The Philadelphia Phillies have been among the elite teams in baseball for the past five seasons. Depending upon how the next week plays out, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. may need to move forward with a number of transactions slightly sooner than expected.
More than a good team
Most people have no problem acknowledging that Charlie Manuel's squad has been a good team for a number of seasons.
Defeating the Tampa Bay Rays to win the World Series in 2008 and then returning to the Fall Classic in 2009 against the New York Yankees, made the Phillies an elite team at that time. Losing to the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 National League Championship Series and to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 National League Division Series served as developing proof that the Phillies were still a contender, but to a lessening degree.
The manner in which the 2012 season has unfolded was anticipated, in varying degrees, by all hardcore fans. Followers of this team knew that age, injury and personnel decisions seemed to be creating the perfect dust storm at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
Having limped more than halfway through the schedule, the Phillies have painfully demonstrated that they are far removed from last season's 102-win team.
Focus and balance
Balanced sports minds focus upon their teams. Unbalanced sports minds focus upon other teams.
It's easy to take pot shots at a team and its fans while they are falling from great heights. We all know personality types who revel in negativity, as those who hate often feel compelled to shout out their dark dreams.
But, the future is a completely unknown destination. No one can say if the Phillies will be a last place team by this time next season, or if they will have moved in a renewed direction.
Clearly every part of the team needs to be adjusted and many anticipated moves will likely take place through the offseason. Often one to surprise, it would not come as a shock if Amaro also traded a prominent player whose name hasn't been floating in the summer air by the beginning of next season.
With all due respect offered to age, injuries, performance and circumstance, everyone can vividly see what this team is right now. What no one knows is what the team will become.
Hopefully, the Phillies are able to move through a process that allows for a new era of winning to begin within one, or two, seasons.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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