Phillies will go younger, analytic, as managerial search ends
On Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies will announce after the 2017 World Series that former Los Angeles Dodgers Director of Player Development, Gabe Kapler, will be Pete Mackanin’s replacement going into the 2018 season. Kapler, was selected over names in the Phillies managerial search over the likes of John Farrell, Joe Girardi, and even Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA) manager Dusty Wathan. Kapler’s hiring, while it may be a surprise or enraging to some fans, in my honest opinion is the right fit for the team as the Phillies continue their era of “trusting the prospects” by creating a young, promising future for the team.
Gabe Kapler is 42 years old; which makes him one of the youngest managers in the MLB, and it has shown in the past couple season where teams are looking for younger leadership to develop with recently arrived prospects. This was hinted by general manager Matt Klentak in his September 29th press conference by saying, ”We see our roster right now is littered with young players who look to have a very, very bright future. It’s time to look forward.” Kapler’s youth compared to other MLB managers is very active outside of the diamond, he has a rigorous fitness and nutrition regimen, that is featured on his website. Kapler could utilize his lifestyle to have his players improve on mechanics and hopefully can affect their statistics. Speaking of statistics…
Kapler, also invests heavily in analytics. He was an analyst in sabermetrics on Fox Sports 1 prior to getting hired by the Dodgers, and it appears from his appearances on TV, knows the topic well. When he worked for the Dodgers, he made sure his minor leaguers focused on stats that would be considered “call-up worthy.” Which has helped the Dodgers’ success in past seasons while seeing players like Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Joc Pederson to name a few. The Phillies would be the first team to employ sabermetrics outside of the front office,as we could see a different line-up every game based on the advanced statistics of every player on the roster, and Kepler would be the cornerstone if the use of analytics pays off. GM Matt Klentak, also uses analytics when looking at transactions. Having another analytic-like mind in the team, could be a huge 1-2 punch in the Phillies 2018 free agency period while filling in the holes with reliable veterans to help out the young core of the team.
Kapler has very little managing experience. His first lick of the job was back in 2007 for the Greenville Drive (A-Boston Red Sox) of the South Atlantic League, which saw the Drive in the near bottom of the SAL standings. Kapler also served as a coach in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, representing Israel. Israel failed to make it past qualification. Kapler was also named as a finalist for the Dodgers’ manager position in 2016, before losing out to Dave Roberts. Obviously, the lack of experience raises a lot of red flags for the Phillies phaithful as what many fan would assume that the team would look for a manager who could turnaround teams within a year and with playoff experience. Thank goodness that Matt Klentak kept Pete Mackanin in the front office. Mackanin already knowing the roster, and recognizing how players react to his managerial style, this would make the transition between managers one of the smoothest in recent memory, while giving Kapler his own chance to develop his own style in future seasons.
The next phase in the Phillies rebuild will be one to look forward to after last season’s goal of seeing the organization’s top prospects finally playing in Citizens Bank Park. Now it is time to see if the experiment of adding a young, sabermetrc-minded, fitness-centric, manager in Gabe Kapler will ignite the young team from the bottom of the NL East to a playoff contender.
Welcome to Philadelphia.