Charlie Manuel’s Buffoonery Costs Phillies Another Win

Charlie Manuel has been the manager of the Phillies since 2005, so you think we’d have gotten used to these kinds of games, but they sting all the same even nine years later. The Phillies, staked to a 4-0 lead through four innings, managed to lose 5-4 in nine innings on a walk-off single by Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez’s game-winning RBI was but a foregone conclusion; the frustration lies in the path taken to get there in the first place. What follows is a tactical breakdown of Manuel’s decisions.

Lineup

As mentioned plenty of times here, batting order has only a marginal impact on a team’s run-scoring capabilities. Still, you want to be as optimal as possible to squeak out the fractions of a run here and there, which can end up paying dividends on the micro level. The best example of this is Manuel’s continued insistence on batting Ryan Howard fourth and Domonic Brown behind him.

Howard has been completely ineffectual this year, entering last night’s game with a .304 weighted on-base average, exactly one point higher than his output last season, when he returned from a torn Achilles. His 6.3 percent walk rate is a career low and 5.5 percent below his career average. His 29.6 percent strikeout rate is the second-highest rate of any full season in his career. His .186 isolated power is also a career-worst.

Brown, meanwhile, has caught fire. Charlie has often wagered on players in the middle of hot streaks, which makes it puzzling why he continues to bat Brown fifth and sixth in the batting order. Between May 21-29, Brown even hit behind Delmon Young in eight consecutive games. Over the last 30 days, Brown has been by far the team’s most productive hitter, posting a .343/.361/.762 line. It would make sense to try to get your best hitter as many at-bats as possible, but that hasn’t been the case for Brown.

Platoon

Platooning has been another frequent topic of discussion here and it’s amusing how the Phillies have had two staring them in the face all year (Howard and John Mayberry at first base; Young and Laynce Nix in right field), but haven’t pulled the trigger. There is no reason why Young should have been in the lineup against a hard-throwing right-hander. And although Young did get two hits, they were poorly-struck, fluky hits. As they say, “it’s a line drive in the box score”.

The platoon issue — or lack thereof — didn’t have an impact on the game, but since we’re going over strategy, it is worth bringing up again.

Now, into actual in-game decision-making.

Bottom of the 7th inning

Cliff Lee entered the top of the seventh inning having thrown exactly 100 pitches. He was not particularly sharp at any point during the game. This wasn’t one of those down-tempo games where he had retired 15 of his last 16 batters  He walked the lead-off batter, Norichika Aoki, on six pitches after falling behind 3-0. He was promptly driven in on a Jean Segura triple to right field horrifically misplayed by Delmon Young, who should not have been in right field in a close game. Segura scored on a throwing error by Freddy Galvis, tying the game at four apiece.

Because the Phillies had not been warming any relievers to start the inning, which they should have been doing, Lee had to face Ryan Braun with a pitch count at 108 as Mike Stutes just started to begin his warm-up tosses. While Lee doesn’t have a platoon split (he actually has a reverse split this year), Braun hits lefties significantly better than their right-handed counterparts. Thankfully, he was able to strike out Braun with his 113th pitch. And he stayed out there to face Aramis Ramirez, another right-hander who hits lefties well. Lee was able to strike out Ramirez as well, bringing up Jonathan Lucroy, another right-hander. Yup, you guessed it — he also hits lefties well. Lucroy popped out to Galvis at second to end the inning.

Top of the 8th inning

The Phillies were starting to mount a rally. With one out, Ryan Howard was hit by a pitch and was moved up to second base when Domonic Brown drew a walk to bring up Delmon Young. Manuel called Howard back to the dugout for pinch-runner Ben Revere. Manuel’s thought pattern is obvious: if Young were to hit a single, Howard most likely isn’t scoring with his poor lower-half. Revere scores on almost all singles to the outfield, comparatively.

However, Revere should have entered the game to start the bottom of the seventh as a defensive replacement. Revere would have gone to center, taking John Mayberry’s spot, and Mayberry would have shifted over to right field, taking Young out of the game. Acknowledging the butterfly effect, that seventh inning never happens if a better defender is in right field.

Young grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Bottom of the 8th inning

Young finally came out as Revere went to center and Mayberry moved to right. Stutes relieved Lee after 122 pitches.

Ideally, the Phillies would have told “closer” Jonathan Papelbon to start getting loose. Lead-off hitter Carlos Gomez reached on a fielding error by third baseman Michael Young, but Stutes was able to bounce back to get two outs. At that point, the Brewers pinch-hit for pitcher Burke Badenhop with left-hander Logan Schafer. That brought Charlie Manuel out of the dugout to correctly bring in lefty Jeremy Horst. The Brewers countered by pinch-hitting for Schafer with Jeff Bianchi, who popped out to end the inning.

