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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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Game 56: Manuel hands LA one run, LA wins by one run (28-28)

Let's start this post by pointing out that the umpires were more to blame for last night's loss than Charlie Manuel. In the top of the first inning, Elian Herrera led off with a walk. He attempted to steal second, where replays showed Rollins tagged him out. He was called safe, Rollins showed his displeasure, and, shockingly, Manuel did not argue the call.

In the same inning, Vance Worley spun around and rocketed a perfect pickoff throw to Rollins at second. This time, Rollins tagged Herrera even farther from the base than the previous play. The umpire, however, called him safe again. The Dodgers ended up scoring two runs in the inning; had the umpire gotten only one of those calls correct, LA would have scored either one run or zero. Again, Manuel did not argue the call.

With the score 2-0 LA in the top of the second inning, Adam Kennedy led off with a double off Worley. Pitcher Clayton Kershaw then sacrificed him to third base, bringing Dee Gordon to the plate with one out. If Gordon isn't the fastest player in baseball right now, then I'd like a Usain Bolt MLB jersey.

For whatever reason, Manuel decided to play the infield at normal depth against Gordon. With Kershaw on the mound and a deficit at 2 runs already, it is simply arrogant to assume that your lineup is going to score 4+ runs against the best pitcher in the National League. I understand that the Phillies have had no problems whatsoever scoring runs this season, but the strategy at that point should be to cut the run down at home plate.

Making this decision even more infuriating is that there was nobody else on base, and there was already one out in the inning. Even if you bring the infield in and Gordon reaches on a cheap single, he still is only on first base with one out, a scenario where the run expectancy is only 0.29. Therefore, Manuel is sacrificing one full run to prevent a scenario where the expectancy is less than one-third of a run.

Making this decision even more infuriating is that Gordon's speed makes you susceptible to infield hits. Playing the infield at normal depth decreases the chances of a "traditional" single where a ground ball finds its way into the outfield, but increases the chances of a cheap infield single in front of the fielders. This is exactly what happened, and it occurred on a ground-ball to shortstop where Rollins would have had a chance to throw Kennedy out at the plate had his manager played the correct infield depth.

The Dodgers went up 3-0 at that point, and Gordon still made it to first base. This is what happens when you have a manager who makes decisions via autopilot, rather than analyzing each scenario (eg, the speed of Gordon, the talent of Kershaw, the lack of talent of your own lineup, the fact you're already down two, the fact that nobody else is on base which decreases the risk of shallow infield depth...). And guess what? Somehow Worley was able to prevent the 29% chance of Gordon scoring from first base with one out, and it was only 3-0 at the end of the inning. The Phillies lost by one run.

Even though the Phillies were robbed of a run in the top of the first inning by the umpires, and even though Worley was the victim of a small strike zone, it was the Dodgers' dugout who was criticizing the umpires all night. This resulted in two coaches' ejections for LA, including manager Don Mattingly.

The Phillies battled back to tie the game at 3-3, and when Papelbon allowed a Dee Gordon triple (who then scored the winning run) to start the top of the 9th inning, Papelbon was irate at the strike zone. There were two pitches where Papelbon thought he had Gordon struck out, but the home plate umpire gave the benefit of the doubt to LA. Is it a coincidence that the dugout who constantly criticized the umpire ended up as the beneficiaries later in the game? Perhaps, but Tony La Russa (see game 5 last year), Bobby Cox, and Sigmund Freud all would disagree.

The only time Manuel came out of the dugout in regards to the umpires yesterday? To prevent Papelbon from arguing with  the plate umpire after Papelbon finished the inning (even if he got ejected, it doesn't matter since the inning is over), which is an implicit endorsement of the umpire. Thanks a lot Manuel. This man is not a players' manager.

Regardless of the umpiring, the bigger issue is Manuel's reluctance to play the infield in, especially when the only baserunner is on third. It is understandable to keep the infield back when there are runners on 2nd and 3rd base with one or zero outs, because you're trying to prevent the runner from second from scoring. Keeping the infield back with only one baserunner, with one out, with Kershaw on the mound: that's just completely unacceptable from a team who needs to battle for every run and win.

Tonight Manuel will find another way to ruin this team's playoff chances when Cliff Lee faces RHP Chad Billingsley at 7:05 pm.

13 comments:

hk said...

Your write-up answered some questions I had about the first few innings last night. I got into my car as the top of the 2nd began. After Kershaw's sacrifice bunt, Frantzke and LA did not say whether the Phils were playing the infield in or back when Gordon was at bat. After the ground out, I assumed that they (stupidly) played it back and conceded the 3 run lead to Kershaw. At that point, I was wondering about the difference in the Dodgers win expectancy with the extra run with Kershaw on the mound.

After Gordon's at bat, Herrera came to the plate and Frantzke said something to the effect of: Here's Herrera, who singled, was caught stealing, was picked off and scored a run in the 1st. LA laughed, so I assumed it was a commentary on the umpiring, but I wasn't sure because they didn't explain it.

Thanks for clearing up all of this.

Robby Bonfire said...

Exactly right.

The umpires can put the screws to Manuel and the Phillies because Manure-Head will never show them up. Someone tell me that umpires, who control the outcome of these games, do not bet on some of these games. As in, someone tell me stock exchange specialists do not manipulate stock prices to benefit their own accounts. Right. This is the world we live in and every industry has ~insider~ big-time scores at the bank.

