Question: Was Pat Gillick responsible for the Phillies current success as a franchise and perenial power in Major League Baseball?
Writer Brian Jacobs decided challenge the rest of the Faceoff competitors with this question and John Russo, reeling from his loss to Christian Hetrick, wanted to get himself in the win column.
The Philadelphia Phillies formed a new brand of baseball in the city of Philadelphia during the 2000’s. In 2005, Pat Gillick joined the front office, and the Phillies took off from there.
Former general manager of the Phillies, Ed Wade, brought in the big bat of Jim Thome to go along with the new stadium, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. Most Phillies fans wouldn’t hesitate to smash Wade and those horrific seasons under his watch, but a small portion of credit should be given to him.
Former Phils GM and HOFer Pat Gillick helped bring a championship to Philadelphia for the first time in 25 years and the first World Series in 28 years.
With Gillick at the helm and new scenery, the fans had a taste of something they were deprived of for years, which was change. Are the Phillies going become a winning team? What are our expectations now? Those were the questions, asked by fans of the club during this time of change.
Gillick’s first big move was trading Jim Thome and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two prospects. Thome’s time in Philadelphia was somewhat symbolic. It was almost as if his stay in the city was simply used as a jolt of electricity that the city was in need of.
Along with the players on the field and the front office, Gillick created a feeling of hope and positive expectations for Phillies fans to bask in. The Phillies were no longer going to accept defeat. They were finally sick of seeing the Atlanta Braves at the top of the division.
Once again, a few pats on the back should be given to Ed Wade. Gillick inherited the future stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, whom Wade had drafted. Gillick then brought over the rule-five selection, Shane Victorino, along with the battered bat of Jayson Werth. We all know how that turned out. Gillick looked like a genius and he wasn’t done.
The Phillies finally entered the post-season, but failed to get past the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. In the offseason, Gillick made a trade with the man he had replace, Ed Wade, who was, and still is with the Houston Astros organization. In came Brad Lidge and his soon-to-be perfect season. Thanks again, Ed Wade.
The Phillies went on to win the World Series in 2008 and they’ve been knocking on the door ever since.
A lot of times, players receive most of the credit for a successful season. General managers sometimes get slighted, but I have a feeling that Pat Gillick and his master plan, as the Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager will find a way into the hearts of fans if it hasn’t already.
Three huge things have factored into the recent success of the Philadelphia Phillies before Pat Gillick even stepped in as GM: the farm system, Scott Rolen and the new stadium.
I’ll attack the more logical reason first. The Phillies farm system was teeming with talent. Before Gillick was GM, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were playing minor league ball. They had Pat Burrell, Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins already up on the Phils.
But you will bring up Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth being acquired along with Pedro Feliz and Brad Lidge. Werth and Victorino were diamonds in the rough. It was a complete shot in the dark on whether or not they would make an impact.
But Rolen may actually have been the catalyst in David Montgomery and the rest of the office relinquishing their tight grip on their wallets. When offered a 10-year, $140 million contract to stay with the Phillies, arguably for life, Rolen turned it down because of squabbles in the front office because they showed no interest in winning.
Not only has Chase Utley cememted himself as the greatest Phillies second baseman of all time but he may find himself in Cooperstown one day.
Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for three scrubs and Placido Polanco, who gave way to Utley three years later and returned to the Phillies in 2010. Only months after the trade did the Phillies front office get it. They signed first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell to replace Rolen on the field and in the line up. They also traded back-up catcher Johnny Estrada for Braves starter Kevin Millwood, who threw a no-hitter during his tenure with the Phillies.
It didn’t stop there as the Phillies finally sought external help, signing players like Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia (don’t laugh, they were supposed to be big improvements at the time), Jamie Moyer and traded for Brad Lidge.
But the money didn’t grow on trees. In 2004, the Phillies moved into their current stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Their lowest attendance since the stadium opened was 75% capacity. And with a division win in 2007, a World Series win in 2008, a NL Pennant in 2009 and another division win and league’s best record in 2010, the Phillies are selling out games and have seen their payroll sky rocket from under $58 million in 2002 to $170 in 2011.
Gillick was a fantastic GM but the right pieces were there before he became the GM in 2005. All he did was do some minor tweaking and turn the Phillies into World Champions, finishing the job started four years before he was signed.
The Rangers needed a stellar performance from Cliff Lee to keep their hopes alive. Instead they got six shut-out innings from him before Edgar Renteria’s three-run bomb in the seventh helped lead the Giants to a 3-1 win.
