May 12, 2005

Phils-Brewers wrap: Manuel feeling heat

As the Phillies pass the symbolic 35 game mark, the Brewers series will be remembered as the point Phillies fans added Charlie Manuel to the list.

Yesterday's 5-2 loss was preceded by Manuel's reported comments to the media revealing his ignorance managing in the National League, and also admitting he needed to play Chase Utley more. Manuel followed up by sitting Utley yesterday, and then kept Cory Lidle in the game too long, outlasting his usefulness by the eighth inning.

The loss put the Phils 6 1/2 back of first-place Atlanta as the Phils wasted a career-high 11 strikeouts from Lidle.

As the downward spiral continues, words repeatedly heard on sports radio to describe Manuel include "buffoon," "overmatched," and the always popular “worst manager in franchise history." Even I was feeling downright nostalgic for Larry Bowa yesterday, looking comparatively eloquent and upper-crust in his new gig on Baseball Tonight.

To the defense of both men, the team bestowed upon them is no prize. This is no small point: A team that has David Bell (.224 BA, .313 SLG) batting out of the five-hole is a bad baseball team. A team that has Jimmy Rollins (.237 BA, .289 OBP) as a leadoff hitter is a bad baseball team. The fact that Bowa managed to get better than .500 ball out of this lot should have warranted a lifetime contract instead of a pink slip.

When so many parts are playing this poorly, it tells me there's something wrong with the heart and passion of the team. Under Bowa, a fearless competitor and perfectionist, the team often came up flat, but seem to be playing with even less desire under jolly Cholly.

Compounding the issue, there hasn’t been much rhyme or reason to his decision making, aside from his steadfast use of, among other things, Tim Worrell in the set-up role and Jose Offerman getting all the pinch-hit chances. After a mostly favorable review the first week or two, his gut instinct has been mostly wrong since – pulling pitchers too soon, leaving them in too long, pinch hitting with the wrong guy, and the list goes on.

These decisions are open to speculation, and regarding the platoon issue, I maintain Placido Polanco will hit LHP better than Chase Utley. The gripe now, of course, is Utley's bat has been the most consistent all season, and a lineup that features both Polanco and David Bell gives the Phils one too many light-hitting bats. With Pat Burrell hitting .211 in May, there are plenty of those to go around.

At this point, all the possibilities have been thoroughly exhausted (Howard, Byrd, Floyd) except one: a trade.

It's important for the Phils to deal Polanco sooner rather than later. Why? The answer is the same as the answer to Manuel's question: What is this team about 35 games into the season?

It's about Polanco, forcing him into the lineup, and a ridiculous, lingering distraction over a player who shouldn't have been on the team in the first place.


At 8:39 PM, Blogger That Dude said...

Fucking Manuel is a maroon. He lets lieber hit with two men on and one out. He doesnt argue player interference on Abreu's run at home. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 11:01 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

they're all idiots. manuel stinks. wade stinks. it's really disappointing.

should've hired terry pendleton.


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