Meanwhile, back at Charlie's outhouse, this GD salary-heister is in default re his position with the club. It is high time to take the ownership of this team to the woodshed, and I mean single them all out, individually - they are defrauding the fans of Philadelphia out of the money the fans shove at them.

Well, then, maybe it's the fans fault. People really can get addicted and become jerks when it comes to exercising any discriminatory faculty, whatsoever.

Thatthe people of Philadelphia tolerate the Phillies continuing to employ the absolute WORST manager in MLB history - and I defy anyone to attempt to rebuke that statement - puts Philadelphia baseball beyond The Twilight Zone.

Anonymous said...

What on earth is Manuel doing leaving Lee in the game when he is clearly out of gas tonight! Is he on glue?

Sad Bob from Philly

Robby Bonfire said...

And Thank You for dumping the "Charlie is a fantastic motivator" disclaimer. And you are partially right about this man not being a player's manager. In fact, he is not even a Phillies manager. Seen any player go through the proverbial brick wall to "win it for Charlie," lately?

Why are there no stories around about how disgruntled the players are about their "leader?" This team ain't going nowhere, folks. Time to retool and stop trading the Gio Gonzalez's of the world, hell, it's even time to keep the Gavin Floyd's and the J.A. Happs of the world around, cause this old rags crew is just about spent and the "manager" died circa 1990.

Just think, in this game the umpires and the two managers were all for the Dodgers! And even then the game was close. Hope the conspirators didn't lay that 1 1/2 runs on the run line, for their sake.

hk said...

Robby,

Further to your point, there is this narrative that part of Charlie being a great motivator and player's manager is that always has his guys' backs. We saw this narrative earlier in the year when he allowed Jim Thome to face LOOGY Javier Lopez in a tie game with 1 out and a man on 3rd (in the Cliff Lee vs. Matt Cain game). After that game, Charlie's defenders spewed the same old BS that Charlie trusted Thome as he had done so many times in the past and that's why guys like Thome love to play for Charlie. However, I was wondering what Placido Polanco and/or John Mayberry felt about the manager not using them in that situation where either of them would have had the platoon split advantage in their favor.

hk said...

Anonymous,

What part of seeing the Murderer's Row of Matt Treanor, Bobby Abreu and Dee Gordon get hits off Lee gave you the idea that he was out of gas?

Robby Bonfire said...

If I were managing a team, and had a "hidden" agenda to undermine my team's chances of winning, one the the best strategem's I would use would be to stick with my starting pitcher when it was obvious that he had run out of gas. So that when he allows the game to get away from the win column, the blame falls upon the pitcher, primarily, while the manager skates with his typical "He's my guy," cop out.

I swear this hustler is the most transparent con-man I have ever seen in sports. It boggles the mind that this crap is still going on when it is apparent that this Phillies team is no longer in the upper echelon of skilled and talented teams in Major League Baseball. Yet there is still no let-up in this manager's finding deliberate and obvious ways to foul up these games, and cost this team a net 5-10 games per year in the win column, while burning out his best players so that the tank is down to fumes, come playoff time - except that the playoffs are quite iffy for this team, this time around.

I nominate this game as the most significant game in MLB, this year, for an even bigger reason than duplicity. This was the most blatantly rigged game, for outcome, of the entire season, and runs up a red flag that the networks and maybe some other insiders have indeed gotten to some umpiring crews. Hell, given that they were able to fix the WS the Phillies won, in 2008, to kill all that Las Vegas financial liability, had Tampa won it, any old regular season game like the one in Philadelphia Tuesday night is just a piece of cake as a "Bankers Special."

hk said...

Robby,

Don't hold your breath waiting for this incompetent GM to fire this incompetent manager. By the way, has anyone noticed that Dom Brown has put together a nice 10 game stretch with 4 HR's and a .415 / .455 / .756 triple slash for LHV? Methinks it's time to see if Dom can help salvage this season.

Scott Graham said...

Wow. HK, I would have never known that Dom Brown streak had you not told me (unless I wanted to look it up). I was listening to the Fanatic on the way to the game last night. Dutch and the host "Johnny"(?) were saying how the Phillies shouldn't just "call up" Dom Brown until he does something good in AAA. He has to "prove" himself to make it back. Obviously 10 games isn't the biggest sample size, but they're defending not bringing him up by citing Juan Pierre's .340 average! It's just absurd. Sure it's nice that Pierre has that average, but it's clear that this team needs a power threat.

hk said...

http://www.milb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?pos=&sid=t1410&t=p_pbp&pid=502126

hk said...

Scott,

Yours is one of many examples why you should not listen to "Talkin' Baseball with Dutch" or any other local sports talk when they are discussing baseball. By the way, the Lehigh Valley stats page is the first site I check every morning these days before I check out your site, Brotherly Glove and Crashburn Alley.

Scott Graham said...

Yea, I definitely should be up on Dom Brown. Considering we may be leading the charge for "freeing Dom Brown". Trust me, I hate sports talk radio, I'm not really sure why I listen to it. However, I have been listening to Dutch a little bit this season, and if there's one thing he knows it's hitting. Maybe my sample size is small, but I have heard him get really angry about players not taking pitches, not working walks, and their general outlook at the plate. I really agree with that, and that's probably why I have given him more chances to piss me off.

Dom Brown only has 10 walks this season in... it really bothers me when players stat lines don't include their PAs.

jerseys said...

That's awesome! Good to know!