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Just The Sports: 2007-06-03

Just The Sports

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Where Have You Gone Vernon Wells?

All of my predictions and assessments may not turn out to be correct when the future events actually take place, but more often than not I am correct, not because I am superbly prescient but because I actually use statistical data to formulate my conclusions. In that way, I must be separated from Toronto Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who is the black sheep of the sabermetrician world due to all of his ill-conceived transactions including signing Vernon Wells to a seven-year, $126 million contract extension. Last season, when Ricciardi stated he would not give Wells a Carlos Beltran-sized contract (seven-year, $119 million contract with $11 million signing bonus) I applauded him for finally showing restraint only to watch him throw his money away on Wells anyway, who has only had two superb seasons, 2003 and 2006 in his eight-year, going on nine-year, career.

Although Wells is by no means the worst center fielder in the league, I suggested to Ricciardi that he wait for Wells to replicate his 2006 performance in the 2007 season. Ricciardi refused to accept my unsolicited advice and Wells has to be eternally thankful for that because he is in no way replicating last year.

Through fifty-four games, Wells is lagging far behind the numbers he put up last season in the first fifty-four games he played. Of course he was always going to have trouble putting up the same numbers, but one could expect a better effort out of him than this.

Last season, Wells was producing in a large way with a batting line of .326 BA/.379 OBP/.606 SLG with a .322 GPA and an isolated power of .280. As is the case with many players, Wells seems to have lost his hitting prowess and power right after signing an extremely lucrative contract and is only putting up a line of .259 BA/.318 OBP/.420 SLG with a .248 GPA and an isolated power of .160 this year, a far cry from his 2006 numbers. In fact, those numbers are more in line with his 2004 and 2005 league average seasons than his 2003 and 2006 superstar numbers.

No one will ever be able to overrate consistency and the ability to sustain excellence in a player and for those who underrate these attributes, they will most likely end up saddled with a player like Vernon Wells who may give you a great season every now and then, but will not be able to do so to help the team out year in and year out.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

Scott Proctor Foiled

Major League Baseball foiled New York Yankees reliever Scott Proctor's attempt to acquire some rest for his overworked right arm by refusing to suspend him despite the fact he came close to hitting Boston Red Sock Kevin Youkilis in the head this past Friday. Proctor was suspended for four games earlier this season for throwing at Seattle Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt after both teams were warned by the umpires so he naturally assumed that a repeat beaning incident would garner him even more of a vacation.

After being asked by reporters about not receiving a multiple-game suspension for throwing at Youkilis, Proctor, who has pitched in more than half of the Yankees' games even with the four-game suspension, responded in both a disappointed and disheartened fashion. "I thought for sure I'd get at least another four games, even though I was hoping for a little bit more rest than that," Proctor said. "But nothing. I've tried everything I could think of to convince [manager] Joe [Torre] that I won't be effective if he continues to trot me out there every day: failed to record an out twice, blew three saves, walked just two fewer batters than I've struck out, and possessed the second-lowest win probability added of all the Yankees relievers. Still, he won't let me take a few days off. What else was I supposed to do?"

Proctor added: "You'd try to get yourself suspended, too, if you had a manager as incompetent at managing the bullpen as Joe Torre."

Yankees manager Joe Torre was visibly relieved when the news came down that Proctor would not receieve any punishment for throwing at Youkilis. "I don't know what I would have done if Scott had been suspended," Torre stated. "He pitched a few good innings for me last year and ever since then I knew I could depend on him whenever I needed a reliever, even if he had pitched the previous two days and given up a few runs. Once you have the kind of security blanket Proctor has become for me, nothing else matters. I doubt anything will ever be able to convince me to give him any significant rest."

Asked why he never used Brian Bruney or Sean Henn or Mariano Rivera as often as he did Scott Proctor, Joe responded by asking, "I can do that? You mean you can use your whole bullpen evenly like that? Sounds dangerous to me."

Bob Watson, MLB's vice-president of on-field operations, was the one who informed the Yankees that Scott Proctor would not be suspended and revealed what MLB took into account when deciding what to do with Scott Proctor. "We at MLB were fully apprised of what Proctor was really intending to do by throwing at Youkilis' head," Watson stated. "It is no secret around baseball that Proctor is in extreme need of rest and is willing to go to any length to acquire it for himself. So when we were debating on how best to punish him, we realized the worst fate for Proctor was to leave him in the hands of Torre, who no doubt would try his best to overwork Proctor and ruin his pitching statistics for the year. And that is why we didn't suspend him."

Although he was not suspended this time, Proctor vowed nothing would keep him from attempting to obtain some sort of rest for his weary arm, even if he had to resort to marrying the disabled list like Carl Pavano.