Heading into last weekend's series with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decreed that their current 10-game homestand would decide the team's fate as the trading deadline approacheth: Amaro told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, "I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand... I hope we’re adding to this club rather than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying, the players will dictate it. These next 10 days are big."
One would hope that after 89 games and a 43-46 record Amaro knows quite a bit about his team, but hey, the Phils took him up on his dare, beating the Braves on two out of three games. They did this with Laynce Nix and Darin Ruf manning first base in the final two games because Howard's knee was troubling him. Now we know why:
Ryan Howard has a meniscus tear. He will need surgery that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) July 8, 2013
Amaro recently said that Howard was "just not doing the job" because he was not hitting left-handed pitching for basically the tenth year in a row. The ancient Greeks called this "hubris," which in literature generally connotes an act of arrogance, pride, or overconfidence which invites the actor's downfall. In this case, Amaro criticized a first baseman who was hitting .302/.357/.522 against right-handed pitching, and so Honussyeus, the God of Baseball, said, "That's not good enough for you? Fine, then you don't get any at all."
While Howard recovers, Phillies fans will be treated to some combination of Nix, Ruf (terrific in both the minors and majors last year but quite poor at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this year), John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen, and Michael Young -- assuming none of the above are traded. As a group, they may very well make Amaro happy by hitting left-handers better than Howard did; that won't be difficult. The hitting .300/slugging .500 against righties part might remain a concept. As for that determination regarding the direction of the Phillies' season, it probably just got a lot easier to make, albeit not in the way that Amaro wanted.