Wednesday, November 02, 2005

"Stand Pat" - Phillies New GM/New Team Motto

There is obviously a lot to say about new Phillies GM Pat Gillick. Much, much more detail on this hire in the near future. For now, a quick little note will have to do. I'm not happy. This is less about Gillick (aka "Stand Pat" - not the most endearing of nicknames, no?) and his prospects for the job, but more about the general direction of the franchise. The Phillies had an opportunity to do something special after dumping Ed Wade and they failed to capitalize on their chance.

I am not talking about going out and hiring a sexy, big-name GM for the sole purpose of placating the fanbase. I am talking about hiring the absolute right guy for the job - both for now, and for the future. Gillick will be in charge two years, maybe three tops. Then Ruben Amaro Jr., fresh off his apprenticeship with such an esteemed GM, will be handed the reigns to the club. Is this really the right path for this organization to take? Everyone wanted Ed Wade gone. Everyone was happy when it finally happened. My question to you is this: Ed Wade may appear to be gone, but is he really? Think about it.

Wade bore the brunt of Phils fans displeasure because he appeared as a spineless, company yes-man who was never willing to make the big move to get a team over the proverbial hump. This was his public image and fans were disgusted by it. Allow me to speculate for a moment (truthfully I'll do it no matter what) and keep in mind I am no insider privy to any kind of Phillies internal baseball operations discussions, but, basing my opinion on the way the Phillies have run their organization under the current ownership group, I think it is not unfair to assume Dave Montgomery would only hire a man he knows he can influence. That may be a long, poorly phrased sentence, but the point I think the point I want to make is important - Monty would only hire another yes-man to bridge the gap between Ed Wade and Ed Wade/Ruben Amaro Jr. Gillick is that man. Other candidates were not truthfully considered.

The Great GM Search of 2005 was a sham. I have so many issues with the way the Phillies conduct the baseball operations side of their business, I don't know where to begin. My feelings on prospective GM's are public for all to see. Dayton Moore of the Braves would have been an inspired choice to lead this team. Recently fired Paul DePodesta should have been contacted. Why not at least make an attempt to get in touch with Theo Epstein? Was David Forst ever discussed internally? - I tend to doubt it.

Putting all their eggs in the Brian Cashman basket was a mistake to begin with. Rumored interest in Jim Duquette made little sense. Gerry Hunsicker may have been the fallback plan to Gillick, but don't you think his problems with Houston ownership in recent years terrified the Phils? Looking back, this initial list of GM candidates was pretty pathetic. We heard all the rhetoric about the GM search being so "exhaustive" and "comprehensive" so as to not leave any stone unturned. Interviewing a couple of retreads, a couple of guys within the organization, and one token "Moneyball" candidate to appease that particular faction is an embarrassment to the franchise.

If this was the early 90's, I'd love to have Pat Gillick as my GM. Unfortunately, although I know daylights savings is complicated, I'm pretty sure we didn't fall back that far - it's still 2005 to my knowledge. Gillick could win in Philadelphia in the short-term; the returning team did finish one game back of the playoffs, so it's not exactly like there is little to work with. The real problem lies in the long-term future of this franchise.

The Philadelphia Phillies were born in 1883. They have one world championship. When the 2006 season begins, 25 years will have passed since that championship. 12 years will have passed since the last postseason trip (losing of course to Gillick's Blue Jays in 1993). Any logical person would look at this history of losing and detect a few losing patterns. Same general leadership, same like-minded baseball people in place, same results - year after year after year. The Phillies had their chance to finally do something right by simply doing something different. They have proven that they are far more comfortable staying the course. The Phillies have always looked to "stand pat" rather than bring in an outsider with new and scary ideas that could potentially, heaven forbid, lead to a change in the Phils fundamental beliefs on how a baseball team should be run.

This thinking is fine of course - if you don't mind waiting until 2077 for world championship number two.


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