The Phillies had a 1-2-3 top of the ninth against Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

Bottom of the 9th inning

Again, Papelbon should have been warming up, but was planted firmly in his seat in the bullpen as Horst came back out to face lead-off hitter Aoki, a lefty. Aoki grounded out to shortstop Jimmy Rollins. With a slew of right-handed hitters due up — in fact, no lefties were due up until the pitcher’s spot, when the Brewers could have used Blake Lalli — there was no reason for Horst to stay in the game. If not Papelbon to face right-hander-heavy middle of the lineup, then Justin De Fratus would have sufficed. But, as play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy stated during Aoki’s at-bat, the Phillies had no right-handers warming up in the bullpen.

Horst, despite my campaigning for him throughout the season, has not been nearly as good as he was last year. Expecting him to get through the middle of the Brewers’ lineup without a single favorable platoon match-up was a fool’s errand. Segura reached on an infield single, a play Rollins had no shot of making — just a lucky hit. Segura moved to third on a sharply-hit Braun single to center. Finally, Ramirez drove home the winning run with a single down the right field line.

In order, these were the leverage indices for each at-bat faced by Phillies pitchers from the seventh through the ninth innings:

  • Lee vs. Aoki: 1.59
  • Lee vs. Segura: 2.64
  • Lee vs. Braun: 1.52
  • Lee vs. Ramirez: 1.18
  • Lee vs. Lucroy: 0.83
  • Stutes vs. Gomez: 1.82
  • (Gomez stolen base) 2.60
  • Stutes vs. Gennett: 1.96
  • Stutes vs. Betancourt: 2.48
  • Horst vs. Bianchi: 3.37
  • Horst vs. Aoki: 2.32
  • Horst vs. Segura: 1.90
  • Horst vs. Braun: 2.98
  • Horst vs. Ramirez: 4.99

The leverage index for an “average” situation is an even 1.00, so Phillies pitchers faced exactly one situation of below-average importance in the final three innings. Papelbon did not handle a single one of them. The last time Papelbon faced a situation with a leverage index over 3.00 was on May 29, when he faced Daniel Nava of the Boston Red Sox. Perhaps more importantly, Papelbon has been used exactly once since that May 29 game — on June 4 against the Marlins.

twitter.com/TimothyMalcolm/status/343209105680384001

These are not new problems. In May 2011, I complained about Manuel leaving his starters in too long. His bullpen mismanagement was a running theme last year. In the past, the Phillies were more than capable of making up for the several runs their manager cost them every week or so. But in recent years as the team has been decimated by age, injuries, and poor roster construction, Manuel’s flaws have become much more apparent and much more costly. The team faces a crossroads in the near future, and one of the least-talked-about decisions is the team’s continued partnership with Manuel going forward. Tonight’s game should make the correct decision very clear.

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35 comments

  1. Yo

    June 08, 2013 07:14 AM

    I know the horst-pap stat is true but i still can’t believe it

  2. nik

    June 08, 2013 07:34 AM

    Apparently DeFratus was not available after throwing 5! pitches in a blowout game on Thursday.

  3. hk

    June 08, 2013 08:04 AM

    Bill,

    If nik is correct and Charlie knew the bullpen was depleted, why was it the right move to bring in Horst for Stutes knowing that Roenicke would PH for the PH with a RHB? Wouldn’t it have been better to let Stutes face a lefty and stay in the game instead of using Horst to face the righty? If Stutes had retired Schaefer, they might have been able to let Stutes pitch a second inning (and face the three righties, Segura, Braun and Ramirez).

  4. Tomg

    June 08, 2013 08:55 AM

    Nice analysis.

    There should be at least a third option in your poll: Hells, yes!

    I’d suggest “Fuck, yes!” as a fourth, but this is a family blog.

  5. Patthebat

    June 08, 2013 09:17 AM

    Bill,

    Great piece, but just to clear up one inaccuracy–on June 4, Papelbon correctly came in to a 3-3 tie in the top of the ninth. The Phillies won on a walk-off grand slam in the 11th, thus the four-run margin in the final score.

  6. John

    June 08, 2013 11:58 AM

    We ought to be used to this. He cost them at least 10 games last year and again this year..nothing’s changed…Sandberg will be here next year as the Phils won’t eat $$$. Otherwise Howard would be gone, but Charlie “must” have him in the lineup

  7. EricL

    June 08, 2013 01:25 PM

    Tonight’s game should make the correct decision [re. Manuel's future in Philadelphia] very clear.

    The turd in the punchbowl here, of course, is that there are no guarantees that Charlie’s successor will be any better. Looking around baseball, and at the general philosophy of the Phillies organization, I see no reason to think they’re likely hire anyone with a progressive and/or statistical approach to managing a game.

  8. Brian

    June 08, 2013 03:00 PM

    I get the Charlie frustration for the 9th, but your bottom of the 7th inning analysis is silly. You note that each of the hitters hit lefties better, but almost ALL righthanders do, yet they haven’t been able to touch Lee all year. Your nonsensical analysis implies that the batters’ splits matter but Lee’s don’t, when in reality Lee’s are much more relevant to the encounter. So Charlie, who has a poor bullpen, leaves in one of the best pitchers in the league in a tie game, that pitcher gets two strikeouts and a pop up, and your CRITICIZING him for that? Give me a break.

  9. kenny

    June 08, 2013 04:00 PM

    I wonder why Kratz did not remove his head gear during the tying run debacle, I blame him for that run scoring not Galvis or D. Young.

  10. BenJah

    June 08, 2013 05:16 PM

    starting the article, i read “2005” and thought nothing of it.. then i read “NINE years later” and i thought, ‘how the eff did that happen!?’

  11. Charlie

    June 08, 2013 08:35 PM

    How many games you guys think he costs us a year on average? I’d love to keep thinking this team has a shot at the playoffs, but Manuel does a great job of curbing my enthusiasm.

  12. hk

    June 09, 2013 06:29 AM

    Charlie,

    It is impossible to quantify how many games he costs them because the decisions that he makes don’t guarantee that they lose games as much as they reduce their chances of winning them. For instance, while we can all agree that Papelbon would have given the team a better of chance of surviving the 9th inning on Friday than Horst, but even if Charlie had used Papelbon, there’s no guarantee that Milwaukee would not have scored off of him, or that the Phils would have won the game had it gone extra innings. It’s easier to quantify, if you like, the number of times that his decisions reduced the team’s likelihood of winning.

  13. Richard

    June 09, 2013 07:17 AM

    I disagree with the widespread assumption that Brown should already be moved to cleanup–moving a player out of his customary role because of another player’s hot stretch is not a recipe for positive clubhouse management, especially since, as you already said, lineup construction matters little. For one thing, Howard had been doing fairly well during Brown’s hot streak. (I know his BA hasn’t been great, but he’s been drawing lots of walks, and, at least prior to Friday’s game, not striking out so much.)

    (Now, with Howard out of the lineup the next day, yes, no way Young should be cleanup.)

    And, normally I don’t get on Charlie, in particular, for not using Papelbon in the 9th inning, or later, of tie games on the road, since nearly everyone else does the same. I hate the policy, but it’s far from unusual. However, in this case, if you already know you’re short-handed, you have to be less rigid than that. Especially if you’re going to pointlessly remove Stutes for Horst when, as noted above, Stutes could have stayed in and pitched a second inning. Pretty weak.

  14. Corn

    June 09, 2013 08:26 AM

    I can’t wait for Charlie to go. Nice guy but he is dreadful when he doesn’t have an all star offensive team

  15. al

    June 09, 2013 08:42 AM

    i love how all of you talk about charlie’s mistakes and never about the thing’s he does right the man has been in baseball longer then a lot of you have been watching baseball if he is such a bad manager i don’t think he would still be managing don’t forget philly this baffon brought us a championship just 4 or 5 years ago and have been in contention ever since this baffon has been here so all philly fans remember be careful what you wish for go cholly

  16. al

    June 09, 2013 08:52 AM

    i love how all of you talk about charlie’s mistakes and never about the thing’s he does right the man has been in baseball longer then a lot of you have been watching baseball if he is such a bad manager i don’t think he would still be managing don’t forget philly this baffoon brought us a championship just 4 or 5 years ago and have been in contention ever since this baffoon has been here so all philly fans remember be careful what you wish for go cholly

  17. hk

    June 09, 2013 09:27 AM

    Richard,

    Friday night’s bullpen mismanagement also leads to analysis of why DeFratus was not available in the first place…because Charlie used him to protect 5 run leads on Wednesday and Thursday. I can’t imagine the thought process behind having DeFratus warming up in the pen in this game, knowing that if he gets used, he won’t be available Friday in what might be a much higher leverage situation. What’s the point of having Savery on the roster if you don’t trust him to protect a 5-run lead for an inning?

  18. hk

    June 09, 2013 09:30 AM

    al,

    Now that the team does not having the talent to overwhelm the opposition, the mistakes that Charlie makes are magnified. Also, while this is just an observation from memory, it seems as though Charlie made and continues to make more strategic errors in the years with a bench coach other than Jimy Williams than he did when he had Jimy advising him.

