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Blog Entry

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Posted on: January 22, 2011 3:00 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2011 3:09 pm

Wells"If you want to continue to perform at the highest level, you have to keep building the business," Angels owner Arte Moreno told the Los Angeles Times back in October. "And that's what I intend to do."

Moreno, who was very upset about the team's play en route to an 80-82 record, went on to pledge that he would spend what was necessary to return the team to the playoffs.

Well, $70 million is certainly a nice chunk of change, but the Angels continued one of the most baffling offseasons ever by handing all that money to Vernon Wells instead of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre. Yes, Wells bounced back from years of struggles to bash 31 home runs en route to a .273/.331/.515 line in 646 plate appearances, but Wells was the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the game that rendered him all but untradeable and has four years left on it as he enters the decline phase of his career.

Except to the Angels, apparently. In a confounding deal pulled off Friday, the Angels acquired Wells in exchange for catcher Mike Napoli and left-fielder Juan Rivera. It's pretty hard to call this an upgrade for the Angels, but is par for the course in a regime that has made more bizarre decisions than any other team since GM Tony Reagins took over. And that might be on the owner.

"We know where our weaknesses are, we know where we are thin, we know where we have to go to market," Moreno said in October. "It's going to cost money, but our fans need to know what we're committed to winning."

Moreno cited an outfielder who can hit, plus boosting offense at catcher and third base as offseason priorities. Except to hear him later tell it to the Times, the club never made an offer on Carl Crawford, and that's baffling for an owner who came into the game willing to spend and did just that by grabbing Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar in the 2003-04 offseason.

"There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed," Moreno noted of the talks with Crawford.

"It's crazy. I paid [$183 million] for the team [in 2003], and now we're talking $142 million for one player? Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially. [Crawford's] greatest asset is speed, and he's a very skilled athlete who would have fit perfectly in left field for us. But we didn't look at him as a power hitter in our stadium."

Except that the only times Wells has outproduced Crawford in Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version) were in 2003 -- Crawford's first season -- and 2006, where Crawford only finished 1.1 behind Wells. Is Crawford's seven years and $142 million that much worse than Wells' four years and $81 million on the deal (the Jays kicked in $5 million)? 

Sure, that total outlay is around $70 million once you delete Napoli and Rivera's contracts, but Crawford would have only been an extra three years and $56 million more than Wells. Still a pricey tag? How about Adrian Beltre, then, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal that can increase to six years and $96 million with Texas? Yep, you read that right: the Angels chose a subpar defensive outfielder with just as checkered an offensive history for four years and $81 million over a premier defender who would have cost one less million for an extra year. And meanwhile, the Angels balked at any offer over $77 million for five years. Even if you have to add on that team option for the sixth year, Beltre is still the better buy.

Smooth, Arte.

Oh, and about upgrading offense behind the dish? The Angels traded away their answer there in order to stick with Jeff Mathis, whom is fantastic defensively but hit .195/.219/.278 in 218 PA for the Angels in 2010.

Meanwhile, Napoli had five less home runs than Wells in 136 less trips to the plate in 2010 and Rivera had an eerily similar line to Wells back in 2009 when he hit .287/.332/.478 with 25 homers in 572 PA. And between Rivera and Wells, their OPS' (.771) and OPS+ (105) are exactly the same over the last two years. And yet, the Angels chose to acquire the center fielder.

Except Wells isn't exactly a center fielder. Those three Gold Gloves from 2004-06 are nice, but not worth the metal that was sculpted. Wells has been a lousy center fielder for three years running now and would be better served in a corner. Torii Hunter may have fallen off in his fielding as well, but he's better than Wells. If Peter Bourjos remains in center (or the team signs Scott Podsednik for that role) and Wells shifts to left, that does help the outfield defense but actually would be negligible in boosting Wells' value as he would suddenly be compared to other left fielders, not center fielders. In Fangraphs' adjustments for positional value, center fielders get +2.5 wins credit, but -7.5 for left and right field -- so Wells' bat has to be that much better to make up for it.

Oh, and did we mention how Toronto waived Vernon Wells in August? All the Angels would have had to do was place a claim and he would have been theirs. Instead, they trade for him in the offseason and give up Napoli and Rivera for that right.

Sam Miller of the Orange County Register nailed the trade by saying "It's the rare trade that makes a team older, more expensive and worse."

And that's exactly what the Angels just did.

-- Evan Brunell

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Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: January 25, 2011 11:06 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Contrary to this article, Wells is, in fact, an excellent fielder
Please tell me you are joking.  As a Jays fan I can tell you that Wells' range and arm have lost quite abit.

Not to mention he is one of the worst RISP hitters in baseball.  Moving to a park that isn't so hitter friendly should cause a large decline in his numbers as evidenced by his home/road splits from last year.

