Joe Girardi has an impressive resume and in his introduction to the Philadelphia media – and fans – on Monday, he said all of the right things. The new manager, who is generally associated with New York because of his 10 seasons at the helm of the Yankees, seems just like a Philly guy that fans will love. His 35-minute press conference was filled with stories showing his connection to Philadelphia, his passion for the game and his philosophies about baseball.
Perhaps the biggest news to come from the meeting was Girardi’s thinking on rules for his players. While former manager Gabe Kapler was all about freedom and the players simply behaving on their own, Girardi will take a different – although slightly different – approach.
Girardi said there won’t be a lot of rules and he won’t be writing any of them down for his players. He summed up his view on team rules this way.
“It’s simple. I don’t think you have to give them a ton of rules. It’s: Be on time. Be prepared. Be accountable to each other. Be respectful of each other. Love each other. Trust each other. Be respectful to the people around us. As long as you’re on time and you’re prepared and you’re accountable and you’re focused on winning, is there really anything else? You can encompass everything in those four rules.”
His ban on facial hair that he instituted when he took over the Marlins in 2006 was mentioned, but apparently, that won’t be one of his rules in 2020. (We’re looking at you, Bryce Harper.)
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As it turns out, it was a former Phillies manager who told Girardi that he was going to the majors for the first time. Pete Mackanin managed Girardi at Triple-A and was the one to tell him that he was going to the majors, where his first hit came against former Phillies pitcher Floyd Youmans, which occurred on his first road trip which brought Girardi to, wait for it… Philadelphia. He also talked about a home plate collision with John Kruk that put Girardi in the hospital with a broken nose and how Kruk visited him. He also had stories about watching Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews when they were with the Cubs and Girardi was a fan. Thrown in were stories of friendships with John Vukovich and negotiations for an autograph from Ryan Howard during the 2009 World Series.
Girardi spoke of his affinity for analytics and guaranteed that he will use them, but will also turn to good ol’ baseball know-how and guts from time to time. He spoke of players hustling even when they’re in a slump or have off the field issues that they’re dealing with, stressing how a player’s outward antics can affect the fans and the other players around him. And, he spoke of how players will have to learn to control their emotions even through the worst of times as part of his credo of being accountable to each other.
In other words, all went well.
It was interesting that the press conference was held with just GM Matt Klentak on the dais with Girardi. No sign of John Middleton or Andy MacPhail, who have been an ever-present duo lately. Their absence was likely a sign that Klentak – at least from a public view – has control of the moves that he makes. Rhys Hoskins was on hand to welcome the new manager, as was Bowa, both of whom spoke with the media following the press conference.
All that remains now is for the Phillies to put some players on the roster for Girardi to throw into the right situations to make the team successful. If that part of the equation goes as well as the press conference, then the Phillies could be playing some late October baseball in 2020.