Phillies manager Gabe Kapler had a hell of a first week on the job. First he mismanaged the bullpen to the point that he needed to put a position player on the mound just a few games into the season, and then he tried to make a pitching change before anyone had been given a chance to warm up. The second week has brought new failures.
Now Kapler is fucking up his team’s defensive alignments. The first mistake came during Tuesday’s game against the Mets, when Kapler aggressively shifted his infield to the right side with a man on first on lefty Jay Bruce at the plate. Bruce yanked the ball right into the shift, but it was fielded by shortstop J.P Crawford, who stepped in front of second baseman Cesar Hernandez to field the ball, leaving nobody to cover second and start a double a play. Third baseman Scott Kingery was no help, as he was planted near third to prevent Bruce from bunting for a hit. The Phillies went on to lose the game 2-0.
Yesterday’s game brought more of the same. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth and the score tied at two, Mets shortstop Ahmed Rosario came up with men on the corners. Kapler, not expecting Rosario’s power to burn him, had his right fielder play in an extremely shallow position, hoping to prevent the Mets from taking the lead on a bloop hit. Of course, Rosario rocked one right over the right fielder’s head:
After the game, Kapler explained that he was “optimizing” for the ball to be hit to shallow right. When he was asked if he considered the 20-mph wind that had been blowing straight out to right field throughout the day while “optimizing,” he had this to say (via The Athletic):
“To depend on the wind to push the ball around there was not what we were optimizing for,” Kapler said. “We’re optimizing to take the away the ball in front of us and we’re not thinking about getting beat by slug power or extra bases in those situations.”
I’m optimizing to get a great deal of enjoyment out of watching Gabe Kapler manage a baseball team this year.