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October 11, 2019

What they're saying about the Phillies: Dysfunction in front office, chaos in managerial market

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100118_Gabe-Kapler_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

A new manager, however, will not be one of said changes.

Gabe Kapler's firing from the Phillies seems to have had a trickle down effect, as nearly a third of the league is in the market for a new manager. Interestingly, according to MLBTradeRumors.com, the Phils have the third most desirable job opening — behind the Cubs and the Padres (with more than 13,000 votes).

It makes sense, as the Phillies roster (save for their lack of pitching depth) and big market instantly puts the job on the map as an appealing destination for a skipper.

However, the job opening may also be fraught with negatives that could intimidate a possible candidate for the job.

Organizational dysfunction

At the Ringer, Michael Baumann seemed skeptical not only of the Phils' delayed decision to move on from Kapler, but of the entire front office's ability to function properly altogether:

Kapler’s departure won’t solve those shortcomings, and it seems like team president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak know it. The very fact that it took so long to fire Kapler when the team’s fate was sealed by early September reeks of organizational dysfunction. The club is once again considering playing Scott Kingery at shortstop despite mountains of evidence that it didn’t work in 2018. The Phillies also decided to retain nine assistant coaches, which might dissuade experienced managerial candidates like Joe Maddon and Dusty Baker, who might be inclined to hire their own staffs. That means the next manager will probably be a stopgap, someone to douse the fire before it spreads to the front office. [The Ringer]

Who's the favorite?

Over at NJ.com, five possible names for the manager job are examined, including Joe Girardi, Joe Maddon and Buck Showalter — all names that have been connected to the Phillies in some way over the last few weeks. However, Joe Giglio also includes two recently retired players in his top five, including one former division rival (Carlos Beltran) and one former fan favorite. It's worth noting as you read this that Kapler was just 41 when he was hired as a recently retired player in 2018. Here's a look at a former Phillie who could potentially come back to the dugout:

2. Raul Ibanez
Yes, the ex-Phillies slugger. Since retiring in 2014, Ibanez has begun his rise in baseball circles. Currently, Ibanez is a special assistant in the Dodgers organization. His name surfaced in connection to the Yankees opening in 2017 before Aaron Boone was hired, and he was a finalist for the Rays job before Kevin Cash was hired. [NJ.com]

A wrench in plans

The Mets had the big market stage to themselves when they fired Mickey Callaway despite finishing 10 games above .500 this past season, heightening the expectations of what they hope to accomplish in a loaded NL East. As other dominoes fell and firings were announced throughout the league, the Mets lost their edge in being a destination for the league's top managerial candidates. As the New York Post's Mike Puma outlines, the Kapler firing makes things even more complicated for the Mets and their search:

The Mets have spoken to candidates this week by phone and plan to meet in person with Girardi, Carlos Beltran, Mike Bell and Derek Shelton, according to sources. The Post’s Joel Sherman first reported that Shelton, the Twins bench coach, is among the group who will receive a meeting in person with general manager Brodie Van Wagenen and his staff. 
The Phillies and Cubs could be diving into the same pool as the Mets for their next manager, given that all three are large-market teams that will be considered playoff contenders next season. As it stands, the Cubs are expected to interview Beltran, and the Phillies have been linked to Buck Showalter, a potential Mets candidate. 
The Giants, Padres, Pirates, Angels and Royals join the Mets, Phillies and Cubs among teams searching for a new manager. Joe Maddon has been heavily connected to the Angels opening and is considered the front-runner for the job. Shelton, who served as Rocco Baldelli’s top lieutenant with a Twins team that won 101 games this season, also could be in play for the Pirates. [New York Post]

Quick bounceback?

Kapler may be managing elsewhere next season, as the Phillies hope he doesn't learn too much from his experience in Philadelphia and reach the success that Terry Francona did in Boston and Cleveland after his failed first stint in Philly. The Giants seem to be a possible landing spot for Kapler as he has connections there.

Here's more from NBC Sports San Francisco on Kapler's appeal with the Giants:

Kapler was 161-163 in two seasons in Philadelphia. Despite being given a roster deemed by many to be the class of the NL East, Kapler was unable to get the Fightin' Phils to the postseason in 2019, leading to his departure. While injuries were a big reason for the Phillies down year, Kapler faced criticism for the way he handled the pitching staff from his very first game as Phillies manager and the questions about his ability to be a successful major league manager never dissipated. 
There now are eight teams with managerial openings, which will make the decision that much more difficult for Zaidi. 
Kapler is a polarizing figure in the baseball world. [Giants President Farhan] Zaidi once quipped that "75 percent of that was the Google image search." 
His stint in Philadelphia didn't do much to change the narrative surrounding him. But Kapler and Zaidi have a connection and that's at least enough to put his name firmly in the running to take the reins from Boch. [NBC Sports San Francisco]


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