Tuesday, January 25, 2011


We've all read a lot in the last few days about the Vernon Wells trade, and now that Mike Napoli has ended up with the rival Rangers, things break down as such:

Angels get Vernon Wells and will owe him roughly $20MM per over the next four years to probably play left field. They lose Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera, both defensive butchers with power bats and the ability to draw a walk.

Blue Jays get Juan Rivera and Frank Francisco in exchange for getting someone to take Wells' contract off their hands.

Rangers get Napoli and lose Francisco.

So what does it mean for each team? I'm going to speculate that everyone involved is going to play, though I honestly don't know what the Jays plan to do with Rivera, or what the Rangers plan to do with Napoli.

The Blue Jays don't really lose a whole lot on offense, the lose a bit of outfield defense, and they continue to stock their bullpen. Of course, this all the rearranging of deck chairs. Their largest hope is that they might be able to catch the Rays for third place. Honestly, I don't even think Blue Jays fans care what they do. They're like the kid who gets a bunch of new pogs, when everyone knows he's going to lose them all to the school bully within a week. It's fun to get new stuff, then reality sets in.

The Rangers cruised into the playoffs and almost won a World Series last year all while getting about about a 60 OPS+ out of their catchers. Napoli is a good bet to almost double that. Their bullpen will take a hit, but it probably won't be bad enough to lose the division.

Which brings us to the Angels. I'm going to be honest, I don't think this makes the 2011 Angels any worse, and probably makes them a bit better on the field. I believe that to be true because Mike Scioscia has an unhealthy affection for catcher's ERA. It's my belief that Napoli would not have seen a ton of at bats this year, barring injury. In that sense, I truly believe that Napoli's value to the Angels does not represent his true value. And the idea that they didn't get equal value from an objective standpoint is meaningless.

Wells is a real wild card. He's been excellent in even numbered years, horrible in odd numbered years. And we're coming up on the 2011 season. We don't know which Wells we're going to get. If we get last year's model, it's an upgrade offensively and defensively. Enough of an upgrade that they can afford to let Bourjos develop offensively while providing excellent defense.

I can even begin to figure out what this means for the next few years. I'm not sure the Angels have done what they've been expected to do in off-season since Arte Moreno bought the team. But for 2011, they've probably improved the bullpen, the outfield defense, and the offense (just a smidge), but that's based on Morales' return and my belief that Napoli's bat would not have been in the lineup every day. Unfortunately, they probably didn't improve enough to to catch the Rangers even IF they hadn't done anything this off-season. With the move the Rangers have made, Angels fans may as well be Blue Jays fans this season.

And finally, what it is about Matt Welch and Vernon? Be it the player, or the small in size but huge in corruption town in SoCal, I'm thinking he just really likes the sound of the word "Vernon".

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