Was Vernon Wells a sign-stealer?

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The Angels ignored the huge red flag in Vernon Wells’ home-road splits when they took on $81 million of $86 million he was still owed by the Blue Jays in a January trade.  It seems pretty safe to say they regret it now.

Still, without additional information, writing off Wells’ 2010 splits as a fluke probably was the right call.  Wells hit .321/.363/.628 at Rogers Centre last year, compared to .227/.301/.407 on the road.  It was just a one-year thing for him, though.

Wells’ home/road splits by OPS:

2006: 1.038 home, .762 road
2007: .700 home, .712 road
2008: .849 home, .830 road
2009: .633 home, .779 road
2010: .991 home, .708 road

Wells also had the huge home/road split in 2006, but from 2007-09, he was actually better on the road than he was at Rogers Centre.  While Wells was grossly overpaid regardless, one year of bad splits wasn’t enough to signal that a collapse was imminent.

So, presented on it’s own, 2010 looks like just another fluke.  But what if Wells’ strong season was almost entirely the result of him often knowing what pitches were coming in his home games?  His 2011 performance suggests it may have been the case.  Wells has hit just .210/.243/.379 this season, making him a big liability even before his huge $23 million salary gets taken into account.

And the Angels are on the hook another $63 million through 2014.  If this is the real Wells and if he can’t bounce back at age 33 next year, then that’s a ton of money the Angels have simply flushed down the drain.

Mike Leake loses perfect game bid on leadoff single in the ninth

Mike Leake
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Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.

It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.

The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.

In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.

Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.