Anonymous Phillies player says team needs Gabe Kapler to ‘get out of the way’

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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.

Welp:

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.

Nationals’ Soto youngest ever to win NL batting crown

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — Juan Soto became the National League’s youngest batting champion, Trea Turner hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs, and the Washington Nationals closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

The 21-year-old Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser for the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the major league-lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Yan Gomes homered for Washington, which won seven of its last nine and closed the season on a three-game winning streak and caught the Mets in the NL East standings.

“These guys don’t quit,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “They play hard every day and you saw what they did the last nine games. I’m proud of them hanging in there.”

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series. The Nationals’ .433 winning percentage in the truncated season was the lowest for a defending champion since the 1998 Florida Marlins went 54-108 (.333).

New York slipped from 86-76 last season and third place in the NL East to 26-34 and tied for fourth in manager Luis Rojas’ first season. The Mets still held slim playoff hopes entering Saturday before dropping three in a row, and they would have secured a wild card had they won those games because of three-game slides by Philadelphia and San Francisco to end the season.

“We didn’t get it done,” Rojas said. “We needed to do it, and we didn’t do it. It was definitely all on us. It makes it a little bit more frustrating just seeing that part happened the way we wanted, but we didn’t execute what we needed to do.”

Pete Alonso homered twice for New York and finished with 16 after clubbing a rookie-record 53 last season. Guillermo Heredia added a solo shot for the Mets.

Washington right-hander Austin Voth (2-5) needed 36 pitches to escape the first but made it through five innings to close his season with back-to-back victories. Voth allowed four runs while striking out four.

The Nationals chased Mets starter Seth Lugo after 1 1/3 innings. Lugo (3-4) allowed six runs on five hits and two walks.

With Washington already leading 7-3, Turner busted the game open with a third-inning grand slam off reliever Steven Matz. It was Washington’s first grand slam of the season.

KENDRICK’S FUTURE

Washington and INF Howie Kendrick have a mutual option for 2021, and he has at least one prominent figure hopeful for his return.

“I’m holding onto his leg,” Martinez said. “He’s got a lot of discussions to have with his family and I told him we’ll stay in touch as we always do and we’ll see where he’s at.”

The 37-year-old Kendrick hit .275 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 25 games, and ended the season on the injured list with a left hamstring strain.

NATS AWARDS

Soto was named Washington’s player of the year and RHP Max Scherzer (5-4, 3.74 ERA) earned the team’s pitcher of the year award in voting by local media. LHP Sean Doolittle won his third consecutive Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: New York placed RHP Erasmo Ramirez (right groin tightness) on the injured list. Ramirez was 0-0 with an 0.63 ERA in six games. The Mets recalled RHP Corey Oswalt.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles was hit by a pitch in the second inning and was lifted for a defensive replacement in the third.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York opens its 2021 spring training schedule on Feb. 27 against Miami in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Nationals: Washington takes on Houston on Feb. 27 in West Palm Beach, Florida, in its scheduled 2021 spring training debut.