LaMar Joins Phillies Scouting Staff

The Phillies added a veteran baseball guru to head up their professional scouting staff. Former Devil Rays GM Chuck LaMar officially joined the Phillies staff on Thursday.

Phillies fans may not remember, but they owe Chuck LaMar a "Thank You". LaMar was the GM of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they dealt Bobby Abreu to the Phillies for shortstop Kevin Stocker in 1997. Abreu went on to have a number of good years in Philadelphia, while Stocker was much more of a short-term help to Tampa Bay. LaMar had taken Abreu from the Astros in the Expansion Draft in a deal pre-arranged with the Phillies.

LaMar has spent time in the front office of Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati in addition to his tenure with the D'Rays. While in the Braves front office, he was credited with overseeing the addition of Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine. The D'Rays drafted players such as Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford while LaMar was the GM there, but the team managed just a high of 70 wins during his tenure and twice lost 100 games or more. LaMar had taken over as the Devul Rays GM from the time the franchise was awarded in 1995 until he left after the 2005 season.

With the Phillies, LaMar will oversee the scouts covering major and minor league teams.

The down side

LaMar didn't always have the best reputation in his other stops. While LaMar has taken the official credit for his choices on players like Maddux, Glavine and Crawford, insiders have always whispered that the credit should have actually gone to other people in the organization.

Many people in the organization also had a difficult time dealing with LaMar's personality and approach to managing people. Players and agents were always cautious when dealing with LaMar and felt that he could never be trusted to stand behind promises that he made. Many writers following the D'Rays during his tenure there had a saying when it came to LaMar; "if his lips are moving, he's lying".

In his role with the Phillies, LaMar won't have the same influence that he had in Tampa Bay. His talent evaluation skills - which have often been called into question - will be tempered somewhat by the input from his scouts. Plus, Mike Arbuckle, Ruben Amaro, Jr. and others in the organization won't be giving up any of their control with LaMar's addition. Instead, he'll supplement the information that they get from the scouting staff.

Perhaps the biggest downside to LaMar is the same thing that former Phillies GM Ed Wade battled. He often relied too heavily on what a player had done years earlier in his career, rather than evaluating him by looking at where he was at that particular point in his career. It was those type of evaluations that saw LaMar bring the likes of Jose Canseco, Vinny Castilla and Greg Vaughn to the Devil Rays. LaMar also picked up former Phillie Travis Lee in February 2003 after he had failed in his stint in Philadelphia.

Every GM has trades that looked good and others that turned out to be a disaster. LaMar generally had more on the downside of the ledger and many people around baseball blamed his failures on his insistence on trusting his evaluations over the input that he received from scouts and others within the organization.

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