Vernon Wells Resurgence

The rejuvenation of Vernon Wells this season has been a thing of beauty and it couldn’t be happening to a better guy.

In December of 2006 Vernon Wells signed one of the most lucrative contracts in major league history worth $126 million over 7 years. Since then Wells has struggled duplicating the success that warranted that massive contract. The poor play culminated last year with the worst power numbers of his career. Wells only 15 home runs while driving in a mere 66 runs, and hitting a mediocre .260. Vernon Wells’ trademark short and sweet stroke had become long and slow. He had been cast off by media and fans who continually speculated ways to get rid of him, which was all but impossible because no one was willing to take on his hefty contract. It truly seemed like there was no hope that “V-dud” could rebound from another average season.

Fast-forward to June 2010. Vernon Wells is once again smacking the ball the way he was when Toronto Blue Jay fans initially fell in love with the fun-loving center fielder. V-dub already has 13 home runs, 37 RBI’s, and is batting a cool .306.

If only fans had known in 2009 what we now know in 2010. Wells’ left wrist, the one that was fractured in 2008 never completely healed. The torn cartilage in his wrist forced his swing to be slow and took the pop out of his bat. Wells looked more like a fool than he ever had in his career. He was swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone and coming up lame in clutch situations batting .205 with runners in scoring position. However, Wells’ didn’t complain at all causing a huge up roar in Blue Jay land. During the off-season Wells did have wrist surgery, which seems to be a big part of his success in 2010.

As I said at the beginning, Vernon Wells’ comeback couldn’t be happening to a nicer guy. Now I haven’t personally met Vernon Wells but from what I’ve seen on TV and his attitude throughout this entire ordeal, there is no doubt in my mind the he is a great guy. Wells is not going to be the player that makes excuses for his play, and is not the teammate that is going to throw you under the bus. That’s just not his style. He is the one that is putting a shaving cream pie in the face of a teammate. Wells obviously not shy from the media spotlight has also had some great segments with Cabral Richards, better known as Cabbie. His bits with Cabbie bring out his true colours. They show what an entertaining guy he can be and that he is a genuinely decent person. Vernon Wells is a player that I want to root for.

With that being said, can Vernon Wells keep hitting at the same rate that he is hitting this season? As long as he stays healthy I see no reason why he shouldn’t keep hitting the way he is. Right now he is on pace to hit 39 home runs and knock in 111 RBI’s. It’s not like he hasn’t been in this position before in his career. He has hit for over 100 RBI’s three times before and on two of those occasions has had over 30 home runs. But it’s not just the numbers that are a tell-tale sign this year. It’s also the way he is hitting the ball. Anytime pitchers are coming inside on him, it always seems like it’s not quite inside enough. Vernon Wells is mashing the ball, especially the inside pitches. There have been so many times this year when Wells has been robbed of hits just because he has hit the ball right at someone. I’m sure this probably happens to most of the good hitters in the league and these things usually even out over the course of 162 games as long as a player keeps hitting the ball in a similar manner. The fact that I watch Vernon Wells on a day-to-day basis makes it seem a little unfair. He could easily have an average 15-20 points higher than it is right now if some of those balls that he ripped had gone somewhere else.

On the other hand, one major flaw in  Wells as a hitter gives can give you a bit of a queasy feeling. Vernon Wells cannot hit the ball to the opposite field. As this season has gone in it is apparent that fewer and fewer pitchers are purposely trying to come inside and sneak one by Vernon Wells. The game plan is to be keep the ball on the outside part of the plate, and throw the curve/slider low and outside and make him chase it. Then, like a typical developing teenage power hitter, Wells’ tends to try to pull the outside pitch and ends up hitting a routine ground ball to the left side of the infield. Wells’ looks as though he has never been taught to hit the ball the other way. The problem pitchers have is when they get behind in the count and are forced to throw the ball in the strike zone, they make a mistake, or they are just plain stupid.  The good thing for Wells is that these instances happen often enough, and because he is hitting so well he is able to take advantage of these opportunities.

Oh yeah, despite what people seem to be saying about his defence, Wells keeps on making good play after good play in center field. Once again showing why he is a 3 time consecutive gold glover.

No matter what happens with Wells’ play in the future, him and the Toronto Blue Jays are going to be together in the years to come. Since he signed the big 7 year, $126 million contract, everyone knew that Wells would have a tough time proving that he would be worth the money. So far it is evident that he has not been worth it. Through the first third of the 2010 season Wells has done his best to win over Blue Jays fans. For the most part he has succeeded. As for the contract, I don’t think Vernon Wells will ever be able to show to Toronto Blue Jays fans as well as the rest of Major League Baseball, that at the end of the day, he is indeed worth the money.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

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Are the Jays for real?

The 2010 version of the Toronto Blue Jays have been a wonderful surprise this year to Canadian baseball fans. 2010 was supposed to be the rebuilding year for the Jays, but this rebuilding year turned into a winning year…at least so far. After trading Roy Halladay everyone seemed to have given up on the Jays except the Jays themselves. They came out and played with no expectations, no pressure, which seems to be the recipe for success for these Jays. With the resurgence of Vernon Wells, the unexpected offensive outburst from John Buck, Jose Bautista, and Alex Gonzalez has combined to give the Blue Jays the league lead in home runs. However, the Blue Jays starting pitching has also been a very nice surprise as Ricky Romero looks like a future #1 starter as well as quality pitching from the other 4 including Shaun Marcum who came off shoulder surgery this past off season. Although the bullpen has been very questionable, Kevin Gregg has proven that he can be the closer with an AL leading 12 saves. This all begs the question, are the 2010 Toronto Blue Jays for real?

As a fan of the Blue Jays I would love to say that they are in prime position to challenge for playoff spot and actually playing some meaningful September ball for once…but I can’t. The Blue Jays up to this point have well over-achieved. Despite hitting the most home runs in the major leagues, the batting averages of almost all the Jays players across the board are atrocious. With the exception of Vernon Wells no regular is batting over .300 and only 2 players are batting above .250. You cannot rely on the long ball for an entire 162 games, and unless those averages somehow miraculously sky rocket I can’t see the Jays providing the same offense that they have been.

The Blue Jays shaky bullpen is another reason why they aren’t for real. The only supposed bright spot before the season started has actually been its Achilles heel so far. Their “big” three has been consistently inconsistent.  Jason Frasor has lost velocity on his fastball (although has gained some back at this point), Scott Downs does not seem to exhibit the same control that he has in the past, and Kevin Gregg WILL fall back down to earth and I’m not just saying that after a garbage blown save against the lowly mariners today.

It is possible though that the starting pitching remains its solid self as the season wears on, especially with the possible returns of Mark Rzepczynski and Jesse Litsch. As I mentioned earlier Ricky Romero looks in prime position to become one of the Major League’s finest after another great performance today. Shaun Marcum has been his consistent self. Brandon Morrow is getting better by the day and Brett Cecil has shown some flashes of brilliance in his stint with the big club.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to watch some meaningful ball in the dog days of summer for the Jays, and I’m sad to say that yet again I will be unable to see the Jays challenge for a playoff spot.

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