You know I’ve often thought of doing additional things to go along with this little blog. A podcast is the most common thing I’ve bandied about, but live chats, presentations-type videos, back and forth page long discussions, have all been considered and re-considered. The problem with all of them is the same thing. Baseball is a daily game. It demands daily coverage (ok ignore the past week - I’m literally barely home right now). Who wants to listen to a podcast that’s a day old, talking about a guy who you say is cold, who just went 3 for 4? Given the short shelf life and the effort involved, well, let’s just say any of this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
What’s this got to do with Werth and his CHuBOUVs? Well what felt like a fine idea 7+ days ago now to me is old and stale. For god sakes the team is crashing and burning like pretty much everything in San Andreas (my review : if you think you’d like it - you will. if you think you wouldn’t like it - you won’t). So let’s quickly run through Jayson Werth’s
Commonly Held Beliefs Of Uncertain Veracity
and get to more relevant and timely stuff. These things come up anytime Werth hits the news and dammit if I always love talking about them. Mainly because these aren’t things I can say for certain are one way or another. Certain things aren’t always fun to discuss. These are things that are.
The Nats needed to overpay to get Jayson Werth, hence the 7/126 million dollar deal
Honestly I think I’ve put more time into going over the articles and reporting on contracts during this time than anyone and every time I’ve looked at it I come to the same conclusion. The Nats overpaid in years and dollars per year. They outbid themselves. It’s true bad teams sometimes can’t just give the biggest contract. (though sometimes, I'd argue usually, they can) Sometimes there has to be clear separation. But from what I’ve seen it’s years or dollars, not years and dollars.
Now is it possible I’m wrong? Totally. Hence “Commonly Held Beliefs Of Uncertain Veracity” rather than “Commonly Held Beliefs That Are Totally And Completely Wrong” I don’t know exactly what was going on behind the scenes. Neither do you. Only Rizzo, Boras and a few others really do. But when guys in the know are putting out Jason Bay deals (4/66) as floors, when someone who hit pretty much the same as Werth over the two pre-contract years while stealing a ton of bases, fielding much better, and being two years younger, only got a couple million more for the same amount of years… it should tell you the Nats overpaid. They probably could have gotten Werth for 7/102 or 6/108.
Jayson Werth changed the perception of the team, making them winners
This one is a hard one to wrap around because it did and it didn’t, but it didn’t in the way people talk about most. It didn’t really change the perception for free agents looking to sign with the Nats. How do we know? Because no free agents came to the Nats after Werth was signed. Derek Lee balked. Zach Grienke thought the team couldn’t win. Carl Pavano wouldn’t lower his price. Brandon Webb didn’t jump at the chance. Willie Harris wouldn’t come back. And that was just that same offseason!
No the players who came to the Nats did so either because it was the best deal offered (LaRoche - possibly the Nats 3rd choice) or after the Nats started to clearly get better. Werth alone changed nothing for no one in the game outside of GMs thinking “OK these guys might sign someone else now” Now again I don’t know but “Uh oh, look out for these guys who signed one guy one time on the FA market!” doesn’t seem a likely scenario. In fact they wouldn’t make a big FA splash again for four years.
Outside of the game though it changed the media perception of the Nats, making a nice story for reporters looking to hang their hat on something after a couple years of terrible play. He was also a way to market the team and frankly he still is because it did change the fans perception of the Nats. That’s not being dismissive. Getting the fans interested and following it up with an improving team? That’s worth something.
So is this commonly held belief true? Depends on how you look at it.
Despite the cost at the time, Jayson Werth has been worth his contract
This was a clear no, that amazingly became a maybe yes, that is now dropping back to clear no. His first 18 months as a Nat was practically worthless and you could see the 2020 stories written on the worst contracts in baseball history including this one near the top. Then something amazing happened. An injured mid 30s player not only got healthy, he hit at his peak for two more seasons. That just doesn’t happen. This miracle now made it possible that the Nats would get value back if he could pull off a couple of good years and he just had a very good one so they could even “win the contract” so to speak. But alas and alack he got injured again as old players do and he’s far less likely to pull of two good years in the time he has left.
What about the playoffs? What about them? Outside of one HR that won a non-deciding game the guy has been non-existant. 4 for 23 in 2012 with 2R and no RBI, 1 for 20 with 0 and 0 last year. He’s a one swing pony, which can be fine if that one swing ends up mattering. Outside of some fun photoshops it didn’t.
Of course this is being a bit harsh. The Nats won’t “win” the contract but given what he’s done so far - two more usable years, or one good one, makes it a soft loss. The HR might have been eventually meaningless but it was a lot of fun. So it’s not like he’s been worth nothing. Could things like leadership and entertainment and the perception I mentioned earlier put it over the top? Depends on what you think and feel. I can tell you purely on the field it’ll be a loser barring a second miracle. As a troll-doll selling package? Maybe not.
None of these things are provable to the point there can be no dissent, but that really isn’t what I’m trying to argue. In fact what I’m trying to argue is that these things are arguable but as commonly held beliefs they are often trotted out there as facts when they are far from it. I don’t like that.
Tomorrow we talk about the crashing offense or maybe the Nats win and we find something positive to talk about