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.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Game 107: Phils continue to misuse Lidge's arm, win (58-49)

Phils win. But this site is about Charles Fuqua Manuel, and he was awful tonight.

Primarily, he used Brad Lidge in an 8-5 game. Statistically, the Washington Nationals had a 6.4 percent chance of tying the game entering the 9th inning. Why is it necessary to use your best pitcher, for the second night in a row, to eliminate such a small chance? In comparison, there is a 29 percent chance they tie a one-run game and a 14 percent chance they tie a two-run game. Considering that 14 percent means roughly three out of 20 leads will be blown, I would say that using your closer in a two-run game is appropriate. However, when only one out of roughly 20 leads will be blown, I would say that using a closer (who can only pitch a certain number of innings per week) is not necessary. My strategy would be using Clay Condrey, Rudy Seanez, and/or J.A. Happ just to see how many outs they can get. Once one runner reaches base, then you bring in Lidge. If your 37.5 million-dollar closer can't shut down a three-run game with only one inherited runner, the problem is not the manager. Unfortunately, Lidge pitched the whole inning and has now appeared in four games in the past five days. Overworking your closer is never good, and it should be avoided whenever possible. If Lidge is unavailable or ineffective tomorrow night, you will be wishing Happ started tonight's ninth.

Moving forward, or backward, depending on how you think, Manuel yet again managed to screw up the defensive replacement. Up by five runs after 6.5 innings, Manuel inserted Jayson Werth into left field for Pat Burrell. We went over this yesterday, so I won't elaborate too much on why it's an absurd decision. But, Werth's familiarity with right field and limited PT in left combined with Burrell's arm certainly make up for the slight speed difference between Burrell and Geoff Jenkins. As luck would have it, Werth flubbed a ball in left in his first inning. Perhaps he missed it because he has played limited innings in left? Perhaps I'm right. Perhaps.

Finally, or firstly, the Phillies were down 3-2 in the fourth inning with Jenkins on first and Eric Bruntlett at the plate. Jenkins, who has three stolen bases since the end of 2006 (and three caught stealings too), inexplicably ran on the 2-1 pitch to Bruntlett, who waved at and fouled off a pitch out of the strike zone. This play was certainly a designed hit-and-run with one out, which means Bruntlett has to swing at the pitch no matter where it is thrown. A ridiculous idea. If the team's utility infielder is at the plate and finds himself ahead of the count, he should continue his plate discipline and look for a pitch to drive. Swinging at a pitch for the sake of swinging, which is the purpose of a hit-and-run, is counter-productive. Had Bruntlett taken that pitch, he would have been ahead in the count 3-1 with a much greater chance of reaching base. He was instead forced to protect the plate with two strikes and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Despite all this, the Phils still won. I'm sure he's a great motivator, but Charlie Manuel is awful during games. Are there no great motivators and good baseball minds, or are the Phillies simply unwilling to get rid of one of the cheapest managers in the league? The latter is the answer. Perhaps.