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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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Game 58: Ibanez does it again (35-23)

The Phillies have defeated the Mets for the second consecutive night in extra innings, extending their division lead to 4 games thanks to a 2-out, 3-run homer by Raul Ibanez. Jamie Moyer pitched well in his six innings of work, and the bullpen pitched 5 scoreless innings as Scott Eyre picked up the win.

Thankfully for Charlie Manuel, the Mets were missing Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado for this entire series. If those two were active, the Phillies may have seen their two wins end up much differently. For example, Manuel again stacked the lineup with 3 lefties in a row. In the top of the 8th inning in a tie game, Jerry Manuel was able to take advantage of the Phillies' lineup by allowing Pedro Feliciano to pitch to all 3 lefties without ever having to face Jayson Werth, who has an OBP of over .400 against LHP over the past three seasons. The Phils' lineup is undoubtedly powerful, but they would become that much more dangerous if Rollins dropped down to 6 (his career and season OBP numbers support this move, despite Manuel's cliche that "he makes us go") while Werth batted 3rd to break up the lefties. In late inning situations, the opposing manager would have a much more difficult time generating his ideal matchups.

Of course, Ibanez's winning homer came off a lefty: but it was the Mets' weakest lefty out of the bullpen because it was so late in the game (10th inning). Most games will not last long enough for the 3-4-5 lefties to see either a weak lefty or a righty, but the Phils' bullpen did their job tonight. Hopefully Ibanez can keep his absurd season going so Manuel can put together whatever lineup he wants without repercussion, but regardless of Ibanez's productivity, Werth should always bat between the lefties.

Personally, I would have used Ryan Madson to pitch to the meat of the Mets' order earlier than the 10th inning, but since Manuel learned to not allow Chad Durbin to face a lefty (Scott Eyre pitched to one batter, a lefty, after Durbin retired two righties in the 9th), I'll let it slide.

Also, I don't think Matt Stairs should have pinch-hit when the Phillies had runners at second and third with one out in the 7th inning. They were losing by one, and it was a clear contact situation. Greg Dobbs strikes out at a lower rate than Stairs, and all the Phillies needed in that situation was contact since the Mets were conceding a run. Dobbs is the correct choice because he makes contact more often than Stairs. If there were nobody on base, then of course, you use the power hitter. It ended up a moot point since Stairs grounded out to earn an RBI and tie the game.

Tomorrow night in South Philly the Phils take on the second-worst fanbase in the league as RHP Joe Blanton faces LHP John Lester at 7:05 pm.

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