Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay touched Philadelphia Phillies forever with their greatness

Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay touched Philadelphia Phillies forever with their greatness

Pat Gillick and Roy Halladay have much in common. The two men earned their baseball chops in Toronto then came to Philadelphia to finish off their wonderful careers.

On Saturday night, they will share another common bond when they are honored with a place on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame. It will be an evening where celebration and poignancy intersect. Gillick was the general manager of the 2008 World Series champion Phillies and he goes onto the Wall of Fame during a weekend celebration to honor the 10-year anniversary of that team.

Halladay, who pushed for a trade to Philadelphia because he admired the core and style of play of those great Phillies teams of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, was not part of the World Series championship team. He came to Philadelphia before the 2010 season and in just four seasons left an indelible mark on the franchise with his greatness, his intensity, his legendary work ethic and, of course, a perfect game, a playoff no-hitter and a Cy Young Award.

Halladay goes onto the Wall of Fame nine months after he died in a plane crash, way too young at the age of 40. His wife and two ball-playing sons will be on hand for the celebration.

Gillick was the architect of a Blue Jays franchise that Halladay eventually became part of and for which he won a Cy Young Award in 2003. Gillick arrived on the ground floor and took the Jays from expansion status to back-to-back World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. He is honored on that team’s Level of Excellence. He is also a member of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and the big one, the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

After his time as Blue Jays general manager, Gillick stayed on and did some scouting for the club.

He remembers peeking in on a high school pitcher from Denver in the spring of 1995. He reported back to the organization that the kid was special, worth keeping an eye on.

That kid was Roy Halladay.

“It’s really an honor to go on the Wall of Fame,” Gillick said.

He mentioned how much it meant to him to be just the second Phillies executive to earn the honor, joining the legendary Paul Owens. Gillick recalled that the first trade he ever made as a GM was with Owens. He acquired Tommy Hutton in a cash deal.

“But to go on the Wall with Roy is really special,” Gillick continued. “He is someone who is legendary for the way he prepared for games, physically and mentally.”

Gillick had already had a marvelous career when he arrived in Philadelphia in the fall of 2005. He’d been GM in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle, taking all of those teams to the postseason. Gillick was between jobs and not ready to retire when club president David Montgomery asked him to fly to Philadelphia to meet in the fall of 2005. Montgomery and Gillick chatted for five hours at a hotel near the airport. The next day, Montgomery offered Gillick the job. Gillick was also being pursued by the Dodgers. He chose the Phillies.

Gillick’s decision was a difference-maker in the rise of the Phillies and his own career. He made some tweaks around the edges of a promising and improving roster, brought in Jayson Werth and Brad Lidge, two players who had run out of time in other organizations, and the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. Gillick, class man that he is, has never failed to share credit for the team’s success. To this day, he praises the work of his predecessor, Ed Wade, and his lieutenants, Ruben Amaro Jr., and Mike Arbuckle, for the role they had in constructing the club. He credits his go-to scout, Charley Kerfeld, for convincing him to bring in Lidge, the closer who went 48 for 48 in save chances that season. Gillick still raves about the managing job that Charlie Manuel did. Funny thing, Gillick could have made a managerial change after the 2006 season. He stuck with Manuel and says it was the best move he made in Philadelphia.

Gillick received baseball’s highest honor when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in the summer of 2011.

It never would have happened if he didn’t come to Philadelphia.

Coming to Philadelphia and winning that third World Series ring put him over the top.

“Winning the World Series in 2008 gave me the opportunity to be elected,” he said Friday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Beyond their common Toronto roots and baseball greatness, Gillick and Halladay have something else in common. If the Philadelphia experience put Gillick over the top for election to Cooperstown, it will probably do the same for Halladay. He was on a Hall of Fame track when he arrived in Philadelphia and his time with the Phillies — the Cy Young Award in 2010, the second-place finish in 2011, the perfect game, the no-hitter, the two postseasons — only enhanced his candidacy.

It’s not difficult to envision Halladay joining Gillick in Cooperstown some day. In fact, it seems like a slam dunk.

On Saturday night, we get to see them take their place on the Phillies’ Wall of Fame and that’s pretty special, too.

More on the Phillies

J.T. Realmuto will fight for future generations in salary arbitration case against Phillies

J.T. Realmuto will fight for future generations in salary arbitration case against Phillies

More than once last summer, J.T. Realmuto expressed his affection for Philadelphia and said he’d one day be up for signing a long-term contract extension with the Phillies.

The specter of his upcoming salary arbitration hearing hasn’t changed his outlook.

“Not at all,” he said before the 116th annual Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet Monday night. “Anybody who knows about the arbitration process knows it’s business. It’s not necessarily me against the Phillies right now. There’s definitely not going to be any hard feelings there. So I feel like we’re at the same place we were two or three months ago as far as with the contract extension.”

Before the two sides go to work on a long-term contract extension, Realmuto is likely to play the 2020 season on a one-year contract. Barring an unlikely settlement, Realmuto will have his 2020 salary decided by an arbitration panel next month. He is seeking $12.4 million. The Phillies’ arbitration offer is $10 million. The arbitration panel will hear arguments from both sides then pick one number or the other.

Realmuto knows the game. He went to arbitration with the Miami Marlins two years ago and lost.

“I have a good understanding of the process,” he said. “I know it’s not the Phillies trying to slight me. It’s more the system. There are no hard feelings there.”

