On Sunday, Jayson Werth banged out five singles and four RBIs to raise his average to .294. Last night, he got four more hits and a walk, giving him base hits in nine consecutive at bats. After this explosion, Werth is hitting .312/.408/.484 on the season. I look at this and wonder how on Earth could we let a player like this slip away over less than a million dollars?
I realize that Werth is not going to hit .312 all season. If he hit .260 like he probably would over time, his numbers move to something like .260/.358/.432. Even if they did slip that low, wouldn't Werth look a lot better on the Dodger bench than Brady Clark, Marlon Anderson or Mark Sweeney? In the end, the reason why Jayson Werth still isn't a Dodger is the same reason why Ned Colletti does a lot of the things that I hate. The man is afraid of risk.
In Werth's case, it was the risk of keeping a player who hadn't swung a bat in a year and a half. There were no players that would have had to been dropped to keep him, all the Dodgers would have to do is move Jason Repko to the minor leagues. Still, even though Werth is a player who combines great plate discipline with four good tools, he couldn't be kept around for a paltry sum because of Ned's fear of the unknown. How much better would the Dodgers future look if instead of signing Juan Pierre, we kept Werth and a couple of decent backups like Jose Cruz Jr., or even Jason Repko with Matt Kemp waiting in the wings if something went wrong? How much more optimistic could we be about this offseason if we knew we had the resources and the roster flexibility to go after Andruw Jones, or even Mike Cameron. None of this happened because Ned can't take a risk.
Why does our roster get filled with proven veterans? They aren't nearly as much of a risk as rookies. Coming into this season, many people thought that there was very little difference between Nomar Garciaparra and James Loney, yet Ned went with the proven veteran because it represented less of a risk. Maybe James Loney wouldn't be able to hit big league pitching, who knows? Nomar had been there before, and we knew what he would do. Somewhat ironically, Nomar has proved to be a much bigger risk than Loney ever could be.
Similarly, Ned makes sure to have a great plan B, even at the expense of plan A because you don't want to lose to freak injuries. Nomar and/or Kent might get hurt? Let's go get Julio Lugo. Don't want to start the year with Matt Kemp in left? Let's sign Luis Gonzalez for more depth. The few players he has signed that could be considered risky like Randy Wolf had tons of backups behind them. There are plenty of us that would have wanted Billingsley in the rotation at the start of the year, but Ned needed that depth. If the Dodgers miss the playoffs by only a little this year, it could very well be because Brett Tomko and Mark Hendrickson got shots at the rotation before Billingsley did. All of this just because we needed to have depth at all costs.
The same thought can be used to find out why Ned has the sell low mentality. Ned has only traded one player in his tenure that wasn't going through struggles or miles away from the bigs: Duaner Sanchez. Selling high on a player is a risk. There's the guarantee you're going to get slammed by the media initially, plus the risk that no one will let you forget it if the player doesn't come back down to Earth. Even if the guy never does a thing after you trade him, people will still rip on the move, generally with an argument containing the words "who's to say" (the Lo Duca clause). If you sell low, no one but obsessed people like me will care. The media will give you kudos for getting rid of a struggling player, and unless that person goes on to be a hall of famer, it's likely there won't be any notice if the player succeeds elsewhere. No one that actually matters is calling for Ned's head because Werth has found success elsewhere. For all the reasons that the media hated Paul DePodesta, no one with a voice has made one peep about getting rid of Shane Victorino. Similar things happen if you buy low.
Why can't you pay over slot money for a draft pick? Because that's a risk. That's over a million dollars that could end up turning into nothing. If you spend that money on Joe Beimel, you're going to get a middle reliever in the bigs. Never mind the fact that if the draft pick pans out he'll become far, far more valuable than that million dollars you gave him. The fact that there's a chance that the move will end up netting you nothing means that Colletti will shy away from it.
A good GM needs to be bold. A good GM needs to take risks. If you just sit there and make safe acquisitions all day, you just turn the game into an auction for overvalued talent, and that's a game that no team but the Yankees can win. Until Ned Colletti starts making moves that have some chance at upside with some risk attached, we'll be watching the same type of mediocrity we've been accustomed to the last 20 years.
Luis Gonzalez is not happy about getting phased out of the starting lineup.
Athletics Nation thinks that they can get Andy LaRoche for Estaban Loaiza. When I dream, I want a pony.