The Washington Nationals spent $126 million last December to sign former Phillies’ right-fielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract. Werth was a consistent player in a lineup that included Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Plácido Polanco - and had the post-season experience and clubhouse presence that the Nationals so desperately needed.
The question remained - was it “Werth” it for the Nationals to invest so much time and money into a player as a franchise foundation? Teaming up with Gold Glove/Silver Slugger winner Ryan Zimmerman and veteran catcher Iván Rodriguez was supposed to be a winning combination and create some excitement for the Nats. Much ballyhooed pitching phenom Steven Strasburg would be out for at least a year after having Tommy John surgery late last summer (Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo says Strasburg might pitch a Major League game in September, which is a topic for another day…) and Bryce Harper is learning the way of life in the minors so something or someone had to draw crowds at Nationals Park.
In 2011, Ryan Zimmerman has missed 58 games due to abdominal surgery, Adam Dunn is whiffing with the White Sox and “Pudge” is no longer an everyday catcher. How has $126M Man Jayson Werth done this year? In one word, LOUSY! He is currently batting .218, which is downright awful for a guy who plays every day and makes so much money.
Why hasn’t Jayson Werth been living up to the hoopla? Some say it’s because he didn’t get along with previous manager Jim Riggleman (that’s no longer an issue). Others say he doesn’t have the support in the lineup that he had in Philadelphia (while true, that’s a lame excuse!). Still others say that we need to ease up on him because it’s only his first year in Washington. Excuse me? How much are you paying him? There’s no learning curve here!
To his credit, Jayson Werth has improved a little to start the second half of the season, going 6 for 23 since the All-Star break (.260) while the rest of the team struggles (except for Danny Espinosa, who is my current candidate for “Rookie of the Year,” but again, I digress…). Werth’s saving grace so far has been his defense, giving the Nationals a consistently good showing in right field game after game. Before Jim Riggleman left the Nationals as manager, he moved Werth around in the lineup, hoping it would spark some offense from him. Heck, he even batted eighth a few times to no avail.
Now, with Davey Johnson at the helm, Werth seems to be doing a bit better batting fifth behind Michael Morse. Before the All-Star break, fans at Nationals Park were booing Werth for his poor performance, especially when he struck out looking. Even my seven-year-old started calling him “Jayson Werth-less” when he would go 0-fer game after game…after game…How can a player who was so good for two solid seasons suddenly turn so bad? Pressure? New environment? It’s still baseball!
I really do want Jayson Werth to break out of his funk and have some really good at-bats, especially since the Nationals are getting ready to play against the Marlins next week. It would be totally frustrating if the Nats fell back to last place by losing to the Marlins!
They’re currently 2 games under .500, and since I predicted that they would finish the season at .500, I really need the Nationals to start sweeping some teams. Let’s see if Mr. Rizzo will make some moves this week or next, as the trade deadline approaches. Let’s hope the rumors that “Pudge” will be traded are false, that they trade Jerry Hairston or Laynce Nix for a starting pitcher and that Jayson Werth can finish the season above .250.
Duffy’s Pub in Washington, DC, is charging Werth’s batting average for a beer, and despite currently paying only $2.18 for a cold one, I’m sure Nats fans won’t mind paying $2.50 to $3 for a beer if it means the team is getting its dollar’s-worth.
About the Author
Written by Marien Hornyak
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico but have lived in the continental US for 22 years. I have a BS in Athletic Training and a MEd in Sport Management, where I did my thesis on "The History of Baseball Litigation." I am a wife, mother of 2, and self-proclaimed "Baseball Nerd." My favorite baseball players include Roberto Clemente, Kirby Puckett, and Iván Rodriguez.