The Vernon Wells saga with the Angels did not begin in January of 2011 when the Angels traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera for him.
It began when the Angels drafted Mike Napoli in June of 2000 and signed Jose Guillen as a free agent in November of 2003.
After a temper tantrum at the end of 2004, Guillen was traded to the Montreal Expos for Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera. It was the last trade the Expos ever made.
Izturis left after last season as a free agent so he is not part of this story but it should be pointed out that Mighty Maicer had 33 career home runs with the Angels and Vernon had a grand total of 36. Anyway...
So Rivera and Napoli were traded in January of 2011 to the Jays for V.W. Arte had his big offseason marketing move like every year - or so he thought. The team store was covered in #10 jerseys but he soon looked like an idiot and his general manager Tony Reagins a horse's ass and his manager, Mike Scioscia, was seen as the dumbest evaluator of offensive talent in all of baseball when this move is coupled with the Gary Matthews signing that the Soth pushed for big time earlier in the decade.
Wait back up. In 2001 the Angels drafted Casey Kotchman. In 2004 they drafted Stephen Marek. Tony Reagins traded these two to the Braves for Mark Teixeira in July of 2008. Teix was a monster for two months and then shriveled up into a singles-hitting little girl in the ALDS against Boston and made a stink when his agent Scott Boras used Arte to drive up the price the Yankees would pay for the All Star 1B.
Why bring up Teixeira into the Vernon Wells saga? Well it seems that because Mark got injured in the World Baseball Classic, the WBC insurance is paying at least $7 Million of his salary. This windfall will help offset the Yankees taking on salary to find a bat to replace Teixeira. Now of course, nobody in their right mind would think that Vernon Wells a deflated righty outfield offensive liability, could take the place of Mark Teixeira, a still scary lefty 1B offensive weapon.
But somebody did. Somebody knew some creative accounting. The Yankees want to get under the luxury tax threshold for next season in order to not pay the luxury tax, but additionally, to have that tax shrink when they avoid paying it two season in a row. They are alrady stuck paying it this year so the creative accounting goes like this:
The Yankees trade a yet-to-be-named prospect for Vernon Wells and $29 Million of his salary. But wait, Arte, do us a favor, put 21 that $29 million in some investment, or a bank on the Island of Cyprus, but hold onto it. for a year. We'll pay Vernon his $13 Million and you pay just $7 million this year. Next year, though, you pay the whole $21 million. Cool? Cool. The insurance for Teix gives the Yankees over half of Vernon's contract and next year they have a veteran outfielder without being a cent closer to the luxury tax threshold.
Sounds great, right? If you ignore the tiny fact that Vernon Wells is terrible at playing baseball it might even be a genius accounting masterstroke. Instead, though, it will be something that likely gives Yankees fans a stroke.
Juan Rivera went on to be better than Vernon Wells over the past two seasons. Mike Napoli went on to be an Angel killing powerhouse over that time. Both were free agents this year. If GM Reagins had never traded them to the Blue Jays for Wells they would both be gone and the Jose Guillen saga would be closed.
And the Napoli story is not complete without the mind-numbing leap that Mike Scioscia took to privilege starting Jeff Mathis over Napster. It is a wonderful narrative device to see the man Mathis was traded for, pitcher Brad Mills, leave the organization on the same days as this trade. Keeping it real clean. He did not clear waivers and was selected by the Ranegrs. He will go on to dominate us in Texas but gosh that narrative is just so spotless...
And so, the movie comes to a climax... the flop of the decade turns out to use the Yankees payroll as a punchline. It wasn't really ALL a dream, Dorothy, but you got rid of the expensive Munchkin, so don't get crabby, it is all cleaned up now... instead of it being two more seasons of Wells taking up a roster spot, tempting Mike Scioscia to put him into the lineup instead of Peter Bourjos and all sorts of ancillary bad will, the Yankees chose to go the veteran route, using an accounting rationalization to seal the deal.
All we await is the name of the minor leaguer who will become the climax of the Vernon Wells saga, twelve and a half seasons after it began, two years and two months after it entered our Anaheim lives and exposed our leadership to be men of ass-backward baseball evaluation acumen.
The healing begins when this brave young man enters our club.
Of course all of this would happen on Palm Sunday.