Charlie Manuel frequently makes poor strategic decisions. The 11-million dollar scoreboard in left field would probably do a similar job. We guarantee a post analyzing Manuel's decisions for every Phillies game. Please click on our aliases below to email us.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
In the Phillies series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, the first base umpire blew a fair/foul call in the top of the 4th inning. Yadier Molina hit a hump-back liner down the right field line, and the ball was immediately called fair by Alan Porter. Utley, who was running toward the ball at the time it struck down, was irate at the call. It's a little disturbing that a player on the run has a better idea of a fair/foul call than a stationary human being standing on the foul line. It's hard to say the game outcome would have been different had the correct call been made, but it couldn't have hurt. Hamels struck out the next two batters, so maybe the score still would have been 0-0. The Phillies couldn't muster too much offense against Adam Wainwright, and ended up on the short end of the score. Maybe that can be attributed in part to the fact that Freddy Galvis batted 2nd (yes, he had a double in the game, but Jon Jay should have caught the ball). One of the things that irks me the most about the way Manuel manages is how he simply plugs players into the lineup where the person he's replacing usually bats. Similarly, it bothers me when Manuel puts horrendous batters in the 2-hole (see: Wilson Valdez). Galvis should never bat second.
Game 18: Beltran homers again, Galvis still batting 2nd (7-11)
That is all.
Game 20: Phillies score 1 real run, win 3-2 (9-11)
Jonathan Pettibone made his major league debut and allowed two home runs. The Phillies somehow managed to outscore the Pirates by having the pitcher walk and score on a wild pitch and by getting hit with a pitch with the bases loaded and two outs after they loaded the bases with 0 outs. I'll take it.
Game 21: Utley given day off, Phillies lose (9-12)
Utley was given a day off in the second game of the Pirates series. Manuel used Galvis to play 2nd, and batted him second. Galvis had 3 PA and saw a total of 8 pitches. The Phillies only managed to score 0 runs in the game against John Locke's first cousin 9 times removed. The Phils lineup ended up with 4 hits, and ruined Cole Hamels best start of the season.
Game 22: Utley bats 2nd, Halladay pitches well, Phillies still lose (9-13)
So, we've been calling for Chase Utley to bat 2nd for years now. Lineup optimization suggests the best batter in a lineup should bat 2nd. Chase Utley fits this mold. I'm aware that lineup optimization doesn't yield enormous results, but when you combine batting your best hitter second with the fact that it splits up Utley and Howard, it really should be utilized every game. However, in this situation, it actually makes me angry that Manuel employs this strategy. He only used this lineup because the Pirates starting pitcher, Wandy Rodriguez, is left-handed. The move should be done to minimize the effectiveness of LH relief pitching. By splitting up Utley and Howard, opposing managers need to decide if they're going to let the RHB between Utley and Howard face a LHP, or if they're going to make multiple moves to utilized matchups.
Halladay pitched well, Utley and Howard had hits, but the Phillies still lost.
Game 23: Manuel uses Aumont to pitch to LHB (9-14)
With the score tied 3-3 in the top of the 8th inning, Charlie Manuel used Phillippe Aumont. Aumont faced 4 batters and allowed 3 of them to reach base. Garrett Jones (LHB) was then inserted into the game as a pinch hitter. With the bases loaded, and the score tied, it's imperative that Manuel uses one of his LH relief pitchers to pitch to Jones. Instead, he stuck with Aumont, who allowed a 2-run double that essentially sealed the game. In this case, Manuel knows if he inserts a LH, Garrett Jones will be forced to face him. Instead, he essentially hands the Pirates the game. Adams or Papelbon could have been used after a LH faced Jones, but that would make too much sense.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Game 10: Foreshadowing (probably the 100th time we've commented on this though. (5-5)
The Phillies struggled to score against the Marlins and Ricky Nolasco in the series opener. With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Charlie Manuel used Phillippe Aumont to pitch to the heart of the Marlins order (yes, it consists of Polanco, Ruggiano, and Dobbs, but still). Papelbon was available. Manuel saved his best reliever for an inning that potentially could have never happened. It didn't come back to bite him on that night.
