the Phantoms. If Steve Mason or Neuvy get hurt next year, this kid should get the call and impress a lot of people with his size. Ceiling? I think he can be every bit as good as Ben Bishop on the Lighting with the defense Philly will have around by the year 2020. He just has to learn to utilize his freakish size.
Carter Hart is the youngest of the bunch. He was the first goaltender picked out of a weak 2016 goalie pool, but still has the potential to be a very solid starting goaltender in the NHL someday. He will likely be a Phantom by the year 2020, and that’s just fine.
Alex Lyon, Merrick Madsen are prospects we found from college. Alex has more of an upside, and might even be a Flyer soon, but I don’t see either of these guys being a potential franchise goalie like Stolarz or Hart. Still good prospects who have room to grow. Lyon could jump on the Flyers this year and Madsen has a little more work to do.
Travis Konecny – another stud who’s only real concern is his size (5’10, 169 lbs). He can skate and pass as well as any other prospect, it’s just his size. He has a ton of heart, and will loved by 2020. By that year, he will be 22 years old and pushing for a spot on the first line. He’s that good.
Pascal Laberge – I have Laberge (2016 2nd round pick) here because I think he’s a more sure fire prospect than Rubstov (2016 1st round pick) even though he was picked a round after Rubstov. He’s got size and a very quick right handed shot. With all of the established playmakers that will surround him (Giroux, Voracek, Konecny) I see him flourishing the most.
German Rubstov – Russian guy named German lol. His ceiling is believed to be as high as Aleksander Barkov (absolute stud center on the Panthers). I like to hope that this will be a complete steal of a pick for Hexy, and that this guy will be pounding in points on the 2nd line. By 2020? Maybe. I think he will be just cracking the lineup by then. He’s not a sure prospect, but has a lot of upside. Reminds me a lot of Artem Anisimov.
Wade Allison – For some reason, gingers in this city always play good hockey. I don’t think this will change with my man Wade Allison.
This dude is going to be one of my favorite guys to look for in 2020. Red hair, luscious flow, and a promising game ahead of him. In the second round, this was a very good pick. He has size (6’2) and can score the puck.
After these 4, it’s Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and a bunch of probably nots. You will see guys like Kubel, Taylor Leier, Radel Fazleev maybe crack the lineup as a call up, but I don’t see any of these guys talented enough to cling onto the club for a good part of the future. As a fan, we just have to hope that Hextall will come out of one of these drafts with a couple of gems in the later rounds.
The backbone of this organization right now. This section is what will win us a Stanley Cup.
Ivan Provorov – I talked about him earlier, but he will be in the Norris trophy conversation one day. Can do everything, and is playing way beyond his age right now.
Travis Sanheim – The forgotten one. He has just as much upside as Provorov, he’s just not as well rounded as Ivan right now. He’s 6’4 and draws a lot of Ryan Mcdonagh comparisons which gets me amped. He will be a top 2 pairing defenseman by the year 2020 and has the talent to be a franchise defenseman alongside Provorov.
Philippe Myers – Yuuuge sleeper in the Flyers farm. No one knows this guy because he wasn’t drafted on a big stage, but he almost got away from Hextall. Hextall snagged Myers in February of 2015 before any team really started to notice his play in the junior leagues. Had Hextall not signed this kid, he would have been draft eligible and a likely 1st round pick. Ever since we signed him, his stock has skyrocketed. He’s a 6’5 right handed defenseman who plays well his end and is getting better by the day offensively. He won’t be eligible to play in our system until 2017-2018 and will likely have a year or two with the Phantoms. By 2020, Flyers fans will know this name more and more and he may even crack the lineup by that time.
Samuel Morin – I have him at four, but the guy still has so much time to work on his game and develop. He’s huge. Bigger than Chris Pronger at 6’7, and just as imposing right now. Very tough, gritty defenseman who needs to develop his offensive game. With that size, we will find use for him no matter how he develops one day. At the least, he will be a bottom pairing defenseman on this stacked defense in 2020. He has all the room to grow, but still a lot of concern. He needs to bulk up into that size if he wants to bully NHL players the way he’s bullied 18 year olds in the past. Still extremely excited to see this guy play sooner than later. He’s number 4 here, but would be number 1 on a lot of other NHL clubs.
