Time for change: Phillies can't rely on Lidge

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lidge_090908.jpgBefore Tuesday’s game against the Nationals, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel spoke glowingly of his embattled closer Brad Lidge, saying “I want him to realize how much confidence we have in him.”

Lidge repaid his manager by going out and vomiting all over that confidence, allowing a walk, a single, and a hit batter before Manuel went to Ryan Madson to finish off the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night.

Now the Phillies’ closer situation is shrouded in confusion and frustration. Here’s what Lidge had to say: “If there’s a save situation tomorrow, (Manuel) said he was going to bring me in.”

And here’s what the manager said: “I’m not saying that he’ll close tomorrow, the next day or whatever, but I look at him as a closer.”

So what now for the Phillies?

One thing is for sure, they can’t rely on Lidge come playoff time. The man who was perfect in 2008 has reverted to the pitcher who was run out of Houston, only worse. Much, much worse.
Lidge is 0-7 with a 7.11 ERA, and has converted saves in only 28 of his 38 opportunities. In 50 2/3 innings this season, he has allowed 60 hits and a whopping 32 walks.

Phillies fans are beating the drum for a change, and they’re absolutely right. This is simply too good a team to let one struggling player sink the ship. The offense produces the second most runs in the NL and the starting rotation is solid and deep, with plenty of playoff experience.

Luckily, they have options. Madson would be one possibility. Another would be Brett Myers, who has tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief – including 1 1/3 on Tuesday — since returning from the disabled list. Even better, he has had extended success in closing, saving 21 games and striking out 83 in 68 2/3 innings in 2007.

Myers, Madson … whatever. It’s time for a change. The sooner, the better.

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If you Twitter, and think it’s fun to pick on David Bell, follow me at @Bharks.

Mike Trout has a torn thumb ligament, could require surgery

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Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.

While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.

Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.

Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.

Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.

Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.

At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.

In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.