The Phillies will announce the hiring of 42-year-old Gabe Kapler sometime soon, according to multiple reports. You’ve surely heard by now that Kapler is a new school, data-oriented, sports nutrition nut, who is unafraid to take an unconventional approach to his craft.
I like it. What could possibly go wrong?
Ryan Lawrence of Philly Voice recently dug up this little gem from an old blog post written two years ago by Kapler regarding leadership:
Caring too much about what others think of you stifles your ability to take risks. That football coach has to decide between being popular and winning more games. If you want to be average, continue doing what everyone else does. Being better than the pack requires doing something different.
Christ. Tell me that doesn’t sound familiar.
Obviously, only time will tell if Kapler’s hire by a front office with an obsessive dedication to a new era philosophy that relies heavily upon advanced metrics and data will prove to be wise. It’s likely you’ll read some criticism of the move written by old-timey baseball writers, while young, progressive media types will be tucking quarter-chubs as they hail the hire as “revolutionary” and a slam-dunk for the Phillies. The truth is, nobody knows how this will play out, but here’s what I do know—the stories are going to write themselves with this guy. I’m feeling #blessed.
Without further ado, here is what you need to know about Kapler:
I’m Pretty Sure He Is Insane
Kapler is all about striving to achieve peak performance, but maybe not the kind you’re thinking of. Here’s Kapler on gaining, uh, strength:
If you want to be your strongest, get some sun on your boys. And by boys, I mean your testicles.
Tan your balls = Vitamin D = Increased Testosterone = Strengthening your pipe. Got it.
Once you have achieved that strength, here’s how you maximize that strength:
You’re moisturized and smelling tropical, your teeth are white and your face looks like you’ve just visited a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon. The sun has set, and the moon is out. Perhaps you have a friend nearby, perhaps it’s just you by your lonesome…well, this is awkward. I’ve promised you authenticity, honesty and openness. Take this how you wish and I’ll spare you the step by step. Coconut oil is the world’s greatest lubricant. I can’t help where your mind goes with this. Once the ball leaves the bat, I can’t steer it.
This is some fantastic, revolutionary shit. I can’t get enough of it. Color me impressed.
Kyle got into some sports erotica earlier. All I’m going to say is that I don’t know where this photo was taken, or why. Initially, I felt shameful inferiority for not being the man Kapler is, but more than anything, this photo makes me want to go horseback riding with him. I want him to keep me safe at night.
Kapler’s Player Development Background Likely Got Him the Job
It’s true that Kapler hit .268 over 12 seasons for six different Major League teams, but this isn’t the typical “middling ex-player grinds his way through the minors and gets a shot” story.
Kapler only managed for one season in the minors, so his in-game skills and strategic philosophies are a huge unknown. Still, Kapler has an intriguing and diverse baseball background that goes beyond playing experience. He worked as a writer for Baseball Prospectus, the definitive baseball nerd publication, and as an analyst for Fox Sports. Most notably, Kapler was hired by the Dodgers three years ago to oversee the organization’s player development program after he was passed over by management in favor of Dave Roberts for the managerial position. The Dodgers, a team loaded with young talent that has made an immediate impact, are two wins away from a title. Surely, the Phillies believe Kapler is the guy who can best maximize the impact of the Phillies’ own highly-touted prospects.
Kapler is Klentak; Klentak is Kapler
You know what teams don’t want? They don’t want a pissed off manager barking at the front office about personnel and they don’t want philosophical differences between the dugout and the front office. They want cohesion and accord. It doesn’t take a great deal of investigation to conclude that General Manager Matt Klentak and President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail both view Kapler as a guy who can turnkey to the players the tenets of this front office. The Phillies have worked extensively and have invested a great deal of money in the analytics department. I thought this 2013 Baseball Prospectus article written by Kapler was interesting, particularly this:
Somebody has to be the foundation, the bottom of the pyramid. Enter the intern.
Remove the bias you’ve accumulated from years of watching the coffee-fetching TV caricatures of entry-level workers. Those personalities don’t have the pedigree earned by these squirts. MLB interns can come armed with degrees from Ivy League schools and often have completed additional years at prestigious business institutions like Chicago Booth and the London School of Economics. In most cases, they turned down high-paying job offers from major corporations like Wal-Mart (woo-hoo!) to pursue careers in baseball.
It’s likely that Kapler’s understanding and appreciation for an intellectually diverse front office is something the team noted in its evaluation process.
Now, theoretically, all of this sounds terrific, but there are plenty of questions to be answered. Will the players like Kapler? How will he handle adversity? What’s he going to do when Odubel Herrera forgets how many outs there are and does something impossibly stupid? Those are the unknown variables, ones that will ultimately determine his success here in Philadelphia.
For now? This, at the very least, leaves us with plenty to discuss.