For those of you who don’t remember, Chuck LaMar, the first GM of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, spent some time in the Phillies organization. LaMar was brought in as the Phillies’ director of professional scouting in 2007, was later appointed to assistant general manager of player development & scouting in 2008, and resigned abruptly from the club on September 6, 2011.
At the time of his resignation, Ruben Amaro was very coy and a little sassy about what happened, responding to questions about LaMar with:
“You’ll have to ask Chuck.”
“That’s a question you’ll have to ask Chuck.”
“That’s a speculative question.”
A Bill Conlin piece that came out a few days later (one of the last pieces Conlin wrote before being accused of child molestation) relayed what Conlin had heard from inside the organization: that LaMar resigned because, as a man whose job was to run the minor league system, he was constantly handcuffed by Ruben’s bad deals.
Conlin wrote, relaying his man-on-the-inside’s report:
“LaMar requested a meeting with Amaro. Fellow assistant to the GM Benny Looper rode shotgun. So you knew right away the subject involved the minor league organization. Chuck got right to the point, which is his style.
He said, ‘I think our six affiliates have done a helluva job this season, considering we lost three of our top-five-rated prospects in the deal for Pence. The loss of Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton weakened a Clearwater team that had a playoff shot right to the final weekend. The loss of Domingo Santana, our most promising Latin position player since Juan Samuel, weakened the middle of the Lakewood order. Williamsport made a strong run at the postseason despite a young team that probably overachieved. The veteran players we signed helped Ryne Sandberg make the playoffs at Lehigh Valley and Reading was a pleasant surprise … ‘
Then he dropped the hammer … Chuck said, ‘I expect to lose top prospects the way the big club is structured right now. That’s my job. Develop ’em and wave ’em goodbye. But we have been shot at and hit two straight years. It’s also my job to see we draft and sign players who can sustain us at the high level we’ve been at during this great run. But the well is dry, gentlemen. My bonus budget this year was just $5 million. We can’t compete with aggressive clubs that are spending three times that. We failed to sign a number of late-round picks with college commitments because we could not pay enough over slot. We’re not even competing with the Pirates or Nationals, and in a few years the talent coming into our division is going to bite us in the butt …'”
So, looking back on it during this slow week, not only does it show that a man within the organization who had a hand in building World Championship-caliber teams saw the situation we’re in now coming from a thousand miles away, but he vented his frustrations to Ruben about it. All of the talk of evaluating and the unpredictable nature of baseball seems more indicative of incompetence than before, when we thought Ruben was just being dumb. Now, looking back on what has been forgotten and seeing that Ruben had (and probably still has) people inside the organization telling him that he’s been on the wrong path for a while, it just seems like he’s not even trying.
h/t reader Jeff