PHILADELPHIA -- Pat Gillick has turned losing teams into
winners everywhere he's been. His job now is to build a champion
from a team that hasn't been able to get over the top.
Gillick, whose resume includes two World Series titles and nine
playoff appearances with three teams, signed a three-year contract
Wednesday to become the Philadelphia Phillies' new general manager.
He replaces Ed Wade, fired after failing to get the team into the
playoffs in eight years on the job.
"We found the right person," Phillies president David
Montgomery said. "He's an outstanding leader."
Gillick is joining an organization that has lost more games
(8,831) than any U.S. major professional team and hasn't been to
the playoffs since 1993 -- when the Phillies lost the World Series
to Gillick's Toronto Blue Jays.
Philadelphia went 88-74 this season and finished one game behind
NL wild-card winner Houston. It was the Phillies' third consecutive
winning season and fourth in five years, but they missed the
playoffs for the 12th straight year and 21st time in 22 seasons.
"The challenge here is to win five more games than last year,"
Gillick said. "Ed Wade put together a good foundation, and they've
been winning in the 80s the last four years. Usually you come to a
club that needs major rebuilding, reconstructing, remodeling,
whatever you want call it. That's not the case here."
The 68-year-old Gillick was chosen over former Houston Astros
general manager Gerry Hunsicker, Phillies assistant general
managers Ruben Amaro Jr. and Mike Arbuckle, and Cleveland Indians
assistant general manager Chris Antonetti.
Amaro and Arbuckle will remain in their roles along with manager
Charlie Manuel and the rest of the baseball staff.
"Charlie's a good baseball man and he's been around the game
for a long time," Gillick said. "He can evaluate players mentally
and physically. A lot of managers can't do that."
Though he said he wouldn't make any immediate changes to his
staff, Gillick said he'd reevaluate everyone's status after one
A special consultant in the Mariners' front office the past two
seasons, Gillick led Toronto to consecutive championships in
1992-93. He took Baltimore and Seattle to the AL Championship
Series twice each and helped his teams compile a record of
2,010-1,773 during 24 seasons as a GM.
"I've been lucky," Gillick said. "I'm a good listener. I'm an
all-inclusive guy. I try to listen to everyone and get input from
Montgomery fired Wade one week after the season ended under
heavy pressure from a fan base that soured on the Phillies in just
their second season at Citizens Bank Park.
Wade was heavily criticized in Philadelphia, especially after he
fired manager Larry Bowa and hired Manuel. Even though the Phillies
were in the playoff race the entire season, attendance dropped off
by almost 600,000, from 3.25 million in 2004.
"Fans here are rabid," Gillick said. "It's important that you
connect to them."
Once given the flexibility to increase payroll, Wade brought in
Jim Thome, Kevin Millwood, Billy Wagner and Jon Lieber. Millwood
was a bust in two seasons, Wagner is a free agent and Thome could
be traded. However, young stars Chase Utley and Ryan Howard emerged
under Wade's watch.
Once nicknamed "Stand Pat" for his reluctance to make trades,
Gillick made deals to get David Cone and Rickey Henderson, helping
Toronto win its championships. He also acquired Roberto Alomar and
Joe Carter in the same trade in 1990.
Gillick started his front-office career in 1963 with the Astros,
spending 10 years there. He joined the New York Yankees in 1974 as
coordinator of player development.
In 1976, he joined the expansion Blue Jays, handling all
baseball-related activities. He went to Baltimore in 1996 and took
over in Seattle in 2000.
Gillick has a difficult task in Philadelphia, even though the
Phillies came close to reaching the playoffs. The team has nearly
$78 million committed to 11 players for next year, and Montgomery
already said the payroll will stay around $95 million.
A tough decision must be made at first base involving Thome and
Howard. Thome is owed at least $43.5 million over the next three
seasons and the Phillies probably will have to pay some of his
salary to make a trade. If Wagner doesn't return, the Phillies will
have to replace the All-Star closer.
Gillick comes to the Phillies in time to attend the annual
general managers' meetings, scheduled for next week in Indian
He said he's in a better position to lead the Phillies to the
playoffs than his previous two jobs, in which he took Baltimore and
Seattle to the ALCS in his first year.
"We have a very generous budget," Gillick said. "We have
sufficient money to do the things we need to do. We have to be
imaginative and allocate the money properly."