Tag Archives: Vernon Wells

Forgetting Vernon Wells

Speed. Grit. Rally starter. Dirty uniforms. High socks. That’s what the Toronto Blue Jays have in centre field this year, and it’s great fun to watch.

But however far in love Toronto fans may have already fallen with Rajai Davis, it does seem odd to hear so late little talk about the previous guy to patrol centre.

Tonight, the Blue Jays are in Anaheim as the Angels play their home opener. The game will be the first meeting between Vernon Wells and the team he had played every game with up until this season. And it makes me feel old to think about it this way, but Wells played his first big league games in 1999.

So how could a guy like Wells be put out of mind so quickly after being here so long? I mean, just look at Toronto’s all-time offensive leaders and Wells is all over the place:

  • 1st in at bats
  • 2nd in runs scored
  • 2nd in hits
  • 2nd in total bases
  • 2nd in doubles
  • 10th in triples
  • 2nd in home runs
  • 2nd in RBI
  • 10th in stolen bases
  • 6th in walks
  • 2nd in extra-base hits
  • 6th in slugging percentage
  • 10th in OPS

Impressive tallies, and those are just the categories listed in this year’s edition of SABR’s Emerald Guide to Baseball. So why were people (including myself) so down on Wells and so happy to see him go? Continue reading

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JoBau breaks my brain

Word on the street is that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are close to a deal — a 5-year, $65-million deal. The word in my head is that this is a bad idea.

I’d been waiting all offseason for this signing to happen. Planned to lead the post with a song. The Pixies. Bone Machine.

“You’re so pretty when you’re faithful to me.”

Would’ve been great, in my head anyway. But, as I’ve already said, this deal, it doesn’t please my head so much.

Why? Because Bautista really just doesn’t have a very good track record. Yeah, his 2010 was off the charts, but everything else he’s done has been, well, less than impressive.

(If you want numbers on this, there are plenty of blogs that will give you that. Might I suggest Getting Blanked or Ghostrunner on First — assuming Drew tackles this subject — as a good starting point?)

So, assuming the report is correct, why would the Jays sign a deal like this one? I’ve got two theories. Maybe one’s correct, maybe there’s a third option that escapes me:

1. Blue Jays brass truly believes Bautista’s the real deal. Locking him up now may be more expensive in the short-term than going to arbitration and letting him mash his way through 2011, pushing his value even higher and potentially losing him to an outrageous bid from the Red Sox or Yankees.

2. Just as the Vernon Wells deal before it, the word came from on high: “I don’t care what you want to do, you’re going to sign this player.” From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. Alex Anthopoulos has already built up a huge amount of credit with the “knowledgable” fans, but there are a lot of Maple Leafs fans in this city who aren’t happy with prospects and building the right way. Remember when VW was traded and the immediate calls to spend that $25 million elsewhere? This deal should go a long way toward keeping those people happy and, if you’re worried about ticket sales, that’s something you might want to take into consideration.

If the team made its move based on Theory 1 as listed above, and the gamble pays off, this is a great move. But I don’t see it working out quite that way.

That’s not to say I see Bautista completely falling off a cliff. No, I see him regressing to be a good, but not great, player. The kind of player you can likely get for less than $13 million per.

But you know what? Even if this deal is real and even if Bautista completely falls off a cliff, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It does give younger players something to look forward to (play well and be rewarded for it) and it should go a long way toward building up the reputation the team’s working toward (we take care of our own and we’re a great place to be).

So maybe it’s not the best thing, and I definitely don’t like it right now, but it’s not a horrible, stupid thing either.

And who knows, the reports of this deal may be false anyway.

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Party time!

Blinding happiness!

Slogging through work on Friday evening, my phone went off. “V-dub is gonzo,” read the text message. And a great happiness filled me.

Along with the happiness was a sort of disbelief.

Vernon Wells is gone? His contract is rivalled only by Barry Zito’s (and maybe Jayson Werth’s) for worst in baseball. I’m pretty sure I heard Jonah Keri refer to Wells as the second most untradeable player in baseball (or something to that effect) just a few days ago on The Jeff Blair Show. Wells can’t be gone, can he?

But gone he is, and I’m glad.

Part of me feels bad for Vernon. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. He’s involved in some great charity work. He knows he’s not worth the huge contract. He seems like the kind of veteran presence you might want to have on a young team.

But that contract, it negates all of it.

That contract is, I’m guessing, responsible* for VW being pencilled into centrefield and the No. 4 spot day in and day out for ever and ever.

That contract definitely is, err… was, a massive impediment to a team on a limited budget to do, uh, anything.

And now it’s gone. Party time!

