The chorus of the 1972 David Bowie single “Changes” might as well have been written to describe the Phillies’ upcoming offseason. Because based on team president Dave Dombrowski’s comments on Wednesday, there are a lot of changes coming this winter for a team that finished 82-80 and missed the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season.
On Wednesday, Dombrowski cycled through a lengthy Phillies offseason to-do list that includes adding a middle-of-the-order bat, a leadoff hitter who gets on base, a closer, and other complementary pieces. He also refused to commit to Didi Gregorius as the club’s starting shortstop next season or manager Joe Girardi past next season, the final year of his three-year contract.
But other than that, the Phillies are in good shape!
The Eagles are also dealing with change, as some of the club’s top defensive players are struggling to adjust to Jonathan Gannon’s scheme.
Finally, there are the Flyers, who made three significant trades this past summer, including giving up a king’s ransom for polarizing defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
Philly may be known as the “City of Brotherly Love” but in 2021, it is a city in the midst of a whole lot of change.
In the trenches is where the Eagles have been strong on both sides of the ball for a long time — when healthy.
But for Fletcher Cox this season, it has been a struggle, whether because of age catching up with the former All-Pro or the scheme from first-year defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon. As Jeff McLane writes, the film doesn’t lie, as Cox hasn’t looked great.
And for the offensive line, questions remain as to what the starting lineup will look like for Sunday. Will tackles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata return to action? EJ Smith has the latest on this unit that over the last couple of seasons has lacked stability.
The offensive line’s struggles with pass blocking, proficiency in run blocking, and a struggling Eagles defense are among the reasons the Eagles should stop with the pass-happy nonsense on offense, writes KC Joyner.
What’s next: What will we learn about the status of the offensive line from practice today?
No other sports league has gone through the stunning changes of the National Women’s Soccer League this past week, and for the players, this is only the beginning. They’re determined to speak out on league administration and owners, like Steve Baldwin, whom they hold responsible for hiring and enabling abusive coaches. The silence spoke loudest as the players stopped NWSL action on the field, including in a nationally televised game, for a minute’s protest to a standing ovation from supportive fans.
For the first (and last) time in her considerably prestigious soccer career, Carli Lloyd played a professional club game in the Philadelphia area as Gotham FC took on the Washington Spirit.
Phillies president Dave Dombrowski has a busy offseason ahead of him trying to reshape the roster into one that can finally end their 10-year playoff drought. He let us in on a bit of his thinking Wednesday on a variety of topics. Dombrowski wasn’t the one who hired manager Joe Girardi, and he’s not going to be the guy to fire him either — at least not yet. Girardi will be back for his third season in 2022, but Dombrowski says they “haven’t even discussed” picking up his 2023 option.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius’ future in Philly looks more uncertain. The Phillies told him his starting job is not guaranteed in 2022, the final year of his two-year, $28 million contract.
The page is turning to 2022 for the Phillies, and Matt Breen looks at 10 telling statistics that might offer us a glimpse of what’s to come next season.
Off the Dribble
Sure it’s preseason, but coach Doc Rivers wasn’t happy about the Sixers’ performance in a 123-107 loss to the Raptors. He made his team sit through a lengthy film session on Wednesday to show his displeasure, but there’s reason to believe it will get better when the Sixers host the Raptors tonight. Joel Embiid (who sat Monday to rest) and Tobias Harris (knee soreness) will most likely make their preseason debuts.
Sixers owner Josh Harris says the city is “depending on you to win,” and he enjoys that responsibility. Right, but what’s going on with Ben Simmons? No insight there from the star point guard’s boss.
What’s next: Raptors at Sixers, tonight at 7 at the Wells Fargo Center (NBC Sports Philadelphia).
On the Fly
Every October, hope springs eternal for hockey teams in 31 NHL markets — this season that number increases to 32 thanks to the arrival of the expansion Seattle Kraken. After a massively disappointing 2021 season, the Flyers will be as happy as anyone to clean the slate and start fresh.
Well, maybe except new defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen that is. The 26-year-old bruiser will not only be relieved to escape Buffalo’s harsh winters but equally the Sabres organization, which won a league-worst 15 games last year and has shown this offseason it may be even more inept in the front office than on the ice.
Hope didn’t spring eternal for everyone with the Flyers, though, as 10 players had their hopes of making the opening-night roster dashed on Wednesday after the team announced roster cuts. Morgan Frost was the most surprising subtraction of the 10, as the 22-year-old center had been expected to make the team as a middle-six center.
What’s next: The Flyers wrap up their preseason slate on Friday at 7 p.m. in Washington, D.C., against the Capitals (NBCSP), with both sides expected to feature full-strength lineups.
Worth a look
For a change from the big five professional sports, check out these other sports stories:
Defense wins championships: No. 4 Penn State’s key to beating No. 3 Iowa is winning the turnover battle.
Sofia Pla adds new meaning to being an “Explorer”: One La Salle field hockey player’s 5,000-mile journey to stardom.
Trailblazer returns: Former Inquirer columnist Claire Smith will serve as co-director of the Claire Smith Center for Sports Media at her alma mater, Temple.
Marc Zumoff, the Philadelphia legend and play-by-play voice of the Philadelphia 76ers, announced his retirement after 27 years. He joins us today on Inquirer LIVE for a deep dive into his quarter-century-long career with the Sixers and his thoughts on the franchise’s past, present, and future.