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Gillick admits rebuilding could take longer than expected

President addresses state of team, futures of Amaro and himself

PHILADELPHIA -- In retrospect, Phillies president Pat Gillick may have been overly optimistic when he said it might take the Phillies until 2017 or 2018 to contend again.

He acknowledged Sunday he might have underestimated the team's timetable to rebuild.

"It might take a little longer," Gillick said.

The Phillies beat the Cardinals, 9-2, on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, but they still have the worst record in baseball with the lowest runs per game average in more than 40 years. The organization is in a state of flux with Gillick almost certainly stepping down from his current role before next season. reported last week that long-time baseball executive Andy MacPhail has been targeted as Gillick's replacement.

The talk around baseball since then is that MacPhail's arrival is only a matter of time.

"I can't confirm anything in regards to Andy MacPhail," Gillick said.

But until MacPhail (or somebody else) is announced, it is believed Gillick will keep the status quo in regards to the front office, manager and coaching staff. In other words, he is not going to make significant changes shortly before his replacement arrives.

Gillick disputed that to an extent, although he said "there will be no change" with general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

"While I'm president, if Ruben and I and ownership want to do something, we're going to do it," Gillick said. "I mean, if we think it's the right thing. If the opportunity presents itself -- and timing is very important -- we're going to act on it. We're not going to leave it for whoever it might be. We're not going to be locked up. As long as I'm here, and as long as Ruben's here, it's going to be business as normal. We're not going to hesitate."

But wouldn't it be unusual for two men who might not be in their current positions in a few months to make moves that could shape the organization for the next decade? Perhaps. While Amaro's contract expires after the season, Gillick, who has said Amaro's future would not be addressed until after the season, has an ownership stake in the Phillies.

"People forget that he was the general manager in 2009, 2010 and 2011," Gillick said about Amaro. "He went to the World Series in 2009, and had the best record in baseball in 2011. He had to make some right decisions in those years. And we were together before that. There's a history. I know the fans and media don't worry about what happened in the past. But he didn't get dumb all of a sudden."

But one thing should be made clear: Gillick is running the show. Everything is brought to him. Every trade proposal, every significant personnel decision.

"We're pretty well in lockstep," Gillick said.

But what about Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg? Is he the right man for the job?

"Well," Gillick said, "as I said before the season, we knew what a challenge we would have on wins and losses. If you want to judge a guy on wins and losses then no, he hasn't done a good job. If you want to judge the way he's conducted the club, the way he's kept them battling in games, that indicates to me that he's keeping these guys in a positive frame of mind and that's the most important thing."

Gillick said he is "hopeful" the Phillies will make some trades before the July 31 Trade Deadline. He reiterated the Phillies are willing to eat a portion of a player's remaining salary to facilitate a trade. He also disputed reports the Phillies continue to ask for unrealistic returns for their players.

"That's real bull, I'll tell you that," said Gillick. "They think we're desperate and we're in a fire sale and we've got to dump salary. We're not going to do anything we don't think is in the best interest of the ball club.

"We knew coming into the season we had our challenges. But we have a good ownership group here. I think they're patient and they're willing to spend money wisely when an opportunity presents itself. They know it's not going to be an overnight thing. They've always been in it for the long run."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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