Thoughts on the Wells trade

by JohnBowen

On the off-chance that you picked this weekend to live in a rock, you may have missed the following trade made between the LA Angels and Toronto Blue Jays:

Blue Jays Get: Mike Napoli (C-1B), Juan Rivera(OF), 86 million dollars to spend on other people.

Angels Get: Vernon Wells (OF)

Really, I’m just looking for a discussion on the deal, but I might as well share my thoughts:

-This move reeks of desperation on the part of the Angels, not that it’s surprising. This off-season, they’ve missed out on Adrian Beltre and Carl Crawford, both of whom were highly sought after free agents. In my opinion, the deals that these gentlemen got were both overpays, and that’s essentially what the Angels did by acquiring Wells and assuming his contract, except that they had to give up players.

- Vernon Wells is a very good player, but he’s not an impact player. He doesn’t personally change the landscape of the AL West race (I still favor Oakland, and I think Texas will be second). If you’re going to pay a player 86 million dollars, you better be getting an impact player.

- A huge part of Wells’s value comes from the fact that he has a good bat and plays a position of offensive scarcity. Well, now that he’s in Anaheim, he’s a leftfielder. Torii Hunter, one of the best centerfielders of his generation, was recently moved over to rightfield to make room for young defensive stand-out Peter Bourjos. This means that the Angels have a great defensive outfield, but now they have two corner outfielders who are being paid centerfielder salaries (given their solid, but not great offensive production). Unless…

- Baltimore has acknowledged interest in Vladimir Guerrero, but has said that reports of an impending deal were exaggerated. Now that the Angels have gotten rid of two players who would likely see some DH-time (Rivera and Napoli), is there any way that the Angels bring back Guerrero, put Abreu in left, move Hunter back to center and put Wells in right (with Bourjos still playing about 130 games in a replacement mode)? It means a weaker defense, but Guerrero’s bat would definitely be a major upgrade over Bourjos’s.

- The Blue Jays, in my opinion, win this trade by unloading Wells’s team-binding contract. Their lineup is locked and loaded; I wonder if they regret trading opening day starter Shaun Marcum to the Brewers (regarding this season, of course). They picked up a top free agent second baseman in Brett Lawrie, but keeping Marcum might have given them a chance at competing in 2011. Even though Wells is gone, Toronto got two positional upgrades and, if they’re in a position to make a move around the trading deadline, they can afford to take on the GDP of Guyana in salary.

76 Responses to “Thoughts on the Wells trade”

  1. Jim Says:

    Nice summary. For arguments sake someone, but not me, should take the opposite position.

    This move reeks of desperation by the Angels and makes one wonder what they were thinking during the Crawford and Beltre negotiations. Toronto is the clear winner here. They get short and long term financial flexibility, a pair of affordable, if not necessarily good value players who can contribute or be trade chips at the deadline.

    The Angels don’t seem to have a plan and that’s worse than having one and failing to execute it properly.

  2. Raul Says:

    That was my initial reaction. It didn’t matter what Toronto got back in return. They were able to unload that contract — something I thought was impossible.

  3. Chuck Says:

    The Angels won this trade.

    Eighty-six million dollars to Arte Moreno is like you and I finding a dollar on the sidewalk.

    While the initial depth chart has Wells listed in left field, Mike Scioscia is smarter than that, Wells will play center and either Bourjos or a PTBNL will play left.

    The trade also substantially weakens Toronto, especially defensively. An outfield of Rajai Davis, Wells and Travis Snider wasn’t bad, but it’s infinitely better than one of Rivera, Davis and Snider.

    And while there’s no denying Napoli’s offensive potential, facing the AL East half the year is alot different than the AL West. He’s also a liability behind the plate and would be at first base also, if for no other reason than he’s relatively new to the position.

    There are no viable free agents remaining on the market. Toronto’s only minor league prospect with a decent offensive ceiling just got his ticket back to AAA punched, so while the Jays may have just received a big bank account deposit, they can’t do anything with it.

    While I like some of what the A’s did in the offseason, it wasn’t enough to make them the overwhelming favorites, and Texas stayed the course as well.

    The Angels offense is still on the shallow side, with Bourjos, Aybar and Izturis expected to play everyday, not to mention Jeff Mathis…but adding Wells to the mix sure helps.

