PHILADELPHIA -- Did anybody else get the feeling Thursday that Gabe Kapler has no problems mingling and conversing with strangers at a party?Kapler has a big, outgoing personality. He is no introvert, but the Phillies like that about him. Kapler's desire to connect with people is one reason they hired
PHILADELPHIA -- Did anybody else get the feeling Thursday that Gabe Kapler has no problems mingling and conversing with strangers at a party?
Kapler has a big, outgoing personality. He is no introvert, but the Phillies like that about him. Kapler's desire to connect with people is one reason they hired him as manager.
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"It has to be used right," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said when asked about the value of a big personality in the clubhouse. "I think there have been a lot of big personalities in sports that for one reason or another have not succeeded. But personality by itself can be a good thing, and the total package that Gabe brings to the table is going to be a good thing for us."
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Arguably, it is easier to work with a roster full of mostly inexperienced players than a roster full of mostly veterans. Young players are impressionable. They want to stick. They are less likely to rock the boat.
Players mature over time. They gain experience. They make more money. They acquire their own strong opinions. In other words, a clubhouse with Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford and Aaron Nola is different than a clubhouse with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee.
But Kapler thinks his style will work, even as the roster evolves into a more experienced, more highly paid one.
"By focusing on the environment," Kapler said. "It's not that we're not focusing on the player, but one of the things that you see very infrequently is us ignore the mechanics of the swing. We very infrequently ignore game strategy, but we will ignore building a healthy culture where people like coming to work. Whether that be young players or old players, everyone likes coming to work with people that they enjoy being around. Everyone likes coming to work and having the freedom to be who they are, and they're not going to be hammered down because they're not the version that you want them to be.
"The way we manage young players and veteran players is by creating great environments for them to develop in."
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A perception about new managers, especially ones on analytically inclined teams, is that the front office dictates lineups, philosophies for managing the game and more.
Hey, this guy has pitched too many times in the past week. Stay away from him tonight.
Klentak said while it is important that the manager and front office have a shared ideology, he is not going to control the game from the GM box.
"I am a firm believer in boundaries," Klentak said. "And I think we have to be very careful that those lines don't get blurred between the general manager and a manager, or a coaching staff and the front office. The players need to know that the manager is the individual who is writing out the lineup, who is deciding on pitching changes and playing time, and that is not coming from the front office.
"It's OK for the front office to be around the clubhouse and be accessible and conversational with players -- and that has happened and will continue to happen -- but I believe strongly in the fact that the Major League manager has to have the autonomy to prepare for the game and run the game."
Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.