The Return Of The Old Guy Outfield Platoon

Ichiro vs MIN

The Yankees won for the first time in almost a week last night.  And they did it with one of their most recently productive bats on the bench to start the game.  With a left-handed starter on the mound, Joe elected to sit Ichiro Suzuki, probably for rest more than anything, and start Vernon Wells in right field.  With Zoilo Almonte looking good in his Major League debut and solidifying his role as the starting left fielder, right field turned back into the L/R platoon the Yankees always envisioned it, for one night at least.  With the way things worked out last night, Joe might want to consider going to that well more often.

Not even joking, I think last night might have been the first game all season in which both Wells and Ichiro had good games.  Wells, still batting cleanup even though the stats and spray charts say no way, had 2 singles in 3 plate appearances against Scott Diamond before giving way to Ichiro in the 8th.  … Click here to read the rest

Kuroda, Cano and Wells combine to beat Royals 4-2

Hiroki KurodaThe Yankees swept the Royals today, winning 4-2 on Mother’s Day. The real star of the game was Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda didn’t strike a lot of batters out, fanning just one, but he only walked one as well, limiting the Royals to six hits over 7.2 innings. With that kind of control, you don’t need a lot of strike outs. Kuroda was efficient as well, throwing just 98 pitches. He got into some trouble in the eighth inning, and even got into a verbal spat with the home plate umpire, but none of that was enough to undo a solid performance.

The Yankees got their runs off the long ball, remember that thing the Yankees weren’t supposed to have this season. The Bombers were down one to nothing in the third inning when Robinson Cano put a ball into orbit, sending it 406 feet to right center. Chris Stewart was on at the time. The shot gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead.… Click here to read the rest

Vernon <3

People have different reasons for blogging, tweeting, discussing, or just watching baseball. The game’s numerous facets allows most people to find some aspect to enjoy in their own comprehension. From the players, to the numbers, to the narratives, to going to a game and enjoy a beer, or watching it with friends on your couch at home, it’s easy for even the most antagonistic of minds to find a commonality.

I know where I stand when it comes to baseball, and most regular readers are aware that I’m objective. I come from a scientific background, international law to be more specific, where it’s important to keep an analytic frame of mind despite your own prejudgments. Though my reasons for watching baseball have changed, I have been a Yankee fan my entire life. But the romantic side of baseball has largely disappeared, especially in my blogging, and I can’t even remember the last time I wrote something subjective. It’s hard for me to imagine having a favorite player nowadays.… Click here to read the rest

Wells Making Good Contact To All Parts Of The Field

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The last time I talked about Vernon Wells, I was optimistic about some of the changes he made to his swing. Considering the money the Yankees dished out for the left fielder, I’ll assume the organization felt the same way. Over the last few years, Wells has fallen from one of the top outfielders to someone close to negative value. His walk and contact rates decreased and his swings outside of the zone and strike outs increased.

When talking to the media this Spring, he said that he’d fallen into a bad habit of trying to hit home runs, and after looking at video from last decade, decided to change his swing so that he could go to all fields. This was somewhat surprising, considering Wells hasn’t gone to opposite field in a very long time. Over his career he has a 21 wRC+ to right field, and when you total it up, only 22% of his batted balls have gone in that direction.… Click here to read the rest

Wells Talks About His New Swing

Vernon Wells made his Yankee debut yesterday, and had a chance to speak with the media about his move to New York and expectations. It’s obviously been a tough couple of years for the outfielder, but we learned that he’s looking for a new start with the team he secretly rooted for over his Major League career. Looking at his last two seasons with Angels doesn’t inspire the type of enthusiasm he’s portraying, but there are reasons to believe that he’ll be productive in 2013. The biggest thread of hope is a change of approach at the plate. Chad Jennings has the quote.

“Coming into spring training and throughout the offseason, my goal was just to get back to the basics and just put the barrel on the ball as many times as I can,” Wells said. “Shorten my swing and use the other field. I forgot what right field was like for a couple of years. You get caught up in hitting home runs and seeing how far you can hit them, and your swing changes.

Click here to read the rest

Analyzing Wells’ Recent Years And Why The Trade Is Not So Bad

Throughout his career, Vernon Wells has been a beacon of inconsistency. In 2004 and 2005, Wells was barely an above average offensive player, but in 2006, Wells managed to put up a 128 wRC+, 32 home runs, and stole 17 bases. He earned a 7 year $126 million deal because of his production in a contract year. The extremely volatile hitter has since produced ISO’s and OBP’s that have at times fluctuated around .100 points between seasons. In the end, he’s produced a 104 wRC+ over his career, barely average.

At the age of 34, it’s hard to see what the Yankees liked when they decided to pick up $14 million of his contract yesterday. In his two years with the Angels, Wells hit just .222/.258/.409 in 791 plate appearances. Since 2006, his LD% has dropped from 18.3%, to 16.8%(2007), 17.3%(2008), 14.8%(2009), 15.9%(2010), 12.3%(2011), 15.7%(2012). That low line drive rate is accompanied by a declining average on those hits. In his career, he’s hit .723 on line drives, but in 2010 he hit just .691, in 2011 .635, and in 2012 .656.… Click here to read the rest

On Matters of the Outfield

This past weekend, two slightly odd things about the Yankees and their outfield situation were reported. After they inked Ichiro Suzuki to a two year deal (something I’m not entirely a fan of, but that’s really neither here nor there), we learned that the Yankees had talked to the Angels about a trade involving Vernon Wells. I won’t bore you with details about his fall from ‘grace’; you all know how bad he’s been since signing that big contract with the Jays years ago. But despite Wells’ general horridness, I think it’s worth taking a look at whether using him in a certain role (assuming, of course, that the Angels ate the vast, vast majority of that albatross of albatrosses of a contract). That role would be the role held by Andruw Jones in 2011 and 2012. After all, Wells is a righty hitter and should be able to handle a platoon, right? Let’s take a look…

As recently as 2011, Wells had an outstanding 134 wRC+ against lefty pitchers.… Click here to read the rest

Players to Watch: A.L. West

We’re almost done with this series, which means baseball is coming back to us soon.

NL West
NL Central
NL East

2010 ended the Anywhere Angels’ three year reign of terror on the AL West and saw the Texas Rangers ride a division title to a World Series berth, the first in franchise history. Each year, though, this division seemed–and still does–wide open. This year, it seems about the same. I don’t think the Rangers will be awful or anything, but I think they’ll take a small step back. If I had to pick it today, I’d give the division to the Oakland A’s. I like their pitching and the improved OF featuring David DeJesus and Josh Willingham. Plus, it’ll be fun to root for Hideki again; man I hated seeing him on the Angels.

Texas Rangers: Neftali Feliz. Your reigning AL champions lost Cliff Lee, but it seems that we’re going to see Neftali Feliz jump into the rotation.… Click here to read the rest

Jays jettison Yankee Killer Vernon Wells while Tampa Bay goes all 2004 Red Sox and signs both Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon

I step away from the Internet for two hours only to come back and find that two of the Yankees’ AL East rivals have made a handful of notable moves.

First up, the Toronto Blue Jays apparently traded Vernon Wells to the Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera. I’m having a hard time figuring this deal out from the Angels’ perspective — the Jays are undoubtedly thrilled to be free of Wells’ contract, and they’re getting not one but two pretty serviceable players in return. Wells started last season out on fire before cooling off some and finishing with a .362 wOBA — his highest mark since 2006. Bill James has Wells falling to a .345 wOBA in 2011 (as do the Fans). Despite occasionally showing flashes of brilliance, Wells has had a fairly disappointing MLB career, with a .346 wOBA and 108 OPS+ — basically slightly above above-average.

Napoli’s one of the better-hitting catchers in the league, although his .340 wOBA was the lowest of his five-year career and has been trending downward the last three seasons.… Click here to read the rest