After dismissing ex-manager Gabe Kapler following a brief two-year stint in Philly, the fightin’ Phils are reportedly set to hire their new skipper sometime this week. Approaching two weeks since the job has been vacated, the Phillies’ managerial search is presumably down to three finalists- Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, and Dusty Baker. Though all three would represent a vast upgrade from the aforementioned Kapler, 3x NL Manager of the Year Dusty Baker is thought to be a distant third behind Girardi and Showalter for the vacant role.
The Phillies are reportedly looking for a healthy blend of “analytics and tradition” in their next manager, so that could explain why the 70-year old, non-analytically styled Baker, despite his accomplishments, is considered a dark horse to land the job.
The front runners for the Phillies’ managerial spot Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter, fit the mold of what the Phils are looking for a bit better in regards to tradition and analytics and it seems inevitable that one of the two decorated candidates will be donned the Phillies new leader.
In this article in particular, however, I’d like to highlight Girardi and what makes him an ideal candidate to replace Gabe Kapler.
Joe Girardi Age: 55
Teams managed: Marlins (2006), 78-84 record
Yankees (2008-2017), 910-710 record
Awards: NL Manager of the Year, World Series Champion Postseason record: 28-24
What makes Girardi such a good candidate for the Phils is his ability to generate instant results, excel at making the proper in-game adjustments, and handle the media in big-market cities. These three traits have been a staple during his managerial career and may be what lands him another coaching gig.
Girardi, who last managed in 2017 with the Yankees, experienced a meteoric rise to begin his MLB managerial career. The Illinois native led the then Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record and won NL Manager of the Year in his inaugural campaign as an MLB manager. While a 78-84 record and fourth place NL East finish don’t seem like much to write home about- and certainly doesn’t sound like the type of results ordinarily affiliated with Manager of the Year honors- it is a rather impressive feat given the context of that season.
For starters, the 2006 Marlins were one of the funkiest MLB rosters ever assembled. Full of rookies and low-priced vets, the team boasted a payroll of just $15M(!)- lower than multiple single-player contracts that season. Still, with first-year manager Joe Girardi at the helm, the Marlins greatly exceeded expectations and remained in the NL Wild Card hunt until September. They also became the first team in MLB history to be 20 games under .500 and finish at least one game above .500 in the same season.
Though the season didn’t result in a World Series celebration, there’s no denying that the team’s talent was maximized under the tutelage of Girardi and his Manager of the Year honor was well-deserved. This season also serves as a template for what the Phillies desire. The team has long been searching for a leader that can extract the most production possible from his club and there is perhaps no finer example in baseball than Girardi’s work with the 2006 Marlins. After watching the supremely talented Phillies implode under Kapler’s watch this season, hiring an effective teacher of the game like Girardi would do wonders for the postseason-hungry Phils.
Despite leading the team to seemingly impossible heights in his first season with the club, Girardi was fired following the 2006 season- largely due to his somewhat strained relationship with team owner Jeffrey Loria. Girardi returned to YES Network as a broadcaster for one season before being brought on as the Yankees skipper in 2008.
After missing the postseason in his first season in the Bronx, despite an impressive 89-73 record, Girardi notably led the Yankees to a World Series victory over the Phillies for their 27th WS pennant in his second campaign.
In just three seasons as a manager, Girardi had already experienced the highs of his profession- winning both Manager of the Year (2006) and a WS title (2009).
The ‘09 World Series pennant, though, could be the deciding factor between Girardi, Showalter, and Baker for the Phils managerial job. The Phillies front office brass has been extremely vocal about their desire to not only reach the playoffs again but bring a World Series title back to Philly. Of the known candidates currently vying for the job, only Girardi has led his team to a title victory before.
Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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