Well, it seems official. Numerous reports are citing that the Phillies are set to hire Joe Girardi as Gabe Kapler’s replacement. This is a move that fans have been pining for ever since his name was first linked with the position.
Here’s everything you need to know on Girardi:
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
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.
Girardi, rightfully so, has earned quite the esteemed reputation as one of the greatest baseball minds around. Girardi seems to possess an uncanny ability to make the right move when it is needed most, specifically with his bullpen decisions, something the Phillies struggled mightily with under Gabe Kapler.
During his tenure in New York, the Yankee bullpen finished in the top half in the league in ERA six times and top 10 four times. They also beat their Pythagorean win-loss prediction four times under Girardi. Winning baseball games often requires chess-like strategic ability and Girardi possesses that in droves. A winner through and through, Girardi never finished with a record below .500 in ten years as the Yankees skipper.
If the Phillies truly want to rid themselves of puzzling decision-making, which they oft-suffered through under Kapler, Girardi always seemed like the logical choice.
In a press conference alongside team CEO John Middleton and president Andy MacPhail discussing the decision to move on from Kapler, Phillies GM Matt Klentak stated that Kapler “had a hard time gaining acceptance” in Philly, namely amongst the media.
Kapler seemed to always preach positivity when speaking of the highs and (many) lows the team went through during his stint, and while it’s important to maintain an upbeat attitude and not get too down on yourself or the team, that isn’t going to fly in a city that demands results the way Philly does.
No other candidate for the Phils job understands this more than Girardi, who thrived under the bright lights of New York for a decade. New York media, much like its big-market sibling in Philly, does not tolerate losing or excuses. They aren’t afraid to crank up the heat and ask tough questions or flat-out question the strategy of the coaches if they feel like things could be done better.
Yankees GM and former Girardi employer Brian Cashman spoke glowingly of his former manager’s media presence in a recent interview with SNY:
“When you’re talking about somebody like Joe, he’d give you instant credibility,” Cashman told SNY. “He’s buttoned-up, ready to go and proven successful in the largest market you can find. And he came out on top.
“He was here for 10 years, and some things have an expiration date, but that doesn’t diminish the abilities the person possesses or the quality of work he provides. I highly recommend Joe to anybody, even our rivals, unfortunately.”
Girardi isn’t considered to be a media darling, per se, but he is transparent, owned his mistakes, and held his players responsible. In Philly, where nice-guy awards don’t get you too far, Girardi should be able to hold his own against the tough Philly media and should even be able to earn the approval of the fans in the process.
Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jalyn is a 21 year old journalist from Saint Louis, MO trying to make his mark in the industry. Want to follow his journey? Follow him on Twitter at @JustJalyn_ or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org