By Art Beitchman
After finishing dead last in the NL East last season with a record of 66-96, Phillies GM Matt Klentak wanted to make a change.
One that coincided with his analytical approach to managing.
So he chose Gabe Kapler, who tasted the World Series for the Red Sox in 2004 — he hit .272 that season. Later, he was Director of player personnel with the Dodgers.
Fast forward three months into Kapler’s rookie season, and he has the Phils at 47-37, a game and a half out of first place in the NL East.
As of July 1st they were 19 games better than Pete Mackanin’s 2017 edition.
But for some reason Phils’ fans have not taken to the Southern Californian Kapler, with his defensive shifts, his sometimes quick hook of starters,. And for his long-winded press conferences that are criticized for his detailed explanations of what just transpired on the field before finally saying, “what do you got” to open it up for questions, as opposed to “Time’s yours” from some other guy who once coached here.
It’s funny, all other national MLB outlets including MLBN, Fox and ESPN are all effusive in their praise with the amazing turnaround the Phillies have made in just half the 2018 season.
Just last week a Yankees color commentator marveled how bench coach Rob Thomson also heaped praise on the job Kapler has done so far this season, saying Thomson would also be a good MLB manager someday.
After being big-time losers the last seven years, you would think Phillie fans would be thrilled at the progress this team has made.
But no, there is still pause when Kapler’s methods are discussed.
Just this this week preeminent Phillies beat writer Jim Salisbury diplomatically stated, “If you don’t think he’s doing a very good job, you’re not paying attention”.