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Gabe Kapler: ‘I’m not f-ing Dallas Green and I never will be’

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The Phillies suffered an embarrassing 16-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday night. It came after a frustrating opening to the second half in which they dropped two of three games to the Nationals and only avoided a sweep by the skin of their teeth. The Phillies played exclusively NL East competition between June 14 and July 14. They went 10-15, with six of those wins coming against the Mets. Once in first place by as many as 3.5 games as recently as May 29, the Phillies enter Tuesday’s action in third place, 9.5 games out of first.

The city of Philadelphia is tense. Fans are frustrated. Twitter and sports talk radio is full of calls for the entire Phillies’ regime to be changed from the top down, from president Andy MacPhail to GM Matt Klentak to manager Gabe Kapler and his entire coaching staff. Fans have also frequently brought up the desire to see Kapler flip out. First, it was a desire to see him flip out on an umpire to fire up his team. Now, fans want Kapler to blow a gasket yelling at his players. Asked about that today, Kapler said, via Matt Breen of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “I’m not f-ing Dallas Green and I never will be.”

Green was notorious for his short fuse as part of the Phillies’ front office in the 1970’s and into the early 1980’s, then again when he returned to the Phillies in 1998. He said of himself, “I express my thoughts. I’m a screamer, a yeller, and a cusser. I never hold back.”

Yelling at athletes isn’t some magic cure-all. It’s more about the fans’ catharsis. They’re frustrated and can’t yell at the players themselves, so they want someone to do it on their behalf. Not all athletes respond well to being yelled at. In fact, it might simply compound the issue. It may hurt team unity. And the point may be lost if the yelling is coming from someone making it feel unnatural and forced. Kapler is right to stay true to himself and not act in a way that serves only to satiate some fans’ short tempers.

There are much more pressing issues. They have sustained myriad injuries and haven’t had the depth to get through it. In fairness, few teams would’ve been able to withstand losing their top-six relievers, a starting corner outfielder, a lefty bench bat, and a starter with upside. Jean Segura and Maikel Franco are both currently banged up, and Jake Arrieta is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow. This is not to absolve Klentak of blame, as the team could’ve signed starter Dallas Keuchel and reliever Craig Kimbrel at any time and they chose not to every single day.

The Phillies have also gotten 40th-percentile or worse production (relative to their preseason projections/expectations) out of most of the roster, including J.T. Realmuto, César Hernández, Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Nick Williams, Aaron Nola, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jerad Eickhoff, and Héctor Neris. That so few of their young players have taken marked and lasting steps forward is an indictment on the organization, certainly.

Has the Phillies’ front office failed? In some ways, absolutely. Has Kapler been underwhelming as a manager? In some ways, absolutely. But flipping over the clubhouse spread isn’t going to serve as a panacea for all that ails the team.

Reds sign Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal

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The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.

With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.

Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.

Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.