Phillies manager Gabe Kapler made his weekly appearance on the WIP Morning Show today.
The interview began with some pleasantries, with Angelo Cataldi asking Kapler if the 2004 World Champion Red Sox team that he was a part of was better than the 2018 squad. Standard stuff.
Cataldi then got down to business, asking Kapler how recent additions Wilson Ramos and Justin Bour will fit into his plans.
“Ramos will most certainly get his reps. He’s been a plus player in this league for a long time, a long track record of success. He certainly makes us a better team. So he’s going to catch. Alfaro will catch, assuming they are both fully healthy. And they will share in that responsibility. Alfaro is just too good an all-around player, too dynamic an all-around player, and I’m mainly talking his defensive capability right now and his athleticism, to just stop playing.”
Kapler went on to say that “Bour is going to serve as a weapon off the bench,” and will “start from time to time” as Carlos Santana continues to play regularly. I know that’s sure to excite the masses.
Cataldi then questioned Kapler on the team’s recent decision to option starting pitcher Zach Eflin, a move that cost the Phillies starter 10 days of service time and an estimated $30,000, in order to keep the struggling Scott Kingery on the 25-man roster.
You can read the full exchange at 94wip.com, but this is the money part:
Kapler: “Did you think last night when we ran… and Kingery got three or four great jumps and stole that base for us. If Kingery steals that base, we hit a ground ball up the middle last night, Kingery scores, we end up walking them off and winning that game. Do you feel differently? By the way, we still have Zach Eflin making all of his starts. So we have Kingery plus Zach Eflin. Now do you feel differently?”
Cataldi: “No, I’ll tell you why, because I really want Kingery to get back to what Kingery can do. You’re assessing him. What’s going on?”
Kapler: “Let’s keep talking about this. So you would rather have Kingery in Triple-A, lose a game to the Boston Red Sox – this division is gonna come down to one game. You would rather have us lose the division over one game because you think Kingery is struggling and that’s better.”
On one hand, I agree with Cataldi. I don’t think Kingery currently warrants a spot on this roster after 395 largely ineffective plate appearances. I also think it was a bad look that ignored the human element by opting to send out Zach Eflin in favor of Kingery, even if he won’t miss a start. I wonder not only if Eflin’s rhythm, psyche, and preparation will be thrown off by the move, but I also wondered how it was perceived by others in the clubhouse.
On the other hand, maybe Kapler is right. If the Phillies tied the game last night after Scott Kingery swiped second in the ninth inning and went on to win the game, maybe we would feel differently. And while I can appreciate that nobody has any time for Kapler’s explanation that Kingery is “getting more linear to the pitcher” as he’s mired in an 0 for 21 slump and doesn’t have a hit since late July, it’s also possible that the struggling rookie is making progress in ways that we can’t see.
Either way, the continued existence of Scott Kingery in a Phillies uniform probably wouldn’t be such a hot topic right now if the team had not lost 3.5 games to the Braves in the standings since last Tuesday. Just a guess.
You can listen to Kapler’s full spot here: