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Anger Management, Phillies Style
Posted By Bill Baer On July 21, 2008 @ 8:28 am In MLB,Philadelphia Phillies | 4 Comments
After another loss to the Florida Marlins courtesy a Jorge Cantu walk-off bases loaded single, three Phillies expressed emotions, all of it anger.
Sitting behind a desk in the visiting manager’s office at Dolphin Stadium, Manuel flicked a few jabs at his team’s offense, then delivered a haymaker.
“Our situational hitting is absolutely terrible,” he said. “Absolutely off the chart, really.”
“It’s going to be hard for us to win” if situational hitting does not improve, Manuel said. “[On Saturday], we hit all those balls down to third base in one inning – absolutely bad hitting. I’m not trying to hurt anybody’s feelings, but if I do, if I’m talking about you, that’s good. I mean to be talking about you.
“We hit enough. We talk enough [about situational hitting]. We’ve got to get it done. A lot of it is me. It’s up to me to make us try to get it done.
“Accountability is fine, but if you don’t execute, something’s wrong.”
Manuel said a few things but I’d like to point this out in particular because I just read a bit of research here on that exact subject. The research showed that the Phillies have the best sOPS+ in the National League with runners in scoring position; the Phillies rank 7th out of 16 with RISP and two outs, first out of 16 with men on base, and third out of 16 “Late and Close” (7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck).
Overall, the Phillies are not poor with situational hitting.
His general point, though — that the Phillies’ offense isn’t living up to expectations despite ranking 2nd in the National League in runs per game — is cogent. As the above article explains:
The Phils have scored 20 runs in a game twice, most recently on June 13 at St. Louis. In the 30 games since then, however, they have scored four or fewer runs 20 times and two or fewer 11 times. They are 12-18 in those 30 games, but have managed to hang on to a share of first place.
Pat Burrell was not happy with manager Charlie Manuel’s decision to remove him late in yesterday’s 11-inning loss to the Florida Marlins.
“I’m upset, absolutely,” Burrell said. “I’m upset, and I have been for a long time. It’s not personal. I don’t want to ever come out of close games.”
“In that situation, we’re trying to put more speed out there, so I can’t question what the manager is trying to do. He’s got confidence in all his guys,” Burrell said. “But I can’t lie and say I’m not frustrated by it, especially when it’s close like that in a low-scoring game. He knows that. We’ve discussed it.
“Do I wish it was different? Absolutely. I don’t know any other way to say that. A lot of games I’ve come out, it’s never an issue, but when it does come back to bite us, it becomes more of a focus.”
Burrell realizes he is not a fleet runner, and there are times when he has no qualms about coming out of a game.
“If it’s a tie game and I get on base and you run for me, I think that’s a good time,” he said.
This has been a pet peeve of mine, watching Manuel unnecessarily substitute Burrell late in the game. Manuel’s mind is in the right place but there’s really not a whole lot of difference between Burrell and Eric Bruntlett or So Taguchi defensively. Both are definitely faster, but it doesn’t make a difference considering how little ground Burrell is required to cover in left field.
While it’d be a time-consuming endeavor to pore through the game logs to find out exactly when Burrell was lifted, who replaced him, and if the move had any effect, this thread at Back She Goes should suffice, incomplete as it may be.
Hamels said precise location of his fastball was vital yesterday because the pitch lacked its usual zip. He blamed that on the extended rest he got over the all-star break.
“The time off hurt me,” he said. “My body felt tight and I couldn’t push it. If I had pushed it, I’d probably have ended up on the disabled list.”
Hamels is referencing the fact that they pushed his start back to Sunday even though he would have been on his normal five days’ rest on Friday. Had they chosen to start Hamels on Friday, he would have been scheduled to pitch the series finale in New York against the Mets as well, which probably would have been the most strategically sound maneuver.
While it’s a good sign to see the Phillies concerned with preserving the arm of their young superstar pitcher, there’s a balance for protecting such an arm. And if the Phillies were really concerned with the mileage on Hamels’ arm, he wouldn’t rank sixth in Pitcher Abuse Points. Hamels has made 21 starts this season, in 14 of them (67%) he has thrown 100 or more pitches, and in 18 of them (86%) he has pitched 7 innings or more.
What we can draw from these complaints is that A) Charlie Manuel is wrong with his analysis of his team’s offense and B) Manuel might not be as good with the players as we thought. We finally have some tangible criticism from his players. Everyone knew he wasn’t the game’s brightest tactician, considering he didn’t even know about the double switch until the second half of his first season with the Phillies. Now there’s a bit of proof that he may not be so great in the clubhouse, either.
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