PLAYOFFS or no playoffs, the Pat Gillick era with the Phillies ends next year.

The Phillies are in contention for their first playoff berth since 1993.

However, Gillick told the Daily News yesterday that, regardless of how the Phillies finish this year and next, he will finish the final season of the 3-year deal he signed Nov. 2, 2005. Then, he will retreat to the West Coast.

"This is it for me," said Gillick, who will be 71 after next season.

He has taken each of his three previous teams to the playoffs, but that goal will not keep him in Philadelphia past the 2008 season:

"I'll fulfill my contract. It's time to think about doing some other things in life."

No, those things have nothing to do with heading an ownership group interested in buying the Mariners, as has been rumored, even though Gillick moved his primary residence back to Seattle earlier this year.

Gillick was based in Toronto when he took the job with the Phillies, though he still had ties to Seattle. He was the GM there from 2000 to 2003 then spent the next two seasons there as a consultant.

The Mariners' two ALCS appearances in 2000 and 2001 made them the third straight team Gillick ushered at least that far. He built the 1992 and 1993 World Series champions in Toronto and guided the Orioles to the ALCS in 1996 and '97, his first two seasons there.

For the first time since 1958, when he began his minor league pitching career, Gillick sounds as if he is finished with any intense involvement with baseball.

"I've been away from my wife for a long time," Gillick said. He married Doris Sander in 1968, when he was working in the Astros' front office.

A tireless worker, Gillick has spent his first two seasons flying more than an astronaut, visiting free agents and their agents personally and getting to know his players, coaches and manager personally. He is coming off a brief, minor bout with a cold that kept him off the 10-game road trip.

He coughed a little yesterday, and he sounded tired.

"It's time to do some family things," said Gillick, who has a grandson. "I want to do them while I'm in good health."

Gillick's decision offers an interesting subtext in regard to assistant GM Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract expires after this season.

He was a strong candidate to land the Astros' GM job that went to Ed Wade last week. He was considered a strong candidate for the less-sexy GM spot in Pittsburgh, though he reportedly never interviewed there.

Amaro, 42, said last week that he would not have definitely accepted the Astros' job had it been offered, citing ties to Philadelphia, where he played and where he has worked as assistant GM since 1998. *