All Vernon Wells

Been a while since I had a sports story to cover… So here I go:

Leading off the pack is Richard Griffin:

“What a great deal this is for the Jays.

The late-Friday trade of centre fielder Vernon Wells to the Angels, pending an Anaheim physical, may end up being the best trade in sophomore GM Alex Anthopoulos’s short history.

Whatever amount the team may have to pay as Wells’ compensation will be worth it.”

Griffin went on Twitter last night and I am pretty sure proclaimed this one of the best trades in Toronto Sports history.

You read stuff like that from Griffin and you have to think that perhaps it is a little bit personal.

“While Wells is surely a wonderful human being — running a charitable foundation in Texas, and helping to build homes for needy families — he’s not exactly what the Jays need in terms of clubhouse presence.

His sincere style doesn’t fit with the team that the Jays want to be over the short term.

As the club looks to move forward, they couldn’t afford a supposed on-field leader who has issues with his own performance.”

Clearly it isn’t personal with Griffin. That’s good to see.

Robert Macleod covered the story for the Globe and Mail:

“For Anthopoulos to be able to move Wells and his hefty contract to another team for a player like Napoli, who will be a nice fit behind the plate until 25-year-old J.P. Arencibia has proven he can take over the role full-time, has to be considered a coup. ”

Macleod has some good quotes in a second story he wrote, catching up with some of the “players” in the deal:

“Vernon Wells is a very good player,” Anthopoulos said. “He’s a plus defender, 30-home run centrefielder, which is a very valuable player to have on a four-year contract.

“So it made a lot of sense on both sides.”

Jeremy Sandler covered the story for the National Post:

“Mixed emotions ruled the day for both player and team in the wake of Friday’s huge trade that saw Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos send outfielder Vernon Wells to the Los Angeles Angels.

Toronto did not pick up any of the US$86-million owed to Wells over the next four seasons in the deal that brought catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays.

“First I’d like to thank Vernon Wells for all his years with the Toronto Blue Jays,” Anthopoulos said on a conference call to discuss the trade that he said began with the team approaching the player. “I know he was very sentimental when he spoke about this.”

Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun seems to the lone writer who doesn’t view this deal with sheer euphoria:

“Yes, the Jays are out from under a millstone of a contract that was going to hamper their attempts to re-build for years to come. Sending Wells to Anaheim was a salary dump, to be sure, and one that will allow Anthopoulos to spread wealth around the diamond instead of piling it up in centre field.”

It is funny how perspective changes from year to year. The Jays have said that they have all the money they need to compete. They unload a huge deal and few talk about the shedding of money as a salary dump. I am not saying Fidlin is right or wrong, but at the very least he appears to be calling the proverbial spade a spade.

“This is all good for the long-term outlook for the franchise, but it can’t be considered anything but an immediate step backward. Wells, for all the criticism he has borne since he signed that monster $126-million deal after the 2006 season, remained the face of the franchise and a class act in most every way.

A productive bat has been removed from the middle of the order and, as much as people have been picking at Wells’ defence, he was still good enough to make an all-star team in 2010, providing veteran leadership in the locker room. The contract was a mistake, a huge overpay as it turned out, but that can’t take away from the contributions he made on and off the field and in the community.”

Clearly the most “negative” tone on the deal I’ve seen. Again, that’s not to say it isn’t accurate.

Mike Rutsey, also of the Sun focused on Vernon’s previous admission that, perhaps he won the lottery a few years back:

“Everybody would say I’m not worth the money and I would totally agree that I’m not worth that contract,” Wells said last year.”

Rutsey also has an eye on the future:

“So is this team better with Wells gone?

We’d have to say ‘no’ until we can figure out who will play centre field. They have no sure fire candidate in the system ready to take over, but veterans Rajai Davis and Corey Patterson have been added in the off-season. Anthony Gose is the apple of general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ eye, but he’s viewed as a long-term project, another two to three years away.”

Mike DiGiovanna covered the story for the LA Times:

“The number of years was attractive,” Reagins said of Wells, who turned 32 on Dec. 8. “We’re getting him at a young 32. His contract expires when he’s 35.”

The deal was extremely attractive to the rebuilding Blue Jays and GM Alex Anthopoulos, who was looking to free up money to sign slugger Jose Bautista to a multiyear deal.

“The biggest component was the financial implications,” Anthopoulos said. “It made a lot of sense for us.”

BILL PLUNKETT covers the Angels for the Orange County Register:

“The fiscal restraint that led to the Angels being outbid for top free agents Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre was tossed aside Friday with the team agreeing to a trade that brings three-time All-Star outfielder Vernon Wells from the Toronto Blue Jays for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.

