Gabe Kapler’s first week as Phillies manager has been less-than-ideal.
The team is 1-4 and that’s bad enough. Worse for Kapler, though, is that he has been the story far too often. His bullpen management has been a train wreck. He over-managed the team out of its Opening Day game against the Braves and, later in that series, he caused a stir when he tried to bring in a reliever he had neglected to ask to warm up. As I mentioned in the recaps this morning, yesterday he instituted an outfield shift that, while perhaps supported by the data, directly led to a two-run triple that cost the Phillies the ballgame.
Those are some new manager hiccups that, however annoying to fans and the local media, will likely be forgotten about if all else is equal and if the Phillies win some more games. What would make them problematic, however, is if the club starts to get annoyed at Kapler too.
The Phillies’ 1-4 start isn’t determinative, of course, as 97 percent of the season is yet to be played. But there are signs that some – even team members — are having their early doubts.
“We’ll be OK … We just need the manager to get out of the way,” one Phillies player asserted of their obviously improved team, and just as obviously unproven manager.
That comes from Jon Heyman’s latest FanRag column.
I fully suspect that, as soon as this afternoon, there will be pushback quotes on this from some Phillies players in outlets that are perhaps a bit more team-friendly, with everyone saying that Kapler is fine and all of that. Baseball teams and players are pretty good at putting out fires like this. They correctly believe that such stuff is always best handled in-house rather than through the media, so we’re unlikely to see too much more public chatter about it.
Still, not the sort of quote you want to see a week into your rookie season, is it?
UPDATE: Kapler was booed by the Philly Phaithful when he was introduced before today’s game.