Philly teams need to show more patience with younger players

(AP photos)

IN 1996, THE Phillies drafted Jimmy Rollins in the second round. In 1998, they took Pat Burrell in the first round. They took Brett Myers in the first in 1999, Chase Utley in the first in 2000, Cole Hamels in the first in 2002.

Burrell went first overall, and, arguably, dealt the least return. None of the rest went higher than Myers' 12th slot.

The Phillies, then run by Ed Wade and Mike Arbuckle, annually entertained offers for all of those players. They never wavered.

All five contributed to the Phillies' World Series title in 2008, as well as their run to the playoffs in 2007, the club's first playoff spot in 14 years. Four of them were on playoff teams from 2007-09.

Three - Rollins, Utley and Hamels - contributed to the five straight NL East titles that mark the franchise's golden era.

All have played at least eight seasons in Philadelphia.

The Flyers, on Sunday, selected two solid defensive prospects in the first two rounds.

The Sixers, on Thursday, acquired a talented point guard and a defensive cornerstone.

If the fan base is fortunate, the Flyers and Sixers will learn from recent quick-trigger trades and free-agent gambles and, barring injury, this foursome will stay intact for eight seasons, and beyond.

Adding a final piece to make a title run makes sense. The Flyers have done this recently, and best.

The Flyers nurtured a pair of stars, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, through 2011, then added Chris Pronger in 2009, at a precious cost . . . and went to the Stanley Cup finals in 2010.

The Phillies nurtured theirs, then added Brad Lidge, at a precious cost; and Lidge was their best player that World Series season.

Oh, there were mistakes made by the Phillies, to be sure. They were not catastrophic, and they did not empty the cupboard.

They missed on first-rounder Adam Eaton in 1996, they wasted a No. 2 overall pick on J.D. Drew in 1997, and, in one of their worst moves in history, they traded promising lefty Gio Gonzalez (52-29 in the last 3 1/2 seasons) and 2001 first-rounder Gavin Floyd (62-56 from 2008-12) for injured Freddy Garcia, a $10 million fraud with a ragged right shoulder.

At least Garcia won the Phillies one game.

Andrew Bynum won the Sixers none. His knees kept him from playing at all last season. The Sixers gave up past first-round picks Andre Iguodala, Nik Vucevic and Moe Harkless and a future first-rounder in exchange for Bynum and high-mileage guard Jason Richardson, who played only 33 games before suffering a devastating knee injury.

Yes, Iguodala was kind of whiny, and Vucevic was soft as a rookie, and Harkless was only an intriguing, unknown talent, but Iguodala was an Olympian and an All-Star and went to the playoffs with Denver; and Vucevic turned into a rebounding savant.

They gambled on a "Franchise Player."

Meanwhile, in the same building, the Flyers scuttled plans built around Richards, their heroic and flawed captain; Carter, an elite sniper; promising big forward James van Riemsdyk and talented goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, all homegrown talents. All were traded within a year.

The Flyers were not badly recompensed, and the remaining talent, centered on Claude Giroux, and Chris Pronger, was nothing to sneeze at.

But, really, all three moves orbited around the presence of Ilya Bryzgalov, who landed in 2011.

They gambled on a "Franchise Goalie."

After two ordinary seasons pockmarked by petulance and distraction, the Flyers last month paid Bryzgalov $23 million to go away.

Carter and Richards, cast in lesser roles, won a Stanley Cup with Los Angeles in 2012.

Bobrovsky this season won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie.

Van Riemsdyk took a nice step forward with Toronto.

Yes, Richards and Carter were separatist and snippy; van Riemsdyk, inconsistent; Bobrovsky, imperfect.

But the Flyers knew what they had.

So did the Sixers, when they traded Iguodala, and, now, Jrue Holiday.

Will Michael Carter-Williams ever play with gauze stuffed up his bleeding nose as his team runs down a playoff slot? Holiday did.

Will Nerlens Noel ever play with a bum knee and foot down the stretch even though the Bulls and Heat await in the postseason and his team wants him gone? Iguodala did.

Will Sam Morin ever execute the sort of desperation dives Richards made against Montreal in winning the 2010 Eastern Conference finals?


Will Robert Hagg ever play on two broken feet the way Carter did in those 2010 playoffs?


Flyers and Sixers fans can only hope these guys stick around long enough to find out.

DN Members Only: Kyle Kendrick cleared to pitch after a minor concussion.


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