Analyzing the trade and the addition of Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, that’s for later. Right now, just enjoy the fact the V-Dub is gone and the burden is lifted.

And maybe wish him well in L.A.

* We can’t blame everything on Citocity, can we?

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Scapegoating the wrist

Hola amigos. It’s been a long time since I rapped at ya, but I’ve been kinda overdosing on the Olympics lately. As great as those two weeks were, it’s over now and baseball and warm weather are here to save the day.

I’d been making a small effort to stay on top of any big news from the Jays’ camp, but I obviously missed some things. Some things like this interview that Alex Anthopoulos gave to the Fan 590 last Friday. Speaking about Vernon Wells and his new role as “team leader,” Anthopoulos said the following:

I talked to him about it (VW’s wrist) and he said it’s fine, he feels great. I said how does it compare to last spring and he said ‘oh you know, it’s night and day.’ You know, last spring, it was bothering him and our trainers had to inject him to take the pain away and he had to take anti-inflammatories the entire year and, uh, obviously once he was done playing and he was off the anti-inflammatories, the pain started to come back. Again, he won’t complain about it and he certainly won’t point to it as a reason for him not having as strong as a year as he would have hoped for, but I certainly believe that it certainly did impact the year that he did have and he certainly feels good about it. I expect Vernon to bounce back and have a strong year for us.

I like Anthopoulos, I really do, but I have a problem with what he said there.

THE WRIST WAS NOT VERNON’S PROBLEM LAST YEAR.

Seriously, I thought that had been covered enough and accepted as fact. Why is it still being trotted out as an excuse for his poor performance last year, and trotted out by the general manager no less!

Now I’m not going to accuse VW or the team of lying about a wrist injury — you’d have to be insane to undergo unnecessary wrist surgery — surely there was something wrong there. But, if there’s anyone reading this who believes that the wrist was the cause of the poor stats, could you please explain to me why it only really seemed to bother him in the Dome?

Just take a look at VW’s home and away splits last season. He was, offensively, well above league average on the road.

Did his wrist magically stop bothering him when he left Canada? Is there something about the Dome, perhaps lighting or some sort of colour scheme in the stadium, that makes it hard for him to pick up pitches there? Was he actually affected by all the negativity flowing his way from the team’s “fans”?

Unless Wells himself comes out and explains it, I guess we’ll never know the reason. But we can say this: His poor performances at the Dome were not because of his wrist injury.

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I’m excited about Canada’s team

Who says the Jays aren't Canada's team?

I never thought trading Roy Halladay would end like this, but I’m pretty damn excited about what’s going on with the Blue Jays right now.

I’m excited because Shaun Marcum will be pitching again next year.

I’m excited because I believe the Jays will be a much more entertaining team much sooner than people expect them to be.

I’m excited because the Jays are getting three very good prospects in return for the Good Doctor.

I’m excited because, at the press conference confirming The Trade, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said this: “We’re on our road to getting back to where we were back in the World Series years. Really, this is the start of it, folks.” And, crazy as it sounds, I believe him.

I’m excited because at that same press conference, Anthopoulos took the time to answer questions in French. Since I can’t figure out how to link directly to the Radio Canada report (three minutes long!) you’ll either have to take my word or search for it yourself.

I know what happened with the Expos, but you can’t tell me that there aren’t baseball fans in Quebec. There is a market there to be tapped and if the Jays really want to call themselves Canada’s team, it’s a market that must be tapped. A GM from Montreal who speaks French at the press conferences is a damn good start.

What else can be done? How about getting some games on RDS or Radio Canada (presuming they’re not already) and bringing in someone like Jacques Doucet to call them? How about playing a weekend series at Olympic Stadium? I for one would love an excuse to make an annual trip to Montreal.

The Jays are already Canada’s team, but only by virtue of being the country’s only team. And yes, people outside of Toronto do care. Check out thanksroy.com if you need proof.

Lastly, I’m excited because even if the Jays do stink it up for a year or two, Doc’s finally got a chance to win. Go Phillies.

I believe in Vernon Wells

Sports and the City is running a little poll. The site’s banner prominently features Doc and the poll is to determine who, if anyone, should replace him up there. Whether you’re like me and you believe Vernon Wells will turn it around and be a productive member of the team again or you’re a realist and you just know that VW is going to be a Blue Jay for the rest of his career, it’s pretty clear that he should be the winner. So go vote for him already!

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Finally, some Jays news from Indy

Until this morning, the most interesting bit of Blue Jays news coming out of MLB’s Winter Meetings in Indianapolis was that GM Alex Anthopoulos was being a hardass regarding the Roy Halladay trade talks. Refusing to reveal his location, making other GMs come to him, being afraid of what germs can do? All AA needs to do now is grow a beard and we’ll have our very own Howard Hughes running the team.