Game 11: Not the foreshadowing I was referring to, but it was a perfect set up! (5-6)
The very next night, the Phillies struggled to score against Jose Fernandez. Cole Hamels was likewise able to stifle the Marlins by holding them to one run (on a hit by Jose Fernandez). The game was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 9th, and Manuel used... Phillippe Aumont again. This time, the strategy backfired and the Phillies lost. The Phillies did not play on April 11th, so Papelbon would have only had to pitch for his second consecutive night (exactly what Aumont was asked to do). It wasn't a save situation, so Manuel didn't feel it was important enough to win the game.
Game 13: Horst > Papelbon, Bastardo, and Adams (6-7)
In a tie game, Manuel used Jeremy Horst to pitch to a PH followed by the top of the Reds lineup. This all occurred in the bottom of the 8th inning with the heart of the Phillies lineup due up the next half inning (yes, it did include Galvis, but still). Horst gave up runs, and the Phillies ended up losing.
Game 14 (Parts 1 and 2): Phillies lose because Manuel doesn't care (6-8)
This game was suspended going into the bottom of the 9th inning due to a brutal downpour. Over the first 8 innings, the Phillies and Reds were scoreless with Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo posting all 0s. Upon resumption of the game, Manuel decided to use... Phillippe Aumont(!) to pitch to the heart of the Reds lineup (Cozart, Votto, Phillips, and Bruce) no "but still"s here. Aumont and the Phillies lost the game in 9 minutes. Papelbon, Adams, and Bastardo all had off on Monday (Pap and Adams had off Tuesday as well), so there's no reason why Phillippe Aumont should have begun the 9th inning. Aumont isn't as bad as some of the Phillies relievers in years past, so this isn't the most egregious error Manuel has ever made, but there is still no excuse.
There will be another post (or posts summing up the remainder of the missed games) coming shortly. Again, sorry for the delay.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Not really much to mention in terms of strategy in this game. The Phillies fell short by 1 runs despite a nice little rally in the 9th inning.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Everything pretty much went according to the typical Manuel script through the top of the 9th inning with Adams pitching in the 8th, and Bastardo used in the 9th since the Phillies were only down 2 runs.
The bottom of the 9th started out with 3 consecutive walks by Utley, Howard, and Young. Domonic Brown and John Mayberry both struck out. Many people are complaining that Brown and Mayberry both watch fastballs over the plate for strike 1. I was glad to see Dom Brown taking in his AB since the Royals Closer, Greg Holland, couldn't find the plate. Had Dom Brown actually swung, I'd probably be complaining that he wasn't taking. I don't blame Mayberry for taking either since Holland technically threw only 1 strike to Brown (he swung at two good pitches in the dirt).
Kevin Frandsen was used to PH with 2 outs and the bases loaded, and he swung at a first pitch fastball (probably picked up on the trend to Young and Mayberry), and essentially duplicated Jimmy Rollins' walk-off double against Broxton from 2009 NLCS Game 4. Phillies win!
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Yesterday's game started out great. Kyle Kendrick was retiring the Royals, and the Phillies scored early on some singles in the first, two homers in the 2nd by Dom Brown(!) and Erik Kratz. Utley doubled and stole third in the third before Howard knocked him in. Everything seemed great until the Kendrick got into some two-out trouble in the top of the 6th inning. The Royals had 2nd and 3rd with two outs and Billy Butler up. Manuel decided to intentionally walk Billy Butler to bring up lefty Alex Gordon.
