Baseball So Cal Style: Vernon Wells Is Ready for His Close-Up & Trades with Hollywood Endings

The Angels held their press conference to officially welcome Vernon Wells to the team today. It sounds like there was a great crowd gathered underneath the giant baseball caps in front of the stadium this morning. Only where the Angels are concerned do I envy my husband’s job location in Irvine, mere minutes away from the Big A, and the unfortunate 60 to 90 minute commute that goes along with it. I know that some of his coworkers, a fun bunch of diehards the lot of them, took an early lunch at the press conference and, while I like my job and my commute much better, it would be fun to be able to do that every now and then…or just to be able to get to weeknight games in time for batting practice. But I digress…

It was nice to read a little more positive press about the trade today. I am actually really surprised at the huge disconnect between the way some of the – admittedly local and Angels friendly – press views the Vernon Wells trade and the way the rest of the press views it. Apparently, this is the worst deal this offseason or any of the last few in recent history, the Rangers and the Blue Jays should erect statues in our honor and Tony Reagins should fear for his job. Wow. It’s so nice to know that no one is still falling back on hyperbole and other sports writing clichés. (Sarcasm, on the other hand, is a grand literary tradition as well as an important lifestyle choice. Why do you ask?) I have read a lot more about this trade since my post last weekend and I stand by my initial assessment of the whole thing – this is certainly not the best deal we could have made this season but it is a good one and the team the Angels are putting on the field in 2011 is better than the one that left the field in 2010. Are they good enough? Well, I guess we’re just going have to actually play 162 games and find out. I am excited to watch how it all plays out…and I am really excited about our outfield this season!

And then there was that was that completely unexpected twist ending to the trade yesterday…No, no one had a psychotic break or turned out to really have been dead the whole time (Juan Rivera’s 2010 left field performance to the contrary – sorry Morris, I had to.), but, no one expected the Texas Inquisition! Shocking yes, but I am even more surprised at the God-like qualities Mike Napoli’s batting prowess has recently taken on in some of the blog posts about his unfortunate trade by the Blue Jays to the Rangers (not to mention the unexpected presumption that he would have suddenly become the primary catcher). He’s got a great bat. I’m going to miss having him in the Angels line-up too and I’m really going to miss him behind the plate, for the little bit of playing time he was likely to have (let’s not forget that part!). I’m not looking forward to facing him in our division either. And I am also not thrilled that the Rangers got another power hitter – as if we didn’t know it already, those guys are definitely going to be tough again this year! But Napoli did not suddenly become one of the elite hitters in baseball just because he got traded to the Rangers.

I wish Napoli well except against the Angels, as I did when he was traded to the Blue Jays. But while his homerun total may go up slightly in Arlington, always hyped as a hitter’s ballpark, I really don’t expect his slash line stats to change that drastically. He’s been fairly even his whole career up until now. Yes, as a former Angels catcher, he knows our pitchers well, but that didn’t help him against John Lackey this year anymore than it did any of our other players. He is likely to smack a Weaver or Haren pitch or two out of the park over the course of a season – fly ball pitchers and all that – but, be honest, he’s also likely to keep stranding runners in scoring position even when he’s playing in Anaheim and going through three and four week long slumps too. He’s good. We’ll miss him. It’s going to suck seeing him in Rangers red…and blue…and red, white and blue…and whatever other uniform they come up with this season. But he is hardly the key to the Angels undoing. The Rangers line-up as a whole? That’s a lot scarier, but our starters had better be bringing their nastiest stuff anyway. Hmmm…if all else fails and the Angels really need a Plan B in terms of pitching to Nap, maybe they can just plan on walking the guy in front of him if no one else is already on base? ;)

5 Comments

I was so surprised to read about the quick sendoff of Napoli to Texas. So now he’s back in your division. I’m sure it’ll be hard to see him in their uni, but baseball can be a tough business!

http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

I sure hope y’all get a $23 million Wells… not the $500,000 Wells that showed up a couple years ago. I wanna say this is a bad, bad move by the Angels, but they’ve made me scratch my head before to good results so we’ll see…
–Jeff
http://redstatebluestate.mlblogs.com/
http://mtrredstatebluestate.com

Jane – Baseball can definitely be a tough business. It will be tough watching Napoli with Texas, but there’s usually one that’s tough to get over every year. I will be amused to see how quickly the fans break out the duct tape slashed through circles on their #44 jerseys when Texas is in town like they id for their Vlad jersey last year after that first homestand against the Ragers.
Jeff – And that is definitely the $23 million question. I base my optimism on the fact that his 2010 stats were actually an uptick over 2009 and 2007 (though not quite as good as 2008 except in terms of homeruns) which makes me hopeful that his age isn’t a much a factor yet and he will be playing on grass and in the less demanding left field position…of course it’s all just speculation at this point.
- Kristen
http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

Age shouldn’t be a factor (yet) as you say, but he’s streaky. Real streaky. I just hope Kendry can stay healthy… he’s key to that team I feel.
–Jeff

Jeff – Wells is streaky. It may turn out to be a case of the preseason Pollyannas but from my – admittedly not a professional handicapper of baseball players – point of view the streakiness seemed to arise around injuries in ’07 and ’08 and trying to get his stride back in ’09. I am optimistic that if he stays healthy and as excited to be here as he sounds in his interviews (because, really, even some of the free agents that got huge paydays this year don’t sound particularly excited in their interviews) that this will turn be one of the good years…and I’ll start worrying about ’12 in November. I really agree with you about Kendry though. I am crossing fingers, toes and anything else I can find that he comes back as strong as everyone says he’s going to and stays that way.
- Kristen
http://blithescribe.mlblogs.com/

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