Archive | July, 2012

Hamels Signing Makes it Easier For Phillies to Alter its Roster

25 Jul

Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels inks a six-year $144 million deal.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Perhaps the best news for Phillies fans in an otherwise dismal season was the re-signing Wednesday of starting lefthander Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 million contract season with a club-vesting option for next season.

At 28-years-old, Hamels is still young enough and has enough of an arm to help team get back on the winning track for next season and possibly beyond. With the team currently mired in last place and 10 games below .500, the Phillies will still be sellers by the time the trade deadline rolls around, but at least they won’t giving away valuable commodity like Hamels.

With Hamels around for a few more years, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. knows that the Phillies are several upgrades in talent away from being legitimate contenders in 2013. Hamels has clearly been the Phillies best pitcher this season. If the 2012 season’s woes are an aberration, especially with the injuries to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Roy Halladay, signing Hamels to a long-term deal goes a long way in giving fans hope for a better next year.

While the Phillies are starting to show signs of life on the field after winning their last four games in their final bat, the signing of Cole Hamels to a multi-year deal will probably make it easier for the team to part ways with players like centerfielder Shane Victorino, outfielder Juan Pierre, John Mayberry Jr.,third baseman Placido Polanco and pitcher Joe Blanton whether it’s at the trade deadline or during the off-season.

“When you retain some of the best pitchers in the game, there’s going to be costs,” Amaro said. “It’s my job to put the pieces of the puzzle together in the right fashion. We have a lot of decisions to make. The one thing that’s clear is that we’re committed to winning. We’re committed to bringing home another championship. We’re committed to trying to improve whether it be during the course of this deadline or beyond that or during the offseason.”

Amaro said the Phillies position at the trade deadline will be dependent upon how well the team is playing in the days leading up to the trade deadline. So far, the Phillies are 8-4 since the All-Star break.

“The biggest thing that we have is the presence of those of what we call our big three with Roy Halladay, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the middle of our lineup,” Amaro said. “That was the club we were hoping to have coming out of spring training … We have to play the best baseball we can possibly play from here on in and hope that we can put ourselves in position to get back in this thing”

But the idea that they have a realistic chance to even make the second wildcard spot is wishful thinking at this point. First, the Phillies have to get back to .500. They are 10 games behind the Atlanta Braves for that spot and would have to leap frog six teams to do it and hope those teams have a major collapse along the way.

Not impossible, but highly improbable.

What Hamels deal ultimately means is that the clock is ticking on a few players in the Phillies clubhouse even in the midst of the team winning its four games in dramatic fashion. That’s something players don’t want to think about or even want to talk about. The days leading up to the July 31st traded deadline are going to be nerve-wracking for some Phillies players with trades and rumors of trades swirling around the social networking sites and the traditional media.

“I can go on a blog tonight and write whatever I want and start a whole other rumor,” Victorino said. “If I paid attention to everything said, I’d be a train wreck. Everyday it’s something new. I’m just focusing on winning and whatever happens, happens.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something Worth Fighting for: Hammering Hank Lundy fights for Family and Respect

24 Jul

Rising lightweight contender Hammering Hank Lundy working out in his gym in Upper Darby in preparation for Friday’s Fight against Raymundo Beltran at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. Photo by Chris Murray

By Chris Murray

For the CM Report and the Sunday Sun

When rising world lightweight contender and current North American Boxing Federation title holder Henry “Hammering Hank” Lundy steps into the ring, it’s not all about the belts, the money, the TV cameras, or the foxy ladies.

Like most of the great names in the legendary history of Philadelphia boxing, Lundy knows that when you step in that ring it’s a matter of life and death. When you come in on those terms, there has to be a deeper cause to fight for other than just the fleeting hype of fame and large entourages.

Growing up in some of the toughest neighborhoods in South Philadelphia where he came close to getting caught up in the cycle of crime and violence, Lundy said he wants a better place for his children.

