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If you didn’t think the Angels were crazy enough

Feb 2, 2011, 11:37 AM EDT

mlb_beltran_412

The Angels trading for Vernon Wells and his contract was a serious case of Bad Ideas Jeans.  But even worse is that they turned down something way better. Joel Sherman at the Post reports:

The way I hear it the Mets and Angels did actually discuss Beltran. But the Angels ultimately saw Wells as the better choice despite the much larger financial investment. The Angels liked that there were no doubts about Wells’ health as compared to Beltran, whose knees are a serious wonder. And despite the sense that Wells’ defensive game has regressed some, the Angels believed that he was definitely capable of playing center field. They did not believe that about Beltran.

(1) The Angels have a potential gold glove center fielder already and if he doesn’t hit enough to stick, they still have Torii Hunter who can pass in center, I’m sure;

(2) If Carlos Beltran doesn’t out-produce Vernon Wells this year I’ll eat my hat.  There. I said it.

I don’t think the Angels understand that players are not just players. They are contracts and assets too, and unless the budget is unlimited — and the Angels are limited — a bad contract like Wells’ hurts the team.

  1. Travis Reitsma - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    And the idea that Wells is not an injury concern is ignorant. Last year was his first fully healthy years since about 2006.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:58 AM

      He’s been wayyyyyyyy more healthy over the years than Beltran. Wayyyyyyyyy more.

      • Travis Reitsma - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:00 PM

        This is true, but $86-million vs. $18.5-million. I think I’d take the risk if I absolutely had to have one of them.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:13 PM

        Beltran’s had 20% fewer PAs over the last four years. I wouldn’t call that wayyyyyyyy. Maybe a couple fewer Ys. : )

        And more importantly, despite less playing time, Beltran’s accumulated more than twice as much WAR.

        Of course, if the Angels think Wells is a better defender, then perhaps that changes things.

        Then again, if the Angels think Wells is a better defender, that’s just one more way they disagree with the scouting reports, the numbers, and the naked eye.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:58 PM

        Wells has been Healthy imo. He’s had two seasons under 149 games played which were 108 and 134, still not too bad. Beltran has had 5 seasons under 100 games played, some much much lower, as in the 60’s. Plus Wells was better last season. I don’t know, it’s not my job to do any choosing ,I’m just pointing out it isn’t an easy pick either way. Beltran was a better ball player over his career, but I think Wells is just holding up much better.
        Ari, defense isn’t even close between the two guys, but when a guy is on the DL, they can’t do anything but suck up money. I’m thinking the A’s gambled that Beltran would be DL’d quite quickly. Not to mention Wells is still nailing home runs well, Beltran seems to have lost his power. I think people still look at Beltran as if it’s 2008. It’s 2011 and he’s not even close to what he was in 08′. And WAR is a crock when it’s still in the positive for a guy that’s missed 100 games in a season, wouldn’t you say? How is his worth above replacement level when he was replaced for the majority of the season? 2010, his WAR is listed as 1.8, he played 64 games, and had a .255 BA. That’s crap. and his WAR is as well. Just to compare. Wells had 1.5 War in 2009 played 158 games and batted .260. So you can’t compare War with guys who play a full season with guys who don’t.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM

        You’re using BA? Really? When Wells hit .260 he OBP’d .311 and SLG’d .400. When Beltran hit .255 he OBP’d .341 and SLG’d .427. That’s a HUGE difference.

        You also don’t understand WAR. Which is fine, you don’t have to study every stat, or any stat if you don’t want to, but you really should read up on it before you trash it. OF COURSE someone can produce value on the field in limited time. If you’re a below average player, as Wells was each year between his two recent good years (’06 and ’10), then it’s valuable to have you on the field, because you don’t have to use 4th OFs to fill in, but when you produce at a 4th OF level (as Wells has often in his career), you’re not really adding anything. Whereas if you produce at a star level for half a season, then get replaced with fill-ins the rest, you’re adding a ton of value.

