Vernon Wells hasn’t played much since coming off the disabled list because a) he’s been really bad since the beginning of last season, and b) the Angels have Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Torii Hunter in the outfield.
In what limited playing time he has gotten Wells is 0-for-15 with five strikeouts and zero walks, but manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t seem to be buying into the whole “he needs to play regularly to be productive” talk, telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
You might not find a groove, but you have to have better at-bats. You might not get locked in, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to contribute. Vernon should be on some pitches and hit the ball hard even with limited playing time. … You have to be able to get it done. That’s the bottom line.
Scioscia is right, of course. Playing once or twice a week obviously isn’t ideal for any hitter, but Wells put himself in that position by performing horribly while getting everyday playing time last season and at the beginning of this season.
He’s hit .218 with a ghastly .249 on-base percentage and .405 slugging percentage in 685 plate appearances and 173 games for the Angels and the only reason they haven’t cut Wells already is that he’s being paid $21 million this season and is owed $21 million in 2013 and 2014.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Major League Baseball has banned all transactions with Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), popularly known as the Mexican League. As of now, all 30 teams are prohibited from signing players under contract with LMB teams. The ban was issued due to Major League Baseball’s contention that “corruption” and “fraud” run rampant in the player acquisition process.
Passan describes the issues in detail, and they sound pretty compelling. The upshot: LMB clubs — which have full control over their players — are taking advantage of them, taking most if not all of the signing bonuses MLB teams give them after negotiating for their rights. Mexican teams often sign players when they’re 15 years-old so that, once they are old enough for American teams to approach them, they’re in the position to take a usurious cut.
Passan says Major League Baseball is demanding greater transparency from LMB before it’s willing to lift the ban. He also says that the MLBPA is in “lockstep” with Major League Baseball on the matter, which makes sense given that, if MLB’s claims are accurate, players are being exploited here. He also says that if LMB does not change its ways, there is a “Plan B,” though it’s not clear what that is.
There aren’t a ton of Mexican players signed by MLB teams each year, but there are enough to make this a significant issue that is worth watching.