The Alex Gordon AB was clearly the highest-leverage situation in the game. The Phillies were up 4-1, and the Royals were threatening to score. Manuel decided to go with LHP Jeremy Horst. Horst had decent numbers in his small sample-size last season, but Antonio Bastardo has a considerably higher K% than Horst, and has been in the majors for considerably longer than Horst. The Alex Gordon AB is EXACTLY why Bastardo is on this team. Manuel went with Horst, who gave up a 3-run triple. To make matters worse in my opinion, Horst came out to start the 7th inning! Bastardo used to be the "8th inning guy". Mike Adams is now that guy (as much as rolls infuriate me). So, it's not even like Manuel was saving Bastardo for the 8th. He just didn't use him.
It was also a possibility to have Papelbon come in and pitch to Butler, but I think that's expecting a little much from Charlie. In this case, Manuel had some options on how to handle the Butler/Gordon ABs, and he failed.
I personally believed the game was pretty much over at this point, but Durbin helped sealed the deal in the 7th after Horst got into more trouble. I don't blame Dom for diving on the Getz triple. I think two runs would have scored if he'd let the ball bounce in front of him, so it was worth the risk of the extra run to try and get the out there. Brown missed the ball, and the Phillies dropped the 1st game of the dreadful Interleague schedule to the Kansas City Royals
John Lannan, hopefully he doesn't break Utley's hand, takes the hill tonight against Luis Mendoza, hopefully he didn't learn how to stop on his skates, at 7:10 PM.
Cliff Lee had a really good game striking out 8 batters in 8 innings without allowing a walk. The Phillies offense did just enough to win the game. Ben Revere did his best in the 2nd inning to ground into a double play with the bases loaded, but he's really fast, and it looked like Uggla didn't have a clean transition at second base.
One thing I should say thus far is that I'm pretty happy with the order of Manuel's lineup. I'm mostly talking about the first 6 batters. There was a lot of discussion about who would bat lead off, Jimmy Rollins or Ben Revere. Neither of the two are on-base machines, but Jimmy Rollins has considerably more power, which would be desirable from the 2-hole. Additionally, Revere will likely attempt more steals than Rollins all things equal, and I'd rather have Revere trying to steal while Rollins is up than when Utley and Howard are up. Revere is a lefty, and Rollins batting second breaks up the Phillies having 3 consecutive guaranteed lefties. Utley and Howard still bat back-to-back, but is inevitably going to happen. This is the only reason I like Michael Young batting ahead of Dom Brown, it breaks up 3 LHB in a row.
Andy and I have added a new member to the site, Gary Matthews (Senior, of course)! He will be helping us post more regularly, and will be an addition by addition (not subtraction).
Thursday, April 4, 2013
In the top of the 4th, the Phillies were threatening with 1 out and runners on first and second. After a Kratz strikeout, Manuel sent Halladay to the plate. At this time, he had 79 pitches and had struggled considerably on the mound, but the score was only 3-0. Halladay proceeded to strikeout, ending the threat. In the bottom of the 4th, Halladay gave up a home run to Evan Gattis, stretching the Braves lead to 4-0. But after striking out Maholm and surrendering a single, Manuel pulled Halladay from the game with 96 pitches. Raul Valdes came in for relief, immediately walking two consecutive batters before Freddie Freeman cleared the bases with a double.
Why let Halladay bat in the top of the 4th? If 96 pitches were around Halladay's limit for the game, then the best result of leaving him in the game would have been a scoreless 4th. This would likely have brought Halladay to around 96 pitches, and his night would have been over. Instead of pinch hitting in the top of the 4th and trying to score, Manuel opted to go with a pitcher that clearly did not have his best stuff. Manuel did not have the foresight that scoring at the moment would be more beneficial than squeezing another inning out of Halladay. Pitching lost this game, but the pitching staff needs to be managed more effectively.
