The Phillies have relieved manager Gabe Kapler of his duties after two seasons on the job, per a club announcement Thursday morning. In a rather peculiar move, the Phillies announced that nine members of Kapler’s 2018 coaching staff have already been invited back for next season, though hitting coach Charlie Manuel will return to the front office and pitching coach Chris Young, as well as the training staff, has been let go:
As an analytics enthusiast with a history as a lifestyle blogger, a prior career as a micromanaging farm director, and only one year of minor-league managerial experience on his résumé, Kapler was a controversial hire from the get-go. The 44-year-old went 161-163 over two years in Philadelphia, including an embarrassing 81-81 fourth-place finish in 2019 after the team acquired Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, and David Robertson during the offseason. While Kapler didn’t have control over a season-ending suspension for center fielder Odubel Herrera or major injuries to McCutchen, Robertson, Jake Arrieta, and veteran relievers Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshek, and Edubray Ramos, his tactical decisions continued to be questionable at best. There were at least three instances, including Opening Day of his first season on the job, where Kapler brought in a reliever who was not properly warmed up or just straight-up not warmed up at all into a game, turning the “bullpen management” complaints that are often overemphasized by fans and media into a very real concern. The fact that owner John Middleton surveyed players about their thoughts toward Kapler (according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman) and determined that he wasn’t the man for the job would seem to be an indictment on Kapler’s ability to develop relationships with the men he manages.
One would think Kapler, who worked in the Dodgers front office with current Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi for the 2015-17 seasons, will at least draw strong consideration for an interview in San Francisco. He was considered the favorite for the Los Angeles managerial job following the ‘15 season before losing out to Dave Roberts — who himself may be a candidate for the job if the Dodgers’ front office sides with angry tweeters and fires Roberts with three years left on his contract after a poorly-managed Game 5 of the NLDS.
However, due to a February 2019 Washington Post report that Kapler didn’t notify police of a pair of assaults by Dodgers minor-leaguers while serving as director of player development in 2015 and allegations from former Dodgers assistant director of player development Nick Francona that Kapler had discriminated against him due to his status as a military veteran — among other comparatively minor concerns about Kapler’s in-game managerial tactics and his history of treating major-leaguers like children by outlawing non-organic food from team facilities — it’s possible that Kapler will face an uphill battle to earn a second chance at managing in the big leagues.