When he was introduced as Philadelphia Phillies manager in 2017, Gabe Kapler said his goal was to bring a World Series title to team owner John Middleton.
After two seasons of postseason-free baseball in Philadelphia, Kapler is now out of the job, according to multiple reports.
The Phillies on Thursday fired Kapler, whose team (81-81) underachieved even with the addition of big-money free agent Bryce Harper and whose nontraditional, analytical style irritated many of the franchise’s passionate fans.
Philly took a gamble when it made Kapler the 54th manager in team history in November 2017, hoping a former big leaguer short on managerial experience — he previously had managed only one season in the minors (2007) — could lead them back to October baseball for the first time since 2011.
But the Kapler era in Philadelphia never took off.
In his first game, the Braves rallied from a five-run deficit, winning on a three-run home run in the ninth inning. Kapler faced immediate scrutiny for lifting starter Aaron Nola with the Phillies up 5-0 and one out in the sixth inning. When Philly returned home after a season-opening 1-4 road trip, Kapler was booed resoundingly by Phillies fans.
They ended up 80-82 in 2018, finishing third in the NL East and 10 games behind the first-place Braves.
A historic contract given to Harper and big trades for catcher J.T. Realmuto and infielder Jean Segura didn’t help much in 2019. Although they spent much of April and May in first place, a seven-game losing skid in June stalled any momentum. And while they stayed in the NL wild-card race, they lost eight of nine in late September and ultimately were eliminated from the postseason by Harper’s former team, the Nationals.
Kapler, 44, hit .268 in 12 major league seasons as an outfielder with Boston, the Texas Rangers and four other clubs. Before the Phillies, he spent several years as the Dodgers’ director of player development.