Tuesday, August 01, 2006
By Tim McManus
As his nickname suggests, “Stand Pat” Gillick built a reputation for being conservative in his approach as general manager.
Especially during his days in Seattle, he was criticized for failing to pull the trigger on trades that arguably could have solidified his teams as odds-on World Series favorites.
The moniker hardly encompasses the man’s past, however. In fact, he made some of the most radical decisions of recent baseball past -- moves that appeared nonsensical at first but ultimately proved rather visionary.
If you think the backlash from the Abreu/Lidle trade was rough (as seen in the columns below), imagine how people in the Seattle area reacted when Gillick traded away Ken Griffey Jr., only considered the greatest player on the planet, back in 2000 for Brett Tomko, Mike Cameron, minor league pitcher Jake Meyer, and minor league infielder Antonio Perez.
After that 2000 season, Gillick watched as Alex Rodriguez departed for the Texas Rangers as columnists and fans called the new GM insane.
In 2001, that Mariners team won 116 games to tie a Major League Baseball record.
"Sometimes you have to sacrifice talent to get the type of character you want on your club,” Gillick said at the time.
During his tenure in Seattle, the Mariners had the best record in baseball.
Before joining the Mariners organization, Gillick had a brief stint with the Orioles, who went to the playoffs two straight times (1996 and 1997) with him at the helm. They have not recorded a winning season since his departure in 1998.
And, of course, Gillick helped put a black cloud over the Phillies organization by constructing a Toronto Blue Jays team that won five division titles under him. After trading for players like Roberto Alomar, Rickey Henderson
and (gulp) Joe Carter, the Jays won two straight World Series in 1992 and (crying) ‘93.
Nine of his teams over his last 17 full seasons have made the playoffs, and this year’s Phillies squad will be just the second in that span to not post a winning record.
It’s easy to look at Gillick’s latest move as unconscionable, given the proven talent that was shipped out in the name of four people you’ve likely never heard of. But without having seen these prospects for yourself or waiting to see how they progress and pan out, isn’t it a little early to call this deal a fleecing? And should we maybe see what he does with that extra money first?
The arguments I’ve heard so far against this GM is that Gillick is overrated (see below) and/or suffering from Alzheimers.
This is not the first time he has been accused as such.
In each stop along his accomplished journey, though, Gillick has answered that criticism by guiding his team to the postseason.
When the body of the man’s work is examined, it reveals a history of bold decision making, innovative thinking and overall success.
It is a history that shows his risks are calculated, and that patience is required to see his vision come to life.
It requires you to Stand Pat while this whole thing plays out.
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Copyright 2006 The Phanatic