Phillies Already Reaping Benefits from Joe Girardi Hire

Didi Gregorius #18 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Didi Gregorius #18 of the New York Yankees is congratulated by manager Joe Girardi (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

World Series-winning manager Joe Girardi has not managed even one game for the Phillies, yet he has already made a tremendous impact.

New Phillies manager Joe Girardi is already making an impact, and we’re still months away from spring training.

Most anticipate that Girardi will be a noticeable improvement over his predecessor Gabe Kapler, in that he has 11 years of managerial experience with one World Series championship under his belt.

Yet, the former New York Yankees manager’s presence is already impacting the roster in that he is drawing in premiere free agents, including the recently signed infielder Didi Gregorius.

According to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury, Gregorius chose the Phillies over the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers, with “playing for Girardi again” being a “big factor” in his decision.

The Amsterdam, Netherlands, native was coached by Girardi for three seasons in New York, 2015 through 2017. Since then, the left-handed-hitter’s batting average fell from .287 in 2017, to .268 (2018) and .238 (2019). Now, the two are reunited in Philadelphia.

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“He’s a treat to be around,” Girardi told reporters last week about Gregorius, before he signed with the Phillies. “He brings a smile every day and works extremely hard. He’s a very talented player. I think there’s 30 teams that would love Didi’s services. I’m a big fan.”

While coincidental that Girardi opted to not sign with the Giants and Kapler, it is surely likely he would not have chosen the Phillies among his available options had it not been for Girardi.

Then there was recent starting pitching signee, RHP Zack Wheeler. While the five-year veteran never played for Girardi, Wheeler surely has heard much about him, considering he has spent his whole career in New York.

“When you look at what he’s done the last few years and really throughout his career, he’s continued to get better and better,” Girardi recently told reporters about the Phillies newest addition to their starting rotation. “This is a power guy with four pitches where I think he’s just starting to reach his potential. I think there is more in the tank there. I think this guy can be more dominant than he’s been, and we’re looking forward to seeing the top of our rotation.”

Gregorius and Wheeler may not be the only “stars” the Phillies can add this offseason, with the help of Girardi and assuming they will agree to exceed the luxury tax.

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MLB Network’s Jon Heyman speculates fellow once-New York major leaguers Dellin Betances and Austin Romine could be targets; and the Phillies have also been linked to Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant as a possible trade acquisition.

Girardi will never don a position on the field for the Phillies, but he will still be making a tremendous impact on the team on a daily basis from the dugout as manager. Clearly, he is well-respected around baseball as being among the best skippers currently in the game, and that is evident in the Phillies’ ability this offseason to add marquee players to their roster.