Tell Me I’m Crazy: Trading Werth Might Make Sense

werthOK, I’m borrowing Bry’s “Tell Me I’m Crazy” column here because I definitely think I might be crazy for proposing that the Phillies should trade Jayson Werth this off-season.  Before I make my case, let me acknowledge the multitude of reasons why this might seem like a terrible idea at first glance:

Reason #1:  To put it simply, Jayson Werth is awesome!  I’ve said that many times over the past year and a half, and I’m not backing down from that stance at all now.  After an injury-plagued start to his career, Werth has emerged as one of the premier right-fielders in baseball.  Much has been made of the “leap” he made this year to 36 homers, but he had a very similar season in 2008, but only hit 24 homers because he had almost 200 less plate-appearances (as a result of platooning with Geoff Jenkins for the first half of the season).  He also led baseball in pitches-per-plate-appearance this year, which not only wears down the opposing pitcher, but also gave him a stellar .373 on-base percentage.

Aside from what he can do with the bat, he’s also stolen 40 bases over the last two seasons, while being thrown out 4 times.  And in the field, he’s played a Gold Glove-caliber right-field, and has the ability to play a solid center-field if you need it.  Like I said, Jayson Werth is awesome

Reason #2:  It’s been well-documented that the Phillies have a lack of right-handed bats.  Their other three 30-home run guys of this year are all lefties.  Not only is Werth the only right-handed power hitter on the team, but he also crushes  left-handed pitching like few players I’ve ever seen, which is exactly what you want sandwiched in between guys like Howard and Ibanez.

Reason #3:  He’s clutch.  He pounded seven homers in 51 AB’s this postseason, and he hit .444 (8-18) with a homer and three doubles in the World Series against the Rays in 2008.  Have I mentioned that Jayson Werth is awesome?

Reason #4:  Although he’s getting a big raise next year, a $7.5 mil. price tag (up from $2.5 mil.) is still a steal for what Werth gives you.

So, those are some very compelling reasons to NOT trade Werth.  Here are the reasons why the Phillies SHOULD trade Jayson Werth this off-season:

Reason #1:  Starting off with one of the weaker arguments: the payroll.  As Bry detailed a few days ago, the Phillies have a lot of players getting raises in 2010, and with all the talent they have assembled, it will take a ridiculous amount of money to keep all of the key players on this team here for the long-term.  It’s not our money, but Ruben Amaro does have a budget, and every dollar spent in one place is one dollar less spent somewhere else.  Choices will have to be made about what players will get mega-contracts, and which ones won’t.  Werth will be a free-agent after next year and, make no mistake, he will be looking for one of those mega-contracts if he does anything close to what he did this year.

Reason #2:  Even if they can find a way to keep all of the current core for the long-term, they’d be setting themselves up to have an old team in a few years.  When Spring Training starts in February, Victorino will be the only Phillie regular under 30, and he turns 29 in a couple weeks.  Could we be setting ourselves up for a repeat of what happened after the 1980 championship, when the Wheeze Kids won a pennant in ’83, then the Phils spent the next decade in the basement?taylor

Reason #3:  His value will never be higher.  As I’ve said, I don’t think his production these last two years is a fluke, but that means that general managers around the league probably don’t think it was either.  I’m pretty sure there are more than a few teams out there that would be interested in a five-tool player that can hit 35 homers.  Werth could be used to bolster the pitching staff, or to stock up with some more nice prospects to secure the future of the team.

Reason #4:  Michael Taylor (and Domonic Brown).  As we heard about plenty during the Roy Halladay negotiations this summer, the Phillies have two elite outfield prospects.  Taylor absolutely dominated AA in the first-half of ’09, and then was rock solid at AAA in the second-half.  He’s basically knocking down the door, and the Phils will need to find a spot for him sooner rather than later.  Obviously, he could eventually replace Ibanez in left-field, but the presence of Brown means that the Phillies might have to open up two outfield spots in the coming years.  Taylor could replace Werth in ’10, and Brown could take over for Ibanez in ’12.

