It wasn’t long ago that the Phillies afforded Gabe Kapler his first shot at being a major league manager. Tabbed as a forward-thinker, Kapler, a former outfielder who batted .268 across 12 MLB seasons, was brought on to lead the young Phillies team to a brighter future. His unique blend of analytics, unorthodox lineups, and ‘Be Bold’ mentality were thought to be the remedy that would jumpstart a new, promising era of baseball in Philadelphia.
“Gabe has a track record of leadership, winning, progressive thinking and working with young players, and we fully believe that he is the right
person to guide this organization into the future,” GM Matt Klentak said in a statement announcing Kapler as the Phillies new manager.
Just two seasons and a 161-163 record later, Kapler is out as the Phillies skipper. The invariably zen Kapler was officially relieved of his duties following a disappointing 2019 campaign in which the Phillies finished fourth in the NL East- witnessing the rival Braves and Nationals clinch playoff berths along the way.
“Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city,” Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton said in a statement. “I will never waver from that commitment. During the second half of this season and continuing into this week, I have evaluated our organization extensively, a process that included talking to many people both internally and around the league. Reassuring to me was the endorsement that people outside the Phillies gave to the progress we have made recently, both organizationally and on the field. Nevertheless, with the knowledge that I have gained from my evaluation, combined with my personal reflection on the 2019 season, I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective.”
While the decision to hire Kapler, who had no previous managing experience prior to his time in Philly, as the manager of the upstart Phillies was a puzzling one-to say the least- Middleton and the front office brass deserve credit for admitting their faults early and cutting losses with the ineffective Kapler.
Kapler isn’t the only member of the Phillies staff who will be looking for work this winter, though, as the team is undergoing a staff overhaul of sorts. The team also announced that pitching coach Chris Young, head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant athletic trainer Chris Mudd will not return in 2020. Interim hitting coach Charlie Manuel will return to his role as a senior adviser.
A season after literally every starting pitcher regressed and the bullpen failed to maintain any level of consistent success, it’s no surprise that the organization cut their ties with ex-pitching coach Chris Young. With no shortage of pitching prospects with high ceilings at his disposal, Young failed to convert even one of them into a front-end starter. Aside from finding a new manager, finding a capable pitching coach should be priority one for the Phillies this offseason.
Canning head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant athletic trainer Chris Mudd are moves that also warrant minimal surprise. The Phillies seemingly struggled with injuries more than any other team in the MLB, so a change in leadership in that department seems like the logical decision.
With the Phillies reportedly expecting to be extremely active in free agency again this winter, it’s imperative that they get the right staff in place to smooth out the edges and produce a much more competitive product in 2020. Hopefully, GM Matt Klentak learned his lesson and will be much more prosperous in filling out the Phillies staff in his second go-round.