Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Overuse Of Lidge May Cost The Phillies

  • Marlins 10-Phillies 8:
I know what Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was doing when he used Brad Lidge to pitch
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the ninth inning last night trailing by two runs to the Marlins, but in the long run with seventeen games left and four games of ultra-importance to the Phillies playoff chances against the reeling Brewers this weekend, wouldn't it have been better to be more prudent with Lidge's workload and give him a night off in what was likely a hopeless cause?
The case to be made for using Lidge is easy. The Marlins bullpen has not been good lately and they're using a patchwork closing corps; the Phillies had Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell scheduled to bat in the bottom of the ninth and with that, they're two swings from tying the game; and Lidge isn't going to beg out of a game unless he's in agony and physically unable to perform, but what were the odds of another comeback in the bottom of the ninth trailing by two?
I also understand that J.C. Romero and Chad Durbin have been ruthlessly overworked this
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season, so it was better to use the durable Lidge, but the strategy could have been manipulated better to perhaps double switch and get another inning out of Ryan Madson rather than to use Lidge when they didn't need to. He only threw seventeen pitches, but we're talking about cumulative use as the season moves along and, as brilliant as Lidge has been, the last thing the Phillies are going to need as the season winds down is to have Lidge reach back for that little bit extra and find he has nothing left to give. Even with that, the division race between the Mets and Phillies may end up as meaningless because...
  • Reds 5-Brewers 4; the Brewers are collapsing:
If this season is proving anything, how great or bad a manager is at his job, a manager's importance is only realized when the season comes down to a game or two and it's talent and
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performance that dictates the end result. Jim Leyland and Bobby Cox are both having forgettable seasons and Joe Maddon, whose quirky style was met with quizzical looks as his team was winning 61 and 66 games in his first two seasons, is now being feted as "innovative" and "progressive" in his treatment of his Rays now that they're heading towards the playoffs. That being said, there are two examples of how a manager's demeanor can permeate his clubhouse and result in those extra three or four wins at the end of a season that can mean the difference between playing in the playoffs or watching the playoffs on TV.
Joe Torre's calmness and resume throughout any firestorm has allowed the Dodgers to maintain their cool throughout any adversity, injury, controversy and whatever else has happened; Ned Yost's Brewers are stumbling again with talent that other teams look at, shake their heads and wonder what's going on in Milwaukee.
Even though Yost isn't really to blame for the Brewers two losses to the Reds because of any strategic gaffes, there's something about the Brewers that makes them fold whenever they're pushed. A mental toughness is lacking and no amount of power in their lineup or aces in their rotation are going to be able to account for that and keep them in contention. A team with playoff aspirations like the Brewers cannot be losing two straight games to a Reds team (that isn't as bad as they've been portrayed) but is still going with a lot of young players and is playing out the season.
I like Doug Melvin as a GM, but he signed a guy in Jeff Suppan for a lot of money when
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Suppan is at his best as a back of the rotation starter who comes up big in post-season games; Suppan was awful last night. Melvin also could have fired Yost earlier in the season and replaced him with the veteran baseball man Ted Simmons; the Brewers bad start would have shielded Melving from any criticism for the move and as the Mets are proving now, sometimes just making the change in the manager's office gets everything in line. (Speaking of which, I don't care what politically correct comments he makes to the contrary, Carlos Delgado must've despised Willie Randolph.)
The four games this weekend against the Phillies are going to determine whether or not the Brewers make the playoffs and it has to be noted that C.C. Sabathia isn't scheduled to pitch in any of them. After Ben Sheets pitches the opener on Thursday, the Brewers are sending Manny Parra, Dave Bush and Suppan to pitch to that Phillies lineup; it might get ugly on and off the field for the Brewers this weekend with a lot of questions about why, since they so aggressively acquired Sabathia to go for everything now, they didn't take a long hard look at their manager and make a cold-blooded and calculating decision to bring in someone who was able to navigate the ship through the storm. They're going to be sorry if and when they sink. They're well on the way.
  • Blue Jays 3-White Sox 1; Blue Jays 8-White Sox 2:
I have zero intention of buying into this Blue Jays hot streak as a portent of a leap into contention next season. If you look at their finishes in 2006 and 2007, they had similar hot
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streaks (not 10-straight wins hot, but hot enough) and ended with respectable records to put forth the illusion that they're finally "turning the corner" under GM J.P. Ricciardi and I ain't buying it.
Each time, the hot streak has conveniently happened as the team had no chance of making the playoffs; each time they've looked like a team on the rise and able to overcome the infighting and injuries that happen to them every single year, but they again fall to the mediocre team they've been since Ricciardi took over. Add in that they're going to lose A.J. Burnett to free agency (that may not be all that bad a thing because I'm very wary of
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injury-prone pitchers who have their career year at age 31 just as they're primed to make a big haul of cash on the open market); that every year there's some embarrassing, alibi-laden controversy (or two; or three; or five) between Ricciardi and a player (from his team and others) a reporter or whoever else, that makes them look like their operating a circus instead of a baseball team; and that they're in a division with the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays and you'll see the exact same thing happen a year from now as is happening now. It's like Groundhog Day except the ownership never seems to catch on, much to their detriment.
  • A message from my Sith alter-ego:
I sense a mocking tone in the power of Darth Escribus, Lord of the Sith as on the front
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page of the blogsite an ad for the new Star Wars game is popping up. Such an attitude is a horrible mistake. When my apprentice Darth Moneke arrives, she will...take care of you...

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