Home > Uncategorized > Los Angeles Angels Suffer Severe Panic Attack, Trade For Vernon Wells

Los Angeles Angels Suffer Severe Panic Attack, Trade For Vernon Wells

Panic. That’s how you have to describe this move by the Los Angeles Angels.

They missed out on all of the top free-agent pitchers.

They were close, but couldn’t seal the deal on Adrian Beltre.

At one time, everyone thought Carl Crawford was going to the Angels.

After all of the big names were off the block, the Texas Rangers were the ones who ended up with Beltre and took a low-risk, high-reward gamble on Brandon Webb. Even the penny-pinching Oakland A’s made a couple of nice additions to their bullpen and signed Hideki Matsui. the Angels had nothing to show for their efforts.

Oh, I mean they had Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi to show for their efforts.

Halos general manager Tony Reagins had to do something. And that’s what he did. Something. Something bad. The Angels picked up Vernon Wells from Toronto for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. Wells is coming off a 31-homer season, but from 2007-09, here was his average line:

138 games played, 17 HRs, 75 RBIs, .265 average, .317 on-base percentage, .425 slugging percentage.

There’s no telling if the Angels just acquired the Wells from 2010 or the one from those “other” seasons.

Rivera is nothing more than a reserve outfielder who will probably be released soon, but trading Napoli hurts the Angels doubly. First, it rids a lineup in need of pop of its top home run hitter from last season. Napoli’s .784 OPS was the third-best among the team’s regulars. He’s a slugger who has never been one for a high average and hit just .238 in 2010, but that’s still an improvement over the guy who will now have to take his place behind the plate.

Jeff Mathis is a Mike Scioscia favorite, supposedly because of his defense. It certainly can’t be for his offense. Mathis is turning into just another highly-touted Angels prospect who is flaming out at the highest level. In 333 career games, he’s a .199 hitter with a laughable .576 OPS. But he’ll have to become an every-day player. The inclusion of him and Wells would leave the Angels’ defensive alignment looking like so:

C: Mathis

1B: Kendry Morales: The team’s only true masher.

2B: Howie Kendrick: Always predicted to be a contender for the batting title, but somehow ends up about 65 points short.

SS: Erick Aybar: A leadoff hitter who has yet to grasp the concepts of getting on base in general.

3B: Alberto Callaspo/Maicer Izturis: “At least we’re not Brandon Wood” is their top selling point for playing time.

CF: Peter Bourjos: The Angels want him to be their center fielder, but he didn’t look ready during his time last year. Watching him play, he reminds me of a faster, slightly smaller Robb Quinlan. That’s not a good thing.

LF: Wells: I guess he goes to left.

RF: Torii Hunter: At 35, he no longer has the physical skills to play center field as he used to. There are signs that he’s wearing down at the plate, too.

DH: Bobby Abreu: He could move into left if Bourjos can’t cut it in center. Shooting the gaps would be a lot of fun and relatively easy for opposing hitters against that trio. He’ll be 37 in March.

If Wells can’t repeat last year’s unexpected power surge, there’s not a whole lot to fear among that group.

But that’s not all! There’s also, you know, that other thing.

(rubs thumb across index and middle finger)

Besides putting up average-to-below average numbers, Wells is the owner of a ridiculous contract. Prior to the 2008 season, the Blue Jays locked up Wells for seven years at $126 million. It’s currently the 14th-biggest contract in the history of the sport and, given Wells’ return on investment, it’s been one of its worst in recent memory. It was financially suffocating the Blue Jays, so kudos to general manager Alex Anthopoulos for finding a willing taker. And guess how much of that contract, with its four years and $86 million remaining, the Angels decided to pick up?

ALL OF IT!

The Angels wanted to make a splash so badly that they decided to take on ALL of the $86 million left on Wells’ deal. The Blue Jays just wipe their hands clean and walk away. Reagins said last night that Wells’ contract is “a four-year commitment that was tolerable for us.” I guess you have to say that if you’re the GM who just traded for Wells and his Benjamins-laced choker. But if Reagins didn’t care about PR or creating controversy, I’m sure he would have said “Wells’ contract is really, really, really bad for us, but we felt we had no other choice.”

But “tolerable” is fine instead.

Reagins and owner Arte Moreno will have to tolerate paying Wells $23 million for next season. Their troubles could be eased if Wells decides to opt out after before 2012 and attempts to find some other team that will pay him $20 million a year.

I have a sneaking suspicion he won’t do that.

Last night, I heard Hannah Storm say on SportsCenter that the Angels finally landed that “big bat” they wanted. If you go by last year, that is true. But in the process, the Angels had to let go of one of their biggest bats and pushed one of the worst hitters in all of baseball into their starting lineup every day. They added a grossly overpaid player onto their books and are now scheduled to pay him and Hunter a combined $41 million next season.

On the other end, the Blue Jays gained an amazing amount of financial flexibility as well as a nice piece in the 29-year-old Napoli. They now have only $17.4 million in payroll commitments for 2012 and could be a major buyer during future winters.

The Blue Jays are young and cheap.

The Angels are old and expensive.

So it’s no surprise how each team’s fan base has reacted to the news.

The Angels made a move for the sake of making a move and for their efforts, it’s the Rangers who remain the clear favorite in the American League West.

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