“That’s the key thing with me,” Lundy said. “My four little girls, my stepson and my fiancée, It’s all about family. You know I never want my daughters to grow up the way that I did, on the streets and growing up in the hood. My goal is to find a way for them to make a better living and if I have to go in there and rumble, take every drop I got in my body and lay it down in the ring for my kids that’s what I’m going to do.”

As World Boxing Council No.1-ranked contender in the lightweight division, Lundy has certainly been true to his word. He has 22 wins with one loss and 11 knockouts and his reputation in the boxing world is steadily growing, especially with his last appearance on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. Lundy will be on the national stage this weekend when he takes on Raymundo Beltran at the Resorts Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City.

The fight, scheduled for 10 rounds, will also be televised on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. Lundy is no stranger to fighting on national television. His last fight, a unanimous decision over Dannie Williams, was also on ESPN.

If there’s anything you will learn from watching Lundy’s fights is that he is your prototypical tough-guy Philly fighter. He may take an opponent’s punch, but he’s going to land a few hard shots, too. In the first round of his fight against Williams, Lundy took a hard right to the temple and found himself on the canvas.

“When he landed that punch, I went down, it stunned me, caught me on the top of my head,” Lundy said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve been through this before. Now let’s see if you withstand the pain that you’re about to go through. Like I told him, I’m going to take you to hell and back and I took him to hell and back.”

After being knocked on his rear end, Lundy went on to dominated the next nine rounds to win a unanimous decision. Lundy’s trainer, Sloan Harrison said Lundy didn’t allow the knockdown to rattle him or throw him off his game and it made him fight even harder.

“Some of them freeze when they get knocked down, but he (Lundy) don’t freeze because he got heart and wants to get up and continue,” Harrison said. “A lot of guys get hurt and they can’t deal with that. He can.”

Lundy’s mettle was tested in a loss to John Molina back in 2011 when he was stopped by way of an 11th round technical knockout.

In that fight, Lundy was in control of the fight for the seven rounds, but he was apparently suffering from some form of virus that caused him to vomit several times before the fight. Lundy’s promoter asked him if he wanted to go on with the fight 15 minutes before the bout.

“I said,’I look I got kids, I gotta go out there and fight,” Lundy said. “I handled my business. But in the second round I told my trainer I had no more left in me.”

Lundy, weakened by his sickness, tried to do so showboating and got knocked down by Molina in the eighth round. The referees eventually stopped the fight in 11th when Lundy couldn’t answer a barrage of Molina’s punches.

But Harrison said the 28-year-old Lundy showed a lot of heart despite the loss. Before the stoppage, Lundy was winning the fight on all three of the judges scorecards.

“He was done and for him to actually win the fight on the cards in the condition that he was in, can you imagine having to go to the bathroom and having to fight through all that?,” Harrison said. “That’s what he did. That fight showed me the determination and everything a fighter should be that fight showed me that.”

But Lundy is used to having fight through odds as an athlete. As a student at John Bartram High School, Lundy was the smallest player on the school’s football team He was so good that he was offered a partial scholarship to Kutztown University, but declined the offer when his aunt couldn’t send both he and his sister to college.

Lundy said he uses the skills he attained as a football player in the ring. As a high school player, he played running back, cornerback, linebacker and kick returner. He said he never came off the field in a manner that would make Eagles great Chuck Bednarik proud.

“I carry everything that I learned from my football experience into the ring ,” said Lundy, who had over 60 amateur fights before turning pro. “The foot work…When I see a punch I explode to it like a running back would do when he sees the opening to a hole. I gotta lot of tricks up my sleeve that the average boxer doesn’t have.”

In the ring, Lundy likes to go to the body and has power in both hands. Perhaps one of his big trademarks is ability to fight both orthodox and southpaw styles. In the orthodox style, Lundy has a stiff left jab, but has the ability to throw the left hook off the jab. In the southpaw stance, he throws a mean left hook.

