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.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.

Daniel Szew: “Landa was a leader, happy-go-lucky guy”

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 1:  Yorman Landa #81 of the Minnesota Twins poses for a photo during the Twins' photo day on March 1, 2016 at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.

Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”

Per Berardino:

He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.

If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.

“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”

Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.