The Marlins have always been thrifty, and surprisingly successful considering their consistently low payroll. The Nationals have had a low payroll over the last few years, but went out on a limb last offseason with the signing of Jayson Werth. The Fish also scavenged the free agent market in the offseason and reeled in John Buck.
Buck received a three year contract totaling $18 million. His signing solved the catching enigma for the Marlins and also gave them veteran support in the clubhouse. Jayson Werth hit the jackpot and will be payed $126 million over the next seven years. The Nats also needed veteran support, and someone to protect Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup. Little did they know Michael Morse and Laynce Nix would provide more than enough of that.
Werth’s contract made sense at the time , in 2010 he hit: near .300, 27 homers, and 85RBI with Philadelphia. He went on the free agent market and was expected to attract a bidding war. But without any apparent competition, the Nationals laid down their wallet and inked Werth. Right now though, Werth is hitting .224/.331/.378 (avg/obp/slg). He has 13 home runs and 43 RBI.
John Buck was not by any means overpaid. He was an all-star last season with Toronto. But he too has had his struggles, hitting .229/.316/.388. This week he has hit two late inning home runs, brining this year’s total to 13 as well.
Why have these two players had their struggles? Their hardships are a result of separate but similar problems. For Werth, he has gone from supporting player to center of the team. In Philly, Werth had superstars like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez surrounding him in the lineup. That means he was seeing more pitches to hit since pitchers had to throw around the others. Since Werth was seeing more pitches to hit, he had many more opportunities. Now, Werth doesn’t have the patience a power hitter needs. He has almost two srikeouts per walk.
John Buck is coming from the American League to the National League. He is seeing new pitchers and hitting in new venues. But the main problem is the same as Werth’s. In the AL, pitchers don’t hit and DH’s take their spot in the batting order. So Buck was a lesser hitter in the Jay’s lineup, (until he emerged as an all-star) and thus saw more pitches. Now with the pitcher in the lineup, and Buck hitting near the bottom of the order, he is pitched around more often.
Both these free agent signings seemed to solve problems for their respective teams in the offseason, but John Buck and Jayson Werth were signed after a great 2010 performance, and have not regained that form.