Posted tagged ‘Charlie Manuel’

Phillies Bullpen Woes

September 25, 2009
Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson

Brad Lidge, the perfect closer from last season, has 11 blown saves.  Yet, Charlie Manuel keeps giving him opportunities to regain his form, because there isn’t anyone else to fulfill the role.  Ryan Madson has thrived as a set-up man last season and currently.  Brett Myers isn’t healthy enough to perform the closer role that he successfully manned a few years back.  Tyler Walker, a former Giants closer, could hold down the fort, but I really haven’t seen him close a game or pitch a tight inning since he has been with the Phillies.  None of the other relievers on the roster have the mentality or the power to close out games.  In fact, there is a rumor flying around that J.A. Happ could be the closer.  I’m sure Happ can close games, but a promising starting pitcher with some nagging injuries doesn’t the mental games that being a closer would bring. The hole at the closer position is going to be a huge problem come playoff time.

Quite frankly, the pressure is now heavily upon the starting pitching to provide at least 7 full innings of work.  Also, the offense will feel the pressure to provide significant run support for the starting pitching knowing that their bullpen is faltering.  Conversely, the opposing teams will do everything they can to get to the much maligned Phillies bullpen.  Having this glaring weakness on this Phillies team could not only be an issue dealt with each game, but could be extremely detrimental to entire psyche and mental state of this Phillies baseball team.

A simple solution, that I am not sure is the right one, would be to install Madson as the closer.  I think he could easily handle this duty if he is afforded the opportunity to prepare like a closer from the physical to mental aspects of the game.  Each game the Phillies go out and play without a designated closer, it supports each member of the bullpen to NOT have the mentality to close a game.  By designating Madson the closer, he’ll know and the rest of the team will know that Madson is their guy and each player can prepare for their roles appropriately.  Will it happen?  I doubt, I think we are stuck with some significant bullpen issues heading into a tough playoff field.


Phillies Get Two More Wins

September 17, 2009
Jayson Werth's Grand Slam (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Jayson Werth's Grand Slam (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

On Tuesday night, the Phillies, led by a complete game from Cliff Lee, shut out the Washington Nationals.  Last night, led by an impressive performance from Joe Blanton and a grand slam from Jayson Werth, the Phillies again defeated the Nationals.  Of course, the only real coverage of this game was the little girl who threw the foul ball back.  It was cute. 

While it’s important to note that the Nationals are a terrible baseball team, the Phillies still played very well.  They scored runs and got great pitching from two starters and a host of bullpen arms.  It’s good to see the Phillies win games they are supposed to, especially while putting up runs and getting strong pitching.  Hopefully, this will continue into tonight’s game and the 20 or so games remaining in the season.

I am concerned that the Phillies might clinch the playoffs soon and potentially take the rest of the season “off.”  I’ve read a few different opinions regarding teams that cruise into the playoffs have a tougher time winning their first round series.  In fact, teams who have to struggle to make the playoffs have fared much better.  I think this makes sense.  It is important for a team to get to the playoffs while in their stride and playing top level baseball.  If the Phillies were to clinch and rest their big time players and pitchers, I would be concerned that they would have a hard time staying in a focused, game playing mentality.  While I hope the Phillies clinch and guarantee their spot, I want them to be able play real and focused baseball in the remaining games as a primer for the playoffs.  Charlie Manuel needs to ensure his players understand the importance of routine and consistency – otherwise, I worry about a repeat performance against the Colorado Rockies from 2 years ago.

Cole Hamels Pitches a Gem

September 2, 2009
Cole Hamels - file

Cole Hamels - file

It’s about time Cole Hamels steps-up and pitches like he can.  He pitched a complete game and 2 hit the Giants.  The Phillies didn’t provide much run support – scoring only 1 – but that’s all that Hamels needed.  Hamels seemed to have his mechanics and motion in a dominant rhythm, similar to his playoff performance last year.  Also, he seemed to stay calm, quite the opposite that we have seen in some of the struggling starts he has had this year.  Hopefully, he will continue his dominant pitching through September and into the playoffs.

I’m impressed with Charlie Manuel sticking with Hamels without even making any reference to it.  He never thought Hamels was having problems, nor did he think there was anything that needed to be done.  More concerning is that the Phillies only were able to generate 1 run.  Hamels is the ace of the staff, there is not reason the Phillies shouldn’t be able to support a tremendous pitching effort.  The Phillies line-up is based on power.  I expect and think the Phillies are capable of scoring 4 or more runs every night.  That’s how they did it last year.  This year will be much tougher.  The competition will be better and if they make it to the World Series, they won’t be playing a soft team like the Rays from last year.  The Phillies are going to need special starts from their pitchers – just like Cole Hamels did last night – if they want to repeat.

