With the postseason quickly approaching, skipper Charlie Manual has a major issue looming over his head.
Or maybe it's more of a headache.
If he has the lead in the ninth, who does he call on to save game come playoff time?
Manual and the Phillies now find themselves using a "closer-by-committee" to finish games with a little over two weeks until the NLDS begins.
And while Philadelphia holds its collective breath over which poison Manual will go with on any given night (Madson or Lidge), it would seem the entire situation could have been avoided.
Midseason it was evident that Brad Lidge was not in his 2008 form. His ERA was at least four runs higher than the year prior, his strikeouts were down, and his hits and walks were up, and more importantly, he was blowing games.
Not only had Lidge lost his "lights out" status, his bridge, the "Mad Dog" Ryan Madson, didn't perform much better in the role after Lidge was sent to the DL with a sprained right knee. The set-up man translated horribly to the closer as Madson was nearly a carbon-copy of Lidge in the ninth.
Manual however, stuck with his guy, hoping he'd iron out his problems, hoping he'd turn it on.
That's where the problem lies.
Manual, a noted players manager, supported his guy for too long.
Had he addressed the problem then through either a trade, position movement, or even through sheer trial and error, the Phillies might be focused on who is going to pitch what day in the playoffs instead of who is going to close games.
Benching Lidge in early August would have given him a chance to test Tyler Walker, or JC Romero (before his injury) in the closer role. We could have seen a trade for an established reliever who was looking for a role with a contender.
Instead he waited, and now it's too late.
The Phillies are stuck with a closer who can't close, a set-up man who can't don any better, and no time to send them anywhere to tweak their arm slot, motion, etc. And with Myer's shoulder injury and Martinez pitching well in the starting rotation; it doesn't look like we'll see a major change anytime soon.
Jamie Moyer and Chris Coste were both casualties of baseball moves (different moves, respectively) why wasn't Lidge?
Sometimes it's better to cast feelings aside and do what's best for the team, something Charlie Manual should have done a long time ago with Brad Lidge, when there was time.
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