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, September 29, 2011

Game 162: Awesome (102-60)

The Phillies finished the regular season with 102 wins setting a franchise record. They closed out the Braves postseason hopes with David Herndon, Justin DeFratus, Michael Schwimer (2 innings), and Michael Stutes. I don't think it can get much better than that.

I don't think I've ever witnessed so many outcomes finishing exactly the way I wanted them to during the regular season. The Rays coming back from a 7-0 deficit, the Cardinals routing Brett Myers and the Astros, the Red Sox (read: Jonathan Papelbon) blowing a save against the Baltimore Orioles. Bottom line? No one-game tiebreakers. The Phillies will face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS. They will never face the Braves in the 2011 playoffs.

Roy Halladay will face TBD at some time on Saturday.



8 comments:

hk said...

Yes, last night was an incredible night on so many levels. The Phillies-centric ones are obvious, but in addition to Papelbon blowing the save, you had Carl Crawford missing the catch and making a half-assed throw to the plate on the season-ender, the last place Orioles extracting a measure of revenge against the Sox after a mid-season brawl when the O's felt the Sox were rubbing it in their faces and Dan Johnson coming out of oblivion again (although that may be an oxy-moron) to save the game.

As fans, we sometimes get too caught up in the fact that only one playoff team ends their season with a win and we overlook the greatness of the 162 game schedule. While I will be disappointed if the Phils get eliminated without reaching the ultimate prize, I will also look back on this season and the final 3 games with pride in the team for which I root. I suspect fans of all 7 other post-season participants can and should have similar feeling about their own squads' regular seasons, regardless of the post-season results.

Andy Musser said...

It is fitting that Manuel sets the Phillies' record for managerial wins in a game where he managed very, very poorly. The Phillies won despite Manuel last night.

1) He started Joe Blanton and brought Hamels into the game in relief. What purpose does this serve, other than increasing the risk of injury to Hamels by changing his routine? Perhaps Hamels locates his 0-2 fastball better had he started the game. The Braves may have scored zero runs the whole night had Manuel simply flipped Hamels' and Blanton's roles in this game.

Seriously, though. Blanton is a reliever for the playoffs; Hamels is a starter. You're going to start Blanton and force Hamels to make his first career relief appearance? I'm okay with any pitch limitation on Hamels, but at least let him start the game.

2) Raul Ibanez was allowed to bat against Jonny Venters with the bases loaded and two outs in the 8th inning. Ibanez is worthless against lefties, and Francisco (whose extremely high BB rate was perfect for the situation) was still available -- he's better defensively, too. Ibanez predictably struck out on three pitches.

3) In the top of the 11th, Michael Martinez came to the plate with two outs and two men on base. Martinez was hitting under .200 before the game with an OBP barely over .260. He is on the team for defense only, and with Domonic Brown still available on the bench (the Braves' pitcher was righty), this was an OBVIOUS pinch-hit move. Martinez flied out weakly to end the inning. Yes, Martinez was your centerfielder at the time, but you could have moved Brown to left field, Ibanez to first (where he's played in the past), and Mayberry from first to centerfield. Or, if you don't trust Ibanez at first base, you can use Savery to play first base and bench Ibanez (Savery's bat can't be worse than Ibanez's anyway). Honestly, I'd rather play with 8 defenders in the bottom of the inning than allow Michael Martinez to bat rather than Brown.

However, none of these is the worst decision of the game. That honor goes to Fredi Gonzalez, who made two critical errors in his quest to stop his team from collapsing. Both of these decisions are APPALLING, and Gonzalez should be despised by any self-respecting Braves' fan.

1) Shane Victorino was announced as a pinch hitter for Vance Worley in the top of the 7th inning with the Braves ahead 3-2. There was one out and runners on 1st and 2nd. Victorino is significantly better as a right-handed hitter, and he's been one of the best hitters against LHPs in all of baseball in 2011. Gonzalez decided to remove Tim Hudson at this point in favor of the lefty O'Flaherty, whose career OPS-allowed vs. RHBs is .715 (LHBs, .576). Hudson, on the other hand, has a .721 OPS-allowed vs. LHBs.

That is, Hudson vs. a lefty is roughly equal to O'Flaherty facing a righty. However, the fact that Victorino is one of the best right-handed hitters in the world makes this an obviously bad decision: leave Hudson in for at least one more batter; never let Victorino face a lefty. Of course, Gonzalez got lucky and Victorino failed to reach base.

