Area Man Helps Local Nine Win Big, Closer Struggles

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Needed that one.

Brian Schneider hits a game-winning solo homer to right field in the 12th inning last night to beat the Reds, 4-3. The Phillies hope they can finish the weekend strong, lick their wounds over the All-Star break and come back ready for their annual second-half push.

But red lights are flashing again in the ninth inning. Brad Lidge blew another save. He is 1-0 with an 11.57 ERA and one save in four opportunities in his last five appearances. The Phillies got to the World Series last season with Lidge struggling. It is hard to imagine they go back with him struggling like that again. The odds are just against it.

The Phillies are looking for pitching help, more than infield help because they except their big boppers to start hitting and because they expect Placido Polanco to be back soon. Say the Phillies can only improve one area. Do they go for the rotation or bullpen? I might go bullpen. Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have been solid atop the rotation. Jamie Moyer, except for a few starts, has been solid. I’ve got to think Joe Blanton will turn things around. J.A. Happ and Kyle Kendrick can be a fifth starter. (Plus, Pedro Martinez is still out there.) But the Phillies don’t want to go through the same dance as last season, not knowing if they can rely on Lidge in the ninth inning. It would be nice to have a backup plan. Ryan Madson hasn’t handled that role well. Danys Baez was supposed to be an option, but Charlie Manuel has made him a mop up man lately.

Thoughts?

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I will be signing copies of my book Saturday from 4-4:45 p.m. during Pigapalooza at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

5 Comments

Kudos on the Onion-esque headline, Zo! Assuming that’s what you were doing there.

Manuel is adamant about Lidge being his closer. It’s hard to change that man’s mind . Lidge has been inconsistant like the rest of the team. For sure, we need someone who is solid. We do need someone in the bullpen that we can rely on to seal the deal at the end of the game. It use to be Lidge but it’s not looking that way any more.
http://barbward.mlblogs.com

Utley was having a disappointing year befor the injury. Ditto Victorino. Ibanez. Werth. And yes, Howard has hit for average, and driven in runs, but does anybody really see him as a “scary” hitter the way they do Pujols and Votto this year or Manny a few years back. Really? He is now or will be by next year (I think), something like the second highest paid player in ALL of baseball. In New York he’d be getting ripped or at least held accountable… deservedly. Also, not sure Hamels has been “solid.” Going on 2 years now since he was a dominant force. I’m convinced a big reason the Phils didn’t sign Lee was Hamels’ already fragile ego and the question of how he would handle going from the “ace” in 2008 to a possible number four behind Roy, Lee and Happ.

Call me crazy, but why wouldn’t Amaro dangle Hamels and Werth for Lee?

I’ve posted about Howard on here in the past and have been swatted down like Howard is untouchable, but I agree – he is not feared by opposing teams, any decent left hander can easily get him out. Maybe it’s the fact that Werth is doing so poorly that Howard isn’t getting any pitches to hit, but I’d expect more from such a high paid player.

I do agree that the Phils need bullpen and not starting pitching help – sooner or later they have to admit that Lidge is done. We’ll always love him for that perfect season he had in ’08, but what have you done for us lately?

The news today that the Yanks are close to securing Lee’s services for the rest of the year is sickening. I hope they send Amaro a cigar when they have another parade this year.

On Schneider & Lidge… it seems that Lidge is not comfortable pitching to him… Lidge followed the inning where the so-called “wild pitch/strike out” from Madson got lost somewhere around the backstop and with no one covering home, Madson got a blown save…. It was a “Passed Ball” which Schneider admitted after the game and said he apologized to Madson for it – he should have blocked it. It seemed to me that Lidge was afraid to throw anything that might land in the dirt for fear that Schneider wouldn’t be able to block it. A walk-off home run isn’t complete redemption for the double blown saves (Madson & Lidge) and three extra innings of work for the bullpen but it helps a little. Hopefully, a healthy Chooch will be back behind the plate soon. The Phillies need a strong backup catcher for him though and Schneider is simply not it! Check out the won-lost record for games Schneider has started vs. games Chooch has started. I’m not ready to give up on Lidge yet and hope that decent catching will improve his confidence.

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