Werth his weight in gold

The magic number for the Phils 140. It is a bad number. In fact, it could be fatal to the team’s success this season and beyond.

If the Phils are going to continue their current run of success, they are going to have to deal with the fact that there is nothing magical about the $140-million limit on their payroll. They are going to have to accept the price for success. They are going to have to find a way to raise that number.

Two things happened in the past few days that cried out for a new philosophy. First, Ryan Howard signed a $125-million extension that will make him the highest-paid Phillie ever. Second, Jayson Werth saved a game with two outs in the ninth inning by refusing to lose.

Both of these players are precious commodities on a winning franchise, but the Phillies are acting as if they can’t afford both. This is the kind of thinking that ends eras of domination prematurely. Howard is the best pure power hitter in baseball, yes, but how great would he be without Werth hitting behind him?

The Phillies must re-sign Jayson Werth. The notion that a young outfielder named Domonic Brown can replace him is ridiculous. First of all, Brown is unproven. Secondly, he bats left-handed. And third, he will never be as ideal for this team as Werth is.

Watching Werth destroy an afternoon’s artistry by San Francisco pitcher Tim Lincecum with a three-run double on the ninth pitch of an epic at-bat should have sounded an alarm to Phillies’ ownership. You can always buy a big bat or a strong arm, but where can you find that kind of mental toughness?

The way the Phillies talk, Werth is a luxury they won’t be able to afford once he becomes a free agent. He is not a luxury. He is an essential piece in an intricate puzzle. If it takes $17-million a year to sign him, well, he deserves it. Neither his talent nor his fortitude is easily replaceable.

When I was talking to Phillies president Dave Montgomery on my WIP radio show, I openly pleaded for him to re-sign Werth. He said there was always hope, but he can’t justify moving that magic number of 140.

Speaking for the fans, I said he had to move the number. I also said the fans would be willing to pay more for tickets, more for anything, because they remember what it was like to have a team that wasn’t anywhere near as good as this one.

What this all comes down to is simple. The Phillies are winners. The city of Philadelphia is a winner. Settling for anything less than the best is no longer acceptable.

– Angelo Cataldi is a Metro columnist and host of WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays from 5:30-10 a.m.

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