    Toronto won the deal in the checkbook, but the Angels won the deal where it counts..on the field.

  4. JohnBowen Says:

    Chuck: “While the initial depth chart has Wells listed in left field, Mike Scioscia is smarter than that, Wells will play center and either Bourjos or a PTBNL will play left.”

    Why wouldn’t they have Hunter play CF instead of Wells? Is an OF combination of (l to r) Bourjos-Wells-Hunter better than an OF of Bourjos-Hunter-Wells?

    Unless you’re suggesting that Wells is a better CF than Hunter.

    If so, I’m a recently deposed Nigerian prince. I have a 100 million dollar bank account, but it’s recently been frozen. If you can just send me a check for 10 grand, I’ll be able to unfreeze it – and then I would, of course, be sure to send you 5 million dollars from the account to show my appreciation.

  5. JohnBowen Says:

    “And while there’s no denying Napoli’s offensive potential, facing the AL East half the year is alot different than the AL West.”

    You’re right.

    It’ll be easier.

  6. Raul Says:

    LOL @ it’ll be easier.

  7. Chuck Says:

    John…you’re not seriously suggesting the AL West has better pitching?

    I just gave the Nigerian prince your phone number.

    The point here John, isn’t who plays center, it’s who isn’t playing left.

    Go Jets!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Kriz Says:

    Now if the Giants could only find someone to take Rowand…

  9. JohnBowen Says:

    1) For one thing, Baltimore is still an AL East team.
    2) New York’s #3 starter is AJ Burnett. ’nuff said. (and no, he would not have a 1.89 ERA in the AL West.)
    3) Tampa just traded their #2 starter. After Price, that rotation is pretty bare.
    4) Boston’s is the only rotation in this division that I would take over Texas, and I would be conflicted as to whether or not to take it over Oakland’s. Gun to my head, I think I would, but still.

  10. Raul Says:

    People are really thinking Beckett and Lackey will bounce back.
    Beckett might — a little. Lackey won’t.

  11. JohnBowen Says:

    Mike Napoli’s 2010 OPS’s

    vs. BOS – .882
    vs. NYY – .838
    vs. TAM – .935

    Small sample spaces all, but he’s far from screwed.

    Remember that he gets to hit against #3-5 starters from other teams too. CC Sabathia, David Price, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are all terrific pitchers, but they don’t pitch every day.

  12. Chuck Says:

    I see your point, John.


    Who does Seattle have after Felix?

    Eric Bedard?

    We disagree on Oakland’s rotation, although we do agree on the improvement they made in the bullpen.

    Texas won last year on offense, defense and Neftali Feliz.

    The East is tougher.

  13. Chuck Says:

    And while on the subject of Feliz, it should be pointed out the Rangers are converting him to a starter in spring training.

  14. brautigan Says:

    I was wondering when Texas was going to move Feliz. I guess this gives the closer job to Taylor Scheppers with Pedro Strop in the running.

  15. Hartvig Says:

    There was at least 1 guy on the MLB-TR comment section who was arguing that Feliz should be left in the bullpen. He was fairly quickly shown the error of this ways.

  16. Hartvig Says:

    And as for the subject at hand, my biggest concern is with his age. Boston signed Crawford thru the same age as Wells is signed for and for about the same money (per year) but: 1) they also get the benefit of what are normally 3 years of peak performance and 2) the 4 additional years come 3 years later which, in terms of MLB salaries, can mean a whole new reality. When ARod signed for $25 million/year it was jaw dropping. Now Ryan Howard is living in the same mansion and Prince Fielder is looking to move into the same neighborhood.

    Still, I think it will be turn out to be money better spent than what the National’s paid out to Jayson Werth.

  17. Jim Says:

    Let’s accept Chuck’s contention that the the Angels’ won this deal on the field. With or without Wells the Jays were not going to contend in 2011 and the Jays’ have set themselves up to be in a position to improve in the future. Toronto dumped a salary commitment of $86M for one of $11.35M.

    Where Toronto finishes in 2011 won’t change, but they are in a much better position to improve the team than they were with Wells.

  18. JohnBowen Says:

    Winning “on the field” is dependent on how you view it.

