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."

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These ugly Cowboys-looking Phillies hats have Philly fans freaking out

These ugly Cowboys-looking Phillies hats have Philly fans freaking out

Remember back on Phillies opening day 2019 when the team used a logo extremely similar to the Dallas Cowboys' star on the jumbotron and everybody freaked out?

Well, it seems we have a reprise of that situation today but in hat form.

We bring these questionable caps to you today via a reddit post aptly titled, "On no.... please god no..." which shows images of a new Philadelphia Phillies hat made by New Era that is currently being sold.

Philly fans absolutely hate it. Not only does it cloesly resemble the Dallas star, it's also just kind of ugly.

the front:

The hat is part of the New Era Elements Collection where they take something smaller from the team's actual logo and make it the main thing on a hat. The Cincinnati Reds used a mustache which is awesome. The Baltimore Orioles' smily bird looks pretty cool.

And then there's this very bad Phillies hat.

It's pretty obvious they are highlighting the star from the middle of the 'P' which is blown up on the front of the cap and featured relatively normal size on the back of the fitted cap, but it's still way too similar to the Dallas Cowboys' star for most in Philadelphia's liking.

The back:

It's unclear if these hats will ever get anywhere near the actual baseball team. Let's hope not.

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Phillies free-agent targets: Josh Donaldson

Phillies free-agent targets: Josh Donaldson

Leading up to baseball’s winter meetings, we will take a daily look at some of the game’s top free agents and how they could potentially impact the Phillies.

Today, we check in on slugging third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The vitals

Donaldson has been one of the game’s premier sluggers the last half-dozen seasons. He’s an above-average defender at third base and an outstanding competitor. He has belted at least 33 homers in four of the last five seasons and led the American League with 123 RBIs in 2015, the year he won the AL MVP for Toronto. He battled injury in 2017 and 2018, signed a one-year, $23 million contract with Atlanta a year ago and went on to prove himself healthy by finishing 11th in the National League MVP voting in 2019. He played 155 games for the Braves and hit .259 with 37 homers, 94 RBIs and a .900 OPS.

Why he fits

At a position loaded with sluggers, Donaldson is still one of the best and the Phillies have a big need. Phillies third basemen ranked 24th in OPS (.725) and batting average (.243) and 22nd in homers (23) among big-league clubs in 2019. Donaldson’s fiery style of play would quickly win him fans in Philadelphia.

Why he doesn’t fit

The injury history, coupled with his age — he turns 34 in December — would be a concern on the long-term deal he is seeking, especially when the Phillies have a young third base prospect, Alec Bohm, scheduled to play at Triple A in 2020. Donaldson is one of three big third basemen on the free-agent market with Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas. The Phillies have already shown an interest in Moustakas, whose price tag could still allow the team to pump significant resources into pitching.

The price tag

Donaldson jumped quickly at a one-year deal last year. That won’t happen this year. He is said to be looking for at least three years and you have to figure the average annual value will be in the neighborhood of $25 million. If Donaldson keeps producing like he did in 2019, he’d be worth it.

Scout’s take

“He loves to play. And when he’s healthy, he’s a major difference maker. There’s value in that power. The concern for me would be that it’s a long season and he could fit more in the American League because of the DH.”

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