Phillies' defensive issues do not reflect well on Joe Girardi

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Phillies' performance Sunday was embarrassing on a number of levels originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

This was the kind of disarray one usually expects from the Mets.

The LOL Mets.

Instead, it came from the Phillies.

The WTF Phillies.

The Phils capped a nine-game road trip Sunday afternoon with an embarrassing performance against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida.

Make that two straight embarrassing performances.

Did you see the Saturday Night Slumber? The offense snored its way to 14 strikeouts and the defense made three errors (it could have been five) in a 4-0 loss to the Jays, prompting Joe Girardi to plead, "Catch the ball. Just catch the ball," in his postgame video conference with reporters.

In Sunday's 10-8 loss, second baseman Jean Segura made two errors, one in the first inning when Girardi's nerves were still raw from Saturday's defensive incompetence. Girardi, the man who is paid to manage the team, to be the players' boss and not their buddy, had the gall to say something to Segura in the dugout after the inning.

Maybe, it went something like this:

"Catch the ball."

It should have gone something like this:

"Yo, Jean, I have four World Series rings. You have none. I played in 39 postseason games. You've played in none. I've managed another 52 postseason games. In other words, I've won, you haven't. OK? Catch the ball."

Segura took great offense at what Girardi said in the dugout and had to be held back by third base coach Dusty Wathan. Even J.T. Realmuto, maybe the most respected player in the clubhouse, had to step in and offer some calming words to Segura.

Even though his team battled back from an 8-0 deficit to make it a game in the ninth inning, Girardi was still fired up when he entered the postgame Zoom room.

He didn't want to talk about the dustup with Segura, what was said, etc. He said it was "a bench conversation," and that's where it would stay. Only problem was, those pesky TV cameras caught the episode, which in essence brought it outside the dugout.

Conversation or confrontation?

"Next question," Girardi said.

Girardi said he would only take baseball questions.

Call us crazy, but isn't an inquiry about a baseball player getting in a dugout spat with his baseball manager a baseball question?

Girardi wasn't hearing it.

Nor was he hearing anything about the optics of it all, and we're not just talking about the bench "conversation," though that was a pretty embarrassing episode, as was Segura's snubbing Girardi by not participating in a mound conference with the other infielders the next inning.

This is a major league baseball team that time and time again this season can't catch the ball. The 2021 Phillies give away outs like Halloween candy.

Catch the ball. Just catch the ball.

Girardi can't do it for his players.

But, when they don't do it, time and time again, over and over, it reflects poorly on him. Bad baseball optics.

Girardi was supposed to be the taskmaster that would sharpen up a country club team and prevent September collapses.

Well, the defense, from misplays to miscommunication, is anything but sharp. And, lest we forget, the Phillies had another collapse last September, in Girardi's first season.

Still, as Girardi has pointed out several times in recent weeks and months, the 2020 Phillies only missed the postseason by one game. Girardi has used that fact to illustrate the importance of every play, of every call that an umpire makes.

And he's right. A win in May is just as important as a win in September. You never know when a May defeat will come back to bite you.

But Phillies management didn't play Sunday's game, started by Chase Anderson, as if it was the most important one on their schedule that day. The Phils were plagued by injuries on this trip, not overly serious ones that required immediate assignment to the injured list, but serious enough that Realmuto, Didi Gregorius and Bryce Harper were all held out of the starting lineup Sunday, leaving the Phils with just one healthy bench man that became zero when Andrew Knapp was scratched with a sore rib cage moments before the game.

Realmuto and Harper were injured on Saturday night. It's understandable that the Phils wanted to get through Sunday's game and Monday's off day before evaluating them on Tuesday. Why put one or both on the 10-day IL when they might only need two or three days?

But Gregorius is another matter. He's down with a sore elbow for the second time in a month. On Saturday, he said he had a "huge bump" on the elbow and couldn't swing a bat. Why not suck it up and put him on the IL, backdating it to Thursday, so you could at least have gotten another body on the bench for Sunday's game? PHL to TPA is a common route.

Girardi was short when asked why the Phils didn't add a player.

"Our decision," he said.

The decision came back to bite the Phils when Scott Kingery had to exit with dizziness and Harper had to enter, bad right shoulder and all. Harper ended the game with a strikeout on a big swing, which probably was not wise given the condition of his shoulder, his price tag and his importance to the team. But that was the position management put the team in when it didn't fill out the bench.

Earlier in the game, Harper protected the shoulder by practically rolling the ball into the infield. It was not a good look for the team.

None of it was Sunday. 

Or Saturday.

Good time for a day off Monday. But beware. The Marlins come to town Tuesday and they love roughing up the Phillies.

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