Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Whole New World

Vernon Wells
Photo by Keith Allison licensed under Creative Commons
What if...

What if the sky were orange, what if water were red, what if there was world peace, what if the Yankees moved to Timbuktoo.

These are all obviously examples of "what ifs", they describe a scenario in which is seemingly impossible to imagine ever happening. Just last season a "what if" in Jays nation, was what if the Blue Jays could trade away Vernon Wells? Well last offseason that "what if" was fulfilled as the Angels foolishly took Vernon Wells away from the Jays and now this offseason that "what if" that was fulfilled has led me to another what if. What if Vernon Wells had never been traded?

It seems like an odd proposition to think about as it will never be undone, but what is interesting about this trade is how much it effected not only the Blue Jays but the entire goings  of the entire 2011 season.

If Vernon Wells had never been traded, where would the Jays be. Would us fans be thinking about the possibility of signing a big name free agent? Would the Jays even be half as far in their rebuild process? The answer to both of these questions is probably no and the reasoning being that as some forget Vernon Wells was owed 86 million dollars between 2011-2014. Currently the payroll obligations for 2011 will be just over $50 million after arbitration. With Wells tacked on that number jumps up, closer to $75 million. Then the question becomes, can the Blue Jays front office realistically sell it to the fans and to Rogers that they need to go out and spend $20-$25 million on a guy and put the payroll up to and probably over $100 million for the 2012 season after the Blue Jays just finished 81-81. I'm not even sure Anthopolous could sell that idea to himself and he is the king of negotiation. 

Along with the lack of interest in big name free agent that would have come with Vernon Wells still on the roster, the Jays whole rebuilding process would have been set back at least a couple years. First off with Wells still on the roster the Jays would then have four left fielders and an even bigger logjam in the outfield. Second despite the fact that Anthopolous was long a proprietor of Rasmus prior to the mid season trade between the Jays and the Cardinals, it is hard to imagine Anthopolous acquiring Rasmus and adding what would be a 6th outfielder, even if he had the option to stuff Thames and Snider in the minors. To go along with that would have been the whole feel that the Jays would not have been on the upturn of their rebuild. It is a pretty fair statement as it is hard to imagine a team to be thought of on the upturn of a rebuild, when they are paying a guy $23 million dollars to be worth 3 wins above replacement at the most.

It probably would not changed Alex Anthopolous' philosophy or approach as he would go about his business the same whether the Jays had no albatross' versus if they had 5. What it does change is the outlook for fans and for others across the league. As Kevin Goldstein describes in one of his recent Up and In podcasts, the Blue Jays are now the flavour of the month, which is hard to see them being if they had an albatross contract dampening the outlook of the team. 

Take the Angels themselves for example, they have a bolstering farm system and if the not the best then the second best prospect in baseball in Mike Trout. Despite that you still hear that they are paying Vernon Wells $20+ million and Torii Hunter $17+ million rather than the positives with the team because in many cases it makes for a good story.

Getting back to the rest of the league had Vernon Wells not been traded? Would we have the same two teams in the World Series? Would those two teams even be in the World Series. It is an unusual thing, but the Blue Jays had a big influence on this years World Series matchup. There is 6 ex-Blue Jays (7 if you count Patterson) on the two World Series teams, most of which would not have been on the teams had Vernon Wells not been traded.

Starting with the Rangers, the Rangers currently have two ex-Blue Jays on their roster in Mike Napoli and Michael Young. Had Wells not been traded Michael Young still would have been there, but Napoli would not. With that said, Mike Napoli hasn't been stellar in the postseason, but he's been good and at times the difference maker. As well going off fWAR, had the Rangers not had Napoli furing the regular season, it's possible they would not have made the playoffs. This season Mike Napoli had a 5.6 fWAR, which means he contributed ≈ 5 wins to the Rangers. What it also means is that he took ≈ 5 wins away from the Angels. The final standing in the AL West had the Angels 10 wins out of 1st. So had the Angels kept Napoli, who knows, maybe its them in the World Series and not the Rangers.

Then with the Cardinals, they currently have four ex-Blue Jays on their playoff roster roster in Chris Carpenter, Edwin Jackson, Mark Rzepczynski, and Octavio Dotel. Like the Rangers had Wells not been traded the Cards would have had Carpenter, but likely not Jackson, Scrabble, or Dotel, and all three of these guys were key contributors to the Cards in their race to get to the playoffs and the run that they've had at the World Series. During their regular season Cards tenures the three players acquired in the Colby Rasmus trade produced a total of 2 fWAR (Jackson 0.7 fWAR, Scrabble 0.4 fWAR, Dotel 0.9 fWAR). Those two added wins were all the Cards needed to make the playoffs  as they beat out Atlanta by only a game. Now in the playoffs the key ROOGY performances by Dotel, the bullpen solidification by Rzepcznyski, and key starts by Jackson have all been vital in the playoff success of this team. 

Its amazing that when you look back at a single trade or single move that it seems like it only effects the two teams involved, but in truth it can effect so much more. That one single move between the Angels and the Blue Jays has just snowballed into something much bigger as it indirectly created this world series matchup. As well the snowballing will continue for the Blue Jays as they improve from dividends paid in the Vernon Wells trade. That one single moment has become for the Blue Jays an extra draft pick, a centerfielder of the future, and hope that things will get better for the Bluebirds. Three invaluable assets to the Blue Jays organization. 

1 comment:

  1. Now the Vernon Wells trade has proven to effect the outcome of the world series