If you hadn’t heard, Gabe Kapler’s tenure in Philadelphia is off to a rough start.
In his first three games with the Phillies, the eccentric new manager has caused fans to lose confidence less than a week into the season, thanks to some head-scratching decisions.
“The first thing you need to hope is that it isn’t too late,” my colleague David Murphy wrote Sunday afternoon. “It feels weird to write a sentence like that three games into a manager’s career, but, then, it was a weird weekend.” Bob Brookover, my colleague who co-authors our new Phillies newsletter, Extra Innings, called Kapler’s first weekend a “bumbling start” and warned that the rookie head coach could be booed Thursday at the team’s home opener at Citizens Bank Park if the “soap opera” continues.
Among Kapler’s most questionable moves over his first three games, which included using 21 pitchers in 28 innings and pulling Opening Day starter Aaron Nola after just 68 pitches, was bringing in Hoby Milner from the bullpen without allowing him to warm up, a move that reportedly led to MLB issuing an official warning to the Phillies.
Kevin Stocker, one of three new radio analysts hired by the Phillies to call away games this season, did a solid job calling the team’s opening series (Stocker will also call the Phillies’ three-game series against the Mets). But WIP morning show host Angelo Cataldi said he missed the anger and outrage that Larry Andersen, the longtime radio analyst who is only calling home games this season, would have been expected to muster.
“Tell the city that what’s going on right now is an embarrassment to you, and to anyone that knows baseball. You need to do that. You need to establish immediately that you’re going to be honest with the fans,” Cataldi said on his show Monday morning. “We needed Larry this weekend.”
Cataldi wasn’t the only one who missed Andersen this weekend:
Something I haven’t thought of: when Larry Andersen gets back into the broadcast booth and behind the mic, he’s going to have a LOT to say about Kapler, and I will be Here. For. It.
— Liz Roscher (@lizroscher) April 1, 2018
Worst thing about the Phillies collapse today is that I know Larry Andersen was even more mad than me and yet I have no proof
— BC (@babsell_champ) March 30, 2018
There needs to be a live stream of Larry Andersen watching these road games. That’d be *way* more entertaining than the sloppy play & management we’ve seen thru the 1st 3 games this season… #PhilliesTalk #BeBold
— JoAnn Clark (@psuhockeychick) April 1, 2018
I really miss Larry Andersen right now.
— ��☠️ Dread Phillies David ��☠️ (@fotodave) March 29, 2018
Joe Simpson, the longtime Braves broadcaster who called all three games on Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southeast, basically turned the broadcast of the game into a roast of Kapler.
“I’ve been to a rodeo and three goat-ropings and never seen things like this,” Simpson said. “I know he’s a first time manager but there’s no excuse for what we’re seeing … If you’re a Phillies fan, you ought to be embarrassed.”
Kapler’s bizarre coaching choices were also mocked outside of the Phillies-Braves series. During Sunday’s Cardinals-Mets game, veteran Mets broadcaster Howie Rose mocked Kapler’s rough start and told fans planning to come to Monday’s game at Citi Field they’d better be ready for a long one.
“I would think all of Philadelphia now is anti-analytics, period, because of his first weekend,” Rose said, noting that Phillies’ bullpen has actually recorded seven more outs than the team’s starters.
“So, if you’re coming for the ballpark for the next three games against the Phillies, here’s a suggestion: make sure you’re either filled up or prepared to inject a whole lot of food,” Rose said. “You’re going to be hungry by the time Kapler’s done.”
Joe Maddon, the manager of the Chicago Cubs who managed Kapler with the Tampa Bay Rays, told the New York Times that he admired Kapler’s willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom in baseball and thinks he’ll be fine in the long term.
“He’s strong enough to absorb any blows he’s going to get in the beginning, because definitely, the cheesesteak guys aren’t going to dig on that early on,” Maddon told Times reporter Tyler Kepner. “Maybe the sushi people will be O.K., but not the cheesesteaks. So he’s going to have to fight through that.”
He continued: “I know these folks, I’ve been there. But they have a nice team, and as they continue to blossom and his stuff works, the cheesesteak guys will start eating sushi.”