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Fish ‘n Chips

Posted by Eric Fisher On March 28

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We’re one month away from the NFL Draft. We’re less than a week away from the start of baseball season. There seems to be a little more excitement for the NFL Draft, which will take place in Philadelphia, but baseball is first, so let’s start there.

Wins and losses don’t matter during spring training. Statistics can also be misleading. Did the at-bats or innings come against other major leaguers? Was the batter working on a new stance? Was a pitcher adding a pitch? Those are important factors to consider when evaluating players during spring training.

The Phillies should hope that spring training statistics aren’t indicative of the type of seasons players will experience. Michael Saunders and Howie Kendrick, who are expected to fill the starting corner outfield positions, are batting .229 and .212 (through Monday’s games, respectively, during spring training. Sandwiched between them at .217 is Maikel Franco, although Franco has five home runs.

Andrew Knapp, who apparently won the competition to be backup catcher, is batting .184. Ryan Hanigan, one of the catchers he was battling for the backup job, batted .389 before being released Monday.

This doesn’t mean the decision to keep Knapp was a good one or a bad one. Statistics during spring training don’t have much meaning.

But you can’t have it both ways. If the batting averages of Franco, Saunders and Kendrick don’t matter much, then neither should Tommy Joseph’s .304 average, Odubel Herrera’s .361 average or Brock Stassi’s .320 average..

The same is true of pitching. If people are going to get excited about Vince Velasquez’s 2.75 ERA, then they have to be disappointed in the ERAs of Opening Day starter Jeremy Hellickson (5.92), Clay Buchholz (5.94) and Aaron Nola (6.62).

I have an inkling about how the Phillies will do this season – look for my season preview later this week – but the numbers from spring training don’t tell me very much. They can be used for positive reinforcement or as a warning of a storm coming this way.


DRAFT UNCERTAINTY: As the NFL Draft draws nearer, I start to pay more attention to mock drafts. The only things the prognosticators seem to agree on is that the Browns will selected Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett with the first overall selection and that the Eagles will select a cornerback at No. 14.

There is debate over which cornerback the Eagles will select, but there is little question about the position they will target with their first-round pick. Among the cornerbacks the Eagles land in mock drafts are LSU’s Tre’Davious White, Ohio State’s Gareon Conley and Florida’s Teez Tabor.

Drafting a cornerback makes perfect sense. There’s the possibility that the Eagles don’t have a starting-quality cornerback on their roster right know. Even in mock drafts that have two of the top three receivers available – or even all three! – the Eagles are slotted to choose a cornerback, so forget all the talk about the Eagles taking a wide receiver in the first round.

Then again, as I wrote in the Fish ‘n Chips column prior to this one, the more I look at mock drafts, the more convinced I become that nobody truly knows anything.


RED-HOT OWL: To illustrate my point about nobody knowing anything regarding where players will be selected in the NFL Draft, let’s take the example of Temple defensive end Haason Reddick.

The “experts” even disagree about which system would provide Reddick with the best opportunity to flourish. Is he better as a pass rusher on the edge in a 3-4 defense? Would he be better off as a linebacker in a 4-3 defense?

Without a consensus on Reddick’s position, there is, as you can imagine, a major disagreement over his draft position. Reddick, ranked No. 2 at linebacker by draft and talent evaluation guru Mike Mayock, shot all the way up to the No. 5 pick (Titans) in NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s mock draft (posted on Monday). Mel Kiper, the godfather of mock drafts, has Reddick being picked by the Saints at No. 11. Four other mock drafts I consulted had Reddick being picked between No. 22 and 26.


BEAUTY REST: Older players or players nursing injuries may need days off, but the increasingly prevalent practice of “resting” players during the regular season is ridiculous. Players in their 20s shouldn’t need multiple days off to prepare for the playoffs.

Fans who pay money to see stars shouldn’t find out that two or three stars aren’t playing after they arrive at the arena. That’s particularly true due to how much good tickets are at some arenas. No wonder NBA commissioner Adam Silver has made public statements criticizing the frequent resting of key players.


NO SURPRISE: Nobody should have been surprised Sunday when Kyle Larson won the Auto Club 400. Larson finished in the top 5 in two of NASCAR’s first three races, and faded to eighth in the season-opening Daytona 500 after running out of gas on the final lap. Larson, 24, is definitely one of NASCAR’s up-and-coming drivers.


VICTORY DROUGHT: When the Union visit D.C. United on Saturday (7 p.m.), they will be trying to snap an 11-game winless streak that stretch back to last summer. The Union’s last win, over Sporting KC, was Aug. 27 of 2016.


DOUBLING DOWN: South Carolina has teams in the Final Four of both the men’s and women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments. The women’s team, coached by former Philadelphia star and Temple head coach Dawn Staley, is a No. 1 seed. The men’s team, coached by Frank Martin, reached the Final Four as a seventh seed.


IN THE DARK: Unless the Flyers pull out a playoff berth with a miraculous finish, this will be a dark postseason at Wells Fargo Center.

Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 28 years, didn’t correctly select any of the men’s Final Four teams in his NCAA pool. He did, however, pick Connecticut to reach the Final Four in the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

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