More 9th Inning Shenanigans

Superficially, it’s difficult to get upset about the Phillies’ 3-2 loss to the Diamondbacks last night. Actually, it’s difficult to get upset about any one game at all these days. The regular season is far from over, and more than a few people probably won’t appreciate me saying this, but these final weeks feel like elaborate dress rehearsals for the playoffs. There is some fine tuning to do, some roster moves to be made, some valuable reps to be had, but, at least per Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds, the Phillies have a one hundred percent chance to play in October. Not one time, in the thousands of their simulations, did the digital Phillies fall out of the race. Even once the playoffs arrive, for all the hair-pulling, hand-wringing, and second-guessing that will occur, the Phillies are essentially throwing the best roster in the league at a swirling cyclone of small sample variance and unpredictable machinations and hoping that they’re spit out on the other side as World Champions. They may instead be torn apart and ejected in pieces, but that’s no more ignominious than a house laid to waste by tornado — the ones that survive aren’t necessarily the most well-built.

Still, there are plenty of things you can do in the playoffs to nudge the percentages in your favor, and that is what makes last night’s loss, on more careful inspection, particularly hard to stomach. Because if the personnel management we witnessed makes an encore appearance in the playoffs, the Phillies will be handicapping themselves needlessly and inexplicably.

Charlie Manuel’s decision to leave Halladay in to start the 9th inning, with the Phillies leading the Diamondbacks 2-1, is not one that I care to question. Per win expectancy, the Phillies were 84% likely to win the game, and it goes without saying that Roy Halladay is a master of his craft at 20 pitches or 100. Not having anyone warming up to start the inning, though, suggests a lack of foresight. Even after he surrendered back-to-back singles to Justin Upton and Miguel Montero, I find it hard to argue with leaving Halladay in. With runners at 1st and 2nd and nobody out, the most desirable outcomes for the team on the field are strikeouts and ground balls, and this year Halladay has achieved those with a collective 60% of the batters he has faced. His opponent in this instance, Lyle Overbay, had done one of those two things in 52% of his plate appearances. But hey, sometimes the batless fleck of roster garbage stumbles upon success. That’s baseball. Charlie Manuel can’t defend against that.

The truly inexcusable decision came next. With the lead surrendered, and Halladay sitting on 110 pitches, Manuel made no move; he elected to let Roy pitch the rest of the inning. They weren’t easy pitches to make, either. With a runner on third and one out, he was lucky enough to retire Sean Burroughs on two pitches, but, after an intentional walk to Gerardo Parra, labored through six pitches to get Paul Goldschmidt on a strikeout. That may not seem like a lot, but they were completely unnecessary. There is just no justification, with the entire bullpen on two days of rest, to make him finish that inning. Manuel had no idea how many more batters the Diamondbacks would send to the plate, and it begs the question of how long he would have let Halladay persist, had the Phillies been less fortunate. Bill has written about similar instances quite a few times before, to very mixed responses. The debate rolls endlessly on (and, for the record, I side perpetually with risk aversion), but there must be a certain threshold at which all of us agree that common sense points to one obvious move. What hidden benefit could the Phillies gain by leaving Halladay in after Overbay’s double? What possible justification exists for it?

What occurred in the bottom of that inning was arguably worse. The Phillies were down one run with Carlos Ruiz, Michael Martinez, and then the pitcher’s spot due to bat. At this point, they had John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez, and Brian Schneider available on the bench. Per wOBA, the only player of this bunch with an above average bat is Mayberry. In fact, Mayberry is 17% above average, and an extra-base machine — over half of his hits, both this year and in his career, get him to second base or further. So at least to me, mere blogger that I am, the best strategy seems obvious: hope that Carlos Ruiz gets on base, as he had at a respectable .357 clip entering the game in question. Pinch hit the power threat Mayberry for the glove-only Michael Martinez, who had compiled a laughable .255 wOBA up to this point. Hope that Mayberry produces yet another extra-base knock, and then send Ben Francisco to the plate, who, maligned as he has been this season, has still managed a .304 wOBA, and would be the best of the remaining options. You could also have elected to pinch run Wilson Valdez for Carlos Ruiz prior to the Mayberry at-bat, and, should extra-innings have ensued, placed him at third and brought in Schneider behind the dish. You can quibble over the details, but I think that would have been a perfectly reasonable protocol to give the Phillies the best chance at success.