“There’s all kinds of things he can do as a southpaw,” Harrison said. “You don’t have to move to your right.. It all depends on his opponent. (Lundy) can do anything.”

Lundy said he considers himself to be a versatile fighter who can bang with anybody and outbox anyone in front of him.

“I’ m a boxer first and foremost but at the end of the day, sometimes you have to bang a guy and let him know, I’m not going nowhere,” Lundy said. “If you want to bang, we can bang, if you want to box we can do that. I’m not one-dimensional in there and that’s why I break a lot of fighters down. I can do it all.”

With his exposure in media venues like ESPN, Harrison said the most obvious step for Lundy is to fight for a world title. He said his young fighter is ready. Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco is the current WBC lightweight champion.

“That’s next, he’s no. 1 in the WBC,” Harrison said. “That’s next in line”

Winning a world title for Lundy will be more than the just hoisting up a belt, it will mean peace and prosperity for his family, especially for his mother, Kimberly who spent time in the hospital during his youth for schizophrenia and his Aunt Denise Bennett who took him and sister in when things got rough.

For Lundy, it all goes back to family.

“Mom is getting things together, but what I’m trying to do is get her to move in with me in my condo on the waterfront,” Lundy said. “I told her you took care when I was a pain in your behind. Now let me take care of you so you can be a pain in my behind by spending all this money. That’s what I’m trying to do make a better living for her.”

Phillies Score Four in the Ninth to Beat Milwaukee, Howard and Utley Come up Big

24 Jul

Howard drove in three runs including a solo home run in the Phils come-from-behind win over Milwaukee.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Sunday Sun

Monday night’s come-from-behind win over the Milwaukee Brewers was the kind of win the Phillies would get when they were in the midst of winning five straight National League East titles.

The Phillies would fall behind by three or four runs and then they would eventually wear down the other team’s relievers with guys Ryan Howard and Chase Utley getting big hits to put the Phillies over the top.

In a season where being down by any kind of deficit has been more like a death sentence, the Phillies rallied to score four runs in the ninth to come away with a 7-6 win over the Brewers where only half of the sellout crowd of 43, 717 bothered to hang around Citizen’s Bank Park.

Coming into that bottom of the ninth, the Phillies were trailing 6-3 and had an 0-42 record in games where they trailed beyond the eighth inning. After watching starting pitcher Roy Halladay give up six earned runs on eights in six innings and the offense struggled at times, the fans began heading for the exits after the bottom of the seventh inning.

But in the ninth, the Phillies got a two-run bases loaded single from Howard, a-run scoring single by catcher Carlos Ruiz and a game-winning sacrifice fly Ty Wigginton that scored backup catcher Erik Kratz. The Phillies pulled off this rally with one of the game’s best closers, Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez on the mound for the Brewers.

“It’s good to see that we can rally and come back,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think that’s a good sign. I think in these last couple of days we’ve show that we can still come from behind and win a game and also win extra-inning games. Tonight’s game was really big because we didn’t have much going until we finally broke through.”

If anything, the Phillies comeback victory over Milwaukee was a sorely need boost for a squad that is in last place 14 games out of first place, 12 games below .500 and about 10 games behind for the second wild-card spot in the National League. They still have a long, long, long way to go.

“It’s huge, we have to build on that momentum,” said Howard, who was 3-for-5 with a home run and three runs batted in. “We have to take the energy that we had in the 12th inning (of Sunday’s win over San Francisco) the other day and the ninth inning today.”

Comeback wins the likes of Sunday’s extra-inning win over the Giants and Monday night’s ninth-inning walk-off win is definitely a by-product of having Utley, who homered in the first inning , and Howard back in the lineup. When they were out of the lineup for much of the first half of the season, the Phillies lacked the firepower to bounce back from a huge deficit.

“Howard had three RBIs tonight and he got that big hit th at the end,” Manuel said. “Utley worked the count real well, he had three walks and a homerun. That’s real big. That’s a big part of our offense there.”

