PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Joe Girardi hit a grand slam after putting on the red pinstripes for the first time.
Girardi was charming, engaging and entertaining in his introductory news conference as the 55th manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. Already popular among fans, Girardi said all the right things Monday.
“It means a lot to me that the fans are behind me,” Girardi said. “I’m well aware of the passion for the great game of baseball here. I’ve lived it as a player and as a manager. I know the importance of winning here. I had a chance to compete against a great team with Charlie Manuel here in 2009, and it was a great place to come watch a game. The passionate fans of the Phillies were great — they were not easy to play against — and I want it to be that way for many years to come.”
Girardi brings an impressive resume to Philadelphia. He managed the New York Yankees for 10 years, succeeding Joe Torre after the 2007 season. He led New York to its 27th World Series title, beating the Phillies in six games in 2009.
He also managed the Marlins for one season and was NL Manager of the Year after going 78-84 in 2006, the only manager to win the award with a losing record.
Girardi’s record with the Yankees was 910-710, the sixth-most wins in team history. Girardi won at least 84 games each season in New York and had four years with 95 or more, including 103 in 2009. He led the Yankees to three AL East titles and six postseason appearances.
“Having had 10 years in a big market in New York like Joe did with a World Series and six playoff appearances, his resume really speaks for itself,” general manager Matt Klentak said. “But beyond that I can tell you that when we talk to people about Joe, people that he’s known in his career, people that he’s worked with, the players that have played for him, to a man or a person, every one of them would begin that conversation talking about what a good person Joe is and then at the end of that conversation they would conclude with: ‘Don’t forget that he’s an incredible person.’ I think when you’re making a hire like this it’s a pretty good move to bet on a quality individual and I really think we’re getting one of the best.”
Girardi’s wife, son and two daughters joined him at the news conference. He name-dropped several former Phillies and told a few stories, including asking former Phillies slugger Ryan Howard for an autograph for his son when he was manager of the Marlins. Girardi made his major league debut as a player for the Cubs against the Phillies in 1989 and played his first road game in Philadelphia at old Veterans Stadium.
The 55-year-old Girardi had a .267 batting average and 1,100 hits with a .991 career fielding percentage as a catcher in 15 seasons. He won three World Series titles playing with the Yankees and was an All-Star with the Cubs in 2000.
“One way to establish respect, obviously, is your credibility, your track record,” Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins said. “He has one of the best out there, and we’re excited to be a part of that.”
The Phillies haven’t had a winning season since 2011 when they finished a run of five straight NL East titles, two pennants and one World Series championship under Manuel.
“I’m selfish. I want to win,” Girardi said. “We need to do whatever it takes to win.”
Girardi was nicknamed “Binder Joe” in New York for his use of analytics. Former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was unfairly criticized for relying on analytics too much.
“Numbers tell a story over time,” Girardi said. “I am an analytical guy who has an engineering degree. I love math and they can never give me too much information. It’s a tool we can use to evaluate players in so many different ways. In reality, our job is to bring the best out in players, and whatever tool we have to help us I want it.”
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