What actually happened would have been an admirable ballpark troll had Charlie Manuel not been completely sincere. Rick Astley popping up on the HD video screen wouldn’t have been out of place. Ruiz did indeed get on base, drawing a walk from J.J. Putz on five pitches. Manuel chose to leave Martinez in the game and advance Ruiz to second via the sacrifice bunt. Any run expectancy matrix will demonstrate that this actually reduced the number of runs that the Phillies could have expected to score. The natural rebuttal is that, since the Phillies only needed one run to tie and another to walk off with the win, the extra value of advancing Ruiz to second outstripped the cost of the out surrendered. But win expectancy for a home team down by a run, which takes into account this added bit of context, is also reduced by the bunt, from .331 with a runner on first and no outs to .282 with a runner on second and one out. And all of this assumes that the parties involved are league average. The Phillies could have brought in Mayberry, who gets on base almost 33% of the time against righties like Putz, but instead opted for a strategy that gets the runner on base nearly 0% of the time.

As a grand finale, Manuel pinch ran Mayberry for Ruiz once Martinez had bunted him over, ensuring that Mayberry could not step to the plate at all during the Phillies’ last gasp. He sent Ross Gload, who has been battling a hip injury and wallowing in ineffectiveness all season, to the plate for Halladay. Gload had a .257 wOBA against righties entering the game, and, even after the misallocation of Mayberry, was still a worse choice than Ben Francisco. So it isn’t surprising that he struck out swinging, and, after Rollins did the same, the game was over.

Manuel’s justification for leaving Halladay in to finish the ninth was, as reported by Todd Zolecki, “it’s kind of his game, isn’t it? That’s my ace.” Similarly, he would probably respond to criticisms about his handling of the ninth inning bats with a reminder that he’s been in the game of baseball for a long time, and he knows more than a little bit about it. He’s earned that. I wouldn’t presume to take that away from him. I wouldn’t tell Chase Utley to alter his plate approach, or Roy Halladay to modify his pitch sequencing. But unlike the mechanics that go into pitching and hitting, managing a baseball team involves a discrete beginning state, a tangible manipulation, and a discrete end state. Observing the change that occurs through these three steps, we can make objective observations about the effect a manager has produced. And that is where folksy rejoinders fail in the face of readily available data. There are surely elements to Manuel’s managerial ability that we will never be able to quantify, but the ones that we can clash so fiercely with simple baseball axioms that they’re impossible to let slide.

Last night’s loss, on its face, is ridiculously easy to get over. It’s not even a bump in the road. In all but the most paranoid of projections, it costs the Phillies nothing. The poor strategy that made it so distinctly frustrating, should it be allowed to play out in the postseason, could inflict serious damage to their World Series hopes. And there’s nothing to indicate that this is the last we’ll see of it.

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49 comments

  1. Richard

    August 17, 2011 07:45 AM

    Excellent post, Ryan. (I especially like this: “the Phillies are essentially throwing the best roster in the league at a swirling cyclone of small sample variance and unpredictable machinations and hoping that they’re spit out on the other side as World Champions”.)

    Oddly, as much as I am against the sacrifice normally, it didn’t once occur to me to question the use of Martinez to bunt. I did briefly express some surprise that he was left in to come to the plate, but once he bunted, I let it go. In isolation, I maintain that pinch-hitting Gload is not a terrible decision. All he wants is a single there, and Gload has been ok at that. (If he’s too injured to pinch hit, then he should be off the roster.) But seeing it how you put it–why not PH Mayberry for Martinez? for example–changes that a bit for me.

    However, given the truth that this one loss means little and is part of what you aptly call “elaborate dress rehearsals for the playoffs”, I wonder if Charlie is just trying out his options. Martinez had consistently failed to bunt successfully when asked to, so he wanted to see him do it. He’s either going to need Gload in the post-season, or Gload has to go. So let’s continue to see how he performs. No doubt this gives Charlie a little too much credit, but I don’t think that just because he did x last night that means he’s likely to do the same in the playoffs. In the playoffs, for example, I bet we see Madson to start the 9th.

