Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Hardly A Big Hit

While everyone has been justifiably concerned with the Phillies’ starting pitching, the hitting hasn’t been anything to crow about lately either. In their last eight games the Phils have been shut down three straight times in Houston, once in Colorado and last night at home against the Cubs.

In the process they have wasted some fine starts by among others Vicente Padilla. Their inability to put together good pitching and hitting in something resembling a streak is the primary reason the Phils will not make the playoffs.

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Last night’s loss to the Cubs can be attributed largely to the absence of hitting noted above, but at least some of the blame falls on Charlie Manuel. Why did he insert Matt Kata as a pinch runner for Pat Burrell when the run he represented would not have mattered as much (Utley and Abreu were ahead of him on third and second and the Phils trailed by two runs) instead of having the switch-hitting Kata bat for David Bell against right-hander Ryan Dempster? Or, at the very least Manuel could have had switch-hitter Tomas Perez bat for Bell instead of waiting one batter later and substituting him for Mike Lieberthal? Bell, predictably, struck out. His average against right-handers hovers around the Mendoza line.

Perez’s at-bat wasn’t a thing of beauty either. He swung at one pitch at eye level and another one that was clearly a ball. Dempster had already walked the four batters in the inning before their at-bats, but Bell and Perez must have been watching another game at the time.

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Secretly, I harbored the fantasy that Placido Polanco would re-sign with the Phillies at the end of this season and play third base next year. But then I read the following:

The Tigers agreed to terms Tuesday with infielder Placido Polanco on a four-year contract extension that will stretch through the 2009 season. Polanco was acquired by Detroit from the Phillies on June 8 in the deal that sent right-handed reliever Ugueth Urbina and infielder Ramon Martinez to Philadelphia.

The 29-year-old second baseman is batting .362 with 22 runs scored, eight doubles, a triple, two home runs and 17 RBIs in 31 games with the Tigers. [He is hitting .337 overall this season.]

I didn’t bother to look up David Bell’s numbers for the comparable period.


Tom Goodman said...

Everyone in the local blogosphere had similar complaints about CM's decisions last night. Most wondered why Jason Michaels wasn't used as a pinch hitter. That would have been a preferable call to having Bell bat again, but let's assume Manuel was playing the percentages strictly by the book. He still had two switch-hitters available but misused one and belatedly used the other.

None of this absolves the players from their typical lack of plate discipline.

Tom Durso said...

Indeed, there was, shall we say, quite enough blame to go around.

Ninety-five million bucks just doesn't buy what it used to.