    Is Vernon Wells better than Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli?

    Yes. Yes he is.

    Is he better than Rivera and Napoli the 75 million extra dollars that they now have to spend on talent?

    Absolutely not.

  19. Raul Says:

    “Winning on the field is dependent on how you view it”



  20. JohnBowen Says:

    The Blue Jays have 75 million extra dollars now.

    They can spend that on ballplayers who then might “play on the field.”


  21. Raul Says:

    Well let me know when that money is spent, and those players on the field win games.

    Toronto got major financial relief. Good.

    Winning on the field is NOT dependent on how you view it.

    That’s just fucking stupid.
    That’s the kind of thing you tell a little leaguer who sucks.

  22. JohnBowen Says:


    Winning *a trade* most certainly is.

    Sorry but financial flexibility has a pretty direct correlation to an on-field product.

    Maybe not in 2011.

    But there’s still one more year before the world ends…

  23. Raul Says:

    …that’s not the same thing, and not what was referenced above.

  24. Cameron Says:

    Los Angeles won it on the field (though Toronto’s offense got a little better if you ask me), but Toronto clearly won the trade as a whole.

    When Wells starts to tank, no one will want his $20MM salary and Toronto will have locked up their young guys or used their financial felxibility to add key pieces and contend. They’re loading up to take down the aging teams at the top of the division, and they just got a coupon for 75 million bucks of ammo to finish them off down the line.

  25. Cameron Says:

    I also had a chuckle at what Dave Cameron of Fangraphs pointed out what Toronto could buy with the Vernon Wells money.

    -Power Hitters (Adam Dunn, John Buck, $74 million)
    -Detroit’s Offseason (Victor Martinez, Joaquin Benoit, Brad Penny, $70 million)
    -A New Rotation (Jorge De La Rosa, Jake Westbrook, Carl Pavano, Hiroki Kuroda, Javier Vazquez, $73.5 million)

  26. Cameron Says:

    And i can’t believe I’m saying this, but with all the money off the books for Toronto, they could be favorites to land Prince Fielder, maybe even Pujols if St. Louis drops the ball.

  27. Raul Says:

    Pujols wouldn’t go to Canada for all the bacon and medical coverage in the world.
    Toronto already has like 5 designated hitters. They don’t want Prince Fielder.

    Now that the Jets lost, and the Super Bowl will be an incredibly boring Steelers/Packers match-up, I’m really looking forward to Spring Training and March Madness.

  28. Cameron Says:

    I’m sorry, but Steelers/Packers is boring? That doesn’t add up.

  29. JohnBowen Says:

    If you’re at all a football fan, it’s going to be a legendary super bowl.

  30. Raul Says:

    Boring, my friend.

    Ohio and Green Bay? It’s going to be the most awesome Super Bowl ever….for the 600 people from Ohio and Wisconsin who care.

    The rest of the country is going to watch reruns of Boardwalk Empire.

  31. Raul Says:

    I should have been clearer. I said Ohio because nobody in Pennsylvania cares about Pittsburgh. They’re all commuters from Ohio.


  32. JohnBowen Says:

    Actually, I think these are two of the most, if not THE most wide spread fan-bases in the game.

    The Steelers and Packers have two things in common

    - Lights out defense
    - The only way to get season tickets is to have them willed to you.

    For reference:

  33. Raul Says:

    None of those things mean anyone will care about the game.

  34. JohnBowen Says:

    Stick to baseball, Raul.

  35. Chuck Says:

    I’ve seen Pop Warner teams tackle better than the Jets.

    Mendenhall had 120 yards rushing, he should have had 40.

    Still, if the game was three minutes longer, the Jets win.

    The Packers are going to fucking hammer the Steelers.

    The only thing legendary about the game will be the margin of victory.

  36. Raul Says:

    Dude you think two teams from towns in the middle of nowhere with lights out defense, meaning a low scoring game will generate interest and make it a huge game?

    If they played this in October, it’d be a meaningless game.
    People will watch the Super Bowl because it’s THE SUPER BOWL. Not because Pittsburgh and Green Bay are in it.

    This is going to be one of the lowest tv-rated Super Bowls in years.

  37. JohnBowen Says:

    No Raul.

    It won’t.

