Five Cuts from Winter Meetings (cont.)
I warned you a month ago: when it comes to Jayson Werth, beware paying middle-of-the order money for a guy who is not a middle-of-the-order hitter. The Washington Nationals went ahead and made the mistake of rating a very good player as a great one and a franchise cornerstone. It could be Bobby Bonilla with the Mets all over again.
It's great for Washington that it added Werth, a valuable player who should age well, but wrong-headed to pay $126 million over seven years and expect a complementary player to bat third or fourth, influence the clubhouse and be a face of the franchise.
"Don't ask him to be the guy," one Phillies source said. "He's not that kind of player. He doesn't respond well to that. We know that."
Washington GM Mike Rizzo disagreed, saying, "We feel the bigger the stage, the better he performs."
Well, that would represent a huge profile change for a guy who is 31 years old. The bottom line is the Phillies never trusted Werth to hit third or fourth, not even with injuries to other starters and not with an obvious need to slot a righthanded bat between lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He hit third or fourth only 12 times in 2010 and just 47 times in his career.
Werth never has driven in 100 runs and he is a .272 career hitter who is noticeably worse with runners in scoring position (.260) and much worse yet with two outs and runners in scoring position (.239). His splits in 2010 were even more extreme: .296 overall, but .186 with RISP and .139 with two outs and RISP.
The Phillies know this guy better than anyone and they believe he's not a cornerstone player. So why would the Nationals make such a leap? Rizzo was right when he explained that without a winning track record, his club has to pay a premium to get free agents. But this much?
Here's another take from a rival GM about the expensive price: Werth's agent, Scott Boras, is a master at exploiting "a disconnect between [a] GM and owner," selling ownership, particularly a middle-market one with the money and desire to step up in class, on expensive players as part of a blueprint that typically is drafted by a general manager. Under the GM's theory, Washington's Mark Lerner (Ivan Rodriguez, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Werth) follows Detroit's Tom Ilitch (Rodriguez, Magglio Ordoņez, Kenny Rogers) who followed Texas's Tom Hicks (Alex Rodriguez, Chan Ho Park, Mark Teixeira) in buying Boras clients as a key part of a building plan. Such a theory may overstate Boras' reach. But the Werth deal proves again Boras might be the only agent in the business savvy enough to need only one team to drive up a price.
Former players association executive director Marvin Miller missed election to the Hall of Fame by one vote from the Expansion Era Committee. Miller, 93, is next eligible for consideration in 2013 when the Expansion Era Committee is scheduled to meet next -- with what could be a packed ballot.
The 2013 Expansion Era ballot, which is compiled by an Historical Overview Committee appointed by the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be full of outstanding candidates. Miller, as well as late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, could be returning candidates on a ballot in which eligible candidates also will include former managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, Lou Piniella and Cito Gaston as well as former Braves GM John Schuerholz.
The 16-person Expansion Era Committee is limited to voting for no more than five candidates.
Better book rooms in Cooperstown now for the 2014 induction ceremony, which could last for hours. In addition to the crowded Expansion Era ballot, the player ballot the BBWAA will consider for that induction class will include first-time eligibles Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina. Imagine the anticipation in Atlanta alone if former Braves Cox, Schuerholz, Maddux and Glavine all are up for election in the same year.
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