Tag Archives: John Gibbons

With Gabe Kapler out, what’s next for the Phillies?

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Kapler was let go after two seasons as the Philadelphia Phillies manager

 

Under tremendous fire from their fan base after a disappointing 2019 season, the Philadelphia Phillies had to make some type of change at the management level. Today, that change was announced.

The Phillies have fired manager Gabe Kapler after two seasons as the skipper and with one year remaining on his contract. The club went 80-82 in 2018 and then finished at 81-81 in the recently completed campaign under his guidance.

Telling in the decision is that it reportedly did not come from club management in the front office, but instead was made by ownership.

Per Bob Nightengale and Chris Bumbaca of USA Today: “The decision was made by Phillies owner John Middleton, and not general manager Matt Klentak, a high-ranking Phillies executive told USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity.

Middleton then released a statement himself, as reported by ESPN:

Several years ago, I promised our loyal fans that I would do everything in my power to bring a world championship team to our city. I will never waver from that commitment. … I have decided that some changes are necessary to achieve our ultimate objective. Consequently, we will replace our manager.

Just last week, I wrote that the Phillies should bring Kapler back. I felt that, while he indeed made mistakes, the injury situation was bad enough that he should be given the final year of his contract in 2020 to see if he could push the club forward.

However, Middleton reportedly took the time to not only consider the situation in his own head, but also sought out the opinions of a number of his team’s key players. It can now be assumed that those players did not aggressively back their manager.

So, the owner made the decision that most of the problems with the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies were in the clubhouse and the dugout, and not in the front office. That much became clear when Middleton also let it be known that Klentak would “lead the search” for the new manager.

Be sure of this, while Klentak sorting through the candidates during the search and lining them up for interviews may indeed be the case, no manager will be hired at this point without input and likely final approval from Middleton.

I believe you can also be sure of another thing as well – the new manager will have some real experience in that role, unlike Kapler when he was hired.

That would leave out candidates such as former Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez and the recently retired Carlos Beltran, two hot names being bandied about to fill one of the open MLB managerial positions this off-season.

While I believe he would make a perfect candidate, I do not believe that Joe Maddon will be the man. A big-league skipper for parts of 16 seasons, Maddon has an overall 1,252-1,068 record.

He has taken his teams to the postseason eight times, and won a World Series with the 2016 Chicago Cubs. Maddon was also the Tampa Bay Rays manager when they captured the American League pennant in 2008 before dropping the Fall Classic to the Phillies.

However, Maddon is widely seen as the front-runner for the open managerial position with the Los Angeles Angels. He has history there, spending more than three decades from 1975-2005 as a player, coach, scout, minor league manager, and big-league coach.

Maddon also served previously as the Angels interim manager in both 1996 and 1999. It is hard to believe that he wouldn’t take that job, hoping to help make Mike Trout and company into legitimate contenders.

So, let’s get right to it. Who do I see as the leading contenders to become the new Philadelphia Phillies manager beginning with the 2020 season? I have three leading candidates.

Buck Showalter

Now 63 years of age, Showalter has been the manager with four different organizations: New York Yankees (1992-95), Arizona Diamondbacks (1998-2000), Texas Rangers (2003-06), and Baltimore Orioles (2010-18).

Showalter has an overall record of 1,551-1,517 and won a division title with three of the four clubs. However, his teams had winning seasons in just 10 of the 19 full years that he was at the helm, and only reached the postseason five times.

It may be in his favor that he was hired for the Orioles managerial job during the time that current Phillies club president Andy MacPhail was serving in that position with Baltimore and while Klentak was their Director of Baseball Operations.

Joe Girardi

Turning 55 years of age this coming weekend, Girardi was the man in the dugout as the New York Yankees skipper when the Bronx Bombers took out the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. He put together an overall 910-710 mark in the Big Apple over 10 seasons from 2008-17.

Girardi’s teams reached the postseason six times, and reached the American League Championship Series four times. Just two falls ago, his Yanks held a 3-2 lead in the ALCS vs Houston before the Astros rallied to win the final two games.

