What do you get when you take last year’s National League MVP, commit $179 million to two free agent sluggers, and still start the season with a 22-29 record?
A fired manager.
The Philadelphia Phillies axed manager Joe Girardi on Friday morning. Bench coach Rob Thomson is the interim manager for the remainder of the 2022 season. The team also fired coaching assistant Bobby Meacham.
“It has been a frustrating season for us up until this point, as we feel that our club has not played up to its capabilities,” Phillies’ general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement released by the club. “While all of us share the responsibility for the shortcomings, I felt that a change was needed and that a new voice in the clubhouse would give us the best chance to turn things around. I believe we have a talented group that can get back on track, and I am confident that Rob, with his experiences and familiarity with our club, is the right man to lead us going forward.”
Girardi officially ends his Phillies’ tenure with a 132-141 (.484 winning percentage) record. Philadelphia went 28-32 during the COVID-shortened season, finished two games over .500 in 2021, and thus far in 2022 the team has not been able to get out of its own way. Entering play on Friday, the Phillies are 22-29, sitting third in the NL East.
Any time a team with as many big names as the Phillies loses more than it wins, the manager is the obvious scapegoat. But Girardi wasn’t the one who constructed a roster devoid of any plus defenders or reliable relief pitchers. Entering Friday’s games, the Phillies’ bullpen has a 4.15 collective ERA, 1.44 WHIP and NL-high 11.7% walk rate.
The defense’s negative-25 Defensive Runs Saved is second-worst in the NL, and by Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric, the Phillies’ negative-21 is also second from the bottom. With wobbly defense playing behind overmatched relievers, the Phillies have fared very poorly in close games. They are 4-10 in games that have been decided by one run.