Fire Eric Bruntlett

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Closer Roundtable, Round II

As you may remember, I asked for thoughts on the closer situation last month on Twitter. I finally got around to posting it last week, but I didn’t really feel like I did it justice, since it was so late after the time I started it. So, I e-mailed back the participants, and asked them a few Phillies- and closer-related questions. Again, our players are David Foley and Kieran Kelly from Phinally Philly, author Allen Schatz, and tweeter Sara Scott. Jump to read the Qs & As.

How do your views on the closer from last month differ from your view now?

Allen: Under “if only I would have known” it seems my earlier nod to Brett Myers as Phillies closer was premature. The big redneck looks to have rushed back too quickly. It’s good he will be available for the post season, but I’m not sure throwing him into a save spot makes a lot of sense… unless Charlie intends to employ a merry-go-round approach of “whoever’s next” to finish games.

Kieran: Not really any different. I think Lidge is first out of the bullpen in a save situation, but if Madson/Myers/Happ match up better, Manuel could go with them.

David: Lidge gets a fresh start, but I doubt that ERA is going to be 0.00 for long.

Sara: I’m even more pro-Madson now. He’s the man. Have you seen that change-up?

Let’s play a couple hypotheticals: If Brad Lidge blows a 9th-inning save, who is the closer after that? What if Ryan Madson blows a save in the 9th?

Allen: Thankfully, we don’t live in a hypothetical world. I’m not sure I’d want to try to answer the “what if so-and-so blows a save” – in my hypothetical world, the situation never comes up. That said, my gut feel is Charlie is in the same boat and will employ the merry-go-round, using whatever “feels” right. I think he’d love to give Lidge the ball, but he knows getting outs 25-27 is all that matters. The “who” isn’t relevant at this point.

Kieran: I think Madson is the #2 closer and Happ is in after that.

David: My opinion: Myers, then Madson. Charlie would give Madson the second crack at it though despite that fact that he’s just as bad as Lidge.

Sara: If Lidge blows it, Madson’s in, and vice versa.

What effect did Lidge getting the final out in the division clincher have on the closer situation, if any?

Allen: I don’t believe the use of Lidge for the ceremonial final out of the division race changed anything. It was more Charlie showing his class than anything else, an easy way to give Lidge a pat on the back… (kind of completely opposite Fredi Gonzalez’s “Mr. Hand, you DICK!” move of intentionally walking Jayson Werth to prevent JW from having one last shot at 100 RBI… yes, Fredi knew the situation… yes, someone on the Marlins needs to get plunked at the next best opportunity – maybe a ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh wild pitch into the dugout).

Kieran: Coming in to get that final out gave him a huge boost of confidence. It was a great and unexpected move by Cholly. CBP was rocking when his entrance music came on.

David: Hahaha, it was a classy gesture by Manuel, but absolutely no effect on the closer situation.

Sara: None. Charlie’s just that classy.

Do you see any other dark-horse candidates getting closer opportunities? If so, who?

Allen: [Asked and answered: see merry-go-round above]

Kieran: It’s going to be one of these 4: Lidge, Myers, Madson, Happ

David: If the Phils get desperate enough a starter could get a shot like Pedro or Happ. I doubt it though.

Sara: Jack Taschner and his new breaking ball.

(Note: Unfortunately, Sara had to bow out from this point on. According to her, it’s an oblique strain and groin injury. Read the conversation where I bother her to finish it here. Just keep clicking “in reply to sescott51” for my tweets, then jump back to my page.)

General Phillies questions to round it out: Who surprised you by either making or not making the playoff roster? (BRUNTLETT IS NOT AN ANSWER!!!)

Allen: The closest thing to a surprise is Kyle Kendrick instead of Clay Condrey for the post season roster. If you peel back the skin a little, however, even that isn’t much of a surprise. KK has been very effective and CC looks hurt still. I’m not sure the latter is the case, but looks tell you KK made more sense. It gives Charlie one less “I hope” option, as in “Man, I hope Clay is OK.” Keeping Antonio “You killed Kenny, you” Bastardo can be filed under common sense as well. You need more than a “I hope Scott is OK” from the left side.

Kieran: I kind of figured Kendrick would make it considering the health of the bullpen. Escalona wasn’t really a surprise because there was a need for another lefty in the bullpen. So, I guess there weren’t really any surprises.

David: Since we can’t say Bruntlett I have no answer. Is So Taguchi still on the team?

Which player do the Phillies need to step up to win?

Allen: As game time rapidly approaches, the question of “who needs to step up” doesn’t seem overly relevant. This bunch of guys has been there, done that in the post season and knows exactly what is coming. Of course, it would be nice to see Chase Utley bang out a couple base hits and an RBI or two in Game 1 to get out of the rut he’s deeply mired in. Outside of that, the starters have to keep things under control and the bats need to square up a few more pitches than the Mountaineers manage.

Kieran: Everyone. The team has just been bumbling along for the past month and everyone needs to step up in order to repeat as WS champs.

David: Outside of the obvious answer (Lights out) I’d say the Lee-Hamels duo needs to be dominant for this team to repeat.

It’s apparent that the most glaring weakness is the bullpen. What’s their biggest strength?

Allen: The biggest strength lies in that last point. The Phillies WILL bludgeon teams, it’s what they do best. Sure, everything moves up a few notches in the playoffs, but that includes the sticks. When the games were meaningful in September, I seem to recall a 10-spot in the clincher. I don’t expect a lot of 2-1 games at this point.

Kieran: Biggest strength might be their starting pitching. Surprises me to say this, but having Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels start the series with the option to bring in a Cy Young winner in Pedro Martinez or consistent as all hell Joe Blanton for Game 3 is a very good thing for the Phillies.

David: Cliff Lee’s bat! The rest of the jitters are pretty good too though.

Finally, of course, predict the series.

Allen: My prediction? I predict I will be annoyed more than once, satisfied often, and comfortably ecstatic at the end of the weekend. Phillies in 4.

Kieran: Phillies in 4.

David: Phils in 4.

Again, thanks to Allen, Kieran, David, and Sara. Big props to them for helping us out with some outside opinions that aren’t quite as anti-Bruntlett, and more on the topic of the actual team.

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October 8, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. Not sure why I wasn’t invited back to talk about this, but nice work all, good reads!

    It’ll be nice to put this behind us for a couple months after the season ends.

    Comment by Paul Boye | October 9, 2009 | Reply

    • Haha, sorry, Paul. I wanted to use the 4 people that e-mailed us essays on who the closer should be. Yours was republished from your own site. However, considering I asked some general Phillies questions, I am planning on doing this before each round of the playoffs, however far they should go. You’re welcome to be a part of it next time! Not sure how much I can count on Sara, haha.

      Comment by Max | October 9, 2009 | Reply


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