The movie Seven Days in May dealt with a nuclear crisis. If there was a movie to be made about the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies, it would be titled Ten Days in July.
That’s because Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, if he hasn’t decided already what direction the team will go, stated on Friday that the next 10 days will decide it. The Phillies opened a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves with a 5-4 win. They must win that series and make some serious progress in the seven- game homestand after that, or some pieces could be dealt elsewhere.
Even just winning the series could be problematic. Right now, the Phillies are 42-45, 8.5 games behind the Braves. Winning it puts only a one-game dent into that lead, but a sweep would be the preferred outcome. Losing the series would be deadly.
Even Charlie Manuel’s job could be in jeopardy since the club might want to take a look at manager-in-waiting Ryne Sandberg, currently the team’s third-base coach. For his part, Manuel said he “couldn’t put a number” on how the Phillies need to perform in the homestand. He better not or it might come back to haunt him.
Amaro has said that over the last 10 days or so he’s received “quite a few” inquiries from other clubs about the Phillies’ players, although he won’t say who the players are.
Even the most casual fan knows the rumors: that the New York Yankees are interested in guys like third baseman Michael Young (who can also play first base) and catcher Carlos Ruiz. Other clubs might be interested in those two, as they might in players like closer Jonathan Papelbon, second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Delmon Young, last year’s ALCS MVP.
Amaro said his inclination is to call Utley a Phillie for life,but that he’s “not stubborn” about it. A lot can be read into that “not stubborn” comment. Utley is in the final year of his contract. He’s having a very good year and his trade value is probably not going to get any higher.
If the Phillies go, say, 7-2, over the next nine games, look for Amaro to trim around the edges. If it’s anything less, he’s going to have to do some more serious landscaping.