Farhan Zaidi has risked a significant amount of fans’ goodwill by bringing Gabe Kapler into the Giants’ inner circle, a move that can prove genius or could prove the decision that ends his time with the Giants.
In a field of candidates mostly regarded positively or indifferently from the fanbase, the Giants president of baseball operations chose the lone source of polarization, a manager who could not get the Phillies to win and, more disconcertingly, has a past that includes reportedly mishandling sexual assault allegations, the central one occurring in 2015.
Kapler was the Dodgers’ director of player development under Zaidi when a 17-year-old girl alleged she was assaulted by two women while partying with two Dodgers minor leaguers in their Arizona spring training hotel. She said the players supplied her alcohol and the assault was shared on Snapchat by one of the players, according to the Washington Post report. A week after the incident, the victim said one of the players had sexually assaulted her.
Kapler was informed by the victim about the incident, but said he was never told about a sexual assault. He reported the information to Dodgers personnel and talked with the involved minor leaguers and tried to arrange a dinner with himself, the victim and the players (which did not occur). He did not notify the police, and the victim soon spoke with them.
In February, when the allegations surfaced, Kapler released a lengthy statement, eventually concluding: “I had no reason to suspect that a sexual assault was alleged. I tried to make the players involved aware of their poor decisions, and I tried to encourage them to make proper decisions in the future. I believe I acted with the best intentions based on what I knew at the time.”
In the aftermath of Kapler being named Giants manager, Zaidi tried to get in front of the potential backlash by suggesting the Dodgers, as a team, mishandled the case, and not Kapler himself.
“To be honest, it’s given me a chance to reflect on those incidents and how we handled them as an organization,” Zaidi told reporters on a conference call. “We had the opportunity to talk to people in the community and talk to experts to try to learn and understand what we did and what we did wrong. As I’ve had time to reflect on it, I realized the biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong question. In those situations, we asked, ‘What do we have to do?’ instead of, ‘What is the right thing to do?’
“I can only speak for myself. I’m truly sorry that from my perspective, I didn’t ask the right question and address things appropriately. Just speaking for myself, I view it as a learning experience, and it’s something I want to take into the future in this organization and hold us to the absolute highest standard.”
Zaidi interviewed at least nine candidates for the managerial opening and told reporters that he got several calls from Phillies personnel endorsing Kapler, some unsolicited, which helped to sway him.