Nationals Baseball: The Werth is Dead. Love live Taylor

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Werth is Dead. Love live Taylor

If you only get your Nats news from this blog (which means your decision making abilities should not be trusted) it was confirmed yesterday that Jayson Werth's wrist was broken. He'll need to be in a cast for basically June with a goal set now of getting back on the field in August. You might be ok with that seeing how Werth was hitting .208 / .294 / .287 before going down but the truth is the Nats need Werth. Or at least they need 2013 Jayson Werth, the guy who hit .292 / .394 / .455.

It's nice that Span looks to be good again and Bryce has ascended directly into baseball heaven, but two bats don't make a team. Every other bat on the team was a question and "Will Jayson Werth return to form after injury?" now got an answer. No. Not this year at least.

What are the Nats' options? The easiest thing, and probably smartest thing, would be to plug Michael Taylor into right left.  Putting offense aside, Taylor offers two things the other two immediate options, Clint Robinson and Tyler Moore, don't. He can field and he can run. That means if he doesn't hit (a distinct possibility given his absurd strikeout rates) he still gives you value. If Moore or Robinson don't hit (also distinct possibilities) they give you nothing. Just from a worth to the team alone the solution is obvious.

If we take a macro view we get even more set on Taylor. He's 24 not 28 (Moore) or 30 (Robinson). He has 102 PA in the majors not 502 (Moore). He was killing it in AAA (ok they all did that which should totally tell you how much that actually matters, especially for older players). He's the likely CF replacement if the Nats let Denard Span walk, which was a given at the beginning of the year (I think now they might try to float him a 2 yr deal). Giving him an every day major league job makes sense. If he totally flames out - it's ok to move him back down and try to come up with something else. But he should be the everyday starter from now until say... the All-Star break. Something like that.

Moore and Robinson, as noted, are the other options and aren't very appealing. They may hit a little better than Taylor. Moore would almost certainly give more pop. But they will likely hit for very low average with little patience and frankly can't field or run. They are questionable bench guys, forget starting. McLouth, the original OF depth, is still out from shoulder surgery. denDekker, who they traded Blevins for to get more OF depth, can't hit even in AAA. Difo is an IF who doesn't have any compelling reason to leapfrog Taylor. The minors are a mess. How bad is it? The best hitter playing OF in Syracuse is hitting .241 / .343 / .345 and is 26. The Nats literally have no OF in their system that you'd consider a prospect with Goodwin floundering and the very fringey Rafeal Bautista first struggling in High A and then getting injured.

A trade? Possible but there doesn't seem to be a need for it now, with Taylor available. You wanted him to play OF next year so dealing for what essentially is a 4 month rental is risky business unless you can get someone for a steal. I'd explore this path, you know kick the tires on some guys, but only to get a feel for a deal that you may have to make in 6 weeks, not to do anything right now.

The other side of the injury is what this means for Werth going forward and it's likely not good. He did recover in the past from a wrist injury but he was a relative pup of 32 going on 33 when that happened. He's 36 now. Even then it took a whole season of playing to regain his power (it was June 2013 when he started to hit like normal), meaning that if he comes back in August the likely scenario is that he won't have any significant pop until next year's stretch run, or more likely 2017.

What does it mean for Werth's "legacy"? Well subjectively the fans will still probably look at him positively. They like him and he did well enough in the past 3 season, when the Nats were winning, that they associated him with it. Objectively it's going to be hard to say that contract is a winner, given that it likely produced something like 2 1/2 good seasons in 7 years. Then again Werth surprised me once turning what looked like a sure bust in mid 2011 to a maybe winner by the end of 2014. Perhaps he can do it again. And even if he can't pull out a good regular season in the next couple years (spoiler alert : he can't) he could still deliver big hits in a playoff and getting the Nats into a WS or winning one, well that's worth a lot in itself. Like I said, we can't deliver judgment until it's all over and that's over 2 years from now.

35 comments:

Eric said...

"The easiest thing, and probably smartest thing, would be to plug Michael Taylor into right [sic]."

??? ;)

Harper said...

I watch Nats games in a mirror

Eric said...

I bet all those 4-6-5 double plays are amazing!

Anonymous said...

One thing that always confused me about the werth signing is that he was signed at least in part ad a statement of intent that the Nat's were ready to win, but then when they started winning, it was considered ahead of schedule.

JE34 said...

I bet Tony Two Bags could play a mean left field...

