Jayson Werth: the Product of a Bygone Era

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.

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The Tuesday 10: 10 Minutes to Midnight

Ruben Amaro was a polarizing general manager before he was even officially offered the job. The baseball world was made well aware that Pat Gillick would not be reprising his role at the helm after the 2008 season concluded – and winning a World Series probably helped with that transition out of the captain’s chair – and that the Phillies would need a new GM. It seemed then that there were only two candidates, both internal: the current assistant GM in Amaro, or the fellow AGM and scouting head in Mike Arbuckle.

It’s a story you’re all familiar with by now and isn’t worth rambling on about ad nauseum. That time will probably come next month.

Instead, I think this week’s post is about acceptance or, at least, assumed acceptance. GM firings and replacements are far more infrequent occurrences than with managers, so it just seems the smart play to assume Amaro gets at least another year to work through the rough water he himself is partially responsible for stirring up. And with that assumption in mind, Amaro is the most important piece involved in this transitional period for the Phils. That may scare you a little, as it does me, but it seems the apparent truth.

Removing Amaro from play upon that assumption, then, today’s 10 will focus on the 10 most important “factors” (for lack of a better word) for the Phillies as they move forward through this season and beyond.

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PSA: Michael Young Isn’t Fast

Judging by the aggression with which third base coach Ryne Sandberg instructs third baseman Michael Young to run the bases, one would think that Young possesses a modicum of agility. Not true, sadly. 2011 was the last season in which Young stole more than two bases and he’s overall been a below-average base runner every year dating back to 2007, according to FanGraphs. Over the last week, though, Sandberg has been sending Young home with reckless abandon on outfield hits, but Young has been safe exactly zero times out of three attempts.

Below are all three depressing attempts. Continue reading…

Happy Father’s Day from Tommie Agee

My father is the single most influential person in my life, I love baseball because he taught me to love baseball when I was a little kid, and the way I love baseball today is largely a product of how he taught me the game. I suspect that there are only fifteen or twenty million other American men for whom that sentence is true.

My baseball experience isn’t really a fan’s experience. I attended two Phillies games in person before I went to college–in fact, I saw the Phillies play at Camden Yards and Turner Field before I ever saw them play at Citizens Bank Park. Attending games in person wasn’t all that important or convenient, so we didn’t. My dad wasn’t a big baseball player growing up and all the kids in my neighborhood were bigger hockey than baseball fans, so I grew up playing hockey instead. I played baseball until I was 12, until, after six years of being the kid for whom they had the rule that said everyone has to bat at least once and play at least three innings in the field, I quit. I moved six months ago and forgot to pack my baseball glove, and being without it doesn’t particularly bother me.

Doesn’t sound like much of a baseball fan’s upbringing, does it? Well, that’s not how I experience the game. I’m a terrible athlete, I don’t like big crowds or the summer heat and fresh-cut grass makes me sneeze. My dad didn’t buy me tickets and equipment and jerseys: he bought me books and magazines. Just absolute oodles of them–biographies of Greg Maddux and Barry Bonds, collections of short stories, novels and old newspaper and news stories. I owned, for all intents and purposes, the entire collected works of Dan Gutman, a writer who lived two towns over and had written dozens of children’s novels and nonfiction books about baseball. I can still cite, chapter and verse, Gutman’s book on the five best World Series ever.

My father taped Ken Burns’ Baseball when it aired and let me watch it over and over until I had it more or less memorized. My friends’ parents taught them how to throw a curveball and how to properly swear at Bobby Cox from the 700 level at the Vet. My parents bought me Baseball Weekly and showed me where to find Jayson Stark’s column in the Inquirer.

By the time I was ten years old, I was imagining my own lineups and trades. I couldn’t run or hit worth a crap, but I could tell my Little League teammates about Ozark Jeff Tesreau‘s role in the 1912 World Series and Joe Adcock collecting 18 total bases in a single game. I really wasn’t a player or a fan as a kid–I was a historian or a folklorist. In short, a nerd.

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Slip Sliding Away

Antonio Bastardo is not having his best season.

The hope for the 27-year-old coming into the 2013 season was that he would continue to be the mostly-shutdown lefty who could be counted upon, coming into games to handle the likes of Jason Heyward or Bryce Harper (and keep righties muted, too). Instead, Bastardo’s strikeouts are down, his walks are up and he’s permitting a .374 OBP against entering Friday.

So, um, what the heck? What happened to the guy whose stuff was so nasty he permitted just 68 hits in 110 IP from 2011-12?

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Phillies Continue to Confuse with Closer Claim

When asked about the possibility of trading closer Jonathan Papelbon, GM Ruben Amaro said this:

Amaro was just as adamant that it was illogical for the Phillies to consider trading Papelbon. The 32-year-old closer is in the second year of a four-year, $50 million contract that also contains a vesting option for 2016.

“People would like us to improve our club, but at what cost?” Amaro said. “You have to have replacement pieces if you’re going to trade someone like that. And we don’t have a guy who I consider a closer on our club, other than Papelbon. He’s the best we’ve got, and one of the best in baseball, if not the best.

“I believe you have to have a closer to win and have success, and I believe in having a (true) closer,” Amaro added. “Not a closer by committee. A guy who stops the game when you’re supposed to win late. We don’t have a replacement to do that. … And I don’t see any closer on the market who would be anywhere near as good as Papelbon. I just don’t see it. So if you want to win, why would we want to trade a guy like that?”

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Carlos Zambrano Isn’t Coming

Pedro Martinez trotted out of the Coca-Cola Park bullpen in a lily white #45 IronPigs jersey through humid, post-downpour, Lehigh Valley air as 10,000 people baked in a surly July sun that seemed eager to make up for the time it had lost behind the clouds that day. He took the mound as I took to my pen. Martinez wound and fired as I craned my neck to see the radar gun three rows down from the seat I was wrongfully occupying. Eighty-six miles per hour. Already uneasy as I searched my brain for a creative excuse that would allow me to remain in the scouting section whenever Fashionably Late Season Ticket Holder came to boot me out of my current seat, seeing a 40 grade fastball spew from the arm of a God sent me into a full on sweat. Michael Brantley homered a few pitches later. The scouts did not write. Continue reading…

Crash Bag, Vol. 58: Full-On Wolf Parade Mode

I want to start this week’s Crash Bag off with a pouring out of wine for LB Dantzler, who we’ve likely seen play his last game on national television. South Carolina lost to the Dirty Foots of Chapel Hill last weekend, which means that we’ve likely seen the last of Dantzler, who was drafted by the Blue Jays but, because of his size, lack of defensive ability and swing, is not particularly closer to being a major league prospect than you or I.

So here’s to the last “Hold Me Closer, LB Dantzler.” On to your questions.

@hdrubin: “Doing a Top 5 thing like High Fidelity. Who are your Top 5 Phillies bloggers and Top 5 Tweeters?”

I love High Fidelity. Fun movie, better book. I also encourage the making of Top Five lists. It keeps the mind active and is a great way to kill time on road trips, as is the Rock and Roll Supergroup Fantasy Draft.

(counts names on Crashburn masthead) (twiddles thumbs)

  • Bill Baer
  • Ryan Sommers
  • Paul Boye
  • Eric Longenhagen
  • Michael Baumann

Yes, I think we can move on. Continue reading…