Can't Make A Deal

The Phillies couldn't make a deal before today's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, although they were close to acquiring a No. 4 or 5 starter in a three-team trade that fell through with about an hour to go.

They didn't get the lefthanded relief pitcher they badly wanted. The didn't get the righthanded bat they could have used, either. But if there is some silver lining for Phillies fans it's that the Mets and Marlins remained quiet, with the Marlins adding only lefthander Arthur Rhodes.

"I'm not disappointed," Charlie Manuel said. "We'll take what we got and work with it. Right now ... we can fight it out with those other two teams. If one of those three teams had made a big deal, it could definitely have made [that team] the strongest team. I think all three of us are pretty even. I've said it all summer. I said it about Atlanta, but they've had a lot of injuries and everything. All three of us can win. We all have weaknesses and it's going to come down to the team that plays the best. We're very similar and very close."

Manuel was asked how this team compares to last year's team for the stretch run.

"I think we're kind of similar, but last year, I thought we generated more offense, especially from the bottom of our lineup," he said. "We had a different lineup."

The offense has shown signs of life recently. Maybe that's a sign of better things to come. First, they try to sweep the Nationals tonight before a challenging series this weekend in St. Louis.