Harper said...

Anon - I think the Nats were aggressively thinking they could be a pennant contender in 2013. 2012 was pegged as a WC type year. That they won 98 games surprised everyone. So they were ready to win and Werth was part of that but it happened a year earlier.

JE34 - maybe Yuney will say he wants to play RF now and they'll shift Bryce back to LF for him.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, we can't discount the value of the Werth deal to the fanbase as a statement, and Werth's value to the team as a mentor to guys like Bryce, rather than just performance per dollar. I know that's kind of silly in today's analytics-driven environment, but I think it's not something that should be discounted when evaluating Werth's contract.

Donald said...

A part of me thinks they might try Espinosa in LF once Rendon comes back, since they've had no issues in the past sticking pretty much anyone out there (Moore, Zim). But I think the right call is to stick with Michael Taylor, like you suggest. The silver lining is that they get a much better chance to evaluate what they have in Taylor while Span is still on the team. If he can't handle it, then extending Span becomes a priority. In any case, as much as the Nats *need* Werth, they should still win the division without him.

Strasburger said...

"(which means your decision making abilities should not be trusted)"

lol....

The NATural said...

As a fan, I made my judgement on the Werth worth a few seasons ago and it wouldn't change if he never plays another at bat. The Nats were essentially an expansion team and a joke until landing their first 'big boy' free agent. Do you remember the talk about us signing Roger Clemens? Joke. Werth? Joke. But then we got him because we paid the price expansion teams have to pay. It's a tax on losing. But we've been a real option since then.

I know, landing two exciting 1st picks helps a lot too... as I said, I'm a fan and perception and feel often trump soulless analysis. For what it's worth, the deal was worth it. We're contenders now and have been and will be. There was a price to get here.

Anonymous said...

@The NATural - I agree. Plus his Game 4 2012 ALDS walk-off was a memory I will never forget. Growing up in DC and being too young to remember the Redskins Super Bowls, we haven't had many of those epic moments that bring a tear to your eye. When he hit that ball into the bullpen off Lance Lynn, his contract became 100% Werth it :)

Anthony Rendon said...

Je34-Sure I could play gold-glove left field.

Out of the box idea. Throw Zimm in LF and Yunel at first. I'll play third and Espi plays 2B.

SM said...

Why not go all in and just make Yunel the playing manager?

Chinatown Express said...

NATural- If the value of the Werth signing was in convincing other FAs to consider signing here as a viable option, which FAs did it land us? Our only big signing was Scherzer, who joined after we'd already won the NL East twice.

I like Werth and I have trouble really begrudging the signing. But I don't think it somehow changed the character or perception of the franchise in a way that generated wins.

Jay said...

I say go get someone or move someone else to LF. I like Taylor, but I think he just doesn't hit enough to play every day (even now).Werth reminds me of Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez with the Tigers. Detroit had been bad for a long time. They signed a couple of big name guys and the league figured out they were in it to win it. Werth led the way for LaRoche, even Soriano, and Sherzer. Davey taking over for the awful Riggleman is similar. Anyway, you don't sign a guy to a 7 year contract and hope for 7 years of top end production. You hope for 3 or 4. Same with Sherzer. If Sherzer has 2-3 more years of what we've gotten so far, then that is a steal of a deal imo. Werth is just shy of what I was hoping for. It's not like he was Yuneski Maya.

Hoo said...

I'm just impressed that it only took what, almost 2 weeks, to figure out Werth had a broken wrist. The Nats training staff is improving!


And Taylor will get bulk of starts, as he had, with some starts for Moore/Robinson.

G Cracka X said...

Also, JW helped change the culture of the team, which was used to losing. I think he had a hand in setting an example for other players and helping to get rid of some that he didn't think were working hard enough (like Nyjer Morgan)

DezoPenguin said...

I said it yesterday, and Harper summed it up far better than I did. Taylor is a guy that we went into this season saying, "He is going to be our 2016 center fielder." If we think he's ready to be a major-league outfielder, then give him the job full-time. If Werth comes back and can play, he can reclaim his spot. If Taylor flames out utterly, then we can look for a useful rental option to plug in for the last two months, like, say, 2013 Marlon Byrd was to the Pirates, someone we can get on the relative cheap and trust to play respectably through the end of the season, then bid farewell to.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we can convince the Donkey - Adam Dunn out of retirement to play 1B and move Zimm to LF. Does anyone still have phone numbers for Elijah Dukes or Lastings Milledge?