        For example, in ’09, Wells hit .260/.311/.400 and cost his team 17 runs in CF, over the course of 158 games. That same year, Beltran hit .325/.415/.500 and cost his team 3 runs in CF over the course of 81 games. Wells was at exactly replacement level, which makes sense; you can easily find someone to give you a full year of poor hitting and very poor CF defense. Beltran, meanwhile, was a star over the course of that half-season, so 3.1 WAR makes perfect sense as well.

        There aren’t a lot of people who study baseball value who would agree that Wells would be worth more next year than Beltran + fill-ins. Assuming Beltran misses more time than Wells, which is a fairly safe assumption, but, while you can make arbitrary PA cutoffs where you want to, Beltran’s only had 20% fewer PAs the last few years, and that number dwindles significantly as you go farther back.

        Of course, the Angels agree with you that they’d rather have Wells, even despite the extra money this year and TONS extra money in following years. Who knows, maybe they’ll even be proven right. But you have to really bend the numbers and discount the scouting reports to reach the point where you’d bet on it.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2011 at 5:48 PM

        I do understand War. I just don’t understand using that to measure the worth of a player who missed a huge chunk of playing time. It doesn’t factor that in, and you never know how bad or good a replacement is. They are paying a guy to sit on the DL, he’s worthless at that point. I totally agree Beltran is better. But he’s a much larger liability. But so is Wells contract. It’s splitting Hairs. And if Beltran ends up like he did last season, I’d say Wells is probably going to be better than Beltran + replacements. He was better than him last season anyway. I think, honestly… Wells will be better in 11 than Beltran. I think Beltran is nearing his end quickly. I also can agree with you on quite a few points. I just don’t see Beltran as the clean decision, obviously the Angels didn’t either. If it were my team I would have went with Carlos as it’s a single season gamble, not a 4 season gamble. I mentioned that somewhere…. Oh below.. kinda.

      • paperlions - Feb 2, 2011 at 7:20 PM

        If you think someone should have negative WAR because of playing time, then you don’t understand WAR.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2011 at 8:27 PM

        PL, I never said that. I do think a guy with a constant + WAR that plays all season is worth more than a guy with a better WAR that will only bang out 80 games though. Beltran has put in less than 1 seasons worth of PA’s in the last two seasons. Wells played all last season and scored a 4.4 WAR. Pretty darned good. I’m just saying, I can see why the Angels did what they did, even if I would have chickened out and went with the guy who’s owed 1 year on his contract.

  2. Jonny 5 - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    I guess one season of bad contract is better than four…. But Wells the player I feel will definately play more games in 2011, for less money. So if there is a plan to re-trade Wells, then I see the logic, kinda. If he’s actually tradeable after this season anyway. And i also don’t expect Beltran to be himself either so I’d get to marinating that hat Craig. Maybe in some bbq sauce and beer…. Just in case.

    • Travis Reitsma - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:05 PM

      But Wells is making more money, even this season, than Beltran

    • Bill Petti - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM

      Don’t see how they re-trade Wells. It was a miracle the Jays found one sucker for that contract–can’t imagine there’s another one out there.

      As for defense, it’s reasonable to be worried if Beltran can play, but he’s always been a superior CFer. Wells has had negative defense WAR basically his entire career. So, yes, he can run around out there but that doesn’t mean he’s going to be any good. Even coming off his injury Beltran was a better defensive player last year according to dWAR.

      If their decision turned on the defensive question it’s worse than I thought.

  3. apbaguy - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:06 PM

    That’s an ugly contract combination, Wells and Beltran. I’m surprised they didn’t throw Soriano in the mix just to have the trifecta of bad outfield contracts.

    • clydeserra - Feb 2, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      They have one more year to pay Gary Mathews Jr.

    • hep3 - Feb 2, 2011 at 3:51 PM

      Speaking of ugly outfields; How about the Chicago White Sox “All Ned Coletti” outfield late last year:

      LF Manny Ramirez
      CF Juan Pierre
      RF Andruw Jones

      All being paid by those great philanthropists: Mr. Frank McCourt and his now former spouse, Jamie.

      Talk about a bunch of people that deserved to be linked.

  4. spudchukar - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:15 PM

    Vernon Wells never has been, nor will ever be able to hold Carlos Beltran’s jock strap in center.