2) Gonzalez must have used up all his luck in that 7th inning, because his next mistake proved fatal. The Phillies had runners on first and third with two outs in the top of the 13th inning and Hunter Pence coming to the plate. Normally Howard would be on deck, but Martinez pinch ran much earlier in the game. As a Phillies fan, I was shocked that Gonzalez was not intentionally walking Pence to get to Martinez. This was the easiest decision of the game: pitch to the all-star, or pitch to a player who wouldn't crack the top half of the lineup in Clearwater? Gonzalez pitched to the all-star, and now he's eliminated.

hk said...

I agree on all 5 managerial mistakes. I would also question pinch-running Martinez for Howard in the first place unless Charlie's incentive behind this move was to get Howard out of the game more so than it was to increase the Phils' chances of winning. And, if that was his incentive, he should have pinch-run for Howard when he was on first base. Personally, I think pinch-running is a wildly over-used strategy, but it is particularly so in a game that you are losing as you never know if and when the replaced player's spot might come up in the order again (and again and again and again).

Robby Bonfire said...

Heard a rumor, dropped by Fox Sports, (may already be fact) that Terry is out in Boston. If this is true, I have to say the GM is a putz. Another slow as molasses GM when it comes to cutting way over the hill veterans, starting with Lowell, Ortiz, Varitek, and that hanger-on, Wakefield, who will pitch for you until he's 75, if you pay him.

This group should have been gone two years ago. In fact the Red Sox had a great chance to rebuild while the Yankees were staying with Jeter, Posada, Rivera, Pettitte and others, understanding most are still around and still productive, but a collective collapse is coming. When the Yankees do move on from their aging core of players the Red Sox will not be ready to take over the division, since they too must now start to rebuild - two years too late.

It is not Terry's fault that the Red Sox BEST SP, Buchholtz, went down for the year, rather early. But, given the way the world works, Terry may have to pay for that. At least the GM wants Terry to shoulder the blame. Any GM who keeps Wakefield around waiting for the Apocalypse has no right to point the finger at anyone else.

Theo is a hypocrite, not a friend or business partner. And Terry will land on his feet, somewhere.

hk said...

Of course Francona will be the scapegoat. How else will the boy genius GM hide the fact that his free agent signings of the last two off-seasons (Lackey and Crawford) have been such disasters. Speaking of which, wasn't it fitting that the fates of the Red Sox and Rays were basically sealed on a misplay by Crawford, who the big money Sox signed away from the small budget Rays?

Robby Bonfire said...

It is interesting that managers are frequently sent packing as the scapegoat, but GM's are not held to the same accountability standard by owners. The Phillies ownership gets a world of credit for dumping Ed Wade, who had nothing but blame for everyone else for his atrocious failures, on his way out the door. Why so many teams feel they are "stuck" with their mediocre to poor GM is beyond me?

Scott Graham said...

You do realize that David Ortiz had the 7th highest wOBA in all of baseball this season, right? .405.

Robby Bonfire said...

Yes, I do. He exceeded expectations coming into this season, give him full credit for that, after tailing off badly the last 2-3 years. Back to my Branch Rickey postulate: "It is better to get rid of a ballplayer a year too early than a year too late."

As I said, if I'm the GM, that Lowell, Ortiz, Varitek, Wakefield gang is gone two years ago, with no regrets if, cumulatively one or two of them have a good, solid season left in the tank.

More power to David Ortiz, I did think he was done. And look at the multitude of examples of aging, declining players getting long-term contracts and bombing out. It is a loooooong list of sputtering duds. The best percentage and economic play is cutting bait sooner, rather than later.

By the way, (and I do enjoy this subject), the Red Sox chose to retain a certain first baseman, who was done, for the 1986 season. Then they chose to not replace him for defensive purposes in the sixth game of the World Series.

I have always felt frustration over this because the Red Sox had a young first baseman they kept in the minors too long for him to get a decent MLB shot. His name was Pat Dodson, and he plated over 100 RBI's at Triple A, that same year. I saw Dodson play lots of college baseball at UCLA with people like Mike Gallego, Don Slaught, Tim Leary and Matt Young, and Dodson was as good an MLB prospect as any of them. A young Dodson, with ample power, would have given the Red Sox a lot more offensively and defensively than they got from Buckner that entire year, even without the dramatic puck-up.