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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The curious case of Vernon Wells

By now, its old news that Vernon Wells is no longer a Toronto Blue Jay.

Angels fans are left scratching their heads at a move that Jays faithful are praising, seeing as how the club somehow not only convinced Anaheim to take Wells and his ridiculous contract, but send two quality roster players in return.

There isn't much to say that hasn't already been said really.

It is interesting to ponder though, how different this Toronto exit is from previous pro athlete departures.

Vernon Wells, with a reasonable contract, would have been adored in Toronto. He was always a class act, both on and off the field. He never once complained about the team or demanded a trade out of the city, like so many pro athletes before him.

If you think about it, Wells was even more gracious in departing than Roy Halladay.

In Doc's case, there were murmurs he wouldn't mind being moved, and he actively showed his frustration with the Blue Jays progression during his final summer with the club.

That is not to say Halladay was a dick about the whole situation, and who can blame him when he did show signs of wanting out?

With Wells though, there is just a somewhat passive sense of caring, and it is all to blame on the ridiculous contract the J.P. Ricciardi gave him some years ago.

Burger King could hire me for $100 an hour and I could be a dependable, adequate employee there, but never in a million years, would I ever be able to live up to that wage. And that is where Vernon was in Toronto. To justify that contract, he had to put up MVP numbers, and we shortly learned that would not be possible.

Don't blame Wells. Why would he turn down what Ricciardi offered?

If you forget about the contract (hard to, I know), and just look at the numbers, Wells was arguably one of the best Blue Jays of all time. Whether that claim is justified or not, Jays fans will never see it that way.

Admittedly, I was never a fan of Wells, even before the contract. Was he a serviceable Major League centerfielder? Sure. I always saw the bad side of Vernon though, like I do with most things and most people. The world needs cynics. I would see Wells strolling through a game with an I-could-care-less attitude. I saw him killing rallies by swinging at first pitches all the time, always popping them up. But to give him the benefit of the doubt, with a contract that ludicrous, the negatives are all anyone is going to see.

When the Angles visit Toronto this summer and Wells returns to the Rogers Centre for the first time in a road uniform, he should be applauded. Let's remember that he is no Chris Bosh, no Vince Carter, no A.J. Burnett. Wells put in a good amount of time here, and yes, played some very good baseball as a Jay. Not to mention, he was a tremendous ambassador for the city and the team. People should remember that.

But in the end...

Thank god that contract is off the books.


THEONE1980 said...

Well said.

Now the rumors are that we may get Young to play 3B. I hope not. Clearing over $20 million off the books just to add $16 million of Michael Young does not sound like a good idea. However, I think we are safe. AA never lets his moves leak to the media. So sinceI read about this one I doubt it will happen!


Karl Dickens said...

you make great points. Wells was a polarizing figure yet he managed to keep both his fans and detractors away from the fringes.

The apathy that accompanied his departure is not shocking, however, you are correct in declaring Wells one of this teams greatest players. Whether or not that's a god thing or not remains to be seen I guess.