Tag Archives: Brian Cashman

Joe Girardi: Right man at right time for Philadelphia Phillies

Girardi receives a three-year contract to become the new Philadelphia Phillies manager.

 

The Philadelphia Phillies have named Joe Girardi as the 55th manager in franchise history. Girardi succeeds Gabe Kapler, who was fired last week after guiding the club to a 161-163 record over two seasons.

Girardi turned 55 years of age just 10 days ago. This will be his third managerial job in Major League Baseball. He was the skipper with the then-Florida Marlins in 2004, and then with the New York Yankees for a decade from 2008-17.

It is the Bronx Bombers with whom Girardi has been intimately related and is most associated by baseball fans. The Yankees went 910-710 under his guidance, reaching the postseason a half-dozen times while winning three American League East crowns and the 2009 World Series.

Of course, Philly fans will remember that it was Girardi calling the shots in the Yankees dugout when they dethroned the Phillies in that 2009 Fall Classic, knocking the defending champs out in six games.

As quoted by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Girardi is excited for the opportunity to join the organization:

I’m excited for this next chapter of my career. The Phillies have a strong commitment to winning from the owners to the front office to the players to the fans. It’s something that I’ve seen up close for the last 30 years of my baseball career. I played against the great Phillies players of the early ’90s — from Dutch Daulton to John Kruk to Dave Hollins — and I managed against their teams during the incredible run they had from 2008 to 2011. To have my name now associated with this great franchise is something that I couldn’t be happier about.

Girardi is a native of Peoria, Illinois. He became the 5th round choice of the Chicago Cubs back in the 1986 MLB Draft out of Northwestern University. That selection was made by Phillies Wall of Famer Dallas Green, who was the Cubs’ general manager at the time.

A strong defensive catcher, Girardi made over $21 million in a lengthy career in Major League Baseball with four organizations over 15 seasons: Cubs (7), Yankees (4), Colorado Rockies (3), Saint Louis Cardinals (1).

Girardi was a member of the 1989 Cubs team that lost the NLCS to the San Francisco Giants and a 1995 Rockies team that lost in the NLDS to the Braves. He then won three World Series with the Yankees dynasty of the late 1990’s.

Girardi was the man behind the plate for both Dwight Gooden‘s 1996 no-hitter and David Cone‘s 1999 Perfect Game with the Yankees.

The Yankees dropped the first two games of the 1996 World Series to the then-defending champion Atlanta Braves. But then New York rallied back to capture three straight tough games, taking a 3-2 lead in the series.

In a scoreless Game 6,  Girardi ripped a one-out RBI triple off Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, scoring Paul O’Neill to put the Yankees ahead. They would go on to win 3-2, capturing the first of three World Series titles over a four-year period.

After the last of those world championships in the Bronx in 1999, Girardi signed to return to the Cubs as a free agent and became a National League All-Star in the 2000 season. He wrapped up his playing career with a 13-game stint with the Cardinals in 2003.

After retiring, Girardi became a commentator with the YES Network in New York in 2004. He was then hired as Joe Torre‘s bench coach with the Yankees for the 2005 season.

In 2006, Girardi was hired by the Florida Marlins to become the manager of a team that had a winning record in each of the three seasons prior to his arrival, and had defeated the Yankees in the 2003 World Series.

However, the team he inherited was mostly young and inexperienced, with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball. Despite that, he kept the club in playoff contention until a poor 5-13 finish. Despite winning the NL Manager of the Year Award, he was fired after feuding with controversial owner Jeffrey Loria.

After another one-year stint back with the YES Network in 2007, Girardi was hired to manage the Yankees, succeeding Torre. That kicked off his successful decade in the Bronx.

In his final season with the Yankees, Girardi guided the club all the way to an ultimate Game 7 in the American League Championship Series against the Houston Astros. But the Yanks were shut out on three hits by Charlie Morton, falling a game short of a return to the World Series.

After losing in that ALCS, Girardi’s contract was up. The Yankees had not reached the World Series since 2009, and ownership decided to go in a different direction, hiring Aaron Boone for their job.

Girardi has worked over the last year as a baseball analyst on television, and has been linked to a number of possible managerial openings. He interviewed this off-season for the open jobs with the Cubs and Mets in addition to the Phillies.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was quoted on the hiring at ESPN: “He’s going to represent their franchise well. He’s been a winner his entire career, so I expect nothing but the same to continue there in Philadelphia. I wish him luck. I’d rather it not be in the American League East. I guess that’s the biggest compliment I could give.

