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Phillies fire manager Joe Girardi

The Philadelphia Phillies have fired manager Joe Girardi, it was announced today

Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves Photo by Adam Hagy/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies have fired manager Joe Girardi, the team announced today. Rob Thomson, who had been the bench coach, takes over as interim manager. The Phillies also fired coaching assistant Bobby Meacham.

Girardi was hired after the 2019 season to replace Gabe Kapler, who went 80-82 and 81-81 in his two seasons, but who seemed to rub a lot of folks in Philly the wrong way. Kapler has gone on to have success with the San Francisco Giants, who hired him that same 2019-20 offseason, and who won 107 games under Kapler in 2021.

Prior to managing the Phillies, Girardi had managed the then-Florida Marlins in 2006, and had a ten year run from 2008-17 as the New York Yankees manager. Dave Dombrowski, who announced today’s firing, was hired as president of baseball operations for the Phillies in December, 2020, and thus inherited Girardi, versus hiring Girardi himself.

After winning 102 games in 2011, the Phillies had a long stretch of playing .500 and below ball, but appeared to be poised to make a leap after a 2018 season which saw them go 80-82 with a young squad. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto were added after 2018, and the Phillies were planning on being serious contenders for 2019, but went 81-81, after which Kapler was fired. Philly went 28-32 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, then were 82-80 in 2021.

Philadelphia, which was defensively challenged already, ended up exacerbating that problem by signing Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber prior to the 2022 season. The plan was that one of the pair could DH and the other would play left field, and their offensive production would well more than outweigh any defensive issues. Bryce Harper’s damaged UCL has resulted in him being unable to play the field, however, and with Harper at DH, the Phillies’ outfield defense has been problematic. In addition, third baseman Alec Bohm has been, by many metrics, one of the worst defensive players in baseball.

The Phillies’ bad defense and bullpen meltdowns have resulted in a poor start that has them 12 games behind the division leading Mets, and tied in the N.L. East with Girardi’s old club, the Marlins. I doubt firing Girardi is going to solve the problem, but the Phillies appear to be in a situation where they feel they have to shake things up.

If Bobby Meacham, who was also fired, sounds familiar, you may recognize his name from when he was traded to the Texas Rangers by the New York Yankees in December, 1988, in exchange for Bob Brower. It was a move that didn’t make much sense until the team, later that same day, made the blockbuster deal with the Cubs that brought Rafael Palmeiro to Texas. The Rangers sent six players to Chicago in that deal, most notably Mitch Williams, but they also included utility infielder Curt Wilkerson in the trade. The acquisition of Meacham was intended to give the Rangers a UIF to replace Wilkerson. As it turned out, Meacham was released by the Rangers that spring, and never played for Texas.