On October 10, Gabe Kapler was fired after two mediocre seasons as Phillies manager. On November 13, he was officially announced as the successor to Bruce Bochy.
To say the move is not a popular one would be akin to saying Oracle Park is not friendly to hitters. Fans, at least the ones on social media and the KNBR airwaves, are angry. They’re scratching their collective heads as to why Farhan Zaidi would select a manager who wasn’t able to get results on the field, and who finds himself in hot water off of it.
Phillies beat writer Matt Gelb was on the scene for Kapler’s entire tenure in Philadelphia, and told Murph & Mac on Wednesday morning what went wrong.
“He was inexperienced,” Gelb began. “If you look at his two years here in Philadelphia I think that was the biggest thing, and I think that’s probably why other teams and the Giants looked at him and said ‘with the benefit of experience,’ which he got here in Philadelphia, ‘and some adjustments, he could be a better manager.’
“But I think his time here in Philadelphia was beset by some mistakes from inexperience. He had some issues with trust and delegating people. I think the Phillies tried to implement a lot of new ideas on the ground level from the front office upstairs and I think perhaps they were too radical too fast.
“Look, expectations changed here a lot from the start of Gabe Kapler’s tenure as manager to the end. You know maybe he’s better suited for a team that’s in more of a rebuilding phase and I think the Giants are in that right now.”
Interestingly, Kapler was let go at the behest of the ownership group rather than the front office, who reportedly supported Kapler until the end. Gelb believes that the city not embracing Kapler led to his downfall.
“It was a tough market for him in Philadelphia but I don’t think the market is to blame. In the end they didn’t win enough games and that was the reason why Gabe Kapler was fired here.
“I think public perception here played a lot into it. Gabe Kapler doesn’t talk like most people here, he doesn’t look like most people here. I think he had trouble connecting with this city, I think he tried very hard to. I think he had some trust issues within the clubhouse…There wasn’t this level of trust among some of the players and certainly this city.
“I think if he had been hired a season or two earlier when there was a little more time for him to try and experiment things before expectations rose, maybe things go a little bit different here.”
What kind of trust issues?
“I think players are more and more weary of management tactics. I think some guys like data, some guys don’t. I think some players thought it might’ve been force fed to them here in Philadelphia and there were some adjustments made over Kapler’s tenure.
“There were some issues with how he managed his bullpen. I think there were some in-game maneuvers that he would probably want to do over again. And there was really this focus on the most granular of things. I think sometimes the bigger picture was lost, and I think with some perspective perhaps that’s something that Gabe Kapler readjusts.”
Listen to the full interview below.