The Phillies fired their manager, Joe Girardi, last week. I was not all that surprised to read that news since the Phillies put a team on the field this year that had an Opening Day payroll north of $200M and when Girardi was shown the door, the team was 22-29 for the season and 5-12 in their previous 17 games. Notwithstanding that less-than-stellar recent performance, I am not so sure that Joe Girardi is the only culprit responsible for those disappointments.
Girardi has managed in MLB for all or part of 14 seasons. His record in 2058 games is 1123-935 which is hardly what one would call shabby. So, the first thing that comes to my mind is that I doubt that Joe Girardi just got a whole lot stupider over the last winter. And then I look at the players and the roster…
The Phillies’ bullpen is threadbare – to be kind. There are three big names out there in the bullpen, Jeurys Familia, Brad Hand and Corey Knebel. The problem is that all three of them are on the downward arc of their MLB careers AND none of the three is having what you would call a season that harkens back to their halcyon days coming out of the bullpen. Basically, the Phillies go into the 8th and 9th inning of virtually every game knowing that no lead they have is a mortal lock to carry the day.
And that point brings me to the next issue I have with the firing of Joe Girardi. The Phillies have a new GM this year – – Dave Dombrowski – – who arrives with significant credentials as a savvy “baseball guy”. Yes, I know that trying to retool a team in one offseason is a daunting task, but I want to pose this simple question:
- How can one assemble an Opening Day roster whose payroll costs equal $221.7M and have nothing of value in the bullpen?
Another source of the Phillies’ underperformance must be the production of three young players for whom there were high hopes:
- Alec Bohm: He finished second in voting for Rookie of the year in 2020. He has never been much of a fielder, but the idea was that his bat would make up for those shortcomings. In 2022 so far, his is batting .271 with an OPS of .701. Those numbers are down significantly from his “almost-Rookie of the Year” stats in 2020. Oh, by the way, if he has improved his fielding abilities since that season, it is not immediately obvious to the casual fan…
- Mickey Moniak: The Phillies drafted him in the first round of the 2016 Draft and it took him 4 years to make it to the major leagues. This was supposed to be his “big improvement year” but a hand injury has put the kibosh on those hopes. His record to date is too small a sample to be reliable, but just consider that as of this morning his career OPS is a miserable .419.
- Bryson Stott: He was the Phillies first round draft pick in 2019 and coming out of Spring Training the Phillies kept him on the roster because of his potential. As of this morning, he is batting .159 and has an OPS of .471.
I have a difficult time pinning the blame for those miserable performances on Joe Girardi and it does seem intuitively obvious to me that if two of those three young guys were hitting .290 things might be different offensively for the Phillies. Maybe they could have built some impenetrable leads in the 8th and 9th innings of games with a bit more productivity there?
We shall see if the team responds positively under a new boss man – – and if it does and if the Phillies somehow make the playoffs even with that miserable bullpen – – I wonder how many commentators will fall for the highly possible situation where leadership from the bench was irrelevant to the team’s performance. In philosophy class, this sort of situation was known as the “Post hoc ergo propter hoc Fallacy”. The most common example of this fallacy is:
- A rooster crows every morning.
- Then the sun comes up.
- Therefore, the rooster causes the sun to rise.
Even if you did not take Astronomy 1 in college, I suspect that you can see the fallacy of that argumentation. Causality is difficult to establish with great accuracy and assuredness so the fate of the Phillies’ season rests not with their new manager as opposed to their old one; the fate of their season depends on the bullpen improving a whole lot and on those three young players noted above to live up to – – or come close to living up to – – the expectations of them.
Moving on … The NFL has lost two long-term fixtures to retirement in the past two weeks. Frank Gore and Ryan Fitzpatrick are calling it quits. Gore played RB for all or part of 16 seasons in the NFL; he ran the ball 3735 times and caught 484 passes; he was named to the Pro Bowl 5 times. He took a lot of punishment in those games and offensive plays.
Ryan Fitzpatrick came to the NFL from that huge northeastern football factory – – Harvard University. He played in all or part of 17 NFL seasons for 9 different teams. Over his much-traveled career, Fitzpatrick threw for 34,990 yards and 223 TDs with only 169 INTs.
I don’t know what kind of pension these men qualify for, but whatever it is, they earned every dime.
Finally, here is an interesting question posed by humorist Brad Dickson:
“Due to supply chain issues Harley Davidson is stopping production effective immediately. Oh, no, now how will middle aged, paunchy men compensate for their receding hairlines?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………