It was the first time the Giants won the World Series since 1954 when they were still in New York.
Giants closer Brian Wilson celebrates his World Series-winning strike out of Nelson Cruz. It's the first World Series for the Giants since moving from New York to San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Tim Lincecum pitched beautifully, his only blemish being a solo shot by Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the seventh. Lincecum went eight innings, allowing only a run on three hits, two walks, and striking out 10. Brian Wilson notched the save by striking out Cruz to win the game.
Former Phillies Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand won their second titles, respectively. Burrell’s first came with the Phils in 2008 and Rowand’s in 2005 with the White Sox.
The Rangers’ Bengie Molina will still receive a ring despite playing on the losing side. He played 61 games this season with San Francisco, qualifying him as a member of their championship team.
It’s also the second straight year Lee has made it to the World Series but left empty handed. He led the Phillies to the Fall Classic last season but fell to the New York Yankees in six games.
Congratulations Burrell, Rowand, and the rest of the Giants for winning the World Series. Way to bring it back to the NL!
And on a side note, so glad to see Buster Posey win. Hard to not root for that kid.
That was the difference maker in game three as the Phillies lost to San Francisco, 3-0, as the Giants took a 2-1 series lead.
Cain was spectacular through seven, allowing only two hits but got a little wild with three walks and a hit batter. Cain did strike out five and didn’t allow a hard-hit ball in his outing.
Hamels’ day was done after the sixth. The left-hander was perfect through the first three innings before Edgar Renteria’s lead-off single. He went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk while striking out eight. Hamels was dominant but the lack of any support offensively did the Phils in.
The Giants got on the board first with an RBI single by Cody Ross in the fourth. Ross is now 4-for-9 with three homers and four RBIs. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cody Ross got to the Phils again with an RBI single in the fourth with two outs to get San Fran on the board. Aubrey Huff then followed up with an RBI single to make it 2-0.
The Giants added another run in the fifth when Aaron Rowand hit a lead-off double. A couple batters later, Freddy Sanchez drove in Rowand to make it a 3-0 game.
Philadelphia finally got to Cain the seventh after he settled down but failed to capitalize. After Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch with two outs and Ross Gload forced a pinch-hit walk, Cain got Shane Victorino to ground out with a full count to end the threat.
The Giants went to the pen with Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson for the final two innings. After Lopez breezed through the eighth, Wilson closed out the ninth inning, getting Raul Ibanez to ground into a game-ending double play.
Ibanez has turned into the goat of the line up, batting .158 (3-for-19) in six playoff games. Against the left-handed Madison Bumgarner tomorrow, Charlie Manuel needs to bat Ben Francisco in game four.
The Phillies have not seen hitters like Mike Schmidt or Pete Rose since 1990 and 1983 respectively. They wait no more as we have another pair of amazing hitters that my generation’s children wish they would have seen in their prime: Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Moment #10 will be dedicated to Ryan Howard and his history making first two seasons.
Howard saw some playing time while Jim Thome was still in town, playing a majority of the games at first base. It wasn’t until an injury to Thome in 2005 that people got a taste of Howard’s potential.
In 2005, Howard replaced Thome and played in 88 games total, hitting 22 homers with a .288 average. He also recorded 63 RBI’s and 52 runs scored, sweltering numbers for half a season, especially by a rookie. He would win Rookie of the Year and Jim Thome would be traded along with $22 million in cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two pitchers. It was Howard’s time to shine.
In 2006, Howard made history. No player in the National League has ever won Rookie of the Year and then followed it up with an MVP award. Only one player has done it in the history of the game and that was Cal Ripken Jr., winning the ROY in 1982 and MVP in 1983 for the Baltimore Orioles.
Howard’s season was highlighted with 2 ridiculous homers, the first being the first ever to be hit into Ashburn Alley in center field which traveled 496 feet and the other was the first home run hit into the 3rd deck, a 381 foot shot.
Howard finished his MVP campaign with a .313 batting average, 58 homers and 149 RBI’s. He shattered Schmidt’s record in Philadelphia of 48 homers. He beat out Albert Pujols in the MVP balloting, who argued that he should have won because his team won the World Series and the Phillies missed the playoffs. Unfortunately for Pujols, post season doesn’t mean a thing to the regular season.
Howard’s power numbers never died off but his batting average sure did drop. He’s a career .270 hitter which is not bad just as long as he hits 40 homers a year. He is going to keep doing this for a very long time we hope, especially batting behind a guy who gets on base like Utley.