Northeast Times

Hall of Famer Gillick got the ball rolling for Phils

If you like the Phils on the field today, thank Pat Gil­lick.

Tra­di­tion­ally the trade dead­line is a busy time of year for the Phil­lies. 

At least, that’s the way it has been over the past five or six sea­sons.

With this year’s trade dead­line rap­idly ap­proach­ing, many fans are won­der­ing who, if any­one, will be brought in to help this team in its pur­suit of a World Series vic­tory.

But in case you were not pay­ing at­ten­tion, last week­end saw the Hall of Fame in­duc­tions in Cooper­stown, N.Y., and the Phil­lies were rep­res­en­ted in the class of three.

Former gen­er­al man­ager Pat Gil­lick, ar­chi­tect be­hind the 2008 World Series team, was an in­duct­ee.

While I could sit here and dis­sect guys I think the Phil­lies might go after, I felt it was more im­port­ant to pay trib­ute to the man who helped get the team to this point.

After his play­ing days were over, Gil­lick got his start as a scout in the Hou­s­ton As­tros sys­tem in 1963. Over the next dozen or so years he worked his way up the ranks and, in 1976, was offered the reins of a new ex­pan­sion team in Toronto.

Gil­lick built the Toronto Blue Jays from the ground up, win­ning two con­sec­ut­ive World Series titles (1992 and ’93) be­fore mov­ing on after the 1994 sea­son.

After three-year stints with the Bal­timore Ori­oles and the Seattle Mar­iners, Gil­lick was hired after the 2005 sea­son to re­place Phil­lies gen­er­al man­ager Ed Wade.

Gil­lick star­ted his ten­ure here with a bang by trad­ing fan-fa­vor­ite Jim Thome to open the first-base po­s­i­tion for reign­ing Rook­ie of the Year Ry­an Howard.

After a dis­mal first half dur­ing that 2006 cam­paign, Gil­lick real­ized that the team needed more than just some tinker­ing — it needed a change in lead­er­ship.

Gil­lick sent start­ing right­field­er Bobby Ab­reu and re­liev­er Cory Lidle to the New York Yan­kees for a pack­age of pro­spects, for­cing play­ers like Howard and Chase Ut­ley to join Jimmy Rollins as the take-charge guys.

Al­most im­me­di­ately, that team star­ted win­ning, but they were too far be­hind the New York Mets to make any­thing of the sea­son.

But that also was the sea­son when Gil­lick star­ted what has be­come a sort of tra­di­tion around here: He made a trade-dead­line ac­quis­i­tion.

Gil­lick brought in lefthander Jam­ie Moy­er to help bol­ster the start­ing ro­ta­tion, a move that star­ted the Phil­lies’ ded­ic­a­tion to mak­ing the per­son­nel changes ne­ces­sary to win.

Over his three sea­sons lead­ing the way for the Phil­lies, Gil­lick ac­quired more play­ers to build this team; most not­able was closer Brad Lidge, ad­ded be­fore the 2008 sea­son, and starter Joe Blan­ton.

While Blan­ton’s team­mate in Oak­land, Rich Harden, was high on a lot of teams’ lists, Gil­lick real­ized that Blan­ton was the kind of guy who’d fit best with the Phils.

Blan­ton helped sta­bil­ize the start­ing ro­ta­tion en route to the ’08 World Series title.

That’s a hard thing to pin­point.

The same thing happened with Lidge, who was crash­ing and burn­ing in Hou­s­ton.

Gil­lick brought him in as the Phil­lies’ new closer, and Lidge re­paid the GM’s con­fid­ence by con­vert­ing all 48 save op­por­tun­it­ies he was giv­en — from open­ing day to the last out of the World Series.

Gil­lick’s suc­cessor, Ruben Am­aro Jr., has shown his own pen­chant for find­ing guys at the dead­line, so these next few days could be big for the Phil­lies.••  

Times staffer Matt God­frey can be reached at mgod­frey@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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