Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Highlights from Jayson Werth

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Jayson Werth donned a Nats cap and jersey today for the first time.
Jayson Werth's introductory press conference (along with several follow-up, smaller sessions with reporters talking to Werth, Mike Rizzo, Jim Riggleman and others) has concluded. I'm going back through the tape right now and will be updating this with some of the highlights from all of the interested parties.

Here we go...

Q: What intrigued you about Washington, and how do you expect to help this team win?
"One thing I saw with the Nationals the past few years playing them is just the grittiness they have, a will to win. Although they've had some rough seasons the past few years, they have some talent. It's very young and unpolished. That's one thing I look forward to helping along the way. I've always been a big fan of the underdog, and I think this situation in Washington is one going forward that the city and fans will come with love for us and come out and see us on a nightly basis."

Q: Do you feel any undue pressure signing such a long-term contract, one of the largest in MLB history?
"Any time you go on the field and you play for a team, there's going to be pressure. I'm coming to this team and this city to get involved with something much greater than what what you've seen here before. The Lerners are on board, Mike's on board, Jim's on board. We're all going in the same direction. I don't foresee any undue pressure. I just want
to go out there and play my game."

Q: How comfortable are you with the idea of being "The Guy" and having a little more weight on your shoulders, both on and off the field?
"I look forward to it. I've been playing this game a long time. I've played in World Series, I've played in postseasons. The thing about baseball is: You play it day in and day out. In a 162-game schedule, I think a lot of things get overlooked. The one thing I can control is the level of intensity and the overall willingness to play the game on a day-in, day-out basis. I look forward to it. I look forward to playing with these guys. We've got a talented group. Just a little polish here and a little polish there, I think we're going to be good."

Q: What do you think the timetable is for this team to contend?
"The thing about this team is, I think there are pieces to the puzzle that can be put together and make this team a winner. I was assured by the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo that they're going to take the steps needed to go get those players and to fill the roster accordingly. Not just with anybody, but the right talented guy and the right mix of person who will make the clubhouse a complete place. That was important to me and that was one of the things that led me to sign here: They're on board for winning. They're a winning family. It's a true success story Mr. Lerner shared with me of his life. I see them doing the proper steps and getting the guys that are really going to help this club get to the next level."

Q: What was the one thing the Nats sold you that really drove it home? And secondly, do you have any reaction to what's going on in Philadelphia this week with Cliff Lee coming back?
"I missed that in Philly. What happened? [laughter] ... Obviously, this is my first chance of getting to free agency. I worked so hard in the last few years and went through so much. I had a bad wrist injury that went misdiagnosed for a couple of seasons, and I missed an entire season due to that. When you finally get to free agency, you have a chance to do something special for yourself and for your family. There's a lot of things that go into it. But obviously the years were important to me. I have a chance to come to a city and be here for a long time. The no-trade was a big deal for me. I have a chance to set myself and my family up for years to come and have more of a solid base." [NOTE: The Nats gave Werth a full no-trade clause, the first time they have done that since arriving in D.C.]

Q: How much did the prospect of playing with Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper down the road play into your decision?
"The young talent in this organization is immense. With the length of the contract I got, I felt good about the chances of this organization winning over the course of my contract. That was very important to me. I've been in the postseason a lot the last couple of years. That's what it's all about. That's what you play for. That's what you work out for. That's what you get to spring training early for. I hate to lose. I'm here to win."

Q: Why do you think you can still improve as a player at this stage of your career?
"I've been saying for a long time: The more I play, the better I'm going to get. I think it's been pretty evident. I think seeing pitches in an important part of the game, wearing pitching staffs down. The more pitches you get to see, the more apt you are to pick up the ball better. As time goes on, I think it makes you a better player."

Q: Was it hard to see the Phillies give Cliff Lee so much and not re-sign you?
"I've definitely moved on the past few months. I'm excited about being a National. Obviously the news in Philadelphia ... they got their boy back, I guess. That's fine. That's good. I like it. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. They make their plays and we're going to make ours. I think over the course of time, you're going to see and people are going to see the Washington Nationals are for real and they're going to play the style of baseball that's going to bring championships to this city."

More on becoming one of the faces of the franchise:
"The good thing is, I'm coming from a place where I got to see true professionals do that. Chase Utley. Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard. So I've had some learning, I guess, over the last few years of what it takes to be that type of guy: The franchise guy, or the face of the organization. But I think Ryan Zimmerman is that guy, and I don't think that's going to change a whole lot. I'm happy and on-board to do whatever the organization asks me. But realistically, I'm here to play baseball. I know what it takes to stay on the field and do what I do. That's my main focus. I'm sure there will be opportunities in many areas, and I'll greet those as they come along. But the main goal here is to win a World Series."

