HomeNewsHall of Famer Gillick got the ball rolling for Phils

Hall of Famer Gillick got the ball rolling for Phils

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


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