In my senior year of college, I interned for NESN, which is basically the Red Sox equivalent of SNLA, except that people can see it. That gave me some great access and stories, and one of the things I vividly remember was standing on the warning track outside the first base dugout and watching a 27-year-old outfielder who had just been acquired from Colorado warm up, and being completely blown away by how massive he was. That player was Gabe Kapler, who played for six teams in parts of 11 years, and he’s suddenly very relevant to Dodger fans.
The reason why is a little unfortunate — Kapler apparently replied to a Twitter DM from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick asking about a rumor that Kapler was headed to the Dodgers for a job, a tweet I will not link because it contains personal information — but if there’s any truth to this, it’s very, very good thing for the Dodgers. He’s obviously got the playing cred, but there’s so much more. A native of Hollywood, Kapler finished up with Tampa Bay in 2010, although he was in Dodger camp in 2011, failing to make the team.
Seriously, though, I’m just going to bullet point the list of reasons why I’m a big fan:
- Retired in 2007 to manage Boston’s Single-A club, before returning to active play in 2008
- With his wife, co-founded a foundation meant to fight domestic violence
- Is a “healthy lifestyle guru” with his own blog for health tips
- Likes sporks!
- Did a guest article for Baseball Prospectus:
- The accessibility of an intern can’t be overvalued. If I could go back to my days as a player, my first order of business might be to cozy up to the first intern who walked by my locker (after busting his balls a bit).“Can I have your email address?” I’d ask.Then I’d pepper him with questions, pleading with him to teach me everything he knew and was willing to dig up on my behalf to make me more capable of navigating my ever-treacherous plate appearances. And I promise, knowing what I know now, that I’d apply these insights to find a way to be more serviceable than I was. I reckon somewhere in the baseball universe, the Brandon McCarthys, Max Scherzers, and Sam Fulds of the world may be engaged in similar conversations as we speak.
- Since 2013, has been working for Fox Sports, where he’s done “Saber Clips,”including this one on wRC+:
- Was reportedly being considered for the open Tampa Bay managerial job
- Tweets links to Brooks Baseball heat maps
- Wrote a piece for WEEI last year about how difficult it can be for players to understand the new world of stats:
- At some point, Ben opened my eyes wide when he sent me a study on the sacrifice bunt and the value of the out in major league baseball at the time. I considered myself to be a student of the game, but this was the first time I had a baseball man illuminate such a study. It was at that point that I realized that baseball players are not the most educated people in our game — far from it.
- Likes to hand-write smart things on Twitter:
A note on Kershaw. pic.twitter.com/i5vSNi9oI1
— gabe kapler (@gabekapler) June 25, 2014
I hate that we’re having to talk about this because of a social media mistake, but it’s out there now, so here we are. Maybe this is nothing, just a source that didn’t pan out, and we have no idea what kind of role — in uniform, or front office — this might be. But if you were to ask me if I wanted a guy who had a combination of playing experience, dedication to health, a year as a manager, an understanding (not just an acceptance of) advanced stats, and time spent in front of the camera and online defending those stats?
You better believe it. He’s the perfect guy to bridge old-school and new. I don’t know capacity this might be in, if at all. I just know that I want it to happen. And, might this mean that Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, noted in the WEEI piece as someone who helped Kapler to become the minor league manager and noted as a possibility for the open GM job in Los Angeles, is on his way? Again, we don’t know, and this is clearly getting ahead of ourselves. But the more smart people you can have, the better.