The focus is clearly on the task at hand: Keeping their place at the top of the hierarchy of the National League and taking another ride down Broad Street at some point in late October.

Still, you have to imagine that in the back of their minds, the countdown clock has already started ticking. After all, baseball players are human beings who can read the writing on the wall as well as the expiration date on a contract.

Jimmy Rollins. Raul Ibanez. Ryan Madson. Roy Oswalt. Brad Lidge. Those are five players who have all given the Phillies some memorable moments over the years. Three of them wear world championship rings. The other two have given an honorable effort that led to playoff runs.

And they are five guys who are likely to be elsewhere at the start of the 2012 season.

If you don't think that plays in the back of a player's mind, look up Jayson Werth's numbers last year before he finally signed with Scott Boras.

In a way, having five guys with so much on the line can be a good thing. While playing for another title should be motivation enough, a player looking to secure a contract for next year and beyond can go into a zone that is beneficial to his current employer and his agent's bottom line.

Let's look at each case and see what lies ahead in the future.

Raul Ibanez

Every time that you are ready to write the guy off, he finds another gear and breaks out a big streak. At 39, the odds that Ibanez will get anything resembling a big payday next season are pretty slim. The field for his services will likely be limited to the American League, where he will be used as a designated hitter. So it is important for him to prove in the second half that he can still be an effective presence at the plate. The good news for Ibanez: his second-half batting average (.289), slugging percentage (.477) and OPS (.829) are traditionally better than his first half (.275/.469/.805).