Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager to succeed Bruce Bochy after long search

Giants hire Gabe Kapler as manager to succeed Bruce Bochy after long search

SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler was considered the favorite to get the Dodgers' manager job before Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi settled on Dave Roberts in November 2015. Four years later, Zaidi is giving Kapler another shot to prove he's a big league manager. 

The Giants announced Tuesday night that they have chosen Kapler as their replacement for Bruce Bochy, further shifting the organization towards analytics and modern methods. Kapler, fired by the Phillies last month, has long been considered an innovator as a coach, but he also has been a lightning rod at points. 

The Giants gave Kapler a three-year contract.

“Our top priority in the next manager was to find someone who can build strong relationships with our players, coaches, front office and fans, and someone who has the drive and desire to win,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said in a statement.  “After an exhaustive and comprehensive search, we are delighted to welcome Gabe Kapler as the next manager of the San Francisco Giants.

“In my personal experience in working with Gabe, there is no one who works harder and is more committed to getting the best out of the people around him.  This was also echoed in the feedback we received around the baseball community.  I look forward to working with Gabe to help return the Giants to its winning tradition,” continued Zaidi.

The 44-year-old played a dozen years in the big leagues, most of them in the American League, before transitioning to coaching and front office work. Kapler served as Director of Player Development for the Dodgers from 2014 to 2017 and drew positive reviews for his ability to communicate with players and get them to buy in to new methods. 

A cover model for bodybuilding magazines during his playing career, Kapler was part of a push to take junk food out of minor league clubhouses and teach Dodgers minor leaguers how to live a healthier lifestyle. Kapler at one point had a blog that gave health advice.

As a manager, the jury is still out. Kapler got off to a good start in Philadelphia but the Phillies went into the tank down the stretch, finishing 80-82 in his first season. This past season, the Phillies finished 81-81 and in fourth place in the NL East despite a heavy push in free agency that included the signing of Bryce Harper. They were decimated by injuries and Kapler was fired after ownership undertook a lengthy evaluation process in early October. 

"I want to thank Kap for his tireless commitment to the Phillies over the last two years," Phillies GM Matt Klentak said at the time. "When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.

"While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap's efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward."

[RELATED: What Mike Krukow likes about Kapler]

Those who know him say Kapler is a constant source of energy, a strong motivator, and someone who focuses on preparation and attention to detail. Time will tell how that plays in a Giants clubhouse full of veterans, but Zaidi has spent enough time with Kapler over the years to know his strengths and weaknesses. He hinted at a Kapler reunion at the end of the season, saying previous experience would be a boost to any candidacy. Kapler had more of it than most of the other candidates. 

"What we've seen with managers is that there's a learning curve," Zaidi said. "A lot of times guys do better and have more traction their second time around because of the lessons that they've learned."

More on Kapler from NBC Sports Philadelphia

Leadership issues led to Kapler's firing
Kapler's reactions on final day of Phillies season
Bryce Harper's thoughts on Kapler's future
Kapler and Velasquez have miscommunication

Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season


Giants' Larry Baer believes Arizona might be best spot for MLB season

It remains to be seen when, or even if, the 2020 MLB season will happen.

Coronavirus continues to leave the season suspended indefinitely, as MLB stadiums remain devoid of all typical spring activities.

One idea that has been thrown out is the league holding a shortened version of the season in a neutral location, like team spring training hubs in Florida and Arizona.

“I think we’ve got to look at the path that presents the best public health option,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said Friday on KNBR. “Arizona might be a better possibility because you could get 30 teams there in more approximate distancing, meaning that everybody would not be a four or five-hour drive from one ballpark to another.”

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All of Arizona’s Cactus League spring training stadiums are within the same county (Maricopa), while Florida’s Grapefruit League stadiums stretch all across the expansive state, with some being hundreds of miles apart.

[RELATED: Takeaways from Giants' sim opener on MLB The Show]

Baer emphasized that many scenarios have been thrown out around the league, but that the safety of all those involved with the game should take precedent.

“That’s one idea, there are other ideas out there,” Baer said. “I just think we’ve got to chase down every possible idea to return baseball, but only when it’s safe and only when [there is] public health clearance.”

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Back in 2008, the Giants selected a franchise-altering player in the first-round of the MLB draft.

Ten years later, the Giants drafted Joey Bart at No. 2 overall, hoping he would have the same impact that Buster Posey had on the franchise over the last decade.

Before he was fired as general manager in Sept. 2018, Bobby Evans was responsible for drafting Bart. What did Evans and the Giants see in the Georgia Tech star? The former long-time Giants executive was asked that during an interview on KNBR 680 on Friday.

"He's just so far advanced, for us, looking at him at Georgia Tech and we had a chance to track him throughout his time there," Evans said. "Our scout covering Georgia Tech at the time played at Georgia Tech and had a good inside track as to who Joey was. But he was able to see, this was a guy in college that is calling his own game, he takes as much pride in what he's doing behind the plate as he does with the bat. He's a smart, smart hitter. He's at Georgia Tech for a reason because he's a smart guy to begin with, but he's a smart hitter.

"The challenge he'll have as he advances is, he's got right-center field power which he'll have to continue to work on at [Oracle Park] and other places. But the power is real and it's raw and you've got a lot to look forward to in Joey."

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Ever since he was drafted, Bart has been seen as the heir apparent to Posey, and Evans gave credence to the comparisons.

"The flashes of Buster Posey are not lost on us, because there's so much common ground there, really starting with the character of the player," Evans said.

Bart finished the 2019 season at Double-A and was expected to begin the 2020 season at Triple-A before the global coronavirus pandemic stopped everything.

[RELATED: Why Bart was reassigned in camp]

Once baseball does begin, Giants fans everywhere will be keeping an on Bart's every move, hoping they soon will see him at Oracle Park in San Francisco.