Some of the same people who were giving the Stooges (Arte, Reagins and Scoscia) "high fives" for not spending big money on Crawford and Beltre, seem to be now advocating that the $86m contractual obligation (aka "the pile of shit in the corner") is a good deal for the franchise.
Keep on drinking the Kool-Aid, lads.
The front office has done little this offseason, and with less than 30 days until players start reporting for Spring Training, they finally did what we all knew was coming: they got desperate.
Wells is a nice player entering the twi-light of his career with what was previously an unmovable abortion of a contract. He WAS a very good center-fielder. He is NOW a below-average fielding center-fielder. He WAS a consistent power-hitter. He is NOW a player who has hit just .267/.321/.450 across the last four injury-plagued seasons. He WAS a healthy player who did not miss many games. He is NOW a player that has had: a torn labrum in his right shoulder that prompted surgery in September 2007; in 2008, a fractured wrist and a strained hamstring put him on the DL for nearly two full months. That same wrist still was still not right in 2009, and he had wrist surgery in November 2009. Last year, apparently healthy for the first time since '06, he got off to a blazing start and made his third All-Star team, but hit just .251/.300/.449 in the middle four months of the season and .227/.301/.407 on the road in a season in which the ball was flying out of the Toronto home field. The 2010 performance reflects that Wells remains an undisciplined fastball hitter that thrived in what has become a hitters ballpark. If you really need more data to wreck your day, here you go: in 173 plate appearances at Angel Stadium, Wells career stat line is an impressive .226/.267/.340.
The Angels will be paying a whopping $23 million this season to a 32-year old with diminishing skills, after which he's owed $21 million for each of the next three seasons. There is NO WAY Wells is worth $22m more than Bourjos and his +70 glove in CF. There is NO WAY that Wells is worth $5m more than Hunter. In my opinion, the Halos were already overpaying a declining Torii Hunter who will make $18 million in each of the next two seasons. The Halos are also paying GMJ $11m in 2011 to play for someone else. Since we're in this deep, let's throw Kazmir's contract on the pile too at $12m in 2011. Let's see - that's $64m for 3 players in 2011. In 2012, the Halos will be paying Hunter and Wells a total of $39m. Clearly, the Stooges have not learned from the franchise's past mistakes.
If you think that Wells will opt out of a contract paying him on average $21m per season, the best I can offer you is that: it's good to have a dream. JP Ricciardi (former Toronto GM) gave franchise crippling contracts to both Alex Rios and Vernon Wells, and it ultimately was a contributing factor to him losing his job. Toronto had to dump Rios and get nothing but salary relief in return. In trading Wells to the Halos, Toronto gains not only salary relief but two useful players in return.
Angels general manager Tony Reagins said last night that the Angels are more comfortable with the shorter obligation to Wells (four years), rather than some of other long-term deals that the Angels had talked about, such as Crawford and Adrian Beltre. On the face of it, this statement makes little sense. Of course a seven-year deal with Crawford is the longer deal, but it also would have covered the years when Crawford played at age 28 and 29 and 30 and 31 - which very well might turn out to be the best years of Crawford's career. The Angels are getting Wells on a contract of shorter term, which is true, but they're paying him more money than they offered Crawford for his work at age 32, 33, 34 and 35 - when Wells' work at age 29 and 30 was already a concern.
Stand aside JP, you've been replaced as lead idiot. Let me introduce you to Tony Reagins, Lord of the Idiots.
Arte had the chance to steal more market-share from a Dodgers franchise in disarray. His offseason could be charitably considered a failure. Do you blame the child (Reagins) when they drive the luxury car into a ditch, or do you blame the intelligent, business savvy billionaire who gave the keys to the car to the child in the first place?