Sixers and Phillies Making Moves

Mark J. Giannone

If you thought there was gonna be a lull in excitement in Philadelphia after the Eagles’ season ended, think again. The last two days have been nothing but nonstop wall to wall action. I’m not going to front here like I’m a professional sports writer who has to maintain a certain level of political correctness, because I’m clearly not. I’m a fan and as a fan I can say that what the Sixers and Phillies have done the last two days has me shitting myself with excitement!

Yesterday when I woke up I found myself fighting through my eyes coming into focus so I can read the breaking news update on my phone. Sixers did what? They traded for who? Late in the evening the Sixers sent to the LA Clippers Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, Landry Shamet, their 2020 first round pick, Miami’s 2021 first round pick, and their 2021 and 2023 second round picks. Sounds like a lot, but really it isn’t. In return Philly got Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott. When you breakdown the trade essentially the Sixers gave up two first round picks and Shamet to upgrade from Chandler and Muscala to Harris and Marjanovic.

The Sixers have long needed a legitimate stud stretch four to align with Joel Embiid. Sure, they’ve tried the marginal guys like Erson Illysasova, Dario Saric, and most recently Wilson Chandler. Those guys are solid if youre bringing them off the bench, but they aren’t going to elevate a lineup into the elite status that Harris has. That’s right folks, the Philadelphia 76ers have been propelled into the elite of the Eastern Conference. They have the best starting five in the east hands down. Harris comes in averaging just over 20 points per game and is a deadly three point shooter shooting an impressive 43 percent from the outside. That’s the type of player that makes opposing head coaches scratch their heads and pray to whatever god they believe in as they try to figure out which player they are gonna focus on. There is no possible way the Sixers’ opponents can double team any player when their starting five is on the court together. Ben Simmons no longer has to have his balls broken for not shooting because everyone around him can knock down shots at a high percentage. This trade got me fully rocked for more than just Harris. Imagine having an elite center in Joel Embiid and his backup basically being a pile of mashed potatoes. That was what the Sixers had in backup big man Mike Muscala. Could Muscala hit a three if there was no one within two miles? Sometimes. What he absolutely could not do was impose any kind of physical prowess under the basket. The term “soft as baby shit” comes to mind. Whether you were a fan of the process or not one thing is clear. The process is over and its time to win. After some more minor acquisitions by the Sixers to add some bench depth it was time for the Phillies to get in on the fun. No, the didn’t sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but they did greatly improve their already much improved lineup.

In recent days talked have heated up between the Phils and Marlins regarding Miami’s all-star catcher JT Realmuto. Realmuto has been the apple of many a team’s eye this off season and on Thursday the Phillies landed the big fish. Pun intended. In exchange for Realmuto the Phillies sent catcher Jorge Alfaro, pitching prospects Sixto Sanchez and Will Stewart, and international pool money. Again to understand the value of the trade you have to look deeper than what’s on the surface and that’s what I’ve done. Giving up Alfaro is irrelevant because Realmuto is an upgrade at catcher, and no casual baseball fan knows what the international pool is let alone that money for said pool can be traded, so dismiss that too. This trade really boils down to giving up Sanchez and Stewart. Full disclosure, before today I had never heard of Will Stewart as I’m sure is the case with a lot of Phillies fans. As for Sixto I consider him a small price to pay to add the best catcher in baseball who puts the Phillies in an even better position to win the NL East. Sanchez is a 20 year old who has yet to pitch above single A and is already having problems with his elbo. I’d love to believe he can become the next Pedro Martinez like some have billed him, but that’s not enough for me to justify not getting Realmuto.  The Phillies clearly no longer see themselves in the player development business, they are trying to build a winner.

There’s two schools of thought when building a baseball team, develop homegrown talent or buy what you need with money and prospects. I believe in the latter. I can’t imagine a team waiting to develop players when they have a chance to add to the team and win now. To quote Herm Edwards you play to win the game. The Phillies have an owner who wants to follow in the footsteps of late New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Middleton has already said the Phillies will spend “stupid money” this off-season and though that hasn’t happened yet the possibility is still there. Middleton wants to win right now and this off season reflects that. The additions of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson and now Realmuto have placed the Phillies amongst the favorites to win the national league. Realmuto goes from a pitcher friendly Marlins Park to the dinger factory that is Citizens Bank Park. There is zero doubt in my mind that he will flirt with 30 home runs this season. Baseball will be fun again in Philadelphia.

Picture the most excited you’ve ever been in your life. Now picture that what you were so excited for ended up being the most disappointing thing to ever happen to you. That my friends, in a nutshell, is the story or Markelle Fultz. Sixers well endowed general manager Elton Brand traded Fultz Thursday just before the 3 pm trade deadline. Fultz now has a new home in Orlando and my excitement knows no bounds. In return the Sixers acquired forward Jonathan Simmons (yes another Simmons), OKC’s protected 2020 first round pick, and a 2019 second round pick. The return literally means nothing to me. I wouldn’t have cared if Brand traded Fultz for Mickie Mouse and a couple of the seven dwarfs. Hell I would have even taken smoke show Jasmine from Aladdin. The fact that Brand was able to get multiple assets that include a first round pick for the tragically disappointing former first overall pick makes him deserving of a statue in front of The Center. Throughout the whole Fultz saga I went from unbelievable excitement to hopeful support to anger and disappointment. I don’t think I have ever disliked an athlete in Philadelphia more. Fultz is coddled by his camp and they tried to handcuff the Sixers by having him diagnosed with a made up shoulder condition to provide an excuse for his piss poor shooting. The fact is Fultz is a fringe NBA player and in a few years will be dominating a league in Europe or China. This is truly addition by subtraction. The biggest bright spot of this trade besides the Sixers freeing up $9mm for next season is we as fans will never have to see Markelle yucking it up on the sidelines like everything is fine ever again.

The last two days in Philadelphia have been absolutely orgasmic. The additions made by the Sixers and Phillies have created a buzz in the city that is gonna rock the Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park. What these two days have taught me is to always make sure you have a strong waistband because you never know when you’re gonna have to do a quick tuck job.


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