A funny thing has happened the last two nights for the Durham Bulls. Desmond Jennings has been dropped from the leadoff spot to the 7-hole. Teams don’t do that with top prospects, even if they are struggling. Jennings is hitting .245/.343/.319 (.320 wOBA). Certainly not great, but not the worst offensive showing either.

But what if Jennings is being prepped for a promotion to the big leagues? Some players do need an adjustment period when they are no longer guaranteed a first-inning at bat.

So humor us for a second and let’s say Jennings is going to be promoted some time in the near-future. Why seventh?

Follow us around the diamond: Trade Jason Bartlett while other teams still think 2009 wasn’t a fluke. Make Reid Brignac the most-days shortstop. Move Ben Zobrist back to second base and into the leadoff spot. Voila! Right field and the seven-spot are wide open for Mr. Jennings. Now all of the sudden the lineup versus righties looks like this…

  1. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  2. Carl Crawford, LF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Carlos Pena, 1B
  5. John Jaso, C
  6. BJ Upton, CF
  7. Desmond Jennings, RF
  8. Hank Blalock, DH
  9. Reid Brignac, SS

This lineup is just as good offensively (if not better) and clearly better defensively. On top of that, the Rays net a couple of solid prospects and possibly another left-handed reliever for Durham.

The only question that remains is: When?

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22 Comments

  1. ramedy says:

    Hopefully Bartlett can get healthy and back on track - I don't think the haul for Bartlett would be all that great with his performance and the lack of desperate teams. I just don't think the Rays are ready to give Brignac the SS job full-time - I point to last night's game as evidence that a little more maturation (and work against LHP) is in order. Maybe Maddon could move the Brignac/Rodriguez platoon to SS if Jennings gets brought up.

    I just don't see them bringing Jennings up yet though, especially with Joyce back and healthy. If the Rays ever decide to finally put Bartlett on the DL, I'd imagine Joyce gets the call. If Joyce proves he'd be worth a bench spot in the big club, and Rodriguez keeps mashing LHP like Kapler is supposed to be doing, do you think Kapler gets the hook?

    Then there's the whole Navi/Jaso situation to debate as well. I love it that the Rays have these problems.

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  2. Cork Gaines says:

    Do the Nationals think they are in the race? Bartlett would certainly be an upgrade over Desmond and the Nats can certainly afford Bartlett. Also there is the Mariners who I think would much prefer Bartlett at SS over Wilson. And I don't think the M's would be afraid to bench/DFA Wilson.

    Also, what is the supply right now of available all-star caliber shortstops that won't be a free agent after the season?so why the demand may be low, so is the supply. And it will only take one team to decide they need an upgrade.

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    • ramedy says:

      I'm not so sure Bartlett is an upgrade over Desmond. Desmond is definitely more of a hacker (only 9 BBs this year), but he's getting more production out of his contact. Defensively, I think Desmond is towards the top of most categories, which is more than we can say for Bartlett.

      Okay, maybe Bartlett would be an upgrade over Wilson; but Seattle would have to turn things around pretty quickly to be in a buyer's position.

      Maybe Jose Reyes will snap like twig like he usually does - I'm pretty sure we could convince Minaya of Bartlett's leadership value.

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  3. Charles says:

    This seems to fit with Blalock getting more outfield work too. If a middle infielder is being traded away, you have less flexibility to put Zobrist in the outfield when somebody needs a day off. Though the other scenario it fits with is a DFA of Kapler, so who knows?

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  4. Sublime says:

    I like Jaso's bat, but his defense leaves much to be desired. If there's one spot I would sacrifice offense for defense it's at the catcher position.

    Back to the topic, I could see Jennings being moved up but probably not before September.

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    • Mike says:

      Jaso is not a good catcher, but its not like Navi is a gold glover. He can't catch anything with those fat fingers. Navi is a way below average defensive catcher and while Jaso is worse he is not so much worse that the hitting difference doesn't make up for it.

