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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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Game 84: Charlie's worst-managed game of the year (45-39)

...and they won. Manuel made his first mistake of the night before the game began, when he decided to let Pat Burrell, owner of the best OBP on the team, bat in front of Geoff Jenkins (72 OPS+), Pedro Feliz (88 OPS+), and Carlos Ruiz (55(!!!) OPS+). Like my associate Mr. Graham so keenly pointed out, it is a waste to put Patrick the Batrick ahead of players like these, yet behind players like Utley and/or Howard. However, this lineup change was to be expected, so this certainly isn't the reason Manuel did so poorly tonight.

In the top of the 7th with the Phillies ahead 5-0, Jenkins was at the plate with the bases loaded. Incredibly, he managed not to swing at the first three pitches and drew a 3-0 count. A reasonably-minded manager would give at least one take sign, maybe even two (considering Jenkins' stats this year). Both Manuel and Jenkins defy the odds, with Manuel giving a green light and Jenkins popping up for the second out of the inning. Feliz somehow failed to deliver and the bases were left loaded. With the bases loaded, no player in the majors should be swinging 3-0. Any pitch you see 3-0, you will see 3-1 or even 3-2 - especially for Jenkins, who can't hit the broad side of a barn this year. When the Braves cut the lead to 5-3, Manuel had to be wishing he gave the non-existant take sign. Since you learn at the age of 7 to take 3-0, I am anointing this green light to be Manuel's worst decision of the year.

Manuel wasn't done. After taking Kendrick out in the 7th, Manuel brought in Jansas City Romero to face two lefties with the score 5-2. He retired one, but the other reached base. Two switch-hitting home run hitters in Chipper Jones and Mark Teixeira followed. We all know Romero is absolutely awful against righties, and since Jones represented the tying run while 3 right-handed pitchers (Gordon, Madson, Lidge) were available, it's no less than disgraceful to allow Romero to pitch to these guys. He walked Jones, giving Manuel a second chance to remove Romero before the game became a lost cause. He declined. Teixeira demolished a Jansas pitch, but it was right at Utley for the second out of the inning. A lefthanded batter then ended the inning on a groundout. If that ball gets past Utley, the Braves likely tie it at 5. Manuel lucks out again. Unbelievable.

As if that weren't enough, Manuel allowed Brad Lidge to pitch the 9th in a 5-run game. Statistically, the Braves had a 1.3 percent chance to tie the game. I guess Manuel felt threatened by that chance and decided to just win the game. Or maybe he had no idea what the odds were. You decide. When Lidge ends up pitching 3 games in a row, and maybe blows a save in the process because of fatigue, you'll know who to thank.
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