The Angels resoundingly re-established their willingness to spend money with the deal for Wells, who is considered by many to be one of the most overpaid players in baseball. Whether it is money wisely spent depends on how the 32-year-old Wells performs in the next four years, during which he will make $86 million – making him the highest-paid player in Angels franchise history.”

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi broke the story, I believe on Foxsports.com:

” The Angels had been trying to move Napoli and Rivera, who will earn $5.25 million next season.

The Jays likely would use Napoli as a catcher, first baseman and DH. His arrival likely will preclude them from adding another free-agent hitter.”

Cliff Corcoran covered the angles for SI.com:

“Vernon Wells is the Angels’ problem now. On a pure talent level, the trade of long-time Blue Jays center fielder Wells to Los Angeles for outfielder Juan Rivera and catcher Mike Napoli is a reasonably balanced swap: all three players are productive but flawed, and the 29-year-old Napoli is the youngest of the trio, but when you factor in the $86 million left on Wells’ contract over the next four years, it becomes a crucial step in the Blue Jays’ long-term efforts to climb back into contention in the powerful American League East and an acquisition that could very well prevent the Angels from being a factor in the AL West for the next two years if not more.

For second-year Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, unloading Wells and his contract is a major coup. Anthopoulos’ predecessor and former boss, J.P Ricciardi, signed Wells to a seven-year, $126 million extension after the 2006 season. That year Wells, then 27, hit .303/.357/.542 with 32 home runs, 106 RBIs, and 17 stolen bases, made his second All-Star team, won his third straight Gold Glove for his play in center field, and picked up some down-ballot MVP votes.”

Keith Law from ESPN adds his take:

“Vernon Wells isn’t a terrible player– he’s a solid player with a terrible contract, he is absolutely the wrong player right now for the Los Angeles Angels, who have made one the worst desperation moves I can remember.

The problem is that Wells is now well below-average in center and probably should be in a corner outfield position, where his bat is less valuable, and where he may not profile offensively by the time he’s a free agent after 2014. His power spike in 2010 coincided with a sudden shift in the Rogers Centre’s park factor and a teamwide rise in home runs. He’s a good fastball hitter who’s not very disciplined and tries to pull the ball on the outer half, resulting in a lot of frustrating rollovers to the shortstop.

The Angels have Peter Bourjos and his 70 (or better) glove to man center, and there’s no way Wells will be worth $18 million more than Bourjos this year. Turning Bobby Abreu, a once-great player now showing his age, into a platoon bat/pinch-hitter would make the best of a bad situation. It’s still a bad situation, though, and doesn’t make the Angels much better off even in 2011.”

Mike Wilner wrote about the story on Sportsnet The Fan 590 website:

“They said it couldn’t be done. Heck, I said it couldn’t be done. But it has been. Vernon Wells has been traded.

I can’t tell you how many times I went on the air this season and said that, even with a successful 2010 under his belt, Wells was untradeable without the Blue Jays picking up a massive amount of money, but there were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, looking to get something done after missing out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, among others. The Halos will stick Vernon in centrefield, and in the middle of their line-up, as they try to regain what was their rightful place atop the A.L. West standings.

This is a deal that the Angels wanted to make a few years ago. Remember, the hottest rumour right before Wells signed his seven-year, $126 million contract was that J.P. Ricciardi had a terrific offer on the table from the Halos, but trading Wells would have been seen by the fans as another indicator that the Jays were becoming the New Expos, after they’d made a piddling offer to Carlos Delgado a year or two before.”

TSN and sportsnet.ca both carried a Canadian Press story:

“The stunning trade of all-star centre-fielder Vernon Wells to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night was, like so many other moves by the Toronto Blue Jays of late, all about the future.

While catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera were the primary return in the deal, the key asset acquired by general manager Alex Anthopoulos was the removal from the team’s books of the US$86 million owed to Wells over the next four seasons.

How Anthopoulos uses that money will determine the wisdom of an unexpected move that seems to have been fairly well received judging by fan reaction on the Internet, although the impact of losing one of the best players in franchise history has yet to be measured.”

Sportsnet’s Scott Carson was equally stunned with news of the deal:

“Never thought we’d see Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos able to trade the untradeable Vernon Wells contract.

I have to be honest with you, faithful readers; I sure didn’t see this one coming. After finishing up the dishes, I flipped on the computer and this news jumped off the screen”


So, there you have it.

Here’s my take from a media standpoint. Very few of the folks I wanted to read this morning wrote. Where are Bob Elliott and Jeff Blair? Don’t you all think that if this were a Leafs trade in the middle of the summer of this magnitude all the big boys would find a way to write an article on an off day???? Personally, I feel like the papers have let us, their readers down. I would really liked to have read Bruce Arthur, Steve Simmons to name a few others. Sports trades are rare these days. Sports rumors equally as hard to find. So when a deal gets done I’d like to see those who’s opinion I really respect write.

TSM

@yyzsportsmed

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