Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Candidate #2 - Come on Down!

(2) Dan Jennings, Vice President Player Personnel, Florida Marlins

In 1995 Jennings was hired as the first scouting director in Devil Rays history. Despite losing several premium picks as compensation for free agent signings, he helped stock the system to a certain degree through picks from 1998-2002. Jennings currently works for the Marlins where he earned himself a shiny, new World Series ring for his work on the roster construction of the 2003 championship squad.

Jennings is a tough guy to figure. I liked him initially because I love all the young talent the Devil Rays seem to have percolating down on the farm. That group of outfielders they have is something special and should be fun to watch for a long time. However, the question of how these players were brought in and by whom snuck up on me. A more detailed investigation is necessary. This deeper look caused some concern, so let's sort this out the old-fashioned way - Pros and Cons!


Aubrey Huff, Joe Kennedy, Brandon Backe, Carl Crawford, Doug Waechter, Seth McClung, Rocco Baldelli, Jonny Gomes, Joey Gathright, B.J. Upton, Elijiah Dukes, and Wes Bankston.

That's not a bad list of players and they are all guys Jennings selected while overseeing the Devil Rays drafts. Another important thing to consider is that outside of Baldelli and Upton (ironically enough the jury is still out on those two particular guys), all of the other players were not first round picks. The Baldelli and Upton comment, however, leads us right something I'm not so keen on about Mr. Jennings' resume.


Josh Hamilton, Dewon Brazelton - two absolute first round mistakes. Hamilton over Beckett has been a colossal failure in scouting and player development and while it is difficult to critcize the Brazelton pick due to an weak draft year and unmitigating contractual circumstances (Texeira let it be known he wanted a Major League contract and many teams removed him from their draftboard accordingly), you still need to come up with someone useful when picking 3rd overall in the draft. Those are picks you CAN NOT screw up. Upton will be a player, but he is currently a man without a position. The jury is out on Baldelli due to a strange injury-filled season (torn ACL and Tommy John surgery in the same season) and an overall lack of polish and patience at the plate even when healthy.

Huff, Crawford, and Gomes are plus players. The pitchers are fairly generic when viewed as a group. I like some of the younger guys (Dukes, Bankston), but only time will really tell how valuable those picks really were. High ceiling guys seems to be the general target of Jennings' drafts. This can be risky. Judging by the overall depth of the Tampa farm system, I just don't think Jennings did as much as he could have. The high end guys are all quality players. The young, raw guys each have the chance to be anywhere from very good (Dukes, Bankston again) to star-quality good (Upton), but the overall talent throughout the draft just isn't there.

Jennings had 5 drafts with the Devil Rays. That's good for roughly 250 players. I found 12 guys I like. The quality of each of those 12 guys is important, don't get me wrong, but for a team such as the Phillies that is expecting to be picking in the bottom third of the draft every year, a better track record of finding quality depth is needed. 12/250 just isn't good enough for me.

I would not hire Dan Jennings to be my Scouting Director, let alone the next General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Dayton Moore...you're still the frontrunner.


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