Indians asst. GM in Phillies hunt

Indians asst. GM in Phillies hunt

PHILADELPHIA -- Though it appears Gerry Hunsicker and Pat Gillick are in a two-horse race to become Philadelphia's next general manager, a dark horse may gallop in Monday.

Cleveland assistant GM Chris Antonetti is riding into town to interview for the general manager's job vacated when Ed Wade was dismissed Oct. 10. The fifth candidate to meet with team president David Montgomery -- following Mike Arbuckle (Wednesday), Hunsicker (Thursday), Gillick (Friday) and Ruben Amaro Jr. (Sunday) -- Antonetti is considered a bright light among potential candidates.

"I had a category that I described as up-and-comers," said Montgomery. "When I talked to people outside our organization, Chris' name kept coming up. I decided I should talk to him."

Despite being in his early 30s, Antonetti has served four seasons as Cleveland's assistant GM. He was promoted in January 2002, a few months after Mark Shapiro replaced John Hart, and has spent eight seasons with the Indians.

Antonetti's arrival will continue what could be a busy week for Montgomery, who wouldn't confirm any interviews beyond Monday. He hoped to meet with additional candidates this week in an attempt to find a replacement.

"We'll see what's needed after (Monday)," Montgomery said. Montgomery has kept a low profile since beginning his search two weeks ago, and hasn't responded to many media inquiries. He offered an update Friday, and elaborated Sunday while making an appearance at Mike Lieberthal's annual Halloween party for Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Montgomery knows he's nearing the end of the exhaustive search, and could act soon. The two top front-runners are believed to be Hunsicker and Gillick, but the Phillies have competition for each. The Dodgers, who dismissed Paul DePodesta, are expected to speak with Gillick this week. He interviewed for that job two years ago.

The Devil Rays, meanwhile, are still believed to want Hunsicker for a senior management position.

The man who hired and fired Wade described his thought process, elaborating on the differences between the team Wade received in 1997 and the one that will be inherited by his successor.

When Wade took over in 1998, the Phillies had gone 135-189 over the previous two seasons, and had a $35.5 million payroll. Wade oversaw a complete overhaul of the Minor League system, as well as a steady payroll increase over his final five seasons.

But when the team with a $95.5 million payroll missed the playoffs by one game, Wade took the bullet, despite four winning seasons in five years.

"We've gotten close, but haven't gotten to where we want to be," Montgomery said.

Still, the next general manager will inherit a playoff-ready team, making it one of the more attractive jobs available. So does the experience of a Hunsicker or Gillick outweigh the youth and exuberance of an Amaro, Arbuckle or Antonetti?

"We're evaluating candidates in a different environment than eight years ago," Montgomery said. "Does that mean experience counts? Yes. But probably it means a new approach or way to achieve our goal, and let's do it soon."

"Any GM who comes in here is pretty lucky to inherit the team we have, with young, talented players," said Lieberthal. "It's a fortunate situation where he probably can win."

The list of young talented players includes Brett Myers, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd, and the list of veterans includes Pat Burrell, Bobby Abreu, David Bell and Jim Thome. All the candidates have said the team is in need of a few tweaks.

"We're in a different situation than when I hired Ed, just like when we hired (manager) Terry (Francona)," Montgomery said. "I was looking for a nurturing manager, and for a GM that could turn the ship around. I believe we're in a much different direction than we were in 1997. Others find our situation attractive now."

Montgomery acknowledged that the youth movement has played into his thinking, but said it's a matter of combining the "Moneyball" ideals with old-school philosophy.

"I don't think of two extremes like people say," Montgomery said. "People ask if so-and-so is a 'Moneyball' person or not. If you're young, you're more into statistics, and if you're older, you're more into the feel. I think it's a hybrid of those situations. I don't think the needle should point one way or another. I think shame on you in this day and age if you don't use statistics to evaluate, but shame on you too if you don't try to get to know everything about a person before you sign him, trade for him or whatever. I think there's great value in each. There are a lot of theories there."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.