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Blaming Kapler for Phillies' struggles is foolish

Jack Fritz
June 25, 2019 - 10:22 am
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The sooner we realize that the Phillies recent struggles are on the players and not the manager, the better we’ll all be. 

Related: Klentak: Phillies committed to Gabe Kapler

Should Kapler have benched Jean Segura last week for the non-hustle play that cost the Phils a run against Max Scherzer? 

Yes. 

Are the players on the roster not playing well and moping around the clubhouse because their manager decided it was better for them to try and win a game rather than sit their starting shortstop? 

No. 

Baseball is a simple game when you boil it down. You hit the ball, you pitch the ball you field the ball. Since when did it become the managers fault when his players aren’t able to execute those simple tasks?

The fact of the matter is that many people in this town don’t like Gabe Kapler because of “ANALYTICS,” how he looks and how he talks. So of course when the going gets tough, and the month of June has been a tough one, people are quick to say this is Kapler’s fault. 

But here’s the truth. 

Managers make decisions that can be questioned, but the worst managerial decisions don’t impact the game nearly as much as the worst performances by his players. 

Right now, Kapler is being blamed for a team that doesn’t have a fifth starter. A bullpen that has had up to eight guys on the injured list. A lineup that is without it’s lead-off hitter, is missing it’s starting centerfielder and seen their Opening Day third baseman go into the tank. 

What Kapler does have is a superstar right fielder that hasn’t performed like a superstar, an ace that finished third in NL Cy Young voting last year that hasn’t lived up to that performance, a first baseman that goes into month long slumps, a former Cy Young winner that can’t miss bats, a catcher, while fantastic behind the plate, that hasn’t lived up to his offensive capabilities and an All Star shortstop that just stopped hitting for a month. 

The players are the reason this team has struggled recently, not the manager. The players are the ones that need to step up and fix this, not Kapler. That message was painfully obvious earlier this week on Chase Utley retirement night.

One thing really stuck out listening to Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard speak about Utley. They mentioned how when times got tough or they felt like they needed a spark, Utley was the guy who stepped up and said something. 

Ultimately, teammates are your best motivators in a sport like baseball, not the manager’s “message.” 

Charlie Manuel was a great manager but he also had a locker room full of guys that were leaders like Rollins and Utley that he could lean on to hold their teammates accountable. Maybe the players in this Phillies locker room need to do the same. Maybe, since a lot of these guys are new to the team, the locker room hasn’t found their guy that is going to hold his teammates accountable. Harper and Realmuto are obviously the guys to do it, but they’ve only been here for a few months. Rollins and Utley had been here for multiple years. 

Is Kapler the right guy for the Phillies? Maybe, maybe not. Time will tell. 

What is clear is that this isn’t football or basketball, where a head coach needs to have phenomenal X’s and O’s and plays ready to go at any given moment to help his team win a game. This is baseball where the manager really only sets the lineup, maybe makes a double switch and manages the bullpen. And just to hammer this point home one more time, have you seen this Phillies bullpen he’s being asked to win games with?

So everyone put down your pitchforks, think critically for more than two minutes and understand that the players playing well is the only hope in saving this season for the Phillies, not the manager managing well. 

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