Phils Seek Redemption At The Hands of Montreal

So much for that "hottest team in baseball" bit. The Phillies were brought back to Earth this past weekend, being swept by the Marlins at the Vet. This series raised serious questions about the makeup of the team, and some holes that need to be addressed before the trade deadline. As the all-star break approaches, the Phillies have a nice chance to make a move in the NL East, heading into the second half. With two series against the Expos and Mets, the time is now to rebound.

If the Phillies learned anything from this weekend's debacle it is that Jose Mesa cannot be the long-term closer for this team. He made an appearance in the eighth inning on Saturday night, and gave the game away. Performances like that cannot be tolerated on a team making a push for a pennant. Ed Wade will need to manufacture a move by July 31 to bring a solid stopper to the Phils, just in time for the final stretch of the season.

Another struggle that was showcased by this weekend's embarrassing performance is Pat Burrell's continued struggles. The kid just looks scared. Burrell has yet to show any resemblance to the player he was last season, when he tallied 37 home runs and 116 RBI. Something needs to be done, whether it's demoting Burrell to AAA Scranton, or giving him time to ride the pine, he just isn't ready to play every day. With this being said, the Phillies will need to make a move here. Whether it be internally, or via trade, the Phillies must bring a bat into this lineup, to play left field. Tyler Houston is recovering from injury, but he cannot play everyday. It appears Pat the Bat may not come out of this thing, in 2003 and the Phillies need to address the situation.

For the next seven days, the Phillies must put these distractions behind them, and focus on the task at hand; winning two series' before the all-star break. The team's next six games come against National League East opponents, three against the Mets after three against the Expos beginning tonight.

Brandon Duckworth takes the mound against Livan Hernandez in the opener. Duckworth looks to record his fourth win of 2003. Duckworth already has one thing going for him, Vladimir Guererro is out of the lineup for a substantial period of time with an injury, so he will not have to face the Expos' hitting machine.

The Phillies bats fell silent when faced with the scorching Marlins pitching, and need to rebound against the Expos. Spurned by the All-Star team, players like Jim Thome, Mike Lieberthal and Jimmy Rollins may have a chip on their shoulder and there is no better time than now to showcase that they belonged on the team. Each has had solid seasons, and need to continue their success throughout the remainder of the schedule for this to be a truly successful campaign.

Prediction:

The Phillies will struggle in this series. There are many question marks surrounding the team, but with that said they should still be able to narrowly take two of three from Montreal.


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