Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Dinner With Pat Gillick

from ben:
This is for Corey and Carson, who run an AWESOME blog:

Dinner with Pat Gillick

A cynic might argue that the company foolish enough to employ me spends lavishly on trinkets to convince its rank and file it cares about us. Guys like me can pick from complimentary sweeties like Phillies tickets, Eagles tickets, Symphony tickets, etc. Name a team or organization in the New York-Philadelphia region and my benevolent employer owns season tickets. What does this mean to the Scrapple audience? You guessed it. Yours truly and the biggest 7-year-old baseball fan in the world had supper on Pat Gillick tonight as the lucky recipient of two passes to Season Ticket Fan Appreciation Night at the Bank.

I promised Pete a fair and balanced report as I tried to resolve the angst generated by what I consider the lamest trade the team has made since I’ve been an adult. I’m counting on Pete to provide a spiffy link to previous posts, but if he doesn’t, lets just say that I think a savvy GM could have procured Phil Hughes and a bright future (as well as salary relief) when he booted Bobby to the Big Apple if he’d shown a little patience and tried to see things not just from his own vantage but from Yankee GM Cashman’s. My goal tonight was to ask Pat Gillick face-to-face why he didn’t get the job done. Pete has argued that the deal wasn’t there to be made. I’ve argued that just because Cashman told the press he wouldn’t have made the trade doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have.

Preliminaries:

Make no mistake, the Phillies care about their fans (at least the blue blood’s who pay serious cash for premium full-season tickets). I was Thurston Howell III tonight. Talk about getting your ass kissed. I’ve never been called “sir” so many times in a single evening. I’m enormously happy I resisted the urge to change into “play” clothes before attending the event.

Thank you Phillies for letting me eat from your bountiful table and drink from your loving cup. My wallet never left my pocket and I walked away with a full belly (mostly ballpark food, but a big cut above what regular guys like me get at the concession stand). My son loves his new Phillies ball cap and Aaron Rowand jersey (even though Aaron can’t hit).

The view from the field is spectacular. We’ve touched all the bases, “fielded” grounders from short and second, crashed into the outfield walls, warmed up in the bullpen, smashed line drives off the same batting tees that Ryan and Chase use between at-bats. We’ve stood in front of Jimmy Rollins locker, sat in the dugout, and pretended to be Bobby Abreu shrieking with fear in front of the chain-link and have pictures to prove it. Strictly in terms of the Father-Son experience, what a night!

Main Event:

Our invitation included an enticement I couldn’t possible resist: a 30-minute Q & A session with Pat Gillick. Remembering how influential a similar event proved to the direction of the 76ers several years ago (remember Johnny Davis), I anticipated this event like first date.

I knew I’d be disappointed as soon as Scott Palmer grabbed a microphone. He felt it would be helpful to serve as proxy for Philadelphia fans by asking the first questions. Egad. He offered up several Arthur Rhodes fastballs that allowed Pat Gillick and Mike Arbuckle to put a positive spin on every move, every press conference utterance, and every damn thing you could possibly imagine. The ensuing love fest was predictable. The organization is in great hands because Pat Gillick is “the best baseball mind” Mike Arbuckle has ever encountered in his storied career as a “baseball man.” The minor league system is a diamond because Mike Arbuckle has groomed 12 members of the Phillies and Botavia led the league in ERA, and was “instrumental” in signing Ryan Howard. Not less than 5 times, Phillies personnel referred to this session as a “speech” until finally calling it a “Q & A session” when guys like me asked “what are you talking about?”

Finally, after 15 minutes of self-serving, self-promotion, Scott Palmer acknowledged that some fans might also have questions. He suggested this was a good idea (really?), but also warned that fans could not ask questions about specific players employed by organizations other than the Phillies (because this would leave the Phillies susceptible to “tampering” violations, a term I imagine he heard recently on ESPN with regard to the Jets in conjunction with that Patriots WR, Branch). Okay.

