LaMar, Phillies part ways

Phillies assistant GM Chuck LaMar showed no signs that he was unhappyin his job.
Phillies assistant GM Chuck LaMar showed no signs that he was unhappyin his job.
Posted: September 07, 2011

Exactly one week ago, Chuck LaMar sat in the dugout of the triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs a contented man.

That's why the news late Tuesday night that LaMar had resigned after four seasons with the Phillies was absolutely shocking.

He broke the news to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. and assistant GM Benny Looper during a morning meeting that apparently started with a much different purpose in mind.

"We had a meeting this morning - Benny and I and Chuck - and after having some discussions, it seemed like for Chuck the best situation for him was to go ahead and resign," Amaro said during Tuesday night's game between the Phillies and Braves. "I guess the feeling was this gave him the opportunity to have other pursuits either inside or outside the game. But that's a question you're going to have to ask Chuck."

LaMar did not return phone calls or text messages from the Inquirer Tuesday night, but during an extensive review of the 2011 minor-league season last week he gave zero indication that he was about to step down.

Instead, the now former assistant general manager in charge of player development raved about the farm system's vast talent and resources.

"A lot of teams want to say they have the best arrangement in baseball, but we do have it here," LaMar said. "From Lehigh Valley to Reading to Lakewood and the spring-training facility in Clearwater, it is just a fantastic setup."

LaMar went on to talk about how this had been a particularly successful season for the farm system because it had produced a long list of players who have contributed to the success of the big-league team with the best record in baseball while also developing players still in the minor-league system. He was also thrilled that all the Phillies' minor-league teams had been competitive, with Lehigh Valley and Reading qualifying for their respective playoffs.

But something obviously happened between that conversation a week ago and LaMar's morning meeting with Amaro and Looper, both of whom ranked above the former Tampa Bay Rays general manager.

Amaro said he was not shocked and that there was no disagreement between the team and LaMar.

"After the discussion, it was more of a disappointment," Amaro said. "It's a decision that he made, and we kind of have to go from there."

LaMar, 55, joined the Phillies after the 2007 season as a pro scout and moved into the assistant GM role when former assistant GM Mike Arbuckle left the team and joined the Kansas City Royals after the team won the 2008 World Series.

"He has had some solid contributions to our organization over the last several years," Amaro said. "I just want to wish him luck in his pursuits. Any time these sorts of things happen, there are difficulties around it. One of them is we have to replace him. This was something that was his decision, and we just have to move forward."

Amaro said the Phillies will replace LaMar. For the time being, Looper and Steve Noworyta, the team's assistant director of minor-league operations, are likely to take on some of LaMar's responsibilities, including preparing for the Florida Instructional League later this month.

LaMar rubbed some people the wrong way with his stern personality, but his greatest strength in player development was challenging younger players to perform at a higher level than they may have been expected to in other organizations.

That was the case with both pitcher Jared Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton a year ago when they opened the season at Lakewood. Both players handled playing against older competition and emerged as the two best prospects in the organization this season.

Cosart and Singleton, of course, were traded so the team could acquire rightfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros at the trade deadline, and nobody is complaining about that move as the Phillies prepare for their fifth consecutive postseason appearance.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

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