  2. Scott G

    August 17, 2011 07:50 AM

    I think the signing of Jack Cust last week was pretty huge. I think he should be called up immediately. His past numbers are better than a good number of the Phillies starters.

  3. dave

    August 17, 2011 08:07 AM

    tl;dr

    Triple word score for ignominious, machinations, and the needless handicapping. Thought the same things to myself last night as the ninth unfolded, where by thought I mean I shouted violently at my TV threatening to harm Wheels more often than normal down by one run with three outs to go.

    Charlie should never be accused of being a tactical genius. They’re carrying these extra bats for a reason — it’s time to cut losses with Gross Load and either bring up someone that can be slightly more effective (at the plate, god only knows who that is. In the field, perhaps Orr) or a pitcher that Charlie can not use in his proper role.

  4. Kunk

    August 17, 2011 08:52 AM

    Failing to maximize win expectancy certainly is a popular managerial troll these days. U mad, bro?

    I continually wonder if/when we will see the takeover of more stat-inclined managers. Part of me thinks it just HAS to happen eventually, but then another part thinks this mentality is so ingrained in the sport that it may never get wrestled out.

  5. joe

    August 17, 2011 09:43 AM

    hear hear!

    it’s hard to complain about losing a game when you only score two runs, but i dread the inenvitable day when charlie’s bumbling costs the Phils an important win.

    halladay shouldn’t have started the ninth.

  6. mratfink

    August 17, 2011 10:34 AM

    @joe
    halladay was at 100 pitches on the dot, he had retired the last 12 batters, he had just struck out the side… so why exactly shouldn’t he have started the 9th?

  7. tim

    August 17, 2011 10:40 AM

    I was having this exact discussion with my roommate of who to bring up in the bottom of the 9th if I was Cholly with the 7-8-9 batters due up. As you stated in the article, (well-written btw) We both expected to see Ruiz, and then some combination of Mayberry and Gload (He’s a lefty and I was unaware of his hip injury).

    Once Chooch got on, I thought the clear move was to pinch run with Valdez, and run Mayberry up to the plate before giving Gload a chance to GIDP, effectively ending the threat. Once the sacrifice successfully moved Chooch to 2nd, Mayberry replaced him there, and Gload strolled to the plate, I have to admit to cursing Ole’ Chuck a bit. Chances looked dim, (Putz’s splitter is seriously filthy!) and it played out how we expected.

    One good thing we can say about the loss is that the Giants are one more game out of the West lead. I’m sure I am not the only Phan who is still a bit fearful of that staff.

  8. Robby Bonfire

    August 17, 2011 10:47 AM

    I was as down and out re Charlie Manuel’s strategic, tactical (if you can call it that) and personnel deployment bumbling as anyone could be, until the GM, to make matters worse, gave this stumblebum two more years to demonstrate that he would be over-matched playing a 1950’s APBA board game, let alone trying to compete in the real baseball world of today against sabermetrics and computer technology data-base organizations. So that now it is the GM I hold responsible for all this managerial mental-pygmy carnage.

    Mike A. should have been given the GM job, on merit, not some apprentice who probably got the job thanks to the politically-correct virus which has infected the entire corporate world which used to be bottom-line business oriented before it became so “sensitive” to no-accountability social objectives.

  9. Richard

    August 17, 2011 10:48 AM

    I don’t really get the need to pinch-run for Ruiz at all. He doesn’t run that poorly; he may be about as fast as Valdez for that matter. Ruiz doesn’t seem to have trouble scoring from second on singles, or from first on most doubles.

  10. Robby Bonfire

    August 17, 2011 10:57 AM

    MRATFINK: Perhaps the best case for either not starting Halladay in the ninth inning, or replacing him soon as the first batter reached base, is the fact that he had not pitched in eight days. Getting him up to 123 pitches, win or lose, in that situation, is begging for trouble as regards his NEXT outing, regardless of last night’s result.

