Various sources are reporting that Gabe Kapler will be named the next manager of the Phillies, possibly as early as today. Kapler, 42, currently serves as the Dodgers director of player development and has been credited with instituting new nutritional and sports psychology ideas into the Dodgers system. The Phillies – and other MLB clubs – have copied many of those initiatives, particularly in the area of nutrition.
Those ideas, plus Kapler’s keen interest and focus on analytics helped push him to the top of the Phillies list of potential managers. Kapler had a second interview with the Phillies last Friday and was apparently very impressive in that interview. The Phillies also conducted second interviews with Lehigh Valley IronPigs manager Dusty Wathan and former Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Kapler’s focus on analytics overtook Wathan’s experience with most of the young players on the roster. Wathan, who has spent the last 10 years managing in the Phillies organization, managed many of the current Phillies as they worked their way up through the minors. There was no immediate indication whether Wathan will return to Lehigh Valley or possibly join Kapler’s staff. It’s also possible that he could leave to join another organization in some capacity.
The Phillies have delved pretty heavily into analytics over the past couple of seasons and hiring Kapler would seem to be a logical choice because of his knowledge and implementation of analytics. Kapler’s background is interesting. He was drafted by the Tigers in the 57th round of the 1995 Draft and made his MLB debut with Detroit three years later. Kapler also played for Texas, Colorado and Boston before playing half of the 2007 season in Japan and then returning to become the manager of Boston’s single-A affiliate, the Greenville Drive for a season, but at age 32, decided to return to playing and signed with Milwaukee. He finished his playing career with two seasons in Tampa Bay and finished his 12-year playing career with a slash-line of: 82-386-.268/.329/.420, having played for six different teams and winning a World Championship in 2004 with Boston.
Since his playing career ended, Kapler has worked as a writer for Baseball Prospectus, been a television analyst for FOX Sports One. In November, 2014, he joined the Dodgers as their player development director and switched all of the minor league teams, and the Dodgers to serving all organic food in the clubhouses and had all junk food removed from clubhouses in the organization. He interviewed for the Dodgers manager’s job following the departure of Don Mattingly following the 2015 season, but L.A. hired Dave Roberts.