It was well known that the Phillies, led by principle owner John Middleton, were after someone with substantial big-league experience for their job after going the novice rout with Kapler. The other two candidates interviewed were Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter, each of whom has at least 20 years of managerial experience.

Middleton was known to be heavily in Girardi’s corner. As with the landing of superstar outfielder Bryce Harper last off-season, it would not be difficult at all to imagine that it was the owner who put on a final full-court press to bring Girardi to Philly.

While Girardi is open to modern analytics and adept at using them, he is not married to numbers. He will be far more willing than the inexperienced Kapler to trust his instincts and what he sees happening in the locker room and on the field in making decisions.

As Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer pointed out “...it will help Girardi to have bench coach Rob Thomson, with whom he worked closely for years in New York. Thomson has relationships with the players and can serve as a conduit to Girardi.”

Girardi is married, and he and his wife Kim have three children. They live in the hamlet of Purchase, New York which is just outside of New York City.

After falling apart down the stretch in each of the last two seasons under Kapler, and with a streak of eight consecutive years out of the playoffs, the Phillies now have a manager who looks as if he could be around awhile. He appears to be a perfect fit.

Joe Girardi looks like the right man at the right time for this Philadelphia Phillies ball club as it begins what should be a second consecutive interesting, and expensive, off-season.

 

More on the Philadelphia Phillies and Major League Baseball:

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame to honor Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson

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Thomson (L) joined the Phillies as Gabe Kapler’s bench coach for 2018

A member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization was named today as one of four men who will be honored with induction to the Hall of Fame this coming summer.

That would be the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, and the honoree will be Phillies bench coach Rob Thomson.
Joining Thomson will be the current Milwaukee Brewers vice-president of baseball projects Gordon Ash, who was the former general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. Ash had grown through the Toronto organization beginning with a job in their ticket department when the club was an expansion team back in 1978.
The other two honorees this year will be former players Jason Bay and Ryan Dempster.
Bay was the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. During an 11-year career with five clubs from 2003-13 he became a 3x all-star. He won a Silver Slugger with the Boston Red Sox in 2009.
Dempster had a 16-year big-league career with five clubs, including nine seasons with the Chicago Cubs. He won 132 games and was a 2x all-star, finishing sixth in the 2008 NL Cy Young Award voting.
Scott Crawford, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s director of operations, described the four honorees:
Each of this year’s inductees is a proud Canadian that has had a tremendous impact on baseball in this country. Jason Bay and Ryan Dempster were major league all-stars and are two of the most successful Canadian players of all-time, while Rob Thomson and Gord Ash have seven World Series rings between them and are highly respected in the professional baseball community.
Thomson was a third baseman in the Detroit Tigers organization back in the mid-1980’s. Following his playing career, Thomson became a coach in Detroit’s minor league system.
Then in 1990, Thomson was hired by the New York Yankees for a role in their minor league system. He would rise through the Yankees system to become their director of player development, and then eventually joined the big-league coaching staff.
Prior to the 2008 season, Thomson was named the bench coach by manager Joe Girardi. Thomson would also serve as the Yankees third base coach for six seasons, including during the 2009 World Series victory over the Phillies.
In December 2017, Thomson was hired as new manager Gabe Kapler‘s bench coach with the Phillies. He served in that role last season and will return to the dugout for the 2019 campaign as well.
I wrote about Thomson’s contributions last August here at Phillies Nation. In that piece, I quoted Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman as reported originally by NBC Sports Philly’s Jim Salisbury“He’s tough. He will be brutally honest. He’ll say what a player needs to hear, not necessarily what a player wants to hear. And he’ll always relate well to players because he always has their best interest at heart. The Phillies got one of the best.”
On being notified of his honor, Thomson made the following statement per the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame website:
I am humbled and honoured to be inducted into Canada’s Baseball Hall of Fame! Growing up in Corunna, Ontario, I would have never dreamt that such an honour would be bestowed onto me. Congratulations to Gord, Ryan and Jason! My Canadian pride will be shining at its brightest as I get inducted on the same day with three fellow Canadians who have achieved so many fantastic things in our great sport. I look forward to June 15th to not only share the day with Gord, Ryan and Jason but also with my family and many people that have touched my life and continue to do so!
Kapler and the Phillies are fortunate to have a man with such a strong baseball pedigree helping in their locker room and dugout. Now it can be said that they have a Hall of Famer in that role. The official ceremony honoring Thomson and the others will take place on June 15 at the Hall of Fame ground in St. Mary’s, Ontario.

