PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 05: Starting pitcher Cliff Lee #33 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch in the third inning against the Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park on July 5, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
If you're like most people (this blogger included), you spent the long holiday weekend away from the television and computer, and instead basked in the beautiful (yet relentlessly hot) weather and the presence of friends and family. If that's the case, then you probably missed a lot of the Phillies news over the weekend, and why not? There are better things to do on July 4th weekend than pay attention to a third place team, right? On the off-chance that you avoided the beach and instead opted for central air conditioning, then you're likely all caught up on the comings and goings of the local nine. Either way, here are some things you may have missed over the weekend.
Howard to the DL – This has been brewing for a while, but as we wrote about on Saturday, the Phillies finally put Ryan Howard on the 15-day disabled list due to a left knee injury. The Phillies expect to know more following the results of an MRI performed on Monday, but it's pretty clear that this isn't likely to be the kind of injury that a three week stint on the DL is going to clear up, especially if it's been bad enough in the past that surgery is potentially an option. Considering Howard's salary and his importance to the offense, it doesn't make any sense to rush him back to action this season if that means he'll be less than 100% when he takes the field. Howard has 11 homers and a .784 OPS in 80 games this season. The Phillies have called up Darin Ruf to take his roster spot. Prior to being called up, Ruf had seven homers and a .752 OPS in 82 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Big Week – Prior to the ten game home stand that kicked off on Friday, General Manager Ruben Amaro stated that the team's success to wrap up the first half of the season is going to dictate whether or not they are going to be sellers at the deadline. They got off to a good start over the weekend, as they took two of three from the division-leading Braves. They will welcome the second place Washington Nationals into town for a four game set starting on Tuesday night, before wrapping up the first half of the season with a three game set against the Chicago White Sox.
Trade Deadline Looming – Speaking of trades, I am of the opinion that the Phillies should look to trade as many of their valued assets as possible, regardless of how they finish out the first half of the season, for the simple fact that they just aren't good enough to compete. While the National League east isn't that competitive, the Phillies have far too many question marks to not be sellers. There are some bright spots up and down the roster, but their inconsistent play in the season's first four months should be enough to give anyone pause when it comes to wondering how good this team really is. With Chase Utley, Michael Young, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon all drawing interest from other teams, it's time for the front office to take a good look in the mirror and do what's best for the future of the organization.
All Star Selections – While the Phillies might be saying goodbye to some players over the next few weeks, two players that aren't likely to go anywhere – Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee – were selected to represent the Phillies in the All Star Game. It's Brown's first selection, and it comes on the heels of a scorching first half that saw the left-fielder belt 23 homers, to go along with a .281/.326/.560 line in 88 games. Cliff Lee, who will be making his fourth career ASG appearance, has been as good as we've all come to expect, with a 2.73 ERA and a 10-2 record in 131.2 innings.
With seven games to go until the All Star Break, the Phillies sit at 43-46, and are 7.5 games back of the Atlanta Braves in the division. If they want to put a dent in that before the end of the week, they'll need to go to work against the Washington Nationals on Monday. John Lannan (1-3, 5.15) will face off against Dan Haren (4-9, 6.15), who was tagged for four runs in sinx innings when he faced the Phillies on June 17.