Anyway, I got sidetracked. There is news! Apparently the Jays have either signed or not signed Joey Gathright. I find this news exciting because it gives me an excuse to post this video:

So basically Gathright is Evil Knievel without the bike or jumpsuit. (Too bad about the jumpsuit.)

He’s also a very fast man who is pretty solid in centrefield. I’m no expert on UZR, but it seems to me that Gathright’s career UZR of 17.4 in CF is just a little bit better than Vernon Wells’s -40.3.

So maybe, if this signing turns out to be truth, Wells will be moving out of centre? A man can dream.

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Hoping The Plan doesn’t affect Doctor Moose

Right now it’s Saturday morning. The general managers meetings begin on Tuesday in Chicago. As of yet, Anthopoulos and Beeston have not yet unveiled The Plan. This concerns me.

Look, I know that the general managers meetings are not like the winter meetings. Free agents aren’t available yet and trades are typically not done at this time. But you can’t tell me that, at the very least, some laying-the-groundwork type of discussions don’t take place at these meetings, and how can the groundwork be laid if the team doesn’t know where they want the road to go?

The Plan could be announced any time between now and the start of the meetings, and I hope that it is. After the awful season this team put out, the off-season hasn’t been much better yet. I’m not going to pull crap like this idiot, but I could use some encouraging news.

UPDATE: Immediately after posting this, @MLBastian tweeted (twittered? twitted?) Anthopoulos will be speaking to the media later today. The plan may be unveiled. It may not be. Nobody knows. Or, more correctly, I don’t know.

Catching up after the Cito depression

Phillies win

Why are people congratulating the Yankees? Did advertising lie to me again?

• Ever wonder how Roy Halladay got to be so awesome? Turns out it has nothing to hard work and dedication. It’s because he is a moose.

Dave LaRoche, pitching coach for the Las Vegas 51s, has a wife. His wife writes a column for the Fort Scott Tribune. The Jays’ recent coaching shakeup inspired this column of hers. It’s not particularly well written, and it does devolve into religious pap near the end, but if you’re one of those people who think that those involved with sports teams are not normal people it might be worth looking at.

• Some twerp over at Bleacher Report is already talking about how Doctor Moose will lead the Yankees to a repeat next year.

• I know its old news now, but Vernon Wells is having his wrist worked on again. Upon hearing the news, my reaction was “right, that’s why he sucked so hard this year.” But I was being stupid. If the wrist was the problem, why was his OPS 146 points higher on the road? Maybe all the booing goes straight to his wrist?

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Coping with loss

grief

Any time a traumatic event happens in someone’s life, their mental makeup can be shaken. Personalities change: Normally friendly people can lash out at everyone and everything; some seek solace in the bottle; some lock themselves in their parents’ basements for even longer periods than usual.

Normally going through the five stages of grief is reserved for major events like the loss of a family member or the news of a loved one coming down with a disease like cancer, but it struck me recently that the Jays blogosphere has, since Kenny Ken Ken Rosenthal tried to convince everyone that Roy Halladay is going to be traded, really been exhibiting the five stages of grief.

1. Denial

Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.

Stoeten of the Drunks got the process started when he said:

Fuck. Off.

This is not news.

I know those maybe sound like the words of a Jays fan fiercely in denial, but they’re really not. This is just fucking tiresome. How many times over the years has Ricciardi said—about not just Halladay, but any player—that “if something makes sense, we at least have to listen”?

Of fucking course he’ll listen! Is that seriously all you’ve got???

To be fair, he does make some good points as to why it’s not news and at the time, especially given the way things regarding Doc trade talk have gone in the past, but it turns out that this time, there was a bit more to it.

And yes, this may be a case of Rosenthal being the boy who cried wolf, but I’m cherry picking here to make this work.

2. Anger

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.

The Tao jumped all over this stage, unleashing a professional-sounding form of anger. And you know what, I still think he’s right: It’s all J.P.’s fault.

And Stoeten pretty much nails it in a post he appropriately titled A Quick Word About The Most Frustrating Thing Ever.

Of course, if you want to see the worst side of the anger surrounding this topic, just read the comment sections of any of the blogs.

3. Bargaining

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”

You don’t even have to leave this blog to see a prime example of this step. Let’s solve the Halladay dilemma by making the Vernon Wells problem worse! That’s the ticket! Right.

4. Depression

During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

Ghostrunner’s Drew couldn’t even manage to keep his chin up. That’s saying something.

Ian the Blue Jay Hunter admitted to feeling like his heart’s breaking at the thought of Halladay pitching for another team.

5. Acceptance

This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.

The Tao is the shining example of this stage, with two particular posts in mind.

