Posted on November 13, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine

Gabe Kapler
Image via sfchronicle.com

More than a month after the job opened up, the San Francisco Giants have hired their new manager. Tuesday night, the Giants announced that Gabe Kapler will be their new skipper after signing a three-year deal with the club. Kapler will have big shoes to fill, as he replaces Bruce Bochy, who retired at the end of the season after spending 13 seasons with the Giants and leading them to three World Series titles.

Kapler, of course, was fired by the Philadelphia Phillies following the 2019 season after serving as the team’s manager for two seasons. During his two seasons in Philly, Kapler had mixed results. While he improved the club from 66-96 the year before he arrived to 80-82 in his first season, the Phillies were just 81-81 this past season after a massive spending spree last winter. That record and a fourth-place finish in the NL East fell well short of expectations, leading Kapler to be fired after just two seasons.

Nevertheless, Kapler impressed the Giants enough to give him a second chance to become a big league manager right away. Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi made it clear before the team’s managerial search that the team would prefer a manager with previous experience. While largely unsuccessful, Kapler does have previous managerial experience. Before getting the job with the Phillies, Kapler worked as the director of player development for the Dodgers, one of San Francisco’s NL West rivals. During that time, Zaidi was working as GM of the Dodgers.

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“Probably the key thing that we were looking for and the most important trait, if we could summarize it in one sentence, was somebody who was capable of building trust and relationships with both players and the front office,” Zaidi told reporters during a conference call. “In my experience with Gabe, and as we went through the interview process and got to learn more about him, it became clear to us that he was the person who could best execute on that.”

While Zaidi said he consulted with several Giants players about the decision to hire Kapler, some in the Giants fanbase were opposed to him because of how he mishandled a situation during his time with the Dodgers when two minor leaguers were accused of sexual assault. Kapler didn’t report the allegations to authorities and said his actions were in line with the club’s policy. Zaidi was the GM of the Dodgers at the time and admitted Tuesday that he wished he had done something differently at the time.

“We had the opportunity to talk to people in the community and talk to experts to try to learn and understand what we did and what we did wrong,” explained Zaidi. “As I’ve had time to reflect on it, I realized the biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong question. In those situations, we asked, ‘What do we have to do?’ instead of, ‘What is the right thing to do?”

Whether the entire fanbase is on board with him or not, Kapler is now San Francisco’s new manager. His hire coincides with the Giants announcer Cubs assistant GM Scott Harris as their new GM. Together, Harris and Kapler have the task of continuing the rebuilding effort of the past few seasons. The Giants have missed the playoffs in three straight years but have gradually improved from 64 wins in 2017 to 77 wins this past season. Now is the time when the club should become a more serious playoff contender, and they think Kapler is the right manager to help get them there.

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