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.
Thursday, May 10, 2012
Kendrick came into the game facing the 5-6-7 hitters for the Mets: the first two of whom were RHBs. The catcher, Rob Johnson, was due up fourth in the inning, also a RHB. With a 4-2 lead and Antonio Bastardo unavailable (I think he should have been available for a one-batter LOOGY appearance, but we'll assume his unavailability for the sake of this discussion), it's not unreasonable to toss out KK against the bottom half of the order filled with RHBs. However, if he runs into trouble, the leash must be very short -- he is, after all, Kyle Kendrick, owner of a career .890 (!) OPS-allowed vs. LHBs. Chad Qualls, for reference, is at .725 against lefties.
The Mets used LHB Kirk Niewenhuis as a PH to lead off against Kendrick, a somewhat unexpected move. Kendrick walked him. He then faced RHB Justin Turner, who launched a double to cut the lead to 4-3.
Now: the score is 4-3, tying run on second, and 4 of the next 5 batters are guaranteed to be left-handed. Kendrick must be removed at this point for either Chad Qualls, Joe Savery, or Jonathan Papelbon. Kendrick is so bad against LHBs that it really doesn't matter who you choose, as long as it's not KK.
Ike Davis is the next batter. At this point, the only RHB remaining for the Mets was their backup catcher, Mike Nickeas, owner of a .263 career OBP. Davis, however, owns a .824 OPS against RHPs and a .685 against LHPs. In other words, out of the 3 possibilities (KK-Davis, Savery-Davis, Savery-Nickeas), Kendrick facing Davis is the worst possible option for Manuel. Guess which one he chose? Davis launched a double to right, but the baserunner misread the play and only made it to third.
Somehow, the Phillies still have the lead at this point, and RHB Rob Johnson was the batter. KK walked him to load the bases. Had Savery pitched to Davis, you could have left Savery in the game to face Johnson (a AAA catcher) and then LHB Lucas Duda, who was the pinch-hitter following Johnson. Of course, Savery has been badly misused by Manuel this season, and Kendrick remained in the game.
KK hit Duda with a pitch to tie the game, which was a relief, actually, because I was fully expecting a grand slam. Manuel inexplicably left him in the game to face the top of the order -- LHBs Andres Torres and Daniel Murphy -- and Kendrick allowed Torres to drive in the go-ahead run before finally getting a double play off Murphy to end the inning.
Kendrick was lucky to get out of the inning with the score 5-4, and with the 3-4-5 batters due up for the Mets in the 8th inning, I assumed Qualls or Contreras would start the 8th. Wrong again! Kendrick was SENT BACK OUT for the 8th inning. He allowed back-to-back doubles, and then Contreras came into the game. Simply hideous managing by Manuel.
Why was Qualls never used? Why was Savery never used? Famed Manuel apologist David Murphy explains on philly.com:
Chad Qualls? He had retired only seven of his previous 18 batters, blowing three saves in those four games.
Joe Savery? In his last three appearances, five of 10 batters had reached base, and none of them had struck out. After the game, he was optioned back to Triple A.
Brian Sanches? In two appearances this season, nine of the 18 batters he had faced reached base.
The plan, then, was Kendrick in the seventh, and Contreras in the eighth."
My favorite part is the last sentence: if that was the plan, then what the hell was KK doing on the mound in the 8th inning? Even the Manuel apologists acknowledge that Manuel can't even execute his plan correctly. More on Qualls here:
"Antonio Bastardo had thrown 38 pitches in the previous two days, rendering the only reliable middle relief option unavailable. Battered setup man Qualls was also not an option, Manuel said. He declined to provide a reason."
Qualls has thrown 3 pitches since May 4. If Qualls is hurt, then he has to have his roster spot revoked. With Bastardo and Qualls unavailable and Savery ostensibly unavailable (given his usage thus far) and Cole Hamels' suspension and Cliff Lee's pitch-limit, that looks like the Phillies have a 20.5 man roster. If he's not hurt, then he must be used in the 7th inning. Even if you just used Qualls for every PA where Kendrick appeared, their difference in talent alone may have been enough to win the game. You then could have had a mix of Contreras, Savery, and Papelbon to get the last six outs.
I know it's a SACRILEGE to ever use Papelbon before the 9th inning, but when you operate under such a ridiculous premise, the 7th and 8th innings suffer as a result.
The worst part of the game: the crowd cheering when Manuel walked to the mound, then booing when KK walked to the dugout. Yeah, I'm pretty sure you would allow 200-MPH line drives to Justin Turner if Reuben Amaro gave you 7 million dollars to do so. You're booing the wrong person, and it's asinine that most people don't realize that.
The Phillies are off today. Even more reason why Bastardo and Qualls should have pitched.
They open a 3-game set Friday at CBP versus San Diego when Vance Worley faces LHP Clayton Richard at 7:05 pm.