As I touched on three and a half years ago, John Stanton, who will take over as Chairman, CEO and representative managing partner of the Seattle Mariners in August, brings more than just a business background to his new role. He’s a baseball fan, a Seattle-area native with dozens of ties to the region beyond business. But there’s one other dynamic that may come into play. I say ‘may’ because I’m writing this using knowledge I had three and a half years ago. Things change. But if they haven’t …
That dynamic is Pat Gillick. At last check, Gillick still owned a home in Magnolia, and still is active in his advisory role with the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s been more-than-hinted to me through sources close to Gillick over the past several years that the three-time World Series Champion general manager has some interest in the Mariners, still, but that he’d never work for or even with Howard Lincoln. Why? I don’t know, maybe something to do with the latter standing in the way of two terrific baseball seasons that had a chance to be historic for the city of Seattle, some 15-16 years ago.
Lincoln now is the outgoing CEO and Stanton and other now-majority owners in the group such as Chris Larson have very good relationships with Gillick. Gillick now is 78, however, and may not be interested in anything more than a role similar to his current one in Philly, if he’s interested in the Mariners at all at this stage. But it’s something to keep in mind, nonetheless.
I don’t imagine Gillick’s presence would mean any kind of change in the essential personnel (and, for the record, I don’t believe Lincoln has stood in the way of anything lately, so his absence isn’t a magical potion that equals championships), but it’s always a good idea to have quality baseball minds in the organization, and few are better than Gillick. Ask the Blue Jays, Orioles, Phillies and the Mariners. Two titles in Toronto, a club that went 21 years without a postseason berth after Gillick left, one in Philly, two playoff appearances with Baltimore breaking a 12-year drought, then went 14 years until their next appearances once Gillick left. Seattle has yet to break their post-Gillick playoff absence, which stands at 14 years. Gillick’s stamp remains in Philly, too, with the new front office being very much a Gillick-led baseball decision. He served as Philly’s interim president, hired Andy MacPhail as the permanent president.
Not that the Mariner actually have a specific need for the Hall of Fame executive, but Gillick may actually fit in Seattle in an advisory role and now that Stanton and company run the show — as of August, anyway — the Lincoln obstacle no longer stands in the way. Even Theo Epstein likes having wise advisory-type executives around, just check his tenure in Boston.
I have no idea if either the new ownership or Gillick has even thought about something like this, but I’ll always pine for more Gillick, so… yeah.
Jason A. Churchill
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