Put Lidge on the Playoff Roster

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.

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  1. PhillyFriar

    September 24, 2009 03:56 PM

    You make a good point, and I think you hit the nail on the head when you equated it to the political spectrum. The organization has to balance all factors in making their determination on Lidge’s fate, and the contract looms large in that regard.

    Also, from the “it’ll never happen, but just for argument’s sake” category: if Lidge were to be traded, how about a bad contract swap with the Cubs for Milton Bradley? Lidge makes $23 million over the next 2 years with a $1.5 million buyout for the 3rd year, while Bradley makes $21 million over the next 2 years. Then you could put Ibanez on the market (even if you get 60 cents on the dollar), give Bradley as many at bats as he can handle in LF (I’m thinking maybe 90 to 100 games in the field), and…

    …okay, nevermind, that’s never going to happen. Food for thought, though.

  2. Bill Baer

    September 24, 2009 05:30 PM

    From a personal standpoint, I would not support the acquisition of Milton Bradley. He’s just made for the American League, like Pat Burrell. And he just brings too much baggage with him.

    I don’t think the Phillies need to trade Lidge. He’s fixable, just not this year. It’s hard for a pitcher of his caliber to both fix flaws in mechanics, change arm slots, pitch types, etc. (and get back to square one mentally) while also closing out important games for his team.

    The Lidge contract isn’t that bad. It just looks bad if you assume Lidge will be as bad in future years as he has been this year, and that won’t be the case.

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