Posted on October 30, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Philadelphia Phillies are poised to announce Gabe Kapler as their new manager. Several sources have confirmed a report from Jon Heyman on Sunday that Kapler was “likely” to become the Phillies next manager. The club has yet to confirm the news. But a formal announcement should be made sometime this week, possibly as early as Monday. Kapler will replace Pete Mackanin, who was let go after the season but will have a role in the front office.
Kapler is currently employed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as the team’s Director of Player Development, a position he’s held since November 2014. Following the 2015 season, Kapler was a top candidate to replace Don Mattingly as manager of the Dodgers. However, the job ended up going to Dave Roberts with Kapler keeping his current job with the team.
Outside of baseball, Kapler has also become known as a weight lifter who has graced the cover of several fitness magazines. During his time with the Dodgers, Kapler has emphasized healthy eating among players. He encouraged players both at the major league level and throughout the team’s farm system to only eat organic foods.
Kapler is also remembered for his days as a player. He spent parts of 12 seasons in the major leagues. Most notably, he was part of the Boston Red Sox championship team in 2004. He wasn’t always a starter during his big league career, but he was often regarded as one of the top reserve outfielders in the game. During his career, Kapler hit .268 with 82 home runs.
Following the 2006 season, Kapler announced his retirement and took a job managing a single-A team in the Red Sox organization. However, after one season as a minor league manager he returned to the big leagues as a player for three more seasons. He also served as the coach of Team Israel during an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
The 42-year old Kapler will now take over a team that’s approaching the end of the rebuilding process. Despite poor on-field results in recent years, the Phillies have one of the strongest farm systems in baseball. The team’s projected starting lineup in 2018 is made up almost exclusively of young homegrown players. Philadelphia also has a deep contingent of young, talented pitchers. However, only a couple have managed to establish themselves as reliable big league starters.
The Phillies hiring an inexperienced manager like Kapler is no doubt risky. However, he does have experience in the front office and knowledge of analytics, two qualities the Phillies were reportedly looking for in a new manager. The team is also hopeful that a younger manager will be able to communicate well with a young team that still needs to learn how to win.
The good news for Kapler is that expectations won’t be sky-high during his first season at the helm. The Phillies, of course, would love to compete for a playoff spot next season. But as long as there is noticeable improvement from last season’s 66-96 record, the fan base should be pleased and give Kapler a fair chance to be the manager who leads the Phillies back to the playoffs.