April 06, 2010
I believe in Vernon Wells. You know that. Even more so after his performance yesterday in Arlington; he left me tingling with excitement. You know how I roll: I don't hop aboard the nearest lifeboat, or even reach for a life jacket. I grab an instrument, and start playing. I go down with the ship.
But this isn't about me. It's about you. And why you ought to join me on the Vernon Wells Express. Next stop: Redemption City.
Before I get into the details, it's important to, once again, point out that Wells' play will never justify his contract. Never. Ever. The perfect storm led to Wells signing for $126 million over seven years (!!!!!111) back in 2006, and you can't be mad at him for signing on the dotted line. You would have done the same. It's best to let your anger go, and instead hope that Wells can once again become a functioning member of baseball society here in Toronto. Because the good Lord above knows he won't be plying his trade anywhere else.
Since becoming the Toronto Blue Jays' everyday centre fielder way back in 2002, Wells has posted four sub-.800 OPS seasons. Here they are:
2002: .275/.305/.457; 23 HR, 100 RsBI; .762 OPS
2005: .269/.320/.463; 28 HR, 97 RsBI; .783 OPS
2007: .245/.304/.402; 16 HR, 80 RsBI; .706 OPS
2009: .260/.311/.400; 15 HR, 66 RsBI; .711 OPS
I know what you're thinking: I'd love an hour alone with former Jays president Paul Godfrey, too. In Vernon's defence, his 2005 OPS+ comes in at 104; very slightly above average. But the injuries, and the recent drop in power numbers, are deeply concerning. Again, what's done is done. Here's what matters: Wells has always bounced back.
2003: .317/.359/.550; 33 HR, 117 RsBI; .909 OPS
2006: .303/.357/.542; 32 HR, 106 RsBI; .899 OPS
2008: .300/.343/.496; 20 HR, 78 RsBI; .840 OPS
2010: (projected) .750/.750/1.500; 162 HR, 486 RsBI; 2.250 OPS
Injuries limited Wells to only 108 games in 2008, but he was on pace for one of the better seasons of his career. And those 108 games proved, to these eyes, that Wells doesn't need a Carlos Delgado or a Troy Glaus batting behind him to succeed. Wells was Toronto's only legitimate power threat two years ago; no other Blue Jay hit more than 15 home runs.
The point is: history only repeats itself. If Opening Day is any indication, 2010 will be the year of Vernon Wells.
(You know that bit about history only repeating itself? Let's hope that's not the case in terms of Wells following up a great year - 2006 and 2008 - with a tremendously awful one.)