With everyone put on notice by the shortstop, every player is aware of his concentration during every inning, every out and every pitch in each game involving the Philadelphia Phillies.
When you reach a crossroads in your career, everyone within your proximity at work is aware of your ability, your shortcomings and your effort because they know you.
Impacting the Phils’ record for July, three factors will determine the enthusiasm of fans hungry for competitive baseball by their team: their performance-related self-respect, the schedule and the remaining pros depending on trades. Basically, the moves will involve five veterans: a starter, two relievers, a regular and a reserve outfielder – any or all may depart to contenders.
In the front office, general manager Matt Klentak reminded his senior staff that Vince Velasquez and Cesar Hernandez will be returning around the All-Star break and can replace Jeremy Hellickson and Howie Kendrick if we swap them. And we’ll also need Edubray Ramos to join Hector Neris and Luis Garcia if Pat Neshek and Joaquin Benoit aren’t here for July’s end. Ramos – the player development director chimed in – had a clean frame with two punch outs in his first outing on June 28 with the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Yes, Ramos had a string of five debacles during six appearances in April – the director added – but the five consecutive disasters in June were different because we’ll need him to get outs with a depleted pen in late July.
Reviewing the schedule, the skipper and the coaches of the Phillies have realized July will be the easiest month so far. Consider this: When the squad arrived in Seattle, the Mariners were 39-39. Finally, the hometown nine will face five of six clubs who are below .500, and the Milwaukee Brewers could be overachieving at 42-39. On the other side of the ledger, the red pinstripes will have three home contests with the Houston Astros, but the other 22 games will be with those other six teams: Milwaukee, the New York Mets, the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Diego Padres, the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. In other words, five sellers.
In front of their teammates, nobody wants to prove he can’t play hard. And even though Odubel Herrera has a guaranteed contract, he knows he’s not immune from harsh criticism. In fact, those other players must produce to stay and earn more than the MLB minimum. Get your popcorn and Kool-Aid.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
“If you take my sayings and explode them in the air, they remain only sayings. But if you fit them together in their correct places, you will have the whole story.” – Pablo Picasso