beltreReason #5:  Adrian Beltre.  Obviously, the Phils want to set themselves up for a title next year, and while I think Taylor would be solid, you can’t expect him to replace Werth’s production in the line-up as a rookie.  That’s why, if Werth is going to be traded, I think it’s imperative that the Phils sign Beltre to play third.  Beltre is the youngest (30) of all the third-base options on the market, and he’s also the best.  He might actually be an upgrade over Feliz defensively,  as he took the AL Gold Glove in ’07 and ’08.  He had an injury-plagued ’09, but he was really consistent at the plate from ’06-’08, with HR totals of 25, 26, and 25.  He was also playing in one of the best pitcher-parks in baseball.  Based on his road splits (which were not surprisingly much better than at home) and what it’s like at the Bank, it’s not hard to imagine Beltre duplicating Werth’s production.  After all, we only have to look at Ibanez to see what can happen with the move from Safeco Park to the Bank.  So, Beltre could slot into Werth’s 5-hole, and Taylor could hit 7th.

So, that’s my case.  Tell me I’m crazy.

This entry was posted in Tell Me I'm Crazy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Tell Me I’m Crazy: Trading Werth Might Make Sense

  1. bry says:

    Even as the biggest Jayson Werth fan I know (just ask my wife, I think she’s jealous), I’m not gonna say you’re “crazy” per se. You make some really good points, and I have to be honest, the thought has crossed my mind as well, especially because Taylor and Brown are supposedly so good (though, I wouldn’t mind using the fact that we have Werth to justify offering one of them as trade bait in a trade for, I don’t know, Halladay?).

    However, I think you may have overlooked one reason when listing the reasons NOT to trade him that could tip the scales in favor of playing it out and letting him walk…CHEMISTRY. Werth seems to be one of the key members of the clubhouse, and this team has won back-to-back NL pennants (and, when it’s all said and done WILL BE the best team in National League history, Boot). The one thing that a lot of the “experts” who see the insides of this team on a regular basis say is that this team has the best team chemistry in baseball. Now, I admit that the concept of chemistry can be overstated in many sports, including baseball, but if you don’t believe that it’s a pretty major factor, just look at the results from 2007-2009 in the NL East. The talent differential (at least the first two years) between the first- and second-place clubs negligible, but one team won all three years. Why? Chemistry. And, Jayson Werth’s value may be higher in that regard than his 35 home runs were on the field.

  2. boot says:

    This may be the most intriguing post I’ve seen on BSB. Both sides make sense (solid work presenting them). But there are a lot of “ifs” involved in trading Werth – if the young outfielders produce (including this year), if they land Beltre and he sticks, if Lee remains with them past this year. Keeping him sends the signal they’re going for it this year, rather than hedging and hoping to remain solid in 2 years time.

  3. Doogan says:

    Thanks, boot. I definitely hear you guys on the argument of, “let’s not worry about the future, let’s go for a title”. But, what if moving Werth’s $7.5 mil. off the books is the difference between being able to sign Beltre or a much lesser-option, like bringing Feliz back at a reduced rate. There are options that slot in between Beltre and Feliz, but a Beltre-Taylor combination is probably going to giving you just as much offensively as the Werth-Feliz combo, without losing much defensively.

    Also, maybe Werth can be used to bolster the pitching staff right away.

    The bottom line is, there are a few factors that I don’t have enough information about to say whether they should trade him or not. First, I don’t know what his market value is and what teams are willing to give up. Also, I’ve never seen Taylor play, so the Phille front office has a much better idea than I do about whether he’s ready or not. But it seems to me that, if they think Taylor is ready to be solid (and all indications are that he is), then they should at least look into what other teams are offering for Werth, and not hesitate to pull the trigger if someone makes a nice offer.

  4. J says:

    I wouldn’t want to start chopping this team up now, right in the prime of this team. Sure we could get a lot for him, and if we weren’t the favorite to go to the world series AGAIN, i’d consider it. But I think you’re crazy to consider selling high on anyone of importance on this team right now. Teams in our situation buy, they don’t sell.

  5. Pingback: Live Blog: NLDS Game 1, Reds at Phillies | Broad Street Believers

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *