<
>

Gillick out as GM, will be team consultant

SEATTLE -- After four seasons, Pat Gillick felt it was time
to leave his job as general manager of the Seattle Mariners.

It was as simple as that.

"I had four kicks at it and I didn't get the job done,"
Gillick said Tuesday. "Let's give somebody else a shot. Maybe they
can bring a new angle or perspective and get it over the hump."

The 66-year-old Gillick, who was GM in Toronto when the Blue
Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, will remain on the job
until a successor is found. He then will become a Mariners
consultant.

Team president Chuck Armstrong hopes to have a new general
manager in place by Nov. 1. Under the rules of major league
baseball, no team can make major announcements during the
postseason.

"That fits in fine with us," Armstrong said.

He identified two "excellent" internal candidates in Lee
Pelekoudas, assistant general manager, and Benny Looper, vice
president for player development, but said the search will involve
as many qualified outside candidates as possible.

"Within a week to 10 days, I'll be calling everyone I know in
baseball and assembling names," Armstrong said. "The next week or
so, we'll be vetting those names and narrowing them down to
finalists."

Unlike last year's search to hire field manager Bob Melvin, the
Mariners plan to keep their list of candidates private.

"We don't know, as we assemble names, who wants their name out
there," Armstrong said. "We'll be doing this quietly, we hope."

During Gillick's four years as general manager, the Mariners won
393 games -- more than any other team in the majors. Seattle twice
reached the AL championship series and in 2001 tied an AL record
with 116 wins.

"I was proud of the guys," Gillick said.

This season ended on a sour note, however, because the Mariners
led the AL West for much of the summer but finished 93-69. Seattle
was three games behind Oakland and missed the playoffs.

Gillick said that outcome didn't factor into his decision, nor
was health a consideration. He doesn't consider his move a
retirement, and he wouldn't rule out a return later.

"Who knows?" Gillick said.

Mariners chief executive Howard Lincoln was surprised by
Gillick's decision but expressed support. Gillick's success raised
expectations, Lincoln said, but he believes the team still can
contend for championships.

"By that, I mean getting into the playoffs starting next
October," Lincoln said. "I think we need to focus on a person who
is capable of continuing what Pat has done for the organization."

Gillick said his successor will need to be creative and
imaginative to handle the roster and payroll, a requisite for any
big-league GM these days. He thinks the Mariners remain a solid
organization at every level.

"Other than the free agents we have, the responsibility is to
take advantage of what else we have," Gillick said. "We do have
five excellent starters in place. A lot of clubs can't say that."

Gillick started his front office career in 1963 with the Houston
Astros, spending 10 years there. He joined the New York Yankees in
1974 as coordinator of player development.

In 1976, he joined the expansion Toronto Blue Jays, handling all
baseball-related activities. He went in 1996 to Baltimore, where
the Orioles reached the playoffs in his first two years and won the
AL East in 1997.