That pretty accurately describes the question in front of Phillies owner and managing partner John Middleton’s mindset toward winning a third World Series in franchise history.
But now the time has come to determine whether he’s all-in or all-out on the heart of his baseball operations staff.
Until a decision is announced on Gabe Kapler and Matt Klentak’s future, we’re all left to speculate as to what Middleton is thinking about who is to blame for a season that began with championship aspirations and ended as many losses as wins. Thursday night, Jim Salisbury reported that a Kapler decision is unlikely to come before next week, and that Middleton is focused only on the manager's job, not the GM's or president's.
I’ll leave the debate as to whether Kapler and Klentak have earned the opportunity to maintain their jobs to others. A strong case can be made in either direction for both men.
But as this draws out, one thing becomes clear: The Phillies need to either keep both of them or fire both of them. Firing just one defies logic.
From all accounts, Klentak chose Kapler, in part, because of his ability to execute the vision of the front office in the dugout. There’s no evidence to suggest that hasn’t been the case. So, if Middleton still believes in Klentak's and the front office’s approach to the game, there’s no reason to fire Kapler.
On the other hand, if you believe that something is amiss in the organizational mindset, why would you keep the general manager who spearheaded that approach while dismissing the manager who was tasked with executing the vision on a nightly basis?
Furthermore, removing Kapler while retaining Klentak just courts future dysfunction. In that scenario, Middleton would likely hire an established manager with his own mindset that likely will not align with Klentak's methodology. Not to mention that Klentak would need to make the postseason in 2020 to avoid having the plug pulled on his tenure. That situation becomes ripe for a power struggle between the newly hired manager and the general manager on the hot seat.
Then, you likely find yourself back here next year looking to find a general manager. Only, the new GM will have his first manager forced upon him. Who knows how that arranged marriage will work? History suggests it won’t go well.
So, then you find yourself two years down the road and the only place you’ve gotten to is square one with a GM that believes in his manager and vice versa.
As the hours and days tick by, it’s clear John Middleton must answer one simple question: Do I believe in the direction we’re going?
It’s either all-in or all-out.
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