Monday, April 10, 2006

April Founderings Bring May Firings

A few more weeks like the first one and I expect GM Pat Gillick to lower the boom on Charlie Manuel.  

Much as I hate to see anyone lose his job, especially someone as dedicated to the game as the Phillies skipper clearly is, the move may already be overdue.  We can endlessly debate how many games a manager actually wins or loses, but the growing perception is Charlie is painfully overmatched at the helm.  

In his first year in the National League Charlie often seemed stumped by certain in-game decisions, especially the double switch, but his problems are more fundamental than that.  

Manuel’s well-known loyalty to veterans, especially those whose natural abilities are “limited”, is an admirable personal trait but an ongoing disaster from a team standpoint.  No one better represents this ill-considered approach than David Bell, whose continued presence in the starting lineup, particularly against right-handed pitching, is beyond inexplicable at this stage; it is inexcusable.  To wit: what could Manuel possibly have been thinking yesterday when he let David Bell bat in the bottom of the eighth in game one against a right-hander when he had David Dellucci on the bench?  The results were predictable: 1-6-3.  Bell is now 1-14 for the season.

The move begs the larger question:  Gillick must have thought the Phils needed another left-handed bat off the bench when he acquired Dellucci on the Sunday before the regular season began, but did Manuel concur?

You want more?

The decision to sit several key players in the second half of yesterday’s twin bill against the Dodgers is difficult to explain when one looks at the details.  Why would Manuel sit Aaron Rowand, a young enough guy who finally got untracked in the first game yesterday, so early in the season?  To rest him?  To give Shane Victorino a start?  If the latter, try left field, then, where Pat Burrell and his nagging foot problems could have used the rest.  Why sit Ryan Howard, another youngster with the stamina to play two in one day, when he is one of your premier power hitter and the Dodgers were starting the right-hander Brad Penny?  Providing everyone a chance to play is an admirable idea, but not when your team was the last one in the majors to win its first game of the season a week after getting underway.

Keeping a 25-man roster happy by giving everyone a chance to play is one thing; keeping them happy by giving them the best opportunity to win is something else.


Ankit Desai said...

I am totally dumb-founded by Manuel's managing and his lineup selection. About your Ryan Howard/Aaron Rowand point: Didn't the Phils have a day off on Saturday due to the rainout? Howard also didn't play the final week of ST games, so how could he have been tired or why is it important to keep people on the team happy and get their at-bats when you only have 1 win in 5 home games?

Why do you still have the Black Hole intact knowing how they did all of last year. After missing the playoffs by ONE game, you would think that the manager would have learned the value of 'just one game in April'.

Now you have 1 win in 6 home games to begin the season and get to go to Atlanta and Colorado. In Atlanta, we may have missed out on facing Smoltz/Hudson but we have bigger problems against John Thompson and Jorge Sosa and any of their other run-of-the-mill/mediocre pitchers.

Please fire some one soon!!!

Tom Goodman said...

Even had they not had the rainout, a good point you make, these guys are young enough to play two games. He wants to sit Rowand against a right-hander in game two and put in an all left-handed outfield, but right after Rowand finds his stroke. It isn't as if he'd been platooning him up until now. And worse, Penny had never seen Rowand, an advantage to the hitter.

Oisín/Wizlah said...

Bell in the bottom of the eighth was plain exasperating. With the runners on, I just rolled my eyes at the thought of the advancing black hole. Though temporarily caught up in the good humour of the crowd, I suddenly realised we hadn't a hope of getting out of the inning without scoring.

I have hoped that manuel would start making changes after his first week. Also, it seemed to me that rowand's stroke was so much more effective in the opening game when he was breaking up the catcher and the pitcher.

I didn't see the second game (ran for the train to get back to new york and a patient wife), but I wondered whether he was going to sit any regulars. It seemed foolish, even going into a series with the braves, given the outpouring of emotion from the fans when we won the first game. It would have set the team up nicely to have got that again in the second game.

Tom G said...

Tom, when I clicked over to the second game during a break in the Masters and saw the lineup Manuel had in, the same thoughts occurred to me as well. How is it that Manuel is regressing as a manager rather than improving?

George S said...

I expect the manager to always be trying to put his best team on the field. If you have to 'rest' players the first week of the season, then these players are out of shape.
CM is not putting his best team out there for some strange reason. If he thinks his lineup is in fact the best he can come up with, then he should be shown the door.
As a fan, you should not be expected to support the team (buying tickets) if you cannot expect to see the best product available.

As I watch the Phillies trailing 5-3 here in the 8th inning at Atlanta, I'm afraid I'm seeing the blueprint for the future: The team falls behind, gets another short stint from their starter, claws back to tie despite a terrible RISP, has the bullpen give back the lead, and then allow insurance run(s) late. I also sit through David Bell standing at 2B, representing the tyong run in the top of the 8th, and not being pinch-run for.
That is a depressing template.