We are only 10 games into the 2022 MLB Season, and it is far too early to be talking about firing managers, regardless of where teams currently sit in the standings. In fact, the worry level about the Philadelphia Phillies, who currently sit at 4-6 and 4th in the NL East, should still be minimal. There’s little reason to believe a super talented Phillies roster won’t work out these early season kinks and eventually turn into the great offensive team that we all imagined they’d be. All that being said, it’s still fair to have questions at this point, and it seems that many of those questions surround decisions by Manager Joe Girardi. He’s not on the verge of being fired, but his seat is already heating up, especially for this point in the season.
Girardi came in to Philadelphia with a great pedigree as a Major League manager following his time in New York when he won a World Series for the Yankees over the Phillies in 2009. He was also named NL Manager of the Year back in 2006 with the then Florida Marlins. It was realistic to have high expectations, and so far, the Phillies have underperformed, going 114-118 to this point in his tenure. They failed to make the playoffs in 2020 in a shortened season after having a prime opportunity to break in to an extended playoff field, and fell off a cliff late last season as well. Those rosters were certainly not as talented as this current one, which is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, Girardi has more talent at his disposal than his first couple years here in Philly, but with great talent comes great expectations. Anything short of the Phillies ending their decade long playoff drought this season would be a disappointment, and could certainly create a conversation about Girardi’s future in Philadelphia. There are still 152 games to work all that out, but some of the decisions that he has made so far this season have already set off some alarms for part of the fan base.
For starters, the lineup has been interestingly constructed in a few games this year. Just this past Sunday, Girardi decided to play Johan Camargo, a utility infielder batting .269 on the year, over Alec Bohm, who has a .700 average on the young season. Is Camargo a better defender than Bohm? Absolutely. But to sit a guy batting .700 on the season in a game that could help you split an in-division series seemed foolish. The bullpen has been managed fairly well so far this season, but there have already been a couple times where it seemed that Girardi left a starter in a couple pitches or even a couple batters too long. Zack Wheeler had a clear drop in velocity in his most recent start, and yet he was not removed from the game until after he had already allowed 7 runs. There have been other times (Wheeler’s last start against the Mets, Aaron Nola opening day vs. the A’s) where Girardi seemed to be hesitant to go to his bullpen and it burned or nearly burned the team. There have also been a number of strangely scheduled rest days that have led to a very variable lineup, which could be contributing to the lack of offense to this point.
In fairness to Girardi, every manager in baseball makes questionable decisions. Just last week, Dave Roberts pulled Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw out of a PERFECT GAME! Baseball is a game of judgement calls, and you can what if yourself to death if you get too deep in the weeds of managerial decisions. It’s not the end all be all, but with as much talent and as big of a payroll as the Phillies have this season, results are a requirement. If those fail to come, there is no doubt that the managerial seat in Philadelphia will get even hotter before this season is over.