PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler is a bold choice to be the 54th manager in Phillies history.The team made Kapler's hiring official on Monday, touting his leadership, progressive thinking and ability to relate to young players. But Kapler, 42, is an unconventional choice, at least by Phillies standards. He has limited
PHILADELPHIA -- Gabe Kapler is a bold choice to be the 54th manager in Phillies history.
The team made Kapler's hiring official on Monday, touting his leadership, progressive thinking and ability to relate to young players. But Kapler, 42, is an unconventional choice, at least by Phillies standards. He has limited managerial and coaching experience, and he's the first manager the organization has hired without Phillies ties since Terry Francona in 1996.
Kapler will be introduced today at a 2 p.m. ET news conference that will be streamed live at MLB.com and phillies.com.
"I'm equal parts honored, humbled and excited by the opportunity with the Phillies, an elite franchise in a city rich in history, tradition, sports excellence and with amazingly passionate fans," Kapler said in a statement. "I believe there is no better place to build a winning environment, and I take that task very seriously."
Kapler, who spent the past three seasons as the Dodgers' director of player development, impressed Phillies officials throughout their managerial search, which included at least eight candidates. MLB.com first reported two weeks ago that the Phillies interviewed Kapler. He met with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak, assistant GM Ned Rice, special assistant to the general manager Bryan Minniti and director of player development Joe Jordan.
Kapler returned for a second round of interviews Friday, meeting with other Phillies officials. Triple-A Lehigh Valley manager Dusty Wathan and former Red Sox manager John Farrell also had second interviews late last week.
But Kapler connected with Phillies brass in that second interview, sources said.
"Gabe has a track record of leadership, winning, progressive thinking and working with young players, and we fully believe that he is the right person to guide this organization into the future," Klentak said in a statement.
Kapler managed Class A Greenville, a Red Sox affiliate, in 2007 while in a short-lived retirement during his 12-year playing career. He also managed Team Israel in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier. They are his only two managerial experiences, but big league teams hiring managers without much managing experience has become more common.
Also, the Phillies were looking for more than just managerial experience.
Kapler is a progressive thinker. He has written for Baseball Prospectus, a sabermetric website, and there's no question the next Phillies manager had to embrace and be willing to implement analytics into his decision-making, both on and off the field. The Phillies have invested heavily the past two years into analytics.
Kapler also has a lifestyle blog that touts fitness, nutrition and mental health, and the Phillies have invested resources lately into nutrition and sports psychology.
The Dodgers are one of the game's most forward-thinking organizations, so perhaps it's no surprise that Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman named Kapler his director of player development in 2014 despite him having no previous experience. The two met when Kapler finished his playing career with Tampa Bay in 2009-10.
The Dodgers' Minor League teams went a combined 1,299-1,128 with eight first-place finishes the past three seasons. Their .535 winning percentage ranked fourth in baseball and second in the National League, trailing only the Phillies (.548).
Friedman nearly hired Kapler as his manager in 2015, but went instead with Dave Roberts, who also had no previous managerial experience. Roberts expects good things from Kapler.
"I'm very excited for Gabe, and I think he'll do a great job with that young, talented group of players," said Roberts on Monday's workout day before Game 6 of the World Series. "With respect to our farm system and the culture he's kind of instilled with the teaching, he's really impacted the guys that are with us right now.
"It takes all of us, the farm system, baseball ops, scouting and obviously the Major League staff to accomplish what we've accomplished, but Gabe and his staff have been a huge part of what we have this year."
The Phillies are giving Kapler the shot Los Angeles nearly gave him, and while it's certainly not the safest choice, they hope it pays off big.
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.