Naturally, my hand shot up immediately. I thought I’d get the ball rolling and since I was sitting about 5 feet from Pat (having strategically camped by the podium). Guess what? They didn’t pick me. Conveniently, a “fan” already had a microphone. The question? “Given the recent geo-political changes happening in Cuba, and the likelihood that players from the island may be free to play in the US, are the Phillies actively scouting talent and aware of the names that may become available?” On the surface, this seemed like an intelligent question, until Mike Arbuckle (who already had the mike in hand) rattled off a 5 minute (I timed it) dissertation on Cuban baseball and its players. He was so thorough that I couldn’t help wondering if the “fan” was a plant and he had consulted George Bush on what the appropriate answer might be.

Next question. “Are you disappointed by the play of Pat Burrell?” Shockingly, the “fan” who asked this question already had a mike in hand. For the record, Gillick was amazingly candid. He shit all over the Bat, implying that he was a complete p$ssy who couldn’t handle anything but positive reinforcement and couldn’t produce even when he received it. The Bat is gone next year, make no mistake about it.

The canned “fan” questions continued for 15 minutes. Each came from a plant. Guys like me were completely ignored. I asked several Phillies employees what I needed to do to ask a question, but no one had an answer. The entire Q & A session was rehearsed and planned. What a disappointment!

The Skinny:

Lieberthal is gone. “He won’t be back next season.” The Phillies will sign a new catcher in the off-season. They will not start the season with Coste and Ruiz. Book it.

The club will spend $90 million next year on payroll. This is a fact. Gillick was crystal on this. I’m guessing this means more money for Howard and Utley rather than big name free agents.

The Phillies will bring in a new 3B next year. “David Bell and Abraham Nunez provided great defense for us (really?), but they didn’t give us what we needed at the plate.”

Gillick will go after pitching. The young guys progressed faster than expected (Hammels), but we need more.

Gillick is really sorry he suggested the Phillies couldn’t compete for a title next year. He still believes we won’t, but regrets pissing off the high rollers more than you might think.

Impressions:

Pat Gillick is a lounge lizard. Think back to the parties your parent threw when you were a kid. Remember the uncle who sat in the corner sipping Gin as his eyes glazed. I wouldn’t trust this guy with my team. There is no doubt in my mind that he was overmatched by Cashman and has one foot into retirement already. Pray that Amaro is ready to step in soon.

Mike Arbuckle is scared shitless that his job is in jeopardy.

The Phillies don’t like their fans, but they’re scared of them (or at least scared that they may stop spending money buying tickets, drinks and food).

If anyone out there in Scrappleland has any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Ben
per ben's request, here are links to the discussion about phil hughes to date:

- june 5, 2006 - ben's initial scouting report and proposal for hughes
- july 31, 2006 - initial reactions to the trade
- august 2, 2006 - second wave of feedback on the trade
- august 20, 2006 - ben's open letter to pat gillick with recommendations for the future
- august 25, 2006 - i decide that i believe hughes was not available based on what i know/presume

Labels:

15 Comments:

Blogger Corey & Carson said...

Dude, thanks for the link and thanks for the dedicated post.

12:19 PM EDT  
Blogger Whelkman said...

Interesting information. Management should be scared. The "new park magic" is wearing off rapidly with this team's inability to win in it, and fans are still reeling from the "Philadelphia is a small market" nonsense. What these guys still don't realize is that Phillies fans aren't stupid and see right through smoke screens (e.g. Ed Wade's entire tenure). We want a team that wins, not over-the-hill prettyboys, not a "yes, sir" coaching staff, and not third basemen whose plate quality is below pitchers'.

1:34 PM EDT  
Blogger Corey & Carson said...

i'm freaking honored, only pat burrell hitting on my sister could make me feel prouder.

corey

7:55 PM EDT  
Anonymous we-was said...