  19. Fish Fry

    June 09, 2013 09:52 AM

    His “unnamed” Bench Coach the past two years is Rich Dubee which is why the misuse of the relief pitches puzzles me. You would think that the guy who is your pitching coach would have a better handle on the use of the bullpen.

  20. Richard

    June 09, 2013 09:52 AM

    yes, hk, that’s an excellent point; and wasn’t Bastardo used to protect that same 5-run lead?

  21. Richard

    June 09, 2013 10:09 AM

    Fish Fry, Dubee’s role has mystified me for years, for just the reason you give. I have little doubt that it’s Dubee who decides who is or is not available, and who should go next.

  22. Fish Fry

    June 09, 2013 11:22 AM

    Charlie Manual = Danny Ozark

  23. Fish Fry

    June 09, 2013 11:24 AM

    If only Gore had invented the internet a few decades earlier, Danny O was a writers dream with moves that mystified but with one hell of a team.

  24. hk

    June 09, 2013 11:42 AM

    In fairness to Charlie, I don’t think he’s ever made a move so bad as Ozark failing to replace the Bull with Jerry Martin.

  25. rocketeer

    June 09, 2013 05:25 PM

    I’ve been hoping for at least three years that the Phillies organization would finally admit that Charlie is incompetant. Mayberry has been knocking the cover off the ball even when he doesn’t get a hit and just a couple of days earlier he saved Charlies bacon with not one but two extra inning home runs so what happens the next time he has the same opportunity? Why good old Charlie pinch hits for him with the Phillies strikeout king, Ryan Howard. Seriously? Can there be any more doubters that Charlie can’t manage? I just hope when he goes he takes Revere, Nix, Delmon Young, and Reuban Amaro with him.

  26. bubba0101

    June 10, 2013 09:58 AM

    Just awful mismanagement of this team. The lack of a platoon at first and right field is a disgrace. We are missing out on so much offensive production and defensive upgrades with just a little more awareness by our fearless manager. Lee was awesome the other night in that he was not sharp but still should have had a line of 7ip ~2er. He should have been pulled after Aoki lead off and got on base and the defensive upgrades should have been made going into that inning. I don’t need to rehash what Bill already wonderfully laid out but its really frustrating to play well enough to win and keep momentum in a series against a bad team, then have your manager lose the game. Not a player, not a player, we talkin bout a manager…

  27. SJHaack

    June 10, 2013 10:17 AM

    Nit picking – you mean up tempo, not down tempo. A game with many consecutive batters retired would be moving quickly, thus the tempo would be fast (up).

    ~The More You Know~

  28. Scott G

    June 10, 2013 11:24 AM

    does awful mismanagement = good management?

    This nonsense has been going on since he got here. The players were incredible from 2006-2011, so it masked a lot of his mistakes.

  29. Phillie697

    June 10, 2013 12:29 PM

    @al,

    “the man has been in baseball longer then a lot of you have been watching baseball if he is such a bad manager i don’t think he would still be managing”

    You do remember this thing called an umpire strike in MLB a few years ago when we all talked about how bunch of umpires who’s been in the league a bunch of years but sucks butt monkeys but there was nothing we could do about it, right? Half of the dudes in Congress have been there a long time, you want to go ahead and tell us that they are all really really good because they’ve been there a long time? And these are people who have to audition for their jobs every two years and they STILL get re-elected.

  30. bubba0101

    June 11, 2013 08:16 AM

    This is Philadelphia where the double negative turns something into triple negative

  31. Mister Twine

    June 11, 2013 11:31 AM

    @al,

    I thank Pat Gillick more for that WS than Manuel.

  32. 32isnotnuts

    June 11, 2013 02:27 PM

  33. SorryForTheInconvenience

    July 01, 2013 05:46 AM

    Phillies Phanatics RULE!

  34. GoodRiddance

    August 17, 2013 08:42 AM

    It’s pieces like this that should be shaping the legacy of Manuel as a manager, not the teary-eyed ass kissing from “sports-writers” who don’t know anything about baseball and have probably never even really watched the Phillies. You can always tell who didn’t really pay attention to the Phillies before they started winning by how much they praise one of the most incompetent managers in franchise history.

    I’ve actually seen people try to claim he “rescued” this team from “Larry Bowa’s mediocrity”. Give me a break. He wouldn’t even have made it to .500 with any of the teams Larry Bowa managed. Pat Gillick is the ONLY one to thank for the ’08 World Series. Well him and the Red Sox for losing to Tampa Bay because if the Phillies had faced them instead, they would’ve been embarrassed.

    They got rid of Larry Bowa because he was too “tough” on the soft, coddled players who got him fired. The Phillies should’ve fired Ed Wade and hired Jim Leyland on the same day they fired Bowa. Always doing things too late, every single time.

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