Jayson Werth Returns to Philadelphia: To Boo or Not to Boo?

Brandon HodnettContributor IMay 3, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 29: Jayson Werth #28 of the Washington Nationals in the dugout against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park on April 29, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Notorious former Philadelphia Phillies J.D. Drew and Scott Rolen are already on par with Benedict Arnold in this city, and Jayson Werth is the most likely candidate to join that list.

Drew and Rolen are reminded of their betrayal by 45,000 boos every time they take the field in Philadelphia, but does Werth deserve the same stadium-wide onslaught of displeasure when he steps into Citizenss Bank Park tonight?  

In 1997, Talented prospect J.D. Drew (and his agent, Scott Boras) turned down the Phillies’ initial contract offer and re-entered the draft the following year.

Scott Rolen demanded a trade in 2002 after declaring that the Phillies’ organization wasn’t doing enough to win.

And this past summer Jayson Werth signed that astronomical contract with the cellar-dwelling Washington Nationals.

Was leaving Philadelphia for $126 million enough of an infidelity to be etched as an unpardonable sin?

Before Werth came to Philadelphia, he was a virtual nobody, playing partial seasons in Toronto and Los Angeles.

After a wrist injury in Los Angeles, Werth sat out of the MLB in 2006 and was given a chance to revitalize his career in four seasons with Philadelphia. Did he do enough to earn a free pass in Philadelphia?

Here are some highlights from his tenure with the Phillies:

  • In those four seasons, Werth batted .282, hit 95 home runs and 300 RBI, stole 60 bases, and threw out 37 batters from the outfield.
  • He helped the Phillies win the World Series in 2008 and get back to the Fall Classic the following year. He batted 8-for-18 against the Rays in 2008 and hit seven postseason home runs in 2009.
  • He tied a Phillies' record for recording eight RBI in one game against the Blue Jays in 2008. That game he hit a solo home run, a two-run bomb, and a grand slam.
  • In 2009 against the Dodgers, Werth stole four bases, including consecutive steals of second, third and home.
  • He had one of the most iconic beards in Philadelphia history.
  • His rejection of Philadelphia's contract offer allowed the Phillies to sign Cliff Lee again.
  • At least he didn't join the New York Yankees.

But then again,

  • He did bat a miserable .186 average with runners in scoring position last season.
  • He didn’t have the best postseason last year, going 6-for-30.
  • He did sign that bloated contract with a division opponent.
  • He did try to blame Ruben Amaro Jr.  for not keeping him and Cliff Lee.
  • He agreed with Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo about hating the Phillies this offseason, even though I think he said that just to get his new team riled up and attempt to spark some kind of rivalry.

Other members of the beloved 2008 World Series team have received a warm welcome on their return to Philadelphia, namely Pat Burrell and Matt Stairs.

However, as I watched the Phillies play the Marlins last month, I realized that World Series contributions do not guarantee an exemption from the boos when former Phillies’ utility player Greg Dobbs came in to pinch hit and received a hardy booing.

We’ve already seen that the Phillies' fans that made the trip to Nationals Park in April gave Werth a decent smattering of boos, so who knows what kind of welcome he’ll receive tonight.

My guess is that there will be some cheers, but the majority of the fans will be reminding him that if you spurn the City of Brotherly Love, you’ll never be able to live it down.