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Monday, July 15, 2013

Washington Post: Babb: Lambin, at 34, Clings To Major League Dream

A baseball lifer soldiers on:

Chase Lambin turned 34 years old a week ago Sunday, and to celebrate, he sat on the bench during a minor league game in Round Rock, Tex. Lambin plays third base for the Omaha Storm Chasers, the Class AAA affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, and he’s the oldest active minor leaguer never to reach the major leagues. Eleven years as a professional, and the view hasn’t changed much. This night was different, though, and a sort of birthday treat was that Manny Ramirez, the 41-year-old former big league star, was resuming his career with the Round Rock Express, the Texas Rangers’ Class AAA affiliate. Lambin spoke to Ramirez before taking batting practice, and he watched later as Ramirez looped a single into right field.
. . .
Lambin kept signing contracts for between $40,000 and $60,000, he said, enough to live on but barely enough to do much else.
. . .
He said he’ll keep playing until there are no more contracts, whether it’s in the United States or overseas. Baseball has given him a career, a family and more than a decade of experiences. He might not reach the majors, but in unexpected ways, the game had returned the love.

“I might as well enjoy it and play it as well as I can,” he said.

The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 15, 2013 at 06:20 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: aging, dreams, manny ramirez, minor leagues, old coot, royals, veteran leadership

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   1. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: July 16, 2013 at 06:03 AM (#4495500)
Looks like if it was going to happen, 2005 would have been the year. Unfortunately for him the Mets had a young David Wright at third. Although that Mietkiewicz/Cairo right side of the infield was pretty pathetic.
   2. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: July 16, 2013 at 09:57 AM (#4495555)
I took him in the late rounds of my mock draft his draft year.

He had a very nice '05. Unfortuantely for him, he lacked tactical value - other than positional versatility (without saying good defense - real error prone) - and was never starter quality. Some pop, but insufficient speed, not an on-base machine, just... a solid org guy. No shame in that (at all!), but it doesn't do much beyond pay the bills and give you memories.
   3. MM1f Posted: July 16, 2013 at 04:36 PM (#4496091)
Lambin kept signing contracts for between $40,000 and $60,000, he said, enough to live on but barely enough to do much else.


Um, that's kinda the salary range I'm in and it is plenty enough to have some fun with, provided you don't have kids, and the article mentions Lambin didn't have a kid til 21 months ago.

I didn't realize you had to make a hundred grand to "do much."
   4. Answer Guy, outhacking you by a mile. Posted: July 16, 2013 at 04:42 PM (#4496101)
Um, that's kinda the salary range I'm in and it is plenty enough to have some fun with, provided you don't have kids, and the article mentions Lambin didn't have a kid til 21 months ago.


No, but unlike most jobs that pay in that range, it's a job you pretty much can't do after about 35.
   5. smileyy Posted: July 16, 2013 at 04:47 PM (#4496108)
Are there day-to-day expenses involved in being a minor league player that the normal person typically doesn't incur?
   6. bunyon Posted: July 16, 2013 at 04:52 PM (#4496113)

No, but unlike most jobs that pay in that range, it's a job you pretty much can't do after about 35.


That's the real question for someone like that - what do they do next? As MM1f says, 60K isn't a bad salary. I would think/hope a guy that had hung around AAA that long would have some coaching opportunities at some level. He'll never get super rich but I imagine he'll do okay. Most people aren't going to get rich. And a whole lot of people would like to make a living playing baseball. He's pulled it off.
   7. Flynn Posted: July 16, 2013 at 05:01 PM (#4496121)
Lambin's a college graduate and has played over 1000 games of professional baseball. I'm sure he could find a job coaching youth baseball. Scouting's not out of the question either.
   8. The Yankee Clapper Posted: July 16, 2013 at 05:03 PM (#4496123)
Are there day-to-day expenses involved in being a minor league player that the normal person typically doesn't incur?

There is housing where you are playing, which could be more than one location if you are promoted, demoted, or traded during the season. Offseason conditioning is probably on your own dime, although some folks may be allowed to use the minor league spring training complex, but housing would be on you again. Not sure if there are any health benefits that cover spouses & children, or even the player for non-injury type of treatments. Don't think there is a 401(k) or anything, either. You might not go bankrupt, but it doesn't look like you can make any money at minor league baseball, although I believe there are a small number of proven AAAA players who might get a 100K/year if they latch on to a team that needs quality minor league depth. That's probably a 2 or 3 proposition under the best of circumstances.
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: July 16, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4496134)
In his one year in Japan, he put up a line of .192/.254/.358. This pretty much indicates to me that he wouldn't have much of a career in MLB...
   10. bunyon Posted: July 16, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4496142)
In his one year in Japan, he put up a line of .192/.254/.358. This pretty much indicates to me that he wouldn't have much of a career in MLB...

I guess this is the core of my take: he's somehow managed to hang on in AAA for a long time despite clearly having topped out, probably before that level.

Therefore, he must bring something else. It really wouldn't surprise me if, should he want to, he ends up with a long career as a coach in the minors and, even, perhaps, the majors. That's a lot of speculation based on not much information, but it would be a fairly typical "lifer" career arc.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: July 16, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4496192)
Someone will give Lambin a job as a coach or a scout or something.

He's really not a whole lot worse than a lot of guys who have gotten jobs as utility players. He's not a great defender, or even a very good one, but he can fake SS or 2B for a game or three and give you a little something with the bat. But as the article indicates, he didn't do it when he had the opportunity, and you rarely get a second chance when you are fringy from the get-go.

-- MWE
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: July 17, 2013 at 02:36 AM (#4496886)
Lambin's a college graduate and has played over 1000 games of professional baseball.


That is awesome. OK, so he won't make the bigs, but still, the guy has been playing baseball for a living 11 years. How good is that!
   13. Renegade (((JE))) Posted: July 17, 2013 at 02:48 AM (#4496889)
Dayton Moore would be doing a mitzvah if he agreed to call up Lambin in September. Come to think of it, why wouldn't he? As of today, the kid has only four walks in 55 plate appearances.
   14. zonk Posted: July 17, 2013 at 08:42 AM (#4496947)
Dayton Moore would be doing a mitzvah if he agreed to call up Lambin in September. Come to think of it, why wouldn't he? As of today, the kid has only four walks in 55 plate appearances.


Agreed.

I never understood why more teams don't do this... Sideshow though it was, the Marlins giving Adam Greenberg that one official PA a year or two back was a nice thing to do.

To me - if I can spare the 40 man spot for a month, I'd be bringing up as many Lambins as I could every September. Alan Zinter was another guy like this -- though, he got cups of coffee at age 34 and 36.

As someone mentioned above, anyone that's clearly without an MLB future, but manages to stick around for this long pretty much HAS to have some value as a mentor in a Crash Davis sort of way, right? I would think other players in the org would understand/actually respect doing something like this.

I wouldn't jeopardize waivers on someone of value, but I have to think every team has a spare spot in September they can spare for letting a lifer get a few weeks of realizing the dream.

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