Trading Jayson Werth

Posted by Corey Seidman, Wed, July 21, 2010 04:39 PM | Comments: 21
Analysis, Posts

While the team has scuffled mightily in St. Louis, the last two days have provided us with a whirlwind of Phillies news.

The Jayson Werth trade rumors have picked up a ton of steam, looking more and more plausible, and the once-impossible notion of Roy Oswalt in a Phillies uniform is now realistic.

In this article, I will outline possible deals that could happen. But before doing so, let’s get a few things out of the way.

Capitalizing on Value

It does not matter if Jayson Werth helped this team win a World Series in 2008, or if he helped the Phillies come close to repeating in 2009. It does not matter if his 2010 salary is manageable, either.

The cold, hard truth is that Werth is a free agent after the season and will be too pricey to keep. His deficiencies have been sorely evident after a solid two months, but not so much as to dissuade other teams from pursuing the rightfielder. Therefore, trading him to a team in need of an outfield bat makes sense.

Those of us that watch Werth play everyday have seen him go through a prolonged cold spell and struggle mightily to get out a funk that has been defined by looking at fastballs right down the middle and swinging at bad pitches.

Since his time in the low minors, Werth’s best trait has been plate discipline. But with the Phillies struggling to score runs and stay healthy, he has been needed more so as a run producer than as the patient count-worker he is, and Werth has simply failed to produce.

Werth is hitting .160 with runners in scoring position – a number that is only magnified by his more important role in the lineup with Chase Utley out.

None of this is designed to knock Werth or call him a bad player. He is not really doing anything different than he always has (aside from the small sample of bad RISP average), but we simply expect more out of him because we’ve seen him steadily progress as an everyday player.

This is his first real step back, and the only reason it is so unbelievably infuriating is because the team is struggling as well.

Simultaneously Buying and Selling

Ruben Amaro has done a poor job since taking over as the Phillies General Manager.

He inherited a World Series champion, traded for Cliff Lee, traded Cliff Lee, traded for Roy Halladay, and now  finds himself in a self-made precarious position as a result of trying to win now AND rebuild his farm system at the same time.

The Phillies are not the Red Sox. They do not have a brilliant team of talent evaluators and they do not have an endless supply of funds. The Red Sox are able to rebuild and win at the same time. Mostly every other team is not.

Having his cake and eating it too has put Amaro in a position where he has to trade for a starting pitcher and admit the mistake of dealing Cliff Lee. There’s no two ways about it.

Trading Werth, J.A. Happ, and other prospects for Roy Oswalt is the complete opposite approach Amaro took prior to the season. He did not foresee all of the injuries and inconsistency, and placed too much confidence into a team that had compiled the fewest DL days to major players of any in baseball the last several years. Health is due in large part to luck, and that luck sure caught up with the Phillies in 2010.

Make Up Your Mind

As followers of this team, we’ve longed for an admission to the mistake of trading Lee. Well, these rumors in and of themselves are your admission. But now, that desire for an admission has turned into an insistence that Amaro stay the course and not cancel out his offseason move. Now, the fans want to have their cake and eat it too.

Which is more important to you, Amaro making the right decision at this time or not making a deal for the sake of continuing along a path he should have never went down in the first place? Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Selling Werth to the Rays

Nearly every rumor involves trading Werth to the Rays, and either packaging those prospects and sending them to the Astros for Oswalt, or using the Rays’ prospects to replenish the loss of their own prospects (a la the Halladay/Lee companion trades.)

The Rays’ two biggest minor league names are pitcher Jeremy Hellickson and outfielder Desmond Jennings. The Phillies will get neither player. Those pipedreams should end now.

If the Phillies are able to get either Hellickson or Jennings, I would go as far as saying no trade for Oswalt should be made, since each player is a young difference-maker that at least accomplishes the goal of a full re-build.

Obtaining Oswalt

After trading Werth, the goal appears to be sending a package of prospects and J.A. Happ to Houston for Roy Oswalt. Many fans are now groaning about the potential loss of Happ.

In a conversation with my dad, he echoed those sentiments, asking, “What does it accomplish if you have to trade prospects AND a young starter that you need for an old starter that you need?”

