Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Lightning 7.18.2010

On the surface, you'd think that when he's making the rounds as a free agent this winter, it won't matter that Jayson Werth has behaved like an obnoxious and arrogant jerk for much of this season. His behavior hasn't been prickly along the lines of Jeff Kent where it's just the way he is, accept it and move on----Werth's been abusive to fans and his reputation has never been particularly good with reporters to begin with.

There are players who take advantage of an opportunity they received somewhat late in their careers and appreciate that they've fulfilled their potential, accepting the good fortune with professionalism and humility. Casey Blake and Cody Ross are two examples of players who could only be classified as journeyman in their 20s who grabbed a chance to play and ran with it.

Then there are players like Werth who use their burgeoning stardom as a chance to exact some form of revenge to settle a vendetta against those that they perceive to have wronged them.

Having become one of the more productive players in baseball, solid defensively and with speed, Werth is going to get paid by someone; but I get the impression that his long road into his current circumstances has burned him. Part of that may be fueling him----some players need anger to perform----but it's manifesting itself in ways that are going to put him in a poor light.

The Orioles drafted Werth in the first round of the 1997 draft as a catcher (while Pat Gillick was the GM); he was traded to the Blue Jays for John Bale in 2000; the Blue Jays traded him to the Dodgers for Jason Frasor in 2004; he put up 16 homers that year and injuries to his wrist hampered him in 2005 and he missed all of 2006. The Dodgers non-tendered him after that year and Gillick signed him to join the Phillies.

After being a part-timer in 2007, Werth became a starter and imperative cog in 2008 during the Phillies championship run; by 2009, he blossomed into a full-blown star with 36 homers in the regular season, plus another 7 in the post-season. Now he's approaching free agency and his behavior is becoming more pronounced in a negative sense as he snapped at a fan who interfered with Werth's attempt to catch a foul ball in a game against the Reds----link.

Werth's reaction was understandable in the heat of the moment, but after realizing what he'd done, wouldn't it have made sense to go to the fan and his son and give them a couple of baseballs before the next inning? Just to do something nice as a peace offering?

The other night, he made some snide comments ("Nice interview, guys.") to reporters as they were speaking to reliever Ryan Madson after Madson allowed a go-ahead homer to Aramis Ramirez in a loss to the Cubs.

These are reactions and statements that are unnecessary in every sense.

As good a player as Werth has become, these incidents do not go unnoticed by teams who might be interested in Werth's services after the season. Certain teams do not deal with players who are seen to be unfriendly to the fans and difficult with the media.

The Yankees and Angels could use Werth and may vie for him now in a trade and after the season as a free agent----but neither team deals with bad actors. For every team like the White Sox that don't care about a player's personality or checkered history, there are five teams who don't want to pay a player a load of money for the privilege to do damage control after a blow-up. Werth's actions aren't on a level with Albert Belle or Elijah Dukes----nowhere close----but if a team like the Yankees or Angels bow out because they don't want to deal with him and his baggage, he's costing himself dollars.

Does Werth have a legitimate gripe with the teams that dumped him? In his mind and in reality, he probably does. The Blue Jays could've given him more of a chance to play given his minor league performance; the Dodgers misdiagnosed his injuries and dumped him; but he needs to realize that this vengeance is: A) not having any effect on the teams who did him wrong----they don't care in anything more than an "oh well" way to a player they got rid of 5-10 years ago; and B) only reverberating with and affecting one person and his future----that person is Jayson Werth.

In a nightmarish season, a truth that few are willing admit has come to pass----the Indians are lucky that Kerry Wood needs to go on the disabled list with a blister on his finger.

Much like the Mets received a bolt from the blue when they were spared from paying the remainder of Mo Vaughn's contract when his knee problems ended his career in 2003, the Indians are saved from the mere possibility of Wood reaching the required number of games finished (55) for his 2011 contract at $11 million to kick in.

There was no chance for Wood to reach that number anyway given how terrible the Indians are; that they're looking to cut costs; that Wood himself has been horrific; and he'd only finished 18 games at the time he went back on the DL, but it does make things easier for the Indians.

Wood's going to be a free agent at the end of the year and he's an arm I'd look at as a low-cost flier to move back into the starting rotation. He's always hurt, but he seemed to prefer starting; he's not a reliable reliever----plus he gets hurt repeatedly regardless of his role. If he can deliver 25 starts and 150 innings at the back of a rotation on an incentive-laden contract, why not?

Joe Torre has always been one of those managers who was always saying he's going to take it year-to-year, but never had any intention of retiring; but now it's starting to look like it's the end of the line and if he leaves the Dodgers, that'll be it.

A combination of factors are leading me to this conclusion. He's sounding as if he's preparing himself for the inevitable with statements that he's going to wait until late in the season before coming to his decision; the Dodgers situation in ownership and on the field is tenuous; and he may want to "git while the gittin's good" as his reputation is still intact and he doesn't hang around into his golden years because he doesn't know what else to do with himself only to preside over a collapsing club and reputation as Connie Mack did.

Torre's turning 70 today and his wife----who's much younger than him---and his teenage daughter presumably want him at home while he's still able to participate in their lives.

