Friday, July 5, 2013

For the Phillies, the next 10 games are big

July 5, 2013

By Nick Tricome

After taking two of three from the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Phillies ended a 10-game road trip with a 5-5 record.

The Phillies are returning to Citizens Bank Park with a 41-45 record that is good for third in the National League East, 8.5 games back of first. They will have a three-game series against the division leading Braves--starting tonight-- and a four-game series against the second place Nationals in their last 10 games before the  All-Star break.

These next 10 games are huge.

"This homestand more than anything else is probably the bigger questions," GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters. "Very important. We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand."

The Phillies have struggled to put together any sort of run so far this season. It almost feels like they take one step forward and two steps back.

With back-to-back series against division rivals, now would really be the perfect time to get hot.

At the very least, the Phillies will want to finish the homestand with a winning record. 5-5 just won't cut it this time, just ask Cole Hamels.

“We just have to keep [winning],” Hamels told's Reuben Frank. “Otherwise the clock ticks and serious decisions are made, and I don’t want that to happen, because there’s a reason why I stayed here. To win."

That is the situation the Phillies are likely facing. It's either win or see core players get traded away.

Long time Phillies like Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz have been in the conversation for possible trades with their contracts expiring this year and guys like Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Michael Young, who were brought in to help fix the Phillies' recent issues, could possibly be playing elsewhere after the July 31 trade deadline.

However, those potential moves can be avoided with three good series against the Braves, Nationals and White Sox.

This homestand has the potential to determine if the Phillies are buyers or sellers by the time the trade deadline rolls around.

"I hope we’re adding to this club than subtracting," Amaro said. "That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying the same thing, the players will dictate it."

(Image from Cheesesteaks With Barkely)

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