Realmuto, who turns 29 in March, is coming off a season in which he solidified himself as baseball’s best catcher while making $5.9 million. He was an All-Star. He was the catcher on the inaugural All-MLB team and he won both the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in the National League. He led all big-league catchers in hits, RBIs, total bases and extra-base hits while swatting a career-high 25 homers. He threw out 37 runners trying to steal, the most in the majors.

Realmuto’s 2019 season put him in a good position to win his arbitration case.

But he made it clear that this is about more than just himself.

"It’s not me against the Phillies,” he said. “It’s the system that we’re trying to fight right now.  I’m trying to go out and set a precedent for future catchers in the game and I feel like I had a season worthy of doing that so I’m going to fight for that.

"This is not because the Phillies didn’t give us a chance to come to an agreement. We’re fighting for a cause, fighting for the rest of the catchers. Historically, catchers have not been treated well in the arbitration process and we feel like this is an opportunity to advance that for the catchers. Just being able to fight for those guys is something I take pride in. I believe in fighting for future generations and I’m excited to do it."

Once Realmuto’s 2020 salary is established in mid-February, the Phillies are expected to initiate talks on an extension that would begin at the start of the 2021 season. Those talks should commence during spring training. A contract extension is expected to cover up to five seasons with an average annual value of over $20 million.

Realmuto, who was honored as the PSWA’s Athlete of the Year for 2019, was joined by new Phillies manager Joe Girardi at the banquet.

“I’m really excited to play for him,” Realmuto said. “I feel like he’s got a lot of feel. He knows exactly what he wants to do as a manager and has a lot of confidence and he’ll be able to instill that confidence in us.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies

Vince Velasquez 'disappointed' by Astros’ scandal, ready to 'click' in Phillies’ rotation

Vince Velasquez 'disappointed' by Astros’ scandal, ready to 'click' in Phillies’ rotation

Vince Velasquez broke into the majors with the Houston Astros in 2015. His manager was A.J. Hinch. Jeff Luhnow was the general manager.

You know where this is going.

“I never saw anything,” Velasquez said Monday. “A lot of people have asked me, but I wasn’t there when it happened.

“It was shocking to hear about. And a little bit disappointing.”

The Astros were found to have used an illicit sign stealing scheme during their 2017 World Series championship season. Major League Baseball last week suspended Hinch and Luhnow for the 2020 season and Houston ownership followed up by firing both men. The explosive issue also cost Alex Cora and Carlos Beltran their jobs as managers of the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets, respectively. Cora was the Astros’ bench coach, and a mastermind of the scheme, in 2017, and Beltran was a player on the team.

Velasquez pitched in just 19 games for the Astros in 2015. He was traded to the Phillies in December of that year.

Pitchers and catchers have always been cognizant of changing their signs and varying their sequences in running through signs, especially when there is a runner on second base, to combat sign stealing. Velasquez predicted that pitchers and catchers will be even more diligent in light of the Astros' scandal.

“Now, we have to be more observant of what we’re doing,” he said. “I think it’s going to be part of the discussion [in spring training.] You have to learn to protect yourself.”

Velasquez is spending the week in Philadelphia helping the team with some promotional work. (He even plans to throw a couple of bullpen sessions in the cages at Citizens Bank Park.) On Monday, Velasquez and teammate Roman Quinn joined former Phillies Milt Thompson and Mickey Morandini at a youth instructional clinic at the Ryan Howard Training Center in South Philadelphia. Forty-five young players affiliated with the Phillies/MLB Urban Youth Academy and RBI program showed up a cold January day to get a head start on the season and some tips from the Phillies players past and present.

Quinn missed significant time last season with a torn groin muscle, the latest in a series of injuries that has robbed the exciting outfielder of playing time in his career. He has made changes to his offseason conditioning program and believes he can stay healthy in 2020 and make a run at the Phillies’ starting centerfield job. As it stands right now, he will battle Adam Haseley for the job in camp.

“I trust my abilities and I know if I’m healthy then it’s hard to keep me out of the lineup,” Quinn said.

Like Quinn, Velasquez will be in a spring-training battle.

The top four spots in the Phillies’ rotation are set with Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, Zach Eflin and Jake Arrieta. Velasquez will compete with Nick Pivetta for the fifth spot in the rotation. The loser of the competition will not necessarily be out of a job as the Phillies need bullpen help and one of the two could end up there.

Velasquez knows where he wants to be.

“I can play any role, but I want to start,” the 27-year-old right-hander said. “I want to be in the rotation. I want to be in that playoff run and I want to be that guy for that game.

“I know I have a job to earn. That’s my main focus. Battling.”

Velasquez, as Phillies fans know by now, is blessed with a tremendous arm. However, he has struggled to put his talents together and arrive at that place known as consistency. He runs high pitch counts and fails to get through the middle of games. He averaged just 4 2/3 innings in his 23 starts last season.

Velasquez knows it’s time for him to pitch deeper into games and he says, “I want that bad.” He has already established a telephone/text/video relationship with new pitching coach Bryan Price in hopes of picking up some keys to doing that.

“We’re in communication,” Velasquez said. “I’ve spoken to him a number of times and sent him videos of some of my bullpens.”

Velasquez avoided salary arbitration and will make $3.6 million this season. As his price tag goes up, so do expectations and the impatience of team officials. He might not be around at this time next season if he doesn’t produce in 2020.

“I’m very optimistic this is the year it clicks,” Velasquez said. “I know I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but I feel like I’m starting to figure a lot of things out. A lot of people tend to figure things out after two or three years in the major leagues and I think this is that time for me to put all the pieces together.

“My time is due. It’s really come down to that point where I need to plug in all the pieces.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies