In case you missed it, the Phillies fired Joe Girardi on Friday morning. Here in Yankeeland, nobody really seems surprised.
If it feels like he was barely in Philly at all, it’s because he was. Girardi managed Philadelphia for the abbreviated 2020 season, last year, and up until Friday morning. He was 132-141 with no postseason appearances, not even with an expanded bracket in 2020. Even with sluggers like Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber and Cy Young runner-up Zack Wheeler in the rotation, the Phillies have continued to struggle.
Girardi can only be blamed for so much. The Phillies have talent but have battled injuries. The front office still hasn’t properly fixed a bullpen that was bad even under Girardi’s predecessor, Gabe Kapler. Maybe Rob Thomson, Girardi’s bench coach and longtime lieutenant in New York, will have better luck.
But anyone who saw the end of the Girardi era in the Bronx likely saw this coming. Despite coming within a win of the American League pennant in 2017, something wasn’t right. Longtime beat writer Bob Klapisch touched on it in his book “Inside the Empire: The True Power Behind the New York Yankees,” and it all makes sense.
Girardi was fired in Philadelphia because he couldn’t handle losing, plain and simple.
Forget about his personality for a second. Yes, Girardi is brusque and direct, very prone to rubbing some the wrong way. Look at any postgame presser and even though he never outright says anything, his body language shows how much he doesn’t want to be there, win or lose. Girardi also doesn’t foster personal relationships with any of his players.
But in the book, Klapisch and co-author Paul Solotaroff touch on how the Yankees bats went cold at one point in July. Girardi, instead of doing his job and literally managing the team through the slump, “retreated to his office and wouldn’t come out, even to talk to his coaches.”
Now, consider the Phillies’ season up to this point. They’ve been streaky, so hot and cold that Katy Perry could probably make a parody song. Starting 3-1, then losing seven of eight games. Winning six of the next eight, then losing four of the next five. A random four-game winning streak, then going 5-12 since.
In case it wasn’t clear Girardi checked out, just watch him engage with the infamous Angel Hernandez below:
Seriously, how sad is that? A bad call got Schwarber and his powerful bat thrown out of a 1-0 game in the bottom of the ninth. And what did Girardi do to stand up for his team? He just strolled out to the most hated umpire in baseball and they had a little chat. No passion, no shouting right in his face, no nothing. Just another day at the office.
And here we are today, with Philadelphia struggling through another season yet again. The worst part is that this was arguably avoidable, especially given Girardi’s exit in New York. Cashman even said in 2017 that the manager had “connectivity and communication” issues in the clubhouse.
A two-year hiatus later, it’s clear that didn’t resonate with Girardi. The injuries weren’t his fault, nor was the front office’s decision to go all-in on hitting and only do plug-and-play with the bullpen.
But as a manager, Girardi did everything except his literal job. The skipper’s job is to lead the team through adversity and get the best out of the players. You know, managing a team through the bad times and not turtling up and hoping it all goes away.
It’s what ultimately cost him his job in New York, despite a strong finish. Now, the same thing has happened just 108 miles southwest of Yankee Stadium.
All this to say, are we really surprised?