Q: Why was Werth your primary target this winter?
"This is the package that we were looking for going into the offseason. We wanted to get better skilled players that play both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. We've got a guy here who can hit 30-plus home runs, drive in 100 runs, play Gold Glove defense, steal you 20 bases, lead in the clubhouse and be a middle-of-the-lineup hitter. The bigger the game, the better he's played in his career. He's playoff-battle tested. And he brings an edge to the ballclub. I've seen it oh too many times with the Phillies. That's the type of guy we want. And I think that's what separated him as far as those elite free-agent candidates we were looking at: His skill-set fit with what Jim and I are looking to do with the ballclub. But also his makeup, his persona and just the way he plays on a superstar-skill level and still plays like a guy that's not afraid to get his jersey dirty and would run through a wall for you."

Q: How do you answer critics who say this contract is going to be crippling down the road?
"I don't answer. I sleep like a baby knowing that we got Jayson Werth."

Q: How difficult was it to give Werth a no-trade clause?
"It was very difficult, one of the last sticking points that we had. ... I'd rather not have a no-trade clause. It's another impediment to roster construction. I would term it that way. A no-trade clause gives a player more control. That's why we were reluctant to do it. It's something that for an elite free agent like this, I thought I would relent on it. Because we had to do it to get the player."

Q: Where will Jayson hit in your lineup?
"Well, I really don't want to say something now and then we do it differently. But as the roster is right now, he and Ryan [Zimmerman] will hit 3 and 4. If we had a ballgame tomorrow, they'd be 3 and 4, and I'm not locked into which order that would be yet."

On the overall look of the lineup now:
"If we made out a lineup tomorrow, just about everyone we'd put out there can play their position and run. Hitting is very tough. It's tough to hit, I don't care who you are. ... So when guys aren't hitting, you still have to find ways to win games. And you can do that with some athleticism that guys like Jayson and Ryan and Ian and Espinosa have."

Q: Some guys wilt under the pressure of a big contract. What convinces you that Werth isn't like that?
"I think that's up to myself and the coaching staff to allow him to be the player. Whatever else comes, happens. We understand there's slumps. We understand there's high times. Just be the consistent individual who goes in that clubhouse every day with your head held high. We feel if you look up at the end of the yeat, those numbers will be there. Don't get caught up in all that other stuff. ... He's been through the wars in Philadelphia. Expectations were very high there, and he answered the bell."


Frank Robinson said...

He must be watching a differnt team play!? Maybe he has a MASN classic station, where he is watching the 2005 team in June!?

"One thing I saw with the Nationals the past few years playing them is just the grittiness they have, a will to win."

WTF, dude don't blow smoke up our A$$es and get a haircut you look like a d-bag!

Davy Crockett's Hat said...

"get a haircut you look like a d-bag!"

Stay classy Frank.

DCJohn said...

I got the impression that he's not going suffer fools or foolish questions like the one from the Philly reporter who asked Werth his feelings about the Cliff Lee signing. I see a guy who really does hate to lose.

Bobo said...

Really? I think you mean a guy that loves to lose.

Or a guy that loves to count his money. Cause lets be honest, there are 126mm reasons to sign with the Nats, and winning is NOT one of them.

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of Philly, here's one of my fave NLCS memories:

N. Cognito said...

My God! We signed Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy!

Anonymous said...

Speaking on the Nats here are some of my favorite playoff memories...





Anonymous said...


126 milimeters? Is that a new type of measurement?

Section 223 said...

Welcome to D.C., Jayson. The fans look forward to your hustle and ability. Looking forward to Opening Day.

Anonymous said...

Jayson, how much beer do you think you and Matt Stairs will drink between innings?

Jayson: "Well, given our offense is going to suck without Dunn beign here, I bet we will only be able to polish off one or two tall boys per inning. Now, since stairs doesn't really ever play, he can probably hit it a bit harder if you know what I meaan..."

NatsJack in Florida said...

I've always been amazed at the number of geeks that frequent these sites that have absolutely no interest in baseball.

Section 223 said...

I agree NatsJack, this has been such a relief from other sites that only sometimes talk about baseball. I imagine they will get bored and move on when nobody engages them. No oxygen, no fire.

Anonymous said...

Jason, from a philly fan, hope the people there in D.C. appreciate you . from the looks of some of these posts, many appear to be really low-class. Best to you - we will miss you much in philly.

Anonymous said...

I found Werth to be very, very impressive. Serious, poised, thoughtful, determined. He sounds like a very bright young man to me.

The press conference also revealed how much the Lerner family is involved in these deals. It is very clear to me now, looking at the Harper and Strasburg signings, and the Werth signing, how the Lerners bring these young men into the Lerner Family Story. They let them know how the Lerner family became huge winners in business, and how serious they are about bringing a championship to Washington. If you listen to Werth carefully, you can tell how much this story impacted him in his decision to come here.

