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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.

Rob Manfred calls Astros sign-stealing investigation “most thorough” MLB investigation ever

Associated Press
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SAN DIEGO — Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked today about the status of the investigation into the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Manfred said “I think that this is probably the most thorough investigation that the Commissioner’s office has ever undertaken.”

I would assume that construction excludes the Mitchell Report, which was undertaken by an outside party, but I guess it’s still quite a claim.

Manfred said that Major League Baseball has interviewed “nearly 60 witnesses” and has reviewed 76,000 e-mails plus a “trove of instant messages.” He said that they are not done, however, and that the review so far has, “caused us to conclude that we have to do some follow-up interviewing.” He said he cannot predict how long the investigation will take, but “it is my hope to conclude the investigation just as promptly as possible.”

Manfred was asked about the sort of discipline he and his office were contemplating but said, “at this point in the investigation it would be wholly inappropriate for me to speculate” about what discipline was in play.

The investigation comes in the wake of the November 12 report in The Athletic about the Astros’ sign-stealing operation, which allegedly involved use of center field video cameras and the relaying of pitch selection to batters. Former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers confirmed the scheme to The Athletic and at least three other Astros employees confirmed it as well.

In the wake of that initial report, video and audio emerged which appeared to confirm the sign-stealing and emails from an Astros executive to scouts, asking them to use cameras and/or binoculars in an effort to steal signs have been uncovered. Major League Baseball has vowed serious punishment for Astros executives, coaches and employees who were involved in orchestrating the scheme and to any players or officials who are found to be untruthful with MLB officials in the course of the investigation.

Initially, Major League Baseball said its investigation would be a wide-ranging one, including multiple teams. Soon after that, however, Manfred controversially backtracked on that, saying instead that the probe would focus only on the Astros. Which, to be sure, is the club against whom current allegations have been lodged and whom many around the game suspect to be the worst offenders. As we have noted, however, it’s highly unreasonable to assume that the Astros are alone in perpetrating a sophisticated sign-stealing operation, as their scheme was allegedly imported by a player who learned it while playing elsewhere.

Either way, it sounds like MLB has a lot on its plate with this. When we know something, you’ll know something.