2013 Is on Manuel’s Mind the Rest of the Way

Phillies RF Domonic Brown fails to catch Milwaukee’s Corey Hart’s 8th inning grandslam Thursday night. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)

MILWAUKEE — Everybody wants to win, even managaer Charlie Manuel.

But Manual and the Phillies find themselves in a different situation this year that has yet to be accepted by the fan base.

I get it, there is still a glimmer of hope on this season with 44 games to play and their being an extra wild card spot this season, but after five seasons of winning it has gotten to the heads of this fan base that losing is not as evitable as it pretty much is.

In Matt Gelb’s blog post late last night, he talks about this very thing, making a similar point I was making to a few friends last night about what manager Charlie Manuel did last night as far as decision making.

With a man on in the 8th inning and Ryan Braun due up, Manuel walked out to the mound with the hook, pulling Lee from the game while holding a 4-3 lead over the Brewers. It was the right move that made the most sense seeing as Lee was at 111 pitches and allowed three home runs already, two of them to the reigning National League MVP.

Manuel turned to righty Josh Lindblom, who the Phillies want to turn into a reliable 7th and 8th inning guy. This was his moment. This was what Manuel, general manager Ruben Amaro and pitching coach Rich Dubee wanted to see.

The scenario couldn’t have been any more perfect with it being a crucial situation in an almost meaningless game.

Unfortunately for the experiment, Lindblom failed. He put Braun and Aramis Ramirez on to load the bases and Corey Hart hit a grand slam to right field to give the Brewers and eventual 7-4 win.

“[Lee] had gone that far and pitched well,” Manuel said. “I wanted him to leave on a good note. I wanted him to win the game. It didn’t turn out that way.”

Even Lee, who always wants to remain, agreed. “Considering Braun was 2 for 3 with two home runs [off me],” he said, “it actually made some sense.”

Maybe Domonic Brown should have made that catch in the 9th inning, but it’s an incredibly difficult play for anyone to make and I’m not going to judge him, especially since I have a hard time reading routine pop ups at second base while playing slow-pitch softball.

It was all on Lindblom, who absolutely has to get the outs in this situation. It’s better he fails now than when the games are a little more meaningful.

“When we first got him, we wanted him to be able to pitch in the seventh in the eighth innings,” Manuel said. “We like his arm. We have to give him a chance to pitch. I look at it that way.”

Lindblom looks to be an important piece in the bull pen next season. Along with a healthy Michael Stutes and the hopeful return to dominance by Antonio Bastardo, the Phillies are trying to find the right combination of youth and veteran experience in a bull pen for next season that will be coming off of one of its worst seasons in team history.

Fans also asked: Why not bring in Jonathan Papelbon?

The Phillies have invested a decent chunk of money in Papelbon, who will always have his chance to pitch games. But Manuel has said it before and will continue to say that he doesn’t want to overwork Papelbon and have him pitch in too many multi-inning save situations.

“When I watch Papelbon sometimes, once I sit him and send him back out there, he has a little trouble,” Manuel said. “I’m not saying I wouldn’t have gone with him. I might have.”

It was the right move. Did it fail? Yes. Did it have an effect on this season? No.

This team is a contender in 2013 with the core they have. It’s time to find out what the other parts will be.


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