Another Blown Save for Lidge

August 26, 2009
Brad Lidge

Brad Lidge

The Phillies come from behind in the 9th inning to take the lead over the Pirates, only to have their supposed ace closer blow another save and game.  Brad Lidge, the maligned Phillies closer, couldn’t even record an out.  Lidge has issues and it’s now a problem that better be addressed heading into September and most likely the post season. 

In fact, yesterday’s poll on asked a question related to “Is Lidge back on track?”  I voted no, but it surprised me how many people thought that Lidge had turned the corner and his problems were gone.  While I don’t consider myself to be one of those pessimistic Phillies fans, I am a realist.  I realize that Lidge’s problems aren’t going to be solved in one game.  Also, it’s not that Brad Lidge is pitching poorly; it’s that he is pitching poorly with game control issues.  If he could control the game and still pitch poorly, he would record some outs and not get into as many jams as he has been in.  Lidge has to call upon the skill and dedication he showed last year.  He has to take each game one at a time and just focus on controlling the game.

If I was Charlie Manuel, you better bet that I would have a back-up plan in place.  There are a few options.  Ryan Madson, while struggling on his own, could close a few games if necessary.  J.C. Romero is coming back from injury and could provide an inning of shut down work.  Even more intriguing is that Brett Myers, fresh off of hip surgery, is throwing rehabilitation games and could slide back into the closer role he performed a few years back.  Of course, the whole injury thing to Myers could throw that for a loop.  Finally, I think Manuel needs to do whatever it takes to get Lidge back on his game.  

The Phillies starters have given the team strong 6 to 7 innings each outing.  The starters should be able to rely on their bullpen and especially their closer to finish off the games.

Winning on the Road

June 24, 2009

Phillies Logo

Phillies Logo

After a horrendous home stand, the Phillies got back into the win column with a drubbing of the World Series runner-ups, Tampa Bay Rays. Of course, this win came on the road.

Regardless of this most recent win, with an excellent offensive display, there are concerns about this Phillies team. We’ve discussed their faltering bullpen (overworked, not focused, an illusion last season, etc…), their inability to win at home (appearance of lazy and callous play) and their overall undetermined attitude for winning. I think the first two problems can be easily fixed. They can sure up their starting pitching with a trade or expecting more out of their younger pitchers. Winning at home should come more easily once they are able to realize that they can beat any team in the league anywhere with the appropriate focus.

Now the biggest problem is their attitude towards winning. During the World Series run, the Phillies exuded confidence, power and determination. Right now, they appear to be playing the card: “We won already, we just have to get there and we have nothing left to prove.” This attitude has to be fixed immediately. Charlie Manuel is doing everything he can to get this team to win (except some of his relief pitching decisions). The leaders on this Phillies team – Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard – have to lead by example and really show their teammates that they want another World Series.

Regardless of all their problems, the Phillies still hold a lead in their division and have plenty of time to turn things around and play consistent baseball. I think they can do it.

PhilaTude’s First Phillies Post

May 11, 2009

Jimmy Rollins, (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Jimmy Rollins, (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Yes, here at PhilaTude, we are Phillies fans.  It hasn’t always been easy being Phillies fans, but we stuck with them and got rewarded with a World Series Championship in 2008.  In fact, there was a rough period in Phillies world when it was better to watch the Braves on TBS play good baseball than watch the Phillies suffer.

Today’s main point of a Phillies post is to discuss the potential of Jimmy Rollins sliding down in the batting order.  Manager Charlie Manuel hinted at this to help dig Rollins out of his slump.  I’m all for it.  I hope Jimmy is too.  There is no reason he shouldn’t be.  He has played in the majors 9 years, won an MVP award and has a World Series ring.  He has played multiple times in the All-Star game and is the toast of Philadelphia.  Rollins should do whatever his team needs him to do.  I’m not sure how Rollins will react, but my suspicion is that he’ll slide down in the batting order, but he won’t be happy.

If Rollins doesn’t want to move in the line-up, he better figure out quickly how to get out of his slump to help his team.

Oh yeah, the Phillies pitching staff isn’t really helping to win games, either.