Will the Philadelphia Phillies extend Joe Girardi’s contract?
Will finding a new manager be on the Philadelphia Phillies‘ offseason to-do list next year?
Joe Girardi, whom the Phillies hired ahead of the 2020 season, is under contract is through the 2022 season. The club also has an option for him in 2023, should they choose to exercise it, a decision that will likely come down to how the team fares in 2022.
Girardi won multiple World Series as a player and one as the Yankees manager but hasn’t been as successful in his first two seasons with the Phillies. His squads have gone 110-112 over the last two years and cemented a full decade without postseason play.
It makes sense that the Phillies won’t commit to Girardi in the current climate of the organization. They’re finally making serious inroads in their decade-long quest to rebuild, and the many personnel changes they’ve been making might eventually include the manager.
But how much of the Phillies’ failings is Girardi’s fault, really? A field manager can only do so much with what he is given by the front office.
Girardi signed on to manage a team whose front office had been attempting and failing to rebuild for most of the last decade. That’s kind of like boarding the Titanic mid-sink.
He inherited Bryce Harper, Zack Wheeler, and J.T. Realmuto, but he was also saddled with managing a lot of underperforming and injured players. He might not have been the best fit to manage struggling young players like Alec Bohm and Scott Kingery, but he also shouldn’t be blamed for everything that’s wrong with this squad.
On top of all that, he’s been managing during a global pandemic, which impacted the playing schedule, players’ health, the ballpark atmosphere, and countless other variables. The last two years have not been easy for anyone.
If Gabe Kapler’s success in San Francisco is any indication, the Phillies might want to be a bit more patient with hiring and firing their managers. Girardi even more so than Kapler, as one of his two seasons was a pandemic-shortened 60 game display.
Girardi also managed – no pun intended – to lead the Phillies to something no manager had achieved since 2011: a winning season. Yes, they eked out an above-.500 record by a single game, but it was a winning season nonetheless, and that is a sign of progress. He also made a bold change by moving Ranger Suárez from the bullpen to the starting rotation, and that risk paid off.
The Phillies haven’t exactly clued the public into their plans for Girardi’s future. While President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, commended Girardi for doing “a good job” in 2021, he also didn’t know the club even had an option on their skipper for 2023.
"“He did fine. He did a good job for us.I think he’s a good leader of our club. He handles situations well, manages well. He’s well-respected, has good communication with the players, has good communication with me. I think Joe did a good job for us.”"
Despite the kind words, it’s highly plausible that Dombrowski is running out the clock on the manager’s contract so that he can replace him with a skipper of his own choosing. Girardi was Matt Klentak’s hire, so he’s not necessarily the manager Dombrowski would have chosen, had he been hired first.
Of course, there are on-field ramifications to managerial decisions. If Girardi is a lame-duck manager in 2022, that’s essentially another wasted year of Harper’s, Wheeler’s, and everyone else’s careers. Changing managers almost guarantees a new coaching staff, and it takes time for a team to adjust and get familiar with a new leadership setup.
The best way for the organization to decide if 2022 will be Girardi’s final season in Philly is for Dombrowski to go big when the lockout ends. If he provides Girardi with all the pieces of a contending team and the Phillies still don’t make the playoffs, that will be more of an indictment of the manager than the last two seasons have been.