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[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Philadelphia Phillies have fired manager Joe Girardi.

The timing of his dismissal is more surprising than the actual decision. The Phillies front office pulled the plug just two months into the season after the team stumbled to a 22-29 mark, leaving fans and the sports media asking the question: Is Girardi to blame for the failures in Philly?

There is plenty of finger-pointing and more than enough culpability to go around. Girardi, Dave Dombrowski, Sam Fuld, the 26-man roster?

There is no wrong answer.

But if you are looking for evidence to justify Girardi’s dismissal, look no further than his bullpen management. It shouldn’t be a surprise. Bullpen management has always been Girardi’s Kryptonite. Regardless of the seismic shift in baseball analytics, Girardi stood firm on his beliefs. Instead of using the failure as a tool for change, Girardi defended his theory as the losses piled up.

Girardi has a long-standing philosophy about bullpen management, one he developed and later protected from South Beach to The Bronx and until last Friday at Citizens Bank Park. He simply couldn’t get out of his own way.

Sports Illustrated reporter Tom Verducci pointed to the specific date on the baseball calendar that led to Girardi’s demise: May 24.

Verducci wrote:

That was the night in Atlanta when Girardi refused to use his closer, Corey Knebel, after a two-run homer in the top of the ninth … gave the Phillies a 5–4 lead. A win would have pulled the Phillies to within one game of .500. Girardi asked Nick Nelson to do something he had never done before: Close a one-run ball game. Ten pitches later, the Phillies lost. And Girardi lost the clubhouse. It started a 1–7 tailspin that sealed his fate.

Girardi is stubborn to a fault. He has a long-standing philosophy about bullpen management, one he developed and later defended from South Beach to the Bronx and Philly — until last Friday.

Verducci suggests Girardi employed “junk science” and antiquated thinking to manage his relievers. “…You cannot be so rigid as to disallow common sense, especially when your position players have fought back to the edge of a needed victory.”

Under Girardi, the Phillies bullpen failed miserably, ranking eighth in hits allowed, 11th in runs allowed and 18th in ERA. Still, Girardi held fast to his philosophy, to the point it cost him his job.

Verducci saw the trend developing five years ago when Girardi was dismissed by the Yankees writing:

Set aside Girardi’s won-lost record (910–710) and playoff appearances (six in 10 years) and judge him only on the requirements of today’s manager. That’s what Cashman did…Girardi’s connection to his players is minimal. He’s an old soul, an engineer at heart, and someone who has eaten the same breakfast (egg whites and toast) for three decades…Girardi did buy into analytics, but almost in the matter of taking a Berlitz course. Mostly he did what Cashman and his deep analytics department wanted done, but it was a learned belief that did not translate easily.

In the end, Girardi’s autopsy report should read that the cause of death was determined to be a self-inflicted wound.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row gap=”10″][vc_column][vc_empty_space][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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John Strubel

Hi. My name is John Strubel. Thanks for visiting my website. I write primarily about my passion: baseball. In addition, I occasionally publish posts and podcasts related to sports media, journalism and technology impacting the industry. You can also connect with me on social media @johnstrubel.

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