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MacPhail officially takes over Phillies

Ten days after they capped a 99-loss season, the rebuilding Phillies formalized the proverbial passing of the baton from Pat Gillick to Andy MacPhail.

Phillies president Andy MacPhail.
Phillies president Andy MacPhail.Read moreYong Kim / Staff Photographer

Ten days after they capped a 99-loss season, the rebuilding Phillies formalized the proverbial passing of the baton from Pat Gillick to Andy MacPhail.

MacPhail took over as club president on an official basis effective Wednesday, 31/2 months after part owner John Middleton introduced him as Gillick's successor. Gillick, who had guided the organization since David Montgomery took a medical leave in August 2014, returned to an advisory role.

"As the Phillies begin this new chapter in the club's history, we are confident that Andy is the right person to lead the organization," Middleton said in a statement released by the club.

"Speaking on behalf of the ownership group, we are pleased with the input that Andy has provided over the past few months. His years of baseball knowledge, combined with his passion for the game, are important as he moves forward with his primary objective of developing a championship-caliber team."

Middleton also thanked Gillick for "once again, providing invaluable leadership to the Phillies for the past 14 months."

Gillick, 78, will turn his focus to amateur scouting. The Hall of Fame executive and architect of the Phillies' 2008 championship team said he will assist director of amateur scouting Johnny Almaraz and director of international scouting Sal Agostinelli, traveling domestically and abroad to assess talent.

"That's my area of interest, and I think it's an important area for us going forward in the future," said Gillick, one of surely many with the Phillies who will heavily evaluate potential No. 1 overall draft picks over the next eight months.

"It's an important area to concentrate on, and make certain that you make the right choices, not only in the domestic draft but that you also spend your money wisely internationally. It's a challenge and one that I'm kind of looking forward to."

Gillick was asked to reflect on his time as Phillies president, a year of many changes for the organization on the field and off it.

"I think we're headed in the right direction," he said. "I think that we gained some flexibility, salary-wise, in 2015, and at the same time we acquired some players that I believe down the road that some of them are going to be major-leaguers and perform at the major-league level.

"I think from that standpoint we made progress and that's what we've got do. We've got this train headed in the right direction and we've got to keep it moving."

That train is now operated by MacPhail, who in September made the decisions to fire general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and extend field manager Pete Mackanin for another season. The search for the team's new GM remains in progress, with the longtime baseball executive operating under a cloak of secrecy.

The only reported interviews thus far have been with Kim Ng, Major League Baseball's senior vice president of baseball operations; Ross Atkins, the Cleveland Indians' vice president of player personnel; and former Marlins president and GM Larry Beinfest.

Matt Klentak, the Los Angeles Angels' assistant GM and MacPhail's protege in Baltimore, and Kansas City Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo are widely speculated candidates. MacPhail has not commented on his search since Sept. 22 and was not available for an interview Wednesday. He has stated his goal of making a hire by the Phillies' organizational meetings, which begin Oct. 26.

"I know that two of the intangibles that he's looking for in a general manager are passion and energy to go along with qualification," Gillick said. "He's looking for somebody out there who has a love for the game, a passion to be successful and at the same time a tremendous amount of energy."

The Phillies are not expected to make a big splash in free agency this winter, likely to instead opt for short-term stopgaps to fill in around their young, still-developing core. They will be in the market for veteran pitchers to mix into the rotation with their young arms in Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Adam Morgan. Talent continues to percolate in the farm system. Their ace of the future could come in the form of June's No. 1 draft pick.

Construction of the team's 2016 roster will continue at the general managers' meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., that begin Nov. 9 and at the annual winter meetings in early December in Nashville, Tenn. Free agency begins five days after the conclusion of the World Series.