By Connor Thomas
It was yet another rough road series in
Toronto Buffalo Dunedin, Florida for the Philadelphia Phillies as they lost 2 of 3 to the displaced Toronto Blue Jays. There were plenty of bad things to take away from a mid-May series to forget, but maybe the most noticeable was something that didn’t even happen on the field. Yesterday, in the rubber match of the series, TV cameras captured the end of what appeared to be some type of argument or altercation between Joe Girardi and Jean Segura in the Phillies’ dugout. Segura, who had committed a bad error earlier in the ballgame, had avoided an earlier mound conference with Girardi and the rest of the infield. Clearly tempers were flaring as third base coach Dusty Wathan had to hold Segura back from Girardi during the incident in the dugout. It was an ugly moment in a very ugly game that, despite a late comeback attempt, was at one point, 8-0 Blue Jays. There are certainly other issues with the team – injuries, errors, the bullpen, some offensive holes – but one of the unexpected weak spots of the team has been the manager’s ability to… well… manage.
Let’s review the list. So far this year Joe Girardi has:
• Had to pull a pitcher mid at bat because he forgot he was using his 2nd mound visit
• Went to the bullpen to put in a pitcher who wasn’t on the lineup card
• Didn’t pinch hit for his pitcher with the bases loaded and then pulled that pitcher 6 pitches into the next inning
• And now, had to have a player physically restrained from him after an argument in the dugout
It has not been a banner year for the former World Series winning manager, and it has only been 41 games. Girardi is on pace to have a strongly negative incident/decision once every 10 games. That is what folks in the business call “not good”. Now let’s take a moment and acknowledge the other side of this issue. Segura’s defense has been suspect at best as of late, and his effort has been something that has been questioned since before Girardi was hired to succeed Gabe Kapler. Remember that Segura’s failure to run out a routine play back in 2019 that led to a torn ACL for Andrew McCutchen. In no way should the fault for this most recent incident fall solely on Girardi. In fact, record would show that it is much more likely to be a fault of Segura’s than the Phillies’ veteran manager.
Disagreements also happen often in sports between coaches and athletes regardless of a given players’ history or the ability of the manager. The main reason why this is an issue is that Girardi had already been setting off alarms with his poor decision making so far this season. It is not time to fire Girardi by any means. Anyone even considering that option should be considered an alarmist and does not understand the marathon that a baseball season is. But there should certainly be some reason for concern among the fan base. The Phillies are not a team that can win in spite of the man at the helm. At 21-20, they are toeing a razor thin line in a division that still has enough talent to get hot and leave a .500 team in 3rd place when everything is said and done. If the Phillies hope to stay in contention, Girardi will need to get a hold of the wheel of this team sooner rather than later, and keep a talented, while flawed, roster afloat for the remaining 75% of the season. If he doesn’t, there will be even more questions about this team than originally thought, and many will certainly be aimed at the manager.