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, July 28, 2011

Game 104: ANOTHER sac bunt dooms the Phils (65-39)

Charlie Manuel made two glaring mistakes tonight: the first was batting Michael Martinez second, which killed two rallies, and the second was allowing Kendrick to bat in the bottom of the 5th (which killed a rally and created one for the Giants).

Let's start with Martinez:

Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a double against Tim Lincecum. Unfortunately for anyone who likes the Phillies, Michael Martinez and his .264 OBP was the next batter. The Phils' rally was already starting to fall apart simply because Manuel insists on batting a very poor man's-Eric Bruntlett in one of the most important lineup slots. Martinez bunted on the first pitch and moved Rollins to third base.

Now, a successful bunt in that situation actually slightly increases the frequency of scoring 1 run in the inning, but it decreases the total number of runs you can expect to score. My goal here is not to criticize the bunt itself (because Martinez is a terrible hitter and a bunt from him is not a bad result), but rather to criticize the fact that you have a .264 OBP in the 2-hole to begin with. If you're happy with a sacrifice bunt in the first inning, you're either a San Diego Padres fan, or your manager is Charlie Manuel.

Utley popped out and Howard struck out to end the inning, which isn't surprising, because Lincecum is one of the best pitchers in the world.

Martinez also struck out to end the game with the tying run on deck. He ended up with more plate appearances than Utley, Howard, Victorino, Brown, Ibanez, and Ruiz -- all of whom are vastly better hitters. PLEASE get him into the 8-hole as soon as possible, or, better yet, put Valdez at third base and keep Martinez as a pinch runner. They are both equally useless at the plate (Valdez might actually be better), but Martinez's value as a pinch runner is much greater than Valdez. That, however, would require critical thinking.

The second mistake, which was just as egregious, came in the 5th inning after Lincecum walked Ruiz with nobody out and the score 2-0. Kendrick then came to the plate in an obvious pinch-hit spot: you have a leadoff runner against Lincecum trailing by 2, so you need to seize this opportunity to tie the game; you have your worst starting pitcher who has already thrown 5 inning, so you need to remove him before he can give up more runs; and you have a rested bullpen (<2 IPs in the last 2 days) with Halladay and Lee pitching the next two games.

If there was ever a situation to remove a starter after 5 innings for a pinch-hitter, tonight was the night. The bullpen would have had a really, really good chance to keep the Giants at 2 runs (something Kendrick was unable to do), and the offense would have had a much greater chance to score in that inning without KK at the plate. Another easy decision from Manuel, another one missed.

The offense struggles for 3 reasons against good pitching: 1) they're facing good pitching; 2) they're older and less effective than they used to be; 3) they have a manager who fails miserably in optimizing their scoring opportunities.

It would be nice to watch the Phillies lose a game where they were only outplayed, instead of outmanaged and outplayed.

The Pittsburgh Pirates come into town Friday at 7:05 pm as Roy Halladay faces RHP Charlie Morton.

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