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December 10, 2019

Gabe Kapler

San Diego, California

Q. We just got the news about half an hour ago. What is it that you like about each of the two veterans that you've acquired, one who's coming off a serious injury, the other who's coming off a down year?
GABE KAPLER: We'll start with Kevin, and I think the work that he did in the Cincinnati bullpen was exciting to all of us. Specifically, he brought back his slider, but he really started to execute his fastball and attacked the strike zone and just had success that was -- and the other thing that I thought stood out was how much good, positive feedback he got from other people in the industry when we did some work on him and learned about not just his talent, but his character and what he was going to bring to the club house. So that's on Kevin.

Then on Zack, really good defender, a guy who I had a conversation with him five minutes ago or so, or right before I did a previous interview, and I think every player wants to show that they're healthy and they want to show that, when they are healthy, they can be productive and are capable of doing great things.

I know he's happy to be back in the National League. I think he appreciates that style of play. I think he's just anxious to prove that he has a lot of good baseball left in him. What I shared with him is I'm anxious to see it.

Q. How are you using both of them? Is Gausman going to be throwing in the bullpen?
GABE KAPLER: We signed Gausman as a starter, and I think there's a chance that he's used in multiple ways. One of the things I shared that I'll continue to share is that early December is probably not the time to make declarations on what the rotation is going to look like, and I don't think it's the right time to talk about how many reps guys are going to get. Obviously, we want to give everybody the best chance to perform.

Gausman showed how capable he is of going through right-handed hitters and left-handed hitters, and we're excited about seeing that. As it relates to Zack, he's a proven defender and a longtime Major League player who deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Q. Were these moves that you had input in? You've seen Gausman pitch?
GABE KAPLER: I can share that I've been a fan of both players for a long time. I can share that in Philadelphia we thought about Kevin quite a bit. And we were fans then; I'm still a fan today.

Q. How familiar are you with Will Wilson (indiscernible)?
GABE KAPLER: Again, another guy I had a quick conversation with. The thing that stood out to me immediately, kind of a quick reaction, is he has a lot of confidence. I think he is aware. He talked about how he believes the Giants value a college bat, and I think we're all excited about the talent and the pedigree he brings to the table.

Q. Have you had an opportunity to look at the National League West at all, early assessment of the division?
GABE KAPLER: Do you mean independent of what we saw last year and how it's changing, or do you mean --

Q. Well, you're coming over to the National League West now.
GABE KAPLER: For sure. I had a pretty good familiarity with the National League West, not just as the manager of the Giants, but also coming to play in the National League West as the manager of the Phillies.

The answer is yes. If you're looking for specific impressions, I'm happy to share. Is there anything specific you wanted to know about that?

Q. The Dodgers have been the kings for a while, and the Diamondbacks are treading water, the Rockies had a down season. Just kind of the impression of some of these clubs?
GABE KAPLER: I mean, a lot of talent across the division, and obviously the Dodgers have been consistently good for a long time, and our goal is to be consistently good for a long time as well.

Q. Gabe, what's the most valuable thing you learned two years in Philly?
GABE KAPLER: I think the thing that stands out to me is I -- as you know, Jim, I'm excited about getting every possible strategic advantage as a manager and as part of a coaching staff. I think that one of the things that I learned is that sometimes those small strategic advantages come at the expense of some confidence from a player.

So I think I did a better job in 2019 than I did in 2018 of blending those two things, blending the small strategic advantages with the confidence level of the players, and I think I'm going to do a better job having learned some of those lessons in '18, in 2020, without overcorrecting. I think that's an important part as well. Bringing it back to the middle is important too after an overcorrection is made.

So specifically, it's just striking the right balance between getting small strategic advantages and confidence levels of players.

Q. Gabe, when you look at Logan Webb and Tyler Beede, especially with Logan, after (indiscernible) last year, how do you anticipate -- I know you guys (indiscernible). How do you anticipate moving forward with those two?
GABE KAPLER: I think with Beede and with Webb, I'm just going to continue to share that -- it's hard for me because I really get excited about evaluating players based on what I'm reading and based on a small sample size of when we competed against those players. And we got some exposure to Beede.

And at the same time, I know where we are on the calendar, and I really want to give these players, all of them, the benefit of the doubt to prove themselves and to show what they're capable of. So that entails getting into Spring Training and getting in the bullpen and seeing them in spikes and seeing how healthy they are.

So my impressions based on what I've read and some of the research I've done will pale in comparison to the exposure I'll get when I'm seeing them every day go through their work and their bullpen sessions and their work on the dirt in the outfield and in the batter's box.

Q. Yesterday I think you were asked about Dubon and maybe moving him around. Does adding a middle infielder of Cozart's caliber maybe free you up a little more to think about trying Dubon in different places? Not cementing the role, but just thinking in terms of what you might do in Spring Training?
GABE KAPLER: I talked about this a little bit yesterday, and I talked about the value of Scott Kingery to the Phillies. I think what made him so special and what continues to make him so valuable is he can play any position on the field and do it at a high level defensively.

