A very big deal

Here’s what I like about the Angels’ big deal with Toronto: everything.

It’s an old-fashioned baseball trade, two for one – a pair of sluggers in exchange for one slugger with a glove of gold. Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera should flourish in Toronto, where the walls are inviting, and Vernon Wells brings a distinguished star-quality talent to Anaheim.

Critically for Wells, he gets off artificial turf. He joins a good buddy, Torii Hunter, in an outfield that could be the game’s best if Peter Bourjos continues to show all the right stuff. Any way manager Mike Scioscia decides to deploy these three guys, they’ll make it work. And if Bourjos isn’t quite ready, Bobby Abreu moves into left or right on a full-time basis.

Like all players, Abreu wants to play, not just hit. It will be an adjustment if he becomes a primary DH, but he’s smart and wants to win. He’ll do whatever is necessary to make his team better, an attitude I’m sure Wells will bring with him along with his credentials as a full-service star.

He has played under the radar his entire career in a place that hasn’t given him a lot of exposure, but he’s the real deal. Players know, and they respect Wells immensely.

Wells hit fourth last season and has been a No. 3 or No. 4 man his whole career. I see him slotting in at cleanup, between Hunter and Kendry Morales, but those three could end up in any configuration and, like the outfield, it would work.

Napoli should get to play every day in Toronto, something he has been yearning to do. I hope he gets a crack at first base, because I think that’s where he can be most effective. He was surprisingly adept at first in Morales’ absence last season, and playing every day there, in that park, Napoli could contend for a home run crown. He has that brand of power.

The deal also works for Rivera, who should get to play every day. That was not going to happen with the Angels.

It works best for Wells, in my view. Moving on to a natural surface after nine years on fake grass should do wonders for him. I know it has for Hunter, who doesn’t ache nearly as much as he did during his Minnesota days.

Just as moving to right is a good thing for Hunter long-term, extending his career by several years in my judgment, Wells also would be well served by a shift to left. Less wear and tear would keep him fresher and stronger over the long haul.

This has the makings of a dream outfield. The Angels, at considerable expense, have made a bold deal. I believe it will work for them. As for the Blue Jays, who surrender their best player, they figure in time to take a liking to the two new muscle men on the scene.

The best deals work to the benefit of everyone involved. This could be one of those. – Lyle Spencer



  1. norm15

    You think Vernon Wells was Toronto’s best player?? I’d rank him as their fourth at best.

    I think the Angels are going to regret this deal. Wells is a good player don’t get me wrong, but is he worth 86 million over four years? His best days are over and leaving Toronto’s power packed line up is going to kill his numbers. His only good years came when he had Carlos Delgado or Jose Bautista around him.


  2. jiga14

    If this deal has little to no money changing hands and we just took on a 32 year old, .270 hittter for $20 million a year, I am disgusted by the lack of intelligence and foresight on the part of Angel management. How about having a long term vision, creating a plan and executing it? Is the vision to compete or win? Right now it seems the Angel management has caved to fan pressure and made a move for the sake of making a move, in the hopes of competing. Let’s save and invest in the future…increase scouting both domestic and international, select the best players in the amateur draft no matter their “signability”. Let’s play to win. If not, create a plan to win next year…just competing is what the Rangers and Mariners used to do.

  3. norm15

    In what universe has Wells done it for nine seasons? Of the past nine seasons, he’s driven in 100 RBI’s three times and hit over 25 homers four times. All of this in a hitter friendly park.

    With all due respect, but did you really research Wells? Some of his drop off in recent years could be attributed to injury yes. But it was his shoulder and wrist that was injured, not his back or legs. So moving off field turf isn’t going to drastically heal that.

    Each year his defensive range has diminished and in recent years and while he can still make highlight reel catches, he’s not the gold glove defender he once was.

    If you think Wells is going to be worth 20 million over the next four seasons, I think you and Tony Reagins are the only ones.

  4. rdimmitt@clunet.edu

    I agree with anyone that says this is a terrible deal. I am 23 years old and have been an Angels fan for 16 years. The fact we could not or would not put forth the money necessary to sign 29/30 year old Carl Crawford who would give us speed atop the line-up and set the table for guys like Abreu, Hunter, Morales, Napoli is ridiculous. Instead, go out and pay an aging veteran past his prime. At 32, Wells’ best years are long behind him. I am very disappointed in the way Reagins has run the club since he took over for Stoneman. Now we tie up Wells until he’s 36. As an Angels fan, I am now a HUGE Vernon Wells fan and I welcome him with open arms. I hope he hits .290, 30 HR, 100 RBI and the Angels win the West and World Series.

