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Making Charlie Look Good

When Chase Utley went down with a hand injury, it undoubtedly left a huge hole in the lineup.  It can even be argued that Chase’s production in the three hole – driving in runners (82 RBIs) and getting on base (.414 OBP) – has been the linchpin in the Phillies offensive dominance.  Yet in the three games since his injury the Phils have scored a total of 23 runs:  it seems as if Charlie Manuel’s reshuffled lineup doesn’t miss Utley one bit.

The new scorecard showcases Bourn, Victorino, and Rollins at the top of the order.  I attended Friday’s game and witnessed the trio consistently on-base, including two bases loaded situations in the first three innings.  But that may be more due to the individual player performance rather than their spot in the lineup.  JRoll himself has claimed with all his swagger, "It doesn’t matter where I hit in the lineup, it never has."  Besides the top of the lineup, other players have been picking up the load.  The often-maligned Pat Burrell has hit .529 with an astounding 1.449 OPS including eight RBIs in his last six games.

Although the innovation of the lineup change was bred out of necessity, Charlie Manuel has handled the task well thus far.  But before we crown Charlie Manuel the next Jim Leyland or Connie Mack, we must realize the small sample set of games were played against the last-place Pirates over the weekend.  This coming week will see a much more serious test against the NL Central leaders Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field and Milwaukee Brewers in Miller Park.

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