Big Dog,

Gillick flat out said he would sign a new, veteran catcher. Interestingly enough, after Leiberthal heard the news and went public with a couple of "I won't be here next year" statements this week, Gillick tried a little damage control by saying that perhaps Mike could be the "veteran catcher," but that "backups make a lot less money," opening the door to resigning him at a (way) reduced price. Frankly, I could live with Leiberthal as a back-up.

With respect to the Bat, Gillick was clear to the point of being out of line. He wasn't laughing with Pat, if you know what I mean, but at him. Gillick acknowledged that Pat "likes living in the area" and "has a no trade clause," but he made it abundantly clear that Pat needs a new address next year. I'm extremely confident that Gillick plans to do whatever it takes (including paying some money) to shake the Bat free from Philly.

Gillick stated straight-up that he would sign a new third baseman for next year. Period. He couldn't name names, of course, because the baseball cops who enforce tampering rules might have scampered out of Scott Palmer's imagination and fined the Phillies.

Thanks for showing some interest in the Phillies. It's nice to know I'm not alone out here!

Ben

8:44 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

you're not alone, ben. i don't talk much about them, but i've been watching more baseball than i have in years -- probably close to every other game, which is a lot considering my kids are too young to have any interest in baseball.

you may be right about gillick, but i know one thing about him, he's transformed an unlikeable team into a pretty likeable one in less than one season. maybe that's not a huge feat, but the phillies haven't been a likeable team in many years (at least to me).

9:05 PM EDT  
Anonymous we-was said...

Hope you watched tonight, Pete.

Terrific effort from Myers. I stand by what I've said many times. He may be a d$ck, but God blessed his right arm. He'll win the Cy Young some day when he grows up.

This has been a fabulous season. I'm hanging on every pitch...

Ben

10:38 PM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

i did watch much of last night's game, and you are right that it was a terrific effort by myers.

more power to him if he's able to get some control over his emotions. i'll be pleasantly surprised if it happens.

8:22 AM EDT  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

Ben, I am a baseball guy....I am very involved with my local little league, was captain of my high school team (had a 1.96 ERA as a senior), and am a die hard Phillies fan....I love baseball....as a matter of fact football and baseball are my favorite sports. I love all sports, but those 2 are my pinnacle....and if basketball had a height limit and was more physical I would like that much more than I do, which is a lot...anyway....I agree with you and Pete, Gillick has done amazing things with this team, things the Head wouldn't have done....I am a huge fan of bringing in classy veterans for the play-off hunt, and good teams (ie Lou and the Devils, the Yankees, the Red Sox)do that. For some reason this team is very likable and that starts with the perceived likability of the stars of the team. Howard and Utley and even J Roll are likeble guys and lunch pail Philly guys. Isnt' it funny how winning games and shutting his mouth has helped Myers, who is a freaking stud. Gillick just tinkered with some things...deep sixed it's lackadasical star, will soon be jettisoning it's surly left-fielder....let the studs be themselves, picked up classy veterans like Moyer and Conine (I love Conine, he's a Philly killer, imagine if Scott Stevens played in Philly, his jersey would outsell almost everyone)....once he fixes the 3B situation, deep sixes Lieby (I agree nice back up, but you can't bring him back!), fixes the Bat and tweaks the starting line-up, I honestly think that they will be playing meaningful fall (the best, best time of year for baseball) games for a long time.

9:19 AM EDT  
Anonymous Phil said...

On a semi-related note, there's a possibility that the Phillies might force the NFL to swap the home dates for the Eagles/Cowboys matchup. . . Does that mean I have to start following baseball? Grrrr.....

10:29 AM EDT  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

No, Phil...the NFL said that it isn't going to happen...enjoy your Christmas at home. Baseball in the Fall is awesome, though!!!

10:33 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would actually love to have a Christmas game against the mooboys.
1) I would love to see me-o in the cold and see Dawkins crush him
2) it would get me out of family visiting duties and let me do what I should be doing on the holidays, drinking and watching football.