He also won three World Series rings as a member of the Yankees late-1990’s dynasty. Girardi was the NL Manager of the Year with the Florida Marlins in 2006 after keeping a low-budget team in Wildcard contention for much of the summer. But he was fired following that one season after clashing with owner Jeffrey Loria.

Mike Scioscia

A local product who was born in Upper Darby and attended Springfield High School and Penn State University, Scioscia will turn 61 years of age in late November.

He was the manager with the Angels for 19 seasons from 2000-2018, leading that franchise to their only World Series championship in 2002. During his tenure the Angels won six AL West Division titles, including over five of six seasons between 2004-09.

Scioscia had an overall 1,650-1, 428 record at the Angels helm and seven of his teams reached the postseason. However, despite having the game’s best player in Trout for most of that time, the Angels made the playoffs just once over his final nine years.

He had a 13-year playing career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was the starting catcher on their 1981 World Series championship team. Scioscia was an NL All-Star in both 1989 and 1990.

Other possibilities who fit the bill of an experienced big-league manager who might be open to consideration for the position would include John Farrell, Dusty Baker, John Gibbons, Clint Hurdle, Brad Ausmus.

Whomever gets the job of trying to guide the Philadelphia Phillies back to the postseason from inside the locker room and dugout, both Klentak and MacPhail should now consider themselves as being squarely on the hot seat.

The Phillies have not only failed to reach the postseason during the four full seasons of the MacPhail-Klentak front office regime, but the minor league system is widely regarded as among the weakest in the game.

That comes after four years of their leading the draft and international signing process. If the Phillies cannot become winners on the field, and should that minor league organization not begin to display legitimate depth of talent, heads in the front office should be the next to roll.

Blue Jays play spoiler in walkoff win over Orioles

Richard Urena mobbed after walkoff pushes Jays past O’s
The season has long been over for the Toronto Blue Jays, as far as their own contending status. But for a second straight night the Jays played the role of spoiler perfectly.
On Tuesday night at Rogers Centre, the host Blue Jays rallied against Baltimore closer Zach Britton. Toronto scored twice in the bottom of the ninth inning to walkoff the Orioles by a 3-2 score.
It marked the second straight night that Toronto registered a one-run victory over Baltimore. the loss also extended Baltimore’s recent untimely swoon to six consecutive defeats. As a result, the O’s are now 4.5 games out in the race for the final American League Wildcard playoff berth.
Just as importantly, there are five teams now sitting between Baltimore and Minnesota. The Twins currently hold possession of that final postseason slot.
Tim Beckham‘s 21st home run of the season, a solo shot, had put Baltimore in front by 2-1 in the top of the 8th inning. That blast somewhat spoiled an impressive outing by Jays’ starting pitcher Joe Biagini. The righty allowed just two runs on six hits across eight innings.
Biagini had been matched by O’s starter Dylan Bundy, who lasted just six frames, but struck out eight and surrendered just one run on five hits.

JAYS RALLY OFF ORIOLES CLOSER

The Jays game-winning rally began when Britton walked Kevin Pillar leading off the bottom of the ninth. Teoscar Hernandez then singled, with Pillar rolling around to third base as the tying run.
Jays skipper John Gibbons sent Darwin Barney up to pinch-hit for Ryan Goins, but Barney grounded into a force out, keeping Pillar stranded.
Catcher Luke Maile came through, however. He drilled a first-pitch shot off O’s third baseman Manny Machado, and Pillar scored the tying run as the ball rolled into left field with Barney moving up to second base.
Richard Urena followed, and on a 1-1 offering from Britton he lined a clean single to center field. Pillar raced home with the winning run, and Toronto had their walkoff spoiler.

