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The last two and a half weeks have been absolutely abysmal for the Phillies. The offense, defense, and pitching (particularly the bullpen) have been hard to watch. Yesterday’s 5-4 loss in 10 innings was a culmination of the past few weeks.
A game in which the Phillies had a lead going into the ninth inning was squandered when Corey Knebel gave up a game tying HR to Evan Longoria. The Giants took a 5-3 lead in the tenth on a two-run HR by Curt Casali. The Phillies got one back in the bottom of the inning, but that was all she wrote.
Stop me if you have heard this before.
The calendar hasn’t even turned over to June yet, and the Phillies are already 11.5 games out of the division. They aren’t just losing games, but they are doing it while playing some of the ugliest baseball I have ever witnessed. Sometimes, I watch them and can’t help but think I am watching the Washington Generals take on the Harlem Globetrotters. The team has lost 11 of their last 15 games. Eight of those losses have come against the Mets.
Not only have we been watching ugly baseball, but also a team with absolutely no fight. Alex Coffey, who covers the Phillies for the Inquirer, wrote this incredible piece talking about the Phillies’ energy problem. You know it is bad when family members of the players are noticing it too. A quote from Kyle Gibson’s mom really drove the point home.
“When you guys took the field, you didn’t look too excited. What’s going on?”
Now, any reasonable Phillies’ fan can see that there are multiple reasons as to why the Phillies look like crap. There is no way to narrow it down to one single person. Too much has gone wrong for the team this year to do so. However, at some point, something has to give. Changes have to be made unless you want to end up with another disappointing season.
The way most of the players have been talking, they believe it is going to turn around. In its current state, I just don’t see the team doing it. They need some sort of jolt.
Firing Joe Girardi would be a start.
As I said, there is not one person who is to blame for the Phillies’ performance this season. I know that. At the end of the day, though, the Phillies are Girardi’s team. While he certainly isn’t on the field losing these games, he hasn’t done anything to win these games either. Questionable game day decisions, like bringing Knebel in yesterday after his performance in New York, happen way too frequently.
For three seasons, the manager has shown that he is not a good game day manager. However, the deficiencies of the team covered it up. While the Phillies still have those deficiencies, they now are operating with a top-five payroll. A team with a payroll over $230MM should not be performing this way. You would think a team full of veterans would be a little more embarrassed about how they have played.
Girardi has been calm and collected this whole time. Like the players, he is adamant that this team will turn it around.
They’ve got to grind this out. It’s going to turn. It’s going to. I believe in them. I believe in everybody in that room. There’s a lot of fight in that room every day. We’ve been through a grueling 2 1/2 weeks. They will respond”
It is evident that the players are not responding to this, but fans keep hearing the same things come out his mouth. There has been nothing said or done to try and light a fire under this team, at least publicly. The Phillies are squandering this season away before June, and nothing is being done to try and change it.
What is the benefit of keeping Girardi? What else could he possibly offer this team that he hasn’t already?
Managers are routinely made the scapegoats for underperforming teams, whether it’s fair or not. It is the nature of the business. However, it’s hard not to make Girardi the scapegoat, especially considering he is the THIRD highest paid manager in the league. Nothing, and I mean nothing, has shown me that he is worth that kind of money.
Joe Girardi has been a rather polarizing figure in this city. While the team has struggled with him at the helm, the majority of fans have been eager to defend him. With each passing game, it is becoming harder and harder to do that. The lackadaisical effort that this team gives on a nightly basis is absolutely something a manager can control. If players are kept accountable, things like that can be worked through.
One thing Girardi has not done is keep his players accountable. It is time that the Phillies make some sort of change to this team. The status quo is not good enough for team with this kind of payroll.
Whether you agree with it or not, something has to give.