These are the defenseman Flyers fans should be salivating for come 2020. The four I listed here have the most upside of the long list of young defenseman in our pipeline. I am also missing Robert Hagg, Swedish defenseman who had a rough year, but was seen as a great prospect who still has a chance to make his way on the Flyers by 2020.
The scariest part about the Flyers is that the farm system will continue to get better while the Rangers and Penguins have been destroying their farm systems to win now. Right now, we have a total of 9 picks for next year’s draft and that number can only grow. Hextall isn’t going to trade any of these draft picks until the prospects I listed above are hitting the primes of their careers in the NHL.
By 2020, Matt Read, Mark Streit, Bellemare, Vandevelde, Neuvirth, Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, will all be off the books. We will still have Andrew Macdonald’s contract, but just for one more year.
Ghost, Nick Cousins, Laughton, Wayne Simmonds, Raffl will all need new contracts heading into 2020. Ghost will get a pretty good raise. It’s tough to picture what kind of money Cousins, Laughton will deserve at that time. Simmonds could get a small raise and I’m not sure if Raffl would be good enough to warrant a raise let alone another contract.
There will be further business to be taken care of heading into 2020 as well. Provorov, Konecny, Sanheim, and Laberge will all be coming off their rookie contracts and should all be starting to crack the NHL at that point.
We won’t have a ton of cap space, but the hometown discount with all of the homegrown players will factor in to save us enough money to start spending a little to upgrade in free agency.
I really like the core the Flyers have constructed over the years, but it’s hard to imagine the majority staying intact until 2020. Giroux, Voracek, Simmonds, will be starting to crack into their 30’s and will be strong leaders if they all remain by 2020. Schenn, Couturier, Ghost could also provide the necessary leadership for guys like Konecny, and the 6,000 young defenseman coming in.
2020 will be the year the Flyers start to seriously trend upwards in the Metropolitan division. I would hope they should be able to crack a top 5 seed in the playoffs at that time. Like I said earlier, the Penguins and Rangers will be likely heading towards a rebuild at this time.
Until then? Who knows. As much as I enjoyed last year, I don’t expect the team to overachieve like that again this year. They haven’t really addressed any of the serious scoring woes, but did make small improvements in penalty killing with Boyd Gordon and Dale Weise. As much as I can see this team slightly improving year by year, they will still have a very small margin for error if they want to keep squeaking into the playoffs.
2020 vs. 2010
I stated earlier how 2016 is similar to the 2006 Flyers. So zoom forward 4 years, and I will compare the 2020 Flyers with the 2010 Cup appearing Flyers.
That 2010 team had a forwards core of Richards, Carter, Briere, Gagne, Hartnell, and an up and coming Giroux.
2020 will have a core of Voracek, Giroux, Simmonds, Schenn, Couturier, an up and coming Konecny, and possibly the likes of Cousins and Laughton. Wade Allison, Pascal Laberge, Rubstov and other flyers could also possibly have established roles on this team.
I like both groups a lot, but I have to give an edge to 2020 right now with more young talent pushing for spots.
Defensively, both groups are very different. 2010 had a very solid top 4 in Pronger, Carle, Coburn, and Timonen. All of them towards the end of their primes. 2020 Flyers will see a deeper backend with all of the guys just starting to crack into their primes. Provorov, Ghost, Sanheim, Morin, Myers, and Gudas could hypothetically make a wonderful plethora of everyday defenseman.
I can’t really pick a certain group, but the future of the 2020 backend will be far more promising. Provorov could be as good as Pronger, and only 24 at the time.
Goaltending was a big question mark in 2010 and it’s hard to imagine how it will play out in 2020. I like to think the goalie in 2020 is one of the goalies I listed in this article, but Hextall seems to keep adding young goalies every other month. 2010 we saw a couple of vets in Boucher and Leighton. I hope 2020 brings us a younger goaltender with a promising future.
The 2020 Flyers should prove to be a young, exciting team starting to look like a real Stanley Cup built team. With Dave Hakstol’s system in place, and young guys making their way onto the club with the increasing cap space, the sky’s the limit for Hextall and the direction he’s taking us. I will be sitting back and enjoying every bit of it.
Go Flyers baby.