But all the excitement and enthusiasm is tempered by the tremendous mountain this team has to climb to get anyway near the one of the wildcard spots. With the trade deadline looming, the Phillies are trying to show some signs of life to let management that they don’t need to start selling off their spare parts.

“We can’t worry about all the other stuff that’s going on, you can’t worry about all the trade talk , you can’t worry about what’s going on upstairs,” Howard said. “You can’t worry about it. Only thing you can do is go out there and play and that’s what need to focus on and that’s what we need to do.”

Notes-Shane Victorino left the game after the first inning with a right elbow contusion. No word from the Phillies about his condition.

After Win over Giants, Rollins says Phillies are Good Enough to Get Back in the Playoff Race

22 Jul

 

 

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins had the game-winning RBI in Sunday’s win in 12 innings over the San Francisco Giants. He believes Phillies can make the postseason. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

With the trade deadline a little over a week away and a three-game losing streak hanging over their heads, the Phillies got a little relief from what has been a difficult season.

Jimmy Rollins walkoff single in the 12th inning gave them a 4-3 win over the San Francisco Giants to end a seven-game losing streak at Citizen’s Bank Park. The celebration of the Phillies latest win for fans and the players themselves is obviously tempered by the fact the team is 11 games below .500, they are still a long way out of the race for the second wildcard spot and will likely be sellers by next Tuesday’s trade deadline.

Somehow Jim Mora’s infamous, “Playoffs,”rant might be the appropriate theme for the Phillies playoff chances. (see video above)

Still, Rollins said he believes the team has plenty of fight to get back into the playoff race and turn things around, especially with the returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the lineup as well as Roy Halladay and more recently Laynce Nix.

“It’s a not a feeling that you have, it’s a fact,” Rollins said. “Now will we do it? That’ a different story, but we have the horses now. We’re getting back to full strength. Ryan and Chase are going to get some at-bats under them. We got some left handed pop off the bench back with Laynce (Nix) who had a big hit that put me in the position that I was in and the pitchers have been doing a good job.

“If we score more runs and get a little more help in the bullpen, we’ll get a few more wins.”

It would also help that players like John Mayberry Jr. could become more consistent at the plate. In Sunday’s win over the Giants, Mayberry kept the Phillies by hitting a pair of home runs. It was just the second time in his career that he has hit more than homer in a game.

“At times when he’s hitting the ball good, he’s good,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “I always give you a chance to get going again. I always have.”

The much-maligned left-hander Antonio Bastardo actually had a solid outing Sunday by striking out the side in the top of the ninth. In that inning, he looked like the Bastardo of 2011 before September when he didn’t allow a team to score a run over a stretch of 17 innings.

Manuel said Bastardo lost his confidence last September because it was his first time going through a long season. It was also something he also said about the young relievers who pitched for the Atlanta Braves. He said young pitchers both relievers and starters tend to struggle, but eventually get their confidence back.

“Almost every starter and every pitcher in the bullpen goes through that and I think that he’s going to definitely get over that and I think he’s close to getting over that,” Manuel said. “He shows that he’s still got it, he still got the same stuff. Then he, at times, he doesn’t throw the ball hard as hard as he can. Last year, his confidence got up so big when he was pitching good and got on a roll that he didn’t mind showing me what he had. Now, he’s kinda feeling for it and I think that’s what gets him in trouble.”

With the trade deadline looming in the shadows, the idea of any playoff run might be a moot point, if it isn’t that already. There have been rumors that players like Juan Pierre, Joe Blanton, or Shane Victorino, who is in the last year of his contract, will not be wearing a Phillies uniform by the time Aug. 1st rolls around.

Because all the numbers are pointing to the notion that the Phillies will be sellers on July 31st , take one last look at some of those guys because they won’t be here and the season will be written off as a lost year. But Rollins said the playoffs can still happen this and history is on their side.

