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Should the Giants Trade for Jayson Werth?

July 26, 2010

Could Jayson Werth Propel the Giants into the Postseason?

The short answer?  Yes, if the price is right.  If you want the long answer, keep reading.

The Giants are currently sitting at 56-43, three games behind the San Diego Padres.  We’re 61% of the way through the season, and the Giants’ offense has actually been respectable up to this point in time (their 4.44 R/G is higher than the league average 4.39 R/G).  This is largely due to the brilliant production by surprise performers Aubrey Huff and Andres Torres, and the emergence of Buster Posey as a formidable hitter at the Major League level (honestly, who didn’t see that coming?).  The projections at The Hardball Times have the Giants finishing at 94-68, two games ahead of the Padres and the sixth-best record in Baseball.  Granted, projections certainly aren’t a sure thing- players over perform and under perform, people get injured, and so on and so forth.  The fact that the Giants are projected to finish first, however, means that they have a promising chance at making the postseason- and adding another piece would certainly help increase their chances, if not propel them into the playoffs altogether.  And even if they don’t finish first, they seem well-positioned to make the playoffs as the Wild Card Champions.  This could very well be the first time they make the playoffs since 2003, and it is imperative for Brian Sabean to do all that he can to ensure their postseason chances.  Rather than making one of his patented low-risk, low-reward moves (Ryan Garko and Freddy Sanchez, I’m looking at you), wouldn’t it make sense for him to push for a player that would not only benefit the organization now, but for the next few years?

No, I’m not talking about Prince Fielder.  That is a topic that has been beaten to death on other sites, and I’ve expressed my distaste for acquiring him before.  I honestly just don’t see much upside in acquiring a player that will require a lot in terms of prospects and money, especially if the player should be a designated hitter at the age of 26.  That just has “disaster” written in thick Sharpie ink all over it.  I’m talking about an impact player that will require a modest package, whom the Giants will receive compensatory draft picks for should he leave via free agency- a player that not only hits well, but runs well and plays solid defense.  I’m talking about (and if you read the title, which I’m assuming you have) Jayson Werth of the Phillies.  That’s right; that Jayson Werth.  The former Dodger who’s not particularly savvy with a razor blade.

Giants right fielders are hitting .232/.310/.391 with a wOBA of .309, six runs below the Major League average.  That’s terrible, especially considering that position is typically reserved for good hitters.  The only thing that makes them respectable is their defense, with an estimated solid 7 runs above average according to UZR, and 10 runs by Plus/Minus.  All in all, though, we shouldn’t have to deal with all-glove, no-bat players in a team that could use a nice boost offensively.

In comes Werth.  Werth, who currently sports a wOBA of .384 and has been +18 runs above average (park-adjusted), represents a 24 run upgrade over the Giants’ right fielders thus far, which equals roughly two and a half wins.  It’s tough to get a gauge on his defense, as UZR rates him a -3 and Plus/Minus a +7.  TotalZone has him as a +5 right now, though, so we’ll be a bit more optimistic about his defense this year (and for what it’s worth, all three metrics rate him as a good defender in years’ past).  It’s tougher to get a gauge on his baserunning and situational hitting compared to San Francisco’s, as I don’t have the Giants’ RF figures readily available.  In any case, he’s a plus baserunner- usually around +3 runs above average in any given year, and his situational hitting is right around average (bad with productive outs; good at avoiding the double play).  In other words…we’re looking at a good all-around ballplayer.  ZiPS projects Werth to hit .279/.372/.503 with 12 doubles, 9 home runs and a wOBA of .387 for the rest of the season; Oliver projects Werth to hit .264/.361/.481 with 12 doubles, 12 home runs, and a wOBA of .360.  Averaging the two gives us a projected rest-of-year wOBA of .372 and his translated line (using RH PF for Citizen’s Bank and AT&T) suggest he’d be a +7 hitter in his projected remaining 245 plate appearances.  If we assume the Giants’ RF to continue hitting at their current pace, then we’re looking at a difference of 10 runs; a win over our incumbent options.  I know this might seem rather small, but keep in mind that over a full season, we’re looking at about +3-4 wins with the bat alone.  That’s pretty darn big, if you ask me.  Werth provides an immediate offensive upgrade that could very well represent a larger difference than my estimates, given how his presence in the lineup may positively affect other hitters.  And if you’re big on Postseason performance (personally, I prefer to neglect them- but I’m doing my best annoying car salesman impression here), Werth has a career .440 wOBA in the Postseason amongst 145 plate appearances (and I estimate his Postseason “talent” to be somewhere between a wOBA .359 and .521, although anything can happen in smaller samples).  Pretty darn good.

How about that asking price, though?  I’m glad you asked.  That’s really the issue at hand, here- what would the Phillies want in return for Werth?  We’ve been getting mixed reports, but I can imagine that Ruben Amaro would be interested in pieces that he could flip to Houston in return for Roy Oswalt.  Besides, the Phils have this kid named Domonic Brown- who’s quite possibly the best prospect in baseball right now- pretty much ready to take over.  The Astros’ farm system isn’t particularly good, the last time I checked- and the Giants might have some pieces that they would be interested in.  Thomas Neal is one such prospect.  I would certainly be willing to part with the youngster as part of a deal for Werth, in addition to a few more prospects- although I’m not entirely sure who that might entail.  The only prospects I’d strongly stay away from moving would be Zack Wheeler and Brandon Belt.