One reminds us that “There are still some pretty good players – and people – on the roster of this ballclub that we can get behind. The Globe’s Jeff Blair hammers the point home within this great read on Aaron Hill.”

And the other (and proving that the stages don’t necessarily go in order, it was posted before the anger post linked above) is just a great read.

So what’s the point of all this?

Nothing really. Just something I noticed. Personally, I’m ready to move on. Doc’s a great pitcher and we’re lucky to have had him here for as long as we have. But if he’s going to test free agency after 2010, as J.P. has said (see MLBastian’s twitter if you missed that), then Doc’s got to be moved for the best package that can be had. The team can’t afford to let him walk with nothing but draft picks in return.

So tonight I’m going re-read Mop Up Duty’s excellent post on Roy Halladay’s career, then I’m going to go down to the Rogers Centre and cheer for Roy Halladay as best I can. And when he leaves the game, whether it’s after a complete game win or being yanked in the first without getting an out, I’m going to give him the standing ovation he deserves. It may be the last chance I have and I don’t want to miss out on doing the little bit that I can to let him know that I appreciate what he’s done for this team.

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An idea regarding Vernon Wells

toronto_blue_jays_vernon_wells_678

I know Vernon Wells probably wouldn’t go for this, but maybe J.P. Ricciardi should try to renegotiate VW’s contract.

He knows he’s playing horribly (see his reaction to being moved down in the order) that much is public. Here are some assumptions I’m making:

  • He must know that his ridiculous contract is going to hurt the team’s ability to compete in the future.
  • He must also know that his low level of play, if he keeps it up, will affect his ability to get another good contract after this one.
  • Even if he turns his game around, if there aren’t players on the team to get on base in front of him then he’s not going to rack up the RBI necessary to get another monster contract.
  • If Halladay (or other players) leave because the team can’t afford them, VW will bear the wrath of fans and media even more so than he already does.
  • He, like all players, wants to win.

If I’m J.P., I approach Wells and say something like “this contract is going to be your last big one unless something crazy happens and if it doesn’t, it may possibly be your last contract period.”

Then I’d offer him a four-year extension on the contract he has at, say, $2 million per year. The catch is that I’d change the payment schedule.

The Jays already owe VW $98.5 million over the next five seasons (not including the $8.5M signing bonus due next March) the real problem is that he’ll make over $20M in each of the final four seasons.

I’d add $8M to that total, extend him four years and pay him the average of the value of this new contract every year. Signing bonus payment can stay right where it is.

Sure, this plan means we’d be paying a 40-year-old Vernon almost $12M in 2018, but we’d also only be paying Vernon that amount in 2011, a year in which he’s scheduled to make $23M. That $11M might buy us a nice player (or allow us to keep a certain someone around).

Yes, I know I used “we” and “us” throughout the post, but remember that I’m pretending to be J.P. here.

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Uncle B.J.’s Wild Ride shuts down

B.J. Ryan, I hope you find a team to play for that will let you pitch, even if it’s in the minors. I believe you can get your stuff back. Even if you’re never the dominating pitcher you used to be, I believe you can still be effective somewhere. And that’s why I think J.P. and Co. made a big mistake in letting you go.

You talked about reinventing yourself as a pitcher. I’m on board with that. It’s what you need, it’s what whoever you end up itching for needs. You said you need to pitch more to be able to reinvent yoruself. It makes perfect sense. I’m sure you know that the best way to accomplish these goals is, right?

Take a minor league assignment!

I really, really hope, for the sake of my sanity, that J.P. offered you a trip to the minors and you said no, forcing their hand. I really hope so.

Throwing away the Frank Thomas money was bad. Throwing away the Frank Thomas money and your money, Beej, well, that’s just abominable.

Throughout J.P.’s tenure, I’ve always been a supporter of his. He’s managed to build a solid team in a tough division with a relatively small payroll. That’s pretty impressive.

The thing is, when he’s got payroll issues, he really can’t afford to be throwing money away like he has been. The Big Hurt and the Beej contracts are bad enough, let’s not even talk about Vernon Wells.

The thing I do want to mention though — and I really don’t think there’s near as much to the Halladay trade rumours as those in the media seem to think — is this disturbing quote J.P. fired out there the other day while talking to the New York Post: “We have kept him from free agency twice and I don’t think we have the resources to keep him from free agency a third time.”

If the worst comes to pass, and the Doc leaves via trade — or worse, as a free agent — I know there will be temptation to set the Vernon Wells Hatred Advisory System to some unimaginable level. But really, don’t take the anger out on VW.

It’ll be J.P.’s fault. Not only for throwing the money at VW, but for wasting it on B.J. Ryan and Frank Thomas.

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