On Thursday, the Phillies won their home opener for the first time since 2011. They did so easily, in a 5-0 win over the Marlins where Miami had just four baserunners. The game even ended in 3 hours, 3 minutes. Pretty quick for a game where the Phillies saw 177 pitches! It was a great day at the ballpark.
But it was not a great day for Gabe Kapler, overall. He was booed in introductions (the Phillies tried to slip him in quickly, too, but fans booed anyway). He was booed when he took out starting pitcher Nick Pivetta in the middle of the sixth inning. The biggest cheers all day were for Eagles coach Doug Pederson.
But whatever. Philly fans booing something isn’t a new thing, or a huge deal. Charlie Manuel got booed before he led the Phillies to their longest stretch of success in history. And the second booing, when he was taking out a pitcher who’d thrown 97 pitches and just got away with a really bad pitch, was silly. (Personally, yesterday I was booing Kapler’s Twitter account location, “Inspired by Philly’s City Hall every day.”)
There was actual bad news for Kapler, though. Before the game, Jon Heyman wrote a piece for FanRag Sports quoting an anonymous Phillies player: “We’ll be OK… We just need the manager to get out of the way.”
Heyman added that people with the Dodgers, where Kapler was previously director of player development, didn’t like him either:
Kapler engenders strong feelings, from his former colleagues with the Dodgers (one estimate was that half of them were detractors), former Dodgers players (some “hated” him, according to one person with Dodgers ties, leading to their strong recommendations that Dave Roberts be hired when Kapler as seen as the strong favorite) and even people who hardly know him, but don’t like his bold ideas (like the chicken coop, the rap music he had played in Dodgers offices and the rest), his bold website (complete with unusual tanning ideas and beefcake photos), or his look or probably even his obvious confidence. [...]
Texts and comments underscored the excitement of the detractors over his early misstep(s). One even happily suggested via text message that he should consider his true calling as a Chippendale dancer. One said he loves watching the postgame press conferences, which he likened to “The Bachelor,” with the potential for a train wreck.
Before the end of the day, players were putting their names to criticism of the Phillies manager. Nick Williams, a second-year outfielder who hit .288 in 83 games with the Phillies last season, has only played two games this season. He’s not happy about it! The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen writes:
“I guess the computers are making it, I don’t know,” Williams said, referencing the team’s reliance on analytics when charting a lineup. “I don’t get any of it but what can I do? I’m not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I’m just letting it ride.” [...]
Williams arrived to Citizens Bank Park on Thursday already knowing that he was out of the lineup. Kapler has texted him his playing schedule in advance. Williams said he’s never had a manager text him like that. The one bonus, Williams said, is Kapler’s alerts allow him to stay up late playing video games without feeling guilty about it. Williams does not know when he’ll play next, but he said he will prepare as best he can.
With the way Kapler’s setting his lineups so far, Williams will have enough video game experience to be on the Philadelphia Fusion pretty soon.
The Phillies are off today, and so you’d think Kapler would be spared any more bad news. Nope! The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal says Kapler is already on the hot seat. After six games! He says “many if not most in the sport believe Kapler in his first week was indeed off the rails” and quotes an anonymous “rival official”:
“You had all these managers available—Aaron Boone, Alex Cora, Mickey Callaway, Dave Martinez. You had Joe Girardi and John Farrell out there as well. And you hired the train wreck?”
It is six games into Gabe Kapler’s managerial career. It is not fair, but many people have already made up their minds about him.