As a 4 for 4 guy, let me preface this by saying the Sixers were consistently my least favorite of the Philly sports quartet. After the Iverson era, I’d casually watch the team and follow where they were in the standings (ooh 7th, nice), but I never really cared when they won or lost. There was no hope, and therefore no passion. If the Eagles lost, I’d be pissed all day. A Flyers game always garnered a couple “Fuckin Right!” ‘s. The Phillies had Harry the K, a dynamite lineup and cheap tickets.
What made me love these teams is that they always posed a threat to win a championship, whether it be due to the layout of the sport (a wild card team/8 seed could legitimately win a title), or the actual team itself. The Sixers were just a bunch of dudes run by a management team that really didn’t care about titles.
For me and many others in this city, that changed briefly when we made that Bynum trade. But after the dust settled on his bowling shoes, our decade-long malaise in mediocrity looked headed for a decade long depression. That was until Samuel William Wallace Hinkie got here. I remember sitting in my 03 Chevy Malibu, eating some god awful Wendy’s fries when I heard about the Jrue Holiday trade. First, it was reported we traded him and a 1st for the 6th pick. Fuck this Hinkie guy. He hasn’t even hired a coach yet, now this buffoonery? But later, when we found out we were getting that pick? And then we took the Noel dude that was supposed to go first overall at 6? And then you realized we might have a shot at Wiggins, whose hype train was going 200 miles an hour? That’s when the Sixers when from 4 to 1.
This is a guy that was willing to put his dick on the table to give us a contending team. He rarely showed the media his dick and never talked openly about his dick, but trust me, Hinkie and his dick were going to Make the Sixers Great Again. Some understandably couldn’t get past this notion that to be great, the best way to do it is to be really really really bad. But I was all about it because although it was a long, dark, gloomy tunnel, there was a blinding light at the end of it. And as that light starts to shine brighter and brighter with each Simmons pass, more people are understanding the merits of what the last 3 years of trash basketball could lead to.
I mean, people are really into the Summer League this year. The Sixers are that team. At least until preseason football starts. And even then, I don’t think it’s crazy to think eventually the Sixers will overtake the Eagles and sit on the Philly Sports Throne.
Who knows, maybe that’s as early as 2020. Let’s take a look at what we have now, and project what we’ll be a few years down the line.
First we’ll look at guys on the current roster that could be major contributors come 2020, with their age in parentheses. Of course, the chances one or more of these guys gets traded are very high, but let’s pretend we’re in a tradeless world.
PG/PF/Point Forward/Power Guard/Who Cares: Ben Simmons (20)
PG: T.J. McConnell (24)
Wings: Timothe Luwawu (21), Robert Covington (25), Furkan Korkmaz (21)
PF: Dario Saric (22)
C: Joel Embiid (22), Nerlens Noel (22), Jahlil Okafor (20)
Simmons and Embiid are the cornerstones. Their pick and roll game could be one of the funnest pieces of basketball minutae for years. Many words have been said about them. There will be a lot more to come.
Okafor already has one of the best post games in the league at 20, but was one of the worst defensive players in the NBA and was a below average rebounder. Brett Brown has repeatedly voiced his desire to have a team that can run up and down the floor, a style Jah simply doesn’t adhere to. If I coached the Sixers, I’d utilize Jah as a dominant change-of-pace 6th man that could run train on 2nd units. But I doubt he’d be cool coming off the bench, and with his talent, I wouldn’t blame him. Although Jah has a promising future, he’s a prime trade candidate.
Noel’s production digressed last year, largely due to injuries and playing out of position as the team attempted to make room for Okafor. But he still managed to finish in the top 20 in steals and blocks per game, one of only two players to do so (Paul Millsap was the other). That defensive versatility gives him tremendous value and DPOY potential. His offensive game is very limited, but he put up solid numbers with a mediocre point guard. He will be an UFA after this season, and is also a candidate to be traded. It’ll be interesting to see how the Sixers handle their glut of bigs.
Could you maybe find a way where these two and Embiid could coexist and live together on the same team? I guess so. But that’s like asking, could you maybe live in your parents’ basement for the next 5 years? It’s possible, but it’s far from ideal.