Young Phillies benefiting from experience of bench coach Rob Thomson

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Thomson (L) lends tremendous experience to rookie skipper Kapler (R)

In late October of last year the Philadelphia Phillies announced that they would hire Gabe Kapler as their new manager. 

Kapler had spent a lifetime in baseball. But that lifetime was just 42 years long, and he had never held the role of big league skipper.
In fact, Kapler had just one season of managerial experience at all. A decade earlier he guided the Greenville Drive, the Low A minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, to a 58-81 record.
According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, Kapler had impressed Phillies brass, which included controlling partner John Middleton and general manager Matt Klentak, with is “energy and intellect” during the interview process.
Salisbury quoted Klentak at the time of the hiring: “Gabe has a track record of leadership, winning, progressive thinking and working with young players, and we fully believe that he is the right person to guide this organization into the future.”
As Phillies fans have learned, Kapler is extraordinary at planning and research. He also knows his own shortcomings and is always looking to learn and improve.
Kapler knew well that he needed a bench coach with experience. Someone who could help him organize the team during his first-ever spring training, and then be available for sound advice in the dugout as the season unfolded.
According to Salisbury, Kapler did his research and what he kept hearing was that Thomson, then with the New York Yankees organization, was “the best in the business at planning and running a spring training camp.
The 54-year-old Thomson had spent the last 28 years, more than half his life, in Yankees pinstripes. He was their third base coach when the Bronx Bombers defeated the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. He then became Joe Girardi‘s bench coach, and became one of the leading candidates to take over as manager of the storied franchise. That job ultimately went to Aaron Boone.
Before Boone could get settled in and begin considering his own coaching staff options, Kapler swooped in and swiped Thomson away. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, who chose Boone over Thomson for his club’s managerial position, was quoted by Salisbury:

“He’s tough. He will be brutally honest. He’ll say what a player needs to hear, not necessarily what a player wants to hear. And he’ll always relate well to players because he always has their best interest at heart. The Phillies got one of the best.”

Thomson was everything that Kapler hoped, taking charge of spring training with input from the entire coaching staff. Meghan Montemurro with The Athletic caught up with him as his first spring down in Clearwater was coming to an end, quoting him on the most valuable attribute of a bench coach:

“…the manager, he’s got so many things to deal with. He’s got the pitching staff. He’s got double switches. He’s got his offense. He’s got his defense. He’s got a lot of things on his mind. So my job primarily is to be prepared and just keep reminding him of certain things and ask questions just to remind him of certain things and to make sure we don’t forget anything.”

As most fans of the team and those around the game already are well aware, Kapler had a rough opening week. The club lost four of their first five games and stood at just 3-5 after the bullpen blew a game late on April 8. Worse than the on-field struggles, it appeared that there could be early trouble brewing in the clubhouse as well.
Inside Baseball: Gabe Kapler heard some boos today from the home crowd, but he has more important folks to win over. he has time but here’s a quote from the clubhouse on phils’ slow start: “We’ll be OK … We just need the manager to get out of the way.” https://bit.ly/2Jm0bBv 

Heyman is a good, knowledgeable Major League Baseball information source with generally reliable sources. However, he is also prone to feeding into melodramatic story lines and rumors at times.
As the Phillies ship began to right itself over the coming weeks, Heyman quoted an anonymous scout who suggested that it was the influence of Thomson that was most responsible for that turnaround.
Per Phillies Nation’s Tim Kelly, then for Sports Talk Philly, Heyman quoted the scout: “Thomson literally has taken over game decisions. He just tells Kapler what to do and he does it – like a puppet.”
Anyone who knows Kapler would know that is nothing more than pure hogwash. Kapler is about as confident an individual as you are going to find in the game. While he absolutely seeks advice and input from Thomson and all of his coaches, he is never going to be anyone’s puppet.
Instead, the more likely scenario is that Thomson has provided Kapler with exactly what the manager wanted when he made the bench coach choice. An experienced voice. A baseball mind that has been in the dugout and the clubhouse, seen and heard it all, and who has invaluable advice to provide.
Kapler takes in that advice, processes it with the other information that he possesses from his own experience base and the analytical tools the organization provides him with, and makes his decisions.
By the time his former Yankees friends arrived in Philadelphia for a late June series at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies had fought their way to a winning record and looked like a young club on the rise.
Meredith Marakovitz of the YES Network scored an interview with Thomson, and specifically asked his opinion on Kapler:

