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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!

Jose Mesa is back.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!

6 Responses to “Tell us you have a plan, Pat.”

  1. forager says:

    [WSJ - Baseball Media Arm Is Likely
    To Soften Stance With Sling By ADAM THOMPSON June 4, 2007; Page B8]

    “MLBAM contends that Sling doesn’t have the right to retransmit Major League games. It has a competing Internet product, mlb.tv, that streams out-of-market games.

    Last week, an article in the Hollywood Reporter quoted Michael Mellis, MLBAM’s general counsel, saying his company hadn’t ruled out a lawsuit and calling Sling’s technology “not legal.”

    But in an interview last week, Bob Bowman, MLBAM’s president and chief executive, suggested a softer approach.

    While reiterating that he thinks Sling doesn’t have the legal right to do what it is doing, he said: “The way to win this is with good content and good technology, not with lawyers.”

    Mr. Bowman added, “I think the music industry proved that to everybody,” referring to the Record Industry Association of America’s decision to sue individuals for copyright infringement for downloading music for free.

    In response, Sling CEO Blake Krikorian said, “I’m relieved to hear that.”"

  2. Paul Moro says:

    I think you’re being a bit harsh on Gillick. He had to sell low on Thome. The guy was just coming off a season where he barely hit .200 over fifty-something games. And the fans/press demanded that Howard get playing time. With Abreu, again, the fans and media branded him useless when it was far from the truth. Gordon was serviceable last year and this year’s injury kind of proved to be a tough gamble.

    The only terrible move he made was not getting a full medical report on Freddy Garcia. At the time, it was thought that Garcia would be a good pitcher in the NL. But the velocity wasn’t there at all. The idea was good. How it was executed (not thoroughly checking the arm) was terrible.

    As far as the old guys are concerned, I try not to be too critical when GMs figure that they have a chance to win now and go after veterans. With the lack of depth in the minor league system, what’s the alternative? Young players come with a ridiculous price tag. Aging vets are easier to get. You only have to outbid Kansas City and San Francisco to get them.

  3. Coley Ward says:

    Paul, I agree with you that dealing Thome was necessary and that failing to thoroughly examine Freddy Garcia was folly.

    But there were better options out there than Jamie Moyer and Tom Gordon.

    And there is no defense for signing Jose Mesa. It can’t be defended. It just can’t.

  4. Paul Moro says:

    I do agree on Mesa. We knew the guy was useless to begin with. But for some odd reason, “track record” counts for so much when you’re a pitcher. I guess the thinking is that if they’ve been around long enough, they must’ve done something right.

    And Moyer hasn’t been that bad as to label him a bad signing. To be honest, he’s done better than I thought he would. I do agree that there is something wrong with Gillick’s thinking on this one (bring in an aging flyball pitcher into a hitter’s park?), but the results haven’t been terrible. If he wasn’t in Philly, his ERA would probably be around 4.30 or lower. In today’s MLB, that ain’t bad. And they’re only paying 10 million over two years. I’d call that a decent rate of return.

    If I were you, I’d have more problems with the Eaton signing. And I still have no idea why you guys starter the year with Lieber in the pen.

  5. Coley Ward says:

    It’s hard to take issue w/ the Eaton signing the day after the guy pitched a 7 inning shutout. But I see your point.

    What kills me about Moyer is that we’re paying him for two years. It’s the same thing w/ Gordon. It’s one thing to sign these geezers to one-year deals, but to sign them for longer than that just seems crazy.

  6. Nick Kapur says:

    I have even less faith in Gillick than even whatever faith left Coley still has. The fact is, he’s super old. Look at his moves. He’s GM’ing like it’s still the mid-90s.

    Gillick is like the Jose Mesa of the GM’ing world – an aging veteran who’s all “track record” and not much else.

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