The meeting between Joe Jordan and Matt Klentak was pleasant. The two men liked and respected each other beforehand, and that part of their relationship remained intact afterward. They just do not see the game of baseball in general and especially the process of developing minor-league players in exactly the same light.
For Jordan, that was enough to make him want to move on after seven years of being the Phillies' director of player development.
"I recently had a conversation with Joe during which he informed me that he plans to pursue other opportunities this fall," Klentak said in a statement Tuesday. "He was extremely professional and appreciative for the opportunity that the Phillies have given him for the past seven years."
Jordan, hired by former general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to replace Chuck LaMar after the 2011 season, inherited a farm system that had been depleted by years of low draft picks and prospect trades designed to boost the big-league club. Jordan left the farm system in a much better situation than when he arrived. The Phillies, for the first time in Jordan's tenure, figure to finish this season above .500, and they have three minor-league affiliates — triple-A Lehigh Valley, high-A Clearwater and low-A Lakewood — participating in the postseason.
The strength of the system is pitching depth, with Clearwater's Sixto Sanchez considered among the best prospects in baseball. The weakness is that the Phillies do not appear to have a star hitter on the horizon.
But this decision by Jordan was not about the state of the farm system or the condition of the big-league club. This was about philosophical differences. This was a little bit of new school versus old school and, at 56, Jordan had a way of running things that he thought worked because it did. Klentak and his crew believe things should be done a little differently, but, again, the parting was amicable.
"For the seven years I was there, it was the best job I could ever have as far as I was concerned," Jordan said by phone. "I loved my staff and the rewards from the players was great. I felt like my management style was that the expectations were always very clear and I gave the staff the autonomy and authority to do their job."
It is most interesting that Klentak knew Jordan perhaps better than anyone else in the Phillies organization when he was hired as the team's general manager three years ago. He has said often that Jordan was among the first people he called when he found out he was being interviewed for the job.
"I have known Joe since 2008 when we first began working together in Baltimore," Klentak said. "In that time, I have known him to be a hard worker, loyal colleague and good friend. I am grateful for his contributions to the Phillies during his tenure and I am confident that he will continue to do great things in the baseball industry in his next endeavor."
The natural public reaction would be to say that the Phillies want to implement more analytically driven tactics to their player-development style, and there is some truth in that. But those changes were already in motion. Go to one of the Phillies' minor-league parks and you can see that shifts have been implemented in the minors just as they are in the majors. There are also lots of cameras in place that are used to analyze player mechanics.
All of that was fine with Jordan.
"Our [research and development] department was awesome," Jordan said. "They are a very talented group of young people and all they wanted to do was help. For me, it was really cool to see what that group was adding. 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 [because of] Matt at all. I had a phenomenal experience with the Phillies."
Jordan, who was headed home to Oklahoma on Tuesday, said he is unsure about where he will work next.
In this new era that Klentak would like to see in place, all opinions are encouraged and welcome. Cutting-edge ideas are probably even required to stick around as a coach or manager. Gabe Kapler talks about those kinds of things all the time, and the next director of player development is likely to think along the same lines as the Phillies' first-year manager.
It would not be surprising, in fact, if the next hire comes from the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is where Kapler was the director of player development before leaving to become Phillies manager this season. The Phillies also have great admiration for the way things are done by the Houston Astros and New York Yankees.
Jordan surely will not be the only change in the Phillies' player development department, but a major overhaul is not anticipated.
The two biggest changes in Jordan's job this season had been the man directly above him and his decreased presence at minor-league ballparks. Before this season, the Phillies named Bryan Minniti as an assistant general manager and put him in charge of player development, along with amateur and international scouting. Minniti has a background in statistical analysis.
Some might argue that the Phillies, after years of ignoring statistical analysis, are now overdosing on baseball by the numbers. Without question, the new Phillies way bears little resemblance to the old one, which was exactly what managing partner John Middleton wanted when he hired Klentak.