  5. BC - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    For GOD’S SAKE why didn’t the Mets unload Beltran???!?! I’d have given him away and thrown $10mil into the deal! The guy can’t stay healthy and is next-to-finished.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:46 PM

    How many CFs do they need out there in Anaheim? They already have Hunter and Burgious (sp?). All they needed was someone who could handle LF, and Beltran should certainly be able to do that. Frankly Juan Rivera could probably be about average out there, so I am still trying to figure out why the Angels saw the small upgrade in LF + downgrade at C/DH worth taking on that monster contract.

    They better hope Kendry and Kendrick have MONSTER years!!

  7. proudlycanadian - Feb 2, 2011 at 2:29 PM

    Do you need any recipes to help make the hat more edible?

  8. JBerardi - Feb 2, 2011 at 3:57 PM

    What is it with Mets fans and hating their best players?

  9. dondbaseball - Feb 2, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    I am not sure why no one mentioned this but Beltran is represented by Scott Boras and as we know Arte hates Boras so I am sure he wanted no part of Beltran despite the fact Beltran is the better player and has significantly higher upside potential for 2011.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      Excellent point.

    • proudlycanadian - Feb 2, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Beltran has a lot more downside potential than Wells. He seems to have too much trouble staying healthy. Over the last 2 seasons he has played in only 145 games and has had only 528 at bats.

  10. Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 6:56 PM

    Fun fact: Even WITH the missed time, Beltran has more of most traditional counting stats over the last five years. HRs, 2Bs, SBs, Rs, etc.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      And that span includes Well’s best seasons. The only standout year he had that it doesn’t include was ’03.

  11. cur68 - Feb 2, 2011 at 9:06 PM

    Eat your hat? Really? Dude…you could be in trouble here. Wells faced way tougher opposition than did Beltran. Factor the stats against who they were achieved against. Wells played a against a lot more teams that were above 500. Now he’s in a weaker division. No more having to out compete the hated Yankers, Sox, or Rays. He’ll be an asset for the Angels providing he doesn’t hurt himself again (I spent five years screaming “WTF you do to yourself NOW, Vernon?!” at my TV a lot). I don’t know who’ll be better than whom this season (AL still tougher than NL; at least as far as teams over 500 goes) but I think it’s a bit bold (and/or foolish) to be risking your digestion of head wear picking between these 2 guys. You might wanna take to wearing a meat hat for this season. Just in case. Jerky maybe? Anyone feel like offering some sartorial advice here? Maybe a hat sauce recipe?

    • Ari Collins - Feb 2, 2011 at 9:19 PM

      Home Park > League Difference > Divisional Difference

      Wells is moving from an extreme hitter’s park. That will make more of a difference than the fact that he’ll be facing OAK, TEX, and SEA pitching a bit more often and BOS, NYY, BAL, and TB pitching a little less often. In my opinion.

      I still wouldn’t offer to eat my hat. Unless it was a Cadbury Creme Hat. Or a Shepherd’s Pie Hat, but those tend to run.

      • cur68 - Feb 2, 2011 at 9:42 PM

        Chocolate hat? Nah. That’s not a deterrent for foolish predictions. Hat’s gotta be a bit of a punishment, not a reward, right? Maybe liver; something that won’t kill the dude but make him more wary of risking consuming his head gear, right? As for your expressed opinion Mr. Collins; I humbly, mildly, disagree, begging your pardon. I think we are splitting hairs in any case. Too close to call. What amazes me about this article is the foolish risk Mr. Calcaterra is taking with his digestion. Really dude? Eat your hat? Really? I think you are letting your emotions get in they way of sound and sober judgement Mr. Calcaterra and you can be sure there will be a small army of people tracking the upcoming season comparing Carlos Vs. Vernon. Hedge your bets sir, or prepare to be called a number of unkind things at the end of this season. Jerky or liver, not chocolate or you will never learn.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 3, 2011 at 12:36 AM

        Haha, well said!

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 3, 2011 at 8:33 AM

        LOL!!!! I’m with you CUR68… I’d say Craig has a 50% chance of eating his hat at this point. It should be a very interesting HBT daily spot where he does indeed eat his hat. If he’s wrong.

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