We could be coming to the final days of the first important Phillies step in the 2019 - 2020 offseason: hiring a new field manager. Already coming through town were Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter, each with experience managing four major league teams. Monday the Phillies get a second visit from Joe Girardi, who comes with three World Series championships as a player and one as a manager.
If the Phillies decide that Girardi is their guy, what might the competition be like?
The two teams known to be interested in Girardi are the Chicago Cubs and the New York Mets. Both teams brought Girardi in for an interview. Geography would seem to link Girardi to both. Girardi is a native of Peoria, Illinois and currently resides just outside New York City. But what are the odds he would be offered either job?
New York Mets
Girardi is one of what seems like an endless line of people interviewing for the position open after the firing of manager Mickey Callaway. Yesterday, the New York Post called Girardi a finalist for the position. The candidates called finalists include Carlos Beltran, Tim Bogar, Eduardo Perez and Girardi.
But here could be what stands in Girardi's way: how much influence the front office would have in his managing:
There have been questions whether “collaboration” — an important buzzword in general manager Brodie Van Wagenen’s vocabulary — is part of Girardi’s game, as the front office expects to have significant input in how the game is managed.
Of the four names, only Girardi has managed in the major leagues.
Girardi's first managerial opportunity came in Miami as Girardi led the 2006 Florida Marlins to a 78-84 record after the rebuilding team was expected to be much worse. Girardi won manager of the year there for his efforts on the field. However, Girardi was fired at season's end. Why? Dealing with the front office.
The 2006 story from ESPN noted the tension that led to Girardi's ouster:
Although he showed the potential to be one of the game's top managers, Girardi all but sealed his fate to be fired with a visible confrontation with Loria during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 6. Girardi told Loria - who was sitting next to the dugout - to keep quiet after the owner hollered at plate umpire Larry Vanover over balls and strikes. Girardi reportedly also had communication issues with general manager Larry Beinfest. On Tuesday morning, he met with Beinfest, assistant general manager Mike Hill and president David Samson and learned his fate.
That could be appealing to the Phillies, who appear to prefer someone who will push back when he has a different perspective than simply saying "yes".
But for the Mets - that might not be a good fit. Even though Girardi managed successfully in New York for 10 seasons and though Girardi lives there, this will be the Brodie VanWagenen show. That could mean the Phillies has one less competitor.
The Chicago Cubs have had six candidates for their open managerial position after Joe Maddon parted ways with the organization. Internal candidates included coaches Will Venable and Mark Loretta and special adviser David Ross. External candidates include former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Girardi.
After the ALCS clincher, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reported that Espada was headed to Chicago for a second interview. Last time the Houston Astros were in the World Series in 2017, they lost their bench coach Alex Cora to a managerial vacancy in Boston. Could manager A.J. Hinch, highly regarded as a manager, lose a second bench coach?
Gordon Wittemyer of the Chicago Sun Times wrote that the Cubs job is essentially down to two candidates: Espada and Ross.
What does that mean for Girardi?
Girardi, the former Cubs catcher and a popular name among fans, is said to want the Mets job “badly,” according to reports out of New York. And the Cubs aren’t likely to engage in a bidding war for a manager who may have been no more than a strong second choice to Ross in the first place.
Steve Greenberg of the Sun Times added that Espada highly impressed the Cubs.
So it sounds like the Cubs and Girardi are not going to be the match. The Cubs very well could go with the hot up-and-coming candidate in Espada, and if Ross is ranked ahead of Girardi, they will have the opportunity to hire him since he is not up for other manager jobs. It feels safe to count out the Cubs for Girardi.
Do the Phillies Have a Shot at Girardi?
If what Wittenmyer of the Sun Times noted is true, that Girardi "badly" wants the Mets job, could that knock the Phillies out? A lot will have to come down to how the two sides felt with each other in the interviews. Would Girardi "badly" want the New York job if he arrived and felt he would be a puppet for the front office?
Mike Puma of the New York Post got an internal Mets response to this idea:
“You are reporting to the general manager, here is what it’s going to be, you either want the job or you don’t,” the source said. “And I think Joe wants the job badly enough that it won’t be bothersome and he’s going to figure out how to get along and everything else. I don’t see that being an issue.”
That leaves one question left: do the Mets want Girardi?
On the other side, maybe the Mets feel like that Girardi's headstrong nature would be an impediment to their top-down management style. We cannot assume that the Mets will want Girardi under the circumstances given his track record. Given that the other candidates for the job are rookie managerial candidates, Girardi's experience might not hold enough value to the Mets front office.
Speaking of value, would the Mets put out the financial resources that it would require to hire a Girardi?
Girardi earned $4 million a year in his last contract with the Yankees. Looking at what Maddon got with the Twins - that number appears to be about what it would take to hire a manager. The Mets paid $850,000 a year to Callaway. Would they spend big on a manager?
But the Phillies value experience, and that is why the Phillies have only looked at their three choices. That means they are willing to may a monetary premium to a manager. Put that in the Phillies' column.
In the end it comes down to one question: Do the Phillies want Girardi as their manager? If that's the case, the situation is playing out in a way where the Phillies seem to be in a position to get him.