As the Phillies continue their bizzare struggles against the World Champion Florida Marlins fans are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting, hoping, that Ed Wade will pull the trigger on a trade that will solidify this team as a championship contender.

It seems fans are not alone. Phillies skipper Larry Bowa is right there crossing his fingers hoping he’ll have more talent to work with come Sunday (in
case you live in a closet, the trading deadline in Major League Baseball is Saturday).

“I have a feeling that if we do something, it might be a relief pitcher. Eddie is pretty conservative right now in what he tells me. He doesn’t want to get my hopes up high. There are a couple of things that he said could open up.”

Sounds like a manager who’s wishing on a star to me. And who could blame him?

The Phillies are now 3 games behind the Atlanta Braves — yeah, the same Braves that just keep winning the stinking N.L. East every year for the past decade. Ironically, this was the year the Braves weren’t supposed to compete in the division. No one expected them to be bottom feeding with the Montreal Expos, but surely no one could have predicted they’d be sitting on top of the division come the end of July.

It seems there are limited opportunities now to bring in a big-time pitcher. Randy Johnson is demanding a
trade to the Yankees – big shock. And it seems Barry Zito is not on the market, unless Luca Brazi is sent to Oakland with an offer they can’t refuse.

Rumors involving Matt Morris in St. Louis have died down, as have those involving Derek Lowe in Boston, but neither one can really be considered a number one starter.

Perhaps the only recourse Wade has is to pursue Kris Benson in Pittsburgh– ok, so he’s much better than Paul Abbot, but not really exciting – or to pursue a center fielder to bolster the lineup.

If they were to go the latter route, it would have to
be Kenny Lofton from the Yankees, Steve Finley from Arizona, or Carlos Beltran from Houston. It would take a lot to get Beltran or Finley in here, but Lofton could probably be had straight up for Placido Polanco.

You can bet no matter what good old Eddie will be sure to bring in relief pitching, which they do need, but unless he ads one of the aforementioned center
fielders and/or starting pitchers the 2004 season doesn’t seem to have much promise left.

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