Wells to be missed, but not contract

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:21 AM ET

CHICAGO — Too bad the Blue Jays nixed Flashback Fridays.

With the rate they are throwing bodies overboard, they would have had a large cast to choose from.

The latest ex-Blue Jay is Vernon Wells, traded to the Los Angeles Angels for veteran catcher Mike Napoli and 32-year-old left fielder Juan Rivera.

Along with Wells’ three Gold Gloves and dry sense of humour, gone is the remaining $86-million US on his mega $126-million contract that runs through 2014. The latter won’t be missed as much as the former.

Open the front door and you can hear the cheering from all the seamheads and stats geeks who crunch numbers and came to the conclusion that he was grossly overpaid, that he wasn’t worth the money.

No need to rev up the computers as Wells would have told you the same thing.

“Everybody would say I’m not worth the money and I would totally agree that I’m not worth that contract,” Wells said last year.

What was he supposed to do when J.P. Ricciardi made the offer — refuse it?

So, Wells and his $23 million that he will be paid this season, and the $21 million that he is owed in each of the next three seasons, will be gone.

Also gone, and not in the same pay bracket, are last season’s No. 1 catcher John Buck, last season’s No. 1 first baseman, Lyle Overbay, last year’s No. 1 starter, Shaun Marcum, last year’s closer, Kevin Gregg and last year’s setup man, Scott Downs.

That’s a lengthy list of important positions that the Jays hope they have filled.

Getting back to the money, just because Wells and his $23 million are gone this season doesn’t mean that the Jays will rush out and spend that amount on other players.

When A.J. Burnett called it quits and moved on to the Yankees, the Jays didn’t rush out and spend that money. Instead, they shoved it in their pocket.

Last year’s team on opening day totalled salaries of $78,689,353. Two years earlier, in 2008, their payroll was almost $98 million. Who knows where it will land in 2011.

So is this team better with Wells gone?

We’d have to say ‘no’ until we can figure out who will play centre field. They have no sure fire candidate in the system ready to take over, but veterans Rajai Davis and Corey Patterson have been added in the off-season. Anthony Gose is the apple of general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ eye, but he’s viewed as a long-term project, another two to three years away.

Anthopoulos has, time and again, said that money isn’t an issue as far as Rogers Communications is concerned. His mantra is to get younger, get more athletic and acquire as many prospects and players with a high upside as he can.

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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