And coupled with the jump that he made offensively from 2018 and 2019, he's become such a valuable piece because you can fill holes knowing that he can move to a different position. So if you need a shortstop, Scott Kingery can fill that role, but he can also fill the role of centerfield. Therefore, you can go fill that role with a free agent potentially or a trade acquisition.

So from the perspective of looking at Dubon, the more capable he is at moving around the diamond, the more valuable he becomes to the San Francisco Giants. And I'm not comparing Scott Kingery to Dubon, but I am saying the value of playing multiple positions, being able to defend those positions well is super valuable to a manager and a baseball team.

Q. That's clearly something you guys prioritize, both him and Farhan. Are there any players you're inheriting, maybe Longoria, Belt, maybe someone you'd like to see move around more than they have in the past?
GABE KAPLER: None of those guys necessarily come to mind. I've seen Evan Longoria -- I mean, I saw him as a teammate. I saw him play incredible defense at third base at that time, and then I saw him play defense last year, and I thought he did a fine job. So, obviously, Brandon Crawford at times has been a plus defender up the middle. I think he still has that capability to be a plus defender at shortstop.

I think one thing that I'm excited talking to Brandon about, and I know some of our other staff members are as well, is a consistent pre-pitch routine that will help him get off the ball quickly. Sometimes he leads with his right foot. Sometimes he leads with his left foot, and I think some consistency landing at the same time will help him be an even better defender than he already is.

Again, like Posey, Belt, these guys have shown the ability to be plus defenders at their positions, and I think Po, by way of example, is as good as he's ever been behind the plate last year.

So those are things we can really sink our teeth into, but I don't see those guys -- again, going back to the point I made. Early December is not a time to set up lineups to decide where position players are going to play, but it is a time to identify the strengths, and Posey has been an elite defender behind the plate.

Q. What do you think it would have taken for you to still be Philly's manager? What in September could have changed your fate?
GABE KAPLER: I'm not sure what the answer to that question is. The most direct and easiest way to answer is probably to win more baseball games, and how many more? I'm not quite sure.

Q. You've talked a lot the last couple days about guys you've spoken to. In the last three weeks, how many of your players would you say you've spoken to, and how many have you maybe met with?
GABE KAPLER: Yeah, so I don't know the exact number off the top of my head, but I can remember conversation that's have been particularly inspiring with Posey, with Watson, with Sharp, Samardzija, specifically in the weight room a couple of times and watching him get after it. This off-season, I know how motivated he is for 2020.

Look, everybody -- even superstar players like to be challenged, and I think right now Jeff Samardzija is challenging himself to be the best version of himself. I think that's true for Posey, who's kind of -- I trust that he's motivated right now. I know that he was excited about some changes that were being made. I could kind of go through each of those conversations. Watson just comes off as such an incredible team player in the bullpen.

And the cool thing about Watson and Posey both is they've been really invested in some of our staffing and asking questions and inquisitive in a way that I didn't expect. It's been really refreshing.

Q. Gabe, there was obviously a lot of talk last year about the baseballs and how they behaved during the regular season and how that might have been different in the playoffs. A lot of the managers and executives here have talked about how they don't really know what to expect going into next season about how the baseballs are going to behave. Do you share that, and is that in any way unsettling in terms of how are you going to carve out a roster, and how are you going to put together your team?
GABE KAPLER: Well, I have empathy for the executives, Farhan, Scott, and the executives around the game who have to make decisions without having full knowledge of how the baseball is going to act; and at the same time, what I think is comfortable and reassuring is we're all on even footing. Nobody knows, and nobody has a real clear understanding of how the ball's going to bounce. So that puts us on equal ground. We try to do the best at competing with the information we have.

So I don't have any frustration about it, if that's what you're asking, but I don't -- I think we all don't know exactly what to expect.

Q. Would you expect to maybe have some clarity on that maybe before opening day?
GABE KAPLER: Honestly, I'm not sure. It's not that I don't have an opinion on it. I do. I think the Philadelphia writers that are here will tell you that, if I do have an opinion, I'll share it. But I've been thinking so much about staffing that I haven't really thought about the baseball that much.

Q. Gabe, how would you describe those ten days, ten or so days in limbo while you were waiting to hear your fate? What were your last words with John?
GABE KAPLER: The last words were thank you for the opportunity, and those ten days were challenging because I definitely wanted the opportunity to continue to manage the Phillies. I wanted to see the work that we put in, and I wanted to see it through the finish line. In my mind, that finish line was still in the future and in the distance, and I think there's going to be a lot of great things accomplished in Philadelphia next year.

But it was difficult, and sometimes there's a real silver lining to those situations. I think the Philadelphia Phillies got a great manager in Joe Girardi in place, and I think I have an opportunity to manage a club that I'm incredibly excited about, and the people that I'm working with, I'm really excited about as well. So I think interestingly, even though it was challenging, those ten days, it worked out pretty well for the Phillies, and I think it worked out really well for the Giants as well.

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