Over in the Toronto Star Richard Griffin has a profile on Vernon Wells and his miserable season. We beat on Griffin a lot around here but this is the type of thing he does well and it is a pretty fair piece. Amazingly enough Griffin doesn't even take a run at JP anywhere in it.
Worse, the abuse from the stands at home has been mean-spirited and relentless. At age 30, his critics are writing him off as washed up with the Jays still on the hook for $108.5 million (all figures U.S.) through the 2014 season.
One of the things that 'fans' forget is that players players do have up poor seasons now and then. Vernon is hitting .258/.312/.404 at the moment. Joe Carter at the same age had a off season too, hitting .232/.290/.391. He came back the next year to have one of the best season's of his career. Expo and Hall of Famer Gary Carter hit .251/.313/.444 in 1981 and came back the next year to hit .293/.381/.510. Favorite, around here, Scott Rolen hit .235/.323/.383 the season he turned 30, the next year he hit .296/.369/.518. Bad seasons happen to the best of us.
Turning it around the next year would be nice though.
Throughout his conversation, Wells makes sure to express his confidence that he will be able to get his problems straightened out for 2010.
"I've thought a lot about it," Wells said of potential solutions to his year-long woes. "I went pretty hard this off season from basically the beginning of November. I might have done too much. Going into spring training, I'll try not to do as much mental, try and just let things come to me. The last few days it's been trying to get back to being relaxed, do what you can with pitches. Just let it go instead of wanting to do so much to turn things around and falling into worse habits."
I'm glad to see that he has identified things that might make next season better. It seems like a simple game when you are watching, but down there on the field, if it was so simple, we'd all be doing it.
One pro scout who has seen the Jays regularly said: "Wells seems to be thinking too much. A lot of times it looks like he doesn't have the stomach for the fight, swinging early in the count at the pitcher's pitch. It doesn't seem to be anything physical."
Paul Simon had a song called "Maybe I Think Too Much" and, in one of the choruses, he repeats that line "Maybe I think too much" then says, in a different voice "Maybe you don't think as much as you should, hmmmm". But I guess everyone has a theory, and thinking too much is as good a theory as any.
"I've been able to stay on the field all year, which is one positive," Wells shrugged. "But it's just been a constant grind to try to find some consistency. It's been one of those years where nothing ever seems to go right. I look at the big picture. This is one year out of my career. In my opinion it's just a statistical anomaly and you learn from it and you do what you can so it doesn't happen again."
Geeze, I hope it doesn't happen again. Vernon seems like a great guy, he does a ton of charity work, as his nomination for the Roberto Clemente award would speak to. We know there is the talent there and he's going to be around for a few more years, with our Jays so let's hope for a good season next year. Sometimes fans seem to think 'he doesn't care' which is just stupid, if caring was the most important talent for a ball player, wouldn't we all be in the MLB.