Friday, January 19, 2007

On The Margins

Pat Gillick is a creature of habit. In that respect he differs little from most of us. When he was GM in Toronto, he hit the jackpot with George Bell, originally signed by the Phillies, but later a Rule 5 draft pick. Bell had a very respectable career with the Blue Jays. That pickup may have ruined Gillick forever. Ever since then he has deemed it a worthwhile gamble to take a flyer on Rule 5 and other marginal players, always looking for the exception to the rule. His two years in Philadelphia underscore that approach. Anyone who can give Randle Simon two chances to make his club is a risk-taker if nothing else. Throw in the odd position player or three who have spent more time on the injury list than in the dugout over the last few years and hurlers who have struggled mightily at their last known addresses and you have a motley assortment of human lottery tickets at best.

I don't disagree with the strategy provided the costs in time and salary commitments are within reason, but I wonder how much the resources expended to find these diamonds in the rough could be better expended elsewhere in player development. Of course, if Shane Victorino has another fine season, that will clinch it. Gillick can be expected to spend even more time on the margins.

1 comment:

RickSchuBlues said...

I agree, Gillick has a very odd way of going about constructing a roster. He doesn't seem to seek out direct solutions, but rather chooses to gamble on lower-salaried players with supposedly big upside. The one legitimately solid player he acquired in this off-season was a starting pitcher, which was probably the least of the team's needs. Yes, I know you can never have enough pitching, but what about finding a right-handed hitting outfielder who could more adequately follow Howard in the lineup? What about the much-needed facelift of the bullpen? The third baseman is Wes Helms, and I rather surprised how accepting of this most fans have been. This may very well not be much of an upgrade on David Bell - and defensively, as we already, he's probably a downgrade on the mediocre Bell.

A recent ESPN article focused on Gillick being 'old-school', and how he personally travels great distances to evaluate fringe talent. I don't know how excited about this I am. Gillick's bargain basement selections last off-season weakened this team, and the ones he's brought in this time around don't look much better. You may have a good point here that Bell 'ruined' him - it apparently made him believe he had a knack for picking up raw talents on the sly and he's kept up at it ever since. Great if it works - irritating as hell when it doesn't. Because there's other ways to mould a winner, and plenty of other credible GMs who have done it in amore obviously progressive fashion. If getting slap-happy about the Greg Dobbs and Bobby Livingston of the world is Gillick's idea of being 'creative', I think the organization could stand to bring in someone with a different angle on things.