Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Trading For Vernon Wells Is Crazy

Over the past few days, I have read in newspapers and listened on NY sports radio as commentators discuss the idea of taking Vernon Wells' absurd contract as the springboard to land Roy Halladay in the Bronx. The idea in theory makes some sense. Instead of giving up a number of top prospects to the Blue Jays for Halladay, the Yankees would instead take the absurd Vernon Wells contract from the Blue Jays and not give up the farm for Halladay.

However, if any team does decide to trade for Vernon Wells and the more than $90 million owed to him, they are crazy. This is not the Vernon Wells from 5 years ago. This is the 2009 Vernon Wells, who is not performing well in nearly any aspect of the game right now.

Wells' offensive struggles have been well documented as his batting average has fallen to .263 and his OPS has plummeted down to a putrid .723, which is unacceptable for a supposed "power hitter." Wells still hits plenty of doubles (23), but he only has 9 home runs this season, which is a far cry from the glory days where Wells hit 25-30 homers.

But how about defense? Wells has always been a good defensive outfielder, even winning a gold glove for three straight seasons ('04-'06). However, Wells' defensive prowess seems to have evaporated this season. According to my new favorite site Fangraphs, Wells' UZR (which measures the number of runs a fielder is in both range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined) is by far the worst in the majors at -21.3. Even worse is Wells' UZR/150 games, which is -31.9. The problem for Wells centers around range, which scores a pathetic -22.4, by far the worst among players who qualify. Those numbers place Wells as one of the worst, if not the worst, center fielder in baseball.

Teams should avoid Vernon Wells like the plague. I'm sure the Blue Jays will throw his name out there over and over attempting to rid themselves of his contract by linking him to Roy Halladay. But teams, should not, and cannot, take the bait. For all the benefit Halladay would bring to a roster this season, the potential risk/headache of taking on Vernon Wells and his contract is far too high and could potentially harm a franchise for years to come.