The Phillies are not a good baseball team and have not been since 2011. They are 23-29, 11 games out of first and 5.5 out of the Wild Card. They went 82-80 last year, their best record in a decade, but basically the same as the 2018, 2019, and even 2020 versions of the team. They are one of the most dreadful defensive teams you will ever watch play baseball. They’re a decent enough hitting team, but they’re so poor at making contact that they can be shutout any given night, as they already have five times this season. They honestly thought they’d be able to hold leads with the cast of Familia, Alvarado, and Knebel pitching in the late innings, but instead we’re watching another horrible bullpen lose leads. Their top position prospect has been an automatic out at the plate, while their other young infielder has been better than last year, but still lacks power and the ability to catch the baseball. Someone thought they’d find an acceptable center fielder among Odubel Herrera, Matt Vierling, and Roman Quinn while waiting for former #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak to heal up and hopefully become a starter out there. I honestly thought this team would hit enough to mask their problems and make the playoffs, before the season. At this point I accept what is. I just don’t think this group is much more than a .500 group, at best.
None of this is meant to absolve Joe Girardi for his performance as manager. His bullpen management stands out in particular as a problem. He uses far too many relievers and neither pushes them to get more outs or appear in more games each week. His continual decision to use Brad Hand in the 6th and 7th inning, while using Jose Alvarado as a late inning lefty drives me nuts. It seems like he had multiple relievers unavailable every night. Girardi’s management never bothered me like Gabe Kapler’s, but I wouldn’t honestly say he did great. He tried to close a pivotal game in Atlanta with Nick Nelson.
The problem with this team has very little to do with the manager. With hindsight now as a guide, it wasn’t the manager with Gabe Kapler either. The roster simply isn’t good. Joe Girardi doesn’t make the first baseman throw the ball away when it’s hit to him. No manager is going to make the closer handed to him by the big name team President stop giving up home runs. It’s not the dugouts fault that their high priced catcher has a sub-.700 OPS in June. The manager isn’t at fault when a wild throw to second base from the catcher ends up rolling through the center fielder’s legs, a center fielder that same team President brought back on a guaranteed deal. it’s not the manager hitting .181 in June in year one of a four year free agent deal paying him almost $20 million a year. I’m going to be blunt- this team is mostly bad because former GM Matt Klentak destroyed it, but the current brass of Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld made a ton of clear mistakes building this team. The blame for this belongs in the composition of the team.
I’m basically saying you’re not likely to find a manager who can fix this. I almost certainly am sure it’s not handing the team over to Girardi and Kapler’s long time bench coach. Is this even a change? The GM said he will “communicate” better as a reason he’ll do well. What? That’s going to change things for a team that’s not doing much right? The team needs to play 90 win pace the rest of the way to get to 85 wins and sneak in the playoffs. I can count 7 teams in the NL that are better than this team. There are 6 spots. I don’t really think any manager changes that right now. I’m puzzled about how this move is an attempt to change anything.
So here’s where I give you a glimmer of hope, then snatch it from you. This team has played worse than I thought, and they will play better. The schedule starts getting easier the rest of the way. The Phillies will play their way into at least the Wild Card race. This will happen under Rob Thomson and you’ll see lots of people say he’s doing a better job. All of this would have happened under Joe Girardi too. Unless the roster changes, this improvement won’t get them to the playoffs though. They will be eliminated in the final week of the season, again. That would of happened under Girardi too. It’s not going to be much different under Thomson. The problem is the players the front office puts on the field.
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