Who is the best GM in the City of Philadelphia?

9 08 2008

Paul Owens built the only Phillies World Series team in 1980.

Paul Owens built the only Phillies World Series team in 1980.

by Michael Gill

Think back to 1980 in the city of Philadelphia. 

That season, the Eagles were in the Super Bowl and won their first NFC East title under the direction of Jimmy Murray.  The Flyers, built by Keith Allen ended the 1979-80 season with a league best 116 points.  Meanwhile, Pat Williams and his Sixers won the NBA’s eastern conference with a 59 win season and the boys of summer won the teams only World Championship under the direction of Paul Owens. 

Those sure were the days, all four teams in contention for league titles, but in Philadelphia fashion all but one fall short. 

Now all four of the cities pro sports teams are again in contention, but who is now recognized as the best architect in the city.  The Sixers Ed Stefanski, Phillies GM, Pat Gillick, Paul Holgren of the Flyers and the Andy Reid/Tom Heckert duo of the Eagles all have their defining moments but have each shared some scrutiny.

Lets start with the newest of the bunch, Stefanski.  Its hard to argue what he has done since replacing Billy King in such a short amount of time.  Stefanski traded away the popular Kyle Korver and received virtually nothing in return but cap flexibility.  Then this off season, he traded away a few spare parts, including former first-round pick Rodney Carney, in a deal that opened the door for Stefanski’s biggest move to date – signing Elton Brand.  Getting Brand has legitimized the Sixers into a contender almost overnight, along with re-signing restricted free agent Louis Williams has finally given a pulse back to the Sixers dying fan base.

Over to the tenant in the Wachovia Center, The Flyers and their GM Paul Holmgren.  Two season ago, the Flyers suffered through the worst season in the team’s history.  One year later, under the direction of Holmgren, the Flyers made it all-the-way to the Eastern Conference Finals.  They got there with the addition of plenty of key acquisitions that Holmgren added through trade and in the off season. Some of Holmgren’s most notable transactions to date include the acquisitions of Martin Biron, Braydon Coburn, Daniel Briere, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, Jason Smith and Kimmo Timonen.  All of which played a huge role in getting the Flyers back tot he top of the NHL heap.

The Phillies are headed by Pat Gillick.  While many people criticize some of the moves, or lack-there-of he makes, the Phillies have been a playoff team and won the NL East once while he has been here.  Something not many Phillies GM’s can say.  Gillick has tried a few times but struck out on pitcher Freddy Garcia, third basemen Wes Helms and catcher Rod Barajas.  He let Aaron Rowand walk away after a career season, and has tip-toed around both Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels contract situations.  However, he did trade for and extend Brad Lidge, brought in Jason Werth, Chad Durbin, Pedro Feliz and he added Jamie Moyer after the July 31st trading deadline two seasons ago.  He traded away big name players like Bobby Abreu and Jim Thome for virtually nothing, but the team has been successful both on the field and at the gate.

Finally, there is Andy Reid and Tom Heckert who seem to be under the microscope for just about any move they make, major or minor.  If they make a minor tweak, fans want to know why they didn’t make a major move.  If they bring in a top level talent like Asante, fans want to know why they brought in a player into an area that was a perceived strength.  Reid took a chance on big game guys like Terrell Owens, Javon Kearse, Darren Howard and Takeo Spikes.  On the flip-side, the Eagles front office has been often criticized for not going after any big-play wide outs, and constantly having money to spend left behind.

Here are my rankings :

The Best GM in the City of Philadelphia?

The Best GM in the City of Philadelphia?

1. Ed Stefanski – He really hasn’t made a move that has had any negative reaction.  The team turned things around almost immediately and now in less then a year the fan base is back and there are high expectations.

2. Pat Gillick – Like him or not, this is a franchise that has only seven NL East titles in their 125 years of existence.  Maybe he hasn’t made the deadline deal many are looking for but the Lidge deal has saved this season, without him this team is 4-5 games out.

3. Andy Reid – The Andy Reid era has been an interesting one.  But if nothing else, the Eagles have always been competitive and like it or not Reid isn’t going anywhere.

4. Paul Holmgren – If hockey was more popular, he might be higher.  He has done a magnificent job of getting this team back to relevance, this off season was an interesting one, this season could move him up the ranks.

So there you have it, the Sixers will win the title first, followed by the Phillies, Eagles then Flyers.  I guess thats just another column who will win first….

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One response

9 08 2008
Michael DeLuca

1. Holmgren – If you’re going to include him in the conversation, you can’t discount him for being the general manager of a hockey team. His moves were the impetus for one of the most drastic turnarounds in league history.
2. Reid/Heckert – They get blasted for a lot of moves they’ve made…but most have been right on the money. They’ve let aging veterans walk when contract demands were too high. None have come back to bite us. They’ve also kept all of the core players on the roster and have been competitive year in and year out.
3. Stefanski – His moves since coming to town have been stellar. He obviously has a much better command of the cap than Billy King could have ever imagined. However, I ranked him at three taking his Nets track record into account…which wasn’t bad, just not phenominal.
4. Gillick – Don’t get me wrong, I like what he’s done for the most part this year. But….Adam Eaton, Freddy Garcia, Rod Barajas, Wes Helms, So Taguchi, etc. More could have been done this year as well.

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