    I loved Mike Napoli at the plate. I felt he never got the full season of at bats he deserved. He’s a guy who at DH, 1B, C can give you 35 HR, 100 RBI. I wish him the best in Toronto. I do not like the rotating DH thing that Scioscia has followed. CLEARLY DEFINE EACH PLAYER’S ROLE!!! Bourjos needs a fair opportunity to win the CF spot. I hope the addition of Wells does not force him out.

    I love the Angels and wish them the best in 2011! I’ll be cheering them on and hopefully get to attend 5 or 6 games in person. WELCOME TO THE BIG A MR. WELLS!

  5. cghaddad77@gmail.com

    Yea, it’s all about that old school to approach to baseball, where you give up on the draft because it’s such a crapshoot (see: 2010 Mets’ draft) and just spend, spend, spend…but only when in desperation. If this was Reagins’ plan all along, to bring together this “dream outfield,” then why did he even bother go after Crawford and Beltre with this salary space?

    And your “dream” outfield consists of new acquisition who has only hit .201 over the last two seasons vs LHP. Perhaps the dream you were describing is a euphemism for how opposing pitchers will dominate him in their sleep?

    You think the move “will work for Anaheim.” That is why you are writing about moves instead of making them yourself. Your alma mater must be pleased knowing you’re publicly embarrassing yourself with every keystroke. Time to give up that day job.

  6. jtraversdevine@email.com

    Unlike most who have commented, I like this trade. Forget the money – Well is overpaid but who in Baseball isn’t? Considering what others would have cost, the money is not the important factor. The addition of Wells should lift pressure from young Peter and allow him to develop in Center Field without feeling he has to have a great hitting year right away. With his speed, Bourjos will get on base, move first to third, steal bases and provide outstanding defense. Meanwhile Wells also provides speed with power and is certainly a defensive improvement and pitching with defensive wins titles. Personally I don’t think Wells will have any problem hitting for a decent average and get enough HR’s to satisfy the fans. The earlier improvements to the bullpen combined with Wells and the return of Morales should return the Angels to head on head competition with the Rangers if not make them favorites to take the West.

  7. johnbestnight

    You’ve got to be joking calling this a good signing for the Halos. All that money to Vernon Wells. How can that be a good thing? I am not a Angels fan or a Blue Jay fan but one has to wonder why Reagins has this job…

  8. j_rod

    Wow, I cannot believe all of the negatively out there on this trade. What are you people thinking?? Put the emotion aside and look at the numbers. I am a Mike Napoli fan, but let’s look at the numbers. He pretty much played everyday last season (finally) and at the end of the day batted .238. And worse, batted .182 with runners in scoring position (.215 career). I watch every game and have seen this throughout his career so far. It is just frustrating to see him strikeout or hit a lazy fly ball with runners on. Yes, he had 26 homers, but half of those were with no runners in scoring position. We were about to go into the season with 4 catchers (Napoli, Mathis, Wilson & Conger). With Wilson and Conger up and coming and looking solid, why would you want to hang onto 4 catchers?? Besides, what is not realized is defense behind the plate and how many runs is saved with stellar defense (it’s huge and that is a weakness in Mike’s game).

    With Well’s hitting next to Morales and Hunter, I think he’ll do just fine. Wow, at first everyone is complaining about not bringing in a consistent power bat and Moreno not willing to spend money and now everyone is still complaining.

    Go Angels!

  9. kkoliner@gmail.com

    If the Angels aren’t getting a huge percentage of Wells’ contract covered by the Jays, this is a laughably horrible deal for the Angels. Essentially they traded Juan Rivera for a $23-million-per-year Juan Rivera and threw in a younger version of Adam Dunn who can catch as an extra party favor. This from a team who couldn’t cobble together less money per season to pay for Carl Crawford. Between Hunter and Wells, the Angels have a dream outfield all right. It’s a dream for baseball agents everywhere who laugh at baseball executives willing to take on massive contracts for aging outfielders with diminishing skills. And to those who say that we, as fans, shouldn’t worry about the money, I’d respond that it’s not about the money. It’s about the other, better players who, because of this sort of deal, will not be playing for the Angels for years to come. I love this team, but we just conceded the AL West for the next 3-4 years.

  10. cghaddad77@gmail.com

    Can’t really forget the money my friend. The money was the reason for the trade in the first place. And ballplayers may be overpaid when you compare it to other industries, but other industries don’t bring back the revenue that MLB does, so you can’t say all MLBers are overpaid. Third, Vernon Wells is a declining soon-to-be corner outfielder who doesn’t walk or hit lefties. He may hit .280 but he’s getting on base less than 33% of the time. This move now cripples the Angels’ payroll meaning than they won’t be able to go after big free agents while having Vernon on the roster. This move actually makes the team worse in 2011. Whoever thinks otherwise is a fool.

