At the risk of becoming another blogger who does the obligatory post about all the storylines surrounding Werth's first game against the Phillies, here goes nothing. Might as well get this over with.
I’ve been looking forward to the day that the Phillies face off against Werth for the first time as a Washington National, since about 10 minutes after he signed the mega-deal, if for no other reason than to wade through the drama leading up to the game while marveling at the different ways that beat writers along I-95 can essentially talk about the same thing, myself included.
If you’ll permit me, I’d like to go off on a tangent for a moment. Werth's contract with the Nationals is the 14th biggest contract in the history of a game that came about long before most of our fathers and grandfathers were born, and a guy who was five years ago thought to be finished has one of the biggest contracts of all time. How insane is that? Of course, that speaks more to the economic changes in the game and just how big an impact free agency has on everything, but still. His yearly salary with the Nationals is something like twenty times bigger than the one that Pat Gillick gave him in his first season with the Phils in 2007. Signs and wonders, folks.
That said, it’s unfortunate that Werth’s first crack at the Phillies will be in D.C. instead of Philly, because it’s going to be like a home game for the Phils anyway, which takes a bit of sting out of it when he actually does return to Citizens Bank Park in the first week of May. By then, most fans will have got their fill of boos or cheers, and the season will be a month old, and I suspect it’s going to be sort of anti-climactic when he digs into the box in front of a packed house in south Philly.
Regardless of what you think about Werth (it is my humble opinion that he should receive nothing less than a standing ovation – if the Red Sox faithful can give one to Johnny Damon after he signed with the Yankees, then we can give one to Werth), we’re sort of dealing with overkill today in anticipation of his first at-bat against his former team this evening.
Most of the chatter is about Werth’s relationship with the Phillies, his leadership role with the Nationals, and that it’s going to be more of a reunion between friends than the start of a bitter rivalry between new enemies.
But one of the most interesting pieces on Jayson comes from MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, who puts fans in their place a bit by insisting that, yes, Werth is only human and that we’d have all done the same thing.
If somebody offered me $126 million and somebody else offered me $48 million, 10 times out of 10 I’m taking the $126 million. Why? Because the difference is $78 million. Maybe you think that makes me greedy. I just think that makes me honest. If we’re really being honest, the Phillies needed to offer Cliff Lee $120 million to return to Philadelphia. If they had offered him $100 million he would be in New York or Texas right now. Lee deserved every penny he got. He shouldn’t have accepted less. Yes, he took less money to return to Philadelphia, but he didn’t take $78 million less. The Yankees reportedly offered him a guaranteed $148 million, or $28 million more than the Phillies.
Boo him or cheer him this week? If you boo, boo him because he plays for a division rival, not because he took a monster deal.
You know you would have done the same.
Folks are quick to demonize Werth as a selfish, surly guy who is only it in for himself, but come on. The Phillies never really gave him an offer worth considering, at least in terms of “baseball money.” Truthfully, if it wasn’t the Nats, it would have been someone else that ponied up all that green.
It’s easy for us to say that $50MM would have been enough, and while that’s true – indeed, that kind of money should be enough for just about every person on this rock to live a thousand lifetimes in comfort and luxury– imagine having an opportunity to get twice that.