This is The Dip, a column penned by our regular commenter, The Dipsy.
As the Phillies resign their players at rapid pace the inexorable march towards the inevitable begins. Everybody worth resigning is signed except for two: Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. I’m sure the Phillies front office wants to keep them both – we all do. But it looks like this season both players – friends – will be pitted against each other in the public view. In the eyes of many fans they will be playing against each other for the opportunity to stay with the Phillies for the next 4 or 5 years; while the other is jettisoned because he is unaffordable. Welcome to the Salarydome – two men enter, one man leaves. Here is the case for both.
Jayson Werth, at 31, is seemingly entering the prime of his career and last year he emerged as a bona fide power hitter. He is fast. He is a good defender with a nice arm. He can seemingly do everything well. He fits into this lineup like a hand in a glove and by all accounts he’s a great teammate and he is definitely a gamer. Some consider him injury prone, but a player can’t avoid getting hit in the wrist with a pitched ball, even if it did take him the better part of a couple seasons to recover. Financially speaking, Jayson is a bit of an anomaly. He is just starting to become a premier player at a relatively late stage in his career. When his current contract is over he will be 32 and without a big payday in his pocket. I would imagine that someone in his position would consider this his one and only shot to get the big years and big money. A five year contract would take him to 37 and I imagine, if he has a year like he did last year, that he’ll be asking for about $15m a year. God bless him, he deserves it.
Ryan Howard, on the other hand, is one of the greatest sluggers of all-time. When he is hot he can carry a team for weeks. His stats are eye-popping. We have run out of superlatives to describe his power. Yet, he is still a below average fielder (despite an improvement last season), his plate discipline stinks and he can’t hit lefties. Since he stopped taking walks and picking pitches, sometime in 2007 or so, he has become a one dimensional player. Unlike Werth, Ryan has already made a lot of money. One would think that he doesn’t feel the need to extract every ounce of his perceived worth out of the Phillies come contract time – that is, if he wants to stay here. If he wants maximum value, “no problem”, I say. Get it while you can. The problem with signing Ryan to a 5-year deal is that it would take him into his mid-thirties and at huge money. If that bat slows down in Year 3 or so, that’s a lot of money for the Phillies to live with given the production they’d be getting.
Taking everything into consideration who should Ruben sign? Ryan Howard.
Werth is a fabulous all around player who has played great for a season and a half. His right handed bat is the lightning to Ryan’s thunder. And he’s cheaper. Ryan Howard IS one dimensional, but what a dimension it is. The mere fact that he can hit a 500-foot home run at any time makes pitchers pitch differently and fielder’s play out of position. His mere presence in the four hole adds 20 points to Utley’s batting average and 10 to Werth’s. He is a game changer and the franchise along with it. He once uttered the words “just get me to the plate, fellas” in a huge spot and then knocked in the game-winning hit. To me, it’s hard to put a price tag on that kinda player. While we would spend more money, we will be a much better team than without him because, truth be told, there are more than a few Jason Werths in major league baseball. There is only one Ryan Howard.