Jayson Werth became a fan favorite in his four seasons with the Phillies, be it because of his great production on the field, his blue-collar attitude and hard work, or his beard.
Werth his 95 home runs, batted in 300 runs, and stole 60 bases. He was the power right-handed bat that balanced a lefty-dominated middle of the lineup. He also was very good defensively, both with his fielding and his arm.
He was very productive for the Phillies. So productive, in fact, he became too pricey to keep.
A free agent, Werth signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals, numbers the Phillies were in no way going to compete with.
While the fan base is disappointed they won't be keeping their bearded right-fielder, they must remember that the team has lost fan-favorite outfielders before, replaced them without missing a step, and watched the decline of the by-gone outfielder's career.
It all started in 2006, when the Phillies traded Bobby Abreu to the Yankees. Abreu was the Phillies star player, hitting as many as 31 home runs in a season and batting as high as .335. In seven full seasons with the Phillies, Abreu hit .300 or better in six of them.
In the four seasons after the trade, he hasn't hit over .300 and has averaged 17.8 home runs a season.
Not terrible numbers, but the Phillies did a good job of replacing him with Shane Victorino.
In the four seasons Victorino has been a full-time starter, the Phillies have made the playoffs each year. He's won three Gold Glove awards, and has been selected to one All-Star game. He's got tremendous speed on the basepaths and in the outfield, and he provides a ton of energy.
Aaron Rowand was the team's center-fielder in 2006 and 2007 and he cemented himself in Phillies' lore by running into a fence to make a catch against the Mets. He suffered a broken nose, but he made the catch, saved at least one run, and the Phillies went on to win the game 2-0.
His contract year of 2007, he finished career highs in home runs (27) and RBI (89). He signed a five-year, $60 million contract with the San Francisco Giants that offseason.
Rowand has not hit more than 15 home runs, batted in more than 70 runs, or hit higher than .271. In August of this previous season, he became a platoon player.
While he has fallen off the radar in San Francisco, the Phillies moved Victorino to center field and put Werth in right field.
And then there is Pat Burrell. Even though his last three seasons in Philly he couldn't hit higher than .258, he still had a lot of pop in his bat, hitting 29, 30, and 33 home runs. After finally winning a World Series after nine seasons with the franchise that drafted him first overall, he was not brought back and he moved on to Tampa Bay.
Burrell continues to struggle with his average, finishing 2009 with a .221 average and 2010 (with both Tampa and San Francisco) with a .252 average, and he also doesn't have the power numbers he used to put up, hitting 14 and 20 home runs with only 64 RBI both seasons.
The Phillies replaced Burrell with Raul Ibanez, who in his first season in Philadelphia hit 34 home runs, 93 RBI, and had a .272 batting average, along with being named to his first All-Star game. His home run total dramatically dropped last season to only 16, but he still drove in 83 runs and hit .275.
Maybe the change in ballpark goes into these players’ numbers dropping once they leave Philly, but none of those players were more popular on a national scene then when they were a Phillie. And when they left, their replacement rose to stardom.
So with Werth gone, who will take his place?
It could very well be an in-house candidate—most likely Ben Francsico, who came over from Cleveland in the Cliff Lee trade, or farmhand Domonic Brown.
Francisco has been a solid contributor off the bench for Philadelphia, and he could, like Werth, get even better if he became an everyday player. Brown was named Major League Baseball's top prospect by Baseball America in 2010, and like Werth, is considered a five-tool player.
So while it may be disappointing to see Werth leave, the fans should trust that the organization will properly fill his spot in the lineup.
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