“Unbelievable. This guy’s got it. He’s gonna be a really, really great manager. He’s got great communication skills. He understands the analytics part of the game. And he understands the heartbeat of a player, being a former player himself. We went through some rough times early, but he’s stuck with it. He’s very positive. He learns from mistakes. He adjusts well. I think he’s just tremendous to work for.”

The Phillies have had their ups and downs in this 2018 season as they battle to shed the losing of the last half-decade and return to contending status. But since that rough opening stretch the club has fashioned a 63-48 record. 
They currently control an NL Wildcard playoff berth. The Phillies also recently spent more than a month at the top of the NL East standings.
With baseball’s youngest lineup for most of the season and with a rookie manager, Thomson’s veteran input has been a big part of the ability of this team to weather its growing pains.
Thomson is celebrating his 55th birthday today. He will be in the dugout this evening as the Phillies host the New York Mets in a big doubleheader at Citizens Bank Park. 
So he will be spending his birthday doing the thing he does best and enjoys most. He will be doing everything he can to help a big-league baseball team win games. Kapler and the Phillies are lucky that it’s their team that Thomson is now helping.

The Yankees empire strikes back

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GM Brian Cashman working to improve the Yanks

window.gie=window.gie||function(c){(gie.q=gie.q||[]).push(c)};gie(function(){gie.widgets.load({id:’Yb0mD_byQTxfCGuDF1dqBQ’,sig:’h6VBDxV5ggvzG9Mk7hQCTPr1yPEZxr-C877tkYKxMOU=’,w:’594px’,h:’396px’,items:’887097606′,caption: true ,tld:’com’,is360: false })});//embed-cdn.gettyimages.com/widgets.jsIt has now been almost five years since the New York Yankees last captured an American League East Division crown. There has been just one World Series championship in the Bronx in the last seventeen years.

While the majority of MLB fan bases would be fine with their team having won a division title as recently as five years ago and a world championship just eight years ago, this isn’t most teams.
The New York Yankees are supposed to be the gold standard of Major League Baseball. The franchise has captured 27 World Series titles, sixteen more than the next highest club. They have won 40 American League pennants.
The two decades between 1994 and 2002 were particularly spectacular for the Yankees. The team finished in first place in the AL East in 14 of those 19 seasons. They won the AL pennant and advanced to the Fall Classic seven times, winning the World Series five times.
But over the last four full seasons, the Yanks won between 84 and 87 games. They finished second twice, third once, and then last season had fallen to fourth place in the division.
In those four seasons, there was just one playoff game. The Houston Astros shut the Yankees out 3-0 in the 2015 AL Wildcard Game.

SURPRISE 2017 CONTENDERS

Coming into this season, the Yankees were seen by many as having an aging core. Most had manager Joe Girardi‘s club finishing between 3rd and 5th place in the AL East in this 2017 season. When the team lost four of their first five games, there seemed like nothing was happening to contradict those predictions.
But then the Yankees began to win. Led by tremendous performances from the lineups two youngest members, catcher Gary Sanchez and right fielder Aaron Judge, the club reeled off eight straight victories after that slow start.
The winning came with consistency for the Yankees over the next two months. The new version of the Bronx Bombers spent most of the period between mid-April and late June at the top. At one point, they opened up a four game lead in the division.
In mid-June, however, the Yankees began to slow down. From June 13 through July 19, the team went just 10-22. They plummeted to third place, 4.5 games behind the arch-rival Boston Red Sox, who seemed ready to run away with the division.
But over the last 10 days or so, the Yanks have righted their ship. Following Monday’s 7-3 victory at Yankee Stadium over the visiting Detroit Tigers, the club has won nine of their last 11 games.

