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.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.