Torre has vacillated on his future dozens of times, but his managerial career has gone far better lately than it did early when he was considered a "journeyman" manager who was competent, but nothing special. He's been lucky and he's been good. He's made a lot of money and he's going to be a Hall of Famer as a manager. He was a borderline Hall of Famer as a player as well and once he retires who knows how his popularity in baseball will influence the Veteran's Committee to judge his playing career and possibly induct him as a player. That'd be a coup for Torre to get voted in as both a player and manager.

The Dodgers may make a run to the playoffs as the season moves along, but more and more 2010 appears to be Torre's final year managing in the big leagues and his tone indicates he's coming to grips with that reality----that this is it----and I think it is.

  • It's not the crime, it's the coverup:

Will they never learn?

Yesterday, A.J. Burnett slammed his hands into a clubhouse door after allowing 3 runs in two innings to the Rays----ESPN Story.

Of course he hurt himself; of course he lied about it; of course he tried to pitch; and of course he had to come out of the game.

I totally understand the angry reaction for a bad performance and doing something stupid out of frustration; but to turn around and lie to the manager by saying he slipped going down the stairs? And to lie to a guy as smart as Joe Girardi? Did he really think that Girardi was going to buy that story? This isn't Fredo Corleone he's dealing with; I'd bet cash that Girardi knew immediately what happened, but let Burnett start the third inning because it was unlikely he'd hurt his arm trying to pitch with cut hands and that it would've been a nuisance and a losing proposition to have to go to the bullpen that early----and it was.

I'm sure many managers and bosses think along the same lines that I do:

I can deal with pretty much anything----I might surprise with my calm reaction to even the most aggravating situations----but; because I will find out the truth one way or the other and once that happens and the scope of the falsehoods are revealed, my reaction is going to be magnified by 1000% and said reaction going to be that percentage worse than it would've been had I been told the truth in the first place.

  • Viewer Mail 7.18.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE the White Sox:

I think you predicted in your book that the White Sox would win the division and maybe more (can't remember). Are you planning to watch "The Club," the reality show about the team on MLB Network?

The World Series. I picked the White Sox to win the World Series.

I've found it to be unwise to freak out over long-term predictions in the short-term to gloat or lament, so I'm holding fire. My predictions----for the most part----are doing quite well overall.

I never watch the MLB Network. Ever. Dunno if that's: A) a reflection on me; B) a reflection on them or C) a combination of the two.

I'll say C.

Joe writes RE Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox:

Where are the Red Sox going to put Gonzalez? They are most likely not going to DH him because his glove has value. And they have to be certain that Youk can make the shift to third. As someone once said, "Players generally don't move UP the defensive spectrum." He will cost a boatload of prospects, cost a ton to resign, and there isn't necessarily a place for him after the year. Now, Youkilis may be fine at third, but the Red Sox know better than anyone if he can play the position well enough, regularly, at this stage in his career.

Do you not want Adrian Gonzalez, Joe?

I don't get the point of your repeated rants against your team getting one of the best hitters in baseball.

The Red Sox aren't getting Gonzalez now because the Padres aren't trading him while they're in first place or in playoff position. It would be after the season when a trade would be made and it's looking increasingly unlikely that the Red Sox are making the playoffs this year given the difficulty of the division and their injuries; they've hung in heroically considering everything against them in 2010.

David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez are coming off the books after this year; I think they're going to trade Jonathan Papelbon after this season; J.D. Drew's gone after next year. Gonzalez is only making $5.5 million in 2011 after which his new contract----with whoever---will begin. Dustin Pedroia; Kevin Youkilis; and Jon Lester are all locked up at reasonable prices.

What do you want?

You talked about me running a team the other day and your "assessment" of such an eventuality; if you were placed in charge of a team, I can't even calculate the level of gore you'd leave in your wake because you...just...don't....listen.

On another note, if you'd like to discuss my Cy Young/MVP picks from yesteryear, leave the comment here----I'm not responding to hit-and-run Twitter comments on my sites.

Yeah, I cut and paste the same thing in every posting. Big whoop. Wanna fight about it?

My book is still available on Amazon, I-Universe and Barnes and It's available for download as an E-book here. You can also now get it for less that five bucks on BN via download here.


AndyD said...

I'm not sure. It's a very good question. No doubt Werth is a quality player but sometimes he stops himself from going the next step.

Jeff said...

I've always wanted to like Jayson Werth, but he makes it really, really difficult. The attitude, the hair (seriously, what's with the Phillies and awful hair?), the grotesque beard, banging Utley's wife (any truth to that? who knows)...

Your assessment seems accurate... I expect that rage to get him hurt one of these days. And that would be a shame.

She-Fan said...

I disagree on Torre. I think he's a lifer. Sure he's got a younger wife and a kid, but if a team comes along with a nice package, I say he takes it.

Joe said...

How did I not listen? You didn't hear Beltre's name did you? Meaning I was referring to after the season, and understood that is what you were talking about as well. And I know who is coming off the books. The point is, Gonzalez will cost a ton of prospects, and if he is going to DH is it worth it? If you simply wait one more year, you can have him via free agency -- if no one signs him to an extension. There is a lot more risk than you seem to let on. He is FAR from free. Prospects PLUS having to overpay him for a few years at the end of a Texeira like contract.

Anonymous said...

It agree, very useful message

Anonymous said...

I consider, that you are not right. I am assured. Let's discuss it.

Anonymous said...

It is very valuable answer