Charlie Manuel and Andy Reid are among the best in their respective leagues. Manuel is a world-champion manager with the Phillies and Reid is the most successful coach in Eagles’ history. So, why do they both act like robots?

That’s right, robots. Neither Charlie Manuel nor Andy Reid has enough confidence in his own ability to carefully consider a situation and make the right decision. Instead, they repeatedly go by the supposed “book” — a lazy, mindless, paint-by-numbers approach to basic strategy.

For example, Manuel almost blew a huge game Friday by removing an unhittable Roy Oswalt after eight innings to install his erratic closer, Brad Lidge, who is ranked 27th out of the 30 ninth-inning pitchers in baseball. Oswalt had thrown 102 pitches and had retired 13 consecutive batters when Manuel made the change.

After the game, Manuel revealed why he is a terrible strategist. He said he pinch-hit for Oswalt because the manager felt he needed an insurance run and because “Lidge has been doing good.” Manuel wanted Domonic Brown and his .226 on-base percentage leading off, followed by Brad Lidge, who has more blown saves in the last two seasons (16) than any closer in baseball. Brilliant.

Of course, Lidge balked in the tying run, and Manuel was rescued by an incredible slide by Jimmy Rollins three innings later. The sad part is that Manuel didn’t learn from this mistake. He will continue to go by the book, even when the book is wrong.

Andy Reid is a slave to the same process, because he also has no ability to adjust to unusual conditions. A case in point is Thursday’s preseason finale, when Reid will rest his starters because all coaches rest their starters in the last preseason game. If the first three games of this unimpressive summer have taught us anything, it is that these Eagles are not ready for the regular season. The new offense behind Kevin Kolb cannot score from the red zone, the offensive line is horrific and the defense has no consistency. They need more work.

But Reid will not give them that work because he is worried that he might lose a key player to injury. The fact that, using this exact formula, Reid’s teams have been notorious slow starters carries no extra weight. The coach has made his decision, and that’s final.

Well, it’s dumb. In fact, any coach who uses preprogrammed thinking like Manuel and Reid deserves what happens next. For Manuel, it will be one, or more, brutal losses in the pennant race. For Reid it will be another sloppy and ugly start to the season.

Will these guys ever learn to think for themselves?

– Angelo Cataldi is host of WIP’s Morning Show, airing weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.

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