Jon Heyman is at it again, publishing another anonymous, unsubstantiated rumor about Gabe Kapler that he himself doesn’t even believe.
Or is he?
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the worst-named sports website in the biz, dropped a Kapler tidbit into his daily update. Here’s the entire thing.
This rumor could be going around because Gabe Kapler is unpopular among scouts around the game, but word is that bench coach Rob Thomson has gained influence after a few early mistakes by Kapler. Thomson is well-respected around the league and has long experience as Joe Girardi’s right-hand man with the Yankees, and he should be a managing candidate somewhere, but in this day and age where more famous guys with bigger playing pedigrees seem to be favored, he has yet to have that opportunity. Anyway, one rival scout said he heard this: “Thomson literally has taken over game decisions. He just tells Kapler what to do and he does it – like a puppet.” (FWIW, we think that has to be an exaggeration, at the very least.)
Read it again. Seriously. It took me a few times through to understand where exactly this came from, what the scout said, and everything else.
What Heyman has done is publish a quote from a source, who he says is a “rival scout,” and the quote from the rival scout is actually the rival scout quoting someone else. That someone else? No idea who he is, what he does, or what his relationship is to the Phillies.
Not surprisingly, I’m having a little trouble taking this rumor seriously, so let’s take this nugget and break it down. Really get to the core of this “rumor” and see what else is going on here.
This rumor could be going around because Gabe Kapler is unpopular among scouts around the game,
Halfway through the first sentence and we’ve already got a problem. Is Kapler unpopular among scouts around the game? There are a lot of scouts in baseball, and if most of them think in concert about anything, it’s probably about hotel chain points. So I have a hard time believing that anything but Starwood Preferred Guest or Hilton Honors is unpopluar among scouts around the game. But he’s Jon Heyman, so I guess we’re supposed to take his word for it here? I’m certainly don’t doing that, but that’s what the reader is clearly expected to do.
but word is that bench coach Rob Thomson has gained influence after a few early mistakes by Kapler.
That’s certainly a possibility. We’ve found out recent articles that Kapler was open to advice, and even sought it out after his rough first week. He wants to learn, and he could learn a lot from Rob Thomson. But it’s not clear who Thomson has gained influence with. Kapler? The Phillies? The scouts? We never actually find out. I know, you’re totally shocked.
Thomson is well-respected around the league and has long experience as Joe Girardi’s right-hand man with the Yankees, and he should be a managing candidate somewhere, but in this day and age where more famous guys with bigger playing pedigrees seem to be favored, he has yet to have that opportunity.
Take a look at that bolded section up there. That’s not even related to Thomson directly, it’s just Heyman taking a swipe at the new “trend” in managerial hires: younger guys who have played and understand players. But in context, it’s more than just a swipe at the trends, it’s a swipe at Kapler, who he’s about to take a ripe dump on. I guess Kapler is more “famous” than Thomson, considering that a year ago I would have told you that Kapler is a guy who maybe works for the Dodgers front office, or possibly the Padres or Diamondbacks, one of those teams out west, but I couldn’t tell you what he did or even what he looked like. That’s more than I knew about Thomson, which was nothing other than I think he’s missing a “p” from his last name.
Anyway, one rival scout said he heard this: “Thomson literally has taken over game decisions. He just tells Kapler what to do and he does it – like a puppet.”
Let me get this straight: Heyman heard a quote from a “rival scout,” who heard someone from somewhere else say that Thomson has taken over game decisions.
That is some almighty bullshit. Heyman expects people to take this seriously because it’s him, but we have no reason to trust this when there is absolutely no identifying information attached to any of it, and it’s the word of one guy who heard someone say something.
Who would know that information, if it were true? Who would say that? Would someone with the Phillies do it? Would a rival manager or coach even know that information? It seems so ridiculous and outlandish on its face that I’m shocked that it made it to print.
And furthermore, it seems like someone here has an axe to grind with Kapler. It’s either Heyman or the “scouts” or both, but it almost doesn’t matter who it is. Someone clearly does, and Heyman is giving them the chance to air their grievances with his name on it as a pedigree. Heyman published a bunch of similarly unsubstantiated, anonymous quotes about Kapler in November, and he expected people to take it seriously then, too.
There are hundreds and hundreds of scouts who work in baseball. He’s found one, who apparently heard someone say something about Kapler. There’s absolutely no proof that scouts in baseball feel any way about Kapler at all, but this one guy apparently gets a platform to say nasty things about Kapler’s baseball decision making.
If it’s true, then fine. I don’t care. As long as good baseball decisions are being made, it doesn’t matter to me who makes them. The clubhouse clearly likes Kapler a lot, and that’s a huge part of the manager’s job: keeping the players working in good spirits, building a relationship with them that’s full of trust and mutual respect and understanding. Baseball decisions are part of that too, of course, but Kapler was never, ever expected to make them on his own. Why else would he have a staff of talented coaches? Collaborative decision making is part of baseball. You can click here to see the full list of coaches that Kapler has helping him make decisions and work with players on a daily basis. Not including Kap himself, there are 10 guys. It seems really, really unlikely that any one of them, let alone a fellow Phillies first-timer, is controlling Kapler like a puppet.
And can you imagine Gabe Kapler allowing someone on his staff to do that? I can’t imagine anyone doing it, but Kapler especially. It’s the opposite of all the things he’s said to the media and during interviews. Kap takes his job seriously — not just winning ballgames and working with his players, but he’s serious about learning and growing as a manager. Allowing someone else to make the decisions for him is in total opposition to that mindset. I literally — literally — can’t imagine Kapler doing it. But Heyman has questions about that quote himself.
(FWIW, we think that has to be an exaggeration, at the very least.)
WHY DID YOU PUBLISH IT THEN?!?! If a quote of a quote from a source is SO outlandish that you feel the need to put a caveat on the end of it, DON’T INCLUDE IT.
What even is the point of this? Is it just to shit on Kapler again? Because I’m not sure if Jon has noticed, but Kapler doesn’t care. His competence has been questioned before. A lot. He hasn’t lost the clubhouse or the front office. I listened to Rhys Hoskins on MLB Radio this afternoon, and he had nothing but great things to say about Kapler, to the point that he didn’t even want to joke with the hosts about him. The players love him. The front office trusts him. The fans are coming around, if they haven’t already.
All of these relationships, and his style of managing, are works in progress. But there has been progress, and an excessively dumb rumor from some unidentified scout who says he heard someone say something one time, that’s not going to undo it. It’s time for Heyman, and whatever scouts who are gibbering in his ear, to put away the axe and find something more interesting/true to say about Gabe Kapler.