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Seattle Blogs to Dodgers: 'Take Our Gillick, Please'
2004-02-04 09:39
by Jon Weisman

When the rumors of the Dodgers' interest in Pat Gillick as a potential general manager first appeared, I asked writers for two Seattle blogs to comment. I think what you'll find is, at a minimum, although Gillick has been in charge of winning ballclubs in other cities, as the Times points out, he may be no improvement over Dan Evans.

First, here's David Cameron from U.S.S. Mariner:

I've been Gillick's harshest critic the past few years, and wouldn't be "too thrilled" either if I were in your shoes. However, for what (former Dodger executive) Bill Bavasi has done to our club this offseason, I believe you guys deserve everything that comes your way, including fireballs from heaven incinerating Dodger Stadium.

Hmm - sounds promising. Cameron mercifully backpedaled from the last point, but U.S.S. Mariner definitely is not pro-Gillick. Here, in this post from November, was a list of their complaints:

1. He didn't manage his budget well, spending lots of money on bad players.
2. He was not creative, choosing only to buy talent through free agency and ignoring other paths of acquisition.
3. He had a strong penchant for veteran players, choosing age over talent.
4. He was ridiculously stubborn, refusing to give an inch when it could gain him a foot.

Meanwhile, Stephen at Mariner's Wheelhouse had this to tell me:

I'm probably not going to be as anti-Gillick as [U.S.S. Mariner] - though I certainly don't think hiring him would be a good idea. More like a mini-disaster than a mega-disaster.

The big problem is that Gillick is old school all the way, and is scornful of the newer ideas. There are some concepts for which he gets left in the dust - not understanding replacement value players and overvaluing veterans in their 30's. If hired, he will probably bring respectability. I think he's established that he has the "old school" game down as well as anyone, and right now that would be enough to compete.

The bigger issue is that he will greatly delay the needed transition to modern thinking. He is not open at all to SABR-type of thinking, and is openly scornful of Beane. (But that seems as much influenced by personality conflict - Gillick doesn't think Beane treats other people with proper respect and doesn't like statements that were attributed to Beane in Moneyball.) Gillick will not build or develop SABR skills in the organization, and may drive out capable people who might be there who do have those skills. So it will take that much longer for the organization to get properly oriented into a modern management mode, and the pit the team is in may be that much deeper after he leaves.

I can't see Gillick staying on the job for more than three years. Then he will want to hand the reins over to someone who thinks like him. If his ownership is not sophisticated baseball, Gillick will likely have a Svengali-type of hold on him, where they absolutely and implicitly trust and support him in any activities, particularly if he is also having on field success (and competing in the NL West he is likely to be successful, at least initially).

I think (Dodger assistant general manager) Kim Ng is an interesting variable in that. I don't know enough about her to assess whether she would complement Gilliick in those areas. ... (but) I can see where a Gillick-Ng tandem could work out well, and make a good transition into a full GM role when Gillick leaves in about three years. ...

On the positive side, he avoids the disaster signings, and will keep payroll flexibility. His biggest "disaster" was (Jeff) Cirillo, and, frankly, the Cirillo deal was pretty defensible at the time. Third base was an obvious position to upgrade the roster, and Cirillo looked to be a definite improvement over Bell. And Piniella had his fingers into trading for Cirillo, as well.

He will build and strengthen organizational scouting, as that is his strength. It may be at the expense of SABR skills though, instead of blending the skill sets.

Gillick would also not to do a Tejada or Vlad signing. He's a "spread the money around" type of guy. And frankly I agree if the money is wisely spent. Even if the big signing is a Barry Bonds, it leaves the team too vulnerable to an injury. SF, frankly, has been lucky that Bonds has been durable.

Hiring Gillick would be bad, but not an unmitigated disaster. There are a lot of worse hires that can be made, and that will be made.

This morning, The Bench Coach has more on the GM situation. By the way, Coach, Mrs. Dodger Thoughts and I enjoyed reliving all of SportsNight on DVD a year ago.

Although Beane can't help but intrigue, no one has yet proven to me that, after this crippled, truncated offseason, Evans doesn't deserve another year on the job. However, I realize this is beside the point now.

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