Even the most eternal optimist would be deflated now.
The loss of Chase Utley should put to rest any notions of a spot in the post-season. Forget analysis, fundamental or technical. Teams that bumble along around .500 cannot lose their heart and soul and expect to make up ground even when their other star is heating up.
It's a shame for the Phillies and Utley in that order, the same one in which the Phils' second baseman himself would put it. Utley was having an MVP season at bat and in the field. His spot in the order will be filled but he won't be replaced. That's not possible. Depending on the outcome of further tests, he will be back this season or not. Reports in the newspapers cite players who suffered similar injuries and the history of their returns. The picture is mixed. There's no consolation for the rest of us who love watching him play. Indeed, there's no consolation for his teammates and rivals who also admire the way he plays the game.
Speaking of the game....
The Phillies alleged brain trust had no damn business continuing to send Mike Zagurski out to the mound or signing a washed up Jose Mesa, but they did both. They owed it to the rest of the team to stop using this kid, who is over-matched against big league hitters, and they should have shown more respect for the players than to sign a veteran whose career was clearly over. Warm bodies are preferred to decaying ones, but in Mesa's case apparently the Phillies management hasn't gotten that message.
Because they cannot resist other peoples' castoffs or kids with live arms but no experience, the Phillies lost to the Nationals 7-6 after leading them in the rubber match of a three-game set. Their sixth straight win was in sight -- and so was the scoreboard showing the Mets had already lost to the Pirates -- but that didn't stop Charlie Manuel from bringing in Mesa, who naturally stunk, or Zagurski, who should have been packing his bags in anticipation of Brett Myers activation. (By the way, in this morning's Inquirer it was hinted Clay Condrey has his bags packed. Only yesterday I wrote such a move would be unjust and unwarranted. )
It's all academic now.