Today could be the day that we finally learn the fate of Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.
Then again, today could also not be the day.
Whatever the case, we have some updates on #GabeWatch this morning, and it seems that John Middleton is wasting no time burning up the jet fuel this offseason:
Sources say Phillies owner John Middleton flew ✈️ to meet with several key Phillies players & spoke with other players and is nearing a decision after a thorough review#Phillies pic.twitter.com/sUYfCPYMpU
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 8, 2019
Three immediate reactions:
- Middleton is much more successful than I ever will be, so I’m willing to concede that there may be a method to his madness here that a lowly person such as myself is simply unable to comprehend, but the logistics and sequencing of this entire process is baffling. I have questions, many of them. Why hop on a plane to solicit player opinions following the season when he had convenient access to the entire clubhouse in the final days of the regular season? Certainly, he’s been mulling this decision for weeks, so what information did he need to obtain before spending recent days soliciting player opinions? I’m all for careful consideration and due diligence, but the optics of this process have not created a good look for an organization that needs to generate some good buzz with an exasperated fan base.
- I’ll stop banging this drum in the near future, but I can’t help but wonder why Middleton and his ownership group are taking such a meticulous approach to a decision on the manager’s fate, yet didn’t think twice about running it back with a front office that built the team he’s so unhappy with.
- Personally, I’m rooting for Gabe to come back just for the Keeping Kapler rain delay theater on NBC Sports Philly next season.
Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Matt Gelb did fine work updating the saga this morning. In addition to his report that head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan and assistant Chris Mudd won’t return next season, I found the following excerpt to be of particular interest:
They have openings for a hitting coach and pitching coach, but the Phillies intend for every other coach on Kapler’s staff to return—even if Kapler does not. The Phillies have reached agreements or exercised contract options with those seven coaches, sources said.
The first thing that jumps out here is that it seems odd the team would solidify the majority of its field staff without settling on its manager. That being said, vacancies remain at both pitching and hitting coach, and, as Gelb notes, a new manager could still make an additional tweak or two, so I don’t think building from the bottom is a bad play by the Phillies.
Here’s what I don’t get. If Middleton and the ownership group has enough trust in its baseball people to bring them back—and enough trust in Kapler to solicit his opinion about staff decisions—then why not, you know, just stick with Kapler?
Trust me, I’ve heard the reasons numerous times, and they’re not without merit, but that’s not the point here.
If there is a trust in the baseball people that want to see it through with Kapler, and Middleton is willing to sign off on the return of 77.7% of the field staff–using Kapler’s input no less–then, I mean, what gives?
Maybe we’ll find out later today. Maybe not.