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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Monday, May 16, 2011

Game 39: Michael Martinez and Pete Orr are better than Carlos Ruiz (25-14)

The Phillies lost the rubber match of their series against Atlanta yesterday, 3-2. Roy Halladay pitched another complete-game loss, so there's nothing to say about pitching decisions in yesterday's game. However, Manuel gave us plenty of reason to criticize his lineup.

Due to Shane Victorino's injury (apparently a 2-3 day issue), Michael Martinez was the starter in centerfield. Since Martinez is a well below-average hitter and his defense is the only reason he was in the lineup, common sense would dictate that he'd bat 8th in the lineup. Instead, Manuel placed him in possibly the most important spot in the lineup -- the 2-hole. Insanity. Victorino is the 2-hitter. He gets injured. Victorino's replacement must bat second. The thought that Manuel puts into his lineup is pretty much how a 2nd grader would fill out his lineup.

Yes, Carlos Ruiz is coming off an injury, and he's not your "typical" 2-hole hitter. But Martinez sure as hell isn't a 2-hitter either; he's lucky to even be on a roster. Good managers think outside the box when injuries hit a team. Ruiz would be a pretty solid 1- or 2-hitter given his career on-base percentage and exceptional plate discipline (skills that Marinez obviously lacks), but he was instead buried in the 8-slot yesterday behind noted sluggers Pete Orr and Michael Martinez.

They may have lost anyway if the lineup resembled some sort of rational thought process, but they may not have lost if Manuel used the take-sign on Ryan Howards pitiful at-bat in the 6th inning.

Tim Hudson walked Placido Polanco to start the 6th inning. He then threw 3 consecutive balls to Ryan Howard. At this point, the Phils were trailing 1-0 and Hudson had thrown 5 straight balls out of the strike zone (and 6 out of the last 7, with the only strike coming on a swing). Manuel thought it would be a good decision to allow Ryan Howard to swing, completely ignoring Hudson's wildness at that point. Howard popped up for the first out. It's inexcusable to allow him to swing on 3-0. Yes, he might hit a home run, but he is far more likely to swing into an out or a strike than an extra-base hit. The odds of walking in that spot are so much higher than earning an extra-base hit that risking an out is out of the question. 12-year-old kids understand this, but not Manuel.

Then, Raul Ibanez comes to the plate and swings at the first two pitches he sees and pops out. Hudson threw five straight balls, singlehandedly giving the Phils a scoring chance, and the Phillies vaunted offense swings at the NEXT THREE PITCHES. Two outs, all of a sudden your scoring chance is virtually gone. John Mayberry then came to the plate and cracked a two-run homer. Thank god Ibanez and Howard weren't on base for that at-bat.

Tonight the Phillies travel to St. Louis where your starting pitchers are Cliff Lee and RHP Jake Westbrook and your 2-hitter is 5-time all-star Wilson Valdez.

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