It’s never a rookie. The New York Yankees seem to always prize the old guy. It’s a wonder the team ever produced the likes of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano and Phil Hughes. The latest geriatric reclamation project for the Yankees is Vernon Wells.
The Bombers traded with the Angels for the underperforming slugger on Sunday. They’re reportedly going to pay $13 million over the next two years for the 34-year-old outfielder. Wells is owed a total of $42 million, so Anaheim will be eating the bulk of his contract. As far as I’m concerned, anything more than a bag of balls is too much.
Vernon Wells has a total WAR of -0.3 over his two years in Anaheim. In that same time frame, his on-base percentage was in the .260 range, and his batting average was about .220. It’s not like young guys such as Melky Mesa or Slade Heathcott can’t produce those numbers and at a fraction of the cost.
The Yankees plan is plug Vernon Wells into left field until Curtis Granderson returns from the DL some time in May. After that … well, you can never have too many struggling bats at your disposal taking up a bench spot.
If you think Yankees fans are on board with this move, guess again. Fans I’ve interacted with personally or on the message boards and Twitter are tired of the team leaving their prospects in the minor leagues to rot. The overwhelming sentiment: I’d rather watch a kid struggle than a veteran’s career circle the drain.
Yes, even Yankees fans can wait if there’s truly a plan in place to rebuild over the next couple of years. If that plan is about staying under $189 million to avoid the luxury tax and get a do-over so GM Brian Cashman can spend like a drunken sailor after the 2014 season, the vast majority can handle it. Pundits like to throw around gross generalizations about the New York fanbase such as “The expectations from their fans infect how they run a ballclub.” Sorry “Yahoo! Expert” Jeff Passan, this one is all on management.
The thing about prospects that fans enjoy (Yankees fans included) is that they are our own. Time and money have been invested in their development by the organization we root for and love. We get to follow them in the minor leagues and monitor their promise and progress. It’s exciting for us to see them get a chance in the big leagues. Certainly more exciting than watching another rent-a-wreck lumber to the plate and hit for warning track power.
It’s time to let the kids play. The Yankees have to deal with enough of their own bad contracts. Let’s leave the Vernon Wells of the baseball world to clog up roster spots on the competition’s bench.