Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Harper in LF, Werth in RF

USA Today Sports Images
Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth will man opposite outfield corners this year.
VIERA, Fla. -- The November trade for Denard Span forced, among other things, the Nationals to move Bryce Harper from center field to one of the two corner positions.

Harper, though, didn't have much of a say whether he wound up in left field or right field. Even Davey Johnson deferred that decision to the other player affected by this game of outfield musical chairs: Jayson Werth.

Werth, who has 723 games of big-league experience in right field (not to mention one of the largest contracts in baseball history), earned the right to pick his position and ultimately decided to stay right where he's been all along while bumping Harper to left field.

"I think Jayson's already decided that," Johnson said today. "He told me early on after we made the trade, he said the perfect spot for the kid is left field because he hasn't hit a cutoff man in two years."

All kidding aside, this alignment probably makes the most sense for now. Though Harper ultimately projects to be a right fielder, Werth has far more experience there and continues to play the position well at age 33.

Harper, meanwhile, will have one of the strongest arms of any left fielder in the game while playing a less-demanding position in his first full big-league season.

Everyone acknowledges that arrangement won't last forever. Werth is under contract through 2017, and Harper is under team control through 2018, and eventually the younger of the two is going to take over the more-demanding position on a permanent basis.

"Jayson's no dummy," Johnson said. "But I like what he's thinking."

The Span acquisition also could force Werth and Harper into new positions within the Nationals' batting order. Johnson isn't ready to reveal his plan for that quite yet, but his choice appears to be between hitting Werth second to take advantage of his ability to get on base or down in the lineup to take advantage of his RBI capabilities.

"I was happy with the job Jayson Werth did leading off for us [last season]," Johnson said. "I don't think he can do much better for somebody coming in and getting on base about 40 percent of the time. That's in the top echelon of leadoff guys. He was nursing his wrist. We'll see how he comes along this spring on the wrist. He's got good power. He's a run producer. He's also awfully good at taking a lot of pitches and getting on base, too. It might be I hit him low in the lineup because his wrist is not fully healed, but that's something we'll look at this spring."

31 comments:

Section 222 said...

I won't repeat my comment on Danny's MRI from the previous post, but I will repeat this:

This is just sad.

upperdeck4 said...

Harper has the far stronger arm; not sure I agree with this one.

Section 222 said...

I'm fine with this. Playing RF is partly having the arm to throw out runners going first to third. But it's also knowing the RF corners in different parks, cutting of balls in the gap or down the line to prevent extra bases, etc. Werth plays the position well. (Plus, he's got that sliding catch thing down pat.) Until his performance deteriorates, they shouldn't move him. Harper will be a beast in LF, and can concentrate even more on becoming a 30-100 guy.

Candide said...

Harper in left; I have visions of his gunning down a runner tagging up from third, from the warning track.

Section 222 said...

If anyone was thinking of going to see Trouble with the Curve, you might want to read this review from Joe Posnanski first. Hilarious stuff.

Don said...

Best 25 go North!!

rarumberger said...

What I like is that Werth appears to be openly challenging Harper to take the job away from him. I agree that Harper's arm plays better in RF than Werth, but the rest of his defense still needs work and Werth can still hold his own. Let Harper prove he deserves RF.

Don said...

Werth had better do a lot more than hold his own this year -- it is time for our $126M Man to have an All Star season.

MicheleS said...

I think there is a valid point in this. Bryce can stay in LF and learn 1 position (instead of moving all over place) and he can learn the "how to's"of the OF, like hitting the cutoff man. It's fine for this year and maybe next. As Davey said, Jayson is no dummy, he knows at some point he will have to move over to LF.

Eugene Galvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Candide said...

Funny review, 222.

Gonat said...

Brye is in Viera. Spring Training has officially started!

Joe Seamhead said...

Well, I love it either way. There's a lot to be said with Werth staying in right because of his experience and knowledge of the quirks in right field corners around the league. Which ever side Jayson plays, I can see Denard,with his range, "leaning" to that side. As to Werth earning his contract, many of us feel that he has been earning it.Though baseball is a game of stats, and Werth's were pretty good last year, Jayson brought a lot more to this club other then a high OBP, and a dramatic home run in game 4. He brought credibility to a franchise and leadership to a young locker room. Some of us seemingly will never agree about this.

rarumberger said...