His comments on the process by which players fall through the cracks of professional baseball, showed a high degree of introspection, discernment, perception, and critical evaluation. I do not, by any means, think this is your everyday pro athlete, in terms of intelligence.

I also thought he conveyed a sense of gravity, bordering on ominousness, regarding the tone he will bring to the clubhouse, to the younger players he mentors, and to the opposition. This is great, great news for the Nationals. If they're going to stop being also-rans, they've got to change the culture, and Werth sounds like the guy to do it.

Today is a much bigger, and much better day for baseball in Washington than I would have predicted before the press conference. This guy is here to win.

NatsJack in Florida said...

I don't think even Mark Z. himself could have said it any better.
Thanks, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Those are Phillie fans ripping him, not Nationals fans, Welcome to DC Jayson!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SonnyG10 said...

I am really glad to have Jayson Werth on our team. I am glad Mike Rizzo and the Learner family were willing to overpay to get him here. I think it was necessary to change the perception of other major league free agents that the Nationals might be a good organization to play for. I am happy that the Nationals seem to be following the plan they said they were going to do and that is to build a strong farm system (they have paid over slot to get their quality draft picks), to go after quality free agents and to not overpay marginal players.

NatinBeantown said...

I think his answer about the Face of the Franchise is just about pitch perfect. Acknowledges the pros he won division titles with in Philly, gives deference to Zimms huge role in the franchise's young history in DC, and moves on. I don't think he'll have trouble carrying the burden of the contract.

I love Adam Dunn. I love his production, his professionalism, his moon-shots. But I always felt like he is a player content to show up at the ballpark and do his thing. I think Werth has the potential to bring both production and a competitive edge we've been lacking.

Said another way, Zimm is a leader by performance, but is not vocal. Desmond is a vocal leader, but doesn't have the track record yet that commands respect. Werth could mean both, and that means a lot.

DFL said...

I've heard that he and his wife will buy their home in DC. Very nice condos can be had for a song 100 yards from Nats Stadium. But the Werths can't count on public schools. No matter. There are plenty of private schools that they can afford.

sec3my sofa said...

"There are plenty of private schools that they can afford."
As in, he can afford to buy it. Which really comes in handy given the long waiting lists.

We now require a Cliff Lee Dinger Video.

sec3my sofa said...

"There are plenty of private schools that they can afford."
As in, he can afford to buy it. Which really comes in handy given the long waiting lists.

We now require a Cliff Lee Dinger Video.

sec3 said...

Danged gizmos...

BinM said...

Now, if Rizzo can just find a way to reel in four more pieces: 1) another LH-bat w/power (1B or LF/CF), 2) an above-average glove at 1B (see #1), 3) a #1-2SP 'placeholder' for Strasburg (without giving away the farm in return), & 4) an experienced arm for the 'pen, the Nationals could be a really enjoyable team to watch in 2011.

Rizzo might have earned a bit of a 'black-eye' publically by stating that a #1-2SP was so important before the FA season really started. Most of us realize that player availablity is fluid between seasons, and the loss of Dunn at 1B should push a "critical need" button to over-ride the search for another SP, imo.

Anonymous said...


At this juncture it sure looks to me like they aren't budging on the trade front. They don't want to relinquish Jordan Zimmermann. And can you blame them?

Perhaps, and restate for emphasis, perhaps IF Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Pudge Rodriguez, Jason Marquis, Livan Hernandez, and
Ian Desmond can change the culture of losing to a hard edged win no matter what attitude ... then PERHAPS

Jordan Zimmermann pitches like Matt Cain the younger.
Ross Detwiler and perhaps even Garett Mock finally come around.
Livo and Yuni pitch like gang busters.
Lannan and Marquis pitch well enough to get through seven consistently.
Young starters like Sammy Solis and Cole Kimball finish up in the minors and show.

As far as the left handed bat it looks like its Bernadina at this point. With Morse and Willingham providing enough power to replace Dunn's moonshots. BUT Espinosa does have some power and he is a switch hitter. With Espy starting at second and Bernadina in left you do have three left handed bats in the lineup with Morgan?

Since we all know they can't give up the farm we're going to have to hope these guys step up and play better than last year. Especially defensively!

Sunderland said...

Immediately do-able.
Sign LaRoche.
Sign a MLB quality RP / Closer.
If you can't find a quality MLB SP at a reasonable price (Willingham +?), then hit the dumpsters and, once again, we'll see what sticks.

Things are looking up, but we still have tons of question marks and time will tell if we have the core of a real competitive team or not.

And Anon 10:52, LH bats of Morgan, Espy and Bernadina would certainly be the weakest LH trio in the NL. We can't settle for that. We can't compete with that.

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