The Power Joe Girardi Has That Gabe Kapler Didn't

The hiring of Joe Girardi enhanced the perception of the Phillies and may very well boost their leaguewide standing. You add instant credibility and respectability to your organization when you hire a manager or head coach who's won a championship, it's true in all sports. 

Beyond being the object every organization strives for, that ring, that past success can help block out the noise at times when a less-accomplished skipper would come under fire. Playing and managing in New York prepared Girardi for pretty much anything he'll encounter here.

What scenario didn't he experience managing 1,782 regular-season games and 52 more playoff games? He's managed teams with huge expectations that won it all, like the 2009 Yankees. He's managed teams that played .500 baseball for two months before winning 95 games. He knows what it's like when the town is uneasy and unhappy. He knows what it's like when the town is overrating its team after a hot start. 

He's quite familiar with baseball's annual late-summer slog and has the knowledge of how to overcome it. The Phillies' September collapses doomed Gabe Kapler. Girardi's teams went 156-119 in the month of September, a better winning percentage than his overall mark. 

Including the year he managed the Marlins, Girardi's career record averages out to 90-72 per season. 

Girardi will have a grace period in Philly. He's from Illinois but is perceived here as a New York guy and that New York guy chose Philly. That carries obvious appeal here. He's well-known, he was the top managerial candidate on the market, and he's reached a level of success that enabled him to pick the right job at this point in his career. The managerial posts in Cincinnati or Texas could have been his last offseason but those weren't ideal fits for him.

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For the Phillies, getting Girardi has to feel almost like a free-agent signing in itself. The level of excitement in this town over Girardi dwarfs what it would have been with the hiring of Buck Showalter or Dusty Baker. That's no big knock against the other two candidates, but it was just as clear this month that Phillies fans preferred Girardi as it was last offseason that they wanted Bryce Harper over Manny Machado.

Girardi will have some powers that Kapler didn't. Girardi will be able to push back against front office requests or suggestions if he disagrees with them more than Kapler could (if he even wanted to). That may not occur frequently in Year 1. But it will occur over the course of multiple years. 

Girardi wouldn't have taken this job if he was going to be merely an extension of the front office - the way new Padres manager Jayce Tingler is being viewed, for example. A level of autonomy is typically important to veteran managers, especially successful and coveted ones.

One other advantage Girardi will have here over Kapler is the benefit of the doubt. Kapler never received it from the fan base. The fan base wanted Kapler to prove himself and felt he never did. Expectations are extremely high in Philadelphia, and when the team is disappointing, every word the manager says publicly is scrutinized. Most of it is fair. Comes with the gig.

That won't be the case as much with Girardi, at least not right away. If the Phillies have a poor April, he'll get more time to turn things around. If the team underachieves in Year 1, the blame will fall more on the players unless Girardi has an unexpected series of gaffes. 

That free pass doesn't last forever, as Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman are experiencing now. But it's hard to find any Phillies fan who doesn't feel better about the team today than they did two days ago.

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