Twitter was not a pleasant place for Phillies fans after Brad Lidge blew his eleventh save of the season last night. Among all the frenetic Tweets, it was not hard to get sucked into the delirium. Just about everybody is on board with kicking Lidge not just out of the closer’s role, but out of the bullpen entirely. Some think he shouldn’t make the playoff roster.
Lidge can still serve a purpose, although limited, as a reliever in the playoffs. In the NLDS last year, the Phillies’ starting rotation accounted for 71% of the innings; 58% in the NLCS, and 73% in the World Series.
In the NLDS last year, Lidge accounted for 9% of the innings as the closer. The next-highest percentage was 3% by Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey. Brad Lidge logged 11% of the innings and Ryan Madson 10% in the NLCS; J.C. Romero threw 11% of the innings and Brad Lidge 5% in the World Series.
The point of the above is to illustrate that Brad Lidge can be put on the post-season roster and will not truly screw up the Phillies’ chances to win all that often, if at all. As a closer in the playoffs last year, he only pitched in 9 and one-third innings in 14 games. Since Lidge also wouldn’t be a set-up guy (hopefully) and he isn’t an OOGY-specialist, he wouldn’t do much damage with the limited innings he’d be getting.
Further, Lidge should not be left off the post-season roster because of this:
- 3 years/$37.5M (2009-11), plus 2012 club option
- 2009:$11.5M, 2010:$11.5M, 2011:$11.5M, 2012:$12.5M club option ($1.5M buyout)
That’s the contract the Phillies signed him to last year. Based on his awful, awful season, he isn’t a tradable commodity anymore. No one will trade for him unless the Phillies strap a wad of million-dollar bills to his back. For better or worse, the Phillies are stuck with him. So, you don’t want to do anything that could cause unnecessary stress, such as leaving Lidge off of the post-season roster, and you also don’t want to place Lidge in situations he’s proved he’s unable to handle.
If Lidge is left off the post-season roster, he might — and remember, this is just a thought exercise — become a distraction either during the playoffs or during the off-season (he may, for instance, demand a trade). If Lidge is left in the closer’s role and blows yet another save or two in the playoffs, he may be done as a professional baseball player mentally and/or he may be the cheese that stands alone in the clubhouse.
It’s not a fortunate situation to be in, and as in the political spectrum, neither side has it 100% right. The Lidge-haters are wrong in that Lidge doesn’t need to sit home in October, and Charlie Manuel is wrong in that Lidge cannot be used in high-leverage situations. A simple demotion is all that is needed to both preserve the Phillies’ chances in the post-season and to preserve Lidge’s future in Philadelphia.