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 20, 2012

Game 93: Phillies fail to sweep Dodgers (41-52)

Thanks to Jonathan Papelbon’s hideous luck and Charlie Manuel’s hideous managing, the Phils failed to sweep LA yesterday afternoon, losing 5-3 in 12 innings. I wrote earlier in this series that playing the no-doubles defense with nobody on base and Papelbon on the mound was an incredibly inefficient strategy: it increases the chances of a cheap single, which is often an effective double because of how poor Papelbon holds runners from stealing. This is exactly what happened with the Phils ahead 3-1 with Bobby Abreu at the plate and one out in the 10th inning.

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.


hk said...

2 things. One is that playing Pierre so deep is an even more egregious error when you consider that Abreu bats left-handed and Pierre was fielding in Abreu's opposite field. The chances that Abreu would hit a fly ball that stayed in the park, but would be over Pierre's head if Pierre played at normal depth are close to 0%.

The other is that you say letting Lee bat in the 9th is debatable. I disagree. Since there were 2 outs, Pridie had maybe an 8% better chance than Lee of getting a run home and that 8% was the difference between a 30% chance of it happening with Pridie and a 22% chance of it happening with Lee. Since it is unlikely that either of them would get the run home, that extra 8% chance is not worth taking because it would mean that someone other than Lee (and someone other than Papelbon because Charlie won't use his closer in a tie game on the road) would pitch the bottom of the 9th. Any move that increases your chances of losing - and it was ~70% likely that the Phils would not score - is not debatable.

Robby Bonfire said...

It is amazing - this brain-dead amoeba is actually going to make it through this entire - lost in the fog - season without being fired. Absolutely incredible!

He should have been fired after having the worst season on the bench, in 2009, any major league manager has ever had. To go with his best season, whatever that was, ranking in the bottom-50 managerial brain-dead seasons of all time.

I would like the take to task the principal ownership partners of this team, but I don't even know who they are. That they couldn't throw this dolt out the door in tandem with Ed Wade, like they perceived something of value in holding on to him, is beyond incompetence and senility.

They have conspired to make a mockery of the responsibility of running a major league baseball organization. They would be over-matched running the stale popcorn concession at a three-ring circus.

Scott Graham said...

To defend Mr. Musser, I think I was the only reason he said it was debatable. I felt like scoring the run was important, but I wasn't at my computer at the time to know just how close Lee and Pridie are. I told him I thought it was important, and I think he lessened his stance somewhat as a result.

Andy Musser said...

The reason I called the decision debatable is because while the run frequency offensively is easy to figure out (the 8% difference you mentioned) is tougher to figure out than the change in run frequency between Cliff Lee and the Phillies' bullpen.

There's no way, though, that it's less than an 8% difference, so you're right, I should have been more critical.