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK

Inspired by his team’s play this year, general manager Brian Cashman decided to do whatever he could to move up their timetable for championship contention.
On July 19, Cashman sent reliever Tyler Clippard and prospects Blake RutherfordIan Clarkin, and Tito Polo to the Chicago White Sox. In exchange, slugging third baseman Todd Frazier and a pair of proven relievers in David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle came to New York.
In the last two days, Cashman acted to plug up holes in the starting rotation. First he sent prospect arms Dietrich Enns and Zack Littell to the Minnesota Twins on Sunday for nine-year veteran lefty Jaime Garcia.
And then on Monday’s MLB trade deadline, he landed a big fish. Right-handed starting pitcher Sonny Gray was acquired from the Oakland A’s in exchange for prospects James KaprielianDustin Fowler, and Jorge Mateo.

STEINBRENNER LEGACY LIVES

After a decade of losing in which the franchise fell to its lowest-ever depths, the Yankees began to win again with regularity in the mid-1970’s under their late, legendary owner George Steinbrenner.
His spending on big-ticket free agents brought the Yankees the unflattering nickname “The Evil Empire”, based on the original blockbuster “Star Wars” movie released in 1977.
These modern-day Yankees were not willing to fade and let the Red Sox run away and hide. They were not going to tread water, hoping to scrape into a Wildcard spot. They were unwilling to wait for more prospects to develop, and possibly win in a year or two
With his moves of the last couple weeks, Cashman is clearly signaling that under the stewardship of himself and Steinbrenner’s sons, Hal and Hank, the Empire is striking back – now.
The latest winning spurt has pushed the Yankees back to the top of the AL East standings. Headed into Tuesday’s action they hold a half-game lead over Boston.
With these latest moves, management and ownership has done their part to help ensure that the Yankees have the pieces to contend for the division crown to the end. Perhaps even to make a deep October run.

Marlins would make perfect trade partners for Yankees

Marlins 1B Justin Bour is a perfect fit for Yankees
As the 2017 MLB trade deadline draws nearer, the New York Yankees still appear to have a couple of holes to fill. Over in the National League, the Miami Marlins could make for a perfect trade partner.
The Yanks are treading water of late. They sit with a 50-45 record following games of Friday night, July 21. The Bronx Bombers are 3.5 games behind the arch-rival Boston Red Sox in the AL East race. They control an AL Wildcard spot, but have a pair of teams just two games back.
For much of the season, the Yankees have failed to get reliable offensive production from the first base position. Chris Carter received 208 plate appearances over 62 games, but hit for just a .201/.284/.370 slash line and was released.
Greg Bird began the season as the starter at first, and kept that role through May 1 despite hitting for just a .100/.250/.200 slash line. Then Bird was lost to the DL, and after undergoing ankle surgery, he is likely gone until September.
The Yankees completed a big trade this past week, shoring up their bullpen with the additions of David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle from the Chicago White Sox.
Also acquired in that deal was 31-year old veteran third baseman Todd Frazier. With his arrival, Chase Headley has been moved across the diamond to play first base.
However, the 33-year old Headley has managed just four homers. Only once in his career, all the way back in 2012, as he displayed the type of offensive production that contending teams normally like to see from the first base position.
Another area of potential concern is the starting rotation. The loss of Michael Pineda to Tommy John surgery has created an opening that needs to be filled.

MARLINS COULD FILL YANKEES NEEDS

The Marlins have a pair of players who could step in immediately and fill those roles in the Bronx. Those players would be first baseman Justin Bour and pitcher Dan Straily.
The 29-year old Bour is hitting for a .288/.367/.555 slash line. His 21 homers and 63 RBI are exactly the type of production needed to support Yanks’ slugger Aaron Judge.
At age 28, the right-handed Straily has gone 7-5 with a 3.49 ERA and 1.129 WHIP for the Fish. He has allowed just 96 hits over 113.1 innings over 20 starts with a 105/32 K:BB ratio.
The Yankees would probably not make such a deal from the very top of their prospect collection. But perhaps a package led by high ceiling 19-year old outfielder Estevan Florial would get it done. Emerging second baseman Nick Solak and a young prospect pitcher, maybe the resurgent Dillon Tate to round it off?
Whether or not those prospects tickle the fancy of Miami general manager Mike Hill, there are plenty of good Yankees minor league pieces to get a deal done.
Another possibility for the Yankees could be the Philadelphia Phillies. The combination of starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and first baseman Tommy Joseph would fill their holes in a similar fashion.
July has already seen a number of deals get done. Yankees GM Brian Cashman has already pulled the trigger one time. A deal such as this one with the Marlins would go a long way towards ensuring a return to October baseball at Yankee Stadium.