“Colorado (2007) won 19 in September and found themselves in the wildcard. Those stories are still around baseball,” Rollins said.

An Uphill Battle: Phillies Believe They Can Bounce Back After a Dismal First Half

8 Jul

Shane Victorino was so despondent over his performance before the All-Star break that he was scratched from Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Atlanta Braves. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

When the Phillies started the season without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley they were hoping to be hovering around the .500 mark or better by the time their two big guns got back.

Now that Howard and Utley are back in the Phillies lineup for the second half of the season, the Phillies will come into the All-Star Break in a deep hole at 13 games under .500 and in last place in the National League East. They have lost 10 of their last 11 games coming into the break including a three-game sweep last weekend by the Atlanta Braves.

“It’s going to take us a while to make that up, if we can,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.”I think we can. I definitely think that we can play a heck of a lot better. If we play the way we can, we can definitely win some games. How many I don’t know, but we’re definitely better than we are right now. That’s how I look at it.”

Can they come back and turn it around?

Conventional wisdom says no and hell no, considering the way they’ve been playing so far this season. They have to play much better than the way they’ve been if they want to come back. It can be done, but things a lot of things have to happen starting with the team itself.

“It is an uphill battle,” said right-fielder Hunter Pence. “When everything’s good, it’s a lot easier than what you’re facing what we’re facing right now. This is tough. We’ve got a lot of tough guys that can handle it and we’re going to have to do that.”

It seems like every night something breaks down with this team. For most of the time that Howard and Utley were out, the offense couldn’t hit and couldn’t score to the point to where it wasn’t until a week from the All-Star that Cliff Lee got his first win of the season.

With Utley in the lineup, the Phillies are 1-9 and 0-2 with both Howard and Utley in the lineup. With both players back from injury, it’s going to take some time for those guys to get their timing down to where they can hit major league pitching on a consistent basis.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Manuel has been the core of his lineup, with the exception of All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz. Players like Shane Victorino, Placido Jimmy Rollins, and Hunter Pence have been inconsistent at times during the first half of the season. When they’re have been injuries to players like Howard, Utley or anyone else in the last three years, the Phillies found ways to win games.

“Of course, I like to see them do better,” Manuel said. “I’d like to see them hit .300. I want every guy on my team to be the best player in baseball That’s exactly what I want. I think that if you’re hitting .260, .240, .250, I think you’re better than that and also I think that you got to work and you gotta keep grinding it out and improve.”

In their last 93 at bats, the Phillies have just 12 hits (.129) with runners in scoring position. That has to change in the second half of the season even if the Phillies want to contend for a wild-card berth.

After a slow start, Rollins has hit close to .300 since May 29, but the whole team needs to be on the page if they want to make a run after the All-Star break. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Apparently, things are starting to wear on the players as well. Before Sunday’s game, Victorino was scratched before the game. He reportedly came to his locker in the clubhouse visibly despondent over his performance. Manuel said he thought it was best to take him out of the lineup.

“When I talked to him, he was kind of hurting today and he was down because of his performance,” Manuel said. “I saw him sitting beside his locker and walked up to him and talked to him. He was down and he was talking about his hitting, especially from the left side. He’s got a lot on his mind, I guess.”

Victorino’s replacement, Jason Pridie was 2-for-3 with three runs batted in including a home run. Gut feeling says there might be more to Victorino’s situation than meets the eye. Stay tuned.

But by the time, the offense was starting to show some life, the starting pitching would them in a hole or the bullpen couldn’t hold a lead or worse yet, they would give teams extra outs by their poor play in the field.

“I’ve talked to them about three or four times. I’ve pretty much said about everything I can say I think,” Manuel said. “It gets back to how we play. The defense part, the pitching part and the offense part. We have trouble putting it all those together. That’s actually been the story all year long.”

While it has been well-documented that having Howard and Utley on the DL has hurt the team offensively, injuries to starting pitcher Roy Halladay, who could be back by the middle of this month, and the bullpen have been equally as devastating. Right-hander David Herndon is out for the season recovering from Tommy John surgery and Michael Stutes is on the DL after arthroscopic surgery to his right shoulder.

