Dave Cameron on the Jayson Werth Problem:
- Managers already were able to bring in situational lefties to attack the middle of the Phillies line-up in high leverage situations, as we saw in the NLCS. Removing Werth from the equation exacerbates the problem, and the Phillies will run into a lot of situations where they are asking Ryan Howard or Raul Ibanez to get a big hit off of a left-handed reliever in a high leverage situation.
Werth provided necessary balance in the middle of the order, even if Amaro didn’t like his performance with men on base this year. If you replace him with Domonic Brown, it will be nearly impossible to find a spot for a quality right-handed bat on that roster. Each position comes with an incumbent that makes upgrading a challenge.
The Phillies best option would probably be to try to move Raul Ibanez in order to free up left field for a right-handed hitter, but with a $12 million salary, the Phillies would have to eat money in order to move him, and the right-handed outfielder market isn’t very good this winter. After Werth, you’re looking at guys like Austin Kearns, Marcus Thames, and Andruw Jones, none of whom are going to motivate Amaro to make that kind of change.
Essentially, the Phillies options seem to boil down to re-signing Jayson Werth or running out a line-up with a large, exploitable flaw next year. For all of the talk about having alternatives, I’m not sure I see a reasonable one. If the Phillies really do have enough money to keep Werth, they almost have to do it. Losing him would be a real problem, and one that would not have an easy solution.
We like Ruben Amaro. You have to like a general manager whose team has won three straight division titles, and nearly three straight National League championships.
But this all goes back to the Raul Ibanez contract, which we hated. If the Phillies hadn't signed Ibanez for $31.5 million, they'd have a little more cash available for Werth. If the Phillies hadn't signed Ibanez, they would have the perfect spot for Domonic Brown.
Instead, if they are able to re-sign Werth they'll have to either eat some of Ibanez's salary or make Brown wait another few months for an every-day job.
As usual, the real issue here isn't money. It's flexibility. When the Phillies were foolish enough to commit $31.5 million to Ibanez, they were also committing three years and 1,800 plate appearances to him. Which, even though he's played reasonably well through the first two years and 1,200 plate appearances, just never made much sense.
And of course the Phillies get to play this record all over again when Ryan Howard's $125 million contract begins in 2012. You would think at some point Amaro's affection for RBI is going to come back and bite him.