Lidge is Manuel's Man

lidge 02.jpgLess than 24 hours ago, I think most everybody would have said Brad Lidge had turned a corner.

Since he blew consecutive saves against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on May 23-24, Lidge was perfect in five save opportunities. In 4 2/3 innings, he had allowed just one hit and one walk. He had struck out five. Opponents had hit just .077 against him.

He looked good.

But then Pedro Feliz boots a ball with two outs Friday, which leads to Lidge blowing a save Friday against the Dodgers. Rafael Furcal then hit a pinch-hit solo home run to right field Saturday, which leads to another blown save.

Suddenly, everybody is asking about Lidge again.

“He’ll always be my guy,” Charlie Manuel said. “His stuff is good. There’s nothing wrong with his stuff. His stuff is good. … I think it’s important for him to keep his confidence. I think the opposite of how some other people think. My way of thinking is if you rest him or do something else with him or put him somewhere else, I think that can hurt his confidence. I’m speaking right from my heart. That’s how I look at it because I played 20 years. I think I do know a little bit about it. His stuff is still good.”

Lidge remains the closer. Ryan Madson remains the setup man.

I don’t disagree with Manuel, especially after the way Lidge had been throwing since Yankee Stadium. Especially after Feliz booted that ball Friday. If Feliz catches that ball Friday and Lidge still blows the game Saturday, I don’t think there are people calling for Madson to close.

“It has to be location,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre, asked about the difference between Lidge this season and last season. “Last year he was unhittable. I don’t know if anybody has gone as perfect as he did last year. But human beings play this game. His stuff looks good. It looks quality. He makes good pitches. Right now he’s just going through a bad streak.”

That said, you have to wonder about Lidge’s confidence. Lidge is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA and 13 saves in 19 opportunities in 28 appearances. His ERA is the seventh-highest in baseball amongst relief pitchers. His 68.4 percent save percentage is the lowest in baseball amongst closers with at least 10 save opportunities.

“The results are starting to frustrate me,” he said. “It just seems to be one thing. Tonight it was the slider he hit. I don’t know. I feel good, but I know something needs to change in terms of results. You’ve just got to get it done, and right now for whatever reason it’s not happening.”


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He’ll get it. But right now, I’m just gritting my teeth. Maybe he would have so many opportunities if certain people weren’t leaving so many dudes on base. Jussayin’…

I admire Charlie’s loyalty, but this can’t go on forever. If this is still an issue at the All Star break, how can you justify keeping Lidge in there? Is Charlie really willing to flush the whole season down the toilet out of loyalty to one player? There’s no way we’re going anywhere with this version of Lidge. Either he shapes up or ships out. Last year was great, and Lidge will always have a place in Phillies fans hearts, but geez, something has to give. He went from being historically good to historically bad in the span of 6 months.

I have the oddest feeling that his knee is injured. When a pitcher injures his knee, it throws his whole delivery off, thus the reason that his stuff looks good, but is hittable. Plus, the whole “pitching through the pain” and “loyalty” characteristics show strong in this team, and although it’s a good thing when your winning games with minor injuries, it’s not good when the team is losing games because of it.
Put Lidge on the 15 day DL. He could use the rest and I would like to see what Madson looks like as the everyday closer as opposed to the spot-closer.

I had the same seats today as yesterday between first base and right field and Werth missed catching that homer by a hair. How good was it to see Victorino back in there. Blanton pitched well if that’s a consolation. Even though Lidge blew the save, he could have pitched another inning. Charlie was down to no players and someone mentioned that Hamels had a bat. The toughest thing to swallow was to allow Park or Taschner to finish. They will probably win on Sunday because I’m not ging to the game. Remember when the team told Victorino to lay off the fist pump. The Dodgers are pretty good at that stuff. LA does have a lot of actors in the town. Larry King, now that’s creepy.

Here is the issue. If Madson throws 1-2-3 8th and looks good, don’t take him out. This blind following of must have closer in 9th is not smart as proven this year. If Madson starts the 9th and has some early trouble, then you bring on closer to close. I just don’t get the way managers continually give games away.

I’ve decided I’m going to go along with what Charlie Manual says because I’ve come to believe he’s a damn smart baseball man.

Manuel is a smart baseball man because he understands that 162 games is a long season. He’s patient and believes in his players and eventually the team develops into its full potential when it matters most… September and October! That’s what he did last year and we have a championship. I like that he is taking the same approach this year. Keep in mind, even with 6 blown saves, the Phils still have the second best winning percentage in the league. This team will be scary good when they put all the pieces together!

Firday’s. blown save wasn’t really Lidge’s fault. And I’m sure he knows that. But how many does he have to blow, before it starts getting in his head? It’s not like a position player, who goes in a slump. He has at least 8 other guys backing him up. The FINAL outcome of the game depends on the closer. I sure hope the support from Charlie, and I’m sure the rest of the team, keeps his spirits up. Otherwise…….We’re in deep doodoo!

