Vernon Wells Not Off To Auspicious Start In LA

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim,  California - zip-code 92806* - traded Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera to the Blue Jays this past off-season in return for Vernon Wells. For this there was much derision, largely because Wells was still due $86 M from 2011 to 2014. The Jays were nice enough to throw a little cash into the deal, but it was a rounding error on the negative value the Angels were picking up.

* I don't think I'll ever tire of these jokes, though they are admittedly quite stupid.

Now, Wells did have a solid season for the Jays in 2010 - hitting .273/.331/.515 in his 4 fWAR campaign - so maybe LA thought he'd continue producing at a similar level. That doesn't sound very realistic, but it would at least come close to justifying his contract. What are the early returns?

Not so good, at least if you're an Angels fan. Of all qualified batters in 2011 (going into yesterday's games, anyway), Wells has been the absolute worst hitter. Worse than either guy he was traded for. He's batting just .091/.149/.114. That's a .129 wOBA, which has allowed him to accumulate a whopping -0.6 fWAR in only 10 games. Not exactly worth $23 M. In fact, if you're using $5 M per win as the going rate, Wells is pretty close to wiping out the money the Jays sent over.

Wells is obviously unlikely to keep up this pace for the entire season. His .125 BABIP will come up; he'll walk more than 4.3% of the time (6.8% career); the strike-outs will come down from a 27.3% rate (even if not all the way to his career 14%); and a ball will leave the park in fair territory sooner or later (though 31 home runs again is very doubtful, given how less friendly his new home park is than his old one in that regard).

I'm not trying to pile on Wells here (well, maybe a little). Two weeks of games don't mean a ton, but they certainly haven't helped LA with defending a move that was criticized at the time it was made.

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