    Manuel also made Oswalt throw 96 pitches in his second game back from the D.L. Manuel is killing this starter staff with overload regular season strain on their arms – just ask Cole Hamels.

    At what point does someone higher up in the organization take this Simon Legree to school as regards the fundamentals of the game IN THE 21st CENTURY – since he seems to know all about the game the way it was played in the time of “Iron Man” McGinnity?

  11. Phylan

    August 17, 2011 11:31 AM

    @joe Failing to maximize win expectancy certainly is a popular managerial troll these days. U mad, bro?

    I continually wonder if/when we will see the takeover of more stat-inclined managers. Part of me thinks it just HAS to happen eventually, but then another part thinks this mentality is so ingrained in the sport that it may never get wrestled out.

    I think organizations will always prefer managers who have played the game in some capacity. That makes some sense, if you want your manager to do more than make tactical decisions. Charlie, for his part, is pretty well-regarded as a hitting coach and a “clubhouse guy,” which has some value. Unfortunately, drawing on a pool of former baseball players will mostly exclude the more stat-inclined set.

    To me, it would make sense to have a guy like Charlie be the hitting coach, have a similarly respected pitching coach, and then have someone who knows the quantifiable strengths and weaknesses of his players, as well as how best to play the percentages in baseball, be the manager, the tactical mind. I wouldn’t hold my breath on any team taking that route any time soon though.

  12. JB Allen

    August 17, 2011 11:53 AM

    I can live with Manuel not maximizing win expectancy, if doing so may conflict with a managerial style that appears to work. For example, it may make sense statistically to bat Victorino ahead of Rollins, but Charlie is a “player’s manager,” and maybe he knows that batting leadoff helps Rollins’ morale.

    But here, I don’t see any reason against just going with the odds and having Mayberry hit. Maybe Charlie is just trying out his options, but that seems like a better idea in mid-September, or when the game isn’t on the line.

  13. Chip

    August 17, 2011 11:54 AM

    Hey i would have gone with Basdtardo, or Madson cause they were fresh and the Diamond Backs hadn’t seen them for 8 innings, But Charlie has guided them pretty well and i fix PLC’S for living so guess what opinion counts!

  14. sean

    August 17, 2011 12:40 PM

    i would have gone with halladay to start the ninth and let him finish. anyone that says they would have taken out halladay to start the ninth i don’t believe you.

    charlie has faith in his guys and gload has past history but it’s up to ruben to stop charlie from himself, i don’t blame him for doing what he did. it’s “the baseball play” to bunt the guy over plus heck things can go wrong for the defense when you bunt. this is ultimately one game in 162 and they lost with their best pitcher on the mound. happens sometimes.

  15. Scott G

    August 17, 2011 12:51 PM

    Phylan,

    I think sabermetrically inclined players are becoming more frequent. I could be way off track here, but isn’t advanced sabermetrics fairly new? Like the last 10-20 years? Those stat-inclined baseball people would still be playing, or would be recently out of the game IMO (much younger than many current managers).

    Brian Bannister is one current ML pitcher that subscribes to sabermetrics. I’m sure he can’t be the only one.

  16. ryan

    August 17, 2011 12:54 PM

    When Charlie Manuel brings Philadelphia another championship (which will happen either this or years to come), I will stop going to this unbelievably negative website. It’s hilarious how people think they can run an organization (in which they only understand on the surface)better than what we currently have. If you honestly think you can lead this team to have a better record and be more successful than we have been in the past four years, you need to deflate your damn heads.

  17. Chris

    August 17, 2011 01:24 PM

    I thought that Madson and Bastardo were warming up to start the 9th? Or at some point during the inning? Idk, I couldn’t watch it live so that’s just what I heard elsewhere.

    I really don’t see why you have Halladay, at ~110 pitches, pitching to Overbay, when Bastardo’s in the bullpen on 6 days of rest. I’m pretty sure Halladay would be perfectly fine with coming out at that point if it meant that we win the game.