BOTH SKIPPERS CHIME IN

“They’re pitching well and we’re not swinging the bats well,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter per Eduardo A. Encina for The Baltimore Sun. “You don’t reach this level, either team, without having a lot of competitive spirit in you. I think both teams showed it. Two well-pitched games and we weren’t able to finish it off.”
Gibbons was quoted on his team’s big win by MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm:
“A lot of good things tonight. Urena getting the big walk-off hit. He’s been playing great. Tim Mayza getting his first. Teoscar nice piece of hitting in the ninth inning shooting the ball to right field and Maile, Lukey, with the big hit. You don’t get many balls by Machado, that’s for sure.”
The two division rivals will wrap up this series, and their 2017 season series with one another, with one final game in Toronto on Wednesday night.
The Orioles have won 11 of the 18 games this year between the two teams. But it is the Blue Jays who are gaining a measure of late-season satisfaction as they turn Baltimore’s postseason dream into a nightmare.

Blue Jays in last place, but still a contending team

Gibbons (leaning on dugout rail) has Jays contending again
In each of the last two seasons, the Toronto Blue Jays have played deep into October. The Jays lost in the ALCS both years, defeated in five games a year ago, and in six games by the Kansas City Royals in 2015.
After three consecutive winning campaigns, Toronto is currently struggling along in last place in the AL East Division standings. The Jays 35-36 record has them tied for that distinction with the Baltimore Orioles, five games behind the division-leading New York Yankees.
Despite that last place standing nearly three full months into the season, the Blue Jays are far from out of things. They are just two games off the pace in an extremely crowded race for an AL Wildcard playoff berth.
There are a number of reasons that manager John Gibbons and his team should feel confident. First of all is that recent track record of success. This is a mostly veteran team that knows how to win. If they can stay reasonably healthy, that experience should pay off over the second half of the season.
Toronto has been playing much better in recent weeks. The team fell to a season-worst 11 games below the .500 mark in late April. As recently as May 20 they were still eight games below that break-even mark.
Since that point, the Blue Jays have gone 17-10. The club entered play on Thursday afternoon having won three of their last four games.

UNCHARACTERISTICALLY WEAK OFFENSE

The biggest culprit in Toronto’s mediocre 2017 season has been their lack of offense. The Blue Jays have been one of baseball’s top offensive attacks in recent years. But this season, the Jays bats have gone silent all too often.
The Blue Jays are 25th in MLB in Runsscored to this point, with a combined OPS of .732, just 24th in the game. With just 29 steals, they are tied for 22nd in baseball. Their 227 walks is 20th in MLB.
The Jays are no longer out-slugging anyone, and they’re not finding other ways to get on base and produce run-scoring opportunities.
Perennial MVP candidate Josh Donaldson was held out of the lineup on Thursday afternoon against the Texas Rangers with a balky knee. The third baseman has already spent time on the DL this year from mid-April until the last week in May.
Donaldson was the 2015 AL MVP and finished fourth in the voting a year ago. He banged 41 and 37 home runs in his first two seasons with Toronto after coming in a December 2014 trade from the Oakland Athletics. He also scored 122 runs in each season, and won a Silver Slugger each year.
On Wednesday, a story in the National Post quoted Gibson on Donaldson. “He’s got that attitude. You guys see it, you guys know it. He’s on the field, there’s just something. Good things happen with him, too. But there’s definitely something different about him.”
The Jays are going to need a healthy Donaldson returning to his accustomed production levels if they are ever going to get this 2017 lineup turned around.

INCONSISTENCY FROM TULO AND JOEY BATS

Veteran shortstop Troy Tulowitzki seems to spend time each year on the DL. He was out during almost exactly the same time frame this year as was Donaldson.
Tulo is a 5x All-Star and former perennial MVP candidate himself. But this season he is hitting for a weak .235/.297/.333 slash line with just two homers and nine runs scored.
Much was made back in the off-season of the return of popular veteran Jose Bautista to the lineup. ‘Joey Bats’ signed an $18 million deal guaranteed for just this season, with a mutual $17 million option for next year.
With a dozen homers thus far, the 6x AL All-Star has provided his typical pop. However, the now 36-year old is hitting for just a .219/.334/.398 slash line.
The Blue Jays have worked hard over the last month to climb back into contention. They sit just a couple of games out of a Wildcard berth, just a handful of games out in the AL East race.
Unless they get substantially more production from Donaldson, Tulowitzki and Bautista, they may finish this year right where they are in those divisional standings. Rather than another trip to October, the club could end up closer to the bottom than the top.