The Philadelphia Phillies entered the season as one of the most intriguing teams in the sport after spending the winter making choice additions -- be it Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, and so on. Yet the Phillies had a disappointing year on the field, finishing .500 and fourth in the NL East. Predictably, perhaps, someone had to lose their job. That someone is manager Gabe Kapler. He will not return for a third season, the team announced Thursday.
"On behalf of everyone in our baseball operations department, I want to thank Kap for his tireless commitment to the Phillies over the last two years," GM Matt Klentak said in a statement. "When we hired Kap, it was our goal to develop a positive, forward-thinking and collaborative culture throughout the organization that would allow us to compete with the best teams in the league year in and year out.
"While we have fallen short in the win column for the last two years, I can confidently say that Kap's efforts have established a strong and sustainable foundation for this organization moving forward. In the coming weeks, John, Andy and I will work diligently with others in our baseball operations department to find the right individual to build upon the existing foundation and bring a championship home to Philadelphia."
In a statement, Kapler said: "I am grateful to John (Middleton), the Buck family, Andy, Matt and the entire Phillies organization for giving me the opportunity to lead this team for the last two years. I have tremendous respect for this organization, this franchise and this city. We came into 2019 with very high hopes. We fell short of those, and that responsibility lies with me. The next Phillies manager will inherit a team of talented, dedicated and committed players."
Kapler, 44, was hired from the Los Angeles Dodgers with the promise that he would do things differently -- with more of an analytical bent than the traditional hire. Kapler certainly caught grief for eschewing convention (at least when it backfired). Ultimately his fate seemed decided not by processes but by results: two years' worth that saw the Phillies go 161-163.
Kapler brought with him off-the-field baggage as well. He'd been a member of the Dodgers organization during a time when its practices were investigated by the Department of Justice. Moreover,.
"There has been nothing more fulfilling in my professional career than the opportunity to work with the players on this team. I will forever value the relationships I developed with them," Kapler added. "As I move on, I know that this organization is in a great spot and will see a lot of success going forward. My hope is that I helped contribute to a developing culture in the organization that flourishes in the years to come. I've come to care for this franchise and have the best wishes for this group in the future. The passion and devotion of the Phillies fan base both inspired and humbled me daily. It was an honor to grow, develop and learn with this team. I'm looking forward to what the future brings, and I know I'm a better leader and person for having had this opportunity."
The Phillies will now seek their fourth manager since Charlie Manuel left the post. Previously, Ryne Sandberg and Pete Mackinin had attempted to fill the void. It's unclear if the Phillies will favor someone with previous experience.
If so, however, there will be natural lines drawn between Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, and Buck Showalter -- each was a part of the Baltimore Orioles organization.