2-0 Brewers through six: At what point do the Phillies realize batting David Bell and Mike Lieberthal back-to-back ahead of the pitcher gives them no shot at producing runs for one-third of a ballgame?
Do they understand how easy it is to fix?
In Friday’s 3-1 loss, Bell and Lieberthal combined to go 1-8. In this afternoon’s game against Cy Young Tomo Ohka, they’re hitless, forcing Vicente Padilla to lead off the inning twice. They did the same his last outing on August 1.
From now until the end of the season, I'm adopting a firm stance that Bell and Lieberthal cannot hit back-to-back. Nothing will sway me otherwise. On days they're together, the Phils average about 3 runs or less. I'll do the research later, but I'm sure of this. (Update: 3.75 RPG with Bell and Lieberthal back-to-back. See George S.' shocking breakdown in the comments thread below).
The solution can be as simple as making them both part-time and using them different days. I'd rather keep Jimmy Rollins, Kenny Lofton and Jason Michaels where they are at the top of the order and simply remove Bell and Lieberthal from the equation.
Todd Pratt has earned the privilege to split time or start, and manager Charlie Manuel has talked to the Inquirer about using him more. Pratt is having a better season statistically than Lieberthal and still appears interested in winning and keeping pitchers focused. Having played fewer games this brutalizing summer, he should be fresh. Lieberthal, on the other hand, looks bored, injured, tired or all of the above.
It's time for Lieby to sit out a few more a dream about retiring to sunny California.
They say Pratt has holes in his swing. No kidding, and so what? With less than two months left, nobody's paying attention. Pratt has become Jon Lieber's personal guy, catching most of his outings lately. Lieberthal seems to have a handle on Vicente Padilla, so throw him that bone.
If splitting up the black hole means using Tomas Perez more to replace Bell at third, go right ahead. Bell is less of a problem than Lieby, but the Phils tend to win a high number of games with either Perez or Pratt in the starting lineup.
Oh, and by the way, as of this writing, Padilla has accounted for a third of the Phillies hits so far this afternoon.
I didn’t have a chance to post this a.m. Needless to say, I’m not surprised they’re being shut out by Ohka. There’s something about him reminiscent of the type of pitchers they're mystified by.
Updated final score:
2-0 Brewers. Disgraceful. Embarrassing. Typical.
Eight shutout innings and a season high nine strikeouts for Ohka, who was dumped by Washington for Junior Spivey earlier in the year. Bell and Lieberthal went 1-6, with Bell doubling late in the game. Good for him. Because he was in scoring position, he was stranded by Lieberthal, Perez and Rollins.
That's the Phightin' way.
How foolish was it that Billy Wagner wasn't traded for young replacements at catcher and third base?
Bottom line lesson for the day: Split up Bell and Lieberthal - however Manuel wishes to do it. It's making life too easy for the Tomo Ohkas of the world.