Recent trades excite ‘City of Brotherly Love’ fans
Baseball and football fans in the Philadelphia area had better re-program their calendars and leave the months of October and January open.
Thanks to the crafty trading of the front offices of both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles, it seems a lead-pipe cinch that both of those sports franchises will go a long way in the major league baseball and National Football League’s post-season playoffs.
The Phillies, who already are considered the best team in the major leagues with their .636 winning percentage through Sunday’s games, got even better before the trading deadline passed at the midnight hour Sunday night.
The Phils raided the Houston Astros roster and their former general manager Ed Wade and snatched one of the four .300 hitters from the Astros starting lineup by making a trade with Wade for right fielder Hunter Pence a few days after Wade dealt another .300 hitter, second baseman Jeff Keppinger to the San Francisco Giants.
There was quite a bidding war for Pence with the likes of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves and San Francisco Giants all vying for his services.
But Wade opted for the package presented by his former team and in the middle of Friday night’s game at Milwaukee, Pence came in from his right field position and was told he no longer was a Houston Astro, but now a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Now instead of having to try to win ball games by himself like he was forced to do as a member of the star-less Astros, he will be surrounded with major league sluggers like Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley.
Pence joins former Astro teammates, relief pitcher Brad Lidge and starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, both of whom were traded to the Phillies by Wade. The player with the most potential the Astros got in the trades from Philadelphia was Michael Bourn, who coincidentally was traded during Sunday’s game to the Atlanta Braves.
Not to be outdone, while the 4 ½-month lockout was in effect, the Eagles’ front office was working up a wish-list of players on the trading block and in the free-agent marketplace and hit the jackpot by landing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who was at the top of every team’s list.
Eagles’ General Manager Howie Roseman and President Joe Banner presented Asomugha a deal he couldn’t refuse. He will be paid $60 million over five years, with $25 million guaranteed.
Asomugha, who was considered the top free agent on the market, spent his first eight seasons with the Oakland Raiders. He had a career-high eight interceptions in 2006, went to the Pro Bowl after the 2008, 2009 and 2010 seasons and was named a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010.
“He’s one of the best—if not the best—cornerback in the National Football League,” commented Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid. “He’ll be a great addition to our cornerback corps. Right now.
“Howie and Joe worked their tail off and put together a phenomenal plan,” Reid pointed out. “They came out of the gates like wild men and attacked the issue. They’ve rewarded our football team and the city with some great players.”
In addition to the Asomugha deal, the Eagles also announced a one-year deal for quarterback Vince Young, a 2006 first-round pick of the Tennessee Titans.
Young, who went 30-2 as a starter at Texas and led the Longhorns to a national championship but had an up-and-down tenure with the Titans, will back up Eagles starter Michael Vick.
A day earlier, the Eagles acquired Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Arizona Cardinals, giving the Eagles three Pro Bowl cornerbacks on their 2011 roster—Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie and veteran Eagle Asante Samuel.
Dallas Cowboys’ Idiot Owner Jerry Jones was on his phone throughout practice Friday pursuing Asomugha. He figured he had the best chance of landing the free agent because he played for Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator Bob Ryan in Oakland.
Of course Asomugha spent eight years playing for a headline-hungry ego-maniac of an owner in Oakland’s Al Davis, so why would he want to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire with the same kind of owner in Ol’ Jethro?
It appears as if major league baseball’s best team– the Philadelphia Phillies—really helped themselves before the trading deadline ended Sunday, while the Philadelphia Eagles strengthened an already-good football team with some great acquisitions from the free-agent marketplace.
Don’t be surprised if the City of Brotherly Love boasts both the World Series and Super Bowl championships once the dust has settled and the snow is blowing.
KWICKIES…Wide receiver Randy Moss, who once boasted “I play when I want to play,” has retired from the NFL again after 13 seasons. He must have wanted to play during the 2007 season when he set a single-season record with 23 touchdown catches. Look for him to “un-retire” again as soon as training camp ends.
The Houston Texans hit the practice field for the first time Monday full of optimism after acquiring cornerback Johnathan Joseph from the Cincinnati Bengals and safety Danieal Manning from the Chicago Bears and signing their No. 1 draft pick J.J. Watt. However, they were unable to re-sign fullback Vonta Leach who inked a three-year, $11 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens.
Although the head coach (Cornel Thompson) is different, everything else during this first week of football practice is the same for the West Orange-Stark Mustangs, like the Mustang Mile, racing up the “Concrete Mountain” (the steps at Dan R. Hooks Stadium) and the two-a-days. But when Zero Week rolls around, the ‘Stangs will be one of the best-conditioned teams in Southeast Texas.
And the guys who should know best, the head football coaches in the Southland Conference, tabbed our McNeese State Cowboys as favorites to win the SLC championship this fall.
Last but not least, Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour for the start of the Bridgestone Invitational tomorrow at Firestone after going more than 20 months without winning a tournament. He re-emerges without a wife, caddy or an idea whether his left leg is fully healed. The only endorsement deal remaining for Tiger since he returned from his infamous sex scandal is with a Japanese company to promote a heat rub.
JUST BETWEEN US…The three trades in the last two weeks that sent away Jeff Keppinger, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn for a total of 10 players have made our Houston Astros much younger, cheaper and clearly worse for the new ownership that will take over soon. The haul included seven pitchers, who will all be at Class AA or AAA, outfielder Jordan Schaefer, who is on the disabled list with a broken finger and is a .223 lifetime hitter as a major leaguer, Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton and a player to be named. In addition, the Astros shipped starting first baseman Brett Wallace and third baseman Chris Johnson to AAA Oklahoma City after they became automatic outs on the recent 10-day road trip. Consequently, catcher Humberto Quintero and Carlos Lee are the only position players left who started on opening day as the Astros see how quickly they can hit the 100-loss plateau.