Cliff Lee faces off against Kris Medlen tonight, as the Phillies try to avoid a broom to the face.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
There was really only one issue with Charlie's management in this game. In the bottom half of the 6th, Manuel aptly decided to remove the struggling Chad Durbin, exercising a refreshingly short leash. However, Manuel did not wait for the would-be pinch hitter, Juan Francisco, to be announced before bringing in Jeremy Horst. Instead of wasting a Braves bench player, Manuel enabled Fredi Gonzalez to call Francisco back to the dugout in favor of Reed Johnson. Johnson ended up grounding into a double play, but the result of the mistake does not excuse it. If Manuel ignores such a basic aspect of managing such as this on a regular basis, the results will be more damaging for the Phillies. Manuel claimed that he saw the umpire gesture to the press box, as if to announce Francisco as the pinch hitter, before pulling Durbin, but he could just be trying to cover his tracks.
UPDATE: The scorer did indeed miss the announcement of Francisco, and the box score now reflects this. A nearly inconsequential mistake by Manuel has been nullified.
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Is The Lack Of Sabermetrics Holding Back The Phillies?
Going into last season, most people assumed that the Phillies were going to be just fine in the National League East. With a solid pitching staff and a lineup stacked with all-stars, few could have imagined that both the Nationals and Braves passed them by. With those two teams getting even better for 2013, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Phillies.
While it is easy now to step back and look at some of the issues that surround Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies’ front office, many point to their resistance to put much stock into sabermetrics as a major reason why they are falling behind. This is even more of an issue for a team that is aging quickly with not a lot of help coming up through the system in sight.
Between general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and field manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have a very old school way of thinking. What this has led to is overpaying for aging superstars and handing out a few dud contracts. With the new financial restrictions on teams around baseball, that can’t be done nearly as frequently as in the past.
Take their case with Ryan Howard for example. The slugger won an MVP award in 2006, and ever since then, he has been paid quite a bit of money to avoid hitting the free agent market. However, Howard was just 11th in the league that season in wins above replacement (WAR), as his average, plate discipline and fielding all hold him back as being a true game-changing slugger. These days, he is signed through 2016 in the middle of a 5 year, $125 million deal. That is a lot of money to pay for a guy who has a total of a 0.8 WAR in his last three seasons.
Heading into 2013, the Phillies have eight players making over $10 million a season. They traded away Hunter Pence, a guy who would have made ninth and also would have been the youngest guy at age 30. Needless to say, this aging roster only has maybe one or two more years to get back in the playoffs. As any fantasy baseball player will tell you, the time has come where sabermetrics need to be at least considered to make smart free agent moves and decisions are possible extensions for the players on the roster. Decisions on Roy Halladay and Chase Utley will need to be made soon, and crunching the numbers could help with proper projections.
Saturday, December 8, 2012
When I first heard about this trade, I was a little confused. First, I couldn't believe that the Phillies didn't try and overpay for a marquee CF, and someone that everyone in Philadelphia has heard of. Then, I looked up his stats quickly on baseball-reference, and was quickly infuriated with his career .642 OPS (79 OPS+). I couldn't believe (and still can't understand), why it took both Vance Worley and Trevor May to land this atrocious hitter.
Once I finally started thinking rationally, I was curious how he grades out defensively. While he spent most of last season in corner outfield spots, Revere plays defense VERY well despite the fact that he has a weak arm. He also runs the bases very well. Your CF doesn't need to be a huge offensive asset, but someone does... more on that later.
So, the Phillies acquired a defensive/speed specialist who can't hit anything more than singles and doesn't walk. The price they paid is Vance Worley, who has a career FIP/xFIP/SIERA under 4.00 with a K-rate around 20% and a BB-rate around 8%. He's done fairly well for the Phillies since he's been here. Also included in the deal was the Phillies top prospect (#69 according to Baseball America), Trevor May. May, 23, has struck out batters at an alarming rate over his Minor League career. Last year he only struck out 9 batters/9 IP, but over the 4 seasons prior, had K/9 rates around 12/9 IP. That's insane. However, he does walk players at a near JC Romero rate.
Everyone wants to talk about Ben Revere being a cheap, cost-controlled player for the next several years. This is true, and I think that's great because it frees up money for other areas, but so are Worley and May. I don't hate getting Ben Revere because one can only hope his offense will get better (it'll be tough for him to do worse), but I'm still baffled that the Phillies were willing to part with two young, cheap pitchers. Maybe Worley is still injured.
