Goodbye, Vernon Wells. You were great as Wez in Mad Max 2, and iconic as Bennett in Commando, and California will miss you.
Oh. The other one. Better start this again…
Jerry Dipoto has done it again, pulling off the impossible by trading Vernon Wells. He and a chunk of that much derided salary are off to the Yankees, probably the only other team in Baseball with the depth of pocket and roster to be able to afford him.
But let’s not celebrate in an unseemly fashion. Let’s look back on the highlights of Vernon’s two seasons with the Angels.
Yes, really, there were some.
2011 may have been, to put it kindly, a miserable year for Wells, but it had its moments. A grand slam to bury the Orioles, a two run RBI in the bottom of the 10th to silence the Mariners, a fistful of highlight-worthy catches and outfield plays. And, let’s face it; his return to Toronto on August 12th, when he walked out to a standing ovation and then put Brandon Morrow’s first pitch to him into the left field seats, was pretty darn cool. For me personally, there was the Fourth of July game, my first at The Big A, when he went 2 for 4 with a solo HR in a 6-1 win over Detroit.
But looming over them all were his batting average and OBP, both the lowest in the Majors amongst comparable players. So his picture came off the outside wall, and he entered 2012 as one of the most expensive bench players outside of, ironically, the Yankees dugout.
2012 wasn’t much better. If you’ve read my previous post on Wells, you’ll know that I’d argue that there were signs of improvement, and that Spring Training has shown even more, but that’s all academic now, at least in Anaheim. He’s gone, and Angel’s fans are emerging, blinking, into the light of the post-Wells era.
Let’s not be too harsh, then. Baseball has seen plenty of high-profile, highly paid gambles that bust before, and there will be plenty more to come. And there are things about Vernon that I’ll miss.
Firstly, no one on the team ever looked like they were having more fun than when he, Torii Hunter and Mike Trout patrolled the outfield together. They joked, they posed, they looked (and unfortunately for Wells, at times played) like the Little League kids they all once were. When things were going well, Wells made sure to enjoy it, and when things weren’t, he got on with it anyway. He accepted his position as a part- time option going into this season with grace, hard work and humility, and I for one hope he at least gets an extended chance to finish his career in pinstripes the same way.
He has a big heart, running his Perfect 10 Foundation to “support and protect single mothers and children in need”, and winning the Branch Rickey Award for Humanitarianism in 2010. If you follow him on Twitter, you know he has a sense of humor, too, and that can’t have hurt over the last two years. One big question for Angel’s fans; who are we going to blame now, if 2013 doesn’t go the way we want it to?
So good luck to you, Vernon Wells. New York has the money, and the growing disabled list, to offer you a spot, and they don’t have Mike Trout waiting in the wings to take it away from you. That’s not a bad outcome, for both teams.