    Football isn’t baseball; sportswriters pay attention to teams in flyover country.

    We’re talking about two teams that have collectively won 9 super bowls, 18 NFL titles and the two best fanbases in the league (probably biggest too).

    This is going to be one of the HIGHEST rated Super Bowls ever.

  38. Chuck Says:

    “People will watch the Super Bowl because it’s THE SUPER BOWL. Not because Pittsburgh and Green Bay are in it.”


  39. JohnBowen Says:

    “People will watch the Super Bowl because it’s THE SUPER BOWL. ”


    But the two teams make this game a wet dream for the FOX execs or whoever is broadcasting this super bowl.

  40. Chuck Says:

    You know the best thing about the Super Bowl?

    It means football season is over.

  41. Cameron Says:

    Raul, the teams may be in the middle of nowhere… And yet their combined net worth is over 2 billion dollars. Why? People tune in to watch their games.

  42. Cameron Says:

    Oh, you wanna see a treat? Check the tailgates before Chiefs games here in town. The smell of 60,000 people having a simultaneous KC barbecue? That, my friends, is the smell of heaven.

  43. Raul Says:

    The Seattle Seahawks are worth nearly 1 billion dollars.
    Net worth doesn’t mean shit in regards to ratings.

  44. JohnBowen Says:

    I live in the DC area and have still seen 8 Packer games on TV this season.

    That should give you an idea.

  45. Raul Says:

    If I had the Redskins, I’d be watching Packers games too.

  46. JohnBowen Says:

    No Raul.

    I’m a lifelong Packers fan, so that wasn’t really the question.

    Point is, the NFL and networks still go out of their way to broadcast Packer games outside of Wisconsin, and outside of the midwest for that matter.


    Because the Packers are effing popular.

  47. Raul Says:

    A lifelong Packers fan?
    My condolences.

  48. JohnBowen Says:

    It hasn’t been all bad.

    I mean, in my lifetime we’ve been to 5 NFC Championship games, won 3, and won a super bowl. Without checking, I’d say we’ve averaged around 10 wins a year in the time I’ve been following the team.

  49. Raul Says:

    Let’s step into the mind of a Greg Jennings, John.

  50. John Says:

    Best part is that he beats Darren Sharper at the end.

  51. Chuck Says:

    I’m rooting for the Packers for two reasons.

    I met Franco Harris once and he was a total asshole.

    A buddy I grew up with was a practice squad player for the Packers for two years. Never got into a game, but he got a uniform.

    Good enough for me.

  52. Cameron Says:

    I’m rooting for the Packers because I’m a HUGE fan of Aaron Rodgers.

    …And the fact that Pittsburgh’s QB is a rapist and their best linebacker is considering retirement because of all the fines he’s getting for illegal hits and refuses to tackle clean. These guys are worse than the old Cowboys teams. …But man are their games fun to watch.

  53. Hossrex Says:

    Hossrex: “Eighty-six million dollars to Arte Moreno is like you and I finding a dollar on the sidewalk. “

    Anyone else here get the feeling that if the article were about how great the deal was, Chuck’s reply would have been about how awful the trade was?

  54. Jim Says:

    “…Chuck’s reply would have been about how awful the trade was?”


    Tough to have a bar stool argument when everyone agrees.

  55. Bob Says:

    Go Packers.

  56. Raul Says:

    On Friday last week, the Mets named Tim Teufel the manager, Ricky Bones the pitching coach, and Mike Easler hitting coach of their Buffalo affiliate (IL).

    Marcus Thames went to the Dodgers.
    Bruce Chen re-signed with the Royals.
    The White Sox took Dallas McPherson with a minor league contract.

  57. Chuck Says:

    Nope, just you, Hoss.

    Felber posts on Baseball Reference now, if you’re looking to argue with someone, that’s the place.

  58. Chuck Says:

    BA released the Padres’ top ten prospect list today.

    The three guys they got for Gonzalez rank one, two and four.

    They ranked one, three and six for Boston.

    Take from that what you wish.

  59. Chuck Says:

    Dbacks get Armando Gallaraga for two minor leaguers.

    Didn’t see that coming.

