Chuck LaMar, 51, has been named Director of Professional Scouting after spending last season with the Washington Nationals. He brings with him 23 years of front office experience, including 10 years as Tampa Bay's GM.
From Beerleaguer's news sources: LaMar has served in front office roles for several teams, including the Reds, Pirates, Braves and most notably as general manager for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays from franchise inception through the 2005 season. In eight seasons under LaMar, Tampa Bay went 518-775 and finished last in the AL East seven times. He was fired by the D-Rays' new ownership after the 2005 season.
During his time as GM, LaMar gained a reputation for finding talent via the draft, a list that includes Carl Crawford, Rocco Baldelli, Delmon Young, B.J. Upton and Aubrey Huff, among others. His tenure was also characterized by moves such as trading Bobby Abreu and Dmitri Young for Kevin Stocker and Mike Kelly. He was also responsible for signing Juan Guzman, Wilson Alvarez, Wade Boggs, Roberto Hernandez, and trading for Fred McGriff.
Prior to his time with Tampa Bay, LaMar spent five years with the Atlanta Braves as director of scouting and player development and assistant general manager under John Schuerholz. He also oversaw Pittsburgh Pirates' Minor League operations for two years and served as a scouting supervisor with the Cincinnati Reds.
"Chuck brings a lot of experience in many different capacities to our club," said Phillies GM Pat Gillick in a news statement. "We're pleased we had the opportunity to bring someone with his background into the organization."
R.J. Anderson’s opinion: (R.J. is a columnist for DRaysBay, Beyond the Boxscore and author of a soon-to-be released book about LaMar’s tenure in Tampa. He was kind enough to send along his thoughts): "Of the few things Chuck LaMar did right during his time in Tampa drafting was one of them. Although at times LaMar would go against his scouts’ pleas to draft certain players – selecting Jason Pruett over Albert Pujols for example – he usually produced at least a handful of players who would reach the majors in some capacity. The negative rep about LaMar comes from his personnel decisions after he drafted the players. Perhaps the best indication of LaMar’s skill at selecting amateur players would be the 2004 draft where he selected current top prospects like Jeff Niemann, Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Ryan Royster, Fernando Perez, and Andrew Sonnanstine. He probably should never get another general manager job, but if there’s a position he’s suited for Scouting Director would be just that."
Beerleaguer take: At the very least, it’s nice to see a new face near the front of the media guide. I’m uncertain whether LaMar’s Director of Professional Scouting title leapfrogs Marti Wolever’s status in the pecking order. Wolever serves as Director of Scouting, while Gordon Lakey, who worked with Pat Gillick in Toronto, serves as Director of Major League Scouting.
Nevertheless, LaMar has an eye for the draft, and the Phils can use some more eyeballs there. Tampa doesn't win, but they've had some talent rise through the chain, amidst disaster in every other area. However, wouldn't it be nice if the Phillies could tap a better source for their talent evaluation, like the Boston Red Sox, for example? Note LaMar's front office experience, including 10 years as Tampa’s GM, puts him right at the top. When Gillick's term expires, he could be considered a candidate for GM.