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Being too left-handed finally bringing down Phillies

Nov 2, 2009, 4:32 PM EDT

It was the obvious issue when GM Ruben Amaro opted for Raul Ibanez over Pat Burrell last winter: the Phillies would have big problems against left-handed pitching with so much of their power coming from the left side.
It turned out to be a non-factor during the regular season. Ibanez, who went into the year with a career OPS of 740 against left-handers, delivered a remarkable .285/.359/.639 line in 144 at-bats versus southpaws. Chase Utley came in at .288/.417/.545. Jayson Werth, the one right-handed hitter in the middle of the order, destroyed lefties to the tune of a 1080 OPS. Only Ryan Howard struggled against them, finishing at .207/.298/.356.
The Phillies also didn’t have any problems with lefties in the first two rounds of the postseason. The Rockies didn’t have any left-handed starters to throw in the NLDS, and the Phillies got to both Clayton Kershaw and Randy Wolf in the NLCS.
The Yankees, though, set it up so that they’d be able to throw a lefty five times in the seven games of the World Series. The Phillies have held their own against CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte, but they’ve lost two of the three games started by the pair so far. Utley, who has taken Sabathia deep twice, is the only left-handed hitter producing right now. He’s slugging .933 in four games.
Howard and Ibanez are a combined 6-for-33 with no homers and an incredible 19/0 K/BB ratio. Switch-hitters Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are both hitting just .200, though they’ve at least managed six walks between them. Besides Utley, Werth and Carlos Ruiz have been the team’s best hitters.
And that’s where manager Charlie Manuel’s lineup has failed. Adjustments could have been made to give the right-handed hitters more chances to produce runs. Manuel used to be willing to put Werth in the second spot in the order. Victorino could also be moved around as well. Manuel, though, has stuck with the exact same lineup, excepting only the DH games, in every postseason contest so far.
Right now, all of the Phillies’ production is coming from the third, fifth and eighth spots in the lineup. Since no one else is getting on base, all seven of their homers through four games have been solo shots. The inability to sustain any sort of rally is the biggest reason the Phillies are about to lose the World Series.
I’ll be hosting a live chat during Game 5 of the World Series tonight. Check back at 8 pm EST.

  1. Stephanie - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:01 PM

    I can’t stand these sportswriters who know nothing about the Phillies all of a sudden opine about the lefty-ness of the Phillies’ line up. Your post says it all. It didn’t matter in the regular season or the playoffs. And, it didn’t matter last year when the Phillies won the world series with the same line-up except for one person. Are you really arguing that having one more right-handed batter made ALL THE DIFFERENCE? If so, you are not looking at the game and are just seizing on the easiest argument for you to make. Certainly, the Phillies are not the same team as last year’s, but having Ibanez instead of Burrell is not what is bringing down the Phillies. Give us some real insight and not elementary doubtful assertions that mean nothing.

  2. jimborific - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:03 PM

    Stephanie where have you been all my life?

  3. postseason09 - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:20 PM

    I’m tired of everyone calling the Phils “The Champs”. Last year they beat the Ray’s… I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t count…
    I’m sure that if the Red Sox had taken the Ray’s as seriously as the Phils did, they would’ve been “The Champs”, because, no way would the Phils have beaten the Red Sox in 2008.
    Beating a one-hit-wonder like the Tampa Bay Devil Rays doesn’t make you a champion.

  4. John - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:22 PM

    Don’t worry Stephanie for the comeback begins tonight, left-handers and all! PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  5. John - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:26 PM

    So if the Phillies aren’t “the Champs” and should the Yankees go on to defeat them (fat chance) what does that make the Yankees? They certainly can’t call themselves “the Champs” if they defeat such a “lowly” team as the Phillies who aren’t even real champs, no? 😉 Anyway it’s all a moot point for Philadelphia begins the comeback tonight! PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  6. Kipper - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:28 PM

    Doggone Philles better get it together tonite otherwise they gonna be the Yankees’ bitttch! That means the Philles gonna have to get down on their knees and do a slurp job on A-Rod – Jeter – Damon.
    No thank you sir!

  7. Joey B - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:38 PM

    Not for nothing, but losing 2-3 against CC twice and Pettitte once, isn’t really indicative of anything. The lefty SPs for the NYY have an ERA v the Phils of 4.12 and the righty SP has an ERA of 1.29.
    Could one reasonably conclude that they need more lefty hitters, and not less?

  8. CJR - Nov 2, 2009 at 6:47 PM

    You are a moron. The Rays beat everyone. They won their division. They made it to the World Series. So, I guess since the Red Sox aren’t really the ’07 Champs because they beat the Rockies. By your retarded (i.e., Yankee) logic, only the Marlins and the Diamonbacks are the real champs because they beat the pay-to-play Yankees. Do us a favor…go hang yourself.

  9. John is just not smart. - Nov 2, 2009 at 7:36 PM

    Wow, John never stops posting his moronic Phillies in whatever or Angels in whatever comments. Seriously, you’ve changed that at least 3 times. You do realize you’re supposed to get it correct the first time to mean something, right? And even then well…doesn’t mean too particularly much.

  10. Brenda - Nov 2, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    During the regular season nor against LA, the Phillies didn’t have to face lefties 5 times in 7 games, and good lefties,too. Kershaw isn’t there yet and, perhaps, will never be. Wolf is all that he is going to be and that is just an average SP. If the Phillies had to face a good lefty for 5 out of every 7 games during the regular season, they would have been in trouble all year. They should consider getting some good hitting righties. So rant all you want. The writer’s point is that the Yankees are able to exploit the Phillies’ weaknesses in a way that other teams couldn’t.

  11. Marc - Nov 2, 2009 at 7:52 PM

    I agree with Jimborific!!! Where have you been all my life Stephanie? If you feel that way about futbol and football I’ll steal you away and live with you on a deserted island with nothing but a stereo and a satellite tv sports pkg. LOLOL! 😀

  12. Brenda - Nov 2, 2009 at 7:54 PM

    I’m no Rays, Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, et al. fan. But boy are you a sore loser! Why weren’t the Red Sox in the WS last year? Because they didn’t take Tampa Bay seriously? Lol

  13. brad - Nov 2, 2009 at 8:09 PM

    lol..the phillies’ fans are so shaken up by the events unfolding in the series that they have a local paper already declaring them champss!! Good luck philly fans…you’re going to need it…but i have to admit…seeing all the philly fans on their butts last night in the 9th inning looking all sour was a nice sight to see from a dodger fans perspective….one out away from tying the series 2-2…but you guys said we were just pretenders too…well enjoy a taste of your own medicine…yankees 2009 world champs…regardless of what your papers want to

  14. John - Nov 2, 2009 at 11:47 PM

    You’re right John, for you’re not very smart but at least you got your name correct. One down two to go. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  15. John - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:10 AM

    It wasn’t a misprint by the Philadelphia Inquirer but rather it is prophecy. So it is written, so it shall be done. PHILLIES IN SEVEN!!! MARK MY WORDS!!!

  16. Old Gator - Nov 3, 2009 at 1:53 PM

    “I’ve been Ayn Randed,
    Nearly branded
    A Communist ’cause I’m left handed;
    That’s the hand I use…well, never mind.”
    Simon and Garfunkel, “A Simple Desultory Phillipic”

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