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.
Friday, July 20, 2012
There was a runner on second base when Abreu was at the plate, but since Abreu was the tying run, the defense should be aligned as if the bases are empty and the Phillies are ahead by only one run. Unfortunately, the Phillies coaching staff always plays the outfield way too deep and the corner infielders way too close to the line in this situation. Abreu ended up with a bloop single to left field that may have been caught by outfielder Juan Pierre had he not been playing so deep in left field. Abreu does not have nearly the power he once had, especially to the opposite field. Abreu promptly stole second base off Papelbon, and all of a sudden the Dodgers got their tying run into scoring position with only one out, with a huge assist from Manuel’s defense.
This was certainly not Manuel’s only mistake of the game: in the top of the 9th inning with the score tied, the bases loaded, and two outs, Manuel removed Cliff lee for PH Jason Pridie. Pridie owns a .315 career OBP vs. RHPs, while Cliff Lee has a respectable .220 mark. Since Pridie was pinch-hitting, you must adjust that OBP to be even lower, since batters perform worse as pinch-hitters. Lee had only 89 pitches to that point in the game, and extra innings was a distinct possibility. You simply cannot manage this inning like it is the last inning, but, of course, Manuel made the worst move possible. It is debatable whether you should leave Lee in this spot to try to get a two-out RBI, but the pitcher was wild and Pridie was taking until a strike anyway. Pridie, a minor league hitter, failed to drive home the run. Now, the Phillies best pitcher was out of the game (with that pitch-count, he could have pitched at least 10 innings, if not eleven), and they had to go to their bullpen. The bullpen loaded the bases with two outs, at which point Manuel inexplicably allowed RHP Michael Schwimer to face LHB James Loney with 2 outs and the bases loaded. Loney’s OPS vs. RHPs for his career is .810; against lefties only .670. Since Jake Diekman was still available, this was a flagrant mistake from Manuel. Luckily, all this did was delay the inevitable.
While it is somewhat debatable that Lee should have remained in the game with the bases loaded and the score tied, it Is not debatable that Manuel chose the wrong pinch-hitter anyway. With Mike Fontenot still available, who was been having a good year against RHPs and owns a career .340 OBP against such pitchers. Choosing Pridie over Fontenot is nothing short of outrageous, and it was the worst mistake of the game.
Also, Ryan Howard pinch-hit for Ty Wigginton with 2 out sin the 9th inning and nobody on base. I thought at the time it was irresponsible to use him in such a low-leverage situation, especially since Wigginton can hit RHPs much better than John Mayberry, who was batting two spts behind Wigginton. Mayberry should have been removed for Howard, and Howard should have played the remainder of the game at first base with either Wigginton or Juan Pierre in the outfield.
I’m sure there are other mistakes, but allowing Schwimer to face Loney, choosing Pridie over Fontenot, and, most of all, playing Juan Pierre 5 feet from the warning track when Bobby Abreu is the tying run at the plate are terrible mistakes that have plagued the Phillies for years. The team used to cover Manuel’s mistakes pretty well; now, the manager’s luck is running out. The only reason they didn’t lose this series is because Mattingly managed an equally hideous game 2.
The Phillies play tomorrow night in Philadelphia when Vance Worley faces RHP Tim Lincecum at 7:05 pm.