Let’s Talk About Joe Girardi

640px-Joe_Girardi_by_Keith_Allison_2

Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons/Fair Use

With May about to end, the Phillies are over 11 games back from first in the NL East and might be on a downward spiral. Since the west coast road trip to Seattle and Los Angeles the Phillies are 4-10 and in a few games have looked lifeless. Even players parents are questioning how much fun they are having, remember that at the end of the day they are playing a game and games should be fun. 

The Phillies look like a mess from Odúbel Herrera letting a ball go under his glove that was thrown by the catcher, to Roman Quinn and Nick Castellanos failing to properly communicate on a fly ball.  

Every night there is something new, Corey Knebel blew saves in back-to-back games against the Mets and Giants, the offense is failing to live up to expectations, and many questionable decisions were made by the manager. 

Let's talk about that manager for a moment, while managers in the grand scheme of the season probably don't matter too much, Joe Girardi has still been an issue. Would the Phillies be completely different if Girardi was no longer the manager? Probably not but there are certain decisions that just don't make a lot of sense. 

A couple of great examples are in the Braves series, on May 25, the same game where Herrera let the ball go under his glove, Girardi sent José Alvarado in a critical game-deciding situation against Austin Riley with Dansby Swanson on first. While everyone remembers the ball going under Herrera's glove it wouldn't matter because Alvarado allowed a solo home run to Riley, making it a six-four game. If the defensive blunder never happens the score is still the same. 

The Phillies would go on to lose eight to four and fall to 20-24 on the season. Can Girardi magically make the offense score more runs? No. Can He magically make the bullpen elite? Also no, but what he can do is work with what he has and put guys into better positions to succeed. 

Right-handed hitters have a .866 OPS against Alvarado and Riley has a 1.077 OPS against left-handed pitching so going with your worst lefty in a major spot against Riley was probably never-ending well. 

The game before is full of blunders too. In the bottom of the sixth of a tie game, Girardi decides James Norwood is the best option. Norwood allowed a home run to Matt Olson and proceeded to allow two hits plus a walk to load up the bases, Norwood failed to even record an out before being pulled.

Norwood isn't some high leverage reliever, even in the Phillies bullpen. He came into that game with a 7.11 ERA and an average leverage index of .48, meaning he was never really used in big spots. 

He is essentially a mop-up arm when the game is supposed to be out of reach so why would Girardi willingly put him in a tie game against a division rival? 

Later in that game, Nick Nelson pitched a scoreless eighth inning, and Harper the following half-inning would hit a towering two-run home run off of Kenley Jansen to give the Phillies the lead. Girardi would have Nick Nelson, who is mainly their long reliever, try a wrap-around to close out the ninth in Atlanta. Of course, he would go on to fail and the Phillies lost six to five. 

Where is the game plan with these decisions? Girardi would say Nick Nelson was throwing the ball well in the eighth but that doesn't really sound like much of a plan. It's also very questionable why Corey Knebel, Seranthony Domínguez, and Jeurys Familia were all unavailable for the same game. 

However, even if you are going into a game like that, why did you use Brad Hand in the seventh down a run? If you are that short, maybe save the only other guy you can trust to close a game. None of it really made any sense at the time and it hurt their chances to win significantly. Girardi has very strict bullpen rules but fails to adjust how he manages. These are his own rules he can't adjust to. 

Would it help if Dave Dombrowski put together a better bullpen? Absolutely but Girardi is still making poor decisions with what he has and it's costing them games. 

Girardi isn't the only problem with the Phillies, they spent nearly 180 million dollars on two bats this off-season and rank only 15th in wRC+. That is not good enough, the bullpen pieces are not good enough, and the defense has lately started to cost this team run after run. Girardi can't do those things for them. 

But there are also decisions Girardi is making that hurt them, the bullpen decisions that were mentioned earlier. Alec Bohm made 23 starts in the two-hole and recorded a .626 OPS before Girardi finally made a change. These decisions add up over the course of a season and don't fully maximize the roster they have. 

They aren't 21-28 solely because of Girardi but he should be held accountable when he makes poor decisions and hurts the team's chances to win. While it is very hard to talk about someone's job like this it is an easy decision to make. He should no longer be this Phillies manager.