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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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.