There is no question that Pat Gillick brings an impressive resume to the Phillies. He started his career as a General Manager with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1978. It was just the second season for the Jays and it took Gillick until 1983 to produce a team that finished above .500 for the first time in franchise history. When all was said and done though, Gillick spent 17 seasons in Toronto - which he still calls home - and the Blue Jays won two World Series and lost in the ALCS three times.
Gillick made four managerial changes while with the Blue Jays, including bringing in Bobby Cox in 1982. It's interesting to note that of the changes, Cox was the only manager hired by Gillick who had previous managing experience. The others - Bobby Mattick, Jimy Williams and Cito Gaston were all rookie managers. Williams went on to manage in Boston and Houston, while Gaston was at the helm for both of Toronto's World Series wins. Gaston managed nine seasons in Toronto, the longest tenure in franchise history.
Feeling that he was underpaid and underappreciated, Gillick "retired" after the '94 season. After a year off, he wound up as the General Manager in Baltimore. He had gotten the kind of pay he was looking for, but grew tired of the meddling of owner Peter Angelos and left after the '98 season after just three productive years on the job.
Gillick took a team that was 71-73 in 1995 and turned them around almost overnight. In Gillick's first season on the job, the Orioles finished 88-74, winning the Wild Card and advancing to the ALCS where they lost to the New York Yankees. The following season, Gillick's squad won 98 games and won the division, but again lost in the ALCS, this time to Cleveland. Davey Johnson, who Gillick had hired to manage the team in 1996 left after the '97 season and Gillick brought in Ray Miller to manage the Orioles, with bad results. The O's finished 79-83 and Gillick left after run-ins with Angelos.
It's interesting to note that while with Baltimore, Gillick made two more managerial changes and this time went with more seasoned applicants. Johnson had managed the Mets for seven seasons and spent three more seasons as the manager in Cincinnati before joining Baltimore. Miller had managed the Twins for two unsuccessful seasons, going 109-130 in his time with Minnesota.
After leaving Baltimore, Gillick took another season off before again resurfacing. His next stop was Seattle.
The '99 Mariners finished 79-83, good enough for third in the A.L. West. Again, there was an instant turnaround as the M's went 91-71 in Gillick's first season as GM with Seattle. The Mariners were the American League Wild Card and advanced to the ALCS where the Yankees bounced them. The following season, the Mariners won a major league record 116 games, only to again fall to the Yankees in the ALCS. Seattle went 93-69 in each of Gillick's final seasons as GM and missed the playoffs in 2002 and 2003.
While with the Mariners, Gillick stuck with Lou Piniella as the club's manager for the first three seasons. The two had somewhat of a shaky relationship. Piniella was critical of Gillick's seeming unwillingness to pull the trigger on trades that he thought might have helped the club - especially in 2002 - but Gillick insisted that he was frustrated by other GMs who stalled his efforts to make big deals. When Gillick did make a change in the manager's office, he went with Bob Melvin, again hiring a manager with no prior managerial experience at the major league level.
A reluctance to make big in-season deals has branded Gillick with the nickname of "Stand Pat" in his career. He has made some moves, but prefers to do most of his work during the off-season. Earlier in his career, Gillick did make meaningful deals in mid-season. In '92, he brought David Cone to the Blue Jays and added Rickey Henderson a year later.
The bottom line is that Gillick has had success wherever he's gone and it's generally come pretty quickly. Whether or not he'll be able to duplicate that success in Philadelphia will be interesting to see.