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Boneheaded Sportswriter Award - January, 2011
AP Account of the Vernon Wells Trade

by Asher B. Chancey,
January 21, 2010

Read the full article at

"The Los Angeles Angels acquired All-Star center fielder Vernon Wells from Toronto on Friday night, giving them the big bat they wanted to add this winter.
The Blue Jays shipped their high-priced fixture to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera in one of baseball's biggest trades this offseason."

No it did not, in fact, give them "the big bat they wanted to add this winter."  That would have been Carl Crawford.  Or Adrian Beltre.  Or Jayson Werth.

"Neither general manager, Tony Reagins of the Angels nor Alex Anthopoulos of the Blue Jays, would specifically say whether any money was included in the trade to offset Wells' salary. Instead, both GMs danced around the question, simply saying it was announced as a 2-for-1 swap."

Right, because Angels fans have been on the cliff since the Gary Matthews deal, and the Angels can't possibly admit to having taken another huge deal for a guy who over-achieved for one year.

"The financial implications were certainly a large component," Anthopoulos said. "There's no question going forward this will give us flexibility."

Speaking later off the record, Anthopoulos was overheard saying, Wowzers, I never thought anybody would be so foolish as to take that contract off our hands.  And they gave us two quality players to boot.  We would have just given them Wells and his contract for free.

"He made his major league debut with Toronto in 1999 and quickly became one of baseball's most promising players."

Dear Angels fans:  Congratulations on acquiring a guy who was one of baseball's most promising players.  Ten years ago.

"He is a tremendous person and the type of player that will impact our club immediately, both on offense and defense."

He is a tremendous person is now officially the she's got a great personality of professional sports.

"Nagged by injuries, Wells dipped in 2009 before a bounce-back season."

A sneaky non-sequitor.  Wells dip in 2009 had nothing to do with injuries, and his injuries had nothing to do with his dip.  In 2007, he played 149 games and hit 16 home runs with a .245 average.  In 2008, he played 108 games but hit .300 with 20 home runs.  Then, in 2009, he 158 games but hit .270 with a .711 OPS.  So, a better sentence would have been "Nagged by inconsistency, Wells has dipped repeatedly throughout his career.  In an unrelated note, he was injured for part of 2008."

"A three-time Gold Glove winner, he's looking forward to playing on real grass."

Yes, because if there is anything real grass does, it is increase the range of outfielders used to playing on turf.

"Whether he stays in center remains to be seen. The Angels moved perennial Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter to right last season to make room for speedy Peter Bourjos."

This will be the real tragedy, and the real "this is no longer a well run organization" symbol: if Vernon Wells displaces Peter Bourjos.  Bourjos didn't hit for crap in his callup last season, but he appears to be a transcendent defensive player, and if the Angels are going to go with an aging Wells over a player in Bourjos who makes centerfield very small, Wells will in fact have had an impact on the Angels defensively.

"Whichever way they line up, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he could have the best defensive outfield since the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s."

Come on, Mike Scioscia.  We all think you're a genius.  Don't ruin it.  This defensive outfield wouldn't be better than the 2005 Chicago White Sox - or even the Crawford-Upton-Whomever defensive outfield of the recent Tampa Bay Rays for that matter - and wouldn't approach the Cardinals of the 1980's.

"The trade also could give Toronto room to offer a long-term contract to major league home run champion Jose Bautista. He's also in arbitration and asked for $10.5 million, with the Blue Jays offering $7.6 million."

Translation:  The Blue Jays are hopeful that this move will give them the flexibility to continue in their franchise philosophy of rewarding over-achieving players for their one year of outstanding performance with a franchise-killing contract before that player has a chance to prove their one year was a fluke, because that worked so well with Wells and Alexis Rios.

Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at

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