Analyzing the Hire of the New Giants Manager

by
Greek Giant

Let’s start with the grumbling from the fanbase. It appears Twitter is a flutter upon the announcement of the Gabe Kapler hiring. There is also the furious reaction by noted baseball reporter, Ann Killion.

I could cite many more examples of negativity surrounding the announcement of the Manager hired to replace Bruce Bochy but that would be bad form and I don’t want to make this post so negative, as tempting as it is.

There are two issues at play here: Kapler’s (and Zaidi’s) handling of sexual assault accusations during his tenure in the Dodgers organization AND (the big “and” that seems to be overlooked) Kapler’s unsuccessful two-year tenure as Manager of the Phillies. Now, for some, getting fired by the Phillies may be a badge of honor but the hard truth is Gabe Kapler inherited a loaded roster and failed to take his team to the postseason, while going 161-163 overall. Worse still is the impression that the team under-achieved as a whole while he was Manager. Even worse is the point of view that claims Kapler lost his clubhouse on many occasions and that his in-game Managerial decisions were nothing short of incompetent…

Which brings me to this point: Why, oh WHY, with all the talented, diverse and experienced candidates available, did Farhan Zaidi go with Mr. Kapler? The biggest head-scratcher is this: The Giants are not Tampa Bay. They are not Seattle. We are talking about one of the marquee franchises in all of sports, and the best our new GM could do is a Phillies cast-off living under a cloud of icky sexual political questions?

In this day and age, for this team, Gabe Kapler is simply not an acceptable choice for the Giants.

I could mention the raves and compliments he did receive from many former executives and players but really, do we need to make those comments the main criterion for hiring the Manager of the San Francisco Giants? The news media around baseball and the Bay Area has gone to great lengths to mention Zaidi’s “comfort” in and “familiarity” with Gabe Kapler from their past working relationship. If this phenomenon of the known quantity was the decisive factor in Zaidi’s decision than the Giants Exec VP should be fired summarily.

What this hiring says is this: Farhan Zaidi wants a “Yes” man in the dugout to carry out his decisions and administer his philosophy of baseball. The optics are even worse than this. The Giants now look like a has-been team feeding off the scraps of MLB for their staff. There is, at first glance, no upside to this hire.

Here is Zaidi on his hiring of Kapler (courtesy of The New York Times):

“The most important trait, if we could have summarized it in one sentence for the next manager, was somebody who was capable of building trust and relationships with both the players and the front office,” Zaidi said. “And in my experience with Gabe, and as we went through the interview process and got to learn more about him, it became clear to us that he was the person who could best execute on that.”

Do you really think Gabe Kapler is going to command the respect of Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt?

What does this hire mean for Madison Bumgarner?

Right now it appears the Giants are letting a franchise icon, 2014 World Series hero, and quite possibly the greatest postseason starting pitcher of all time, walk away for nothing. While it remains to be seen where Madison Bumgarner will play next season, I am not optimistic.

It is simply unimaginable that the Giants, with their history, fan base, ballpark and city could not find a better Manager for their team than Gabe Kapler.

Since he has not yet managed one game for our beloved baseball club it is important to remember that there is always the possibility of the Bill Belichick effect: a Manager/Head Coach failing miserably at his first position and utilizing it as a learning experience while finding success (a very complex mixture in baseball) in his second post.

It is entirely possible (okay, perhaps, semi-entirely possible) that Gabe Kapler wins a World Series one day for the Giants as their Manager. In that case, I will eat my words and celebrate with everyone else, with a little feeling of guilt gnawing at my insides…