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Did Gillick pre-emptively fire himself?

Charlie Manuel's extension means two things: one, I need to come up with a new fallback poll question, and two, as the question of the manager's job performance fades a bit, the spotlight will shift to that of GM Pat Gillick. That 2008 likely will be Gillick's last year on the job adds an intriguing element--in no small part because, since he's promised to walk away, it's very unlikely that he'll be dragged out.

Granted, it's not as if Gillick hasn't come under any scrutiny; when you blow $10 million and two high-ceiling prospects on Freddy Garcia (1-5, 5.90) and another $32 million on Adam Eaton (10-10, 6.29), Wes Helms and Rod Barajas, you're going to get some attention, and it's not likely to be positive. But Manuel is the man the journalists see every day before and after the game, and his personal style makes him a bigger target. Gillick, by pedigree and personality both, is less likely to take shots.

Or rather, he was. The extension is a validation from the Phillies, if not from the fans and press, of the job Charlie's done. The consensus seems to be that he did superb work in getting a team with three, maybe four good pitchers to the postseason. The inevitable subsequent thought is to wonder why he had so few usable pitchers to work with.

Gillick is already voicing the predictable (and accurate) statements about the paucity of pitching available through free agency or trade. He knows what needs to be done, and he knows all of us know it. If he fails--if, again, his efforts yield more Adam Eatons than J.C. Romeros--he'd probably not be asked back for a fourth season in the GM chair. Of course, he's already told us he won't be back... a move that might be about self-protection as much as anything else.