SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why Are the Phillies Being So Patient with Brad Lidge?

If he were an NHL goalie and blew the percentage of saves he has during the season (about 1/3), a hockey GM would have been scrambling to find a new goalie or would have promoted the back-up. Last year, the Phillies' bullpen was the best in baseball and helped propel the team to become champions. This year, it's suffered from a long suspension because of a bonehead move (J.C. Romero, who is now hurt), injuries (to Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey) and poor performance (Lidge, who is in the first year of a 3-year, $36 million deal). The team has had some bright spots -- Madson, veteran journeyman Tyler Walker and converted starter Chan Ho Park, but it needs it's bullpen to get healthy and more effective -- and soon.

The Phillies need another solution -- and fast. The situation appears to be so critical that they risk missing the playoffs because manager Charlie Manuel doesn't know which Lidge will show up night after night. Lidge continues to say he's confident -- but what the heck is he supposed to say? He's acting like the starting pitcher who's thrown 133 pitches in 7 2/3 innings, has the bases loaded on two walks and a dink hit with no outs leading by three runs and tells the skipper that he feels great. Of course, players say that all the time -- but it's the manager's and general manager's job to see through the conversation and make the hard call.

The Phillies should have worked harder before the trading deadline to get an insurance policy at closer -- George Sherrill (now on the Dodgers, where he could tantalize the Phillies' predominantly lefty hitters in a setup role in the playoffs) or Chad Qualls of the Diamondbacks. Either that or they need to give Ryan Madson another chance to close or hope that Brett Myers can return soon to rekindle the closing magic that he showed 2 seasons ago (as his arm won't be stretched out enough to let him become a starter by year's end).

Because doing nothing and letting the season erode before their eyes just won't work -- not for a team with a currrent reputation for taking action, not for a team with this talent, not for a team which, if it fixes this problem and gets the hitters a little hotter -- could repeat as champions.

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