Today In Poorly Formed Thoughts

Part of the reason it’s so difficult to remember a more universally panned trade than Vernon Wells being sent by the Blue Jays to the Angels in exchange for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, is that it probably hasn’t happened.  Pretty much all of the experts, insiders, pundits, and all of the other terms I feel uncomfortable using to describe people who are close to the game, have been shocked over the Angels willingness to pick up the entirety of the money owed to Vernon Wells.

Educated opinions be damned, the Chuckle Brothers at the MLB Network focus their attention on how Vernon Wells helps the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim while barely mentioning the fact that he’s more expensive than the GDP of a small Caribbean island, or what the deal might possibly mean to the Toronto Blue Jays.

After speaking with Ken Rosenthal, who first broke word of the trade, host Matt Vasgersion blows through the most important part of any analysis around this deal by comparing the Vernon Wells contract to a “600 pound gorilla in small market Toronto” before handing off the baton to handsome Tom Verducci.

Ignoring population sizes, average household incomes and the wealth of the team’s ownership, it’s easy to understand exactly where Vasgersion is coming from.  However, when you take into account that:

  1. Only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have larger populations among MLB cities;
  2. In addition to its local population, Toronto also counts on support from the rest of the country as Canada’s only MLB team;
  3. Toronto has a higher median household income than any other city in the MLB;
  4. The Blue Jays have the richest ownership group in MLB.

maybe not so much?

Verducci takes the reins from Vasgersion by saying he has no doubt that Wells is going to help the Angels and that this is a move that Los Angeles had to make after they were spurned by free agents Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre.

First of all, spending money for the sake of spending money has never proven itself to be a good strategy for assembling a team in baseball, or in any aspect of life.  If you were preparing to buy an engagement ring for your special someone and you budgeted $5,000 for the ring that she really wanted, would you buy a lesser ring at that same price just because the one that you were willing to pay $5,000 for was sold out?

Secondly, I’m not so sure that this trade helps the Angels a great deal, even in the short term.  Let’s do the whole Player A vs. Player B thing, where I list a bunch of numbers and then reveal who the two players are and we all become surprised to learn that something that we previously held to be true, in fact, isn’t.  Sound like fun?

Over the last two seasons:

Player A: 0.58 BB/K, .266 AVG, .321 OBP, .456 SLG, .777 OPS, .337 wOBA, 4.0 WAR.
Player B: 0.60 BB/K, .272 AVG, .323 OBP, .448 SLG, .771 OPS, .333 wOBA, 3.8 WAR.

Player A would be Vernon Wells and Player B is Juan Rivera.

By giving up on Mike Napoli, the Angels also open themselves up to even more at bats for Jeff Mathis, who has the worst OPS in baseball over the past three seasons.

The trade is hardly an open and shut case for making the team better.  Even moreso when you consider that Vernon Wells was available on revocable waivers in September to any team that wanted him . . . at absolutely no cost other than having to pay him the rest of his contract.  Not surprisingly there were no takers.

After some incoherent ramblings from Larry Bowa about Scott Podsednik that completely ignores Peter Bourjos’ value, Dan Plesac enters the fray by suggesting:

This could be the move that lights a fire under Vernon Wells.  His one huge criticism has been that he plays ho-hum.  Playing in a city known for hockey and winter sports, you can play for the Blue Jays and not really draw a lot of attention.  Mike Scoscia might be the guy to really light a fire under Wells because if you look at his skill set, he can hit for power, hit for average, he’s an above average runner . . . there’s some upside.  If the Angels light a fire under him, they could get some production.

It’s every bit as reasonable to suggest that I might be the guy to really light a fire under Plesac because if you look at his skill set he can really say stupid stuff, can really do a terrible job of explaining his point of view, can really not provide any evidence to support his statement.  There’s some upside.  If I can light a fire under him, I might get an interesting analysis.

For years baseball fans in Canada have bemoaned Rogers Communications for refusing to broadcast the MLB Network North of the Border until the cable company received some equity in it.  If this is the type of content the channel provides, I think we’d all do better to stay tuned to the Women’s Olympic hockey replay currently airing on Sportsnet One.

Comments (16)

  1. I thought the exact same thing when I heard the small market Toronto line and the hockey town talk (and winter sports…wow) about Toronto.

    “There’s some upside. If I can light a fire under him, I might get an interesting analysis.”

