John Mallee

Gabe Kapler now in a no-win situation, but Phillies had to do what they did

Gabe Kapler now in a no-win situation, but Phillies had to do what they did

Gabe Kapler's presence next to Phillies GM Matt Klentak at Tuesday's press conference sure made it seem like he's safe for the rest of the season, and Klentak confirmed as much when he said no other coaching changes are currently on the table.

The press conference was called to discuss the dismissal of hitting coach John Mallee, who will be replaced by Charlie Manuel, the most successful manager in franchise history.

It is a short-term move, which Klentak said multiple times Tuesday. The Phillies appreciate Manuel's stepping up into the role for the regular season's final seven weeks but do not anticipate Manuel remaining the hitting coach beyond the 2019 season. 

Manuel will arrive Wednesday night, at which point the Phillies will have 43 games left to turn around a disappointing season.

While Kapler kept his job this week, he is now in a no-win situation. Because if the Phillies do make a turnaround, a lot of the credit will go to Manuel for providing a spark. And if the Phillies continue to lose, much of the blame will still be placed at Kapler's feet.

It is not ideal for a polarizing manager who has yet to solidify himself in a town as tough as Philadelphia to have the most beloved manager in team history lurking over his shoulder.

But believe it or not, Kapler is genuinely behind the move. He doesn't operate the same way as so many managers, coaches or executives across professional sports. Kapler would rather converse with his harshest critics than dismiss or lash out at them. He wants as many well-qualified voices as possible helping out.

"The first thing that comes to mind for me is it's always going to be nice to have somebody who has had success in this market, both as a manager and in many other capacities, to be able to pick his brain," Kapler said. "I think it's great."

The easy, outside perception is that the Phillies are shifting from Mallee's new-school methods to Manuel's old-school philosophies. It's not really the case. Manuel, who has served in recent years as a special adviser to Klentak and a minor-league hitting instructor, has played a role in developing the offensive philosophies the Phillies preach from the lowest levels of the minor leagues up through the majors. Manuel, too, wants players to be selective and to drive the ball in the air. He just doesn't go about it in as complex a way, nor is he married to the modern terms for concepts that have existed for decades.

"It's not that simple. I think the messenger is changing, but I think the message will be largely the same," Klentak said.

Just last week, when the 2009 Phillies reunited at Citizens Bank Park, Manuel was the first alum in the media room and wouldn't you know it, he almost immediately started breaking down different Phillies' swings for a few of us. 

"I don't think anybody in baseball or this world loves hitting more than Charlie," Bryce Harper said.

Kapler, Klentak, Harper and Rhys Hoskins were all asked Tuesday about the actual role of a hitting coach. Kapler and Klentak talked about different players wanting different amounts of information. Some rely on the hitting coach to constantly remind them about a pitcher's tendencies, about head-to-head data and about mechanics within a game. Others don't care about the information. Others avoid it altogether.

Harper is one example of a player who doesn't want much information. "Guys flip the book on me so much," he said.

Hoskins is the opposite. The more data he can receive, the better.

"I like specific information right before the game or in the batting cage at 4 o'clock or when a reliever comes into the game, I like to know certain things," Hoskins said. "Charlie and I, I'm sure, will talk over the next couple days and go over those things. It's all about being prepared."

"I've talked to a couple of players today," Kapler added. "We're in the customer service business. We're going to give them the information they want, how they want it. They're going to determine whether it's simple or whether it's more complex."

At a certain point, Mallee's messaging was no longer effective. The Phillies can talk all they want about the former hitting coach's preparedness, but this is a results-oriented business. And when a disappointing offense gets even worse after the All-Star break, especially against beatable teams, some sort of change needs to occur. The move was due. Many would say it was overdue. This Phillies team ranks 25th or worse in runs, batting average and slugging since the All-Star break. There is no excuse for that. 

"It's just a different perspective that's been on the outside looking in," Hoskins said. "Maybe [Manuel] sees things a little bit differently and can provide a different wording to say something that we've been hearing. Maybe. Maybe not. Again, it has everything to do with what we do when we step in the box."

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

At The Yard podcast: What to expect with Charlie Manuel taking over as hitting coach

at_the_yard_fullscreen.jpg
NBCSP

At The Yard podcast: What to expect with Charlie Manuel taking over as hitting coach

John Mallee is out as Phillies hitting coach and Charlie Manuel will be back in the dugout. Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss the interesting move and forecast what could come next.

• The Mallee move was anticipated, but how surprising was Charlie's return?

• Will the Phillies actually shift their offensive philosophies over the final seven weeks of the season?

• Other coaching changes looming?

• Could a Cole Hamels-Phillies reunion have some legs?

• Where can the Phillies actually improve offensively with so many positions locked up moving forward? 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Charlie Manuel rides again, could more changes be coming to Phillies' coaching staff?

Charlie Manuel rides again, could more changes be coming to Phillies' coaching staff?

The Phillies are turning to their most successful manager in club history to help save their season.

Charlie Manuel will serve as the team's hitting coach for the remainder of the season, the club announced on Tuesday. He takes over for John Mallee, who was fired on Tuesday.

With 44 games remaining in what so far has been an underwhelming season, the Phillies hope that Manuel can spark an offense that has been wildly inconsistent all season. The Phillies were one-hit and three-hit on their recent 2-5 trip out west and they've struggled mightily with runners in scoring position in recent weeks. Slugger Rhys Hoskins went 2 for 24 on the trip and has just one RBI this month. Hoskins benefitted from Manuel's tutelage on his way up the minor-league ladder.

Manuel, 75, was the Phillies' manager from 2005 until August 2013. He presided over the best stretch in team history — five division titles, two National League pennants and a World Series title from 2007-2011.

Since being replaced as manager in August 2013, Manuel served in a variety of roles with the club. He worked as a scout, a minor-league hitting instructor and most recently an adviser to general manager Matt Klentak.

The Phillies have been contemplating changes to the coaching staff for a couple of weeks, and more changes could come. Manager Gabe Kapler, who is under contract through next season, appears safe, though he will come under review after the season. The Phillies are 140-140 under Kapler, who is in his second season.

The Phillies enter Tuesday night at 60-58 and in fourth place in the NL East. They led the division by three games at the end of May. They are two games out of the second NL wild-card spot.

The Phillies spent over $400 million this offseason on free agents, including $330 million on Bryce Harper, and gave up their top pitching prospect in a trade for catcher J.T. Realmuto. Expectations were huge coming into the season but the results have brought mostly underachievement.

Prior to joining the Phillies organization, Manuel was a decorated hitting coach with the Cleveland Indians before becoming a manager with that club. He inherits a Phillies offense that ranks below the major-league average in runs scored, batting average and OPS.

Since the All-Star break, the offense has been particularly bad. Entering Tuesday, it ranked 27th in runs, 27th in batting average, 26th in OPS, and 28th extra-base hits.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies