New manager Girardi went to the playoffs six times and averaged 91 victories during his decade in New York.
The Phillies need Joe Girardi more than Girardi needs the Phillies.Two years after completing a 10-year run with the Yankees, Girardi really wanted to be an MLB manager again. At 55, he still had that itch. But the Phils crave somebody with experience to take them from playoff contender to a team capable of going deep in the postseason. Girardi repeatedly showed why he’s the right man for the job during Monday’s 35-minute introductory news conference at Citizens Bank Park that was so much better than the Oct. 11 excuse-fest on the firing of Gabe Kapler. General manager Matt Klentak summed up the most important reason why Monday: “What is helpful when you bring in somebody like Joe Girardi is you don’t have to ask him how he would do it — you can ask him how he did do it.” While everything was new for first-time manager Kapler over the past two seasons, Girardi has been there and done that. There is significant value in experience. Girardi went to the playoffs six times and averaged 91 victories during his decade in New York. He won the 2009 World Series in an entertaining 6-game series over the Phillies. Girardi, who also managed the Marlins in 2006 before his 2008-17 stint with the Yankees, has been successful at this level, which should really help with the players. “One way to establish respect, obviously, is your credibility, your track record,” said first baseman Rhys Hoskins afterward. “He has one of the best out there and we’re excited to be a part of that.” Girardi handled intense, daily organizational and fan pressure in the Bronx. No moment in Philadelphia should be too big for him. That he was the Phillies’ fans clear choice for the job doesn’t hurt his case, either. “It means a lot to me that the fans are behind me,” Girardi said. “I’m well aware of the importance of winning in this town. … I’m selfish. I want to win. That’s why I came here — because I think there’s a great opportunity to win here.” While he said he thinks he can help develop some of the starting pitchers already here, just like he did with the Yankees, Girardi knows Klentak must upgrade the starting rotation and bullpen to give him a legitimate shot to win in 2020. The price could be steep, but owner John Middleton must be willing to pay it. Pitching proved most costly in the Phils’ second straight late-season swoon. “Obviously, Matt is well aware of the areas that need to be addressed here and we will do it over the next few weeks,” Girardi said. Girardi, who spent 15 years in the majors as a catcher, mixes old-fashioned baseball sense with modern analytics. His nickname was “Binder Joe” before analytics became so pervasive. “It is important to me because numbers tell a story over time,” Girardi said. “I’m an analytical guy with an engineering degree that loves the math. They can never give me too much information.” Girardi, who prides himself on being able to adapt to the strengths of his personnel, holds players accountable. He has rules that he believes are pretty straightforward. “As long as you’re on-time, prepared, accountable and focused on winning — is there really anything else?” Girardi said. If players don’t hustle or act inappropriately, he likes to sit them down and watch it on tape. He’s not afraid to bench guys, too, and isn’t trying to be their friend. It’ll be interesting to see how Girardi responds if shortstop Jean Segura doesn’t run hard to first base. Kapler didn’t sit Segura during either of the two most-glaring times it happened last season. That could change. The next step for Girardi is hiring pitching and hitting coaches. Larry Rothschild, who Girardi worked with in New York, was fired by the Yankees Monday and would make sense as the pitching coach. He’s already spoken to more than 20 players, plus other team personnel, and plans on contacting the rest in the near future. He can’t wait for February in Clearwater. “To me, the message is clear in spring training — we need to do whatever it takes to win,” Girardi said. They have a manager capable of making it happen.