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Links: Conlin’s Prediction, Bengals Upset With Andrews, & Sixers Return

Mar 25, 2009, 2:37 PM EDT

We're a little slow/busy today.  It's just so nice out, I could drop this right here…

Anyway, how about some general discussion from around town today?

- How do you like the Phils chances to repeat?  Bill Conlin likes them a lot in today's piece for the Daily News, saying they have a "better than even chance" of at least winning the pennant again.  How can you not like their odds? 

And let's tally up the assets that Manuel will carry into the most anticipated season in the history of the franchise.

Three-fourths of the infield represented by recent MVPs Jimmy
Rollins and Ryan Howard and MVP contender Chase Utley can stand with
any like trio in the history of the game.

I agree with the assessment of Paul Hagen that Manuel's outfield of
Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth is the best in the East
Division.

And everyone else is back.  Hamels, while not scheduled to pitch the opener against the Braves, still isn't slated to miss a start at the moment.  He's penciled in for April 10 against the Rockies, and just pitched a fantastic minor league outing, going 3 2/3 and allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and striking out 5.  If they stay healthy, yes, they should be right back in it again.

It's almost baseball season.  What a relief!

- Apparently the Bengals are pissed at Stacy Andrews.  According to head coach Marvin Lewis, the club was under the impression the right tackle intended on returning.  Obviously, it didn't turn out that way.

“I was disappointed because Stacy led us to believe that he wanted to
stay [in Cincinnati], so it was up to his representative to get a
contract done.  We felt like we had a deal done and then, all of a
sudden, he walked away and that disappointed me.”

First of all, as any Eagles fan knows after the Dawkins fiasco, if you want to keep somebody, you don't let them reach free agency.  When the clock strikes midnight and those deals come pouring in, there's no telling what can happen.

Furthermore, Stacy's particular scenario is a bit more special than ordinary free agency circumstances.  Not only was he offered a big time deal from an excellent franchise, he had the chance to be with family, a brother who could really use a support system at this stage of his career and life.  For Lewis and the Bengals to view that as just another business deal seems selfish.  If they were serious about keeping their player, he would have been there.

- Congrats to the Sixers for sorting themselves out somewhat on their five-game road swing, finishing 3-2 including that huge buzzer-beater win over the Lakers. It's been such an up-and-down campaign, but much like the Flyers, they are choosing a good time to get right, as long as it's not a mirage.

My question, which I've posed on a few occasions throughout the season, is where you think this team is headed?  They've been so difficult to read.  At times, it seems they're crashing and would be lucky to take a team to six games in the playoffs.  Right now, depending on who they draw, they could make a run at the second round, though that's optimistic.  Does anyone share that enthusiasm?