Gabe Kapler fired as Phillies manager; GM Klentak to lead new search

Gabe Kapler fired by the Phillies
After days of speculation, the Phillies and Managing Partner John Middleton broke their silence on Thursday announcing manager Gabe Kapler will not be returning to the dugout in 2020.

The decision to move on wasn't for a lack of effort on Kapler's part, but rather an indictment on his 161-163 record over the past two seasons and the fact, despite injuries, that the Phillies underachieved in 2019.

A June swoon this year saw the Phillies drop to 6 1/2 games off the pace in the NL East after an outstanding first two months of the season. A similar collapse occurred in 2018 when the club won just 16 of its final 49 games en route to an 80-82 season.

Kapler had one year remaining on his contract, but Middleton saw enough go wrong to warrant a shakeup. General Manager Matt Klentak will oversee the search for Kapler's replacement.

“Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city," Middleton said in a statement released by the Phillies. "I will never waver from that commitment. During the second half of this season and continuing into this week, I have evaluated our organization extensively, a process that included talking to many people both internally and around the league. Reassuring to me was the endorsement that people outside the Phillies gave to the progress we have made recently, both organizationally and on the field.

"Nevertheless, with the knowledge that I have gained from my evaluation, combined with my personal reflection on the 2019 season, I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective. Consequently, we will replace our manager. I am indebted to Gabe for the steadfast effort, energy and enthusiasm that he brought to our club, and we are unquestionably a better team and organization as a result of his contributions. With Matt [Klentak] leading our search for our next manager, I am confident that we will find the right person to lead us.”

Potential managerial candidates that could be targets include Joe Maddon, Mike Scioscia, Joe Girardi, Dusty Baker, and Buck Showalter.

Two of those names, Baker and Showalter, have previous ties to Team President Andy MacPhail.

"As I move on, I know that this organization is in a great spot and will see a lot of success going forward," Kapler said in a statement. "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 have a press conference on Friday with Middleton, Klentak, and MacPhail available to discuss next steps for the organization. It's clear, however, that Klentak's has taken Kapler's spot on the hot seat.
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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