Back in October, we learned that highly respected baseball thought and glass ceiling destroyer Kim Ng stepped down from her GM role because the Marlins, who Ng improved from a 57-105 record to 84-78 and an NL Wild Card berth, insisted on hiring a president of baseball operations to be Ng’s boss to be. Sure, many MLB organizations are structured to have both a president of baseball operations and a GM, but to suddenly move to such a hierarchy after the first female GM in MLB history took your sad team to the playoffs , felt silly at best, and really, really sexist at worst.
Now the Marlins have done themselves one better by hiring former Giants manager Gabe Kapler as an “assistant GM.” This made me laugh out loud, since the Marlins don’t currently own a GM, what with them screwing around and figuring out with the previously mentioned Kim Ng. Kapler did a decent job in San Francisco, finishing his time there with a 295-248 record, but many of those wins came on the Giants’ 107-win 2021 team, the only Giants team under Kapler tenure that ended with a win. record or make the postseason.
But here’s exactly why the Marlins are so excited to bring in Kapler, according to Ken Rosenthal.
“Success” is certainly a word choice for Kapler’s time with the Dodgers, which is probably best remembered not for what he accomplished on the field. From 2014 until he was hired as manager by the Phillies in 2017, Kapler served as the Dodgers’ director of player development. In 2015 he received an email from the grandmother of a 17-year-old girl, who claimed she was beaten by two women while drinking with Dodgers minor leaguers at a hotel. Kapler responded to this revelation by trying to arrange a dinner with the young girl, her grandmother and the two players who did not intervene, including one who recorded the incident. Kapler wrote to the grandmother that the dinner “would teach valuable lessons to all involved through this method of succession,” including, presumably, the two adult players who had been drinking with an underage girl. According to the Washington PostKapler did not report the incident to the Dodgers or the police.
Later, the girl claimed she was sexually assaulted by one of the players, which Kapler denies knowing when he proposed the dinner. If the always excellent Jon Wertheim wrote for SI, “The case of the runaway is illustrative of how easily allegations of sexual assault can disappear. When contacted by police, the Dodgers hired an attorney for the player, as required by California employment law. Yet, after no criminal charges came to light, the team did not request the police report, and, multiple sources tell SI, the incident was rarely discussed again.” Although a caseworker for the girl, who was a runaway, allegedly wanted a Dodgers minor leaguer to be prosecuted for sexual assault, the girl refused to cooperate, and the issue simply disappeared. As they so often do.
After the initial story broke, Sports Illustrated reports that Kapler and his staff were aware of two other incidents at the same hotel, one was the allegation that a player sexually assaulted a member of the hotel’s housekeeping staff, the other that a Dodgers minor leaguer “was caught on surveillance video confronting female guests — stalking … and acting strange.'” According to SI, Dodgers Director of International Scouting Roman Barinas later wrote in a text thread about the sexual assault allegations against the housekeeper, “[The player] crossed a line and is very happy that he is not in prison.”
If Kapler reported one of those incidents to the Dodgers, the team never reported it to MLB. All three stories only came out because former Kapler assistant Nick Francona, who was fired by Kapler, decided to speak to the media.
And lest you think that knowledge of Kapler’s role in handling the above incidents is niche knowledge, remembered only by those who care enough to dig around the internet for evidence of wrongdoing, Kapler’s introductory press conference as manager was of the Giants in 2019 heavily peppered with questions about his tenure with the Dodgers. Kapler told the media that day, “”I think if I could go back and do some of the Dodgers things differently, I probably would have called my mom and asked her a few more questions about what steps to take. And, to show (Giants’ GM Farhan Zaidi), figure out ways to support even better. I think this is the right time to say I’m sorry I didn’t make all the right moves.”
The thing is, calling his mom wasn’t what Kapler was supposed to do and it’s not what MLB requires him to do. What he was supposed to do was tell his bosses at the Dodgers, who were supposed to report it to MLB (although the league policy requiring the Dodgers to inform MLB was only put in place for six months after the allegations made by the 17-year-old was the policy in place for the last two incidents).
There are people who have the training and experience to deal with the victims and the allegations made against players under Kapler’s watch, and they don’t work for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even to give Kapler the benefit of the doubt and take his word that he didn’t know about the sexual assault claims, in what world is a former baseball player qualified to sit with a minor and two grown men and the fact that they did not intervene in her physical abuse, after plying her with alcohol in their hotel room? The people who do that kind of thing, work in mediation and restorative justice, go through a significant amount of training and, in many communities, they have to be certified. Kapler’s hubris to think he has the skills to moderate a discussion over dinner is still mind boggling.
So either the Marlins know about all of this and it just hasn’t registered that multiple allegations of players harming women under Kapler’s watch is something that people can, you know, care for, or they haven’t done enough research and are just saying whatever sounds like the right thing to say about their new guy. Either way, it’s another terrible look for Miami.