Forgetting Vernon Wells

Speed. Grit. Rally starter. Dirty uniforms. High socks. That’s what the Toronto Blue Jays have in centre field this year, and it’s great fun to watch.

But however far in love Toronto fans may have already fallen with Rajai Davis, it does seem odd to hear so late little talk about the previous guy to patrol centre.

Tonight, the Blue Jays are in Anaheim as the Angels play their home opener. The game will be the first meeting between Vernon Wells and the team he had played every game with up until this season. And it makes me feel old to think about it this way, but Wells played his first big league games in 1999.

So how could a guy like Wells be put out of mind so quickly after being here so long? I mean, just look at Toronto’s all-time offensive leaders and Wells is all over the place:

  • 1st in at bats
  • 2nd in runs scored
  • 2nd in hits
  • 2nd in total bases
  • 2nd in doubles
  • 10th in triples
  • 2nd in home runs
  • 2nd in RBI
  • 10th in stolen bases
  • 6th in walks
  • 2nd in extra-base hits
  • 6th in slugging percentage
  • 10th in OPS

Impressive tallies, and those are just the categories listed in this year’s edition of SABR’s Emerald Guide to Baseball. So why were people (including myself) so down on Wells and so happy to see him go? Continue reading

An idea regarding Vernon Wells


I know Vernon Wells probably wouldn’t go for this, but maybe J.P. Ricciardi should try to renegotiate VW’s contract.

He knows he’s playing horribly (see his reaction to being moved down in the order) that much is public. Here are some assumptions I’m making:

  • He must know that his ridiculous contract is going to hurt the team’s ability to compete in the future.
  • He must also know that his low level of play, if he keeps it up, will affect his ability to get another good contract after this one.
  • Even if he turns his game around, if there aren’t players on the team to get on base in front of him then he’s not going to rack up the RBI necessary to get another monster contract.
  • If Halladay (or other players) leave because the team can’t afford them, VW will bear the wrath of fans and media even more so than he already does.
  • He, like all players, wants to win.

If I’m J.P., I approach Wells and say something like “this contract is going to be your last big one unless something crazy happens and if it doesn’t, it may possibly be your last contract period.”

Then I’d offer him a four-year extension on the contract he has at, say, $2 million per year. The catch is that I’d change the payment schedule.

The Jays already owe VW $98.5 million over the next five seasons (not including the $8.5M signing bonus due next March) the real problem is that he’ll make over $20M in each of the final four seasons.

I’d add $8M to that total, extend him four years and pay him the average of the value of this new contract every year. Signing bonus payment can stay right where it is.

Sure, this plan means we’d be paying a 40-year-old Vernon almost $12M in 2018, but we’d also only be paying Vernon that amount in 2011, a year in which he’s scheduled to make $23M. That $11M might buy us a nice player (or allow us to keep a certain someone around).

Yes, I know I used “we” and “us” throughout the post, but remember that I’m pretending to be J.P. here.