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Raising Questions

Who is Gabe Kapler? A look at the Phillies’ next manager

Kapler with the Red Sox in 2004. Photo by Patrick McKenna

The Phillies’ four-week search for a new manager is over. It was reported yesterday the Phils will name Dodgers Director of Player Development Gabe Kapler their new manager. The announcement could come as early as today or immediately following the World Series.

Who exactly is Gabe Kapler?

Kapler was a 57th round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers in 1995 and made his debut with the team on September 20, 1998. The 42-year-old played in the majors for 12 seasons for six teams, including the World Series-winning Boston Red Sox in 2004. Kapler’s best season came in 2001 with Texas, when he hit .267 with 17 home runs and 72 RBI.

After completing the 2006 season with the Red Sox, Kapler retired to manage the class-A Greenvile Drive, who finished 58-81. He came out of retirement in 2008 to play three more seasons with Milwaukee and Tampa Bay. His career slash line read .268/.329/.420.

Following Kapler’s playing days, he served as an analyst for Fox Sports 1 in 2013. Kapler’s advocacy for sabermetrics in the game has been so strong, Fox Sports set up an alternative broadcast for the 2014 playoffs that strictly spoke in terms of analytics. Kapler, who was on the panel, described the experience as a conversation between people who look at the game in a different light.

The former 12-year vet then joined the Dodgers’ front-office in 2014, where he became the Director of Player Development. He was considered a finalist to replace Don Mattingly as the team’s manager in 2015, but ultimately lost out to the current man in charge Dave Roberts.  Kapler’s claim to fame while with the Dodgers’ organization has been analytics and nutrition. He eliminated all junk food in the Dodgers’ clubhouse in favor of organic options, which didn’t sit well with some players, according to Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.

Kapler also has his own blog. He’s written about building a winning culture, how “writing strengthens humans,” and also includes tips on nutrition and workout guides. He’s also a proponent of meditation.

He practices what he preaches.

As the next manager of the Phillies – a baseball team, need I remind you – that’s a lot to take in. Kapler is probably as fascinating a guy as you’ll ever see. And the fact that General Manager Matt Klentak – who’s clock is officially ticking now that he has “his guy” – picked Kapler is actually comforting.

Kapler has been around the block on the field, clubhouse and front office. His experiences playing and duties as an executive in charge of player development would lead you to believe he can connect with young players.

Here’s one of his blog posts on honest communication and another about the foundation for strong relationships.

Kapler has an approach to life that’s different than most. That will probably translate on the diamond, with some of the decisions he’s going to make in red pinstripes.

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