Why Farhan Al-Zaidi, Giants Fired Gabe Kapler After Four Seasons in Major League Baseball – NBC Sports Bay Area and California

Why Farhan Al-Zaidi, Giants Fired Gabe Kapler After Four Seasons in Major League Baseball - NBC Sports Bay Area and California

SAN FRANCISCO — When he finished a lengthy session with reporters Friday afternoon, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi retreated to the clubhouse and went to Gabe Kapler’s office.

Kapler’s guitar still sits in the corner. The bar cart that crept into the cameras’ view during many post-game interviews was still stored. Everything seemed normal, but Zaidi returned to the clubhouse knowing he would never again sit in that office and discuss baseball with the man who was his chosen choice to lead the Giants into the future.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Al-Zaidi met with Kapler for about an hour. At one point in the conversation, he told his old friend that his time as Giants manager was over. Al-Zaidi said that it was his choice and his recommendation for ownership.

It was a difficult conversation for Al-Zaidi, and when he explained his reasons a few hours later, the emotion was still evident in his voice. But Al-Zaidi felt it was necessary. The Giants are ready for a new sound.

“The thing that was on my mind and on the minds of other people in this organization is that we, as a group, as a team, played our worst baseball when it mattered most,” Zaidi said. “I know you guys have been working to figure out why this happened, and there are a lot of questions (from) fans about why this happened. We have a lot of work to figure out why this happened.”

“We felt like the first step was to make that change. I think we’re looking for new, different leadership at our club, a different dynamic there.”

The phrase “first step” was important, because Kapler’s dismissal was only the beginning. The Giants are entering a period of turmoil and reflection. They have disappointed in three of the four seasons under Kapler, and the man in charge is well aware of the fact that he could have been a member of ownership sitting in that dugout on Friday talking about how Zaidi and Kapler were fired.

Al-Zaidi has repeatedly said that he needs to be held accountable for the problems that led to him having to fire the first manager he hired as chief executive.

“I know that ultimately my job is to put a product on the field that our organization can be proud of and our fans can be proud of, and frankly that hasn’t happened in the last couple of years,” he said. “It’s been hard for me. It’s been hard for a lot of people. But I also feel very determined to fix it.”

Al-Zaidi will get that opportunity, starting next month when he leads the search for Kapler’s replacement. It had long been viewed as a package deal, but ultimately someone had to pay for the collapse in the second half.

The news didn’t exactly surprise players, but mostly left them sad. Although Kapler had his flaws, he was generally well-liked by his players and those around him. Austin Slater, the team’s second-tallest player, noted that Kapler was a long way off, but appreciated it.

“This is what happens when you lose baseball games,” he said. “We’ve been very poor over the last month and month and a half, honestly since the All-Star break.”

The Giants were 13 games over .500 at one point and remained in the thick of the playoff race until September. On the first day of the month, they had a 60 percent chance of getting a spot on the winning ticket. On Tuesday they were eliminated.

The Giants will spend the next weeks researching what happened, how it happened and why it happened. But on Friday, it was easy to pinpoint when all that changed.

Until this week, most members of the organization were operating under the belief that both Zaidi and Kapler would return next season. But the cracks became too big on the last road trip, when the Giants lost three of four at Coors Field and then dropped both games to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who should clinch second place in the NL West this weekend.

Over those two games at Chase Field, the Giants have looked old and sluggish, which is more of a problem for the front office than the coaching staff. But they also seemed like they didn’t realize how big the games were. In the aftermath, the veterans spoke about the team’s lack of edge and the need for greater commitment to a winning culture.

It can be difficult for even insiders to judge whether a manager is really doing a good job. But when poor play is matched by questions about preparation and the club, no coach can survive.

Al-Zaidi said: “Playing the way we played when we controlled our destiny, it was difficult for everyone to watch.” “It was difficult for the players to qualify, it was difficult for the fans to watch, it was difficult for us as an organization to watch. Again, I think that really accelerated our view that we needed to make tough decisions and think about things differently. .

“I can’t argue against drawing a line between that road trip and how we finished the season and what we’re talking about now.”

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