Vernon Wells Sends Me Mixed Signals

So I was perusing through Wal-Mart on my lunch this afternoon and did a double take as I passed the sporting goods section. There was Vernon Wells in all his glory wearing a Toronto Blue Jays cap, but wearing a blank red jersey.

I’m not sure how long these displays have been in stores, but could they have possibly foreshadowed Vernon’s trade to Los Angeles?

Overall, it’s a very strange look and plays with the mind because at first glance he looks like he’s playing for the Angels, but then you see that he’s adorning the Blue Jays batting practice cap.


I’ll be honest, it’s still a little weird to see Vernon Wells in a uniform other than the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent the first 12 seasons of his major league career in Toronto, and now he’s off in sunny California.

Jeff Blair talked about Vernon Wells at length on his show earlier this morning, and even talked to Vernon himself about the impending awkwardness of facing his old team tonight.

Blair talked to Adam Lind at the onset of Spring Training about not having Vernon at camp for the first time, and aside from the initial shock it sounds like it’s been business as usual without Vernon Wells.

I can echo Lind’s sentiments because from my own perspective, it’s as though the Blue Jays haven’t missed a single beat without Vernon in the lineup, outfield and even the clubhouse.

Perhaps the most telling gesture of all was the immediacy in which Edwin Encarnacion took over Vernon’s old number 10. I guess the Blue Jays must not have thought that highly of Vernon if they were that quick to give his number to somebody else.

I know this sounds like I’ve been drinking the Vernon Wells Hatorade again, but I assure you it’s just that I, like many fans have come to realize that Vernon was not the player we thought he was.

More precisely, he just wasn’t the player he was paid to be.

I’ll be liveblogging tonight’s Blue Jays/Angels game over at The Score. 
We’ll get underway at 10:00pm EST.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

9 thoughts on “Vernon Wells Sends Me Mixed Signals

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:20 am

    How did you go from a bizarre photo of Vernon to "I guess it's true that everyone hated him"?

    it's as though the Blue Jays haven't missed a single beat without Vernon in the lineup, outfield and even the clubhouse
    Yeah, everyone's acting like trades happen all the time.

    If you're wondering what kind of person Vernon is, check out his work at vernonwellscharity(DOT)com.

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:40 am

    I think we put a little too much stock into the lack of the room falling apart when a player leaves. It's a business, these guys are well-paid athletes, and when one guy goes, another replaces him, and you move on. It's, as you said, "business as usual." Do you expect Lind to say "I really miss Vernon. This place just isn't the same without Vernon." Even if that was the case, and it never would be, Lind wouldn't say it. Nobody would.

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:41 am

    Stephen, I don't even know how it transitioned from the picture to the rest of the post, but I just started writing and that's how it unfolded.

    I'm not saying everyone hated Vernon Wells or that he doesn't do great charity work (which he obviously does), but as a fan it became increasingly frustrating watching a player paid that kind of money not playing up to the expectations.

    In a roundabout way, it wasn't Vernon's fault at all. The Blue Jays chose to pay him that kind of money, and any person would happily oblige to take that offer.

    I think the point I was trying to make (without trying to sound too cynical) was that this team isn't going to miss Vernon all that much because there are so many talented players (Bautista, Escobar, Arencibia) that can make up for the loss of Vernon Wells.

  • April 9, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Nav, that's a great point. Out of all professional sports, I think baseball is the one where a single player has the least amount of impact. It's not like with the Cavaliers where Lebron leaves and the entire franchise falls apart.

    Vernon was one guy on a 25-man roster, and like you said … even if they really did miss him, nobody would ever admit it.

  • April 9, 2011 at 1:47 am

    I think you hit the proverbial 'nail on the head.' In contrast, comments are still quoted that the young pitchers admired and learned from Halliday and his work ethic. Nobody ever gave the impression of missing Wells.
    He was never more than a number 5 or 6 hitter, making a salary that should have seen him in the top 5 of every offensive category.
    Vernon Wells the charity spokesman is a great thing, but its not why I buy tickets to the ball game. Charity is a part of corporate image- Rogers, The Blue Jays, AND V.W.

  • April 9, 2011 at 4:49 am

    John, VW was a great spokesperson for the team, no question. But I think that contract just set the expectations to astronomically high that there was no way he could possibly meet them.

  • April 9, 2011 at 5:07 am

    Looks like we agree on all points. I just had a problem with the even the clubhouse comment, which seemed like an unfair jab at Vernon's personality.

  • April 9, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Stephen, I would say the "not missing him in the clubhouse" comment was meant more to reflect on Vernon's quiet demeanor and presence in the team, not his activity outside in the community.

    He really didn't seem like one of those players that all the young guys look to for guidance or advice (like Roy Halladay perhaps). It just so happened he was the longest tenured player there, so maybe they just deferred to Vernon because he was there the longest.

  • April 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Vernon Wells is a decent player, and a nice guy, by all accounts.

    His contract is/was an asshole.

    Too many people confuse the two.

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