Is Jayson Werth Really Worth That Much More Than JD Drew?

If you take a tour through the Boston “chats,” it won’t be long before you conclude that JD Drew is not a popular cat. Four years into a five-year deal and coming off a C- season, many say the disinterested right-fielder has been a disastrous signing. Perhaps Theo’s worst to date. “How in the world did Boy Genius pay seventy million to a guy who doesn’t drive in any runs,” ask the critics.  

Some of this criticism has been earned along the way but a good deal of it has been around since the day Drew signed back in February of 2007. Given Drew’s medical history and his resume, there were many who just didn’t understand the signing. And others were flat-out appalled.

Fast forward four years and I am wondering where some of these critics are as the Sox are rumored to be in the market for Jayson Werth. I ask for the following reasons: Drew’s track record before he came to Boston was pretty comparable to Werth, he was younger than Werth is today and Drew came for a price that Werth is more likely to laugh at than accept.

I am not going to lay out the entire statistical case for you. If you want the evidence, it is all over at Fangraphs for you to peruse. But suffice to say, Werth’s 2010 is only marginally better than Drew’s 2006 with LA and if you look at the three-year averages that each player racked up prior to free agency, the numbers are pretty close. In fact, absent an injury that short-circuited Drew’s 2005 campaign, he is the one who probably had the better resume.

But see, the mere fact I had to mention Drew’s injury was reason enough to shy away. Is that so? Well, Werth has had his fair share of injuries as a professional. And are we supposed to just look the other way and forget that he missed the entire 2006 season with a wrist injury? Yeah, three relatively healthy seasons have since passed but it’s hard to simply forget that this guy has checkered medicals.

And what about age? Well, I’ d like to point out that Drew had only recently turned 31 when he signed his five-year deal with Boston and played the entire 2007 season as a 31-year old. Werth, meanwhile, will play most of this season as a 32 year-old. Not a big difference but if we are handing out checks, Drew gets this one in his column for being six months younger.

My point here is that the Drew experiment has not been viewed very positively in Boston. They gave him too much money and too many years for far too little production. OK, I don’t necessarily buy all that but if THAT is the case, why are some Red Sox fans already lining up to buy Werth jerseys? After all, if five years and seventy million was asinine for Drew, how come five years and eighty-five million makes perfect sense for Werth?

I may be misreading the polling data here. And a move on Werth may not be as popular as I think. But it sure seems to me that plenty of fans want the Red Sox to make a big splash in free agency and that possibly means signing a guy like Jayson Werth. To these eyes, that desire is difficult to reconcile with the public’s disdain for Drew as the two players have strikingly similar profiles.

Personally, I am pretty leery of going big on Werth. Don’t get me wrong. I think Werth is a very good player. And I love the fact he is right-handed and slams left-handed pitching. But he is more “solid” than “stud” and in a bad free agent year like this, he is going to be paid as if he were the latter.

Thankfully, I am confident that Theo Epstein agrees and that is why I don’t think the Sox will chase Werth. And certainly not to levels that Werth’s agent thinks are fair. If he is available for Drew-like money … maybe. But for Matt Holliday money … I just don’t see Epstein taking a bite.

That said, if Werth were to slide to Boston for less than $75 million, I am curious to see how fans react.  Will it be door number one …. “fuck yeah, this guy is going to slam 35 bombs a year!” Or will it be door number two …… “fucking great, this is JD Drew all over again!”  I’m willing to bet most fans pick door number one but that doesn’t mean I entirely understand why.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Is Jayson Werth Really Worth That Much More Than JD Drew?

  1. Mister Snitch

    “But it sure seems to me that plenty of fans want the Red Sox to make a big splash in free agency”

    That’s the crux of it. With no actual competition to measure success by in the winter, Joe Fan wants to “win” the free agency race. That means, as you suggest, “beating” other teams (esp. the Yanks) to the available free agents.

    The actual value of said free agents to the team is almost irrelevant to the mob. There’ll be plenty of time to call any signings “stupid” next summer. For now, it’s time for the team to “prove it cares” by outspending the competition.

    • So the “fans” demand that something stupid be done and then feast on calling said thing … stupid!

      • Mister Snitch

        It’s human nature. By next Spring, any Bad Trade they clamored for will morph into Someone Else’s dumb idea. After all, success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan.

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