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Deja vu all over again: Charlie Manuel dusts off the old "vote of confidence" for Brad Lidge

Aug 2, 2010, 10:47 AM EDT

Brad Lidge blew a save Saturday for the fourth time in 14 tries, but came back yesterday with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 11th save and got a vote of confidence from manager Charlie Manuel:

I’ve definitely got to show him that I’m willing to stay with him and we’ll see what happens. … He definitely wants to prove he’s that man and he can still do it and that he’s good for our team and he can help us and he wants to keep his closer’s role. I feel like we’ve definitely got to give him some time.

That’s a lot of “definitely” in one quote. But wait, there’s more:

Believe me, I’ll never let my heart overrule the fact that we’re a team. I want what’s best for the team. I definitely think he’s got to be better than what he’s been so far. I also feel like, I think at times, I really believe he’s got to save a couple in a row. Today was a good start. Now he’s got to have two or three games in a row and run a clean slate. And then I think he may be all right. Because he’s very capable.

I appreciate the sentiment from Manuel, but since this is basically identical to how things played out with Lidge last season the “we’ve definitely got to give him some time” and “I’ll never let my heart overrule the fact that we’re a team” lines ring particularly hollow.
Philadelphia won the World Series in 2008 while Lidge went 48-for-48 converting saves between the regular season and playoffs, including closing out the decisive Game 5 win over the Rays. Since then he’s blown 15 of 57 save chances while posting a 6.69 ERA in 80.2 innings, serving up 16 homers while allowing opponents to bat .288 with a .508 slugging percentage.
Yes, he’s had some good stretches during that time, both this year and last year, but for the most part he’s been horrible now for two consecutive seasons. When the Phillies were coasting to a division title last year it wasn’t such a huge deal, but now they’re 2.5 games back of the Braves in the NL East and trailing two teams for the Wild Card.
And it’s not as if Manuel lacks options. Jose Contreras has been solid all season with a 3.65 ERA and 40/12 K/BB ratio in 37 innings and Ryan Madson has a 13/0 K/BB ratio in 11.2 innings since returning from the disabled list. Pick one as the new closer, use the other as the primary setup man, and make Lidge earn the job back by actually stringing together some impressive appearances in middle relief, where every ugly outing doesn’t have a chance to cost the Phillies a game.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM

    Aaron, you are obviously NOT from Philly and thus, know not what you are talking about. The fact of the matter is that Contreras STINKS. Yeah, you can look at your Excel Spreadsheet and see some stats, but the fact is that he is even more scary that Lidge. And “Mad Dog” Madsen SUCKS when he is put in the 9th inning. He has had MORE than enough chances to close, and he has SUCKED every single time. Unfortunately, the Phillies are stuck with Lidge because he is the best they have to get the last 3 outs of a game. Once H20 gets into gear, the Cowards will be in our rearview mirror fighting for a Wild Card spot just as we get back Chase.

  2. FlyEaglesFly - Aug 2, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    I think Contreras has been pretty good considering they got him off the junk heap. You’re right, Madsen can’t pitch in save situations for whatever reason. Lidge is either on or off with no in between. I wish Manuel would recognize this and make a move rather than just hand him the ball and stop managing.

  3. adam - Aug 2, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    You mean Lit Up Lidge is getting lit up again? Who knew that was coming!!!

    My favorite Lidge moment was when I was at an Astros game a couple years back. He came in for the 9th in a tie game against the A’s. I told my friend “Well, we just lost this game”. Boom, home run. Astros didn’t score and we lost.

    The guy can be straight nasty when he’s on, but he’s straight awful when he’s even slightly off. I think a big part of it could be that his slider is his best pitch so if it’s not breaking as much it’s just a hanging frisbee waiting to be knocked around. He’s someone you wouldn’t want to hang a season on just because you never know what you’re getting.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 2, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    My favorite Lidge moment was every time he came into a game in a save situation in 2008, when he saved 48 of 48 games. Dude’s struggling now, and he kills me when he does what he did on Saturday. But just because your Astros didn’t win the Series doesn’t take anything away from the awesome 2008 season he had.

  5. adam - Aug 2, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Hence why I said “The guy can be straight nasty when he’s on, but he’s straight awful when he’s even slightly off.”

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