Five Mistakes That Have Hurt the Phillies

When a manager or general manager makes a decision, they can never be completely sure of how it's going to turn out or what the long-term ramifications might be. Moves are made based on the information available, the needs of the team and many times, gut-instinct. Sometimes, those moves work out. Sometimes, they don't. Here now is our list of the top five moves that didn't work out for the Phillies this season.

In no particular order:

Using Ryan Madson as a starter On June 4, Madson threw another scoreless inning, this time against Atlanta. The outing lowered his ERA to 1.07 for the year. The Phillies had found a young pitcher, who started the year in long relief and had helped to fill holes and move to the later innings of games because of injuries to Roberto Hernandez and Billy Wagner. To put it simply, Madson was awesome.

Needing a starter, the Phillies turned to Madson in an interleague game against the White Sox. That didn't go too well. Madson didn't even make it out of the first inning. To compound the mistake, Madson hasn't been the same since. While Madson has still been effective, his ERA since that start is 3.38, but that's not the whole story. In 5 1/3 innings since that outing, Madson has allowed eight hits and hasn't been nearly as sharp.

What were the Phillies thinking? This is a young pitcher who was nowhere near being stretched out and had played a key role in the Phillies bullpen. At the time, the Phillies could have gone with Amaury Telemaco or even Elizardo Ramirez if they didn't want to bring another minor league pitcher to the majors (we'll talk about that later). It was a short-sighted move at best.

Elizardo Ramirez We were all pretty psyched when "Easy" Ramirez came to the majors. Promoting a young pitcher from the lower portions of the minors is very un-Phillie like. It gave us hope that another young pitcher might follow (we'll talk about that later). Bringing Ramirez to the majors was actually a good idea and it was somewhat of a necessity based on the roster decisions available.

Here's the problem.

The Phillies haven't used Ramirez well. In Ramirez, they have an extremely talented young pitcher with lots of potential. They chirp and chirp about other players needing to play everyday in the minors (we'll talk about that later), but they leave Ramirez to rot in the bullpen. Ramirez could have made a start or two and then been sent back down to the minors - probably to AA Reading - to continue his development. Instead, he's been relegated to mop-up jobs. Either use him effectively or send him back to the minors.

Letting Vicente Padilla pitch with a sore elbow When one of your top young pitchers has a sore elbow, you don't send him out there. The Phillies brought young Elizardo Ramirez to the majors in case Padilla couldn't make his scheduled start. Without the benefit of an MRI or any other sort of tests, the Phillies sent Padilla to the mound because on that particular day, he wasn't feeling any pain. Missing a turn wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world. Ramirez could have made the start for Padilla and the Phillies could have gone on from there. Instead, Padilla continued to pitch, wound up on the DL for what was originally supposed to be a short-stay and is now out for probably another month with a bone bruise in his elbow. We had to see this coming.

For what it's worth, the Phillies potentially dodged a very similar and perhaps more daunting bullet with Randy Wolf. He too was allowed to pitch with a sore elbow, but has recovered nicely and should return to the rotation this weekend.

Not bringing up Gavin Floyd There was no reason to jump the gun on Gavin Floyd. Losing one starter was something that the Phillies could work around. Then, when Wolf wound also wound up on the DL though, the call to Floyd should have gone out. Giving him a couple starts wouldn't have hurt anything. Plus, odds are that Floyd wouldn't have struggled all too badly. Many opposing players and managers commented on Floyd's readiness for the majors during spring training. Even in the spring of 2003, there were some that thought he was ready for the majors then.

If the Phillies weren't really ready to bring Floyd to the majors, they could have done the next best thing. Move him to AAA. Give him a few starts there and let him move closer to the majors. That way, he's facing a slightly better level of hitter while he bides his time until he does become a major leaguer.

Sending Chase Utley back to AAA Which time are we talking about? Actually, with each option to Scranton, the Phillies just make the mistake over and over again. Utley is ready for the majors. With interleague play, he could have found some time in the lineup while Jim Thome was the DH. He could have platooned at second with Placido Polanco. He could play second while Polanco moved to third to give the somewhat fragile David Bell one day a week off. He could have been a quality left-handed bat off the bench. He could have... well, you get the idea. Many teams find a way to play a guy like Chase Utley and the Phillies could have too.

Oh yeah, the Phillies are big on letting players develop in the minors. So, why is Ramirez here? What's the story there? Do the Phillies actually believe that Gavin Floyd and Chase Utley need more time in the minors while Elizardo Ramirez is ready to be on the major league roster and languish in the bowels of the Phillies bullpen? Sure, Floyd and Utley are bigger prospects and need to be handled more carefully, but come on, they are ready - especially in the case of Utley - to be productive members of the big league club.

Mistakes happen. How often have you heard - and it's true - that the original mistake is often not the problem. The real mistake is repeating your errors over and over again. The Phillies are doing just that. It's easy to see how some common threads run through all of these mistakes. Remember that in finding flaws, hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Surely though the Phillies could have seen where some of these things could turn out badly. Remember, the mistake truly comes when it's repeated over and over and over and...

Chuck Hixson is the publisher of and your thoughts are welcome at

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