Phillies GM Pat Gillick is one of baseball’s most respected front office guys. He built winners in Seattle, Baltimore and Toronto. But as the New York Times points out today, there is no greater challenge for a GM than trying to win in Philly.
When Gillick arrived in town, he said he was a man with a plan. He was going to build around the team’s young nucleus of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But lately Gillick’s plan seems less clear.
Take a look at some of Gillick’s personnel moves. You’ll see what I mean:
- First, to make room for Ryan Howard, he traded Jim Thome and got Gio Gonzalez and Aaron Rowand. He then traded Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for Freddy Garcia, who is about to have surgery that will end his Phillies career.
- He traded Bobby Abreu for left-handed reliever Matt Smith and prospects. He traded David Bell for a guy who he later cut. He let Mike Lieberthal go. And he traded two minor league pitchers for Jamie Moyer.
- He signed Adam Eaton, Tom Gordon, Antonio Alfonseca and, most recently, Jose Mesa.
It’s that last move — bringing back Mesa — that really has me worried. I mean, if there really is a plan, and it includes Jose Mesa … well … that’s a terrible plan!
I suspect Gillick probably views the Mesa signing, as well as the Alfonseca signing, as low risk ventures. They’re both making the minimum, after all.
And I suspect Gillick is just biding his time until he can unload Pat Burrell and his $13 million per year salary. Burrell has one more year left on his contract after this one.
But look at the guys Gillick has added: Alfonseca, Mesa, Moyer, Gordon…could these guys be any older? I understand the desire to bring in some veteran guys to mentor younger players like Utley and Howard. But there’s a difference between veteran and ancient, and I’m not sure Gillick appreciates that difference.
Sure, it’ll be nice to get Burrell’s $13 million per year salary off the books. But it would be unfair to blame all of the Phillies problems this year on The Bat. After all, the Phillies are spending just as much money on the combined salaries of the injured Gordon and the aging Moyer as they are on Burrell.
Pat, I know you’ve got credentials. I know you’ve got World Series rings. So I’m gonna have faith. But if you could, just give me a sign that you’ve got this all under control. Just give me some indication that there is still a plan. And for the love of god, tell me it doesn’t include Jose Mesa!