  18. JB Allen

    August 17, 2011 01:55 PM

    ryan – I think there’s a difference between criticizing some of Manuel’s moves and saying “kick him to the curb.” I don’t think any of the writers here or many of the posters support the latter view. In fact, I think the folks here think Charlie does OK, even if he is a little weak on in-game-tactics. Tony LaRussa is arguably a lot better on that front, but he also seems like a real dick in general.

    As for harping on particular things, a long tradition of suckitude, punctuated with some grueling near misses, can make fans neurotic. It’s not so much ego-tripping as over-parenting. But it’s been a great season so far, and Charlie has something to do with that.

  19. Scott G

    August 17, 2011 02:31 PM

    Ryan

    I don’t understand people with your view point. Just because something is successful doesn’t mean it’s not flawed. Why can’t we wish that Charlie would improve in the areas where he lacks? I think that most of the people here vent as if they were speaking directly to charlie in an attempt to help the team. I know that’s what I’m doing anyway.

  20. zeke

    August 17, 2011 02:44 PM

    My biggest issue with Charlie’s handling of the 9th is that from what I saw on the telecast, he DID have Bastardo and Madson warming up. They were actually up in the bottom of the eighth and seemed to stay up through til the 9th. Then, somewhere around Chris Young’s comical Mini-mart bunt impression the cameras caught Dubee phone the bullpen where Lidge picked up and gestured to Bastardo a signal that looked like, “speed it up”. I was sure the lefty was coming in for Overbay, but no. We know what happened next…

  21. Ryan Sommers

    August 17, 2011 02:53 PM

    @ryan

    When Charlie Manuel brings Philadelphia another championship (which will happen either this or years to come), I will stop going to this unbelievably negative website. It’s hilarious how people think they can run an organization (in which they only understand on the surface)better than what we currently have. If you honestly think you can lead this team to have a better record and be more successful than we have been in the past four years, you need to deflate your damn heads.

    I’m sure running an MLB organization is more difficult than you or I could possibly conceive of. But there are mistakes that are obvious enough to identify and corrections that are easy enough to devise. And why shouldn’t we want that? The Phillies can’t do anything about a slumping hitter or a pitcher having a bad start, but tactical mistakes are the most preventable and controllable thing that happens to a team.

    And look at the talent the Phillies have assembled since 2007. Don’t you think that has a little more to do with their success than Charlie Manuel?

  22. Ryan Sommers

    August 17, 2011 02:54 PM

    @zeke that could be correct. I was basing my statement that they weren’t yet warming up when the inning started off of memory, so I could be wrong on that point. Still, it didn’t make a difference.

  23. zeke

    August 17, 2011 03:15 PM

    @ Ryan. Sorry if I came across wrong, my comment wasn’t meant as a correction to the your original piece. Your rational is still spot on imo. But if anyone did catch the quick airing of the Dubee/Lidge/Bastardo phone-sign language relay it was unfortunately comical how not on the same page they all seemed to be

  24. Scott G

    August 17, 2011 03:16 PM

    I was there. I believe they were up at the beginning of the inning. As I wrote on my site, I’m more confused than angry at Charlie. I’m confused because I don’t understand why they were warming up if they weren’t used at any point once Halladay got into trouble. There were clearly points where Manuel could remove Halladay, especially with those guys throwing in the pen. What was the plan?

  25. jauer

    August 17, 2011 03:24 PM

    Why pinch run for Ruiz after he gets to second base? He’s more likely to get thrown out at second base on a sacrifice attempt than at home plate on a single.

    Once Ruiz successfully makes it to second base, THEN you pinch run for him? With your best hitter? Completely asinine.

  26. Ryan Sommers

    August 17, 2011 03:24 PM

    @zeke no I got it, I was just wondering if I was wrong, apparently I was on that point.

  27. John

    August 17, 2011 03:31 PM

    Great blog…
    I’m of the opinion that Charlie took the “player’s manager” an inning too far last night. He raised the importance of Roy’s CG stat to the level of a team W. I love Roy Halladay and think he’s in line to win his 3rd CY this year, but going into the 9th inning he clearly appeared sweaty and tired despite retiring the 12 batters.

    There is a reason we have closers. Bastardo was rested and would have been a much better bet against 3 lefties the 4th time around.

