Nobody liked the trade that brought him here, nobody likes his contract and nobody likes his early season numbers, but that is no excuse for Angel fans to be turning on Vernon Wells already. How about we all just ease up and cut the newest Angel a little slack? Give Vernon Wells enough time to actually get comfortable in his new digs and he’ll be just fine.
I hate to say that I saw this coming, but I totally did (he said, patting himself on the back for being such a smartypants). When it came to winning over the hearts and minds of Angel fans, Wells entered the season already behind the proverbial 8-ball. All the vitriol and ridicule aimed at the Angel organization for that mind-boggling trade that brought Vernon to Anaheim tainted the jury pool against him. We were all practically waiting for him to start off slow so that we could justifiably voice our displeasure with his general presence. Sure enough, Wells has obliged by way of a comically abysmal batting average and the boo birds have already started in on Wells, a mere ten games into the 2011 campaign.
But you know what, the boos aren’t going to help.
Seriously, booing the guy after just ten games? What are we? Yankee fans?
Far be it from me to wag a finger at someone for criticizing a player. With all the crap I have given the likes of Jeff Mathis and Scott Kazmir over the years, that would make me a hypocrite of epic proportions. But even a curmudgeon like me recognizes that sometimes we must put aside our individual frustrations in favor of the greater good. As hard as that might be to do right now, we all need to put down the pitchforks and torches before this Wells thing becomes a full-blown witch hunt.
Just take a step back and realize what an impossible position that Vernon Wells currently finds himself in. He has had nothing but hate hurled in his direction since the trade was first announced, yet simultaneously must deal with the fact that the Angel franchise more or less anointed him as their savior for the season. They tabbed Wells as the guy who is going to be the difference-maker that pushes them back into the post-season and makes all of us forget about how they missed out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre (if that is even possible, and probably isn’t). Vernon isn’t just supposed to be a consolation prize, they really want us to believe he is a crown jewel acquisition of the off-season.
In fairness to Vernon, he has been just as good as Crawford and Beltre, well, almost. Both Carl and Adrian are sporting sub-Mendozian batting averages, just like Vernon (although his is somehow even worse than theirs by a wide margin). If that doesn’t underscore how tough it is for a supposed star player to come to a new team, get comfortable and start producing, I don’t know what does. Three big stars, three new teams, three early season disappointments.
The thing is, all of these guys are human and subject to all the same pressures and stresses as the rest of us. Haven’t you ever started a new job and spent that first week or two just praying you don’t screw up and get fired? How would you like it if your new co-workers all heckled you because you couldn’t figure out how to work the copier the first couple of times? Sure, Wells and other are being made fabulously wealthy in the process, but all that money doesn’t buy them some sort of special immunity to the adverse effects of human emotion.
Don’t get me wrong, Wells has been worse than any of us could have ever imagined and we can’t exactly let him off the hook for that. That’s not what I’m asking. All I ask of you, the humble Angel fan, is to find just a little more patience in your heart when it comes to Wells. He is, and will be, a better player, a much better player, than we are seeing now. Whether we boo him or cheer him, he’ll find his way. I just think he’ll find his way there faster if we get off his back and let him relax.