I’m not worried about losing Werth at the end of the season- there is that stigma about AT&T being a poor hitter’s park, but Werth may find it well to his liking, in addition to being reunited with former teammate Aaron Rowand.  But if we were to lose him to free agency, we’d undoubtedly get two compensatory draft picks to help restock the farm for the players we lost in the deal.  I know Sabean isn’t keen on rental players- at least, that’s what he’s said- but to me, Werth would seem to be an exception to the rule.  He’d make the Giants a practical lock for the Postseason (barring any unforeseen injuries, etc.) and might improve the Giants’ chances of retaining him after the season.  At the very least, it’d show the “lunatic fringe” that he’s not afraid to pull the trigger to acquire that big bat we’ve been looking for for so long.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 28, 2010 3:08 PM

    I just discovered your blog–excellent!

    My belief is that the Giants have an opportunity to get to the WS this year if they will make a longer term sacrifice for short term results: specifically get that one key player, yes, a big bat, to upgrade the offensive. If it means trading Sanchez, so be it. You don’t need 5 starters in the playoff or WS.

    Yes, I would rather win a WS this year than to worry about the next 10 years. Of course, Sabean is on record of not wanting short term rentals…and this is because the organization worries about being “competititive” every year.

    Hey, I recall when I was a youngster in 1969, the Mets had great pitching but average hitters. The Mets made a major move and traded for Donn Clendennon mid-season. The result–a team that was in the cellar before, became a World Series champion in 1969. The Giants should do the same thing this year.

    Keep up the great work.

    • triplesalley permalink*
      July 28, 2010 3:59 PM

      Thanks for stopping by!

      To me, it would seem to be important for the Giants to hold on to Sanchez in a scenario such as this- you need as many good pitchers in the Postseason as you can get, and Sanchez has always struck me as being most effective in shorter stints. That said, he probably wouldn’t be one of the starting three- but he’d work quite well as a long reliever should the Giants need it.

      Trading prospects, on the other hand, would allow us to trade unknown commodities that won’t help us in the Postseason this year. In the long run, perhaps they will, but we’re focusing on the present rather than the future. Keep those key pieces- Wheeler and Belt- but use those other assets to get that guy that will really put us over the top.

      • July 28, 2010 4:21 PM

        Yes, I’ve read your blog posts so I know that is your viewpoint. The only challenge is that there aren’t many GM’s who are going to give up a proven, power hitter (which is a tougher commodity to find post-roids) for lower level prospects.

        It’s also interesting but from what I read on sports blogs, fans of a team tend to over-value their own players and prospects.

        Anyway, a few days to go till the deadline is over. It will be interesting to see if Sabean takes a chance or plays it safe. My guess is that he plays it safe and 2010 ends up as a missed opportunity to beat the Yankees in the WS 🙂

      • triplesalley permalink*
        July 28, 2010 5:55 PM

        In this case, we’re looking at a team that would be shipping off said prospects to a team that is in dire need of them in Houston. And it’s not as if Amaro is a GM that is afraid of moving a high-quality player for uncertainties- just look at the Cliff Lee deal.

        In any case, it now looks like the chances of any team acquiring Werth via trade are slim to none, as Shane Victorino has hit the Disabled List.

  2. July 28, 2010 7:44 PM

    You are right.

    Despite your analysis on Fielder,
    he’d look great batting clean-up
    for the Giants. His weight would
    level the infield with Sandoval
    at 3B 🙂

    Would I give up Sanchez? Yes.
    Would I give up Baumgartner? Yes.

    Go for it all now.

    The simple question: Would the Giants be in a better position
    to win the WS this year, with Fielder or Baumgartner?

    • triplesalley permalink*
      July 28, 2010 9:09 PM

      Giving up 40% of your rotation for a few hundred plate appearances is a very hefty price to pay- one that could very well cost the Giants their chance at making the Postseason.

      It’s one thing to deal from a position of relative strength; it is another to deplete your strength to try and upgrade a position of weakness. Dealing Bumgarner and another prospect or two makes sense, yes, but the Brewers don’t *have* to move Fielder. The Giants would have to overpay, considering other organizations are vying for his services as well.

  3. July 31, 2010 4:58 PM

    It’s funny. Until we had our discussion of park factors earlier this year, I would have been leery of anyone from the Phils. But I think Werth would be perfect, provided the price is right.

    On a related note, do you think we can afford to trade any of our starters? I feel like the rotation is finally stable for the first time all season with the emergence of Bumgarner.

    • triplesalley permalink*
      July 31, 2010 10:09 PM

      Considering we’re fighting to get into the postseason, I think the Giants made the right move by not moving any of their starting pitchers at the deadline. We’re close, and we need all the help we can get- especially if we reach the playoffs. Sanchez and Bumgarner would work quite effectively out of the ‘pen, in my opinion.

      That said, if I were to make a move for a hitter, I would have dangled prospects only this time of year. I’d reassess during the off-season, though, as we have a longer time to find someone to fill that hole.

  4. Dodge permalink
    October 22, 2010 7:02 AM

    If only, huh?

    Good luck to your team coming back to Philly. Should be fun.

    – A Phils fan.

    • triplesalley permalink*
      October 22, 2010 9:39 AM

      Thank you- best of luck to you, too!

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