Yankees should remember Phillies' LaMar at Christmas

Associated Press
Associated Press
Posted: June 17, 2011

Observations, ruminations, insinuations and downright opinions:

Latest flash on Chuck LaMar

It didn't take long for the largesse of Phillies minor league boss Chuck LaMar to pay dividends for the Yankees.

Desperate for a starting pitcher to face the Rangers yesterday, New York GM Brian Cashman had good reports on minor league journeyman righthander Brian Gordon, who had emerged as the ace of Ryne Sandberg's IronPigs staff.

The 32-year-old was the International League ERA leader, but the Phillies had signed him last season as a minor league free agent. They were obliged to roster him or release him by the next June 15.

I have been getting "Egg on the Phillies face?" emails since LaMar released Gordon on Tuesday, a day before the deadline. Brian started against the Texas Rangers yesterday, the organization that released the converted outfielder in 2009. Gordon, who was 5-0 for the IronPigs, pitched into the sixth inning of the Yankees' 3-2 12-inning victory, allowing two runs on seven hits, walking and striking out three. Flash II will be back to start another day. It says here, Cashman owes LaMar a favor down the road.

And, please, if you've been watching the Phillies juggernaut lately, Brian Gordon would not have had a future in this organization. Even in an emergency involving one of the Dubee Brothers, he would have been behind Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley. So, LaMar accorded his Triple A ace some nice professional courtesy. GM Ruben Amaro was not going to bump somebody from the roster to accommodate a 32-year-old. It became a matter of urgency for the pitcher-injured Yankees when Bartolo Colon went down with a non-stem-cell-related muscle pull.

Chuck LaMar's day, Part II

On the day the Phillies helped bail out the Yankees by giving up a guy who could be facing them in a World Series, the circle was finally closed on LaMar's stormy career as the losingest expansion GM in MLB history. At the July trade deadline in 2004, LaMar stunned baseball by sending righthander Victor Zambrano and a minor leaguer to the Mets for wildly talented 20-year-old lefthander Scott Kazmir.

GM Steve Phillips had said - between dangerous liaisons - he needed a veteran righthander. But Zambrano was so bad he got Phillips fired. In fact, a lot of baseball people feel the Kazmir giveaway was the start of the current Mets death spiral. They have had four GMs since that debacle.

LaMar had acquired one of the game's bright young talents to soothe disgruntled fans who were asked for patience by an organization averaging 97 losses a season. Kazmir was only 24 when he went 12-8 for the then-Devil Rays and helped pitch them to the 2008 American League pennant. LaMar was gone by then, but it was his team that faced the Phillies in the World Series.

Who can forget Kazmir's Game 1 matchup at The Trop against Series MVP Cole Hamels? He left after six innings, down just 3-2. It was Kazmir vs. Hamels again in the Infinity Game 5 that took 50 hours and a rule invented on the fly to complete.

The Rays traded Kazmir to the Angels before he could really ding them for big money. The Halos bit hard on what was left of the lefthander's upside and got a mouthful of his downside.

When the Angels released Kazmir on Wednesday out of Triple A Salt Lake City, where his ERA was 17.02, they had squandered $22.5 million, including the balance of his 2011 salary of $13.5 million. He now has a problem arm and his mechanics have not improved.

Interested, Mets?

Chuck LaMar traded a stiff and got the best years out of a great Mets prospect. What has already gone down as two of history's worst trades is squarely on the Mets and Angels.

Mickey Smallball

Mickey Morandini was a smallball overachiever in 1993 when he and Mariano Duncan played second base for Jim Fregosi. Good thing. The Mick might not have many of his short-season Class A New York-Penn League hitters rounding third in home-run trots.

There are eight outfielders listed on the Cutters' 2011 roster. One of them, Brock Stassi, was a Phillies' 33rd-round pick, the 1,021st draft selection. In college, he was a closer-first-baseman-outfielder. In fact, he was the 2010 WAC pitcher of the year, but has lobbied to be a position player. Stassi could wind up anywhere. Gauntlett Eldemire opens on the DL with a recurrence of a wrist injury that kept the 2010 No. 6 draft pick out for the entire 2010 season. Before the injury flared up again during spring training, Gauntlett showed flashes of power.

That leaves five outfielders with previous professional experience: Kelly Dugan (one homer in 243 at-bats), Aaron Altherr (three homers in 293 ABs), Kyrell Hudson (no homers in 193 ABs), Witer Jiminez (no homers in 265 Venezuelan Summer League ABs), Luis Unda, (no homers in 155 Gulf League ABs) and Luis Amaro (signed in February as an undrafted free agent.)

Which gives The Mick six guys playing in the NYP's biggest, most spacious outfield who have a total of four homers in 1,149 ABs, which is a homer for each 287 at-bats. As for the rest of the position players, only third basemen Carlos Alonso (three) and Maikel Franco (two) and 230-pound first baseman Patrick Murray (two) have more than one pro homer.

They better be able to run because historic Bowman Field is a tough place to hide.

Trickle-Down Trivia

Lots of you got Vlad Guerrero as last week's answer.

This week: Specimen jars ready? What former Phillies player fulfilled a goal of urinating in the outfield of each major league ballpark during his career?

Send email to bill1chair@aol.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/BillConlin.

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