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Barely managing: Phillies vs. Giants series preview

The Phillies former manager arrives in town as their current manager languishes

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Los Angeles Dodgers
What value does Joe Girardi provide?
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Memorial Day. We’ve arrived at the unofficial start of summer, and the Phillies are in bad shape. They’re now 10.5 games out of first place after yet another soul-crushing loss. With the Phillies’ current manager providing no perceptible (positive) value, it seems like perfect timing for their former manager to return to town at the helm of a team that’s faring much better than the Phillies.

San Francisco Giants

Record: 25-21 (Third place in National League West, 7.5 games back)

The last time they met

The Phillies visited the Bay area in June 2021 and lost two of three. It’s not a good sign when the Phillies’ best starting pitcher in the series was Vince Velasquez. (Don’t worry, he was still out of the game before the end of the fifth inning.)

What’s the deal with the Giants?

A year after surprising the baseball world by winning 107 games and the NL West title, the Giants are finding the path to the top more difficult in 2022. With the Dodgers out to a big lead, the Giants will likely have to settle for the Wild Card if they want to return to the playoffs.

The offense has been strong, ranking third in the NL in runs scored, but the pitching hasn’t followed suit. Losing Kevin Gausman from last year’s rotation has been a huge blow, and Anthony DeSclafani is apparently unable to have two good years in a row. They brought in Alex Cobb to help replace Gausman, but based on his 6.25 ERA, it hasn’t been much of a replacement.

Want to feel old?

Current Giants designated hitter - and one-time Phillie - Darin Ruf will turn 36 in July. He’s also having a bad season, with bWAR having him worth -0.6 wins.

Please enjoy this clip of him attempting to field a ball in foul territory:

Maybe the Phillies should trade for him. He’d fit in well.

Rock and Joc

Giants outfielder Joc Pederson was in the news this week because Reds outfielder Tommy Pham went all Will Smith on him before a game.

Apparently, Pham was upset over Pederson sending a gif making fun of the Padres in a fantasy football group text. (There’s a sentence I didn’t expect to ever write.)

If you showed me that clip of Pederson out of context, I would have guessed he was a fan at a wrestling show upset about C.M. Punk not winning the title. Major League outfielder would have been much further down my list of guesses.

The slap has somewhat overshadowed Pederson’s strong season. After a couple of down years, the former Dodgers All-Star has been resurgent with the Giants. He has an OPS of .934 with 11 home runs.

Girardi vs. Kapler

I’ve remained consistent in my opinion on Gabe Kapler: He may not have been the biggest problem with the team, but he also made a lot of mistakes, which isn’t uncommon for a rookie manager. Getting fired was possibly the best thing that could have happened to him, and there was almost no chance he’d be having the same success in Philadelphia.

I thought Joe Girardi would be a huge improvement because he would bring experience and a steady hand. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. Girardi is still managing as if he’s got the Yankees’ roster on hand and seems to think that the team can afford to give away games in favor of the long-term picture as they continue to fall further below .500.

I don’t know how much influence a manager truly has over the clubhouse, but the Phillies come off as a moribund, joyless bunch. If these guys enjoy playing for Girardi - heck, if they enjoy playing at all - it certainly doesn’t manifest on the field. Something has to change, and the easiest thing to change at this point is the manager.


Last series’ answer: Vance “Vanimal” Worley was the unfortunate soul who got lit up at Citi Field in 2011. SLDH was correct.

This series’ question: The last game the Giants played at Citizens Bank Park was a walk off Phillies victory. Who had the game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth?

Non-Phillies thought

At this point, I wish all my thoughts were non-Phillies thoughts, because this team is thoroughly depressing to think about.

Closing thought

If anyone’s plans for today’s holiday involve watching the game, good luck to you. The Phillies haven’t won a game on Memorial Day since 2014. (It’s not quite as bad as it sounds since they didn’t play on the holiday in 2019 or 2020.) Last year, they dropped a nail-biter 11-1 to the Reds.

If you want a shred of optimism, here you go: The Phillies seem due for an “Everything goes right” game in the next few days. They’ll have a game where they win like 9-1, and we feel happy for a split second, only for them to score four combined runs over the following three games. But it’s very possible that anomaly game comes today!

Enjoy your holiday, people!