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Phillies fans, don't blame Jayson Werth for taking the Nationals' money, remember him as a champion

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You knew the minute Jayson Werth hired Scott Boras as his Jayson Werth holding the Phillies' 2008 World Championship Trophy. Photo: http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3290/2988074786_a5a68aa360.jpgagent that the Phillies would have a very tough time trying to resign him.

That was confirmed yesterday, as Werth's 7-year $126 million dollar deal was finalized by the Washington Nationals.

So far, the fan reaction to Werth's new deal have been mixed. You have the one half who is saying "Good for him, now he has his piece of the pie." The other half thinks that he's a total sell out.

For the record, I am straight down the middle in regards to Jayson Werth's departure.

For starters, I was more shocked at the contract Werth received as well as his choice to go to perennial last place favorite Washington as opposed to the Dodgers, Angels, or even the Yankees.

Werth's decision to go to Washington is surprising, but it's not THAT far fetched. I'm not sure the exact details of the Phillies' proposed offer to Werth. All I know is that the Nats offered him far more than what Werth is really worth (no pun intended there), and would YOU turn down that kind of money? He already has his World Series ring with the Phillies, and now he's willing to play in an empty stadium on a Nationals team that has its future on hold after the Stephen Strasburg debacle. All is not lost for the Nationals, however. With Bryce Harper waiting in the wings, the Nationals looked poised for a serious run at the NL East........ in about three to four years.

Werth himself said it's easier to to go a team such as Washington when he has already won at this level, but he may eat his words in the coming years when his lenghty contract expires he will be 39 years of age. If this Nationals team never turns it around, will another A-Fraud situation develop similar to the one in Texas? Probably not. Although appearing downright surly at times with the fans and the media, Werth doesn't seem like the type to force his way off a team. But then again, Washington was one of the last places where I thought he would sign......

This deal could personally blow up in the face of the Nationals, but that's a risk they are obviously willing to take. Keep in mind however, that Werth's stats were helped in large part because of his supporting cast. Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham are fine players, but not the same caliber of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Can Robin make it on his own without Batman? If they are depending on Werth and Zimmerman to be the team's top offensive weapons, this could be an issue. I know it's a different sport, but remember when Alvin Harper left the Cowboys for that nice deal with Tampa Bay? Look how well that turned out. I don't know who the Bucs receiver was on the other side of the field, but it sure as hell wasn't Michael Irvin. Would Tommy Herr have 100-plus RBIs in 1985 if Vince Coleman wasn't on base every game? You catch my drift. Sometimes a player fits better in an ensemble than when he ventures out on his own.

The bigger question as far as the Phillies are concerned is who is going to replace Werth. Domonic Brown is looking less and less encouraging, hitting .069 in Dominican Winter Ball before recently leaving the team. Some say it was lack of playing time, some say it was fatigue from the regular season. Either way, having a rookie filling Werth's shoes will be no easy task, and the added pressure of replacing an All-Star right fielder won't exactly help Brown, either. Jermaine Dye didn't even play in the majors in 2010. Magglio Ordonez can't field anymore. Vlad Guerrero? Did you see him in right field in the playoffs? Matt Diaz or Jeff Francoeur? I realize I'm insulting you and I apologize. The Phillies are probably still the best team in the National League, but the team will have to rely more on their pitching with the loss of Werth's right handed bat in the middle of the lineup. One of the few right handed bats in the Phillies' lineup may I add......

So in closing, it's obvious that Werth took the money over wanting to win in the present. He's no different than any other athlete who wants his pay day. It's just another example that money is indeed the bottom line, and home town discounts are overrated. Just ask Derek Jeter about that.

When Jayson Werth returns to Philadelphia in early May however, fans should give him a standing ovation just like they did for Pat Burrell. After all, he WAS the right fielder on a very special team that ended a 25 year-old curse. Since that dragon was slayed, two other Philly teams have tried for another parade and failed, making what Werth and the Phillies did all the more special. We got far more out of him than we ever could have imagined when Pat Gillick signed him four years ago. Somebody whom some believed would never play again became an All-Star and a five-tool player. In the process, he was part of some of the greatest Phillies teams to ever take the field. Let's face it: in a few years we'll be saying goodbye to Utley, Howard, and possibly Jimmy Rollins in 2011.

Just remember his three-homer game against the Blue Jays in 2008, his base hit during Game 5: Part II of the 2008 World Series that scored Geoff Jenkins. Remember Ben Zobrist's line drive he caught that seemed to stay in the air for 25 years. Most importantly, remember the photo above, and how far off the ground your feet were that night. That's how I want to remember Jayson Werth.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com 

Werth thumbnail: http://jeffpearlman.com/?p=1817

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