- Joe

11:43 AM EDT  
Anonymous we-was said...

Big Dog,

I think you're really onto something when you point out that this team is far more likable than previously. It's abundantly obvious that the players enjoy coming to the park and that they support each other. I've heard that the Bat is jealous over the success that Ryan has enjoyed (but the Bat is as good as gone).

Some other guys who are really enjoyable:

Shane Victorino. The kid smiles and hustles all the time. He plays hurt. He bunts. After seeing him play everyday for the last month, isn't it now obvious that Aaron Rowand is the bait the Phillies need to trade for another quality starting pitcher? (I like Rowand as a dude, but Victorino is a better fielder because of his speed and arm and a far better hitter).

Cole Hammels. Have you seen his girlfriend?

Geoff Geary. He takes the ball night after night. He doesn't have an electric fastball or killer curve. But he competes. And he is successful more often than not. I've learned to ignore the lube job he gives his bad haircut and accepted him as a modern-day Everyman.

The fat guy with the absurd beard and mustache in the bullpen. I love the way he calls his teammates after homers. I don't know what he says, but he always seems to make them laugh like schoolboys.

Chris Coste. He's waited his whole life for this and instead shriveling has grabbed opportunity by the nuts.

Jamie Moyer. He's old (six months younger than me), but he isn't grumpy. Watch how he talks with Wolfie and Hammels during games. We finally have a pitching coach you'd rather listen to than smoke.

It's late September and we're tied for a ticket to the playoff. We have the most momentum of the three teams left in the hunt. If we punch the ticket we get the Cardinals in the first round. Pedro is hurt and Tommy is old. Even the Mets don't scare me in a seven game series. Anything can happen.

You're right, Baseball is awesome in the Fall. Thank goodness for tonight. I needed an offday before cranking up for the final ten games. This is going to be an incredibly fun ride!

Go Phillies.

Ben

9:42 PM EDT  
Blogger The Big Dog said...

Rick White is the bomb, Ben. That would be totally awesome if he came in with a longsleeve Harley shirt under his shirt. I like when Arthur Rhodes came at that worthless putz Corey Lidle, too...I agree, trade Rowand now...you have to get Victorino in the line-up, preferably lead off....you don't just sit him for next year. Re-sign Conine and Moyer. I went to a cool free agent website yesterday and noticed some potential free agents for next year....Rich Aurilia is the guy I want....also there are some C...Bengie Molina, Einar Diaz, the dude who is catching for the Cubs now....don't suspect signing a Barry Zito, but there are some other quality arms...however, the market gets totally jacked up...off the top of my head the FA class for P looks pretty strong, or at least better than this year. If you don't trade Rowand, you could have a potential rotation in the OF of Conine, Rowand, Victorino, and maybe another FA or a minor league guy....got to be honest Roberson has not impressed me at all!! I would try to sign Wolfie, too. If you have Hamels, Myers, Moyer, Wolfie and another yet to be determined arm, plus hopefully a more mature Floyd (Mathieson is done for a long time)....that's getting there. A new 3B, the regular infield, a new starting C with Coste as the back-up (remember, Coste can also play other positions)....that is looking pretty sweet. I think Rhodes may be toast and I think that Madson needs to see a shrink. You need another arm in the pen or maybe let some of your younger guys mature in the pen, but also bring Rick White back for non-baseball reasons.

8:49 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pardon the switch back to football for a second, but are the birds the most fragile team in the NFL or what? let's see, westbrook is probably out for the SF game with knee problems. hood and sheppard are out. kearse is out for the season. the secondary is just wrecked entirely.
how can this be the state of team after game 2??
how unbelievably frustrating.
please let the Birds make a solid comeback on Sunday and put my fears of another 6-10 season to rest.

11:09 AM EDT  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

http://www.philly.com/mld/philly/sports/15584462.htm

westbrook expects to play

3:26 PM EDT  

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