"We need some improvement, man. I mean, we can take our defense, our pitching and our offense, too. All three. We have to get better than that. Some people will say, 'You've got the same players.' Well, yeah, we do have a lot of the same players. At the same time, you still have to play at that level we used to.
"Still, when you look around at the pieces we have, there are a lot of new players, different players on our team. For some reason, people don't see that. I think they look and they see the names, especially with our starting pitching. Our starting pitching has to be better. If we're going to win, our starting pitching has to be better. Our bullpen has to get better. And our defense definitely has to get better.
"I think our offense has already picked up some since we got [Chase] Utley and [Ryan] Howard [back], and once we get those guys going, where they're ready to go every day and they've got their timing, I think we're going to score runs."
The Phillies were still a relatively young team when they began their run of five consecutive National League East championships in 2007.
That's no longer the case.
"One time, we had the greatest attitude and best hustle of any team I ever had," Manuel said. "Teams used to tell me, general managers used to tell me they had just as much talent but we had more heart. I always thought we had the talent and the heart. Seriously. We kind of slipped a little bit. I think our play shows that."
How do the Phillies get that back?
"When guys make mistakes, they keep on making them and making them over," Manuel said. "[Hall of Famer] Walter Alston's theory: Pretty soon you get tired of seeing those mistakes. Something has to be done about them. And what are you going to do about them? If you've been playing baseball 10, 15 years, you've been playing in the big leagues for a long time, there is something you have to do about them. That was his philosophy. I always thought he was pretty good.
"We get outplayed. We beat Milwaukee in those three games because we had the last at-bat. That's how we beat them."
The Phillies beat the Brewers by identical 7-6 scores July 23-25.