Sunday, December 5, 2010

Jayson's Not Werth-y Of His New Contract

Wayne and Garth wouldn't bow down to him, so why did the Nationals do so when they signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal? In a recently announced deal, the 31-year-old Werth left the supercharged offense of the Phillies to become the main man in the Adam Dunn-less Nationals lineup, where he and Ryan Zimmerman will be the main power threats in a not-so-cozy ballpark.

Let's analyze this from a Mets standpoint. Prior to the 2005 season, the Mets signed Carlos Beltran to a seven-year, $119 million contract. The deal was signed after Beltran completed a phenomenal season split between the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros, a season in which he picked up 38 HR and 42 SB. His power/speed numbers weren't the only thing that made him so desirable.

Beltran was also a consistent run producer for Royals and Astros, scoring and driving in 100+ runs in each of the four seasons prior to his mega-deal with the Mets. Here are Beltran's numbers from 2001-2004, the four-year stretch before he became a Met:

  • 2001: .306, 24 HR, 101 RBI, 106 runs, 31 SB, 120 Ks
  • 2002: .273, 29 HR, 105 RBI, 114 runs, 35 SB, 135 Ks
  • 2003: .307, 26 HR, 100 RBI, 102 runs, 41 SB, 81 Ks
  • 2004: .267, 38 HR, 104 RBI, 121 runs, 42 SB, 101 Ks

For the four years, Beltran averaged .288, 29 HR, 102 RBI, 111 runs, 37 SB and 109 Ks. Jayson Werth became a full-time player in 2008. Let's see what he's done over the past three seasons.

  • 2008: .273, 24 HR, 67 RBI, 73 runs, 20 SB, 119 Ks
  • 2009: .268, 36 HR, 99 RBI, 98 runs, 20 SB, 156 Ks
  • 2010: .296, 27 HR, 85 RBI, 106 runs, 13 SB, 147 Ks

In the three seasons since Werth became an everyday player for the Phillies, he has averaged .279, 29 HR, 84 RBI, 92 runs, 18 SB and 141 Ks. He has never hit .300 or driven in 100 runs over a full season. Meanwhile, Beltran hit over .300 twice in the four year period prior to being acquired by the Mets and drove in 100 runs EVERY YEAR in that time period.

Think about that. Werth, who hit in a lineup featuring Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, still couldn't pick up a 100 RBI season. Beltran was constantly driving in Kansas City Royals players. Luis Castillo could get 100 RBI on the Phillies and Jayson Werth couldn't?

How can any team pay Jayson Werth $18 million per season for what he did in that Philadelphia lineup? Do they really expect him to repeat those numbers in a bigger home ballpark with a less than star-studded cast surrounding him?

Then there's the seven years. The Mets are regretting the length of Beltran's contract now, as he has constantly been getting injured and at his age (he'll be 34 in April), he has become practically untradeable. When Werth turns 34, he will only be in the third year of his contract, which will not expire until the year he turns 38.

A 7-year, $126 million is not unprecedented in baseball. Barry Zito signed that same deal with the San Francisco Giants prior to the 2007 season. He has been nothing but a disappointment since then. One other thing about that deal - Zito was only 28 when he became a Giant.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals for swooping in and getting Jayson Werth when no one expected them to. Let's see if they can be as fortunate when they try to trade him in a few years after realizing that they overpaid for a player who was never Werth it.

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