Friday, July 21, 2006

Gillick's Number

As we await Pat Gillick’s second act, Bill Conlin took him to task in his column the other day for his first one:

Speaking of Gillick, he has caught deserved flak for some of his moves - Ryan Franklin, Sal Fasano and Abe Nunez are three. But he's not catching nearly enough hell for the Vicente Padilla blunder.

Yes, it's a blunder when your organization is too inept to deal with personality and social issues of the kind that come up in any disparate group of 25 young men and, consequently, lose a valuable starting pitcher.

It appears Gillick was sold a bill of goods on Padilla's off-field habits, his uncoachability and the large financial hit an arbitrator would surely inflict on them last winter. Pat himself tossed out the ubiquitous "sometimes you add by subtracting" line to explain not getting more from the Rangers than the worthless Ricardo Rodriguez they released during spring training.

The key here is that Conlin faults Gillick for buying the company line on Padilla.  Blame that one on the rest of the organization but not on Gillick.  Padilla was here for several years and rubbed everyone the wrong way primarily but not exclusively for his off-season habits including his refusal to refrain from pitching winter ball despite arm problems during the regular campaign.  The Phillies also weren’t too happy about some of the company he kept in his native Nicaragua.  

In light of this history, was one of Gillick's first moves going to be to tell everyone they didn't know what the hell they were talking about?  Hardly a good foot to get off on with your new staff.
The loss of Padilla can be laid at the feet of Charlie Manuel, Rich Dubee, Mike Arbuckle, Ruben Amaro, Jr.,  and, I'd bet anything, on Dallas Green.

On the other hand, the fact that Gillick made two subsequent trades with the Rangers, for David Dellucci and Fabio Castro respectively,  suggests at the very least that Texas GM Jon Daniels may have more than Pat’s ear, he also seems to have his number.


Tom G said...

On top of that, the Rangers have been scouting Jon Lieber and are rumored to be willing to part with Kevin Mench.

RickSchuBlues said...

It's one thing to have given up on Padilla. He had clearly worn out his welcome. The idea behind Conlin's criticism, I believe, is that they didn't have to get literally no value in exchange. That's inexcusable. You are still talking about a quite serviceable major league starting pitcher, which is not exactly a common commodity. Gillick could have created a package with Padilla and others to elicit something more substantial in return. There recently was an article on Gillick I read which revealed his 'method' to some degree: stockpile as many arms as possible, and hope every so often you get "lucky". That is unbelievable, actually. That's the strategy that went into bringing the likes of Ricardo Rodriquez and Adam Bernero in and out of pinstripes in warp speed time. Take a little time and consider how much of a joke it is to even bother with such retreads, who had no place in the most pitching-poor organizations in baseball. Then tell me this is a man you want to continue absolving and whose judgment you want to continue trusting. Some teams, I believe, operate on Branch Rickey's principle: "Luck is the residue of design." Where and what exactly is Pat Gillick's design?

He has exactly ten days to change my mind. If it's not changed by then, I can't imagine it ever will be.

Tom Goodman said...

RSB: I was responding more to the Padilla decision itself than to Gillick's so-called overall strategy, which none of us can yet decipher. I agree they should have gotten more for Padilla, but the organization wanted to get rid of him, everyone in baseball probably knew it, and I doubt Gillick had much leverage. When I refer to his second act, I mean beginning with the July deadline and going forward. He has been with the organization sufficient time by now to make his own judgements independent of the so-called brain trust.

J. Weitzel said...

The point I took away from that column was why it was so impossible for the Phillies to make it work with Padilla. It's become so matter of fact to say what RSB just said:

"He had clearly worn out his welcome."

Why? Because he's a grumpy pants? Because he's a boozer? Is it so unusual in baseball to find players like this?

Pat Gillick probably picked up the phone with every GM in baseball and wondered why a respected GM was giving away a pitcher. They must have thought Padilla had cancer.

Is everything suddenly skippy now that he's in Texas? Does he attend company picnics and bake apple pies with Mark Texieria? I doubt it. The difference is he's with a team that actually has a clue when it comes to getting the best from players.

RickSchuBlues said...

Comes a time when it's obvious a player isn't going to work on a certain team. That was the case with Padilla and the Phillies. I don't know if the Phils can be held entirely accountable for not getting more out of him. Padilla was a very stubborn, uncommunicative character who pitched unaggressively and unitelligently, and in a lot of cases counter to what the pitching coaches and managers and catchers wanted him to do. He often pitched without focus, without purpose, and perhaps the last straw which no one forgot last year was Padilla laughing on the bench after getting shelled in a game against the Red Sox. It's an understandble reaction to blame it all on an organization which has certainly proved itself inept beyond question, but I myself had given up on Padilla. A lot of people wanted to see him gone after last year or even during it, and I was definitely one of them. He may be going well right now, but let's see what his numbers are at year's end.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Conlin all FOR getting rid of Padilla last year?

More than once, he's written something in the past that doesn't match what he says now.