Rays Colored Glasses: How Desmond Jennings Will Affect First Base

Lending some of my own personal insight into Ben’s previous post, Dan Johnson should be released. When you look at bench players you look for either a player that can do a little bit of everything or a player that can do one thing very well. Casey Kotchman, if nothing else is a great late inning defensive replacement. His career .998 Fielding Percentage is above the league average (.994) for his position and he has only committed one error since the start of the 2009 campaign. Regardless of what you may think about the number of games played, he still had 1,960 Chances, while just the one error.

Dan Johnson does not have a “Wow” skill, or even a “Hey look at me” skill. He is merely a left handed bat brought of the bench in hopes that the other team will take their starter out of the game. His skills are serviceable, at best. With a farm system as deep as the one in Tampa, ties need to be cut with Johnson. If nothing else he needs to be sent back to Durham. Johnson is 31 years old, Kotchman is 28; I’ll take the younger, more athletic player any day. Isn’t that kind of how the Rays were built anyway?

With Dan Johnson gone, the Rays would be able to move Ben Zobrist to First and give Matt Joyce a shot in the outfield. If we look at a timeline for this sequence of events it may look something like this…

April: Release Dan Johnson, Zobrist to 1B, Joyce to RF

May: Desmond Jennings starts to correct himself in Triple-A Durham

June: Joyce struggles and Rays move Zobrist back to RF

June/July: Desmond Jennings is called up

Obviously you knew I was going to get “my boy” Desmond in there somehow.Obviously certain things need to happen in order for this timeline to play out. But look at it, does it really seem that unreasonable? The Rays may find themselves out of the race come July, why not bring Jennings up and let him get comfortable?

Ben and I may differ a bit on what impact Desmond Jennings will have in 2011 but if he doesn’t get some serious playing time in the “Bigs” this season, we will all be asking these same questions again in 2012. Isn’t it worth it to find out what we have in the kid?

Topics: Ben Zobrist, Dan Johnson, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce

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