|Though they are getting him at a discount, will Vernon Wells really be the answer in the big apple?|
The regulars were playing well, our pitching looked solid (if not a step down from last year's rotation), and although we didn't have a good spring record, the Angels were playing well together. Even Vernon Wells was having an out-of-ordinary Arizona Performance. 4 Homers, a Dozen RBI, and an impressive 1.112 OPS. It looked as though he might continue to steal playing time from Peter Bourjos.
Then, out of the blue, reports were coming in that the Yankees and Angels had agreed on terms to send the aging outfielder (who already announced his plans to retire after the 2014 season), and at least a chunk of his remaining 42 Million Dollars to New York.
This probably made me happier than it should have. Vernon is a nice guy, a REALLY nice guy, actually. He is one of the best locker room guys on a team full of good locker room guys. But lets face it, his performance on the field has left something to be desired, to say the least. Trading away fan favorites Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to pick up around $80 Million in Payroll is probably not a team's best move, but after getting snubbed in the free agent market, the Angels front office was desperate. This move basically led to the forced resignation of then Angels GM Tony Reagins, and brought upon the Jerry Dipoto era, along with overpaying for Pujols, Wilson and later, Josh Hamilton.
Even after all that, Vernon Wells was still guaranteed 42 Million Dollars over the next two seasons, of which he would probably spend a majority on the bench, being a good locker room guy. It didn't stop owner Arte Moreno from continuing to spend, so Angels fans didn't really think much of it. We would essentially have a really expensive pinch hitter, or someone to (hopefully) pressure Peter Bourjos into playing better and guarantee his starting spot in Center Field.
Then the Yankees lost 201 of their Home Runs from 2012. Between Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeria and Curtis Granderson (as well as guys like Raul Ibanez and Russell Martin, who left in free agency), injuries were going to take their toll on the 2013 New York Yankees, especially for the first 2-3 months of the season, while those perennial All-Stars figured to be out of action. The Yankees outfield figured to be some combination of Ichiro, Brett Gardner (himself returning from an injury that forced him to miss 150 games in 2012), rookie Melky Mesa and Juan Rivera. Yes, THAT Juan Rivera.
So that ended up forcing the Yankees hand into finding some pop for their lineup, as Rivera, Ichiro and Gardner hit a combined 18 Home Runs in 2012 (for comparison, Curtis Granderson hit 43 playing Centerfield for the Yankees last season). In comes Vernon Wells. They knew getting him would just be a matter of taking on enough of his contract, and that number was around $13 Million. Vernon Wells (and his no-trade clause) approves the deal, and wham-bam-thank-you-maam, the Vernon Wells era is over in Anaheim.
I truly believe this is an "everybody wins" kind of deal. Even when Granderson comes back to the Yankees lineup this summer, that team of creaky old men will no doubt lead to more time on the DL than any other big league squad this year. That will likely mean Vernon Wells will play in about 140 games this season, or roughly double what he saw in 2012 with the Angels. He will get to play again, and he will be doing so in a good hitters park. His numbers (and likely his confidence) will rise, and the Yankees will get a solid-hitting outfielder to fill in for their myriad of injuries.
The winners on the Angels side are not only Arte Moreno, who makes a cool $13 Million on the deal (after just assuming he would have to eat the rest of the $42 Million Tony Reagins Mistake), but Peter Bourjos is the big winner. He now can comfortably play every day in Centerfield, knowing he can grow into being a capable hitter without an 11-year veteran breathing down his neck. If he starts the season hitting around .200, it doesn't matter, because new 4th outfielder Kole Calhoun isn't going to be stealing anyone's job anytime soon.