DENVER — Gabe Kapler spent the last road trip of the season meeting individually with his players, looking back with them at the season and looking ahead to how they can improve for 2019. But now Kapler is turning attention onto himself.
The Phillies manager sent anonymous surveys to his coaching staff and team personnel this week to elicit their feedback on his performance this season. Kapler said he would then meet with each coach to "discuss their thoughts and how I can be a better teammate, manager, and leader." And then, Kapler said, he will meet with the front office for more feedback.
Kapler will return as manager in 2019, general manager Matt Klentak said Wednesday. The team's worst finish to a season in 76 years will not be enough for the Phillies to change course. And the manager is hoping he can report to spring training as an improved leader.
"You all know how strongly I believe in constant and continual improvement," Kapler said. "I have a lot of room to grow and improve."
Kapler prides himself on his ability to communicate, but he said he is now driven to "communicate even more effectively." Every player has their own desires, but Kapler said there needs to be a balance between making people feel comfortable and doing what is needed to win.
"I'm very cognizant of the emotional and mental toll decisions have for our players," Kapler said. "We're all individual humans, with our own individual needs, but also striving for a collective goal. I think I learn more about the individuals that make up our group every day, and I think this is an area that will continue to improve. I believe we have been successful in building up trust. I also believe we can do this more; never quitting even when we get tired or uncomfortable."
The team established what Kapler labeled as a communication schedule, in which various departments of the team will reach out to players during the winter to keep updated on their offseason. The Phillies, Kapler said, will not wait until Clearwater to know a player's progress. And Kapler is not waiting until the end of his first season to begin trying to improve himself.
"An area where we clearly fell short was in appropriately preparing our players for the grind of a pennant chase in August and September," Kapler said. "The preparation for August and September of 2019 is beginning now. There are specific mental and physical challenges being issued to our players for the offseason so that everyone comes into spring training able to maintain for seven months."