While the Padres, Cubs, Mets, Pirates, Angels, Giants, and Royals get a head start on the hiring process in their search for new managers, the Phillies organization has remained notably outside the fray. Although the job security of manager Gabe Kapler has been a hot topic in the greater Pennsylvania area since he assumed managerial duties in Philadelphia in 2018, the former outfielder still finds himself under the club’s employ as of Oct. 7. However, judging from today’s rumblings from The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Breen, Phillies owner John Middleton could soon be arriving at a conclusion in regard to Kapler’s future–or lack thereof–with his franchise (link).
According to a source cited by Breen, Middleton has been seeking input from Phillies players as he attempts to determine whether Kapler is the right man to lead the clubhouse in 2020. Breen relays that the Philadelphia owner has spent the last week-plus since the regular season ended in evaluation mode vis a vis Kapler’s performance, and it appears the skipper’s job status will depend in part on whether the private comments of his players sync up with their public message of support mounted in the season’s final month.
Breen includes several of those season-end quotes, including catcher J.T. Realmuto’s unequivocal endorsement, in which the All-Star said that Kapler is “a guy that this clubhouse really respects”. Similarly, franchise cornerstone Bryce Harper was supportive of Kapler following the season’s final day, saying the club’s disappointing .500 finish was “not his fault”. If Philly’s key players are indeed firmly in the Kapler camp, it may be that Middleton’s prolonged evaluation is meant, more than anything, to merely turn up the heat on the manager’s bench seat for 2020.
If Middleton does ultimately decide to part ways with Kapler, the club may end up playing catch-up in the recruitment of top managerial candidates. To this point, we have already heard reports indicating that Joe Maddon to the Angels is an increasing probability, and Joe Girardi’s affinity (or, at least, interest) in the Mets posting is also well known.