The SF Giants decided to let go of Giants manager Gabe Kapler on Friday. He had one year remaining on his deal. Was it the right move for the Giants to go in a different direction?
Was it the right move for the SF Giants to fire Gabe Kapler?
Giants ownership voiced their support for team president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi earlier this month. I wrote about whether retaining him was the right move. I could not arrive at a definitive conclusion but admitted that it just might be better to keep him for at least one more season than bringing in a new front office who might want to punt the ball down the field.
The Giants have missed the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, so fan patience is waning or has disappeared. People will continue to support to team, but it could be tough for some fans to stomach another retool or rebuild.
So, I could not arrive at a definitive conclusion with Zaidi but I could with Kapler. I think the Giants were in a position where they needed to make a change after two disappointing seasons and Zaidi is in a position where he is seemingly on the hot seat. These two factors likely influenced the need for a change and the Giants will begin this offseason by looking for a new skipper.
The Giants finished with an 81-81 record last year, which is something you could sweep under the rug after a 107-win season in 2021. However, they were well-positioned for a playoff run midway through this season but slumped to a 34-47 record in the second half of the season. This includes a brutal September in which they have gone 8-17.
A collapse like this coupled with the fact that Logan Webb was challenging the culture earlier this week suggests that the clubhouse lacked cohesion. Plus, there were rumors that Kapler did not have control of the clubhouse.
This is not all on Kapler. The roster was flawed and he nearly guided a team to the playoffs that relied on two pitchers for much of this season. It was in no way his preference to operate that way, but he did well to adjust.
Despite making adjustments from game to game, I do think Kapler was a little too rigid with his in-game management. He often had a plan and struggled to deviate from it when the circumstances changed. His style of managing can work as we saw with his aggressive platooning and setting up the right bullpen matchups, but it there was no full buy-in from the team this year.
Plus, his reliance on analytics may have done more harm than good at times as it undermined his perceived feel for the game or managing with instinct. The 48-year-old has been in baseball for decades, so he clearly has a feel for the game. However, making decisions based entirely on the numbers makes sense on paper as he can justify his moves, but at times, you just need to deviate from that.
Kapler posted a 295-248 record in parts of four seasons with the Giants. On the surface, it is tough to fire a manager with a .543 winning percentage, but there were some cracks beneath the surface. I do not think his performance this year necessitated being fired, but it was obvious that a change was needed.
Farhan Zaidi likely has one more season to show he is the right person for the job. It is easy to use Kapler as the scapegoat, but the clock is also ticking on Zaidi. If the team performs similarly at this point next season, then ownership will be looking for Zaidi's replacement. For now, he can wipe the slate clean and try again with a different manager.