That being said, I conditionally don't hate the trade. The only way I find this trade acceptable as an off season move is if the Phillies add a good/great bat to compliment Revere. The Phillies need a new 3B, or the hole could be filled in a corner OF spot if the Phillies so choose. I just hope the choice is NOT Michael Young. Seemingly everyone in Philadelphia wants Michael Young, and I just don't see how the move makes sense. He's 36 years old, undoubtedly on the decline of his career, and he's coming off an atrocious 2012. Add to that the fact that he'll probably be acquired to fill the 3B hole, and it's just a nightmare. While most of his career he was a pretty able hitter, he has never been great defensively, but for some reason was used to play ever INF position for extended periods of time (including SS!). Over the last 10 seasons, his dWAR (bbref) has never been higher than +0.4 with the bulk of his seasons hovering around -2.0. Last year he compiled a WAR of -2.4.
I get the feeling that the Phillies are going to trade for Young. While I don't want him on this team, I certainly hope that RAJ doesn't over pay with players in return and is able to have the Rangers cover most of his contract should the deal go through.
Friday, October 26, 2012
This is Prince Fielder's terrible slide from last night that would have given his team a 1-0 lead. Had he scored this run, they probably would have scored again in the inning. The final score was 2-0 Giants, so this slide very well may have cost the Tigers the game and their entire season.
Chris Wheeler loves to drone on and on about the DANGERS of sliding head first, especially when a young black player mildly injures himself by diving into a base. He especially hates diving head first into home because of the catcher's equipment. However, Wheeler never explains to the audience the benefits of sliding head first. Usually, sliding head first is a quicker way to get to a base than sliding feet first, due to the fact that head-first slides propel yourself forward rather than downward. Since a proper head-first slide involves a slight airborne dive, there is consequently less friction than feet-first.
Furthermore, on a head-first slide, your arms are almost always entirely outstretched in front of you, maximizing your chances of getting to the base as quickly as possible. Just look at Fielder's slide. His waist is almost perfectly centered at the top of the batter's box, yet the only part of his body that is outside the batter's box, towards home plate, is his left foot, which is still at least 6 inches from the plate. The reason that Fielder and Leyland were convinced that he was safe was because he should have been safe. Prince Fielder, for as much criticism as he gets for his baserunning, actually beat the throw on this play. It was a god-awful slide that completely wiped out his effort. Had he slid head-first and his waist was in a similar area relative to home plate, his hands would have been outstretched far across the plate, possibly even reaching the umpire.
We haven't yet discussed another reason for sliding head first, which is that your hands/fingers are easier to control than your feet, which increases your chances of dodging the tag. Also, your arms are skinnier than your legs, decreasing the surface area for the defender to tag (I mean, Prince Fielder's legs are about the size of Paul Lo Duca circa 2006).
There is no doubt Fielder would have been safe had he chosen to slide head first. However, the first time someone shakes his hand next season after slightly jamming his fingers on a head first slide and Wheeler immediately admonishes the decision to slide head first, there will be about a .01% chance Wheeler will mention this slide. Yes, sliding head first is slightly more dangerous (see Utley's slide at Cincinnati 2010), but I am not convinced it is significantly more dangerous than sliding feet first (Stephen Drew's injury 2011 was extremely gruesome). In fact, if I were the Phillies GM, I would demand that Utley not slide head first until the playoffs (or until regular season games turn into de facto playoff games). With a player like Utley, the risk of injury is probably not worth the slight effect that a head-first slide has on run expectancy in a game that has an even slighter effect on World Series-expectancy.
Perhaps if Wheeler mentioned -- even once -- that deciding to slide head-first instead of feet-first ALWAYS increases a team's chances of winning, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Unfortunately for us, though, we live in a world where a mediocre slide from a Detroit player reminds us of just how condescending our TV announcing team (sans Sarge) truly operates.