There’s a ghost in right field down at Citizens Bank Park, and its former Phillies slugger Jayson Werth
Ever since Jayson Werth said “show me the money” after the 2010 season, the Phillies have struggled to find the long-term replacement for their World Champion slugger.
While Werth certainly has not fully lived up to his seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals, the Phillies look to have ultimately come up on the short end in this scenario.
The team entered 2011 with Ben Francisco, essentially the throw-in guy in the first Cliff Lee trade, as the Opening Day starter in right. An unproductive hitter, Francisco spent his last year with the Phillies as a sub-.250 batter over 100 games.
By the end of May, top prospect Dominic Brown returned to the majors to be the everyday starter in right field. Other than his historic power surge in May of 2013, Brown was a big of a bust as you’ll see in professional sports. Mixed in around Brown and Francisco were Ross Gload, Brandon Moss (before he was an all-star elsewhere), and John Bowker.
Hunter Pence was brought in on July 29, 2011, after Brown’s major league struggled continued to mount. While Pence cost the Phillies four prospects in the trade with Houston, it was seen as a full on success. Pence hit .324 in his first 54 games with the Phillies, and helped them towards another National League East title.
It looked as if Pence, then just 28-years-old, could be the guy for several years to come in Philadelphia. Then, he was gone faster than he was here. Rube Amaro traded Pence in an attempt to make a rebuilding effort quick and painless. The real pain was felt when San Francisco sent a mediocre package back for Pence: Tommy Joseph, Nate Schierholtz, and Seth Rosin.
Schierholtz was immediately given a chance to start in right, starting the first eight games of his career in Philadelphia. Nothing ever came of Schierholtz, who was recently suspended for performance enhancing drugs.
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Mixed into right during the turbulent 2012 season were John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Jason Pridie, Darin Ruf, and the infamous Michael Martinez.
John Mayberry had more than enough chances to become a starter and was even on the field for Opening Day in 2013. But the trend of faceless outfielders continued to trot past the ghost of Werth in right. Roger Bernadina, Ezequiel Carrera, Casper Wells, and Delmon Young each appeared in right, but Werth (and now even Pence) continued to haunt the Phillies.
Amaro then got “serious” about finding a replacement in right field, and brought back Marlon Byrd through a major free agent contract at the age of 36. The oft-injured Grady Sizemore also joined the fray, partnered with Tony Gwynn Jr.
Ever since we have been overloaded with even more mediocre talent in right field. Aaron Altherr, Brian Bogusevic, Jeff Francoeur, and Darnell Sweeney arrived in 2015, and were preceded by Peter Bourjos, Tyer Goeddel, Jimmy Paredes, Cedric Hunter and David Lough.
Today, Phillies fans look into the outfield and still see the ghostly silhouettes of Jayson Werth and Hunter Pence. They stand beside Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, and Michael Saunders as the next candidates to fill their shoes.
Matt Klentak has the ability to excavate those ghosts thanks to his wheeling and dealing, but can either of those three players finally be the all-star we had in Werth, Pence, or even Brown to some little extent? Maybe neither of the three will be what we hope they are, and the ghostly carousel in right field will continue to turn in Philadelphia.