Dario Saric is going to be that dude. Brett Brown’s voice goes up an octave when he talks about him:
“For those who haven’t seen him play, there will be a real excitement of how versatile he is. There is a toughness that the city of Philadelphia is just going to fall in love with. He’s a bull-in-a-china-shop type player. He can rebound, lead a break, he can hit threes — that’s the thing I think I’m most excited about watching the growth of his game. He just comes with a real versatility and skill package at 6-foot-10, similar to Ben in some ways.”
He’s coming over to the states this year and will sign a deal on the rookie scale. Dobro Sanjre! (that’s Croatian for “Good Shit!”). P.S. – if you didn’t read the above quote in Brett Brown’s accent, what the hell are you doing? Go back and read it again.
The center position is locked in. Ben Simmons will likely guard 4’s on defense, as will Saric. So two of five spots (that’s 40% for you analytics nerds out there) are basically set for the next few seasons.
The rest have a decent shot to be solid role players in 2020. Covington is making a paltry $1 million the next two seasons and could succeed on a contender in a small role. Luwawu hasn’t shown much in Summer League, but has the tools to be a good defender and the skills to be a solid shooter. In 2020 he will be 25, and could be a solid wing. The 2019/2020 season will likely be the sharp-shooting Furkan Korkmaz’ first in the NBA. He will only be 22. I think all 3 guys are potential trade sweeteners, but I would be perfectly fine with them as Sixers a few years from now.
The only other guard on the current roster I can make a solid case for being on the 2020 roster is T.J. McConnell. Among all rookies, T.J. had the:
- Highest AST rate
- 2nd highest STL rate
- Most grit
- Most steals per game, and
- Largest penis
I think he’d fit in nicely as a backup point guard come 2020.
Again, only a handful of these players will be on the team in 2020. Currently, only Simmons and Luwawu have contracts through the 2019/2020 season. But you could argue these players have over a 50% chance of being Sixers four years from now.
Maybe’s: Jerami Grant (22), Richaun Holmes (22), Gerald Henderson (28), Nik Stauskas (22), Jerryd Bayless (27)
Grant is a freak athlete but lacks an NBA role, much less a real position. Holmes is a savage but is less talented than the bigs mentioned above. I can see Henderson staying here for a while as wing depth and a veteran presence. Stauskas is a pure shooter that hasn’t shot well yet, but at 22 still has some room to get better. Bayless is a good player, but I don’t think we re-sign him to a new contract after his deal is up.
Probably Not’s: Sergio Rodriguez (30), Christian Wood (20), Kendall Marshall (24), Hollis Thompson (25), Carly Landry (32)
Sergio’s a stop gap. Wood has talent but we have no room. Marshall stinks. Thompson can shoot but has a very low BBIQ. Landry is 32.
2016: Over $25 million in cap space, still.
2017: Sixers 1st with right to swap with Kings, Lakers 1st (top 3 protected), and the most cap space in the league.
The Sixers have the lowest odds to win a title this year (tied with the Suns and Nets). The Kings have the 4th lowest odds. The Lakers have the 7th lowest odds. After a relatively weak 2016 class, The 2017 NBA draft class is hyped as being one of the best in recent memory, with 22 five star prospects. Chad Ford said he thinks only Simmons and Ingram would go top 10 in the 2017 draft. And the lottery is loaded with guards, specifically point guards. Take a look at the early top 10:
|4||Dennis Smith||PG||NC State||FR|
|5||Jonathan Isaac||SF||FLA State||FR|
|7||Frank Ntilikina||PG||France||17 yrs old|
I’m thinking we get Josh Jackson with the Kings pick swap and Fox/Ntilikina/Ball with the Lakers pick. Giddy up.
2018: Sixers 1st, Sixers 2nd, better of Nets/Cavs 2nd, better of Knicks/Clippers 2nd
4 picks, ho hum.
2019: Sixers 1st, Kings 1st (VERY UNPROTECTED), Sixers 2nd, better of Bucks/Kings 2nd (lol Kings again), Knicks 2nd
RIP to the Kings (1985 – 2019). By now, DeMarcus Cousins will be gone and all that’s left in Sacremento is Papa John-nias, a few die-hard fans, and reoccurring nightmares of Sam Hinkie.