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  5. Brixology says:

    I know there is a small sample size, but can someone tell me whose UZR and/or Zone Rating is better, Reid or Barty?

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      Bartlett is at -3.6 UZR and -9.0 UZR/150gms

      Brignac has only played 11gms at SS but his UZR is 1.0 and UZR/150 is 33.0.

      Obviously you take both with a grain if salt, but so far Briggy Baseball has been better. Bartlett's number is in-line with the -5.6 UZR he had last year.

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  6. Hal says:

    Can somebody please enlighten me as to why Jaso is so far inferior to Nazi as a defensive catcher? I know that his defensive rep is his main drawback, but it seems to me that he has been at least average behind the plate so far and certaimly no worse than Navi. He's actually thrown the ball well - he's at 35% with a small sample size, but not too shabby. I've seen him miss a few that he should have blocked, but I've also seen him make some real nice blocks. Navi gets praise for his base running (and he should), but Jaso is has been great on the bases in his time here - 2 of the last 3 nights he took second on balls in the dirt that were really close to the catcher.

    I'm betting Bartlett hits the DL today or tomorrow and that there is allready a flight booked from Durham to Texas. I'm betting Desmond's on that flight. Maybe Ruggiano. I'm secretly hoping for Dan Johnson - 1.030 OPS. Give Carlos a week off.

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    • Sarah says:

      I'm hoping for Johnson, too. Maybe he is AAAA, but let's give him a chance to show us otherwise.

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  7. Jorge M says:

    If Jennings does come up, don't you think a better defensive outfield would have him in center and BJ in right? Common baseball knowledge puts the better arm in right and BJ has a cannon while DJ isn't known for throwing people out, while both of them have similiar amounts of range. The thought of people trying to go home tagging up on Beej in right is pretty exciting. And before you discount this because of pride, Justin Upton made the move a few years back for the D-Backs.

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    • Cork Gaines says:

      I don't discount that at all. I have long wondered if that is the better lineup. But two things: 1) does Jennings have a comparable range as Upton?; 2) will Upton be miffed about moving to yet another position?

      If their range is similar and Upton promises not to sulk, then I would lean toward this lineup.

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  8. Brian H says:

    please let this happen at 5:14 pm.

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    • Brian H says:

      that joke would of made sense if the comment time was not on central time. if barty goes on DL, i see dan johnson making the logical sense with penas struggles, yes/no?

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  9. Justin H says:

    I think this would make sense if Bartlett was heading to the DL, then Jennings comes up and takes his spot. Maddon did say it was "50-50" he goes on the DL. So that would make more sense than trading Bartlett at this point I think.

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  10. John G says:

    Bartlett will catch a good load in return. He is just entering his prime and is a reigning all star.
    I think you discounting the teams that can use a shortstop.
    St Louis could use one (Ryan is their future but he is hitting .220). Pittsburgh needs one (They have a deep system). Seattle def. needs one and they can afford it.
    Maddon likes Reid and Sean, there are SS and 2nd. Move Ben there at 2nd base.
    Jennings will be center field because he actually has better range than Upton. Upton does make things look easy but he will drop the ball and makes plays that people wonder he was watching. You put Jennings next to CC and Upton, good god seriously could you imagine that.
    Also what do people think about moving Shields? He probably has the smallest ceiling of anyone on the team, close with Jeff.
    I do not think the pitchers need that big brother figure anymore, they have grown up now. Shields with this contract would fetch a lot! It would easily get us a top of the line 1st basemen would also be affordable and provide a HUGE upgrade over Pena

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  11. Chris D says:

    This may all happen, but I really think this move was about Jennings, not Bartlett.

    As a Durham resident, I follow the Bulls nearly every day. At the time he was in a 4 for 40 spot. But more importantly, his approach at the plate was terrible. While he normally has a pretty good batting eye, during the slump he was all over the place. I think the shove down the lineup was a relieve pressure move for the time being.

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