Froggy said...

Agree with the others posting positive comments about Werth. I think he has performed well (when not hurt or on the DL), positively influenced the clubhouse in an immeasurable way, and served as a big brother mentor to Bryce Harper. I have a feeling he proves blog Harper wrong (again) and comes back healthy and wins his spot back and give reason to DFA McLouth, Moore or Robinson.


As for his replacement, of course you give Taylor priority but why not try Espinosa in LF also? He is a really good athlete and would definitely be better than Moore or Robinson.

Lee said...

Werth's obituary seems a bit premature. We probably will never see a 4+ WAR Jayson Werth ever again, but he'll be an asset to the team for a few more years. Especially if Manfred quickly decides to put the DH in NL parks.

Anonymous said...

Espi in the outfield is intriguing, but if the Nat's go that direction why not send difo down and get him reps in of?

Kenny B. said...

Agree with others. This is an opportunity to really test-run Taylor at least until Rendon is back. Then, if Taylor is not cutting the mustard, you could try Espy in left while you kick the tires on a rental.

I also agree with others that the Werth deal, at this point, passes the fans' value test, and because of that, was probably a great value to the organization as well. Fans associate him with feeling like a real baseball team in MLB, we got him from the Phillies who promptly cratered after their window closed, and everyone seems to really like working with him. And, importantly, he has not died, and we have probably not seen his last hot streak. And OMG, game 4 of the 2012 NLDS. I swear, my memory replays that at bat in sepia.

Eric said...

Rendon is in the Harrisburg lineup tonight.

"Tonight's lineups. Baysox and @HbgSenators open 3 game series at 6:35 pm. #Nationals Anthony Rendon playing for Hbg "

https://twitter.com/BowieBaysox/status/604366027795873793/photo/1

John C. said...

Agree with the consensus here: MAT in LF for an extended trial run (with occasional starts for Moore and Robinson when one of the starting three gets a day off). I'm not in favor of just throwing Espinosa out there - not only am I not sold on his career resurrection just yet, but he's never played out there, at least as a professional (minors or majors). While it's likely that he could do an OK job, it's no gimme - and there's no need right now to roll the dice like that.

That said, I would at least float the idea to Danny about trying the OF and turning him into an "Espinzobrist" type of player. And give him the glove and start working with him on playing LF. That way if there are more injuries, MAT flops or (least likely of all) Espinosa's bat forces his way into the lineup, they Nats have a little more flexibility down the road.

John C. said...

On Werth, he signed for 7/$126 and has already put up 12.1 fWAR in the first five seasons (12.7 in the first four looks a lot better; as we know Weth has really struggled in 2015). Depending on how much value to assign fWAR if he has a couple of OK seasons (~2-2.5 fWAR) that puts him close enough to par value for me to let his intangibles make the deal.

Froggy said...

7 pitches into the game with the Reds and Votto has homered off Strasburg.

Dang!

DezoPenguin said...

And now Strasburg is out of the game, injured, in the second inning. Apparently commentators are now talking openly about him having been injured "all season" (which if true...well, we were all wondering that).

Froggy said...

With the possibility that Strasburg is injured just shoot ZNN's stock to 'must make deal now' level or what!

Anonymous said...

Should the Nats think about looking for a new team doctor? I'm not a doctor, but is it that hard to diagnose a broken wrist? At some point Harper should catalog the list of under-and misdiagnosed injuries ("oh, it's just a bruise; he needs a day or two of rest, but in fact will end up missing a third of the season.")

JE34 said...

Werth has probably been rubbing dirt on his wrist for the past two weeks... that'll slow down the diagnosis.

Anonymous said...

No j wow = no wins sadface

Eric said...

I'm gonna go ahead and assume anyone who feels the Nats don't spin team news (including injury news) isn't a native to DC and/or isn't in politics.

Anonymous said...

I think Michael Taylor should be given a full-time shot regardless. The Nats need a guy like him who is a good guy on and off the field. I met Michael Taylor before a game at Potomac where he was doing some tee work with John Wagner. Him and John both came over and talked to me and my son. Most polite and respectful people you'll ever meet. John later coached my son at the academy and also gave him free hitting lessons. Taylor will be a future All Star and is better than Werth. Werth is on the downside of his career and Taylor is still developing. Werth should be gone next year; Taylor is our future!

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