I’m sure you’ve all heard by now about Billy Wagner’s tourist trip to NYC. In short, the Glavine family picked them up at the airport, his wife went to see Phantom on Broadway, Billy took the scenic route from Flushing to Westchester, and they all got "I Heart NY" t-shirts to remember the trip. From what I’ve heard, all the bright lights didn’t immediately scare the country mouse. However, the initial assessment from Wagner was certainly not as positive as that of last week’s meeting with Gillick and Co. I think much of that had to do with the fact the Phils met him in VA because Billy complained about too much driving while in the Big Apple. What the Mets couldn’t fire up the helicopter for Wags? It’s expected the Mets will offer him the same money as the Phils but with the 3rd year guaranteed. If that’s the case, I think he’ll stay with the Phils. If Omar Minaya throws in a 4th year, then he’s a Met. But perhaps he’d take the 3 year Met deal if they add a Kevin Brown-like clause giving him free helicopter rides to and from the stadium. I sure Tom Glavine could tell him how useful that could be.
If the Phils don’t win the Wager sweepstakes, they’re gonna need a Plan C. Plan B, lefty free-agent B.J. Ryan, is currently being wooed by the Indians. GM Mark Shapiro had dinner with Ryan last night in Cleveland. So Pat Gillick better slick his hair and work on his best game because he’ll soon need to get out there and start making some dinner dates. Sure he doesn’t want to look as if he’s cheating on Wagner, but I’d like to see him showcase the city to free agents and maybe improve our reputation. Quick poll: if you were Gillick, where would you take a free agent on the first date?
Today however Gillick prefered computer lovin’. He continued the trend started by David Montgomery by sending an email to phillies.com subscribers. (Let me say quickly that I appreciate this tactic and hope it continues and you can read the full text using the link below.) Gillick mentioned the hiring this past week of an old buddy, Don Welke, as Special Assistant. Welke most recently worked as the Rangers’ international scouting crosschecker last year and helped them build a foundation in Latin America. He also served as Senior Scouting Advisor for the Dodgers, as well as an advance scout with Toronto. It was in Toronto where Welke and Gillick became close friends. It is also interesting to note he was a big proponent of signing Jim Abbott after seeing him pitch for his high school team in Michigan – how ’bout that for scouting. Let’s just hope for now that he can rebuild the depleted farm system.
Finally, for finishing second in the Wild Card standings the Phillies have been awarded 1% of the player’s playoff pool which is comprised of 60% of the playoff gate receipts. This means that the Phils players will democratically decide how to split the pot of $407,885.66. Any chance they give it all to Wagner to keep him in Philly?
From the desk of Pat Gillick
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the very positive response I’ve gotten since joining the Phillies last month. Through all my years in baseball, I always heard about how passionate the Philadelphia sports fans are and it’s been fun to see it up close and personal. Sometime soon, I will be part of a chat session on phillies.com to answer some of your questions.
I would also like to bring you up to speed on what I’ve been doing the past few weeks. Two weeks ago, Ruben Amaro Jr., Mike Arbuckle and I attended the General Managers meetings in Palm Springs, California. I feel the meetings we had with agents and other teams were very positive and productive. While I can’t talk about specific conversations we had, I can tell you that we are exploring various ways to improve the team. Despite having the fourth-best record in the National League last season, it wasn’t good enough to get us to the playoffs.
As we’ve stated before, retaining Billy Wagner as our closer remains our top priority this winter. Last week, Ruben, Charlie Manuel and I visited Billy and his wife, Sarah, at their home in Virginia. We had a very candid back-and-forth discussion. In my opinion, I think all of us left the meeting feeling good.
Another topic I wanted to cover was my staff. While I have retained Ruben and Mike as Assistant General Managers and Charlie as the field manager, I have added Don Welke, a baseball scout for the last 40 years. He joins the organization as one of my Special Assistants. Don has worked with me before in both Toronto and Baltimore and I couldn’t be happier that he’s now part of our team. He, Gordon Lakey, our Major League Scout, and John Vukovich, another Special Assistant, will be my eyes and ears around Major League Baseball.
With Ruben, Mike, Charlie, Don, Vuke, Gordon and Dallas Green, I feel we have an excellent, seasoned baseball staff. They are a group of experienced baseball men who will not be shy about giving their opinions on whatever topic I throw at them.
Two weeks from today, most of us will be in Dallas, Texas, for the Winter Meetings. Again, we will be there for the sole purpose of improving our team any way we can.
Finally, I’d like to wish you and your family a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.