Insightful readers emerge from the woodwork every day on this space, and last night was no exception, as Phillie Phorever wondered what Charlie Manuel was thinking in the ninth.
"Charlie Manuel's mishandling of third base is costing the Phillies, and I seriously doubt he will realize that, tonight, he unknowingly burned three players (Feliz, Dobbs, Bruntlett) as he did time after time last season (Helms, Dobbs, Nunez).
"For the manager to pinch run Bruntlett in place of Feliz -- who was already in scoring position with no one out! -- is ridiculous. Presumably, the reason Dobbs does not start is because he is below average defensively at 3B (Editor's note: Dobbs also has a sore back), even though he is clearly a better hitter against right-handed pitching than Feliz. If that is the case, why would you remove your top defender at that position for the bottom of the ninth, when defense matters most?
"Moreover, is Bruntlett that much faster than Feliz? Even if he were Vince Coleman, Feliz is standing on second base with nobody out. As it turns out, Bruntlett winds up trotting home, which, conceivably, Feliz could have done just as well. Thus, Manuel removed his top defensive third baseman for no reason.
"On top of this, he leaves Dobbs in to run for himself! What the hell is So Taguchi doing on this team if he is not pinch running or catching balls in the outfield? It's almost as if Manuel tries something and it doesn't play out favorably, so he changes his strategy mid-inning. The equivalent would be splitting 8s in blackjack, losing both hands, and never doing it again even though it is the proper statistical play.
"Dobbs gets thrown out at the plate. One, Dobbs should never have been sent (not even with two outs) because Utley was on deck. Thus, your best hitter doesn't have a chance to hit. However, if that run was important enough for Smith to send Dobbs even with Utley standing there, why wasn't Taguchi running for Dobbs? Wouldn't Taguchi have beaten the throw?
"The decision making on this team by the coaching staff is brutal. What, exactly, would Manuel have done had this game gone to extra innings? Who would he have double switched Lidge's spot with? It couldn't be Bruntlett, because that would leave them with Coste as their third baseman. Burrell was still in the lineup. Would his second pinch hitter be Adam Eaton? Maybe the guy can handle a clubhouse, but he cannot make baseball decisions."
-- Phillie Phorever