SAN FRANCISCO — After a long session with reporters Friday afternoon, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi returned to the clubhouse and headed to Gabe Kapler’s office.
Kapler’s guitar was still in the corner. Burkhart was still stock as he sneaked into camera view during the postgame interview. Everything seemed normal, but Zaidi returned to the clubhouse prepared to never again sit in that office and discuss baseball with the man he had chosen to lead the Giants into the future. .
Mr. Zaidi spoke with Mr. Kapler for nearly an hour early Friday afternoon. At one point in the conversation, he told his longtime friend that his time as the Giants’ manager was over. Zaidi said it was his personal choice and his recommendation to the owners.
It was a difficult conversation for Zaidi, and the emotion was still in his voice when he explained why hours later. But Zaidi felt it was necessary. The Giants are ready for new voices.
“What goes through my mind and the rest of this organization is that as a group, as a team, we played our worst baseball when it mattered most,” Zaidi said. “We know you’re all trying to figure out why it happened, and we’re getting a lot of questions from fans about why it happened. has to do a lot of work.”
“We felt like Step 1 was making this change. I think we want new and different leadership in the clubhouse, a different dynamic.”
The words “Step 1” were important because Kapler’s firing was just the beginning. The Giants are having an offseason of upheaval and reflection. They have underperformed in three of four seasons under Kapler, but the manager in charge sat in that dugout Friday and talked about how both Zaidi and Kapler were fired. I am well aware of the fact that it is very possible.
Zaidi reiterated that he needed to take responsibility for the problems that forced him to fire the first manager he hired as lead executive.
“I know that ultimately it’s my job to put a product on the field that our organization is proud of and that our fans are proud of, but frankly, it’s not here. “It hasn’t happened for several years,” he said. “It’s been difficult for me. It’s been difficult for a lot of people. But I also feel very determined to get through it.”
Zaidi will get the chance to lead the search for Kapler’s replacement starting next month. These have long been seen as a package deal, but ultimately someone had to pay for the second-half collapse.
This news did not completely surprise the players and mostly just left them in a sad state. Although Kapler had his flaws, he was generally well-liked by his players and those around him. Austin Slater, the team’s second-longest tenured player, gave Kapler high praise, though he noted that he was very indifferent.
“This is what happens when you lose a baseball game,” he said. “Honestly, we’ve underperformed significantly the last month, month and a half since the All-Star break.”
At one point, the Giants had 13 games over .500 and remained in playoff contention well into September. On the first day of the month, he had a 60% chance of earning a wild card spot. They were eliminated on Tuesday.
The Giants will spend the next few weeks thoroughly investigating what happened, how it happened and why. But on Friday, it was easy to pinpoint when things changed.
As recently as this week, most people within the organization believed that both Zaidi and Kapler would return next season. But the cracks got too big on their last trip, and the Giants lost three of four at Coors Field before falling in both games to the Arizona Diamondbacks, who will be in the second postseason spot in the National League West this weekend. He was supposed to get a slot.
The Giants looked old and sluggish during these two games at Chase Field, but that was more of a problem for the front office than the coaching staff. But they also didn’t seem to realize how big this game was. In the aftermath, veterans talked about the lack of edge the team had and the need to further commit to a winning culture.
It can be difficult, even for insiders, to determine whether managers are really doing a good job. But if poor play is combined with questions about preparation and the clubhouse, no manager will survive.
“It was tough for everyone to watch them play the way they did when they were in control of their own destiny,” Zaidi said. “It’s been tough for the players, it’s been tough for the fans, it’s been tough for us as an organization. Again, that’s made us have to make some tough decisions and think about what’s next. I think it’s really accelerated our view that things are different.
“I can’t object to drawing a line between that road trip and how we finished the season and what we’re talking about now.”