Well, first of all, Happ has been extremely unimpressive in the minor leagues since recovering from an early-season elbow injury. Based on his peripherals, Happ has long been a pitcher the advanced stats community has deemed lucky. He allows a lot of baserunners, has poor control, average strikeout numbers, and a ridiculously high strand rate.

Last year, Happ’s strand rate was 85% while the league average was 71%. In ten innings this year, Happ allowed 17 baserunners but stranded 94% (one unearned run), thus the 0.00 ERA.

Simply put, the low ERAs have been a result of either incredible luck or some superhuman ability of Happ to pitch like Cy Young with runners on base.

Trading Happ, a realistic #4 starter, along with two prospects for Oswalt is a move that needs to be made. It helps in 2010, but more importantly, helps in 2011.

Domonic Brown

By trading Werth now, the Phillies will be able to call up the best prospect in baseball, Domonic Brown. Giving Brown two months in right field will prepare him for everyday duty next year and let the Phils know whether or not a righthanded platoon bat is necessary.

Trading Werth also lets the Phillies capitalize on value that would be lost if Werth were held on to and allowed to walk after the season, and it addresses the bigger need – starting pitching.

Right field is the one area the Phillies are ready and willing to replace. A move that replaces Werth, Happ, and a prospect or two with Oswalt makes too much sense.

Spot on, Corey. But c
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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 BurrGundy

    Another excellent thought-provoking article. Let the chips fall where they may realizing that we will likely get, at best, three solid years from Oswalt. ALso, bringing up Dom Brown now, in my opinion, is smart. We can still win this, but we really need to act now. Otherwise, we will lose Werth anyway. We might as well get something for him. Losing Happ, in my opinion, is really not that big a deal. He is no youngster and has been injured all year. I hope any trade works out for everyone.

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    A great article…However trading Happ is a MISTAKE!!!! in my eyes…yes he has struggled in Minors give the guy a chance in a way this is sorta spring training for him…ok maybe a little pass that but you get the picture…i feel its a MISTAKE seriously….keep Happ..

  • Posts: 0 bacardipr05

    Why not just a straight trade?

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’ll toot my own horn for throwing Wade Davis and BJ Upton’s names out there this morning …in the “Amaro Scuffling..or is he?” post … I sure am onto something good!

    Without the guarantee of 2012, it would be GREAT to have Oswalt on this team.. but I don’t think he’ll accept a trade without it, and I don’t think the Phillies will trade for him WITH it …

    Which makes Wade Davis more likely in my mind, since they have Hellickson to take his place in the rotation .. Davis is called a “bulldog” … like a Brett Myers, but with less of a Redneck, and with more talent ..

  • Posts: 0 Jeff Dowder

    Speaking of Myers, he pitched another great game this afternoon…

    I’m Ted Bell.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    I don’t often say this but every thing Corey wrote makes sense and logical. Of course, it’s no surprise that Werth’s days with the Phillies are numbered. Those who are Werth devotees and have been in a state of denial toward a pending trade are beginning to concede. Make the trade happen and let the chips fall where they may for the team.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Is Wade Davis really that “punch” in the rotation that the Phillies seem to need….or seem to THINK they need?

  • Posts: 0 josh

    I don’t understand what more Happ has to do to be a part of this team. He proved himself as a reliable pitcher last year and he’s making the league minimum. If we want to be a contending team, we have to stop trading away affordable young talent and signing guys to 16 million dollar contracts.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    MLBTR is reporting that the Phillies “offered Jayson Werth a long-term deal, but he didn’t accept it right away.”

    Soooo…what does that mean? When did they offer it? Recently? Two months ago?

    And what does that say about Jayson? That he’s holding out for more than what the Phillies offered?


  • Posts: 0 miked63

    well written article , it all makes alot of sense. What i would be excited about is next year. Look at the rotation , doc , oswalt , cole as the 1,2,3.
    As good as any in baseball. We already know what the lineup looks like healthy. You get to add the youthful exuberence (AND TALENT) of dom brown. Next year would be ibanez’s last year , unless raj can move him somehow. The only problem is the right handed bat. The PHILLIES do have alot of talent in A ball. ( i read it on scouts .com ) Maybe rubin can do something with that talent to get a left fielder if he can move raul somehow.

