Gabe Kapler’s contract extension a frustrating reminder for Phillies

Gabe Kapler (22) and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (27) (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)
Gabe Kapler (22) and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola (27) (Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports) /
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Did the Phillies give up on Gabe Kapler too soon?

The Philadelphia Phillies and their fans have to be wondering what could have been.

After an unexpectedly stellar season and postseason run, the San Francisco Giants have awarded Gabe Kapler with a contract extension through 2024.

Kapler, who managed the Phillies for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, inherited a Phillies team that hadn’t been over .500 or to the postseason since their most recent division title in 2011.

The year before his hiring, the Phillies lost 96 games. In his first season, they improved to 80-82, and 81-81 in his second and final season. The Phillies hadn’t been at .500 in a season since 2012, but they fired Kapler after 2019 anyway and replaced him with Joe Girardi.

Barely a month later, the Giants hired him to succeed Bruce Bochy, the legendary manager who’d led them to three championships in each of the even seasons between 2010-2014.

In 2021, the Giants went 107-55 and won the NL West, knocking the Los Angeles Dodgers off the throne for the first time since 2012. The Phillies went 2-4 against Kapler’s new team, and finished the season 82-80, just barely posting a winning record.

After a season such as the one the Giants just had, compared to the Phillies’ season, the obvious question is, did the Phillies give up on Kapler too soon? And the answer is probably yes.

However, there are external factors that impacted Kapler’s ability to do his job, including a front office that was incapable of completing a rebuild that would provide their field manager with the pieces he needed to build a successful on-field product.

The Phillies have made many personnel changes of their own this year, but firing Girardi isn’t one of them. They completed a winning season this year for the first time since 2011, but only by a single game.

With Kapler clearly winning this breakup, the Phillies are left playing catch-up.

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