Just in case you were still wondering what sort of reception you were going to give Jayson Werth upon his return, this should help you make up your mind.
In the absence of a competitive Mets team, the Nationals are quickly becoming our biggest rival. They signed Werth and reportedly made a run at Cliff Lee. Their fans are planning to stage a coup in their own ballpark. And now come these comments from Werth and GM Mike Rizzo.
In an article in the Washington Post, Tom Boswell detailed one of the reasons our lowly friends to the south grossly overpaid for Werth: The edge he brings with him.
Boswell recounted an event that we told you about on Wednesday, one where Werth applauded new teammate Drew Storen for brushing him back. Werth walked-it-off against Storen last September and said he would like his new Stanford educated teammate even more if he threw one at him in batting practice.
Shortly after that encounter, Werth walked behind the cage where Rizzo was standing: [Washington Post]
Once Werth got back behind the cage, Rizzo said, "I hate the [expletive] Phillies." The GM then ran off a list of borderline dirty plays and purpose pitches in recent years by the Nats' nemesis. "I hate the Phillies, too," said Werth. Unspoken, but hanging in the air was a new idea for the Nats: So, let's play more like the Phillies: mean, grimy and a little nasty.
Can Werth fill that bill? There's no guarantee. In Philly, he was just part of a whole team portrait with tobacco juice dribbling through chin stubble. His manager's nickname was "The Red Devil," some coaches had a hothead history and Chase Utley, whom Werth emulates, was Mr. Spit in Your Eye. The Phils staff didn't exactly consider Werth, who has his moods, a low-maintenance star.
What a perfect asshole. I wonder what he hates the most- the fact that the team gave him a second chance when no one else was willing to do so, the World Series ring he won, or the fan base that turned him into a cult hero. Which is it, Jayson?
These are facts: Pat Gillick took a flyer on Werth, whose career was going nowhere fast after a slow recovery from a broken wrist. Werth made the best of the opportunity he was given, but benefitted greatly from hitting around the likes of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez. He won a World Series, put on a big red fist, grew a beard, and wore cool sunglasses. All that helped endear him to a rabid fan base, which, in turn, made him into more of a star than he really is. Now he has a $126 million contract, despite having about $50 million worth of performance left in him. Yeah, there's a lot to hate about that.
Lost in the shock of reading the words that dribbled out of Werth's mouth is Rizzo's accusation of the Phillies being a dirty team. Keep in mind, Rizzo is the same guy who employs Nyjer Morgan. Let that sit in, let that percolate for a minute. Morgan is the guy who was suspended for throwing a ball at a Phillies fan and who started a melee in Florida.
And Boswell's appellations: Red Devil? Mr. Spit in Your Eye? Are they his words, or terms thrown around by the Nationals?
The Phillies first play the Nats on April 12th in Washington. They first play in Philly on May 3rd.
Ladies and gentlemen, your new 2011 rivals, the Washington Nationals- they hate us.