Thursday, July 7, 2011

Contractual Albatross

Jason Werth is the new Juwon Howard.

The minute the news hit the wires on Jason Werth's bank breaking $126 million deal with the Nationals, I said to anybody who would listen: "They'll regret this contract until the day the payment coupons finally run out."

He's a decent player, currently struggling, who will likely bounce back for a few years, and then gently decline into being virtually unplayable by the final two years.

But my god, the money. The f'ing money.

Thomas Boswell tries to implore Nats fans to basically forget about the cash, and focus on the fact they have a pretty good outfielder who is a pretty good guy.

And he does so by referencing a former National who is currently serving as a salary anchor around the Cubs neck. AlfQuonso Soriano.
The Cubs paid a career-year price for Soriano after he had 46 homers, a best-ever .911 OPS and 22 outfield assists as a Nat. Washington wouldn’t touch the $75 million that was considered market price in summer of 2006. Nobody imagined $136 million for Soriano any more than $126 million seemed sane for Werth. But that’s what the Cubs paid him. 
Last winter, the Nats became the Cubs: They wanted to make a splash, prove to future free agents and their fans that they would compete. They “had to have” Werth and thus overbid, just as the Cubs had to have Soriano and were willing to overpay. 
Like the Cubs, the Nats paid for a player that did not exist — or existed for only one season: In 2010, Werth’s slash line was .296/.388/.532. 
In reality, Werth, in his 15th year as a pro, is a .266/.362/.470 hitter. That’s him. He strikes out, draws walks, fights off tons of pitches and hits it two miles to all fields when he runs into one. Werth also has 20-steal speed and is a better-than-average right fielder. And he had a great pedigree: a stunning .989 OPS in 10 postseason series as well as a grandfather and uncle who were big-leaguers.
Again, if you have to rationalize this much about a player, the bottom line is that he's just not worth it. And no matter how you try to say "why do you care about the money? It's not coming out of your pocket" I can say with confidence that the money will REMAIN an issue.

It remains an issue with fans, because modern salaries are so obscene, and so out of touch, you simply CAN'T separate that from the guy you are told to root for on a daily basis.

This same dynamic happened to Howard as a Wizard. He was no stiff, he was dependable night in and night out, he didn't make trouble.

And the fans hated him.


It wasn't fair. It wasn't his fault. And we would have taken the money just the same.

But it never went away.
Get ready for the sequel.


  1. Not much of a pedigree. His uncle and grandfather were incredibly overrated. His uncle, Dick Schofield, holds the record for most seasons having at least 400 at bats and fewer than 100 hits, having done it four times.

  2. Czabe - I'm a Phillies fan, and I was absolutely stunned when I heard about Werth's deal with the Nats. Werth was a decent player, but nowhere near a superstar, and to pay him superstar money was just insane. This is why people hate Scott Boras. Sure, he got Werth a huge windfall, but at what price? Werth now has to live up to a contract that he is not worthy of, and if he has any kind of a conscious, he's going to pay a huge emotional toll over the next 7 years. That contract was bad for baseball, bad for the Nats, bad for the fans, and bad for Werth and his psyche in the long run. The only one who truly made out is Boras, because he has no conscious.

  3. Well said, Jeff. Fans never ever want to admit that overpaid ballplayers are actual people, too, but you know that Werth's life kind of sucks right now.

  4. I can't imagine it sucks too bad- in fact I'm sure his life doesn't suck 1 bit. I can think of a lot more suckier lives in this world.