Monday, December 6, 2010

Brushing off the nats

The world made a lot more sense to me before Jayson Werth ended his brief status as a free agent by signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

Werth was one of the most sought-after players on the market, but this deal made a pathetic splash in a pool drained by years of sucking. The former Phillies right fielder allowed one World Series ring on his finger to pay lip service to his conscience before he finalized the humongous payday.

Maybe the Boston Red Sox could've given Werth a similar contract, and they probably would have before the Nationals jumped the gun, but they made the right move grabbing Adrian Gonzalez first. Gonazalez is three years younger and is a more proven commodity.

I'm not going to pretend that any other person in Werth's position would turn down the exact contract he and agent Scott Boras were looking for, but he can't expect his experience on the field to be as enjoyable either. A doubling in salary will prove a substantial price to pay.

In a division as competitive as the NL East, the Nationals are easily still a few years away from finishing better than fourth place. Werth will impress his teammates with his enviable blend of power and speed, but the response to his big blasts out of the yard won't stir the same frenzy in the half-empty Nationals Park.

Werth will also deal getting beaten by his former team 10-15 times out of the year, and given the fairly short distance between Philadelphia and D.C., he'll hear plenty of boos when the Phillies are the visiting team.

Werth isn't a savior that the Nationals are banking on. He's presently on the slow rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery. Werth may sell a few tickets before Stephen Strasburg's return, but in a baseball sense, everyone's getting screwed from this deal. The Phillies lost a key right-handed bat in the middle of their lineup, the Nationals are losing money that could've been better spent on the pitching they desperately need, and Werth is losing those special extra games in October he's grown so accustomed to playing over the last four years.

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