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Buck Showalter leaked as candidate for not actually open Phillies managerial job

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The quantum physicist Erwin Schrödinger famously wrote that if you placed a cat and some automatically-released — or maybe not released! — poison in a box and sealed it, you would not know if the cat was dead or alive until you opened the box. As such, until you actually opened the box the cat was, in a theoretical sense, simultaneously dead and alive.

Which brings us to Philadelphia Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

Kapler is currently the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. He is under contract for 2020 and has not been fired. Like that cat, he’s in that box, totally alive. Yet we read from Matt Gelb in The Athletic this morning that the Phillies and Buck Showalter “have mutual interest” in Showalter taking over the Phillies manager job. The job that is not, actually, vacant.

Which is to say: Gabe Kapler is, in a sense, both fired and not fired.

Now that I think about it, I actually think Schrödinger’s point with his little thought experiment was that the whole idea of quantum superposition — the idea that something can be in two states at once — was ridiculous as applied to anything larger than subatomic particles. He used the cat example to illustrate how silly it is when applied to something bigger because a cat, obviously, cannot be both alive and dead at the same time. It’s one or the other.

Since Kapler is bigger than a cat it means that, according to quantum theory, he’s either a goner as the Phillies manager or not and cannot be both fired and not fired. Hmmm. Is there any way we can determine which of those things he is? Maybe Gelb’s article can help us:

The Gabe Kapler decision is [Phillies owner John] Middleton’s decision and most inside the organization have attempted to broadcast that when possible . . . It’s not a matter of internal debate nor a power struggle.

Know what? Buck Showalter is a guy an owner calls directly. He’s not the guy a modern front office — the sort of which identified Gabe Kapler as their top candidate the last time around — goes for, I don’t think. He’s always had a great deal of power in any manager job he’s held and, I suspect, anything less than totally confident and seasoned GM would be a bit wary of bringing on a guy like Showalter if he could help it. As such, if there’s “mutual interest” between Showalter and the Phillies, I’m gonna bet the engagement is at Middleton’s level and that it’s been sought out because Middleton wants to kick Kapler to the curb, at least as long as he can get the guy he likes.

Which is to say, if I were a betting man, I’d say that Kapler is one dead cat.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

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Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.