The Vernon Wells domino effect

vernon wellsThis Spring Training has been a great chance for us to get a taste of what Angel’s baseball is going to be like this season. Just TWO WEEKS LEFT until we get to the start of season, only two weeks until we get to see what kind of players our big tickets to the playoffs in Albert Pujols and C.J Wilson will shape into as Angels. Can’t forget about some of our Angels that are looking to put together a strong season after a “not-so-hot” year at the plate, like Vernon Wells. Wouldn’t it be great if he could put together that .300 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI season he promised us? Oh, it would be great to see him come through on that promise, but you know what would be even better? Seeing him flop HARD in the beginning of the season! Not just hard enough to demote him to the bench, hard enough to be released from the team. It’s not that I would love to see that because I have some sick fetish for seeing people’s lives come crumbling down on top of them, it’s more of a necessity to see this happen. Well, maybe not an absolute necessity, but it definitely would be in the Angels best interest for Vernon Wells to play himself off the team this coming season. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I would kill to see to Wells put up that .300 AVG, 30 HR, 100 RBI season he promised. That being said, it’s highly unlikely that Wells will put up such a season, at best he’ll probably draw a median between his ’10 and ’11 seasons. That would come out to a decent season for Wells, but what the Angels need more out of Wells is not a decent season, but an absolute trainwreck of a “season”. Give him the first two months or so to play himself out of a job and the Angels will be on track to set themselves up for a huge playoff run, not just for this season but for the foreseeable future. It’s probably going to take a Mathis level of ineptitude for Wells to be shown the door, and while it would be horribly painful to sit through that it would be much more painful for the Angels front office to have to work around a revitalized Vernon Wells.

Let’s just get the most obvious point out of the way first: HE’S BLOCKING MIKE TROUT THE SAVIOR OF ANGELS BASEBALL!

Whoa there! Let’s slow down with the enthusiasm for just a second. While Mike Trout is the coming Messiah of the organization, he probably should be upgraded from “coming Messiah” status to “starting left fielder”, but that simply isn’t going to happen with Wells around. Jerry Dipoto has already made it known that Mike Trout isn’t going to be on the major league roster if he isn’t starting, you want a player of his caliber playing every day even if that means keeping him in AAA for a little longer, you can’t afford to keep him on the bench. Mike Trout is the kind of player that electrifies the lineup around him, this was extremely evident in his second call up last season; the highlight of that call up being his two home run performance in a 13-6 win over the Seattle Mariners which came in the middle of a six-game hitting streak in which he was batting .400. Mike Trout already went through his initial adjustment to the majors in his first call up which saw him batting a weak .163 in only 14 games, if he came back we wouldn’t have to sit around and wait for him to get comfortable and start producing.

If the Angels managed to rid themselves of Wells that would give Mike Trout a legitimate shot at establishing himself as the Angels leadoff hitter, and not just the kind of leadoff hitter Aybar and Izzy gave us last season, he would be the ultimate table setter. He has the speed, he has his amazingly well-developed plate discipline, he even has the same type of leadoff power that made Jacoby Ellsbury an MVP runner up last season, he has everything he needs to make himself a one of a kind leadoff man.  All of that talent would greatly compliment a blossoming Howie Kendrick, not to forget the slugging power of Pujols and Kendrys, if he can regain his true ability. Not only would this inject the Angels with much needed fresh talent at leadoff, it would save them boatloads of cash. With a possible Aybar extension looming on the horizon bumping him back down to the bottom of the order, which would take away some of the value Aybar can use to push for a bigger contract. We all know Aybar isn’t really legit leadoff hitter, at least he hasn’t established himself as one yet, but if he gets the chance to do so he’ll rake in the big BIG bucks as the Angels have been desperate for a real leadoff man the past few seasons. Keeping Aybar out of the leadoff hole will save the Angels from overpaying if an extension is in his future, which will benefit the Angels greatly after all the spending they’ve done this offseason.

I’ve been working with your brain muscles to get my point across so far, but now it’s time for me to tug at the heartstrings. We all know Torii Hunter’s time as an Angel is coming to an end even though it’s possible he still has a few productive seasons left in him. He’s been the face and voice of this organization for some time now, seeing him leave would be a devastating blow to the fan base. He’s already stated that he wants to retire an Angel and he’s willing to take less money to stay, because he knows it isn’t all about the money, it’s about winning it all with an organization you’ve given your heart to the past 5 years. The Angels can’t afford to re-sign Hunter with Wells on the team, and not because of the money, because of the outfield logjam it would create; with Wells on the team right field is Trout’s most likely destination. If Wells was out the door Hunter wouldn’t be blocking Trout, wouldn’t the Angels have enough space to keep him? It might seem that way, but there is one more factor that plays into that, a factor far more important than Wells “making or breaking” his career with the Angels. That factor is Mark Trumbo.

If Trumbo can adapt to third base, becoming a competent fielder while not only keeping his offensive production up but improving from last season then Hunter can continue to call right field his home. That would mean bye bye Callaspo via trade as he would become the odd infielder out in that situation, however if Mark Trumbo fails to find his footing at third all while still maintaining himself as an offensive threat the Angels would most likely continue the Mark Trumbo experiment in RF. At best he’d probably look like Vladdy 2.0, though Trumbo has more speed and agility then you would expect from a 1B by trade. If that happens Hunter has no place on this team, even with Wells gone he won’t be DH’ing as that would be reserved for a Kendrys and Pujols merry go round, though he could fit into that rotating slot he’s already stated he doesn’t want to continue his career as a DH, he’s lived on his fielding ability and that’s where he’ll end his career. The only factors that would keep Hunter an Angel until the day he retires is if, aside from Wells losing his job, Trumbo can keep his offensive presence while proving an able third basemen (thus sending Callaspo out the door) or if Trumbo ends up getting traded.

I think that the Angels have enough power in their lineup to compensate for a floundering Wells, while the Angels season pretty much died on Wells back last year it won’t be the same story this year. The presence of Pujols along with the other young blossoming starts gives the Angels offense a bigger margin for failure to work with, and while I wouldn’t want the Angels to flirt with that margin if it meant seeing Wells leave the organization then so be it. I like Wells as a player (when he isn’t so garbage), he definitely deserves to be with an organization he can comfortable play with every day, that organization just isn’t the Angels. This whole catastrophe isn’t Wells fault, he’s just a player trying to do his best with the hand that’s been dealt, all this should be blamed on Reagins and his amazing lack of foresight.

Whatever does end up happening with Wells I wish him the best of luck as he is a great role model and a solid major league starter, but the sad thing is…he just doesn’t fit as an Angel.