I’ve been advocating a switch to Ryan Madson in ninth inning situations since the very beginning of Brad Lidge’s struggles this season. Charlie Manuel seems to be viewing the situation differently.
“He’ll always be my guy,” Charlie Manuel said. “His stuff is good. There’s nothing wrong with his stuff. His stuff is good.”
He may be half right. If Pedro Feliz doesn’t boot that grounder on Friday night, Lidge escapes without another blown save, making Saturday only his fifth of the year. Already. He’s on pace to blow more than 10 regardless of Friday night. His ERA is still above seven.
But Manuel thinks there are more important things than preserving leads and winning games.
“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.”
Yeah, that doesn’t come off as defensive or anything, Chuck.
You’re honestly worried about hurting his confidence? Lidge is not an imbecile; he knows he’s had an awful first third of the season. I have a hard time believing his confidence in himself isn’t already shaken.
“The results are starting to frustrate me…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.”
Well, how about looking at this another way: how confident are his teammates in Lidge?
Now, this is not a combustible clubhouse – yet – and no one will come to the media throwing Lidge under the bus – yet – and that’s for the best. But you have to wonder just how reliable Lidge is in the minds of his defense, fellow ‘pen members, and the starters whose leads he may be protecting.
This high-wire act was bound to come crashing down eventually. It just seems that every heart-in-throat save from 2008 has manifested its alternate reality into the beginning of 2009.
Lidge looks bad, and this isn’t just a cold streak. Something is wrong, and while mystery swirls in the air, the Phillies are losing games they should be winning.
You can’t be perfect every year. Hell, even to have it happen once is a blessing and something I certainly didn’t take for granted last year.
But just as every baseball person advocates having a “short memory” for pitchers after they give up runs, so, too, should managers have a short memory when it comes to the use of their pitchers. Lidge’s grace period for his 2008 performance is over. He shouldn’t keep getting votes of confidence from his manager.
There are at least two relievers on this current staff that are better suited for the “closer” role than Brad Lidge currently is, big contract or not. It’s just a shame that no one seems to realize it, and one can only wonder how many more games Lidge will cost the Phillies before the situation is remedied.