Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Werth out of the yahd

Good news for Jayson Werth: it sounds like he’ll be able to keep the scruff after all.

The New York Yankees have more immediate concerns than the free agent right fielder – who just declined arbitration – such as shoving their cold shoulder into Derek Jeter’s mouth and luring Cliff Lee into a pitching rotation that was supposed to get them another World Series title. Werth didn’t get one either with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2010, but with the numbers he’s put up over the past three years, he’s the best outfielder on the market that money from another contender can buy.

And said contender will likely jack up its payroll for the purchase. The question is whether or not the bearded slugger is ‘Werth’ the amount hardball agent Scott Boras will demand.

A nine-figure payday would be unlikely even if Werth was still south of 30, because he’s not a big enough name to attract that kind of dough in the present economic climate. But Boras will work his magic to replace his own pupils with dollar signs, while an emphatic “ca-ching” escapes from his mouth.

Werth will then sit comfortably with his new team, likely with a multi-year deal making nearly double per season than he did in 2010 with the Phillies (7.5 million).

The "right" offer could send Werth anywhere from Beantown to Chi-town or Hollywood, and he will be paid too much to play in any one of those places. Business deals are never without an element of risk, and Werth is most definitely a risk.

His resume is impressive, but it lacks a monster season that warrants 15 million. Any ballclub spending that much is paying for a versatile outfielder who will put up blinding offensive numbers for approximately six weeks out of the season, while tolling the Mendoza Line during the other four months. That team must also endure countless at-bats during which Werth will lunge unsuccessfully at a 3-2 pitch out of the zone with runners in scoring position.

However, buyers are looking at more than Werth’s box scores, and despite the previously mentioned end result, he works the count full better than anyone in the game. In this era of over-protectiveness concerning starting pitchers, Werth is the kind of batter that will drive up pitch counts.

Werth’s OPS has also increased in each of the last three years, and he surpassed 100 runs scored for the first time in 2010.

Among all the teams with a chance to make the postseason, this is a match made in heaven for the Red Sox. Werth is a sabermetric goldmine to Boston GM Theo Epstein.

The Red Sox were hurt even more than the Phillies last season and still managed to lead all of baseball in team OPS (.790). Not only will Werth fit right in with a lineup full of patient sluggers, but Boston can cover Boras’ ridiculous asking price.

Werth’s bat would replace the recent hole left by Victor Martinez, and his right-handed swing is a good complement to lefty David Ortiz. His swagger and long locks will woo the ladies, and his blasts over the Green Monster will encourage all of Red Sox Nation to chant his name. It’s an easy and inviting image that will be hard for Epstein to dismiss from his mind heading into the Winter Meetings.

Boras can make those daydreams a reality, and Werth will soon get a visit from another bearded fellow. Santa is coming early this year and he’s wearing a Boston cap.

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