Checking in with Pat Gillick who offers insight into some of his trades, state of the game and a scouting report on his pitching career.
In 27 seasons as a Major League general manager, Gillick’s teams (Blue Jays, Orioles, Mariners, Phillies) finished with 20 winning records. Each of the four reached the postseason, a grand total of 11 times. He has three World Series rings, the Toronto Blue Jays, 1992–93 and one with the Phillies, 2008.
HONORS: USC College World Series champions (1958), Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (1997), Blue Jays Level of Excellence (2002), Baseball Hall of Fame (2011), Ontario Sports Hall of Fame (2013), Distinguished Eagle Scout Award (2015), Toyota Phillies Wall of Fame (2018).
PHUN NUGGET: Among the many GMs with whom Gillick dealt were Paul Owens, Bill Giles and Lee Thomas (Phillies), Andy MacPhail (Twins, Cubs), Dave Dombrowski (Marlins, Red Sox) and Ed Wade (Astros).
Who was your favorite baseball player during your youth?
“Willie Mays, a “legit five tool player.”
First major league game you ever saw?
“Attended USC across the street from LA Coliseum. Can’t remember the game but had to be in April of 1958.”
Your career in uniform consisted of five minor league seasons as a left-handed pitcher in the Orioles system (1959–63). What scouting report would you file on yourself?
“On a scale of 10 being the highest — fast ball 4–5, curve 7–8, control 4. Control prevented me from pitching in the Major Leagues.”
Your first player acquisition with the Blue Jays was purchasing Tommy Hutton from the Phillies (Dec. 1977). What do remember about dealing with “The Pope” Owens?
“Spoke to the “Pope” during spring training in 1977 and believe he felt sorry for us after killing the Blue Jays in spring training. Phillies first baseman was the chain-smoking, grave-digging Richie Hebner. So, Tommy was available after the season and the Pope suggested a reasonable cash amount.”
Your first trade with the Phillies came 23 days after you were named GM, Jim Thome to the White Sox (Nov. 25, 2005).
“Had a duplication with Jim and Ryan Howard. No “DH” in the National League so had to move Jim which was a tough decision because of his leadership on the field and clubhouse.”
One of your last trades with the Phillies brought Brad Lidge to Philadelphia (Nov. 7, 2007).
“Tom Gordon had (34) saves in 2006 but had arm problems in 2007. Brett Myers did a excellent job in 2007, but we wanted him to be a starter. Lidge had an off year in 2007 so Charley Kerfeld pushed to acquire Brad. Great call, saving (41) plus Games 1 and 5 of the 2008 WS.”
As Toronto GM, which trade is your favorite?
“Maybe not my favorite because in Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez we traded two excellent players and human beings. We needed the Blue Jays to get to the top of the mountain and I felt Robbie Alomar and Joe Carter gave us a better opportunity. Thus the 1992–93 championships.”
If you had the chance to change one current thing in baseball, what would it be?
“Because of my age (84) people might believe I am a regressive thinker. I believe I am realistic in that the 2021 game is not very entertaining. So, my one suggestion is that we should bring back portions of old school baseball that will make the game more attractive and enjoyable for our fans. Let’s see again many of the defensive plays, making contact, hit-and-run plays, stolen bases, fewer strikeouts and walks. Bring excitement back.”
You began your post-playing days as a scout. What is the primary thing you look for:
Pitchers: “size, delivery, arm strength, feel for pitching not just throwing.”
Catchers: “soft hands and strong arm, plus leadership ability.”
Infielders: “soft hands, quick feet, instinct, good athletes.”
Outfielders: “good jumps, good arm, good athletes.”
Hitters: “balance, bat speed, short to the ball, knowledge of the strike zone.”