Like the crocus and tulips around here, twenty-four-year-old Nick Williams stuck his head out of the still cold Philly ground and did a no-no: He bypassed his manager and unloaded to a newspaper reporter. He's lucky Bowa isn't still the manager. He might not see playing time until the gladiolas bloom. What, midsummer?
Williams didn't make the starting lineup on opening day and he did what any spoiled child would do: threw himself down on the floor screaming and kicking his feet.
Here's what he said: "I guess computers are making it, I don't know." He's referring to the team's dependence on analytics and that computers are filling out the lineup. "I don't get any of it but what can I do? I'm not going to complain about it because I have zero power. I'm just letting it ride." I like the way he's "letting it ride," on the third page of the Inquirer sports.
OUCH. Baseball's equivalent to kicking and screaming. Kim Jong-un used more diplomacy while lobbing nukes over Japan. As expected Williams was called in on the carpet and now everything is hunky-dory.
Or is it?
Look, here's the thing. The Phillies manager seems to run his team like the manager at the Stop 'N Shop: 'Tom, you got the frozen food aisle today, Annie you're at the cold cuts and tuna salads, and Bennie, you've got the fish and meats. Bill, we don't need you today.'
He says, the manager not the supermarket guy, he's fielding a team using the players he feels gives them the best chance to win, based on, as Mr. Williams pointed out, a computer. Or several of them.
Only, if you notice, certain guys don't get moved or benched: Carlos Santana, Cesar Hernandez, and Rhys Hoskins. I guess the computer geeks don't cover them. But the rest of the players, five outfields, two catchers, and four infielders, get the supermarket treatment. Plus, Scott Kingery, who looks like he's 16 but hits like he's 25, gets to play everywhere. Any outfield or infield spot. Nice.
Here's why I think Gabe Kapler is a bad manager. Next game, Williams is back in the lineup. Any teacher or coach knows that you don't give in to a malcontent in front of the team or class.That's Managing 101. Williams out-of-line remarks to a scribe should have cost him. It didn't. Kapler said they had a "heart to heart talk," and the next game he's back in the lineup.
Right, and I explained aerodynamics to my cat. She and I had a heart to heart.
Professional baseball players need to play. Especially, young professional baseball players. And when talented, young players start losing — because they don't know from day to day which supermarket aisle they'll be in — managers get fired. I've never seen the players get fired in my lifetime.
Lookit. The Phillies have a talented team. They have more at Triple-A. They don't need a guy who doesn't know what he's doing to screw it up. It will cost them. If the general manager is using Larry Bowa and Pete Mackanin as advisors, as he says he is, then use them.
Phillies: Get an experienced manager who can play these kids. They don't need slogans, they need leadership and direction.
They don't need Gabe Kapler.
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