Not to mention, why aggravate yourself over Werth's stats? He's NEVER going to live up to his paycheck with his stat line. His best seasons with Philly wouldn't have been worth what he's making now, and frankly there's just no way he's getting back to those numbers.

Life is too short (and the Nats are too good) to be mad about this. Just accept that he's a Nat through 2017, no matter what, and if we win a World Series with him, then he was worth it.

Theophilus T. S. said...

If anything, Harper will poach on LCF. Span doesn't have much of an arm and it might be the only chance Harper gets to show his off. No 3B coach in his right mind will send a runner on a fly ball to straightaway left. Anything from 300 feet in is a guaranteed kill shot.

slidell2 said...

Bryce and Jason worked well together in 2012, a true picture of "teamwork" in all respects. Jayson also added value as a mentor to Bryce, and Bryce's acceptance of Jayson's guidance was significant.
It will be interesting to see how Bryce and Denard work together.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Chad Cordero has signed a minor league deal with the Angels.

Good for him.

UnkyD said...

Good luck, Cheif!!!

sm13 said...

Davey's rendition of Jayson's comment about Bryce missing cut off men is priceless. And true - I hope Bryce takes that as a challenge .

Great news about The Chief. I hope he makes it to the bigs this year.

Tony said...

Foreplay?

Gonat said...

NatsJack in Florida said...
Chad Cordero has signed a minor league deal with the Angels.

Good for him.

February 13, 2013 8:04 PM
______________________________________

That is great news! To know his personal story you have to root for this guy!

sjm308 said...

Don - Jason will probably never have another All-Star appearance. You need to let the huge contract go. It was never a good value but he has brought just what we needed. He is one of a few players to move here, he is a leader, a mentor, and a valuable team player. His stats just are not All-Star quality but he does things we need to get to the world series.

Can't wait to see what our lineup looks like.
I like Span-Werth-Harper-Zimm-LaRoche-Desmond-2nd base-Suzuki

baseballswami said...

I kind of liked the synergy of Werth and Harper playing next to each other in the outfield and hitting next to each other in the lineup.

SonnyG10 said...

I think having Bryce in LF is the best solution for the outfield for the time being. Bryce is overqualified for LF and should move to RF once Jayson slows up a bit, but for now it is ok. I do expect this outfield to close down the gaps pretty much.

peric said...

Werth is not going to be an All Star ... not with that wrist. Might as well forget that notion Don.

And left-field for Bryce makes the possibility for his appearance perhaps less likely this year ... but it should come not too long after that.

I was thinking the infield's synergy could pull them all up and onto that team in July but with Espy's rotator cuff that now seems less likely ...

natsfan1a said...

222, I already saw the flick, so I didn't read the review. I don't tend to put a lot of stock in reviews anyway, as I like to observe and make up my own mind. fwiw, I'd say that it's more of a chick flick than a baseball movie, but I found it entertaining and didn't wish that I'd waited for it to come out on cable (one of my movie-going metrics :-)).

NJ, thanks for sharing the news on the Chief. Good for him.

On topic, whatever Davey and Mikey think is okay with me. (Hi, Davey!)

natsfan1a said...

Speaking of flicks, though, I've been enjoying the "bleacher features" and associated Costas interviews on MLB Network of late.

natsfan1a said...

Oh, wait. New post. Uh, later.

Avar said...

natsfan1a - I love ya but have to say I have never enjoyed anything Costas has done. I can't stand that guy. Sorry.

On Werth, of course we are overpaying for him but that contract changed the reputation of the team and his presence changed the mindset of the team. Excellent value all things considered. Ted could afford to overpay and given the stunning turn around of the team since that signing, it's tough to argue with it.

natsfan1a said...

Love ya back, Avar, and to each his or her own. :-)

Kiterp said...

Jayson is one of a few players to move here, he is a leader, a mentor, and a valuable team player. His stats are not All-Star quality but were pretty good last year. But, Jayson brought a lot more to this club other than a high OBP, and a dramatic home run in game 4. He brought credibility to a franchise and leadership to a young locker room. Bryce and Jason worked well together in 2012, a true picture of "teamwork" in all respects. Jayson also added value as a mentor to Bryce, and Bryce's acceptance of Jayson's guidance was significant. Jason does things the Nats need to get to the world series. I’m probably the only one that wears his jersey to the park but I think he deserves it ... and probably the $126M

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