Charlie Manuel's big chance
- While I disagree with common sense's implication that anyone can be a closer, I do like his idea of restoring the two-inning closer. The Phillies have less than two weeks to fix the bullpen for the playoffs. That means taking action right now. Why not alternate Madson and Park as two-inning closers? If there's a rough patch of lefties in the 8th or 9th then you mix in Happ or Eyre (if he's healthy). One thing that can't happen is to continue running Lidge out there. I understand why CM did it, there was a chance for Lidge to get right and why go into uncharted waters of finding another closer if you don't have to? But time has now run out. They've got a handful of games left to determine the best alternative.
The Marlins didn't deserve to win anything this year, because they stubbornly insisted -- in the face of all that is intelligent and good -- on running Emilio Bonifacio out there for nearly 500 plate appearances (so far).
Similarly, the Phillies won't deserve to win another World Series if they stubbornly insist on adhering to conventional bullpen rules.
When you suggest that Ryan Madson take over the ninth-inning duties, Phillies phans will sputter, "But Madson can't pitch the ninth! He's only good in the eighth inning!"
Leaving aside the likely absurdity of that notion, it's worth noting that Madson's strikeout-to-walk ratio and his home-run rate are both exactly twice as good as Lidge's. It's also worth noting that Madson is pretty obviously the best reliever the Phillies have.
If Manuel simply can't free himself from the rules, he should simply move Madison to the ninth inning and move everybody else up a slot and leave Lidge off the postseason roster. Yes, that will be a terrible conversation, but the Phillies can always claim, whether truthfully or not, that Lidge is suffering some physical ailment that has kept him from pitching his best.
Alternatively, Manuel could simply blow everything up and start all over. Make his own rules. Maybe that means Madson in the eighth and Park in the ninth, or Madson in the eighth and ninth one night, Park the next. Maybe it even means going to matchups in the ninth inning, with Scott Eyre or J.C. Romero winding up with a save.
I don't know. It's not really my job to know. I do know that nobody's going to hold it against Manuel if he tries something different and it doesn't work. But if he keeps doing what he's doing and loses, he'll never be forgiven.