Jayson Werth was 13 for 57 (.228/.258/.333) with three doubles, a home run, three walks and 17 K's in 15 games and 62 plate appearances against the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011. In his first full-year as a National after signing a 7-year/$126M dollar deal with Washington last winter, the right-handed-hitting and throwing right fielder (who also saw time in center) had a .232/.330/.389 line with 26 doubles and 20 HR's. Werth was worth +2.4 fWAR on the season in his first year in D.C. after four years in Philadelphia over which he had a combined .282/.380/.506 line and was worth +3.3, 5.2, 5.0 and 5.3 fWAR from 2007-2010. Werth only faced former Phillies teammate Brad Lidge once last season, singling to left to load the bases before Jonny Gomes' August 21st 10th inning walk-off HBP.
Lidge, who was Werth's teammate from 2008-2010 and signed on to become his teammate once again with the Nationals in 2012, told MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Casey Stern last week that he only made the decision to move to the nation's capital after talking to the outfielder about what's going on in Washington...
"After talking to Jayson Werth for a while," Lidge explained, "I really like the way the team is going. I think that they have a chance of getting to the playoffs this year and it's going to be an exciting year there." If they are going to be a contender this year, they're going to need a bounce-back year from Werth, (Bill James is predicting a .259/.360/.451, 26 double, 23 HR season) or "a back-to-Jayson Werth-Jayson Werth" as Mike Rizzo put it while talking to reporters recently. The MLB Network's Casey Stern asked the veteran reliever last week if he could offer any insight into his former teammate's mindset heading into his second season in Washington.
"It probably bothers any player in this game when they don't have the type of season that they want to have or they expect out of themselves," Lidge said, "So I would say, mentally, he's not satisfied with last year, that's for sure and I know he's been working really hard this year to get himself back to, or at least get his numbers back to where he feels comfortable and what he knows he can do. But that being said, Jayson's pretty tough upstairs, and in the head, and I think that he knows if he just stays with his approach and his plan, his numbers are gonna be fine."
"When you change scenery like he did," Lidge continued, "Obviously you become the main guy in the lineup that everyone is very aware of. In Philadelphia, people were very aware of Ryan Howard and the other guys in that lineup and so sometimes you get a few more pitches to hit in a lineup like Philadelphia, but I think this year is going to be a little bit easier for Jayson in that guys like Michael Morse stepped up so much last year, [Ryan Zimmerman] and [Adam] LaRoche are going to be back in the lineup, so Werth is going to become another one of those guys in the lineup that is producing, but I don't think the focus is going to be quite as central on him this year."
"There's a lot of things that goes into Jayson Werth besides his statistics," Lidge said, "So, I personally would be very surprised if his numbers aren't a lot closer to Philadelphia-type numbers this year."
With Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson added to the rotation, Lidge to the bullpen, a healthy Zimmerman and LaRoche back in the lineup, a "back-to-Jayson Werth Jayson Werth" and the continued maturation and increased production from the young "core" of Danny Espinosa, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos, along with the eventual addition of Bryce Harper, does the former Phillies' reliever think his new team can compete in a tough NL East? "I think when you look at the division," Lidge said, "Not to try to step on the Mets or anything or rain on their parade, but I think they're going to have a tougher time this year not because they're not as good, but just because of the improvement of the Washington Nationals, of the Miami Marlins and the fact that the Braves and the Phillies are annually such tough teams."
"It definitely is a division that anybody of those four teams I believe can take," Lidge continued, "I still feel like, probably like everybody, that the Phillies are going to be toward the top if not at the top toward the end of the season, but that being said, there's at least one Wild Card this year, possibly two, I guess we're kind of waiting on a decision on that, and I think the Nationals are definitely a team that could get that and maybe even the Marlins too."