Profile: Pat Gillick (the Phillies new GM)

MLB sources tell The Inquirer that Pat Gillick will be the Phillies new GM.  Our Phillies sources here at Phillies Nation also claim that Gillick will get the job.  The official announcement will come on Wednesday, so get ready Philadelphia – a new chapter begins.  Even Wikipedia has Gillick penned in as the new GM; so it must be true!

Not coincidentally, it’s time for the Phillies Nation profiling of Pat Gillick.  We should begin with a interesting and telling interview by with Mr. Gillick in August – I suggest you all read it.  I’ll say it again, read this interview, that includes you Mr. Montgomery.  It provides some of the background for this profile, but more importantly has lots of first hand details of Pat’s philosophy. 

Gillick grew up in Southern California and after winning a College World Series title with USC in 1958, Gillick signed on as a lefty starter in the Orioles’ Minor League system. An arm injury curtailed his playing career in 1963, so the newly unemployed 26-year old was immediately hired by the new Colt .45’s expansion team (soon to be re-named the Astros) as a scout and scouting director. He stayed there for 10 years before moving on to the Yankees? player development and scouting departments in 1974-76, then joined the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, where he was quickly promoted from Vice President of Player Personnel to General Manager. Gillick retired from the Jays following the strike-shortened ’94 campaign, but returned to serve as Baltimore’s General Manager from 1996-1998. After yet another retirement Gillick came back as the Mariners GM from 2000 through 2003.

In 2004, Gillick interviewed for the Dodger’s GM vacancy, but LA chose the now defunct Paul DePodesta instead.  Gillick, who is currently 68, said he is not bitter about being snubbed in favor of a 31-year-old with no experience as a GM.  He was until today employed by the Seattle Mariners as a special consultant.  He keeps his permanent residence in Toronto where he lives with his wife of 37 years, Doris.

Gillick won five division championships with Toronto and led the club to its first World Series titles in 1992 and (sob) 1993. He guided the Orioles to the playoffs in 1996 and 1997, and built Seattle into one of baseball’s best teams from 2000 to 2003.  In 2001, he was named The Sporting News Executive of the Year an honor garnered by Gerry Hunsicker in 1998 and Lee Thomas in 1993.

In his nine total years as a GM, Gillick’s teams averaged 94 wins per year and made a combined seven playoff appearances.  After leaving, however, those same clubs dropped to averaging 61 wins and have yet to reach the playoffs again.  Ouch!

Pat Gillick has been called a "a superior talent evaluator" and here’s some proof:

Key Draft Picks: Dave Steib, Lloyd Moseby, Jesse Barfield, and Jimmy Key

Key Rule 5 Draftees: future MVP George Bell, Willie Upshaw and Kelly Gruber

Key Trade Acquisitions:  In Toronto – Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, David Cone, and Rickey Henderson.  In Seattle he replaced expensive superstars like Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey, Jr. and Alex Rodriguez with a successful mix of Mike Cameron, Aaron Sele, Bret Boone, and Jeff Nelson.

Key Trade Dumps: Fred McGriff, Jeff Kent and Jose Mesa

Sounds perfect, huh?  Well, not so fast – there are two main criticisms of Gillick.  First, as I’m sure many have already heard his nickname is "Stand Pat" because of his deliberate caution in making trades.  In the past, even some of his players have criticized him for not making moves at the trading deadline.  Uh oh, sounds like someone we once knew.

Second, and possibly more troubling, is the nod from Mariners fans which claims: "The game has passed Pat Gillick by."  At 68, he sure is bucking the trend is recent GM hires across the league.  But at the same time he would make the ideal mentor to Ruben Amaro, Jr. who unless he jumps ship or goes insane will be the next, next Phillies GM.

Apparently David Montgomery is not concerned about Gillick’s age nor his approach.  Monty acknowledged that the youth movement has played into his thinking, but said it’s a matter of combining the "Moneyball" ideals with old-school philosophy.

"I don’t think of two extremes like people say," Montgomery said. "People ask if so-and-so is a ‘Moneyball’ person or not. If you’re young, you’re more into statistics, and if you’re older, you’re more into the feel. I think it’s a hybrid of those situations. I don’t think the needle should point one way or another. I think shame on you in this day and age if you don’t use statistics to evaluate, but shame on you too if you don’t try to get to know everything about a person before you sign him, trade for him or whatever. I think there’s great value in each. There are a lot of theories there."

Well said, David.  I must also compliment you on the theme of narrowing the GM search to two guys who helped solidify the embarrassing Phillies legacy.  Gillick’s 1993 Toronto Blue Jays and Gerry Hunsicker’s (more or less) 2005 Houston Astros have really been thorns in the sides of Phillies fans.  It’s time to bring one of them on board.  Since Gillick seems to be your guy, I think it’s the right decision.  Well, that is of course only if the Phillies make the playoffs in 2006.  Go Phils!

Update: It’s official!

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