I agree it’s way too early to write Lidge off as the closer, BUT I do think I would adjust my thinking on when I use him. For now, if it’s a one run game, I’m using Madson. Two runs or more Lidge. He needs to get his mojo back (assuming it’s not a physical problem) and I can’t sacrifice winning for ego. Let him have some success in those situations first, then move him back to one run saves. Despite his turnaround after the Yankees games, he wasn’t facing very potent hitters, so his improvement is a bit of a mirage. We should be sitting on a five game lead. I sometimes admire Charlie’s loyalty but for Brad , he is in a “what have you done for me lately” position. He’s not doing the job and he needs to get his confidence back to execute better. Same goes for Rollins, who is a complete mystery to me, he looks like Molly Putz at the plate, no discipline (nothing new). At least he still plays defense very well.

What is as troubling as Lidge is the lack of hitting. The last two Dodgers pitchers were no better than OK and the Phillies have had some terrible at-bats. Friday was a complete team loss (defense, timely hitting, Lidge) but yesterday was more on Lidge. The pitch to Furcal was weak and very hittable.
I understand Chollie’s loyalty and I am not worried about Lidge as much as I am about the bench. We all saw how missing one player (Victorino) effects the lineup. They need to get another righthanded bat because Bruntlett cannot be a rightfielder. He can’t hit and he let two balls drop that Werth or Vic or Mayberry would have had. They should send down Taschner and Bruntlett and bring up Ozuna and Mayberry. If they don’t want to bring up Mayberry then get a veteran bench player elsewhere. Bruntlett may be a World F’ing Champion but he has spent my goodwill. He stinks.

I don’t understand why all this Phillies fans are starting to push the panic button. Phillies are still leading the NL East. They still have the second best record behind Dodgers, and they still are a damm goood team. Yes, would I like Lidge to close every game he got into? Of course. But he is human he is not going to be perfect again like last year. Right now, he’s going trough a rough time and it happens to every player. Before he blew this 2 saves, he was pitching as good as he did last year in my opinion, So you have to ride it out right now. i trust Charlie on this one. And if I read Todd’s story correcly, Joe Torre said the samething Charlie said about Lidge’s stuff. So, even Torre agrees with Charlie about Lidge.

I have gone to all 3 games of this series and I will be there tonite, I’m a die hard Dodger fan and i’m here with my friend who is a philly fan, i’m not hear to talk sh^t or anything, but before you blame lidge look at the fact that we have allowed countless guys to get on in front of howard and ibanez this whole weekend and they have done nothing. The only guys that have showed up for you are utley and stairs (and of course hamels on thirsday when he dominated us) i’m a little nervous because I know that howard and raul cant be contained forever, hopefully for 1 more game though. I’m sure we’ll see you again in October….GO DODGERS!!

While I agree that it’s painful to see Lidge struggling, I do not want to see Madson in this role. In this day & age of ridiculous “inning” roles for pitchers, teams do not maximize their talent well enough. Say what you want, but right now, Lidge is the 2nd best reliever on this team (talent-wise). Madson is pitching better so he is the best. Madson pitched yesterday WHEN your best reliever SHOULD be pitching… and I’m not talking about the 8th inning. He came in and pitched to the 3,4,5 and 6 hitters in the LA lineup. It just so happened that it “worked out” that it was Madson’s inning. I’m tired of seeing relievers used in certain innings because that’s THEIR inning. The best relievers need to be used against the opponent’s best hitters.

Sorry – I know this blog entry was more about Lidge than Madson but I’m scared to death we’re gonna see Madson eventually pitching the 9th…. use your best guy when you need him (based on upcoming lineup, NOT inning)

I do agree with Charlie letting Lidge continue to close. I think closers are a lot like hockey goalies in that they can sour fast. I do agree that their may be other physical problems with him where nobody is talking. Their was a blurb in the LA paper that Lidge this year is predictable. Guys used to swing early in the count at the slider and he would get ahead. This year they’re waiting and he gets behind early; that he should throw more first pitch fastballs. I have mixed feelings in that they may tag his first pitch more often.

The difference between Lidge of last year and Lidge of this year can be summed up in one letter – “o.” Last year it was: “Oh good, Lidge is coming in.” This year, it is: “Oh God, Lidge is coming in.”

Statistically, how do you charge someone with a blown save if the run is unearned? He pitched the ball, a defender (other than him) made the mistake, but the pitcher is still penalized. That makes no sense.

Relief pitching is a nasty, dangerous business. You have to strike out everyone, walk nobody, and induce as many ground balls as you can. Five years ago, the best relievers in baseball were Armando Benitez and Jason Isringhausen. Look where they are now. I’m not trying to make excuses, but on those three criteria, Lidge will always have more ability than Madson.

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