From the outside, it appears that Joe Girardi is on the hot seat. His Phillies teams are a combined 121-127 since his tenure as manager began in 2020. He was lauded as a culture changer prior to his arrival, but many of the team’s issues that predate his hiring still persist. So far, the Girardi-led Phillies teams have been nothing special. How much of that is his fault is up for debate.
Firing the manager is seen by many as a potential fix for the 11-15 Phillies. A manager’s salary does not count toward the luxury tax and the Phillies decided not to pick up his 2023 club option prior to the beginning of the season. However, it appears that the Phillies are not considering a managerial change just yet.
Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the thought of dismissing Girardi “hasn’t come up in the halls of 1 Citizens Bank Way, according to multiple high-ranking sources.” Lauber went on to add that the situation is more likely to be addressed at the end of the season as opposed to in-season.
Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski pinned the Phillies’ slow start on the inconsistent offense.
“It’s not Joe’s fault that we’ve been shut out or scored one run seven times,” Dombrowski told Lauber. “We’re a club that, he’s been in charge as far as handling situations. We’re prepared to play. We go out there on a day-in, day-out basis. We battle. I know Joe’s disappointed with our record. We’re all disappointed.”
In his first season as Detroit Tigers president, Dombrowski fired both general manager Randy Smith and manager Phil Garner after an 0-6 start in 2002. The rebuilding Tigers went on to lose 106 games that season.
2002 marks the only time in his career Dombrowski has fired a manager during the season. Nowadays, in-season manager firings have become exceedingly rare. Then St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was the last manager who was truly fired in the middle of a season back in July 2018. Every dismissal since then has occurred either in the final days of the season or immediately after.
It should be noted that the power dynamic that led to Gabe Kapler’s dismissal after two seasons no longer exists. Lauber reiterated in his report that Dombrowski has full autonomy to make baseball-related decisions. Managing partner John Middleton overruled both Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail while making the call to either keep or retain Kapler in 2019.
A strong showing in May could slow down the hot-seat discussion regarding Girardi, but if the Phillies continue to lose series and fall back even further in the NL East, the job security of the manager will remain a story.
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