There was a buzz Friday at Citizens Bank Park. Not unlike the feeling you get at an early-round playoff game, the reason was twofold. First, the Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi after two-plus years of mediocre play. Also, the night marked the return of the Millville Meteor, Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels. He was playing in Philadelphia for just the second time in his career.
Girardi was 131- 141 as the Phillies manage. He was relieved of his duties after the team failed to live up to expectations for the 2022 season. The team was 22-29 after an offseason that saw them – yet again – revamp the bullpen and add free-agent outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos to a team that finished second in the National League East six and a half games behind the world champion Atlanta Braves. Also eight games from a wild card spot.
The high-water mark for this team was May 14th when they won their fourth in a row on a west coast road trip. The Phillies improved to 17-17. The next day, with a chance to sweep a four-game series from the Los Angeles Dodgers, the bullpen allowed three runs in the final two innings of a 5-4 loss. That started a stretch where the Phils went 5-12. In that span, they were shut out twice and lost three in a row in extra innings.
Season of Problems
Throughout the season, the problems have been obvious with the team. The offense, which was expected to be a strength and make up for a questionable bullpen and sketchy defense, was inconsistent. Overall, their run differential is a plus one but in the club’s 22 wins they’ve scored 146 runs while in their 29 losses they’ve plated 84 runners. The bullpen has struggled with throwing strikes, overall, the staff ranks 12th in the Major Leagues with 166 walks allowed but the bullpen is tied for third-worst in baseball having given up 93 bases-on-balls. It’s led to some gut-wrenching losses, most notably the May 5th loss to the New York Mets when the Phillies, up 7-0 at one point, gave up seven runs in the ninth inning to fall 8-7.
“It has been a frustrating season for us up until this point,” said Dave Dombrowski, the Phillies president of baseball operations, “as we feel that our club has not played up to its capabilities. While all of us share the responsibility for the shortcomings, I felt that a change was needed and that a new voice in the clubhouse would give us the best chance to turn things around.
Welcome Coach Thomson
That new voice is Rob Thomson, who was the bench coach but is now the 56 manager in team history.
“This is an emotional day for me,” said Thomson, “having worked so closely with Joe for so many years. This has been my home now for the last five years and I care deeply about this franchise, this city, our players, our coaches, our staff, and our fans. I am ready to lead this team and look forward to getting to work and turning this around.”
Mike Trout Return to Philly
It was 2014, the last time Trout played in Philadelphia. Then he was a 22-year-old in the midst of his first MVP season. Now, he’s an established superstar and one of the faces of the game. He spent, the hours before Friday’s game near his hometown in South Jersey getting a haircut and taking his nearly two-year-old son, Beckham, fishing.
“I was 22, It feels like yesterday.,” said Trout, who is 30 when asked about the changes in his life between then and now. “The journey has been unbelievable. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
In the session with the media prior to the game, Trout talked about many things including celebrating the Phillies’ 2008 World Series win at a tailgate party in the Citizen Bank Park parking lot.
“It was pretty intense,” said Trout, who was a 17-year-old high school junior at the time. “Philly went nuts.”
As an Eagles season-ticket holder, Trout was asked about the Birds.
“Every Eagles fan’s expectations are Super Bowl for sure,” he said, “but I like what Howie [Roseman, the Eagles’ general manager] did in the draft. Everybody wanted to see them get a receiver, once [Jameson] Williams went to the Lions, he made a splash.”
The Phillies made a splash with a manager change while Trout is happy to be home for a few days.
The Phillies fired manager Joe Girardi after two-plus years of mediocre play. Also, the night marked the return of the Millville Meteor, Mike Trout, of the Los Angeles Angels.
Rock Hoffman has been covering sports in the Philadelphia region for over 30 years. He’s been the co-host of a radio show – SportsPage – on the Delaware Valley Radio Network (WRDV.org) in the time. He’s reported on games involving all the Philadelphia teams at the profession and collegiate levels. During his career he’s provided coverage for a Super Bowl, an All-Star Game, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games as well NFL, MLB and NHL playoff games. Additionally, he’s the College Football Editor for Football Stories Magazine (FootballStories.com).