  60. Raul Says:

    I thought San Diego could have gotten more for Adrian Gonzalez, unless something about Gonzalez’s medical history was of concern to them and they figured they get rid of him ASAP.

    I really thought they would have at least started 2011 with him, then considered trades, but oh well.

  61. Chuck Says:

    “I thought San Diego could have gotten more for Adrian Gonzalez,”

    I think if he had been signed for longer than one year, they probably would have.

  62. JohnBowen Says:

    I wasn’t sure what San Diego was really up to either.

    If you’re building for the future, why bother signing Bartlett, Hudson and Harang (to, I believe, 1-year deals).

    If you’re playing for next year, why on Earth trade Adrian Gonzalez? He was their entire offense last year.

    Presumably, the FA signings were made in an effort to save face and put a 75 win product on the field instead of a 69 win product.

  63. Chuck Says:

    I don’t know why they traded him either.

    He’s a San Diego native of Mexican descent.

    He’d be worth more at the box office or souvenir store than on the field, and may even have given the Pads a “hometown” discount.

    Unless, of course, the Padres’ plan on having a $50 million payroll for the next five years.

  64. JohnBowen Says:

    I dunno about him giving them a hometown discount again.

    He made 15 million dollars TOTAL from 2007 through 2011.

    Actually maybe he would give them a discount, but there’s no way he’d settle for what the Padres could actually afford to pay him.

  65. Chuck Says:

    That’s true, John, but Gonzalez signed that deal after what was essentially his rookie season.

    I don’t think that necessarily qualifies as a hometown discount.

    If he put up Casey Kotchman numbers the past four years he’s still in San Diego, and instead of making $20 mil per season, the entire contract would have been worth $20 mil.

  66. Cameron Says:

    Just imagine if A-Gone stayed in Florida instead of being traded. He would’ve been gone fast.

  67. JohnBowen Says:

    Yeah, I see your point. Longoria signed the same sort of deal, and so did Braun (although for a lot more money).

  68. Chuck Says:

    I was just looking through the Minor League Encyclopedia for something and came across something pretty interesting**

    On August 4, 1971, Tommy Walker, pitching for Dallas/Ft Worth of the Texas League, pitched a 1-0, complete game, fifteen inning no-hitter.

    **I usually find something pretty interesting every time I open the book.

  69. Bob Says:

    Chuck, please email me at

  70. Raul Says:

    15 inning no hitter.
    pitch count?

    we don’t need no stinking pitch counts!

  71. Hossrex Says:

    Chuck: “Felber posts on Baseball Reference now, if you’re looking to argue with someone, that’s the place.”

    lol… the man writes a contrarian (I’m not positive it’s a word, just roll with it) post (like always)… and then presents umbridge (also not a word?) when someone calls him on it.

    Well done Chuck. You’ve just convinced my retarded cousin Stevie that you don’t actually argue for the sake of argument.

  72. Hossrex Says:

    Ahhh… umbrage.

    Of course.

    Bonus point to whomever can guess which book series I’ve just finished for the second time.

  73. Hartvig Says:

    the Nancy Drew mysteries?

  74. Jim Says:

    Well that was a short stay. The Jays send Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco and a briefcase of Benjamins ($1M)

  75. Mike Felber Says:

    “Felber” here. I have posted on B-R for a ‘lil while, & just am busy recently, thanks.

    Luckily incorrect impressions can easily be checked in the archives. Though a few of my surreal musings disappeared when the old archives were lost, I also demonstrably sometimes posted thanks for an article, agreement with someone,& points of interest.

    “Contrarian” is used often-like you in this case Hoss-when someone has a contrary position to yours. Though you have posted many things dramatically disagreeing with the vast majority-like PEDs should not be illegal or any problem in baseball(!), that does not mean you do so insincerely, just to cause strife.

    Being able to disagree without being disagreeable is a basic bit of maturity. Likewise, the converse is not assuming bad/ungenuine (sic) motivations when someone disagrees with you, that only your motives are pure. The only polite “umbrage” I recall taking in this regard-I would be happy to look at the record Hoss- is w/you,the rare inexplicable case where the former was cynically postulated.

    My guess: “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. ;-)

  76. brautigan Says:

    Since we haven’t heard from him in a while, perhaps he’s reading “chronicles of Narnia”……..

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