Girardi Fired: What It Means for the Phillies

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The Philadelphia Phillies have fired Joe Girardi. After an unimpressive 23-29 start, the Phillies have decided to cut ties with Girardi after two seasons with the team. Bench coach Rob Thomson, Girardi’s longtime bench coach, will take over as interim manager for the rest of the season.

Since his hiring as the team’s skipper in 2020, the Phillies have amassed a 132-141 record. In those two seasons, the Phillies finished third and second in their division and failed to make the playoffs both years. Under Girardi, the Phillies largely underperformed, especially given their talented roster. Bryce Harper was the NL MVP and Zack Wheeler nearly won a Cy Young and the team finished 82-80. The Phillies’ top-heavy roster failed to make any significant improvements under Girardi over the last two years. With the fourth largest payroll in baseball, mediocre season after mediocre season was not good enough for the Phillies brass.

Maybe this move will kick the slumping Phillies into gear and propel the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Or, maybe the problems run deeper than simple managerial shortcomings and are endemic of a larger problem. Either way, the Phillies are going to find out.

Phillies Problems Run Deeper Than the Manager

To be completely fair to Joe Girardi, this was not entirely his fault. Injuries to key players and poor roster construction are more to blame for the Phillies’ yearly struggles than the managerial choices he makes. Yes, his bullpen handling has been suspect but is it his fault that the roster is constructed this way? No, it’s not. A manager is only as good as their team. A good team will make a good manager, and a bad team will make a bad one.

Girardi is a proven winner. He won a World Series with the Yankees in 2009 and spent nine years in the Bronx. He has the pedigree of a successful big-league manager and has the attitude and patience needed to manage in the big markets, that’s why he was hired by the Phillies.

Managing big talent, with big personalities, on big stages is how Girardi made a name for himself. He was able to get Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter to work together, an accomplishment in itself. Girardi will get another opportunity to manage at the big league level. He’ll most likely be successful and his teams will win more games than they lose. His hiring elsewhere will be lauded and his steady hand and veteran presence will help guide a team to greener fields.

Whoever the Phillies bring on to replace Girardi full-time, whether it be Thomson or someone else, is going to have to grapple with a roster that is incredibly top-heavy. The lineup scares in spots but doesn’t frighten for a full nine innings. The pitching staff will make opponents worry for one or two guys, but won’t leave an opposing team tirelessly flummoxed.

New Manager Won’t Fix Poor Roster Construction

Phillies management assembled a car with two flat tires, no windshield, and an empty tank then threw Girardi the keys and told him good luck. The bullpen isn’t laden with enough guys who can get light leverage consistently. Three or four bats power the lineup and they’re never firing at the same time. The defense is full of holes and the rotation doesn’t seem deep enough to sustain an entire season. The problems up and down the Phillies roster are immense and will take more than just a couple of quick fixes to turn around. Girardi being fired by the Phillies won’t make Philadelphia a top contender, primarily because he doesn’t hit, pitch, or play the field.

In a high-pressure market like Philadelphia, where expectations are sky high and the window to compete seems to be open, if the wins don’t materialize in a big way, heads have to roll. The Phillies couldn’t have gone on much longer operating the way they had been. There was a need for change, and it needed to happen quickly. And, unfortunately for Joe, you can’t fire 25 players.

Main Photo:

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Players Mentioned:

Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter