Vernon Wells has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out and become a free agent after this season.
There was never much chance of him using that to get out of a seven-year, $126 million deal, but those odds are firmly entrenched at 0.00 percent after a career-worst season that has seen the 32-year-old hit .219 with a ghastly .252 on-base percentage and .406 slugging percentage in 121 games.
Wells has three seasons and $63 million left on the deal and predictably told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register that he “wasn’t planning on using it.” Of course, he spun it in a slightly different way:
Why would you waive your no-trade clause [to accept a trade to the Angels] and then opt out one year later? I never really thought about using it. You do a contract and you ask for certain things. That happened to be one I asked for and got. To be honest with you, I think about it as often as I think about the money.
Maybe it’s just society, but people put too much on struggling. All of a sudden, everything is negative–you’re a bad guy; you’re unhappy. It’s a struggle, yeah. But that’s all it is. I’ve struggled before. Baseball is such a different game. You can be an All-Star one year, struggle the next year and become an All-Star again. It is what it is. This is a great place to live, a great place to play. I’ve got a lot of good years left and I look forward to having them there.
Wells could be playing for a last-place team in Antarctica and he’d still never opt out of a three-year, $63 million deal, so the stuff about loving California is a pretty iffy rationalization.
Wells is right that he’s capable of bouncing back from a terrible year, as he did so in 2008 and 2010, but the reason the Angels’ trade for him was so widely mocked at the time is that he could have had strong seasons from now until the end of the contract and still wouldn’t be worth the money or what they gave up to get him. The fact that he completely collapsed just changed the trade from bad to horrendous.
Or, you know, “maybe it’s just society.”
A Solar Eclipse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
In that great journey of the stars through space
About the mighty, all-directing Sun,
The pallid, faithful Moon, has been the one
Companion of the Earth. Her tender face,
Pale with the swift, keen purpose of that race,
Which at Time’s natal hour was first begun,
Shines ever on her lover as they run
And lights his orbit with her silvery smile.
Sometimes such passionate love doth in her rise,
Down from her beaten path she softly slips,
And with her mantle veils the Sun’s bold eyes,
Then in the gloaming finds her lover’s lips.
While far and near the men our world call wise
See only that the Sun is in eclipse.
Over the weekend the World Umpires Association — the umpire’s union — launched a protest in response to what it feels is Major League Baseball’s failure to adequately address the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue. They were specifically upset that Ian Kinsler didn’t get suspended for his remarks in which he said that Angel Hernandez should get out of the umpiring business because he’s terrible. Apparently to umpires truth is no defense. In any event, they wore white wristbands Saturday night as a sign of solidarity or whatever.
Now that’s over, it seems. At least for the time being. The Association released this statement yesterday afternoon:
“Today, WUA members agreed to the Commissioner’s proposal to meet with the Union’s Governing Board to discuss the concerns on which our white wristband protest is based. We appreciate the Commissioner’s willingness to engage seriously on verbal attacks and other important issues that must be addressed. To demonstrate our good faith, MLB Umpires will remove the protest white wristbands pending the requested meeting.”
As many noted over the weekend — most notably Emma Span of Sports Illustrated — this protest was, at best, tone deaf. While officials are, obviously, due proper respect, a player jawing at an umpire is neither unprecedented nor very serious compared to, well, almost anything that goes on in the game or in society. At a time when people are literally taking to the streets to protest white supremacy, Neo-Nazis and the KKK, asking folks to spare thoughts for some people who sometimes have to take guff over ball and strike calls is not exactly a cause that is going to draw a ton of sympathy. And that’s before you address the fact that the umpires are not innocent when it comes to stoking the animosity between themselves and the players.
I wouldn’t expect to hear too much more out of this other than, perhaps, a relatively non-committal statement from Major League Baseball and a relatively detail-free declaration of victory by the umpires after their meeting.