Perhaps the biggest injury of all to the Phillies depleted bullpen has been the loss of Jose Contreras who re-aggravated the elbow he injured last season. The injury came at a time when he was starting to provide some stability to the bullpen.

In his last seven appearances, Contreras had not allowed a run. In his last five and two-thirds innings, he had allowed just one hit. He was beginning to find himself on the mound again. Since Contreras’ injury, the Phillies bullpen with the exception of closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has 18 saves in 20 chances, has been a sinking ship ever since.

“We lost Contreras and we had some guys who weren’t doing the job. That really hurt us,” Manuel said. “Then when Halladay went down, that definitely hurt our starting pitchers. We just haven’t been able to get it done.”

But there’s still hope because while the first-place Washington Nationals have played well, they’re not a lock just yet and there’s still plenty of baseball yet to be played. At the same time, the Phillies can ill afford to fall any further behind

That means that general manager Ruben Amaro will probably working the phones over the next couple of weeks to make some of deal before the July 31st trade deadline. If the Phillies continue their lethargic play, they will be sellers. If they get hot, Amaro will come up with a deal that will put them in contention. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Howard Goes 2-for-4 in First Game Since Injury, But Phillies Bullpen Falters Again.

7 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Ryan Howard goes 2-for-4 in first game since injuring his left Achillies Tendon, but the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves 5-0. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Now that both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are finally back in the Phillies lineup will it be enough for the second half run for either the National League East title or the National League Wildcard berth?

“It might take a little awhile,” Manuel said. “Utley is starting to swing a little bit better. Utley got off to a good start in his first game. At the same,. Utley showed that he’s stronger. He’s running better and hopefully it won’t take those two long to get into a groove and get going.”

Howard had a pretty decent first day back, going 2-for-4with a double and a single. He looked like he had no problems playing in the field. Unfortunately, the slugger’s performance didn’t translate into a victory for the struggling Phillies.

No matter what Howard or Utley do on offense, the Phillies chances of getting back into the playoff race depend on how fast the Phillies young relievers can grow up and shut teams down in the middle to late innings to get to closer Jonathan Papelbon. In the first half of the season, the bullpen’s penchant for not either blowing leads late in games or not keeping the Phillies in games has been a consistent nightmare.

“I think if the bullpen would grow up quick. I think that might help us,” Manuel said. “If I had a crystal ball, that would be the first thing I would try to tackle.”

Manuel really wished he had that magic wand for his relievers in Friday’s 5-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves. After starter Kyle Kendrick pitched seven scoreless innings, Antonio Bastardo came into the eight inning, gave up five runs, walked three batters including one that scored a run and gave up two hits including a grand-slam home run to Braves catcher Brian McCann that broke open a close game.

“With the bases loaded, there’s always a chance, he might get a little wild, but still I definitely feel I have to go with him because he’s our best lefty down there right now,” Manuel said. “We got to put somebody in there that we’ve got to get some experience and have faith in them. I put him in there to get lefties out.”

That bullpen meltdown sent fans into the exits and no matter how hard Howard and Utley hit the ball, the the Phillies bullpen woes continues to be an albatross hanging over their hopes for fighting their way back into contention.

“When we’re in games…something always creeps in that nails us down in the end,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to get over that, we’ve got to come out and play harder, stay positive, have a lot of fun and concentrate on winning the game.”

Since Utley’s been back in the lineup, the Phillies (37-48) have been 1-8 and not only lost with Howard in the lineup on Friday, they failed to score a run.. They are 13 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League East. They are 0-38 in games when trailing after the eighth.

But Howard said he still believes the Phillies are going to be in the heat of the pennant race before it’s said and done.