  • Posts: 0 Phan in Atl

    I’m still holding my breath for a 3 team trade. Get prospects Houston wants for Oswalt from a 3rd team that wants Werth.
    With that said, right now it wouldn’t matter if we got Jimenez or Price, if we don’t score runs we don’t win. Regardless of who is on the mound.

  • Posts: 0 BurrGundy

    BJ Upton is a nut job. He may have talent but he will be nothing but trouble for any team that gets him.

  • Posts: 0 George

    The Phils are probably souring on Happ because this is not his first forearm strain. He missed almost an entire season with the same injury just a few years ago.

    He may be talented, but he also seems to be injury prone.

    And maybe Amaro relied too much on the team’s health, because it’s always been good. But at the same time, it’s also rather unusual to have so many injuries at once.

    As far as trading Lee, the Phils at the time had a potential rotation of Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, Happ, and Moyer or Kendrick. Moyer, Happ and Blanton all won 12 in 2009; Halladay is Halladay, and Hamels is on his way to a very good year. Someone had to go, and Lee was the one who’d bring the most in a trade.

    Amaro’s been on the job for two whole years, and he’s made deals that brought a pennant last year, and probably have this year if the team played to their talent level. People need to lighten up, and that includes Corey Seidman.

  • Posts: 0 Jean

    I’m not too sure why people are thinking happ is going to be a franchise player or something. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He is a pitcher that relies on control and mixing his pitches well. If anything, it’s time to sell happ before he loses all trade value. The guy has had an insane strand rate and it’s only a matter of time until he loses the favor of the babip gods.

  • Posts: 0 Sanjay

    What about Werth to the Yankees for Vasquez and Joba? The Yankees have always coveted Werth; we know what Vasquez can do to NL hitters. Joba could use the change in scenery. Hell, they may take a bag of balls for Joba right now.

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  • Posts: 0 therookie300

    Yes, the Lee deal was not a great deal for the Phillies, nor for Amaro’s job. But at least there was thought behind it. He’s wasn’t just some yahoo that made a trade just to make a trade. First off I still think he was forced to move Lee by the owners. Why wouldn’t he want to keep Lee? What GM would just make that move? He sent Lee to the Mariners with hopes that we wouldn’t have to see him anytime this year. Because of the Rangers trade that still will hold true.
    Before the season started, this team was the best team the Phillies have fielded in the last three years. Unfortunately injuries and no offense have derailed all of that. I’m not saying all of Amaro’s decisions were good, but he couldn’t have envisioned what is happening right now.

  • Posts: 0 pat carbone

    Trade werth for wade davis(or another young stud pitcher) then trade happ and prospect for haren. Get an ace and a future ace. Then call up Dom Brown and get a right handed platoon bat. get it done RUBE.
    DOC, Haren, Hamels, Davis,blanton

  • Posts: 0 A-Train

    George, If someone “had to go” it shouldn’t have been Lee. Starting pitchers of Lee’s caliber never “have to go” unless they are total jerks like Clemens…which Lee was not.

    Pat, I don’t think the Snakes will part with Dan Haren for Happ and a prospect. Although I do think Haren should be the target…not Oswalt. He’s younger and less expensive and still a great pitcher.

  • Posts: 0 ccsabath

    They should trade Amaro! That fool.
    Lee should have never gone…!

    I’ll be pissed if Werth is traded – very pissed-as in never watch or go to a game again pissed. So over Philly not producing (for all the wrong reasons) when they have the best chances. They have had a team for the first time in ages that should be winning the world series back to back these last couple years. No other team (Sox, Yankees) would let this slip by – but the Phillies, sure they will becasue Araro is a moron.

    I disagree with health is based on luck?! Jimmy Rollins being disabled should be really looked at – your ability to play ball when you’re expected is part criteria for what you’re paid-period. You are not training and using the off season properly if you get hurt that easily and for that long. Goes for a few other players too over the years.

    Jayson Werth isn’t doing any worse at bat than any of the other hit producers on the team right now, and he isn’t always hurt – he can make those dive catches without straining yet another muscle unlike a few other people.

    Lastly-spirit carries this game more than anything – and the Phillies have lost it due to all this – players and fans – and this trade ain’t gonna make it any better. The team with Werth is their last shot to pull it together – w/o him they go nowhere – One more ace pitcher in the misdt of what they have ain’t gonna do s##t. This was the first mistake already made – Losing Jason Werth now will only make that worse!

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