Report: Chuck LaMar quit because he questioned the Phillies’ commitment to player development

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Bill Conlin prefaces all of this by saying that it’s just what he’s hearing, not necessarily the God’s Honest Truth, but he tells a story in the Philadelphia Daily News today about why Chuck LaMar resigned as the Phillies’ assistant general manager. A story — with “quotes” that appear to be paraphrasing, not things actually said — suggesting that LaMar was dissatisfied with the resources the Phillies were committing to the draft and to player development and his belief that “the well was running dry” in terms of young talent in the system.

Again, that “well is running dry” quote is a Conlin paraphrase from what I can tell.  Also in the paraphrase: LaMar’s belief that even the Pirates and Nationals are doing far more to develop young talent than Philly is.  It seems, according to Conlin anyway, that LaMar thinks — dare I say it — the future is murky at best. He wants to spend more money on prospects and draft picks and the Phillies, it is implied, are telling him no.

To which I give a skeptical “hurm.”  There are multiple sides to every story. This is one potential side. A side which, it should be noted, makes LaMar come off as the most responsible guy around who is only looking out for Philly’s future. Which, if you’re LaMar, is exactly how you’d want to come off in this situation. Indeed, if he had a P.R. agent, it’s exactly how the release could have been couched.  Which isn’t to say it’s bull — perhaps there is a core of truth to it — it’s only to say “be very wary of taking any story which paints someone as a selfless hero at face value.”

The success cycle is a real thing. Teams who have been at the top of it for a while like the Phillies have been are naturally going to have a more fallow farm system than teams who are building. Trading prospects and drafting late in rounds — even missing out on early round picks because of free agent signings — is part of the deal. The Phillies are clearly experiencing that just as every other championship-caliber team has done before them.

Perhaps that made Chuck LaMar’s job harder. Perhaps it even lends some truth to what Conlin is writing in this column. But it seems more than a little overblown to me, and I suspect that the story is way more complicated than all of that. Because nothing is that freaking simple.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.