Sunday, December 5, 2010

Werth Signs with Nationals

Jayson Werth, the best Phils' hitter in 2010 and an integral part of the 2008 championship team, is gone tonight.

Werth signed a 7 yr./$126 million deal with the Washington Nationals, the NL East's perennial last place team. With all due respect to Werth, who I continue to think is underrated by many baseball fans, the terms of this contract are a bit ridiculous. A seven-year deal for a 31-year-old player with a history of wrist issues is way too risky. $18 million/year is a fine price for an elite player, but Werth has only been a top outfielder for 2 years. Each of these years came at Citizens Bank Park with a top lineup around him. He now heads to DC, where he'll play in a big park alongside a decent lineup, at best.

The move makes even less sense coming from the Nats. If the Red Sox or Angels threw this $ at Werth, I'd think it was too high, but would understand that these teams are wealthy and may (rightfully) believe that Werth is the piece separating them from contention, or even a championship. But the Nationals are not one piece away. They remain, even with this signing, arguably the worst team in the NL East. They also have very low fan support and therefore little payroll flexibility. Does it really make sense to spend 25%-30% of the team's payroll (for years to come) on 1 player who may lead you to 75 wins? I think not.

I've been to Nationals Park many times. The crowd is uneducated, disinterested, and small...very small. Perhaps Werth was given a false impression of the DC crowd playing for the Phillies. When the Phils come to town, the crowd is loud and large. The reason: Phillies fans are there. I hope (actually, I don't give a s*it) Werth is ready for an adjustment. He has just chosen to leave one of the most exciting baseball cities in the country (with over 100 consecutive sellouts) for one who routinely struggles to sellout it's home-opener.

Thanks for your service Jayson, but I think the best and most exciting days of your career are behind you.

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