New baseball Hall of Famer Pat Gillick’s accomplishments have not been copied in Toronto, Baltimore and even to an extent, Philadelphia. His absence, though, may be most felt in Seattle.
That’s not even a concern now, as Seattle lost its franchise-record 15th consecutive game Sunday. Jack Zduriencik, the current general manager, has the makings of a strong pitching staff led by Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda, but the offense — even with the addition of 2009 No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley in June — may be the majors’ worst in more than a generation.
Zduriencik’s not the only one who has had trouble building a winner in Seattle. Woody Woodward, the GM before Gillick, dealt Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek to the Red Sox in 1999 for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb. Bill Bavasi, Gillick’s successor, assembled the 2008 team that had a payroll of more than $100 million yet lost 101 games.
Bavasi, who had made a five-for-one trade for Erik Bedard that actually looks a little better this summer, was fired in June 2008. Among Bavasi’s worst moves was the 2006 trade of Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez.
Lee Pelekoudas finished the ’08 season as the interim GM. Zduriencik, formerly the Brewers scouting director, took over the next year. His worst deal thus far may have been Michael Morse for Ryan Langerhans in June 2009.
Aside from Gillick, only Woodward has been the architect of a Mariners team that made the playoffs. Toronto, meanwhile, hasn’t reached the postseason since winning two straight World Series under Gillick in 1992 and 1993. Baltimore hasn’t even had a winning season since his 1997 team went wire-to-wire in the AL East. His contract ran out the next year, and so did the Orioles’ days of contending.
Only the Phillies have avoided the post-Gillick jinx, and that’s no doubt partly because they had the smoothest transition. His assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who also served under Ed Wade, still has a championship-caliber club on his hands three years after Gillick’s retirement as GM.
Gillick is even still an adviser for the Phillies. The Chicago Cubs, though, are reportedly interested in hiring him to run their team, and who can blame them? If anyone’s capable of putting an end to a franchise’s century-plus stretch without a World Series title, it’s Gillick.