The Philadelphia Phillies announced on Tuesday that director of player development Joe Jordan would not continue with the organization. His exit from a position that he has held for the last seven years was swift and sudden.
“…last week I walked into Matt’s (Phillies GM Klentak) office and told him I didn’t think I was the guy to take this thing forward,” said Jordan per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Much of what you need to know about the bottom line reasoning behind Jordan’s exit from what is essentially the traditional “farm director” position can be traced back to his hiring.
Jordan was hired by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Over the last few years since Amaro was replaced by Klentak, the new Phillies GM has done what pretty much every new head of any organization does in all industries – bring in his own people.
Those people have included “new thinkers” like Klentak, well-versed in video and computer analytics. In a comprehensive piece on the changes, Matt Gelb of The Athletic named three of those individuals as assistant GM Bryan Minniti, minor league information coordinator Ben Werthan, and player-development coordinator Dana Parks.
Gelb described behind-the-scenes maneuverings involving an increased role for Minniti over the past year which likely helped lead to yesterday’s announcement:
“…Minniti, who was promoted to assistant general manager last offseason, oversees the club’s player-development process along with amateur talent procurement. He has begun to exert more influence in how both departments are run. Two sources said Jordan was asked to take a reserved approach — more hands off — this season.”
The Phillies did not immediately name a new farm director. There are internal candidates, but the club has shown with many of its recent hiring’s such as manager Gabe Kapler that they are willing to search aggressively outside of the organization for new talent fitting their ever-increasing move towards an analytical approach to talent evaluation.
What all this means for the future is that the new director of player development will either be one of the newcomers, perhaps Parks, or will be a new hire from outside who fits that same mold.
Jordan’s tenure has resulted in a somewhat mixed bag of results. There have been undeniable steps forward. The Phillies have a handful of minor league affiliates in the playoffs this season, and that minor league system has become respected throughout the industry.
At the big-league level, players such as Aaron Nola, Rhys Hoskins, and Scott Kingery came into and developed up through the organization during the Jordan years. They have brought not only long-term talent but are also providing the fan base with the first group of relatable and marketable players in years.
There have also been stutter-steps and frustration from high draft picks and top prospects such as J.P. Crawford, Mickey Moniak, and Cornelius Randolph who also came into and have been developing through the Phillies organization during his tenure.
Though there certainly were behind-the-scenes frustrations, the public parting of the ways between Klentak and Jordan was amicable. The 56-year-old Jordan was quoted by Bob Brookover of Philly.com:
“It would not be accurate to say that I was opposed to analytics. But I think our organization was in some form of transition and it was time for me to move on. I’m not leaving Matt at all. I had a phenomenal experience with the Phillies.“
As the organization moves forward, fans of such an increased emphasis on analytics will be happy. “Old school” fans who long for days where the eyes and minds of grizzled veteran scouts watching players and filing reports led to decisions regarding on-field talent are likely to become more frustrated.
The Phillies appear to properly recognize that there is merit to both approaches in helping push the organization forward. Klentak is now leaning more and more on his own hand-picked lieutenants to do the job of overseeing the evaluation and development of ball players with an ever-increasing emphasis on statistical analytics.
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