  11. j_rod

    Comparing Vernon to Juan Rivera??? Are you serious? Now that is laughable. Did you watch any games? Did you miss those Juan Rivera silly errors in the outfield that cost us games?? He has eye issues now, do you really want him in your outfield and in your lineup?

    Juan has basically only hit more than 20 home runs twice in his entire career and does not have a gold glove. I think that says it all.

    We are definitely better with this deal.

  12. dhibma6

    I am so tired of all thse negative comments. Be optimistic. I am not too high on the money aspect but the reason no deals were made for Crawford of Beltre was because the were holding teams hostage for rediculous lengths of contracts. This has to be a blessing for Soscia not having to try to get Napli and Rivera in the lineup– Napoli should have been gone a long time ago. He has a poor attitude and seems to strike out in the cluth more than hit homers (24 home runs came when we are up by 3 or more runs) Paying both these players a combined 11 mil would be rediculous. Wells will be rejuvinated moving from Canada and will thrive in a lineup with Hunter and Morales. Smile Halo fans, we are much better than we were Friday Morning. Give the guy a chance to perform and stand behind your team before you berate everyone. Youe negative outlook on life is harmful to everyone who has to listen to your rediculous jargon

  13. lakingsrule@live.com

    As a lifelong Angels fan since the 60’s, I am very disappointed in this trade. It looks like Tony Reagin’s version of Bill Stoneman’s Gary Matthews deal. If we were willing to pay that kind of money, why weren’t we more aggressive for Crawford or Beltre? For less money we could have had Beltre and plugged up a huge problem at third. Now we have too many outfielders and no leadoff hitter to boot. And Kazmir as our fifth starter. I guess we are aiming for the bottom. If this team does not respond and I have no reason to think it will, Reagins needs to go. We would have been better served to save the $23 million a year and go into a rebuilding mode. We are going to have a tough enough time against the big boys like the Bosox and Yankees, let alone our own division with this lineup. Vernon Wells has very inconsistent numbers in the past several years. It’s just like the Gary Matthews deal. He had a good year, just like Wells did last year and he never delivered for the Angels. With Wells inconsistent track record, what makes anyone think he will play well for our team? If we are lucky, we may get one or two fairly good years out of him, but for $20 million plus each year, is that worth it? For that kind of dough you should be getting Pujols type performance. You are not going to get that kind of performance out of Wells. Bad, bad deal. This will hurt us for years to come. This deal is a big strike out!

  14. teddyballgame9lf@comcast.net

    “…for Wells, he gets off artificial turf. He joins a good buddy, Torii Hunter, in an outfield that could be the game’s best if Peter Bourjos continues to show all the right stuff.”

    Yet the rumors are that the Angels are pursuing the 34-year-old Scott Podsednik to play LF, meaning that Bourjos will be showing all of his “right stuff” as a 4th or 5th outfielder, or as the starting CF for the Salt Lake City Bees. Sounds like Scioscia wants to handle Peter the same way he did Brandon Wood, jerking him back and forth between the minors and the Angel bench until whatever promise he may have had finally disappears.

  15. j_rod

    Very good point. But I don’t know, I think after the Vernon deal, the Angels are done. I’m guessing the Angels are going to give Bourjos a chance to earn the lead off spot in spring training. At least that’s what I would do.

  16. bdt900@gmail.com

    This post prompted me to sign up for mlb.com just so I could comment on it.

    The fact that you can defend or like, in any way, this trade for the Angels is mind-boggling.

    I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible.

    Napoli – worth about $10-12M a year. Salary about $6M. Value is, say, $5M.
    Rivera – worst case, worth about $2M. Salary $5. Worth negative $3M (note that he could be significantly better – e.g. in 2009 he was worth almost $15M).
    Wells – most reasonable guess at his value is $8-10M per year. 2010 was good, 2007-2009 were bad. Ask yourself – what would you pay Wells as a FA for the next 3 or 4 years? Most estimates are something like $25-30M over 3, or say $32M over 4. That may even be generous. He’s making, I believe, $86M over 4. So his value is an incredible negative $54M.

    So, the Angels lost $3M in value in trading Napoli and Rivera. They lose $54M in value by taking Wells. They acquire $5M in the deal.

    The Angles lose an astounding $52M in this deal.

    Put another way, I think you have control of Jered Weaver for another two years, through 2012. Based on last year’s performance, he’s worth about $25M a year, and should make a combined $20M between this year and next. His value is thus a net $30M or so between this year and next.


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