It is called ‘stupid money’ for a reason

Following a disappointing 81-81 season, the Philadelphia Phillies fired Gabe Kapler as manager and hired ex-Yankees coach Joe Girardi. While the Phillies addressed one of the problems, they now need to address another big problem this offseason: pitching.

In order to set the team in the right direction, the Philadelphia Phillies fired manager Gabe Kapler. This comes after the team finished third in the NL East, with a record of 81-81. To add more fuel to the “Fire Kapler” flames, they only finished a game better than the year before, when they went 80-82.
The team and fans expected more from Kapler, who was the Los Angeles Dodgers director of player development from 2014-2017. He helped the 2017 team to a World Series appearance, just barely losing to the Houston Astros in seven games. The faith in Kapler was unfounded, however, as he had never managed a major league club before.
Although general manager Matt Klentak, president Andy MacPhail and owner Jon Middleton were hesitant to give Kapler the boot, they and the fans knew it was time to move on.
Before signing Joe Girardi, the Phillies had multiple options. Candidates ranged from Joe Maddon, ex Chicago Cubs manager, to former Phillies’ left fielder Raúl Ibañez. According to a poll taken by Brian Michael of the Phillies Nation website, fans preferred Joe Girardi as the manager choice, with 58% of the votes.
Heading into the offseason, it is necessary to look back at the Phillies’ last offseason. “We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little stupid about it,” Middleton said last offseason in an interview with USA Today.
Thus, the phrase, “Stupid Money” was born. The phrase became the theme of the offseason, and the entire city embraced the idea. The Phillies used that money to sign former MVP Bryce Harper for $330 million for 13 years. While Harper was not up to his usual standards last season, he was still one of the best players on the team.
The decision to sign Harper isn’t what made “Stupid Money” stupid. It is not even the size of the contract that makes it stupid. It is the fact that the Phillies did nothing to address the pitching rotation. Last season, Philadelphia gave up the fifth most home runs in the MLB and had the 5th worst ERA in the National League.
The Phillies went into last season with the same five starting pitchers that they had used the year prior; Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez and Zach Eflin. In 2018 they went 54-51 with a 4.06 ERA, in 2019 they regressed to 41-42 with a 4.59 ERA. If you remove the Phillies’ Ace Aaron Nola from those statistics, those numbers change to 39-45 and a 4.49 ERA, in 2018, and they went 29-35 with a 4.77 ERA in 2019.
For comparison, the reigning World Series champions, the Washington Nationals, signed All-Star pitcher Patrick Corbin. The Nationals, of course, are the team Bryce Harper left to join the Phillies. Corbin went 14-7 and had an ERA of 3.25, lower than any Phillies starting pitcher.
The Phillies made a smart move by hiring former World Series champion head coach Joe Girardi. Now, they will have to focus on pitching in the offseason in order to live up to the standards that were set when the team signed Bryce Harper.