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.
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.
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