SAN FRANCISCO -- The best way to get through life on social media is to never check the mentions, but a lot of Giants employees couldn't help themselves over the past month.
The franchise's search for a new manager was mostly quiet outside of the building, but occasionally a scrap of information would leak out, and Giants fans were not shy about making their opinions known about one particular candidate. Team employees found themselves gravitating toward Twitter, reading some of the reaction.
Gabe Kapler was the favorite when the Giants started this process more than a month ago, and in the end, he was Farhan Zaidi's choice.
Zaidi and Andrew Friedman nearly hired Kapler as the manager in Los Angeles before settling on Dave Roberts, but given a second chance, the Giants' president of baseball operations is tying a large part of his own future to Kapler, whom the Phillies fired last month after two seasons.
This perhaps is the biggest decision Zaidi will make over the course of his initial five-year contract with the Giants, and it's one he did not at all take lightly.
The Giants knew Kapler would be a controversial choice, and sources say there was division at the upper levels of the organization about which way they should go. As the finish line neared, Kapler came back to San Francisco.
"He has met with everybody we have," one Giants person said Monday.
There are team employees who preferred Astros bench coach Joe Espada and a path with less baggage, but in the end, this was Zaidi's choice, and it needed to be.
When the Giants brought Zaidi up from LA a year ago, they handed him the keys to the baseball operations department. You can't do that, and then keep him from making his own decision with his most important hire.
Zaidi was deliberate, interviewing two internal candidates and a handful of rising coaches from other organizations. As of Monday afternoon, some of his coworkers believed Zaidi truly had not made up his mind, but the search kept coming back to Kapler.
The reasons for optimism are clear. Kapler is known as a good communicator, and he was a rising star while with the Dodgers. The Giants believe they need changes across all levels, and Kapler helped modernize the Dodgers while serving as director of player development. While he went 161-163 as the manager in Philadelphia, Kapler does have two years of experience and hopefully has learned from his mistakes. Zaidi has publicly talked of the boost a manager can get the second time around.
Kapler certainly has the résumé that can help overhaul a Giants clubhouse that had become stale. He played a dozen years in the big leagues, and that carries significant weight. His time working in the minors should serve him well, as he takes over a team that used 64 players in 2019 and expects to bring in plenty of prospects over the next two years.
But there also are reasons why you'd be ratioed with the mere mention of Kapler as a front-runner. There are questions about the way he handled assault allegations against Dodgers prospects while in LA, and Kapler and his bosses will have to answer those as he's introduced Wednesday. Zaidi gave his initial thoughts Tuesday night, but he'll likely have to address it again. Kapler will, too.
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Ultimately, this decision will be judged on wins and losses, and Kapler is coming off a rough finish in Philadelphia. The Phillies had plenty of injuries, but they went 81-81 and finished fourth in the NL East after adding Bryce Harper.
The Giants have been worse than that in recent years, of course. That's why they brought in Zaidi and tasked him with overhauling the organization. They gave him the keys and trusted him to make the right decisions.
The first year was mostly positive, with the big league roster showing strides and the farm system hinting that it might get this team back to contention sooner than expected. This is the start of Zaidi's second year with the Giants, so he took a big swing, giving Kapler a three-year contract. Starting Wednesday, when they'll stand side by side at Oracle Park, they'll try to prove it was the right decision.
The easiest way to do that is one that worked for the previous regime. Win, and win big.