Today the Phillies signed this year’s first round draft pick, Lakewood High School (CA) shortstop JP Crawford, to his first professional baseball contract which included a $2.3 million signing bonus Yes, I’m writing up a report on JP Crawford almost two full weeks after he was drafted. Yes, every other Phillies media outlet has already done this ad naseum and all have probably forgotten about him by now. No, this is not like all the other ones.
When Jayson Werth left Philadelphia after the 2010 season and signed a seven-year, $126 million dollar contract with the Washington Nationals, the right fielder has been booed lustily before every at-bat at Citizens Bank Park by the Phillies faithful. Fans remember a player often aloof, difficult to understand, and driven enough to seek the contract of a lifetime outside the City of Brotherly Love. It’s not uncommon for a former player to be booed, especially one that was divisive among fans and not the most likable guy upon first notice.
Werth, though, was the product and epitome of an era of Phillies baseball that has passed us by. Former GM Pat Gillick plucked Werth from the bargain bin after a perplexing wrist injury put his career on the line. Through a stroke of luck, Werth was referred to the Mayo Clinic and his wrist was quickly as good as new. With the Phillies, Werth initially shared playing time with Geoff Jenkins, but it became difficult to ignore his renewed five-tool approach. By 2008, Werth was the everyday right fielder.