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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Friday, July 15, 2011

Game 92: Manuel may have gotten worse during the All-Star break (58-34)

Vance Worley, however, did not. He pitched 5 1/3 innings today allowing only one earned run. RA Dickey was not as sharp. The Phils touched him up for 4 runs on their way to a 7-2 victory. I have a ton of things to say about this game.

BULLPEN

Charlie Manuel had the worst night of anyone in a Phillies uniform.

When the score was 4-0 with one out in the bottom of the 6th inning and men on first and second, Vance Worley walked Carlos Beltran to load the bases. With this type of high leverage situation and Ryan Madson back from the DL, I thought this would be a good opportunity for Madson (the Phillies announced before the game he would not be used as a closer immediately). Manuel opted to use Juan Perez since the next two NYM batters were lefties (Lucas Duda [worst name in sports?] and Josh Thole [second-worst name in sports?]). With the two lefties coming to the plate and Perez's recent performance, it's not a terrible move.

It is a high leverage situation, but the lefty-lefty matchups were a good thought from Manuel; and, even if Perez failed and the Mets scored three runs, Bastardo would still be available for perhaps an even higher-leverage situation. If the Phils were winning by 0, 1, or 2 at this point in the game, I'd be roasting Manuel for failure to use Bastardo.

Perez struck out the first batter he faced, allowing a run on a WP -- bad luck. He then retired the next batter on a ground-out to third. Juan Perez is not the ideal candidate for this situation, but he's a much better option than Andrew Carpenter was in the Phils' loss in Miami.

And once Perez got out of the inning, my first thought was, "well, it's still a 4-1 score, hopefully they could put up some more runs to avoid using Stutes/Bastardo" (I would collectively call them Stustardo if I hosted a show on WIP). And guess what? They scored 3 runs in the top of the 8th inning! Excellent.

They were winning 7-1 in the bottom of the 8th inning, 99+% win expectancy at this point, but Manuel trotted out Stutes to pitch anyway. Here are the only two explanations: a) Stutes was warming up anyway to come into a three-run game, you'd might as well use him anyway; b) it is the first game after the all-star break, and he needs the work.

Here's why those explanations don't work:

a) Stutes shouldn't be warming up for a three-run game to begin with. With a three-run lead in the 8th, the Phils would have had a 93% chance at a victory. Since Danys Baez is entrusted with games where that number is between 40 and 60, I don't see why Manuel can't put Baez out there and hope for the best. Stutes and Bastardo, obviously, would be available for emergency purposes. And, even if you have Stutes warming up in the bullpen despite this, once the Phillies do score the extra 3 runs in the 8th inning to thrust their win expectancy from 92.9 to 99.3, then Manuel should IMMEDIATELY sit down Stutes.

Seriously, Baez has cost the Phillies three games in extra innings on the road, but he can't be trusted with a 6-run lead in the 8th inning? Absurdity.

b) Yes, it is the first game after the all-star break and Stutes/Bastardo haven't pitched in a while. But, if Manuel is as properly aggressive in high-leverage situations with these two as I'd like, they will have no problem finding work in the next few games/

In summation: Manuel used Perez with the bases loaded and one out in a 4-run game, but he used Stutes and Bastardo in situations where their expected win value is over 99 percent.

LINEUP

Michael Martinez led off the top of the 3rd with a 2-0 count against Dickey, who had been having control problems early in the game. It's ridiculous that Martinez is batting anywhere other than the 8-slot (.315 minor league career OBP), and it's just as bad to allow him to swing at a 2-0 pitch with the bases empty and zero outs. He lined out softly to right field, just before Utley's double to left. There are very few situations where a batter as poor as Martinez should be swinging at a 2-0 pitch, and leading off the inning is certainly not one of them.

For the last time Manuel, switch Martinez and Mayberry in the lineup! Then we can discuss the value of batting Mayberry third and Utley second. But right now, we can't even do that, since Martinez bats in the most important lineup slot while the much more talented Mayberry is buried in the 8-slot.

WHEELER'S LACK OF KNOWLEDGE OF THE RULES

Chris Wheeler, who loves to talk about the official scorekeeper's section of the rulebook with his usual subtle condescension, demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of the rules on Dom Brown's error in right field in the 3rd inning. I'll try to explain the play as simply as possible:

RA Dickey was on first base with one out, when Vance Worley allowed a soft line drive to right field. Off the bat, it looked like a simple base hit. However, Brown raised his glove in an attempt to fool Dickey, which actually succeeded. Dickey did a horrendous job of reading the line drive. He headed back to first base, the ball fell in front of Brown, who grabbed it on one hop. Brown was charging the ball and had an easy throw to second base for the old 9-6 put-out, a play not uncommon in little league. Brown fumbled the ball out of his glove, however, and was unable to make the play. I immediately thought two things: that it should bean error; and that the scorer would not rule the play an error.

The official scorer proved me partially wrong and properly called the play an error, which is defined as the following, and the relevant parts are bolded:

"An error shall be charged for each misplay (fumble, muff or wild throw) which prolongs the time at bat of a batter or which prolongs the life of a runner, or which permits a runner to advance one or more bases."

Brown's fumble obviously prolonged Dickey's life as a runner. The very first sentence under the section entitled ERRORS in the rulebook covers the type of play that happened tonight. Yet, Wheeler classified this as some "rule that not everyone knows", which is his way of admitting he didn't know why it was ruled an error.

Catching the ball on one hop and throwing out a pitcher, who was on his way back to first base, is certainly "ordinary effort" by major league standards. The Mets' official scorer showed that he has a much firmer grasp on the rules than the St. Louis scorer, and Chris Wheeler proved he knows 1950s baseball trivia better than the 2011 rulebook.

Here's his paraphrased quote after this play: "I didn't think that would be an error. Well, I guess there are rules that not everyone knows, and the scorer here felt that would be an error."

Seriously, Wheeler, the basic definition of the term "error" is enough to figure out why Brown's gaffe was an error. Yes, it sucks that the batter was robbed of a base hit, but it's not because of anything Brown did -- it was the terrible baserunning from Dickey.

For an extreme analogy, let's say Jimmy Rollins is on first base and Ryan Howard hits a ball off the outfield fence. Rollins tears both ACLs on his way to second, collapsing 45 feet away from the base. Howard has to stop at first to avoid passing the runner, and the throw from the outfield would come into second base for the force-out of Rollins. Is this a single, or a bad-luck fielder's choice? By Chris Wheeler's warped standards, it's a single.

STOP STARTING THESE GAMES WHEN THE SUN IS IN EVERYONE'S EYES

The Phils go for the series win tomorrow when Cole Hamels faces LHP Jon Niese for yet another 4:10 start time. My god, when do they end? Not next week, which will be the fourth straight Saturday with an afternoon game. Dreadful.

1 comment:

Henry Rowengartner said...

The best part was last week when the Fox announcer was complaining about how much the shade/sun line affects the hitters when it falls between the plate and mound, apparently oblivious to the fact that it is his network that inexplicably schedules these games at 4:00.

Also, Manuel is an idiot for starting Hamels today. This year Hamels has been terrible against the Mets. Could have easily gone Worley, Lee, Halladay, especially considering that Hamels was the one that pitched last Sunday. It's a disgrace that they let Bochy determine their rotation for real, actual games. If Bochy wanted to send Lee and Halladay out for an extra inning they should have flat out refused.