SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — When the San Francisco Giants were still in the playoff chase earlier this month and squandered crucial opportunities and games, President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi concluded that it was time to move on from manager Gabe Kapler.
The Giants fired Kapler on Friday with three days left in the season and the team eliminated from the playoffs for a second straight year.
“As a group, as a team, we played our worst baseball when it mattered the most,” Zaidi said.
Zaidi made his recommendation to ownership while taking his share of responsibility for the team’s shortcomings. His own future is unclear with one year remaining on his contract.
“To go out on that last road trip still in the wild card, still controlling our own destiny and then playing the way we did when we controlled our own destiny, those are hard to watch for everybody,” Zaidi said. “It was hard for the players to go through, it was hard for fans to watch, it was hard for us as an organization to watch. That sort of really accelerated our view that we need to make difficult decisions and think about things differently.”
Kapler left Oracle park by midafternoon Friday. Reached by text, he did not address his tenure with the Giants.
Kapler’s firing was the first managerial change of 2023. Bench coach Kai Correa was set to manage the Giants in an interim role for the final three games.
The Giants were 78-81 going into a season-ending series against the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers.
“This is just what happens when you lose baseball games,” outfielder Austin Slater said. “We severely underperformed the last month and a half, two months, honestly probably since the All-Star break. It’s a combination of sloppy baseball, poor offense, our pitching that we were riding for most of the year, it started to show some holes. So all around, there’s not one point on the team or one person or one group to blame. It was just an overall, just bad baseball.”
The 48-year-old Kapler had a 295-248 record over four seasons guiding the Giants, but his only year with a winning record was 2021, when San Francisco won a franchise-record 107 games and the NL West title — one game ahead of the 106-win Dodgers.
San Francisco lost in the NL Division series that year in five games to Los Angeles, then regressed to 81-81 last year.
Kapler’s first season with San Francisco was the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign. He managed the Philadelphia Phillies for two years before that, going 161-163.
In San Francisco, he followed three veteran managers in Dusty Baker, Felipe Alou and Bruce Bochy. The Giants won World Series championships under Bochy in 2010, ‘12 and ’14.
The Giants will strive to find a manager before the start of free agency. Zaidi didn’t rule out an internal candidate being considered as Kapler’s replacement.
“I don’t think we did the best job for him,” right-hander Logan Webb said. “As a team we haven’t been very good these last two years. … There needs to be a standard set of how we play baseball here.”
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