The Giants search for a manager is over now that the team has announced that Gabe Kapler will be the next skipper. Kapler was a finalist along with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, but it was Kapler who would get the job all along. The perception has long been that Kapler was Farhan Zaidi’s preference as the two worked together in the Dodgers organization, but when it was announced that Scott Harris would have a say in the final decision there was some thinking (hoping?) that Harris could move the needle in the direction of Quatraro or Espada. Instead, the Giants handed Kapler a three-year contract.
Kapler may have been Zaidi’s favorite, but this was the least popular selection that the Giants could have made to put things lightly. Sticking to sports, Kapler’s career as a manager is unimpressive. Kapler was fired from Philadelphia after two disappointing seasons which began with him trying to make a pitching change when no one was warming up in the bullpen. The in-game decisions are supposed to be the easy part of being a manager, but Kapler struggled to get that right. Phillies fans are notoriously hard to please, but from an objective standpoint, it’s hard to see what Kapler could do for a baseball team that Espada or Quataro couldn’t do as well or better.
Then there are the off-the-field issues. Kapler’s biggest failing didn’t come on the diamond or in the dugout. It came in 2015 when Kapler was the director of player development for the Dodgers. Kapler failed to report alleged sexual violence perpetrated by his players, and instead did his best to keep things quiet after counselling with other members of the organization. Zaidi himself was part of the Dodgers at this point, and he had knowledge of the matter. Zaidi made an attempt to address that issue, but his answer was lacking.
Zaidi on incident with minor leaguers when he and Kapler were in LA: "The biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong questions. We asked what we had to do instead of what was the right thing to do. ... I'm truly sorry from my perspective that I didn't ask the right questions."— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) November 13, 2019
The biggest mistake we made was asking the wrong questions. We asked what we had to do instead of what was the right thing to do. ... I’m truly sorry from my perspective that I didn’t ask the right questions.
The biggest mistake was not going to the police! Farhan Zaidi has had four years to think about that, and that’s his conclusion? That he didn’t ask the right questions?
It’s hard not to be cynical and conclude that Zaidi and Kapler didn’t actually care about that incident beyond how it impacted their situations. To them, it was likely nothing more than an obstacle that prevented them from winning. If their players had been arrested, that would have subtracted from their “prospect capital” or distracted them from Baseball.
If Kapler were a solid, proven manager, I might say that the hiring is just another move that values winning over ethics. It’s a move that the Astros might make, and the Astros are the sort of team to trade for a player currently suspended for domestic violence, gloat about it in front of female reporters, and try to ruin one of those reporters careers when they write about the incident.
But Kapler isn’t a solid, proven manager. His time in Philadelphia was an abject failure, so this is a move that values buddies over ethics. Kapler and Zaidi are buddies, and ultimately, that’s why he got the job.