LAKE BUENA VISTA — Pat Gillick was between general manager jobs in 1995 when he showed the kind of scouting acumen and decisionmaking that resulted in his election to the Hall of Fame on Monday.
Vince Naimoli, managing general partner of the new expansion Devil Rays team, had called several times to see if he was interested, and Gillick agreed to a meeting. But he decided he'd rather not get involved at the time and instead offered some frank advice.
"He had some financial numbers that I looked at, some projections, and I think Vince was a little bit shocked," Gillick said Monday. "I told him what I thought, that probably he was about $60 million short. He had some projections from someone about what it took to run a club, and if Tampa Bay was going to be a player development club, and they're not going to go after free agents, then they're going to have to invest a heck of a lot more money in their farm system and their scouting than they had projected."
Naimoli instead hired Chuck LaMar, and Gillick, who had already built the expansion Blue Jays into winners, went on the next year to the Orioles then the Mariners then the Phillies, cobbling an impressive record of success, reaching the postseason with all four teams and posting winning records in 20 of his past 22 seasons.
Gillick, emotional and elated at the news, was the only one of the 16 on the ballot elected, with 13 votes from the 16-man Veterans Committee. "I can't tell you what an honor this is," he said. "And really, I think it's on behalf of all of the people that I've worked with over the years. That's who I feel this honor is for — the owners, the scouts, the managers, the players. They all share in this award."
Former players union chief Marvin Miller fell one vote shy of election with 11, then issued a statement blasting the Hall. Former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner received fewer than eight votes (no totals were announced), with several committee members saying it was "too soon" for Steinbrenner, who died in July, to be elected. He will be eligible again in 2013.
NO SOX FOR Crawford?: From what GM Theo Epstein told Boston media, it sounds as if the Red Sox are no longer interested in Rays free agent OF Carl Crawford. Epstein said the priority is restocking the bullpen and if they add an outfielder he would be "more complementary" at this stage.
RAYS RUMBLINGS: 1B/DH Dan Johnson agreed to a 2011 salary of about $1 million, avoiding arbitration. … Exec VP Andrew Friedman said there has been "a lot of progress" in re-signing non-tendered LHP J.P. Howell and he remains optimistic of a deal this week. … Among rumored rumors: the Rays fielding interest in CF B.J. Upton and showing interest in RHP Brandon Backe (making a comeback) and Angels C Mike Napoli, who can DH and play first. Also, the Jays joining the O's, Nats and Cubs in 1B Carlos Peña; the Red Sox, Mets, D'backs, Cubs in RHP Dan Wheeler. … Kevin Kennedy, working the meetings for Sirius/XM radio, said he was surprised when told the Rays weren't bringing him back for a third year as TV analyst. … Former Rays reliever Joe Nelson was at the meetings hotel, retired as a player but looking for a front-office job, preferably as a special assistant.
MISCELLANY: The agent for free agent LHP Cliff Lee, Darek Braunecker, met with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Monday and said there are more teams than New York and Texas interested in the "best player on the market." … Cashman said veteran LHP Andy Pettitte is "leaning toward retirement." … The Blue Jays traded opening day starter RHP Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for 2B prospect Brett Lawrie. … The Diamondbacks signed 3B Melvin Mora to a one-year deal and RH reliever J.J. Putz to a two-year, $10 million deal with an option for 2013. … The A's failed to reach an agreement with Japanese RHP Hisashi Iwakuma.