  28. 3r0ck

    August 17, 2011 05:44 PM

    I don’t know – you put in Bastardo and he loses the game and then everyone is asking why take Doc out when he’s dealing with only 100 or so pitches.

    Okay so take him out when there’s two men on, but Doc’s stats are even better with men on base. So we put in Bastardo or Madson and they lose the game and we’re back asking why Charlie took out Doc when he’s dealing.

    Doc is a pro – I can’t remember him giving up a two run inning before last night.

    The loss is on the offense, not Charlie, IMHO.

  29. hk

    August 17, 2011 07:59 PM

    3r0ck,

    The author’s main complaint wasn’t about Charlie’s use of Doc – although he didn’t understand why Doc stayed in after he lost the lead – it was about Charlie’s use of his bench in the 9th inning. This loss is on the offense as all losses are on the players, who perform or not. However, Charlie’s mismanagement of the bottom of the 9th contributed to the loss by reducing the team’s chances of winning.

  30. Robby Bonfire

    August 17, 2011 09:16 PM

    Wed, night: OMG, Manuel just PH Ibanez vs. lefty Zach Duke! Yes, with a big lead but for what purpose? Ibanez cannot hit lefties. It’s a reverse percentage move. What, Manuel has to see Ibanez in there, somehow, even on a night off? What, he was hoping for a hit in this bases-loaded spot to justify the GM and his own wanting to pad Ibanez’s sicko stat line in a soft spot with the bases-loaded and none out?

    My God, how they are determined to go down like the “Titanic” with this fat contract, washed-up old player who should NEVER play ahead of Mayberry or Brown at this point (the dead-end) of his career. They should be waiving Ibanez over to the Yankees, right now, just on the chance Phillies pitching will have the luxury of facing Ibanez in a game situation, if both clubs make it to the World Series.

    I am starting to get the idea that Charlie Maneul has Alzheimer’s, or, at the very least, is senile and mentally incompetent.

    So that I am wondering, how does he function away from the ballpark? Can he maintain figures in his checkbook? Does he require a physical attendant? Can he cook something on the stove without burning up the kitchen because he forgot that and went on to something else? Does he always forget names 10 seconds after people introduce themselves to him? Does he have life style problems like alcoholism or pharmaceutical drugs dependency? Does he even know he is at the ballpark, when he is there? Does he have to ask for directions to get home after the game?

    Because this man has is completely detached from reality when it comes to expediting his professional responsibilities. And excusing him as a “hunch” manager will not cut it anymore.

    Charlie Manuel is not a well man, psychologically. As a fellow human being, I hope and pray that his health is fine, but something is not right with him, either physically, mentally, age-related, or as regards his life style.

    There is a story behind the scenes here which, I predict, will be coming out sooner, rather than later. Forget about the contract extension. Can he even make it through this season is the most pertinent question?

  31. mnjam

    August 18, 2011 06:20 AM

    This is BS. By the author’s reasoning, you shouldn’t worry about an approaching tornado because the odds of a tornado striking your house are small. The fact that an event is statistically rare doesn’t mean it can’t happen, much less that you should ignore signs that it is about to happen.

    A number of comments showing the author’s misuse of probability principles were censored.

    The Sabermetric critique of traditional baseball stats applies to Sabermetric stats: neither are rooted in the mathematical theory of probability.

  32. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 08:29 AM

    What amazes me about sports fans is the frenzied manner, at blog sites, they jump on each other, and on the host/ contributor to the blog, and I am referring to those who are NOT trolls.

    Used to be that those who rooted for the same team established a bond of friendship and shared joy in the successes of their favorite franchise, whenever those successes came around. Now, all I see is people at each others throats and savaging the column writer as blood sport, and to massage their own inadequate little egos. Maybe some of these “men” commenting here get regularly beaten up by their wives at home and need a token victory in life, or something? Something is wrong with this picture, for certain, starting with transferred unhappiness to here from other, failed avenues in life.

    For me, I visit here, and other sports sites to share my opinion, which, while strongly expressed, is neither right nor wrong, it’s just OPINION, same as everyone else here is entitled to one, but neither you nor are are GOD ALMIGHTY because we have a strong, and reasoned – we think, opinion.

