Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

Gabe Kapler recalls the challenge of his final days in Philadelphia

SAN DIEGO — The beginning wasn’t easy for Gabe Kapler in Philadelphia and neither was the end. He was booed before managing his first game in Citizens Bank Park in 2018. Eighteen months later, he twisted in the wind for 10 days as Phillies ownership pondered whether to bring him back for the 2020 season or let him go.

Eventually, Kapler was fired but he wasn’t out of work long as the San Francisco Giants hired him to manage their club in November.

At the winter meetings Tuesday, Kapler recalled waiting for John Middleton’s verdict over those uncomfortable final 10 days in Philadelphia.

“Those ten days were challenging because I definitely wanted the opportunity to continue to manage the Phillies,” Kapler said. “I wanted to see the work that we put in, and I wanted to see it through the finish line. In my mind, that finish line was still in the future and in the distance, and I think there's going to be a lot of great things accomplished in Philadelphia next year.

“But it was difficult, and sometimes there's a real silver lining to those situations. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got a great manager in Joe Girardi in place, and I think I have an opportunity to manage a club that I'm incredibly excited about, and the people that I'm working with, I'm really excited about as well. So I think, interestingly, even though it was challenging, those 10 days, it worked out pretty well for the Phillies, and I think it worked out really well for the Giants as well.”

Kapler was asked what he said to Middleton upon learning that he would not return to manage the Phillies.

“The last words were 'thank you for the opportunity,' ” he said.

Kapler was asked how he might have been able to save his job in Philadelphia.

“Probably win more baseball games,” he said.

Kapler’s record in Philadelphia was 161-163. He learned a lot in those two seasons.

“I think the thing that stands out to me is I'm excited about getting every possible strategic advantage as a manager and as part of a coaching staff,” Kapler said. “I think that one of the things that I learned is that sometimes those small strategic advantages come at the expense of some confidence from a player.

“So I think I did a better job in 2019 than I did in 2018 of blending those two things, blending the small strategic advantages with the confidence level of the players, and I think I'm going to do a better job having learned some of those lessons in '18, in 2020, without overcorrecting. I think that's an important part as well. Bringing it back to the middle is important, too, after an overcorrection is made.

“So, specifically, it's just striking the right balance between getting small strategic advantages and confidence levels of players.”

Kapler will be back in Philadelphia with the Giants August 7-10 — unless he sneaks into town earlier for one of his favorite steaks at Suraya.

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More on the Phillies

Gabe Kapler faces uphill battle in San Francisco as Giants on defensive from the jump

Gabe Kapler faces uphill battle in San Francisco as Giants on defensive from the jump

If the Phillies fired Gabe Kapler at least in part to appease a fanbase, the Giants seemingly didn’t take appeasing their fanbase into account when hiring him.

Kapler was introduced as the next manager of the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday and if it only took until his first game in Philly to rile up fans, it happened on Day 1 on the job in San Francisco, months before pitchers and catchers report for spring training.

It was an unpopular hire prior to the introductory press conference and sitting in front of the Bay Area media for an hour seemingly raised more questions than it answered.

The Giants President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi, worked with Kapler during his time in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization when the ugly incident in 2015 took place involving women being beaten in the hotel room of players from the organization. It’s a complicated story which you can read up on if you’re not familiar.

Zaida was on the defensive yesterday from the jump, referring to “the incidents in L.A.” and attempting to justify an unpopular hire for the remainder of the session.

It isn’t until 11 minutes and 20 seconds into the intro video on the Giants website that Kapler actually speaks. There was a lot of attempting to justify the hire.

Both Zaidi and Kapler agree that they both should have done more in those incidents, that they’ve learned and grown from their mistakes. They both wanted to take accountability for their actions.

“One thing I’m pretty good at is making adjustments. When I find out that this is maybe not the most popular hire, I want to find out what those reasons are, and I want to get better at them,” Kapler said, acknowledging he is already facing an uphill battle to win over fans in San Francisco.

Kapler also praised the city of San Francisco for being “diverse” and “accepting.” 

Gabe never entirely won over a challenging fan base in Philadelphia. Will San Francisco be more accepting of their new, unique manager? Only time will tell, but he’s got a big hill to climb from day one.

You can watch the entire press conference below.

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Giants fans seem to absolutely hate the Gabe Kapler hire

Gabe Kapler was a pretty polarizing figure in Philadelphia with a slight majority of fans disapproving of his managerial style and general demeanor as skipper of the Phillies. He had some progressive fans in his corner though.

Based on the reactions to the San Francisco Giants' announcement of Kapler as their next manager, you'd think he was the worst thing to ever happen to the game of baseball.

Fans were not pleased with the hire. Not one bit. From fans saying they're no longer going to be fans of the team after 40+ years of fandom to people saying they plan on canceling their season tickets, there was plenty of vitriol directed at the Giants. Here's a sampling:

And a check in from Philly:

Anyway, that's just a sampling. Go check out the Giants' actual tweet to see some of the brutal replies. And good luck to you, Giants fans. You will need it.