He's no where near the player he was in 03 or 06.  And wont put up the same numbers as last year even in most likely hood. 

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2011 11:07 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

I think the Toronto GM (Anthopolous) must have some secret pictures of the Angels GM (Reagins) doing something very naughty.

That is the only plausible explanation.

Since: Feb 11, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2011 3:08 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

I got it.  Vernon is playing 3rd base.  Yea, that's the ticket and Morgan Fairchild is going out with me, yea.  Ok, bad trade.  I just think they made a trade to make a trade.  I do not get it.  Looks like baseball in Southern California is going down hill similar to the economy.  A shame for sure.  The only thing we hope for is... we got nothing to cheer for except the Lakers.  Go Clippers!!!!

Since: Oct 23, 2009
Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:49 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Napoli was on his way out, Mike Scioscia never liked him and he now has nowhere to play him.  Kendry Morales is back and catcher is a defensive position.  Abreu is DHing.  Rivera is a loafer in the outfield, back-up material and aging.  Vernon is coming off an allstar year.  They eat about 70 some mil, when you take off Rivera and Naps contract.  Mike Trout will be in the OF before too - Hey, bottom line- Angels are a better team with V.Dub in LF.   Clears the way for Hank Conger to take Mathis' spot later this season.  The contract is sick- yes, but adding Wells to the mix will add protection for Hunter and Morales.  Saying that Beltre is so much better than Wells is just plain wrong.  Beltre will SUCK for the remainder of his contract.  Seven yrs. vs. Four yrs.  Hate to have him when hes 36,37, and 38.  We will compete for the A.L. Western division again- and we will have a much better and deeper team than the 2010 team that was void of the two lefties in pen now- Haren, Kendry Morales, and Vernon Wells.  See ya in the post-season, and it'll be great making everyone eat their words- I'm not saying will beat the Yankees or the Boston's of the World...but, we spoiled them once or twice before in post-season- so you never know (that's why they play the games!)

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: January 24, 2011 12:16 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Your missing the point of this and that is unloading Wells obscene contract on the enjoy that Reagins you goof ball.  As for the players "Fat Mike" & his very limited skills as a catcher as you said.  Obviously he`s not Johhny Bench or Dr Defense Scoscia woulda kept him, but he`s servicable at catcher.  Basically no worse than Victor Martinez.  Napoli can mash and fill in at 1B/DH, and last years Jays hit the longball like their job. Getting an unmotivated Wells contract totally off the books is a great thing that can help the Jays retain their young talent and even sign players to help now. The Angels are reaching to make up for a dreadful offseason. Advantage Jays.    

Since: Nov 11, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2011 12:07 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

I can understand the comparison with Crawford and how the Angels would have been better off there but Beltre?  Talk about a guy with a checkered past.  He's had 2 monster seasons, 2004 with LA and last year with the BoSox.  And what do both of those years have in common?  They were contract years.  Look for big regression from Adrian.  The contract that Texas gave him may be about as bad as the one the Angels just picked up on Wells.

Since: Jan 24, 2011
Posted on: January 24, 2011 10:57 am

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

It's a great deal for the Blue Jays?

We get rid of his contract & make room on the payroll to sign Batitista.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: January 24, 2011 7:10 am

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Certainly a great trade for the Bluejays as they get rid of a huge albatross like Vernon Wells. I would say Wells is way past his prime, but I hope he does well...the Jays got two decent players in and and since the Jays are getting younger, this is right in line with their plans. I'm not sure what this has to do with the Angels not going for Carl Crawford, but I seriously doubt Crawford would have signed with them and not the Red Sox.

I do find it interesting in how the Angels GM tried to spin know, it's funny you can spin anything to make it sound like you made a great deal, even though I can't see how the Angels made an improvement here...of well, the Rangers get to be on top again.

Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: January 23, 2011 9:25 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

Phrelmore, we dont care what players we got back, chances are their not going to be here very long, its all about the Benjamins baby, like $76 million saved!

Since: Jan 23, 2011
Posted on: January 23, 2011 8:45 pm

Angels trade for Vernon Wells baffling

I think it’s a great trade!! Toronto got hosed!!! Anyone who follows the Angles closely and makes it out to the park knows that Rivera is truly a terrible outfielder. He can’t see the ball!! Fat Mike has very limited skills as a catcher or a 1<sup>st</sup> baseman. They both have some “pop” in their bats, but they’re only .250 hitters. The Angels have just made a huge improvement, even if Wells only plays up to some of his potential. We may just have the best outfield in the majors!! If Bam Bam can make it through the season without breaking his leg again, the Angels are going to be truly dangerous. All we need now is someone to play the “hot corner” and a 5th starter. Kazmir is a bum!!

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