Welcome to Wells Watch 2012, the somewhat regular feature in which we look at the tenuous job status of one Mr. Vernon Wells.
I say somewhat regular because I don’t know how long Vernon is going to last on the Angels given that Big Vern’s 2012 season is already eerily reminiscent of his disastrous 2011 campaign. I didn’t want to start this feature as it seems mean-spirited and possibly even morbid, but when he started the season 2-for-14 with five strikeouts and, to be fair, one home run, I was left with no other choice.
This is the part where Vernon’s defenders, assuming there are some any, point out that nobody should jump to conclusions after four games and 14 plate appearances. This is a very valid point, but please allow me a rebuttal. What is so concerning about Wells’ slow start is that it looks EXACTLY like his slow start to last season. He is making the very same mistakes that caused him to turn in one of the worst offensive seasons from a starting outfielder in the history of baseball. But the killer is that Wells knows what these mistakes are and yet he is still making them. What were those mistakes? Let’s review, because these will be important as this feature carries on into the future, plus their might be a pop quiz later.
- Attempting to pull every single pitch
- Swinging at anything and everything
- Trying too hard to impress everyone and atone for his previous crappiness
So how’s he doing on those main points? Let’s see. He has pulled literally everything he hit. And I literally mean literally. He has put the ball in play 12 times this season and not one of those balls has been to the right side of the diamond, though he does have two balls hit to center field. When it comes to his plate discipline or lack thereof, his five strikeouts don’t bode well. Not counting his at-bat yesterday, Wells has also swung at half the pitches he has seen, right on par with last season. He has, however, only swung at just under a quarter of the pitches he has seen out of the zone, a big improvement for him. Alas, he isn’t totally cleared on this charge. When we turn to the anecdotal evidence we see that Vernon lets his true colors show when he has a chance to be a hero, lest we mention that Wells has fanned in three of his last four at-bats and in each strikeout he has been put away by chasing an eye-level heater, the kind of poor plate discipline one displays when one is trying to come up big with runners on base.
So what does this all mean other than Vernon Wells is quickly becoming the modern day black male version of Kit Keller (But I like the high ones!)? It means that he is already conducting closed door meetings with Mike Scioscia to talk about him taking a day off. Cue the ominous music.
I’m sure that meeting was just about Scioscia trying to get Vernon to stick to his off-season promise of not putting pressure on himself, but it also is the first step towards what could be Wells getting released like so many have predicted. But hold your horses, we still have a few more stages of career decay to get through first. If Scioscia’s pattern of handling these stages holds true to form, the next step will be making official the Abreu-Wells platoon (rather than the spot duty Bobby got on Monday). After that, Wells will be relegated strictly to the bench for an indeterminate “mental break” or some derivation thereof. And after that… well, we all know what happens then.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, again we are talking about just 14 at-bats here. The whole reason this Wells Watch exists is to actually find some hope in Wells’ case, despite how the last 600 words might have read, and I think we can all agree that he is badly in need of a healthy dose of hope right now. But the first step in solving a problem is understanding the problem, which I think we all do now. Stay tuned for our next installment in Wells Watch in which we offer up a solution since I think we can safely assume Vernon won’t be offering one up himself in the next week.