“In a situation like this, yeah, it’s looks bleak, but there’s still a lot of ball to play and like I said we hold our own destiny, ” Howard said. “It’s a matter of going out and winning series. You’re not going to go out and win every single game. If you can go out and win a series, the next you know you’re going to find yourself in the mix.”

Sixers 2012 Draft Picks Have Plenty of Upside

3 Jul

Both Arnett Moultrie (left) and Maurice Harkless (right) hope to crack the Sixers rotation as rookies during the 2012-13 season. Photo by Chris Murray

By Chris Murray

For the Sunday Sun and the Chris Murray Report

I’m not going to say the Sixers 2012 NBA Draft was the greatest thing since drafting Allen Iverson, but it wasn’t as bad as you would think.

But No. 1 pick Maurice “Mo” Harkless and No. 2 pick (obtained in a trade with the Miami Heat) Arnett Moultrie are far from the bottom of the barrel and appear to have plenty of upside.

Okay, I know you’re somewhat weary of 6-foot-6 to 6-8 tweener, slasher guard/forwards who can go the to the basket and can’t shoot a jump shot on a consistent basis—which includes guys like Andre Iguodala and Evan Turner, etc.

When I spoke to Doug Collins a day after the draft, I asked him about Harkless and his shooting ability. He told me that he has no doubt about his ability to hit the outside shot on a consistent basis.

“When you watch him shoot, his shot is not broken. That’s what you look for. Is he a guy who’s going to be able to make shots? “ Collins said. “At the end of the day, we think he’s going to be able to make shots. He didn’t shoot a lot of perimeter jump shots at the position he had to play.”

I’ll take Collins word for now only because I think he’s been around the game long enough to know his stuff and because Harkless did play at the power forward position at St. John’s where he was burdened with having to play at power forward potion against more physical players.

If Harkless is who Collins says he is, he could develop into that player. As a freshman, he did average 15 points per game and had a monster game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium, a tough place to play. Harkless, who was the Big East Rookie of the Year, scored 30 points in that game.

Meanwhile, the Sixers were also in desperate need of a young big man, an enforcer in the middle to play behind and eventually start ahead of an aging Elton Brand.

At 6-10 and 230 pounds, Moultrie might give the Sixers something they haven’t had in quite some time. A big man who can score and rebound in the paint while giving some space to their shooters to shoot or drive to the basket. With talk of Brand getting the amnesty tag, you may end seeing Moultrie a lot sooner than later.

At the collegiate level, Moultrie averaged 16.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game in his last year at Mississippi State. Here’s a guy who doesn’t mind doing the hard work to get rebounds and mix it up in the paint on the offensive end. He can also run the floor as well..

Watching film on him, Moultrie looks like he has good range as a shooter. He shot 44 percent from three-point range (8-of-18), but didn’t take that many shots from out there. He also showed that he can maneuver in the low post, but will probably need to learn even more moves when goes up against even stronger forwards in the league.

Just like Lavoy Allen last season, Collins said both Harkless and Moultrie will have an opportunity to crack the rotation and get some minutes on the floor if they come in and work hard. In the Sixers playoff series against the Celtics, Allen was a thorn in the side of future-Hall of-Famer Kevin Garnett.

“We’ve got six bigs. Well, there’s 96 minutes,” Collins said. “The one thing that I promised them that I said to Lavoy and Nick (Vucevic) last year is that I have an organization here …that give me the freedom to play who I think needs to be out there to win a game and I told them that Lavoy was out there as the 50th pick to finish games for us.”

The Sixers, in my mind, did address some need with the draft, their next mission is free agency where I think they need a veteran shooter, but also a guy at the point guard spot that can show Jrue Holiday how that position is played.

“We’d like to add someone who can add some shooting to our team because we’re very young,” Collins said. “Could we add a veteran that is a good locker room guy that’s going to come in and be a mentor, not only can he play, can he mentor them and so those guys can be very invaluable.”

I know one off the top of my head that would be perfect for that role …Can you say Jameer Nelson? More on that later.