Many analysts throughout baseball were giving kudos to Alex Anthopoulos for somehow being able to unload Vernon Wells exorbitant contract (4-years/$86 million left) on the Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim in a trade that sent the All-Star center fielder from Toronto to California on Friday while the Blue Jays acquired catcher Mike Napoli (before he was traded to Texas this week) and outfielder Juan Rivera. After missing out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre, Angels owner Arte Moreno finally acquired the big bat that he promised the fan base over the offseason. Vernon Wells hit .273 with 31 home-runs and 88 RBI’s last season after having two back-to-back subpar years. He better bring the lumber along with him to Anaheim because he will be getting paid more than the highly sought after and coveted Red Sox free agent acquisition, Carl Crawford, over the next four years with the remaining money left on his deal.
Anaheim needed to make a move in the “Wild Wild West” of a division in the American League that saw the Texas Rangers storm their way to the World Series last year and Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics make a slew of offseason moves to bolster their bullpen and lineup. Vernon Wells joined KLAC in L.A. with Petros and Money to discuss if he had any idea that he would be traded this offseason, how long did it take him to warm up to the idea of being a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, what was the big difference last year as compared to others that got his offense production going again, what does he think in his mind about being in California and what is the perspective of MLB players towards the Angels organization in terms of wanting to play there as compared to others.
Congratulations on making your way to the United States. Did you have any idea that you’d be moved this offseason?
“No, no, not at all. My first feelings going into the offseason were how were we going to make that organization [Toronto Blue Jays] better and I think Alex [Anthopoulos] over the last couple of months has done what he’s capable of doing as getting where that team [Toronto Blue Jays] needs to be and that’s winning at a very consistent level in the very near future. Unfortunately part of doing that was me moving and being able to get out from underneath my contract. On the flip side of that it allows me to come to an organization that is ready to win now and expects to win. It’s a welcome change. I’m looking forward to starting the second chapter of my life.”
Part of the business side of it is that you have the ability to veto a trade in your contract. How long did it take for you to warm up to the idea of being a member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim?
“We ended up…We heard about it the first time Alex [Anthopoulos] called and told me about the situation Wednesday night at the Mavericks-Lakers game. My wife and I pretty much stayed awake the rest of the night just thinking about it, praying about what we wanted to do. We woke up that next morning and knew our decision. That’s lead us to where we are today in an Angels uniform.”
We saw your numbers really jump up last season from the previous two. What was the big difference from last season compared to others, that got you swinging the bat well again?
“Looking back I think there was injuries. There was different things that just came along with it. You’re going to have periods of your career when you’re going to struggle whether it’s baseball or whatever business it is you’re going to have those times where you fall. It’s just a matter of how you come back to that and kind of define what person you are and what player you are. I learned a lot from the season and had some good parts of last year, but I know that even the memories I ended up with can be better and I want to prove that every night in an Angels uniform.”
What do you think in your mind about California?
“It’s as close to paradise as you can get playing baseball. I can tell you that. I left Texas yesterday morning and saw the weather reports and it was 35-40 degrees and I come here it’s 70 and not a cloud in the sky. To have that in January…I can’t wait to see what it’s going to be like in the summer and playing in beautiful weather all the time.”
As an outsider coming in what is the perspective of the players towards the Angles organization compared to other teams that people want to play for in the league?
Where do the Angels fit in free agents’ minds towards that pyramid of where players want to play?
“I think it ranks right up there. It’s just a matter of getting deals done. For me I know I can only speak on my experiences coming in here and it’s one of the very few places that I’ve stood in the outfield and dreamed what it would be like to play here. For me getting a chance to do this is a dream come true, so hopefully moving forward we want to get different guys to help this team. This will just help them make that decision a whole lot easier.”