Friday, October 05, 2007

Sorry, Uncle Charlie

Charlie Manuel has done a lot of things right this season as manager of the Phillies. He's kept the team's head in it when it looked like they were drowning early. He came up with a way to turn a glut of below-average third basemen into a useful platoon. At no point did he throw a snowball at Santa Claus. Stuff like that.

But the one place his tactical acumen always failed him, and the main reason that serious Phillies bloggers always referred to him as Charlie "Needs A" Manuel, was his handling of the bullpen. Now, to be fair, Pat Gillick hasn't exactly given Manuel the Magnificent Seven out there, choosing instead to pick up every aged reliever who once saved an important game involving the Florida Marlins. There's El Pulpo Alfonseca, who can best be described as the second coming of Joe Table. There's Jose Mesa himself, so old that I saw a CGI version of him attacking a brontosaurus in the latest installment of Walking With Dinosaurs. There's Geary and Madson, both worked to death by Charlie in best pseudo-Yankee tradition. There's Clay Condrey, a reliever so bad his name literally is mud. You get the idea.

But none of that excuses going to Kyle Lohse as a reliever with the bases loaded, when he's basically never pitched as a reliever before. And none of that excuses pinch-hitting for him immediately thereafter, negating the innings-munching effect of using a starter as a reliever, and forcing a guy like Jose Mesa into the game. What's worse, burning Lohse for minimal work means that the Phils are forced to rely on aged soft-tosser Jamie Moyer, a guy who lives and dies by his breaking stuff, in an elimination game at Coors Field.

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