Werth’s worth: Should the Phils trade the struggling hitter?

For High Hopes — paofirst@aol.com

It's possible Jayson Werth's days of making curtain calls in Philadelphia may be coming to an end. (FILE)

It’s all but a foregone conclusion that the Phillies are not going to have the money to keep Jayson Werth beyond 2010.  Heck, if they couldn’t afford $9 million to keep Cliff Lee this year,  no matter what accounting method we opt to use,  Werth remaining a Phillie beyond this season is, at best, a long-shot, especially if it’s going to take Matt Holliday or Jason Bay money to sign him.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Jayson Werth as a baseball player as much as my teenage daughter and her friends love him for being “OMG, sooooooo hot”, but the cruel reality suggests moving Werth now in exchange for pitching help would benefit the Phillies a whole lot more than letting him walk away at year’s end with nothing to show for him in return.

Speculating on the pitching we might get in return for Werth is shear serendipity at the moment, but it’s safe to say he would bring back a quality arm or two.

Assuming Ruben Amaro heeds my advice for the very first time, moving Werth leaves yet another unanswered question, “Who plays right field every day?” Well, I’m sure I’m in the minority by thinking Benny Francisco is a pretty good player. Because of his fourth outfielder status since his trade from Cleveland last year, we have not seen all that Benny can offer as an infrequent role player.

Francisco has the ability, and past stats that suggest so, that given regular at bats, he is more than capable of hitting twenty home runs with twenty stolen bases.  Francisco is an above average fielder who wouldn’t embarrass himself playing any of the three outfield posts.

With more than a third of the season in the books, how much of a drop off in production would we sustain by playing Francisco every day over the remaining 100 games? I suggest the difference between the numbers Benny and Werth would put up would not be all that much, and whatever it is, if it is anything material at all, would be more than offset by improving our starting pitching.

I’m just fine with a one-two punch of Halladay and Hamels, but after those two, the remaining starters are a coin toss at best as to whether or not they’ll pitch well enough to help us win or not.

Blanton doesn’t seem to have it this year. His strikeouts are way down and he’s sporting an ERA number that’s usually reserved for an airliner.  Moyer and Kendrick are simply way too hittable and can’t be trusted. I’m not sure what we’ll get from Happ when he returns in a few weeks. The high percentage (85%) of stranded base runners he had last year suggests he might have been a lot more lucky than good.

A lot of what I’ve said might be a moot point if Amaro had only given Raul Ibanez a two-year contract instead of a three year deal. There’s $10 million in savings right there.

Warren Buffet often says, “Maximizing your assets is the key to maintaining wealth.” Well, if one of the richest men in the world is living by that credo, maybe the Phillies ought to take heed.

Jayson Werth, by the basic composition of the word, is an asset. The Phillies need to maximize the value of that asset at the opportune time. Much as I hate to say it, that time is now.


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