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

56 Comments

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.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

Daniel Shirey/Getty Images
3 Comments

Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.