Phillies should fire Gabe Kapler, even though it’s not his fault

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 09: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Cincinnati Reds during a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park on June 9, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Reds defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 09: Manager Gabe Kapler #19 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the Cincinnati Reds during a baseball game at Citizens Bank Park on June 9, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Reds defeated the Phillies 4-3. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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The Phillies limped into the All-Star Break six games out of first place. If they can’t turn it around, Gabe Kapler should be the first to go.

The All-Star Break is upon us, and the Phillies sit at 47-43, third place in the NL East and 6.5 games behind the first-place Braves. Nothing has gone as planned for the Phils this year, as the offense hasn’t lived up to its billing, the pitching has taken a nosedive over the past month or so, and injuries and suspensions have left the team thin at multiple positions.

This team hasn’t been good enough, and if they can’t get back in this thing, someone needs to be held accountable; Manager Gabe Kapler.

Kapler isn’t to blame for the Phillies slump this season. He’s had a good season in my opinion, but the results just haven’t been there. He had a terrible year behind the bench last year, but the moves he’s made so far haven’t hurt the team.

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However, setting lineups and calling in pinch-hitters and relievers isn’t the manager’s only job; he also has to make sure he gets the most out of his guys night in and night out, and Kapler’s just not doing that.

The offense has been on the low end of average this year, ranking 14th in runs (442), tied for 17th in batting average (.246) and most surprisingly, tied for 19th in home runs (115).

Their pitching staff was questionable coming into the season, and they haven’t done much to change people’s minds, ranking 19th in baseball with a 4.64 ERA and 21st in WHIP at 1.40.

Last year, Philadelphia jumped out to a hot start and grabbed an early lead in the division only to collapse in the back half of the schedule. This year, we see a similar trend, although the swoon started in June instead of August.

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During last year’s collapse, rumors began flying that the team had quit on Kapler. This year, I don’t think they’ve abandoned him, but I wouldn’t say they’ve been playing their hearts out either.

This Phillies team feels like it lacks leadership, or at least it needs a different type of leadership. Andrew McCutchen was a guy a lot of people pointed out as a leader of the team, but his ACL injury has cost him the chance to be a leader on the field (though he can still help in the locker room).

Perhaps what this team needs is a gadfly, a firebrand to jar them out of the slump, and call them out when they don’t live up to expectations.

Jake Arrieta has tried to do this but has sounded more like a guy throwing rocks out the window of his glass house. Kapler’s certainly not this type of leader, although he did earn his first career ejection a few weeks ago, so maybe this is part of an attempt to do so.

The last year and a half suggest to me that Kapler’s managing style is not what this club needs. He’s shown a willingness this year to learn from his mistakes, and change the way he manages; it’ll be interesting to see if he changes his managing style the rest of the way.

During the aftermath of the Sixers loss to the Raptors, there were questions about whether or not Brett Brown should return as head coach for the next season. People pointed out the inconsistent efforts he got from his players, questioned whether or not he indeed had the respect of his team, and wondered if he had taken the Sixers as far as he could.

I feel like we’re in a similar place with Kapler now. Like the Sixers, the Phillies have had vital players disappear for long stretches. If Kapler fails to make the playoffs again, he might have taken his team as far as he can.

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It’s not too late for Kapler to redeem himself, though. If he can somehow rally this team to an NL East crown (stranger things have happened), he should keep his job. If this team misses the playoffs, or snags a wildcard but can’t win the wildcard game, he should be gone. Anything less than an NLDS appearance with this roster is unacceptable.