Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Is it time for Wells and Rios to trade places in the field?

It's almost as though Vernon Wells and his old running partner Shannon Stewart traded hammies at some point in their abbreviated reunion last year. Just a few wind sprints into Spring Training 2009, and already Vernon pulls up lame with a leg injury that is supposed to keep him out for four weeks. This morning, Wells spoke to the Twitter Twins - Blair and Bastian - who report via tweet that four weeks is the "max" and a "worst case scenario".

We think we may have heard that song and hobbling dance from Wells before. (How sad is it that we can vividly picture the facial expressions that Wells made when he pulled up?)

When and if Vernon Wells is healthy, he's still the Jays best offensive player by a fair margin. Last year, he produced at a 30 homer and 100 RsBI pace when he was in the lineup, although he spent the better part of two months on the shelf with a variety of ailments.

In Wells' time in the infirmary, Alex Rios acquitted himself very well as the Jays everyday centerfielder, showing the range, instincts, arm and speed necessary to play the position. We don't know nuthin' 'bout no defensive metrics in baseball - it all just looks like a jumble of numbers and acronyms to us, but from what we hear, Rios' performance in center was quantifiably better than Vernon's, in spite of the latter's Gold Glove bona fides.

So our question (as the title of this post vaguely suggests) is: Isn't it about time that Vernon and Lexi allemand left and allemand right and dos-si-do and trade spots in the outfield?

Obviously, playing center is a point of pride for a player, and Vernon would be unlikely to just cede the position without some amount of consternation. And if you recall, Wells pretty much had to pry the spot out of José Cruz Jr.'s talons when he first got to the major league level.

At the same time, the move to the right corner of the outfield would save Wells' gimpy legs a certain amount of strain and pounding over the run of the year, which may help him stay healthy and fresh, thus improving his offensive output.

We'd be surprised to see Cito upset the applecart to make such a move. Then again, looking into the future of the franchise, we don't see how Vernon can keep his spot up the middle for the duration of his contract unless he demonstrates that he can keep his legs in proper working order.

23 comments:

D. Ling said...

Vernon Wells is the worst contract in baseball. Sure his so-called 30HR-100RBI pace was present last year although the last season surge in production when the Jays were way out of the playoff picture exposed VW for being un-clutch.

I would argue all day for Rios being the Jays best offensive player. Hits for power and can steal bases.

In a sad statement, it would probably be safest if VW was the DH and they let the Great White Hope play in RF with Lind in left and Rios in CF.

Tao of Stieb said...

Clutch schmutch.

Joanna said...

yeah, clutch schmutch.

the other thing is that Rios is an oblivious gazelle. I can't remember Wells making a bad play due to a brain malfunction.

Anonymous said...

I heard he was running to get his cheque when it happened.

Lloyd the Barber said...

Clutch smutch, especially when Alex Rios is much much worse in high leverage situations.

I like my idea about moving Vernon to left, where he could provide excellent defense ala Johnny Damon. The GBPWH could play right cause he's got a cannon.

Anonymous said...

Vernon Wells is stealing money form the Rogers. It's so sad what he's doing. Some idiot on Drunk Jays Fans claimed that Wells will opt out!!WTF! NO one who never plays will opt out when they are guaranteed 23 mill a year and is always injured. Rios might as well play center becasue Wells will be mostly a DH from the looks of things.....

KingofKrock said...

Vman just needs a few weeks taking it easy and he will come back at 110%. I suggest he rest easy in the DR...since it is so close to FL and all.

Ian H. said...

I'm all for it, Tao. Rios has the speed to play CF, and the cannon-like arm to quickly get the ball back into the infield.

Tao of Stieb said...

@Hum and Chuck

Rios is definitely a "blissfully oblivious gazelle" sometimes.

We'd like to work that moniker into our posts a little more often, although we'd really like it if Rios doesn't give us reason to use it.

dave said...

B-b-b-ut he won a couple of Gold Gloves!!!

Colin said...

To start the year I'd leave Wells at CF but have him take a turn at DH every few days. I do think Wells has earned the chance to go into the season as the regular CF and then if they feel his defense is costing the team they could re-evaluate.

I also think that while Wells is the team's best offensive player today, by the end of the season I would not be surprised if it was generally accepted that Rios had supplanted him, he has all the potential to be a superstar if he could just put it together.

The Ack said...

With Wells set to start the season at DH (barring setbacks....), the question becomes, what's the bench makeup to open? Is this the nail in the coffin for Bautista? Come on, Cito's not seriously entertaining him in the OF, is he?

And wouldn't we all rather see Inglett making the club as Rolen's primary backup?

dave said...

Ack, Bastian talked to Cito today and Cito really wants Bautista in the lineup come opening day so he's going to play him at 3rd, 1st, CF and SHOTSTOP in these exhibition games.

Shortstop.

Like I get that he wants to give him at-bats but come on....

The Ack said...

I saw that after posting my comment, and on that - I have no comment.....wait, yes I do:

Jose Bautista in Center and at Short? WHAT? I feel bad for whoever's on the hill that day (and it won't be Doc, that's a guarantee....)

Colin said...

To be fair I can see them wanting to get Bautista out in CF in spring training if they're worried Wells won't be ready and they don't have a natural replacement to Rios. Personally I'd rather see Inglett, but I have no idea how to evaluate baseball talent, and Inglett might be starting in the minors anyways.

Anonymous said...

Free Joe Inglett!
(?)

Anonymous said...

If Inglett learned how to play SS that would resolve one issue

Sven said...

I really don't want to have the Jays SS "learning" in the Majors. That would be what A ball is for.

The Jays have some "interesting" players and I really hope Cito plays them the right time. But he's always struck me as a hunch type of Manager. Remember what he did did to Olerud at the end of his time here. At least we got Robert Person for him. Oh, wait...

Wiffleballs said...

I get the feeling that J Mac's days in a Jays uniform are numbered...

Anonymous said...

So send him down if he wants, it's better for him than sitting his ass on the bench



I really don't want to have the Jays SS "learning" in the Majors. That would be what A ball is for.

Anonymous said...

J Mac is a great defender but can't hit worth a damn! Maybe the Yankees need a defensive replacement for Jeter, the Jays can get back/ extort a pitching prospect from that dope, Cash Man.
Otherwise, he could get a bag of ball for him!

Bruno Van Rottweiller

eyebleaf said...

I hope Vernon has a monster fucking season. That is all. I'm tired of all the hating and negativity.

We're winning the mother fucking pennant.

SP said...

Was Vernon really that bad last season in CF? I also don't know WTF those defensive metrics mean, but he wasn't THAT bad. They had him among the worst in the league. I'm betting a lot of his points off came because of that jittery start he had to the season, notably against Boston in early May. He still gets great jumps and reads. We still rarely see him dive, and we he did that one time he gets injured.

I'm still not ready to shut the door on Vernon as a CF. Rios has a great arm and all but it's like he has Outfielder's Autism out there. I don't trust him.

As for Bautista. CF and SS? WTF, is he BJ Upton? Didn't Joe Inglett prove that he could play last season? He should be our primary guy off the bench. I don't know why JP didn't just sign Moises Alou or Garrett Anderson instead of Bautista.