Gabe Kapler deserves major props, but there's 1 thing he needs to cut out

Gabe Kapler deserves major props, but there's 1 thing he needs to cut out

As we close out July, the Phillies are in first place, 11 games over .500. They’ve been able to accomplish this with a roster that has its fair share of shortcomings. This was a team that was 30 games under .500 last season and finished in the bottom of their division. They are also the youngest team in baseball and have a first-year manager. 

When you take all of that into account, you have to be pretty pleased if you're a Phillies fan. You also have to give major props to said first-year manager, Gabe Kapler. His detractors will point back to his moves in the first series of the season, his reliance on analytics, use of the bullpen, shifting, brand of coconut oil, etc. Most of which is nonsense. 

Any manager or front office worth a damn incorporates analytics and has been for a very long time. For the most part this season, the shifts have paid off. Were there mistakes made in the opening series in Atlanta? Yes. That was more than 100 games ago. And the bullpen maneuvering is mostly done out of necessity. He has managed with his gut, not just by a printout.   

But the thing that really chafes Phillies fans more than anything is the way Kapler speaks. He’s heavy on nicknames. Any given pre-or- post-game gathering, you will likely hear a “Mikey,” “Ef,” “Noles,” “Stretch.” There will be plenty of confidence preached. Or someone presenting well, coming out of the skipper’s mouth. It’s not your typical baseball-speak. To me, that is all nonsense, window dressing. People didn’t like Charlie Manuel’s southern drawl. They came around real quick when they realized he was the right guy for that group of players.  

It’s what else Kapler says, particularly after games, that is more open to debate or interpretation. No matter how ugly the game, he is Captain Sunshine, Positive Pete. There could be several reasons for this approach. He has a genuinely positive outlook on life, no glass is half-empty. He is deflecting any negative attention away from his players. And on a related note, he takes into account the age of his team and feels the need to be the protective mother hen. All valid reasons. 

But the issue with that approach is, it’s insulting to the fans. If you lose a 3-2 crisply played game, I have no issue with a manager throwing around platitudes and crediting certain players or situations. But when you lose a game 13-2 in hideous fashion, spare us the kudos to the mop-up guy who threw two clean innings. 

There’s a fine line between throwing one of your players under the bus and admitting “we didn’t field, hit or pitch well enough." There’s nothing wrong with that. Nobody’s asking Kapler to be Larry Bowa or Dallas Green. The media and fans, and most importantly his players, are astute enough to know what went down and who did what. 

I believe Kapler has done an excellent job this season. And if this is the biggest gripe, then that’s a good problem. But it is one of the things I hope that he does away with as he gains experience as a manager.

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At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield


At the Yard podcast: Zeroing in on Joe Girardi, free agency, 2020 outfield

The Phillies shouldn't let Joe Girardi leave town early this week. Jim Salisbury and Corey Seidman discuss the Phillies' second round of interviews and more on the latest At the Yard podcast.

• Joe Girard back in Philly Monday and Phillies shouldn't let him leave.

• How much competition do the Mets present for Girardi? Are they prioritizing someone else?/

• Ways Girardi could make his imprint on the 2020 Phillies.

• Do Phillies have an identity crisis?

• Will draft pick compensation affect Phillies' free-agent plans?

• Outfield plans for 2020.

• Corey Dickerson's future.

• Where Jim thinks Gerrit Cole will land. 

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Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

AP Images

Phillies looking toward the Bronx in future-shaping week

Phillies officials begin an important work week Monday, one that will have a significant impact on the team's future.

On Monday, the club will host Joe Girardi at Citizens Bank Park in a second interview for the team's open manager's job.

Girardi met with team officials last Monday in the New York metropolitan area. He is the third candidate to receive a second interview for the position. Dusty Baker and Buck Showalter visited Philadelphia for second interviews on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Phillies have a narrow focus in their search for a new skipper; they are seeking someone with previous big-league managerial experience. Girardi, Showalter and Baker, with 53 combined years of big-league managing experience and seven manager of the year awards, are the only candidates for the position and it is possible the team could make a hire this week. Thursday could be a target for an announcement as the World Series pauses for an off day between Games 2 and 3.

The Phils could make another important announcement this week. Multiple sources around baseball say the Phils have completed their search for a new amateur scouting director and that Brian Barber is the guy they are locked in on. Barber is a highly regarded national scout for the New York Yankees. His hiring by the Phillies could be announced this week. Barber will replace Johnny Almaraz, who last month stepped down as the Phillies' director of amateur scouting.

Of course, Barber isn't the only man with Yankees roots in the Phillies' sights. Girardi won four World Series rings with the Yankees — three as a player and one as a manager — and is believed to be the Phillies' preferred candidate for manager. 

In addition to having a wealth of experience in running a game with his instincts and intuition, Girardi is well versed in the use of analytics in roster building and game management. Phillies ownership has committed millions to building an analytics department and the club is looking for a manager who can blend a traditional approach to running a game and a team with an approach that uses data and analytics. Girardi managed the Yankees from 2008 to 2017 and in that time the team became an analytics powerhouse.

Girardi is also a candidate for the New York Mets managerial opening. It is not clear if the Mets are prioritizing previous big-league managing experience like the Phillies are. The Mets have interviewed Girardi as well as a number of candidates who have not managed in the big leagues, such as Carlos Beltran and Eduardo Perez.

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