So for those counting at home, we have 2 cornerstone prospects, a very good chance of two more cornerstone prospects in 2017, Noel, Okafor, Saric, the Kings 2019 pick which I’ll bet my life savings is top 5, some other first round picks, some solid role players on great deals, a ton of cash, and a boatload of second round picks. Plus the vets currently on our roster who weren’t sexy enough to be on my top 25 asset list.
|3||2017 Sixers 1st (with pick swap)||–|
|4||2019 Kings 1st||–|
|5||2017 Lakers 1st||–|
|9||2018 Sixers 1st||–|
|11||2019 Sixers 1st||–|
|18 – 25||8 Second round picks||–|
It’s important to keep all this in the back of our minds. When Ben Simmons misses a wide open jump shot, and Nerlens drops a perfect pass, and your uncle complains that the Sixers aren’t a playoff team yet, take a deep breath and remind yourself that the Sixers are primed to dominate the 2020’s.
Next, we’ll examine the Phillies. The team captured our hearts during their magical championship season of 2008, in what was part of a run that included five straight NL East division titles and two NL pennants. But since 2011, when they were ousted in the division series round by the St. Louis Cardinals, baseball in Philly just hasn’t been the same. Since that season, when the team won a franchise-record 102 games, they have followed with 81 wins in 2012, 73 in 2013 and 2014, and just 63 victories in 2015.
Gone are the packed houses at Citizens Bank Park. Gone are the all-so-familiar names of Hamels, Utley, Rollins and Victorino. Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz remain, but are shells of their former selves. Charlie Manuel is gone, too, and after a failed experiment with Ryne Sandberg as skipper, Pete Mackanin is now the manager.
The front office has overseen a slew of changes as well. Andy MacPhail has replaced longtime Phillies president David Montgomery, and Matt Klentak is the team’s general manager, taking over for Ruben Amaro, who is now an employee of the Boston Red Sox.
With all this change, however, has come a breath of fresh air. After the 2012 season, it was clear the Phillies needed to rebuild. Everyone saw it. Everyone except the people who needed to see it. Amaro went out and signed more aging veterans like Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett to give one last shot at a title with the 2008 core of heroes. It didn’t work, and the signs of a rebuild finally started towards the end of 2014.
We’re now two-plus seasons in, and I think you could say the state of the organization is a lot better than what most people imagined it would be. A hot start got the year off to an auspicious start, and at the one point, the team was 24-17, seven games over .500 for the first time since the 2011 season — the last time the team made the playoffs. That prompted talks of the club possibly sneaking into the playoffs as a wild card, but a June in which they lost 19 of 27 games, including a nine-game losing streak, has dashed any hopes of that happening. The team currently sits at 43-50, in fourth place in the NL East.
Still, there’s reason to believe this team can be a contender within the next two years. Though the MLB talent might not show right now, I’d take on anyone in an argument that says the Phillies don’t have a top-5 minor league system in baseball.
While we’re on that topic, here’s a look at who I think what the starting lineup will look like at a time when the team should be among the top contenders in the National League.
2020 Projected Phillies Lineup (Current age in parentheses)
Catcher: Jorge Alfaro (23): Maybe the top prize in the Cole Hamels deal with Texas. One of the best throwing arms in all of professional baseball. Bat has always been a strength; possesses good power. Will need to improve defensively and with game-calling but should be a very good backstop for years to come.
First Base: Andrew Knapp (24): Strong, switch-hitting catcher whose glove should be able to play at first. Has always been a weaker defender, which means the position change makes sense. If not Knapp, Rhys Hoskins (currently with 25 HRs at AA) could be an option here.
Second Base: Scott Kingery (22): Dude can flat out hit. Doesn’t provide much power but can hit to all fields. He won’t win any Gold Gloves with his defense but should be serviceable at second. Speed is near the top of all players in the Phillies’ system. Potential to steal 30+ bags in the bigs.
Shortstop: J.P. Crawford (21): One of the top prospects in all of MiLB since being drafted in 2013. Chance to be a Jimmy Rollins-like type player and maybe better. Has an excellent glove and range to go with a strong arm. Might have the best plate discipline in minor league ball, too. Bat has been slow to adapt to AA and AAA pitching, but Crawford is still just 21, and that should come around.
Third Base: Maikel Franco (23): The Phillies best run producer and home run hitter in 2016 will still hold those titles in 2020. His aggressiveness probably means he will probably never be a .300 hitter, but should still be good for 30-40 home runs in the prime of his career. Defense at third has picked up this year and will continue to improve.
Right Field: Nick Williams (22): Maybe the guy I’m most excited to see play in the majors. Another guy who just knows how to hit. Doesn’t walk all that much and his approach could use some work, but will still be a very valuable bat in the lineup and solid corner outfielder.
Center Field: Roman Quinn (23): Putting him on the list is more of a hope thing than anything else. Is he a special talent? Absolutely. Can he stay healthy to play every day in the majors? Probably not. Quinn has failed to play more than 88 games in a season in his career and is currently on the disabled list at Reading. When healthy, one of the most electrifying players at the AA level. Switch hitter who can hit for average from both sides. Good route-runner and speed allows him to get to balls most guys can’t.
Left Field: Odubel Herrera (24): Will be one of the veterans on the team in 2020. Maybe has a batting title or two by then. Still will be just 28 and entering the prime of his career.
Meanwhile, the starting rotation will look something like this:
Jerad Eickhoff (26)
Jake Thompson (22)
Aaron Nola (23)
Zach Eflin (22)
Vince Velazquez (24) — I only put Velazquez as the No. 5 here because I still feel he’s better suited for a closer’s role.
One thing about the Phillies —they might have the most young talent out of all four Philadelphia pro sports teams — maybe not the best, but probably the most. When I was constructing this mock lineup, it pained me to leave some guys out.
Here’s a few other names to keep in mind:
1B Rhys Hoskins ( .277, 25 HRs, team-leading 83 RBIs at AA Reading)
CF Carlos Tocci (.273, 11 SB at A Clearwater, just 20 years old)
RF Dylan Cozens (24 HRs at AA Reading-tied with Hoskins, team-leading 78 runs scored)
SS Malquin Canelo (Slick fielding shortstop at A Clearwater, 8 SB)
RF Jose Pujols (Behind Cozens, best raw power in org., 17 HRs through 84 games)
I’ve been debating for the past couple years who will be the next Philly sports team to win a championship. For a while, I was adamant about the Sixers bringing home the next title. That’s still very possible, but the Phillies might be just a step or two closer.
What I haven’t yet mentioned is the ridiculous MLB free agent class that awaits the Phillies in 2018. The projected lineup I have put out could look dramatically different if the front office decides to spend big on a few prized free agents in what will be perhaps the best free-agent class of all time.
Get this: Aside from Matt Harrison’s $2 million buyout, which will surely be exercised, the Phillies have zero money on the books in 2018.
Zilch. Zip. Nada.
Now chew on this.
Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock, Dee Gordon, Jose Fernandez, Dallas Keuchel, and Matt Harvey will all be free agents after 2018 season. Futhermore, Clayton Kershaw, Jason Heyward and David Price can all opt-out of their current contracts and try to land another big payday.
Needless to say, there will be PLENTY of talent out there should the Phillies decide they want to go for a big fish — and they probably will. Not to mention that part-owner John Middleton, who is the wealthiest man in all of Pennsylvania – worth more than $2 billion – is just foaming at the mouth to build a monster. He may go down as the George Steinbrenner of the South when it’s all said and done.
I’m a firm believer that the next 10-20 years will be the golden age of Philadelphia sports. Across the city’s four sports franchises, young talent is abound.
Maybe I’m being too positive, but I expect to have attended MULTIPLE championship parades down Broad Street by the time I’m 50.
The Phillies will certainly play a big role in that. Their TV deal with Comcast Sportsnet that will pay them $2.5 billion over 25 years just kicked in this season. The spring training complex is one of the best in all of Major League Baseball. Citizens Bank Park is just 12 years old, and quite attractive for power hitters to play in. The front office is stable, has a proven leader in Andy MacPhail, and a young GM with a strong sense of what’s needed to make the club successful.
There’s reason to believe this team could be good for a long, long time. There’s reason to believe Philly sports will be good for a long, long time.
Written by Eric Quinn, Tyler Cloran, Tyler DiSalle and Mike Cloran