November 02, 2017
Gabe Kapler was introduced as the 54th manager in the 135-year history of the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon …
… and an inordinate amount of time spent during his first press conference at Citizens Bank Park focused on Kapler’s blog, and, specifically a couple times, one entry he once dedicated to the benefits of coconut oil. It was, well, random. And it was a reflection of a decent portion of the modern day media’s obsession with sensationalism over substance, attention-grabbing headlines over thoughtful information culled from actual reporting.
On his lifestyle blog, Kapler has also written about leadership and dealing with anger, on the benefits of weight training, yoga, and uphill sprinting, about breathing, sleeping and eating turkey chili, and his preferred coffee brews, and grinding cinnamon, but, somehow, among the more than 100 entries, one stood out as an “elephant in the room” for one reporter and it was … awkward.
Well, we’re here for you to to sift out the nonsense and discuss the actual baseball queries general manager Matt Klentak fielded, the questions that will actual have an effect on the upkeep of the Phillies roster and coaching staff going forward, and the answers that should satisfy those curious why the 42-year-old Hollywood, Calif., native was deemed the best fit among all of the managerial candidates carefully considered by more than 30-some folks in on the process in the last five weeks.
“This is not a joke — within two minutes of our announcement coming out that we were reassigning Pete (Mackanin), all of our phones were blowing up with texts and phone calls from a variety of people in the industry with recommendations on who the manager should be,” Klentak said. “We ended up taking that whole first week after the season was over to collect names and start doing background work on these candidates to whittle our list down to a more manageable number. At the same time, we asked different people throughout the industry about their own experiences going through a managerial search process. As you might imagine, different teams have very different styles and how they conducted their searches. We spent some time trying to navigate what we thought would be best for the Phillies.”
And why did that end up being Kapler, over a couple of other finalists, Dusty Wathan and John Farrell, who gave the Phillies a trio of candidates with completely different backgrounds and credentials?
“As we were reaching the end of the process, it became very clear there was one person who separated himself and was the right man to lead the Phillies into the future,” Klentak said. “That person is Gabe Kapler. Gabe Kapler is incredibly prepared. That came through in the interview process. It came through as we talked to people throughout the industry that either played with him or worked with him, players who had played for him. If he brings the same level of preparation and grit to the Phillies that he brought to the field as a player, our fans are going to love this guy.
“He has a unique ability to connect with people. We saw this in the interview process. But we've also seen this in our talks with people who have been around him in his career. He can connect with players. He can connect with the media. He can connect with the front office. He has a very unique ability to do that. I think that bodes very well for our young roster.
I think at the end of the day, what we concluded, is the total package that Kap brings to the table here is the right fit for this organization at this time.
“He's a progressive thinker. Much has been made about this. I would advise we look at the teams that just finished competing in the World Series. Look at the teams that competed in last year's World Series. These are among the most progressive organizations in baseball. I don't think it's a coincidence that those are the four teams that have played in the World Series the last two years. That's where the Phillies need to head and Gabe Kapler is going to be a huge asset to us as we try to progress to the future.
“And I think it's important to highlight that Gabe has a resume of experience. As a minor league player, 12 seasons in the big leagues, took a year off in the mist of that to manage at the minor league level, he played in Japan, he was a member of the media and now he’s a farm director. He brings an impressive resume of experiences to the table and I think he’s going to be a terrific fit to manage the Philadelphia Phillies going forward.”
This is all well and good. Kapler has a pretty diverse background and seems like an intelligent man with good people skills and enough baseball life experiences that should aid him on the job.
But he has managed just once (unless you include a World Baseball Classic team that failed to qualify) during just one summer at Low-A Greenville and, on top of that, he's never been a part of a major league coaching staff, either. This has been a criticism from some, and it's at least more valid than digging up old, irrelevant blog posts.
"As part of our search process, we considered and then ultimately interviewed candidates with a wide spectrum of backgrounds," Klentak said. "Some with significant major league managerial experience, some with less major league managerial experience, some with none. Some guys that were more recently off the field than others. Pitching backgrounds, hitting backgrounds, etc. All of that was done in an effort to really try to understand what the best fit was going to be for this franchise and we went into this with a very open mind.
"But I think at the end of the day, what we concluded, is the total package that Kap brings to the table here is the right fit for this organization at this time. He’s limited in his major league experience on the bench, but there are things we can do to help support him in that area."
We can't project exactly the way the next few years are going to play out but, boy oh boy, it's going to be fun.
Which could be populating his coaching staff with some veteran coaches. Or not. Kapler and Klentak are at the infancy stages of that, and, as with the managerial search, will cast a wide net and consider both internal and external candidates with different backgrounds and levels of experience.
But, let's get to the real stuff now, shall we?
What about those blog posts?!?! Aren’t your concerned someone under the age of 45 is online and connecting with people and discussing interesting topics?? Isn’t this a red flag??
“I realize that this is somewhat unique in a major league manager and definitely unique to the Phillies,” Klentak said. “But that’s part of what we’re embracing here, is Kap’s willingness to ask questions and to move the organization forward, to try to be more progressive and as he said to hunt value on the margins.
“If you look at any great leaders, they’re going to have both succeeded and failed in their lives. That’s generally true of all successful leaders and I think to really achieve and to really excel, you have to be willing to take risks. I think Kap has been more vocal about it. His thoughts are part of the public record more than they are for some but I think that’s something that we embrace. I don’t think it’s something to shy away from.
“As we try to move the needle here and as we try to move this organization forward, there's an element of risk and new behaviors and trying new things that's inevitable. I think that's part of what we're excited about with Kap's arrival here is that this guy has demonstrated that over the last handful of years with the Dodgers with a tremendous amount of success. We can't project exactly the way the next few years are going to play out but, boy oh boy, it's going to be fun. We are going to embrace a lot of his ideas and collaborate on them as we try to push this thing forward and bring a championship trophy back to Philadelphia.”
Then it's settled.
Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21
Like PhillyVoice Sports on Facebook.