Two weeks ago, the Phillies announced the firing of Gabe Kapler.
Today, his replacement was made known.
Joe Girardi will take over as the 55th manager in Phillies history, a source confirmed Thursday morning. An announcement is expected soon. All along, it seemed the Phillies had today circled on the calendar. It represents a break in the World Series, and Major League Baseball prefers that teams make headlines during the playoffs only on days when it won’t conflict with a game.
The Phillies met with just three candidates, conducting two interviews apiece with Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi, and Dusty Baker. Girardi emerged as the “leading candidate,” according to a source, after coming to town Monday and apparently hitting it off with managing partner John Middleton.
Girardi, of course, managed the Yankees for 10 years, including in 2009 when they defeated the Phillies in the World Series. After the Phillies were vanquished, Middleton famously told Ryan Howard that he wanted his trophy back. Now, he’s turning to Girardi to help him get it.
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Joe Girardi might not have had a choice.
Girardi interviewed for three managerial jobs over the last few weeks. One, the Cubs’ vacancy, was filled yesterday when Chicago reportedly hired former catcher David Ross. The Mets, meanwhile, have had follow-up interviews with at least five candidates. Considering Girardi was the only one with previous big-league managerial experience, it seems the Mets might be leaning toward hiring a first-timer.
It’s entirely possible, then, that Girardi’s only opportunity to manage next year came from the Phillies.
For the purposes of this exercise, though, let’s imagine that both the Phillies and Mets were going to make him an offer. Which of the National League East rivals was the more desirable landing spot?
“If I had my choice of jobs, Philly’s would be very close to the top,” said Mark Teixeira, the former first baseman and current ESPN analyst who played for Girardi with the Yankees. “Now that the Angels’ job is gone — live in Southern California and manage Mike Trout every day — I think the Cubs’ job is probably No. 1 and Philly’s is No. 2 because of the amount of talent that are on those rosters.”
OK, but for all of their talent, the Phillies finished fourth in the NL East this season, five games behind the third-place Mets. The Phillies have a trio of stars (Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto and Aaron Nola), but the Mets have 53-homer slugger Pete Alonso and a far better starting rotation, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, and Steven Matz under contract.
Girardi also lives in New York and knows the terrain after managing the Yankees for 10 years.
But the Phillies were able to offer Girardi two things — money and autonomy — that might not have been in endless supply in New York.
Girardi made $4 million in his final season with the Yankees. Terms of Girardi’s deal with the Phillies were not immediately known, but if managing partner John Middleton likes him as much as it appears, it’s likely the offer rivaled the three-year, $12 million deal that Joe Maddon received from the Angels, terms that the Mets were unlikely to match.
Additionally, Girardi is the second manager hired in three years by Phillies GM Matt Klentak, who appears to have less power than second-year Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen. With the Phillies, Girardi will have a substantial voice in roster construction and other personnel matters.
Remember the Phillies’ salad days, when they were considered the Yankees of the National League? In so many ways, it seems John Middleton is trying to restore that reputation, as Bob Brookover writes.
Mark Teixeira played for Buck Showalter and Joe Girardi, so before the Phillies chose Girardi, I asked him to compare and contrast their relative strengths and weaknesses to get a sense for which might be the best fit for the Phillies.
While the managerial search has captured most of our attention, the Phillies made another important hire this week, tapping longtime Yankees scout Brian Barber as their amateur scouting director.
Eight Men Out is one of my favorite all-time baseball movies, so I found Frank Fitzpatrick’s story on a little-known Philly connection to the Black Sox scandal to be a very cool read.
Tomorrow: The World Series shifts to D.C. for Game 3, 8:07 p.m.
Saturday: Astros at Nationals in Game 4 of World Series, 8:07 p.m.
Nov. 11-14: General managers meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Dec. 9-12: Winter meetings in San Diego.
When you think of October, you think of pitching. From Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 to Orel Hershiser in 1988, Jack Morris vs. John Smoltz in 1991, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001, Schilling and the bloody sock in 2004, and Madison Bumgarner in 2014, the postseason is littered with classic starts.
Recently, though, starting pitching has been devalued, even in October. With the increased emphasis on filling up bullpens with relievers who throw in the upper-90s, the percentage of six-inning starts in the playoffs dropped from 34.3 in 2016 to 32.9 in 2017 and 28.8 last year.
This, then, has been a throwback October. There have been 32 games — and therefore, 64 starts — in this postseason. In 29 instances, or 45.3 percent of the time, the starter completed at least six innings. Fifteen of those starts, or 23.4 percent, have lasted at least seven innings compared to only 13.6 percent last year and 13.2 percent in 2017.
Send questions by email or on Twitter @ScottLauber.
Answer: Great question, @tokyojo5. We can agree that employees in any industry display a range of talents. There are good accountants and bad accountants, good lawyers and not-so-good lawyers, good doctors and, well, you get the idea. Surely, then, it follows that not all quantitative analysts in baseball have equal abilities.
But I’ll answer your question in general manager Matt Klentak’s words from the now-infamous Oct. 11 news conference: "I, myself, am not an experienced analyst, so I can’t necessarily walk into their room and point to their formulas and find flaws in them, if they exist. But I think we do a lot of benchmarking. We look around the league and observe how other successful teams are operating, and we can test what we’re doing against what they’re doing. It’s baseball, so even if you have the right information every time and position your players exactly as the numbers suggest you do, a hitter can still hit it where you ain’t. That can happen sometimes.”
Indeed, it’s helpful to remember that baseball is still played by humans, no matter how much you trust analytics.
Answer: Hey, Kevin. Thanks for the question. Here’s my thing with Corey Dickerson: Where’s he going to play?
Dickerson is almost exclusively a corner outfielder. (Yes, he has played some center, but only 27 games and none since 2015.) The Phillies have a $330 million star in right field, so that’s out of the question. Andrew McCutchen still thinks of himself as a centerfielder, but considering his age (33) and the fact that he’s coming off major knee surgery, it’s unfair to pencil him in anywhere other than left.
If you want to bring back Dickerson as a fourth outfielder/McCutchen insurance, dude, sign me up. But I’m sure he’s going to be looking for an every day job, especially after slugging .579 with eight homers in 133 at-bats after being traded to the Phillies at the trade deadline.