Thursday's home opener at Citizens Bank Park did not go particularly well for Philadelphia Phillies rookie manager Gabe Kapler. His team did win the game (PHI 5, MIA 0), . His first week as a big league skipper has been eventful, if nothing else.
Because that's not bad enough, outfielder Nick Williams took a not so subtle shot at Kapler and his heavy reliance on analytics. Williams hasn't received much playing time in the early going, and he blamed it on "the computers," according to Matt Breen of Philly News. From Breen:
"I guess the computers are making (the lineup), I don't know," Williams said, referencing the team's reliance on analytics when charting a lineup. "I don't get any of it but what can I do? I'm not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I'm just letting it ride."
Williams, a 23-year-old former top 100 prospect, started on Opening Day and not again until Wednesday, when he was in the lineup against New York Mets ace Noah Syndergaard. He took an 0 for 4 in that game.
"Coming in and facing a guy throwing 100 right away? That's kind of set up for failure," Williams said. "I'm just letting them do what they do. This is their job to do this. It's not mine. I don't have any say. I'm not a veteran."
Kapler has primarily used Rhys Hoskins, Odubel Herrera, and Aaron Altherr in the outfield so far this season, with Scott Kingery seeing time out there as well. Hoskins and Herrera are two of the best players on the team, so they're going to be the lineup pretty much every day. That leaves Williams fighting Altherr for playing time. Altherr is 1 for 18 (.056) on the young season while Williams is 1 for 11 (.091).
Although Williams didn't specifically name Kapler, it's not hard to read between the lines here. The manager makes the lineup, Kapler relies on analytics, and Williams blames his lack of playing time on said analytics. An unnamed Phillies player reportedly said Kapler "," and now Williams has made his unhappiness with his playing time public. That's not good. A week into the season players are already speaking out again the new manager.
Maintaining the peace in the clubhouse in the manager's No. 1 priority, in my opinion. Lineups and pitching changes are important, of course they are, but it all starts with making sure every player is buying in and moving in the same direction. You can't win on good clubhouse chemistry alone, but a bad clubhouse can sink even the most talented teams. It appears Kapler has some work to do to get his player on board with things.