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.
Saturday, August 17, 2013
However, Manuel has been so bad, and the Phillies have regressed under his direction to such a tremendous degree, that it became inane and redundant to keep charting Manuel's in-game mistakes. We have a pretty solid sample size of games in our archives from July 2008 - October 2012. That sample size pretty clearly states what's been obvious to non-Gargano disciples for several years: that Charlie Manuel really has no idea what he's doing once the first pitch is thrown. I'm sure he was a hell of a hitter a half-century ago, but the man has looked like he's 80 for the past 10 years, yet he's preposterously still in his sixties (base-10 wise).
He fails in mid-game situations so frequently that we ostensibly wrote a book about it. Over the coming days, or maybe just the coming minutes (I don't know how long this post is going to end up), we are going to review our favorite Charlie Manuel moments, none of which will be positive. "Hey, remember that one time he didn't forget to wait until the batter was announced before making a pitching change?" is not a phrase you will hear, because it simply didn't happen very often in the past 9 years.
Before that happens, we're going to go over the most frequent mistakes made by Charlie Manuel, listed in order of when I think of them:
1) The number of times he batted Utley and Howard back-to-back, with either Burrell or Werth directly behind Howard, is insane. How completely illogical is it to stack those two lefties, especially when the worse of the 2 lefties bats second? If Burrell/Werth always batted 4 and Howard always batted 5 (or Utley 2 - Burrell 3 - Howard 4, but that's coming next, because I just thought about it), then the potential would exist where an opposing manager would burn his best LH-reliever against Chase Utley, and then either let Burrell/Werth (both of whom were deadly against lefties) face that lefty, or remove the lefty for a righty. Then, Howard has one of two possibilities: facing that righty, or facing their second LH-reliever, which would burn 3 opposing pitchers.
Instead, Manuel would make it possible for a lefty to start the inning, retire both Utley and Howard, then face Burrell/Werth with the bases empty and 2 outs. To intentionally create bad matchups in high-leverage innings, while simultaneously reducing the burden of the opposing bullpen, is nothing short of deranged. Failing to realize this in 9 years (HE'S MY CLEANUP GUY, GODDAMMIT) is just sad.
2) Batting an inferior player 2nd. Here is a list of players Manuel has batted second while Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were both on the roster:
Are you kidding me? The man batted second 9 times (Nine. Times.) in Manuel's lineup in 2005. The Phillies lost the wild-card that year by 1 game. His OPS+ is 76 and he was batting ahead of Chase Utley.
Check out this boxscore. Utley batting sixth, Chavez batting second. Incredible
Perez batted 2nd four times in 2005, with Howard and Utley entering their primes, in the middle of a pennant race. Marginal edges such as lineup optimization couldn't possibly have helped in any way. Thanks Charlie! Perez's 47 OPS+ in 2005 really eased the pain though.
This man posted an OPS+ of 47 for the Phils in 2006, yet that was good enough for him to start in the second batting position a few times. Noticing a theme? I was only 16/17 years old at the time and not yet insane enough to chart each of Manuel's mistakes on a daily basis, but looking back on it, it seems certain that Manuel was just as bad as he has been since '08 (the inception of this site) in the 2005/2006 years where he just barely missed out on the wild card.
Nunez also batted 2nd once in 2007, on perhaps the most talented team of Manuel's entire run. It was probably due to Nunez's massive improvement over 2006, posting a 55 OPS+. Also worth noting, Nunez had 35 starts while batting 7th, meaning he was batting ahead of Carlos Ruiz on a regular basis. Insanity.
This list is getting more ridiculous as I go on, and I'm just going in chronological order. I was not expecting to see that Taguchi started many games in the 2-slot in 2008 -- and when I looked it up, I was right. Zero games started at 2.
And then I saw he batted leadoff EIGHT times. What the hell? Take a look at the 2008 roster: I don't care if Rollins isn't playing, literally anybody else on that roster deserves to bat before So Taguchi, World Series Champion.
So Taguchi's biggest fan, because Taguchi made Bruntlett not-the-worst-player-on-the-2008-team (position player, of course, because the answer isn't Adam Eaton). Bruntlett, out of baseball since 2009 (RIP Shovel Slayer), batted second 10 times in 2008, and inexplicably batting leadoff once. That time batting leadoff was the game where Rollins showed up late to Shea Stadium for a day-game because he drove instead of taking the team bus. He showed up about 45 minutes before the game, which is apparently late, and he was benched. Manuel, instead of realizing, "wow, I need to re-organize my lineup so my terrible utility infielder (Bruntlett has a career OPS+ of 65) doesn't have to bat first" decides to bat Bruntlett first.
He just LAZILY plugs Bruntlett into Rollins's batting position. This is objectively and undeniably worse than any decision Andy Reid has ever made. A career 65+ OPS batter leads off against the first-place team in the middle of a heated pennant race, while Shane Victorino was buried in the 6-hole that game. They were tied with the Mets in late July heading into that game, and the Phillies lineup is shut down losing 3-1, partially because they had Bruntlett receive more PAs than more talented hitters. It's sickening to think Manuel was making such obvious mistakes so frequently when they only ended up clinching the division on the penultimate day of the 2008 regular season.
Bruntlett also started in the 2nd batting position three times in 2009, which leads me into my next subject.
This guy posted a meager 83 OPS+ for the Phillies in 2009 as a 33-year-old, yet he was allowed to bat leadoff once, and bat second another time. Ridiculous. Career OPS+ of 77, so it's not even defensible.
HAHA! I didn't even have this guy on my radar when I considered putting this list together (you know how messed up my brain is when I remember Endy Chaves before Wilson Valdez), but Wilson Valdez is probably the ideal player on this list.
Career OPS+ of 59, which is incredible given that his sample size of PAs is significant with 1240. Somehow, he was good enough to bat second in 12 of the Phillies games between 2010 and 2011.
The Phillies lineup got significantly worse between 2011 and 2012/2013, so I'm just stopping my list here. You can see my point. Look at any single one of these batters, and you'll see that Manuel either batted these guys 2nd, or he buried them in the 7th or 8th slot. It's because his line of thinking is this: "hey this guy isn't a good hitter, but he swings a lot and he's fast, so he's a good guy at the top of the order."
Michael Martinez started 21 games batting 2nd in this lineup between 2011-2013. I understand those were largely while Utley was injured, but god damn, 21 times? In this lineup? I know this lineup is bad now, but obviously they've always had 2 hitters who deserve more plate appearances than Martinez (career OPS+ of 37 [!!!]).
I did not anticipate ranting this much about the Phillies lineups over the past 9 years, because obviously Charlie Manuel built this website on his hideous bullpen decisions. Part 2 will cover the pitching, and I imagine it will be a lot angrier than this one. Even though....So Taguchi, really?
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF THE DISSECTION OF CHARLIE MANUEL'S IDIOCY