    On a par with taking the time and the opportunity to share my opinion and read those, most often valid, of others, I am here to LEARN what I can from the host/columnist, who, like the rest of us, may not be perfect or always right, but who has something to offer which we can approach as a learning process on our part, if we are not to proud or vain to do that. Just take perceived VALUE and new information that comes your way, and discard the remainder. What is wrong with that? Can others know something you don’t know, as well as you knowing something they might learn?

  33. Ryan Sommers

    August 18, 2011 11:30 AM

    @mnjam the only place I delved into “probability” was the use of BP’s playoff odds and win expectancy, both of which are established metrics. Could you explain a little more clearly what problem you had with it?

  34. Scott G

    August 18, 2011 11:38 AM

    LTG,

    Thank you for that link. I know it sounds crazy to say, but Chase Utley is definitely underrated.

  35. Richard

    August 18, 2011 11:48 AM

    Robby your most recent comment is interesting, given the content of your other comments. Opinions are not all created equal, and some can indeed be wrong.

    For the record, Ibanez hits lefties about as well as he hits righties. And he pinch-hit last night because there was virtually no one left on the bench other than Martinez and Ruiz, who had the night off.

  36. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 02:44 PM

    Richard – I won’t quibble with you as regards “Ibanez hits lefties about as well as righties,” since I don’t have that split available, or access to it. Let’s be honest, Richard, Ibanez isn’t hitting ANYBODY, lefties or righties, with enough consistency to hold a regular major league job.

    The major problem with Ibanez – his composite, sub-.300 OBA, puts TWO sub-.300 OBA batters in the Phillies regular lineup, whenever Ibanez gets a start, as there apparently is no 3B available within 3,000 miles of Philadelphia who can top “The Bell Curve.”

    This is almost, but not quite, as bad as Manuel going with Rollins in the lead-off slot the entire year Rollins posted a .296 OBA. Not much mention has been made of it, but we can all credit Rollins for his own turnaround in this critical area, given his circa .340 OBA so far this season. Manuel didn’t do that, Rollins pulled himself out of his selfish, non-walking doldrums and he deserves a mountain of credit that.

    Also, why was Madson used for the final inning in a non-save situation, last night? All I know, or at least think, is that too many obvious managerial blunders are being made EVERY SINGLE GAME THE PHILLIES PLAY. You may put me down as not being optimistic as regards the Phillies World Series ring orders going out this year – unless another man, for whatever reason, takes over the helm in the dugout.

  37. jauer

    August 18, 2011 03:30 PM

    Ibanez wOBA:

    vs LHP 2011: .265
    vs RHP 2011: .310

    vs LHP career: .325
    vs RHP career: .363

  38. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 05:03 PM

    Thanks, jauer.

    So, a .264 OBA for Ibanez vs. lefties = further evidence that there is no “F” grade for any player in any category, no performance standards to measure up to for any non-producer on this club.

    Hey, you’re under contract you’ve got a job here, long past your usefulness to the ballclub – Right Danys Baez, right David Bell, right Tom Gordon, right Josa Mesa, right Rheal Cormier, right Jon Lieber, right Brad Lidge of the 7.11 “closer” ERA in 2009, right every washed-out ballplayer we never held accountable for standards of production, here? Just of bunch of “He’s my guy,” types. Sickening.

    This is the way you give yourself “the edge” in your quest to win a world championship?

  39. hk

    August 18, 2011 05:45 PM

    Robby,

    While I generally agree with much of what you say, where I disagree is your comments about Charlie losing some of his mental capacity over the past few years. What I believe that Charlie has lost is Jimy Williams. Pete Mackinin seems like his biggest attribute is his ability to laugh at Charlie’s jokes as compared to Jimy Williams, who I’d be willing to bet, made most (or convinced Charlie to make) all of the tough decisions while he was the bench coach.

