Well folks, it happened.
In a move that will try and reverse the team’s fortunes, the Phillies have parted ways with their manager Joe Girardi. Bench coach Rob Thomson will be given the interim duties for the time being. The native of Sarnia, Ontario has never managed before in the MLB, but is a lifelong baseball guy, starting his journey in 1985 with the Tigers as a catcher. He is as well respected as they come, so it only was natural that he was named interim manager.
Coaching assistance Bobby Meacham was also let go. Quality assurance coach Mike Calitri will take over the bench coach duties for the rest of the season.
The more important move, and somewhat surprising, is really the team parting ways with Girardi. Through moves made in the background, the team seemed to be giving the manager more internal power. With the amount of money he makes, it is only natural that he would want to be more than just a day-to-day manager.
However, with the way the team has played over the last few weeks, something had to give. Now, as I wrote earlier this week, any reasonable Phillies’ fan can tell Girardi is low on this team’s list of deficiencies. However, as the manager of the team, there was no longer any benefit to keeping him. One only needed to watch five minutes of one of their games to see a change, any change, needed to happen.
The team has been dreadful of late, winning three out of their last 10 games. In many of those games, the Phillies have found creative and, frankly, comical (in a “I hate this f**king place’ kind of way) ways to lose. Poor defense, base running blunders, and crappy bullpen pitching has plagued this team all year.
In three seasons as the Phillies manager, Girardi finishes with a record of 132-141. Not what either the fans or the team expected when they gave him a five-year deal. The first two similar to this year, but this offseason changed things.
The minute that the team signed Nick Castellanos and went over the first luxury tax limit, the clock had started. Girardi could no longer hide behind a roster with holes, even if this still isn’t a perfect roster. With a payroll close to $234MM, Girardi needed to find a way to make it work.
Needless to say, he didn’t. Being 12 games back on June 3rd already feels like too big of a hole to come back from.
As much as one could see this move coming, it will not fix everything. The Phillies’ still need their players to play better. There are guys making a lot of money on this roster who haven’t shown up this year, and that needs to change. The thinking here is that this type of high-profile change will elicit some sort of response from the players, and I believe it will.
However, we crossed that line a while back. Belief will do nothing for this team if they don’t start playing better. For much of the season, the team, and even Girardi himself, have seem unengaged and out of it. It shows in the number of mental mistakes that they make. It was clear that a new voice was needed to steer the ship.
For the majority of Girardi’s tenure, it seemed like the Phillies were just going through the motions. At times, it was a chore for the players to be playing baseball. Fans, coaches, and even player’s families could see it.
As a result, Rob Thomson is going to get a chance to show what he can do. Hopefully, his voice is the one that can get the Phillies going.
If not, this season has got a LONG way to go.