After somewhat shocking the baseball world this season by getting into the playoffs with an upstart, turnover team that was expected to be in the process of rebuilding, the New York Yankees have decided to part ways with manager Joe Girardi. Girardi was the skipper of the Yankees for ten season, reaching the postseason four times in his first five campaigns, winning the World Series in 2009. From 2013 through 2016, however, the Yankees failed to reach the postseason every year. This season’s deep run that fell just one win shy of a World Series birth wasn’t enough to save Girardi’s job today. He finishes his Yankee tenure 200 games over .500, having never produced less than 84 wins in a single season.
Girardi is a winner, plain and simple. In his career, he’s 196 games over .500, having gone six games under in his lone season with the Marlins in 2006. He knows the game of baseball better than most, and works well with pitching staffs, having been a Major League catcher for 15 years. He would provide a wealth of knowledge to a young Phillies core. But despite all his positive attributes, I still don’t want him as the next manager.
In the last two days, the Phillies have announced that the team is “zeroing in” on Dusty Wathan to be the next manager of the club. As outlined in a previous article, Wathan has one prominent attribute that Girardi doesn’t have: familiarity. Wathan has practically raised the young core of Phillies talent that has either recently emerged on the scene or is set to in the coming years. He’s risen the ranks of the Phillies managerial role, starting with the Williamsport Crosscutters, becoming the winningest manager in Reading history, and finally appearing in Lehigh Valley. These are Wathan’s guys. He’s fixed their swings, sharpened their gloves and taught these young men how to be professional baseball players at every level since Short Season A ball.
Phillies infielder J.P. Crawford called Wathan the best manager he’s ever had.
While Girardi isn’t old by any means, Wathan brings a youth infusion to the clubhouse that an 11 ear veteran manager likely couldn’t match. There will be connectibility between manager and player when the manager isn’t more than 20 years older than the player. Young players often react one of two ways to stern, older manager who allow little wiggle room. The more likely is that they rebel. The less likely is that the accept. But the former strongly outweighs the latter. It makes sense to allow someone who could be approachable govern a young clubhouse.
He’ll have command of the clubhouse from day one, as the guys are familiar with him and how he runs things. It won’t be a feeling out process, but more of a “let’s get to work” moment when Wathan finishes his ride down I-476 from Lehigh to Philadelphia.
Girardi will almost certainly get a chance at managing another team somewhere in the league. There’s no reason as to why he shouldn’t. His proven track record with the Yankees lends us to understand he’s good at his job. At this point, though, you’d have to assume that the Phillies began their managerial interviews with the knowledge that should the Yankees not win the World Series, Girardi was a likely candidate to get canned as the team attempts to turn over a new leaf. With that knowledge, they’d have known that Girardi would be available to interview shortly after the Yankees were eliminated. If that were the case, Wathan wouldn’t have made so much headway throughout the last week. Yet here we stand, on October 26, the day the Yankees fired their only manager of the last decade, and I still believe that the managerial hire will be internal. It appears to be Dusty Wathan’s job to lose.
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