Friday, June 24, 2011

Comings And Goings

Roy Oswalt always looks like he'd rather be somewhere else, perhaps sitting on a tractor in Mississippi. He sure doesn't look happy to be here. Last night Oswalt gave up a home run, a few seeing-eye hits and lo and behold he was down 4-0 after two innings. He really looked like he wanted to be riding that tractor. He's a man of few words, none of which seem to express much pleasure in playing baseball any longer.

Truth is, Oswalt has never sounded particularly happy to be in Philadelphia either. Last night, after two innings of mediocre work, he left the game claiming his lower back tightened. Oswalt has had back problems in the past. He's even spent time this season on the DL recovering from miseries. Combined with a loss of velocity if not words, Oswalt just looks like a guy who wants out. One of the heralded four aces before the season began, Oswalt hasn't received much support in some of his outings but, he hasn't exactly pitched well in others.

It isn't much of a stretch to speculate that Oswalt would like nothing less than to just go home. When a tornado ripped through his home town in early Spring he did just that...for a week...with the Phillies' blessings. I have no idea how popular or not Oswalt is with his teammates, but he sure doesn't go out of his way to make himself well-liked to the rest of the folks around these parts.

His latest injury combined with Joe Blanton's problems presents the Phils with some issues to resolve. Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley are the available choices to fill their spots; indeed, Worley is already poised to permanently fill Blanton's fifth spot provided he can do the job consistently. With Oswalt's injury the Fab Four are down to three. Moreover, the injuries to him and Blanton preclude the possibilities of trading them at the deadline for a needed right-hand bat.

The Phils have an option for Oswalt next year; he has a no-trade clause and a huge salary. My crystal ball sees him riding a tractor sooner than later.

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The Sixers drafted a big center out of USC with the the sixteenth pick in last night's draft. With all the guys playing basketball around the globe, to be the sixteenth pick says a lot; so, too, however, does the fact that fifteen teams passed on Nicola Vucevic before the Sixers grabbed him. No one knows how a draft pick will turn out. Evan Turner wasn't very impressive last season and he was one of the first guys chosen. Meanwhile, some late picks blossom into real stars.

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The Flyers stunned everyone in hockey, especially Mike Richards, when they traded the their captain and his buddy Jeff Carter to two different teams yesterday. I was not surprised Richards was sent packing. He was a good two-way player who would disappear at times offensively. Last season he had a terrible offensive game for much of the end of the season and the playoffs when measured by goals and assists and it was only afterward we learned he had an injury.

But that's not really the reason they moved him now. The coach, the owner and the media didn't like the often sullen and defensive captain. There's a good chance those feelings extended to the locker room, too. If a player's production is deemed inadequate, a sour personality won't save him, either. Richards wore a pained expression just about any time he had to answer a question from someone outside the locker room. It always seemed to be such a chore for him to speak.

I don't suppose he has a tractor waiting for him somewhere just yet, but perhaps Roy Oswalt can suggest a model when Richards is ready.

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