Look to your left. Look to your right. One of you may be gone by February.
Proving the old adage that firing one manager is easier than firing 25 players, Charlie Manuel was forced to walk the plank late last week.
Typically savvy move by the Phillies front office, thinking that the news of Manuel's firing would be buried by a slow news cycle on an August Friday afternoon. Wrong again: it wasn't.
A quick look at the Phillies' schedule shows that they have almost nothing to play for.
They have 20 divisional games left; the Atlanta Braves have rendered all of them meaningless. And if you are the sort who is yearning to watch the Phillies and San Diego Padres slug it out in September, you're in luck because good seats are still available, cheap.
Motivation to keep watching this smoldering crater of a baseball team is hard to find, but there are a number of players on this team worth keeping tabs on.
Unlike so many Phillies who have clearly checked out (I'm looking at you, JRoll), the following players are still giving maximum effort in an attempt to secure employment with the Phillies in 2014.
Ruf has one major league tool. Good thing for him it's power.
Darin Ruf is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle locked in a jewel box missing the key.
Ruf has hit 11 home runs in 154 major league at-bats as of this writing. That is one home run for every 14 at-bats, on the number. So what, you ask?
Well, take a look at this list. That rate is in the class of one-dimensional boppers like Adam Dunn and (ahem) Ryan Howard.
Notice I did not offend you by pointing to hitters like Manny Ramirez and Albert Pujols, also in that range. Ruf is obviously nowhere near that class of hitter.
As ESPN.com's Bill Baer noted recently, Ruf has not accrued enough service time to easily assess what sort of hitter he is. Baer observed that Ruf has been lucky with BABIP thus far. That is probably true.
Ruf's small sample size problem aside, he has at least exhibited an ability to drive mistakes a long way. In a little yard like Citizens Bank Park, that could make him valuable for a Phillies team that is starving for runs.
There are about 75 million reasons why Ruf will not be starting at first base for the Phillies in 2014.
But if he can launch seven or so more bombs between now and the end of the season and play adequate defense in right field, he could convince the Phillies to live with him there next season and spend their free-agent dollars elsewhere.
Asche is the son and the heir of a position that has been a black hole for the Phillies since Mike Schmidt retired.
The troubles the Phillies have had finding competent third basemen since the retirement of Mike Schmidt in 1989 are remarkable.
They have had one more Hall of Fame-level third baseman since that time, but you will never, ever read a positive thing from me about a player who forced his way out of Philadelphia. I hope his shoulder hurts. A lot.
Even the 2008 world champion Phillies made it up as they went along with sub-immortal Pedro Feliz manning the hot corner.
Next up for the Phillies at third base is prospect-turned-starter Cody Asche, who hit .295 in 104 games at Lehigh Valley before getting called up on July 30.
Asche has done himself few favors in the majors thus far, with his average presently below .200.
Still, he has a month and a half to compile enough hits and show enough leather to convince the Phillies not to overspend on this winter's version of Michael Young.
Martin has great stuff, but locating it can be a challenge.
Ethan Martin was putting together a pretty solid season at Lehigh Valley before his August 1 call-up.
Martin was 11-5 at Triple-A with just shy of a strikeout per inning.
As things happen, though, Martin was not fortunate enough to get called up in time to face, say, the New York Mets in Citi Field.
No, Martin was sent out to face the Atlanta Braves—i.e., the best team in the National League. And he paid the price.
Martin's next three starts were quite a bit better, including two wins, but he still has yet to pitch more than six and one-third innings at the highest level.
Assuming that Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick are returning, that leaves two rotation spots more or less wide open for a pitcher like Martin to claim.
He likely has six or seven more starts (possibly less if Roy Halladay returns) to prove he belongs in the major leagues.
Pettibone has been only average as a Phillie. Sadly, that might qualify him to begin 2014 in the rotation.
Jonathan Pettibone, like Ethan Martin, is a young Phillies starting pitcher who may soon be running short of chances to prove his value to the team in 2014.
If there are indeed two starting rotation spots up for grabs next season, the hands reaching for them will belong to Pettibone, Martin, Adam Morgan and Jesse Biddle, among others.
Pettibone is 5-4 so far in 2013 with an earned run average over 4.00 and, of greater concern, a WHIP of 1.47.
It is nearly impossible to survive in the major leagues with that many runners on base all the time.
Pettibone is presently rehabilitating an arm injury and is slated to start for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, according to Jon Schaeffer writing for the Iron Pigs' site. If that start goes well enough, Pettibone could return to the Phillies at the end of the week.
Certainly, Pettibone wants another chance with the big club as soon as possible. Starts in 2014 may be very hard to come by.
Ruiz's familiarity with the likes of Hamels and Lee may save his job in Philadelphia.
His numbers this season (two home runs, a .325 slugging percentage) are doing nothing to dispel the sense that 2012 was a career year concocted in a chemistry lab.
All that said, though, Ruiz is fortunate in that the heirs apparent to his position have all proved themselves not ready for prime time.
Tommy Joseph has been shut down for the season with concussion symptoms after batting .179 in 36 minor league games, per Aaron Gleeman of HardballTalk.
Sebastian Valle is hitting a lusty .208 at Double-A Reading. So, um, he's not prepared to take over either.
Ruiz's contract is up at the end of the season. He is not going to get another $5 million from the Phillies for 2014.
But if he finishes the season hitting around .270 and handling the staff well, the Phillies may have no choice but to re-up Chooch for at least one more season.