    Nice job on the article Parkes.

  2. I was just re-thinking my position on MLB Network. I’m not sure I’d want to pay extra for something that I can get on the internet, and not only that, there’s better analysis to be had.

    Hell, even Simon Bennett from The Score (who gets paid to know about all sports, which should suggest that the guys on MLB Network would know a little more about baseball) had a much better analysis of the trade suggesting that this could be the deal to turn the franchise around.

  3. It will be interesting to see how Wells bats on the road and at home for the Angels. His stats at Rogers really helped bring up his .301 OBP away from Toronto.

  4. Absolutely priceless! Anyone with a brain would HAVE to agree with this Parkes. They’re warming a spot for you at MLB I’m certain!

  5. When was the segment filmed? The one I watched the other night appears to be from when the trade was breaking and everyone thought the Jays were sending big dollars to the Angels.

  6. Plesac should know better too – he played in Toronto for 5 seasons. Way to reinforce stereotypes Dan.

  7. It looks like Vernon’s first time back at the Rogers Centre is a long way away; Friday Aug 12. Get ready to hear all the ignorant drunks boo.

    Side note: Looks like the Jays’ April is as hard as dried-up cow paddies..There ain’t gonna be no inflated first-half record like years past.

  8. five star quote about lighting a fire under Plesac. dude needs to get his [blanked] together.

  9. Am I the only person that saw him do air quotes around “small market”?

  10. I think the question is, if you bought a $5000 engagement ring and the girl said “no” would you keep the ring in your pocket ’til you were loaded at The Bovine and saw some other chick you thought might marry you?

  11. Checking out the blog over at DJF, the twitter clouds are certainly very interesting. I can’t help getting past the MASSIVE PUJOLS on the jays picture. I don’t want to get out of control, but the Jays could certainly be a player for Pujols if he would be interested in coming to Toronto. While I do believe that would be the biggest stumbling block in signing Pujols, I can’t help but think the Jays could be one of the biggest players in the potential Pujols market. It’s possible St Louis simply can’t afford him. There is no way he goes to the Cubs. With Wells now I think the Angels have to be close to being maxed out for payroll. The Yanks and Red Sox are basically out of the mix because of Tex and Adrian respectively (I’ve read reports that they both have DH openings, this is true, but Pujols isn’t signing to be a DH, and neither of those gold glove winners are going to DH either).

    If St Louis can’t sign him, its very realistic that the list of teams that can are as limited as ever. Maybe the Dodgers give it a run, the White Sox or the Tigers … but the Jays definitely have a legitimate shot if the cards are right (or wrong if you see what I mean).

  12. I watched that too, and it was fucking awful. Like they didn’t even know enough good stuff about Vernon to defend him. Someone mumbled about injuries, but no one mentioned he’s been playing on concrete for most of his career. Or how about how good he was with Delgado and Green behind him, and how weak he was when they asked him to be a four-hitter and protected him with Adam Lind. Money aside (which is stupid, but let it go for now) you could actually say something intelligent about Wells on his own — that he’s an average centrefielder at best now, but could be a great left fielder, that the natural grass might be a big help, that putting him in a lineup with Hunter and Abreu, etc. batting around him, he might go back to being a very useful hitter. Nope, all about the lacadaisical attitude and the sub-standard market he was playing in. And as far as attitude goes, I just don’t completely buy the beef. He got a little comfortable with losing, but he wasn’t the only one. Remember Olerud was too shy and Carter and Carlos smiled too much. I’ll take the lacadaiscal Vernon of the early years any day of the week. Dude could play, and for a few weeks at the opening of last season, I really thought he might be back.

  13. Yeah, I watched that right after the deal went down and it’s disappointing to see Plesac revealing himself as such a dillweed. The guy PLAYED with Vernon and always sounded like he loved Toronto when he played, so you’d think he’d have something other than token platitudes…

  14. Kevin… Lineup protection is a myth… Wells had a very decent year last year and put up a 4 WAR, pretty decent considering his negative defensive rating. That being said moving over to left will increase his defensive rating but measure him up against tougher offensive stats. No matter how you justify it, Wells isn’t the same player he was way back when. He’s still a useful piece, but not for that contract.

  15. I always wonder why we hear stuff like that about Toronto, and never about, say, Minnesota.

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