- There's a legitimate case for Brad Lidge to not even be on the Phillies post-season roster:
If the decision was based on merit and not past performance, it would be a no-brainer----Brad Lidge would be left off the Phillies post-season roster entirely.
Last night was the latest in the long line of heroically heinous performances from the highest of the high/low pitchers in recent history. The same Brad Lidge who carried the Phillies to the world championship in 2008 and had viable cases for both the Cy Young Award and the MVP has been quite possibly the worst pitcher in baseball this year. If the Philles playoff spot were in any doubt, Lidge would not be pitching save for a blowout on either end. The club can't go on trying to straighten out a mentally and mechanically shot pitcher regardless of what he did for them in the past.
Looking at the play-by-play of last night's blown save to the feisty Marlins, it doesn't look as bad as it actually was. I saw it happen like a train wreck. Lidge started the inning by giving up a rocket down the right field line to Ross Gload that went for a double; after Chris Coghlan flew out to right field and Gload advanced to third, the pitcher very nearly escaped with a high-wire save not due to anything he did himself, but for a series of strike calls from home plate umpire Sam Holbrook that were, at best, horrendous. Two pitches to John Baker were so rotten that Baker----a disciplined hitter with a great handle on the strike zone----didn't know what to do next. The 3-2 pitch wasn't even close to being a strike; not only was it low, but it was outside; but Holbrook called strike three. After Baker was rung up and protested, Holbrook started jawing back and forth with Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, who he subsequently ejected.*
*The Marlins telecast had a closeup of Gonzalez and Holbrook going jaw-to-jaw and it was a fine example of what really goes on during the majority of these manager-umpire screaming sessions. Some spittle from Gonzalez's mouth got on Holbrook; Holbrook screamed at Gonzalez not to spit on him and things degenerated from there. Most of those arguments are rarely about the actual play after the initial discussion. They usually end up with talk about spitting, gum and bad breath; and of course an ejection.
Hanley Ramirez was next to bat with two outs and Holbrook made another horrible strike call. Ramirez eventually walked. Jorge Cantu was smart enough to start hacking as soon as he got to the plate and ripped a single to center to tie the score and send Ramirez to third. Brett Carroll, hitting for the pitcher, drove another single to center to win the game 7-6 for the Marlins. (He also received, in order, a shower from a Gatorade jug and a series of cream pie facials. Looked like fun.)
The win kept the Marlins playoff hopes alive and may have not only sent the Phillies to the inevitable, final decision for 2009 not to use Brad Lidge under any game-winning/losing circumstances, but to seriously consider not even having him on the playoff roster. While that would be an earth-shattering and ballsy move to make considering what he did for the club last year, what would they do if Lidge were just "some guy"? It wouldn't even be worth a conversation. He wouldn't pitch and wouldn't be on the roster.
Lidge's problems aren't going to be solved within the next two weeks. It's going to take a chunk of the off-season and next spring to get him right. If he's physically injured, it'll take a handling of whatever issue is affecting him; and his mechanics and mental condition are in such disarray that a combination of Sigmund Freud and Dave Duncan couldn't fix him in such a short time frame.
The Phillies have a problem heading into the playoffs. A big one. And I don't know what they can do to fix it. Nor, apparently, do they.
- More on Bobby Valentine:
The speculation that Valentine's reported agreement to return to the position of ESPN studio analyst is that he's putting managing next year on the back burner for now. It's nonsense. (Although one fascinating byplay if he is in the studio will be how he'll interact with his former boss/nemesis Steve Phillips from his Mets days. I'm wondering if the two have made peace in the intervening years. Knowing how both of them are, I'd say there's a detente and little more.)
Valentine wants to manage and he wants to manage on the big stage. There's been talk about Washington and that's a good job with primary access to plenty of money and power. (I'd want to run the Washington franchise if I had my choice.) But Valentine wants the Mets job and everyone knows it. He's hedging his bets with the ESPN gig and has the same out clause that every manager who heads into a studio has in case a job opens up. He doesn't want to be seen as sitting and hovering around another man's job waiting for his desired position to open up. (Joe Girardi was ripped for doing that during his year in the YES studio.)
As for the talk of his Mets tenure ending badly, was he really at fault for that? Look at the roster he had to deal with in 2002. There was a horrible mix of personalities. Mo Vaughn looked more like he was training for a Sumo competition rather than to play baseball; Roberto Alomar arrived shot; a mercurial Jeromy Burnitz was awful; and there were a bunch of journeymen and poor fits for New York, Valentine and the Mets.
Are the Wilpons watching this current Mets team as they stumble along functioning as a pug looking to make some fast cash being brutally beaten by the climbers? They're not just losing; they're non-competitive. It's not even a salvageable circumstance where they can have a look at some promising prospects because they simply aren't there. Josh Thole? A slap-hitting catcher who's weak defensively? I'm confident I can find one of those pretty quickly and cheaply. Bobby Parnell? Great talent, needs to work on his command. Daniel Murphy? I'm sorry. Not an everyday player for a contender.
Manager Jerry Manuel doesn't deserve the blame for what's gone on this year, but can the Mets justify bringing him back and spending even more money to place gauze over a wound that requires drastic surgery?
If they wait; if they sit on their hands out of a misplaced sense of "fairness" and "doing right", they're going to see the manager they need----and who needs them----take another job because he couldn't sit out any longer.
Then where will they be?
They'll be in a bigger mess than they're in now. A mess that can be scotch-taped together relatively quickly with the right manager. That manager is Bobby Valentine.
- Viewer Mail 9.24.2009:
Megan at YankeeMeg writes RE Curt Schilling:
"The Sock" had a better chance of winning Kennedy's seat. But then again, Schilling would had "quieted" the sock somehow. Perhaps in a windowless room with his family. The Sock's ego may be as large as Curt's.
I think we may have the basis for a potentially lucrative horror movie here. "The Sock" takes on a life of its own a la Invasion of the Body Snatchers; or steals Curt's identity like Single White Female; or a hostage drama with Samuel L. Jackson as the negotiator/former NAVY SEAL who rescues Curt's family from the hideously deranged prop, er, sock. Let's get to work on a collaboration. My name on top, of course.
Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Schilling:
I was hoping Curt would run. It would have been so entertaining to watch him get, like, two votes.
Part of me wanted to see it; part of me still has some sympathy/pity remaining that I've been unable to exorcise completely in my quest for pure ruthlessness. It might've been painful to see the guy embarrassed as badly as he would've had he made the plunge (which he probably never had any intention of taking anyway). Curt needed an attention boost and he got it. We won't hear from him...until the next time.
Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Curt Schilling and Brian Cashman:
The "Sock" is in the Hall of Fame. You know how fucking stupid that is!?! Jesus.
As for Cashman being a student of Sun Tzu, I'm not so sure. Sun Tzu's strategies teach methodical planning which results in stupefying your opponent and, ultimately, BEATING your opponent. He may have racked up some trophies a while ago, but not since implementing his newfound albeit odd strategies (Joba-rules included).
Perhaps you're right about Sun Tzu. I have the book, but haven't read it for awhile. Cashman might pick and choose his use of strategies outlined. But maybe this is all part of some grand design. (Yah right!)
Cashman racked up trophies using Yankee-money and what was built by Gene Michael. He wants his recognition and is doing whatever he has to to get it. For better or worse.
I'm continuing with publishing the blogspot site. You can read me either here or at my regular website----PAULLEBOWITZ.COM. The foundation is being laid for some changes to my personal site in the coming months.