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Bad Fish? Blame Girardi
by Keith Glab,
May 9, 2006

Girardi: confused and ineffective 
The Florida Marlins are currently on a pace for 45 wins. But hey, they’ve got a young team, an empty stadium, and a miniscule payroll. Jeremy Hermedia, one of their most promising young hitters, has been limited to just 20 at bats due to a hip injury. Nobody expected big things for this squad, so we can’t really blame Manager Joe Girardi for this slow start, can we?

Oh yes we can.

The Marlins are currently four games worse than their predicted Pythagorean record. That’s the worst mark in baseball, and since we’re talking about pace, projects to 22 games under for the season. They are 2-8 in one run games, which ties them with Washington for the worst record in such situations. Not being able to win close games or translate a respectable run differential to a respectable record indicates poor managing.

Late-inning moves also provide a good yardstick for a manager’s abilities. The Marlins have hit .207 and posted a 5.31 ERA from the 7th inning on, but .269/4.66 in innings 1-6. This means that Joe G isn’t creating good matchups late in the game for his bullpen or for his hitters. He’s not taking his pitchers out of the game at the right time, and he’s not making smart choices about which pinch hitters to use when.

A good example of this can be seen in the Marlins’ 6-3 loss to the Cubs on April 24th. The Marlins had a 3-2 lead through seven innings thanks to a one-hitter from the talented Jason Vargas. Girardi put in 22-year old Josh Johnson to start the eighth. Johnson had poor command, and allowed three baserunners before serving up a homer to Jacque Jones. The most egregious flaw here was that at no point during Josh’s struggles did Girardi even warm someone up in the bullpen. His closer, Joe Borowski, hadn’t pitched in three days, and could have gone over an inning with ease. But Girardi wanted his youngster to work through his own jam, and likely shot his confidence in the process.

The future doesn’t look too promising for additional reasons. Girardi has ridden Dontrelle Willis hard because Dontrelle is the only big name in his rotation. Willis has thrown over 100 pitches in six of his seven starts. His average for the season is 107.5 pitches per start, the highest of his career. On May 1st, Joe G allowed Willis to throw 120 pitches even though the team was losing and he wasn’t pitching well (he finished the night with eight earned runs). If Girardi sends his one star pitcher to the disabled list from needless overuse, the Marlins next fire sale should include Girardi’s genitals.

Why? Because lowered expectations can only excuse so much. The Pirates endured five seasons of 75 or fewer wins from Manager Lloyd McClendon simply because Pittsburgh has been hiding behind small-market excuses for over a decade now. For a manager to post those records and keep getting contract extensions in this day and age is unheard of. But we could easily see the same thing from Girardi.

Not only does Girardi have the benefit of some of the lowest expectations around baseball, but he has an undeserved reputation as a winning ballplayer. Just because the guy was the starting catcher for the 1996 Yankees doesn’t make him a Proven Winner, people! You know what, he was the starting receiver for exactly two other playoff teams: the 1995 Rockies and the 1997 Yankees. Each of those clubs got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. And no one seems to want to cite his other two years with Colorado, or any of his years with the Cubs, because those not only weren’t playoff teams; they were terrible, terrible ballclubs.

Speaking of undeserved reputations, how about the myth about Girardi’s beneficial clubhouse presence? When he returned to the Cubs for his second stint with the team, Girardi was expected to provide clubhouse leadership and help control Sammy Sosa’s ego. But what happened? Girardi got frustrated one day and smashed Sosa’s radio with a baseball bat, causing clubhouse rifts. This is the guy who’s supposed to develop young, talented players into mature athletes?

Chogi, you have lead a charmed life. The fact that you made the All-Star team in 2000 provides all the proof we need for that. No one remembers your shortcomings, and everyone exaggerates your positive qualities. But eventually, you will be exposed for the worthless fraud that you are, and join Dusty Baker in the Hall of Previously Overrated Managers.

Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Keith Glab resides in Chicago, Illinois, and can be reached at

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