Opinion

Gabe Kapler, the human TED Talk, looks and sounds amazing

It’s difficult to be a great public speaker. Even if you’re a good public speaker, the kind who doesn’t stammer in front of an audience and connects with people on a small level, there’s another bar that’s often unattainable for people. For example, the great life coach Tony Robbins is above that bar.

New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler, who met the public at his introductory press conference Thursday, is right near that bar. He showed Thursday that he can connect with people at a visceral level. With soft eyes, a sharp jaw, and a face that combines, funny enough, Robbins with wrestler John Cena, Kapler connected clearly and thoughtfully his desires and plans as the next Phils skipper.

As for the content itself, he naturally loves analytics and consuming information, but he’s not tethered to one method. Instead, he’ll use all the information at his disposal, from traditional scouting to the words of others to data, to craft both short- and long-term strategy. He’ll bring in a diverse set of coaches. His past blogging (which isn’t bad, by the way) is informative, though there’s certainly things he would’ve written somewhat differently, in hindsight (that’s every writer ever). He’s excited about Luis Garcia’s pitch repertoire (which was a fascinating name drop, as it was the only rostered player he mentioned). And he wants the Phillies to play hard. Chase Utley hard.

Kapler checked all the boxes. Off the top he mentioned Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa, Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Utley. He expounded on Utley (since he was able to work alongside him with the Dodgers) and used him as the template for future success. He gave a money quote about bringing the F’in trophy back to John Middleton (his only misstep was not saying “the fans,” but he was referencing an old Middleton quote). He spoke a lot about aggressiveness and intensity. He seemed very open and honest about himself (except the Nick Francona situation, which he said by MLB order couldn’t be spoken about). In the end, it was a howl of fresh air, a manager who didn’t speak in cliche and seemed completely in command of the situation.

(Nothing against Pete Mackanin, who also was a good communicator, just in an understated, casual way.)

People are going to compare Kapler to another intense Philadelphia coach of the past, Chip Kelly. But whereas Kelly was awkwardly skeptical of opinion, Kapler at least seems like he’s open to everything. He seems like the perfect leader.

Now, that’s what great public speakers do – they make you feel as if they’re the best to do anything. After leaving a great public speaker’s engagement, you may feel inspired to jump off cliffs and fly to the sun.

Kapler obviously has that gift. He spoke succinctly and eloquently. He never stammered. He veered off track with precision, as if he thought it up beforehand, to make only more succinct points. His callouts to Phillies legends were obviously perfect bones for the fans, while his callout to Garcia felt so fresh and wild that it, too, was probably thought up beforehand. Hell, Kapler made Howard Eskin’s needling sound worse than ever.

The guy is really good at this part.

The true test will come when Kapler closes the clubhouse door in Clearwater and introduces himself to his players. Can he help turn a couple fringe players into real contributors? Can he find the secret superstar in the one or two players just shy of the spotlight? Can he turn around pitchers whose brains are jam-packed with bad information? Can he think on everyone’s level, apply lessons to real life and be the best manager in baseball?

We won’t know for a while. At that point words won’t matter.

But right now, Kapler’s words are music to our ears.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Ken Bland

    November 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Tim Dierkes over at MLBTR has his season’s debut of the top 50 free agents and where they will land. He’s got Masahero Tanaka landing with the Phils for 100 million. Tanaka needs to opt out of his Yanks deal by Saturday where he has 67 mil remaining should he not.

    Not that it’s not cause for some degree of attention, but those that are inclined to negativity or worry will harp on the idea of Tanaka having pitched through injury the last couple years, and admittedly through mixed results. One of the ingredients in that mix was a very good post season. He’s 29, which chronologically is not bad, although you’d prefer a little younger.

    The suspected losing point to signing him is this not ridiculous, but restrictive thinking of not giving more than a 3 year deal to a pitcher. Something the Phils finally got past in the regime of new Met 1st base coach Ruben Amaro, Jr. but might not match up well in the market for pitching with all the contenders stumbling over limited talent. If the Phils only want to go 3 years for Tanaka. they have to go 23 mil a year just to ALMOST match what he is already assured of getting from the Yanks. You’d have to go about 90 mil for 3 years, I would guess. It’d be nice, but it’s tough to see it developing.

  2. Craig Glessner

    November 2, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    A couple of names I like for free agency are Alex Cobb, Juan Nicasio , Pat Neshek, and oh yeah I don’t care if he’s a player or coach Utley. Save those dollars for next year. I’m hoping Jake Thompson, Ben Lively, or Nick Pivetta can step up next year and put it together if I had to bet I’d go with Thompson. Go Phillies

  3. Bill Worth

    November 3, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Has philliesnation.com forgot about prospects. No mention of the fall leagues and no mention of Baseball America’s Phillies top ten or chat, let alone tour own opinions on prospects. I would like to see a top 50 list. The Phillies System seems deep this year, yet it seems philliesnation wrote more about prospects in 2012 when the system was barron of prospects. Seems were bashing Mike Schmidt, and talking about free agaents we don’t have under contract, more than covering prospects we do have under contract. What do you think?

  4. Craig Glessner

    November 4, 2017 at 8:37 am

    If we’re gonna talk about prospects we need to start figuring out the 40 man roster because we still have some players to protect from the rule 5 draft. Kilome, Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Gomez, Ranger Suarez, Brandon Liebrandt, and I’m sure I’m missing a few others. This means who do we let go. Perkins,Florimon, several pitchers, and can we swing some trades for Joseph, Rupp or Knapp, Cesar Hernandez. We can look at prospects in the spring. I think Philly Nation needs to figure out who will be here next year on the 40 man roster. I know there was an article on this a month or so ago but here we are now and the time is now to do it

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