  40. jauer

    August 18, 2011 05:53 PM

    jy-mee williams

  41. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 07:21 PM

    Man, would I lay odds this manager will not make it through the remainder of his contract. Two+ more years of this could drive us all nuts. Those defending him and making excuses for his mental lapses, let’s see how happy you are if this team collapses, again, 2010 redux. And let’s see if he is outmaneuvered, in the playoffs. If he is, and quite embarrassingly, the Phillies really should cut bait now, before the Howards, Utleys, and Halladay’s of the world have yet a couple more birthdays with this man in charge.

    And if they don’t the “small market syndrome” will have reared its ugly head, again. Being a big market team means making big market level management and player personnel decisions, not just raising the stakes with big contracts and then folding your hand at the showdown because you got penny wise and pound foolish, a.k.a. CHEAP on your way out the door.

  42. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 07:37 PM

    HK – You seem to be saying Manuel misses his former bench coach, and implying, if I understand you correctly, that he is NOT his own man! Wow! If so, we are on the same page there.

    Tony LaRussa and Mike Scioscia rely on the good people who are around them, but Tony is The Man, and Mike is The Man, when the chips are down. They are decision-makers who demonstrate, time and again, that they know how to take over a game, strategically and tactically. They are not pathetically over-matched by the intellectual demands of the position they hold.

    I was tremendously impressed with both Tony LaRussa and Tim McCarver, when, in the 2004 World Series final game, between innings, mid-game, McCarver said: “Tony LaRussa is walking to home plate to ask the home plate umpire why Red Sox pitchers are getting the low strike call, and his pitchers are not?”

    You see, HK, Tony LaRussa was IN THE GAME, he was not day-dreaming or thinking about going fishing or any of the other trivial stuff that obviously clutters Charlie Manuel’s “mind.”

  43. Matty

    August 18, 2011 09:15 PM

    Your scientific analysis is spot on. My not-so scientific response is this: The manager should not allow who the pitcher is to influence his decision to leave him in or take him out. When it’s time to remove the starting pitcher, it’s time to remove the startng pitcher. Regardless of who it is.

    Had it been any other pitcher, there would have been action in the bullpen. And after allowing the first two batters to reach base, any other pitcher would have found themself watching the game from the bench. Had Manuel brought the pen in during the 9th inning before the big hit, the issue of how he handled the bottom of the 9th might have been a mute point.

  44. hk

    August 18, 2011 09:32 PM

    Robby,

    I believe that Charlie is a poor in-game manager. I also share your fear that his decision making could negate the team’s talent advantage in a short playoff series. The point of my Jimy Williams comment is that I believe that Charlie made a greater percentage of bad decisions in the pre-Jimy Williams and post-Jimy Williams eras, than he did while he had Jimy on the bench. My comment was in response to yours in which you seemed to imply that Charlie making awful decisions is a recent occurrence, which I do not believe to be true.

  45. Phillie697

    August 18, 2011 10:36 PM

    This brings me back to our discussion a few days ago, @jauer and @Scott G. This is the manager you want to make lineup decisions regarding the swapping of Utley and Vic? Really? And that was part of my point :)

  46. Robby Bonfire

    August 18, 2011 11:01 PM

    HK: I am now visiting more Phillies blogger sites than ever before, so you raise a good question I cannot answer, that is, am I just more attuned to Manuel’s daily blunders pertaining to L-R starting lineup percentages and not splitting Utley and Howard; starting pitchers being burned out; Lidge being given more responsibility than his peripherals indicate he can handle; Ibanez’s end of career weaknesses far too over-exposed; etc., because of lending myself to more venues for criticism of him, in addition to my own observations – or can a solid case be made, preferably by a sabermetrician, that Manuel is truly regressing?

    It certainly is a valid question because if he is regressing and making more blatant errors in judgment than ever before this would have huge negative implications, where the Phillies chances of going all the way are concerned.

    No Phillies fan wants to see the Phillies lose in the W.S. to a team managed by a former Phillies manager, especially if he were to demonstrate a better sense of timing as regards in-game tactical moves, than our manager. And of course, losing another W.S. to the Yankees would be bridge-jumping time for many of us around here.

  47. Scott G

    August 19, 2011 09:36 AM

    Phillie697 I don’t understand that context. I’d want any manager to make the switch. I’m not even asking him to come up with the idea on his own.

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