On Sunday, Pat Gillick was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There are fewer than 30 executives enshrined in Cooperstown, and it’s clear that he had a large impact in baseball during his front office career. Of all the executives in the Hall, only Gillick has been active in baseball since 1984, so it’s rare for members of a front office to get this honor.
Looking at his resume, it’s obvious why the Veterans Committee elected Gillick. When the Toronto Blue Jays entered the league, he was a high ranking executive from the beginning and quickly became General Manager. After five straight years of finishing last in the AL East, Bobby Cox joined Toronto, and they began to show improvement. In the team’s 9th season, they reached the postseason for the first time. Seven years and two ALCS losses later, Gillick’s Blue Jays, won their first of two World Series Championships.
Gillick didn’t win a World Series at his next two stops, but he was still responsible for assembling very good teams. In three years with Baltimore, Gillick’s Orioles made the playoffs twice but lost in the ALCS both years. They won 186 games combined in those two years but dropped to four games below .500 in his final year there. After one year of not holding a GM position, Gillick got the job and Seattle. The Mariners showed immediately improvement despite Gillick being forced to trade superstar Ken Griffey Jr. They won 12 more games than the previous season to make the playoffs but once again lost in the ALCS. In 2001, the Mariners had an incredibly memorable season, winning 116 games and tying an ML record for wins in a season. However, it ended in disappointment with another ALCS loss. The next two seasons with Gillick still at the helm, the Mariners won 93 games but failed to make the playoffs.
Obviously, most fans reading this will remember Gillick most for his tenure with the Phillies from 2006 to 2008. In his first season, he said it would take three seasons for them to become a true contender, and it proved to be more accurate than anyone could’ve imagined. He faced some serious challenges when he arrived in Philadelphia. He had to decide if he wanted to keep Charlie Manuel as manager or hire his own choice, build a struggling pitching staff and get rid of some veterans (and their contracts) to allow younger players to develop. Not every moved worked out, and no GM always does the right thing, but the Phillies were able to win their first division since 1993 and then their first World Series since 2008. While some may argue how much of a role Gillick played in winning the championship, he is responsible for acquiring several key contributors including Brad Lidge, J.C. Romero, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton, Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz.
Gillick’s teams shared two common traits upon his departure: they’re never as good as they were when they had Gillick, and they were left with weaker farm systems. The Phillies bucked that trend by continuing their success in the NL and still having talented minor leaguers. This is thanks to Gillick staying patient and not trading top talent for quick fixes and a good scouting and development system. Rightly or wrongly, general managers get credit for draft successes and take blame for draft failures even though in most cases, he has little input on the picks. It’s been five years since Gillick’s first draft with the Phillies, and that’s about enough time to evaluate how those picks will pan out. I’ll cover picks in the first 10 rounds as well as significant ones after that. That’ll include some players that did not sign with the Phillies but still eventually made it to pro ball.
1.18 Kyle Drabek, RHP, Texas High School
Where is he now? AAA Las Vegas (Toronto)
Drabek fell to 18th overall due to on and off field makeup concerns, and the Phillies are known to take risks on talented players that fall in the draft. He got torched in his pro debut with the GCL Phillies but came back in 2007 with a decent season in low-A Lakewood before going down with an elbow injury. He pitched 32 innings at the end of 2008 at low levels making his comeback, and at the start of 2009 he started the season in Clearwater and dominated. He was promoted to Reading and involved in a lot of trade rumors. He stayed at the deadline, but he went to Toronto in the Roy Halladay trade in the 2010 offseason. After another good season in the Eastern League, Drabek started 2011 in the majors. He struggled with his control and was sent down to AAA. He’s been awful in the Pacific Coast League, but if he can improve his command, he can still reach his ceiling as a 2 or 3 starter.
1.37 Adrian Cardenas, 2B, Florida High School
Where is he now?
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