There is no question Charlie Manuel made the right move last night in removing Kyle Kendrick from a 3-0 game for a pinch-hitter in the top of the ninth inning. Sure, the Phillies lost 4-3. But you can't blame Manuel.
1) In his first two starts of the season, Kendrick threw 107 pitches total. Last night, he threw 108 pitches through eight innings.
2) Due up in the ninth inning were Martin Prado, Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, who had combined for the only four hits that Kendrick had allowed on the night, including a double by Jones in his previous AB. In their careers of Kendrick, McCann and Jones were a combined 13-for-34 with three home runs, four doubles and six walks off of Kendrick.
3) The most pitches Kendrick had ever thrown in a major league game was 113. That came on June 25, 2008 at Oakland. Kendrick also allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings that day. Manuel also took him out after the eighth inning (in that case, with a 4-0 lead). The Phillies won, though, so you might not remember.
4) Kendrick was due up in the top of the ninth.
On top of all of that, the Phillies entered the season with an opportunity to find out if Ryan Madson could succeed as a regular closer. If Brad Lidge comes back healthy and effective, they might not need that knowledge. But better to get it now and not need it than to be in a position of trial-and-error after the trade deadline.
Manuel made the call. The Phillies lost. But correlation does not equal causation.
In this case, the call was the correct one.