Monday, August 31, 2009

The One Decision Between the Phillies and Another World Series

Another week, another blown save by Brad Lidge.

Granted, Lidge's latest abomination was now four or five days ago at this point, but I've been stewing over it ever since. This one was particularly bad, in that we came back and took the lead 4-3 in the top of the ninth against the league-worst Pittsburgh Pirates, only to see Lidge blow it in the bottom of the 9th in spectacular fashion. This article pretty much sums it up better than I could, but suffice it to say, the rest of Philadelphia is finally starting to accept what I've been saying for months and months now:

Brad Lidge has got to go.

I know, I know, Brad Lidge was our savior in 2008. Over the entirety of the 2008 World Championship Philadelphia Phillies season, Lidge probably had as much to do with the city nabbing its first professional sports title in 25 years as anybody, period. His perfect 47 saves in 47 appearances will live on in stories told by grandfathers to grandsons for generations in Philly, believe me when I say that, and nobody was a bigger Lidge guy last year than me. You'll never hear me take anything away from what Lidge did in bouncing back from blowing huge playoff games on longballs for the Houston Astros to come in and basically be perfect for an entire season in 2008, and if I hear someone else minimize his contributions to the 2008 championship I won't even let it go for a second without educating the speaker on this game we call professional baseball.

But the thing is, this isn't 2008, and the 2009 flavor of Brad Lidge isn't anywhere near as good as the 2008 version. In fact, Brad Lidge absolutely sucks balls this year.

There, I said it.

As the above article references, Lidge's record is now up to 0-6 with an ERA of 7.33, easily the highest of any reliever in the majors. His nine blown saves so far in 2009 also leads both leagues by two saves over his closest competition for this ignominious stat. And it's not like blowing big games is exactly a new thing for Lidge. Astros fans would still like to have Lidge drawn and quartered after he single-handedly ruined their playoff run in 2005 by giving up a monstrous home run to Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and with the Astros just the one win away from advancing in the league championship series. No, sadly, Lidge has pretty much been a step-down-in-the-clutch kind of guy for years, somehow only digging deep again and again during the magical Phillies run of 2008, but in 2009 Lidge has reverted back to his old suck-job form, and Phillies fans are being forced to repeatedly bear the brunt of the decision to keep Lidge pitching.

The saddest part of the entire article to the Phillies fans is not the details of Lidge's latest failure, but rather Phils' manager Charlie Manuel's quote at the end of the piece:

"He's got to stay with it," Manuel said. "He's got to keep going. ... That's all we can do. ... That's where we're at. That's our closer. I've said that all along. That's the guy we give the ball to in the ninth inning."

I mean, Manuel makes it sound like he actually doesn't have an actual choice to actually sit Lidge's ass on the bench, on the DL, wherever. When in reality, if Manuel were not simply being too loyal to his hero from 2008, nothing could be further from the truth. As I've written about recently, Pedro Martinez was recently brought in by the Phillies, and here is a perfect example of a guy who has never won a championship but who could play a pivotal role for us by coming out of the bullpen to close our games. P-Mart is perfect for the role in many ways because he has the power, he has the finesse, and the one thing he doesn't have at this point in his career anymore is length. But for a 1- or even 2-inning guy, nobody who knows baseball can tell me that Pedro is a worse option than Brad Lidge right now. It's not even close. And let's not forget the man who Pedro replaced in the Phillies' starting rotation, old man Jamie Moyer, who still leads the team in wins with 12, now coming off the bench in a bullpen role already as it is. And there is also the imminent return of Brett Myers from injury, who not only has the stuff relievers are made of, but who has also pitched out of the 'pen in late relief already recently in his career in Philadelphia. So even if Manuel doesn't necessarily want to go with hard-throwing righthander Ryan Madson (who frankly hasn't been much better in this role than Lidge this year) to close games, in reality he's got plenty of options just sitting on the bench for him to go to instead of Lidge in any situation, any time he wants. Truthfully, Manuel probably has more realistic options at closer than anybody in the entire major leagues at this point in time. And yet somehow, he has no choice but to keep going again and again to the clearly dried-up well that is Brad Lidge? "He's our guy in the ninth inning, that's just the team we are?" WTF!

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Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

Madsen sucked when he was the closer, so it has to be Myers if any change is made I'd think.

1:53 AM  

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