We are never going to be rid of Vernon Wells, are we?
Every time it seems like the Angels are on the verge of erasing Tony Reagins' most epic of mistakes, something happens to keep him in the fold. Last season, it was the uncertainty surrounding Kendrys Morales' recovery and Mark Trumbo's ability to get on base more than once every week. Factor in a strong, in relative terms, stretch for Vernon before he hurt himself and the Halos had convinced themselves that he deserved a second chance in a part-time role.
Somehow, the mere temptation of having Wells on the roster was too much for Scioscia even though he had roughly seventeen OF/DH types on the roster at the time. Before you knew it, Sosh had burned 262 plate appearances on Vernon. He did nothing to earn the playing time. He did nothing to earn a third chance.
One off-season later, the Angels find themselves in a similar position. They've got too many outfielders, even after the Morales trade, and little rational reason to think that Vernon Wells can be a quality contributor. But just like last season, the sentiment is that Wells is perfectly fine in his theoretical role as the Angels' fourth outfielder.
At a high level, it makes a lot of sense. Wells can play decent defense in either corner outfield spot and maybe even fake it in center for a game here and there. He also gives the Halos some pop off the bench and has a (mostly) proven track record of crushing left-handed pitching in the rare event that they actually need a pinch-hitter. You really can't ask for much more than that from your top reserve outfielder.
The problem is he is still Vernon Wells. Former All-Star Vernon Wells. Former Gold Glover Vernon Wells. Former 8th place MVP finisher Vernon Wells. A problem that is only compounded by the fact that the Angels' manager remains Mike Scioscia. The same Mike Scioscia that gave Wells 529 plate appearances in 2011 despite him having one of the worst offensive seasons of all time. The same Mike Scioscia that couldn't admit Vlad Guerrero was washed up and kept him in the clean-up spot. The same Mike Scioscia that devoted an obscene amount of plate appearances to Jeff Mathis.
And therein lies the last temptation of Vernon Wells. So long as Wells is on the team, the Angels run the risk of Scioscia looking down the bench, seeing Vernon just sitting there and convincing himself that he deserves another shot, recent performance be damned.
Peter Bourjos has another slow start at the plate? Time to see what Wells can do.
Mark Trumbo goes into a slump? Let's give Vernon some ABs while Trumbo sits and gets his head straight.
Josh Hamilton comes up gimpy? Rest him for a few days, V-Dub can hold down the fort.
Any one out of Hamilton, Trout, Bourjos, Trumbo or Pujols gets hurt? Get ready for all Wells, all the time.
This is where the "he's fine as the fourth outfielder" theory falls apart, because there is little guarantee that Scioscia will limit him to the approximate 150 plate appearances that entails. There is also a pretty decent chance that he isn't even the fourth best outfielder on the team as Kole Calhoun brings similar defensive prowess, not much less power, much better plate discipline and a left-handed bat.
Maybe I'm not giving Scioscia enough credit or just being an alarmist in general, but it seems that Jerry Dipoto has no real choice other than to make on last move this season, that move, of course, being to dump Wells on someone, even if it is just for a fraction of savings on the money still owed to Wells. Really the best value they'd get for Wells is the value of knowing that they would no longer be an injury to a player or a bad managerial decision away from Wells being thrust back into a prominent role. If they save so much as one dollar in the process, that's gravy. If they save enough to go out and sign a more reliable and less tempting reserve outfielder, then I'll gladly pay out of pocket for an impromptu trade down Katella. Whatever they get, it will be worth not having the temptation of Vernon Wells and his rebound that will never happen on the roster.
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