CLEVELAND -- A lot of people shook their heads when it was announced, late in spring training, that the New York Yankees would trade for Vernon Wells and, worse than that, assume a good amount of the final two years remaining on his seven-year, $126 million deal.
Eight games into his Yankees tenure, if anyone is shaking his or her head now, it is in pleasant surprise. More likely, fans are nodding their heads in agreement that the Wells deal, for two low-level minor league prospects and about $14 million in cash, might turn out to be the best free-agent acquisition the Yankees made all winter.
That's because for a guy who looked used-up and overpaid for two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Wells has shown flashes of the player he had been with the Toronto Blue Jays when they decided to give him that big contract before the 2007 season. Although Wells was only 1-for-4 in the Yankees' 14-run, 18-hit explosion Tuesday night, the hit was a ringing double off the wall. Plus he was 3-for-4 Monday night, and had a double in Sunday's win over Justin Verlander and the Tigers.
Wells' early-season batting average is .360 with two home runs and four RBIs. He has played a pretty good left field, too. And as Pettitte pointed out Tuesday night, Wells has been a welcome addition to the Yankees' clubhouse, despite having joined the team in the final days of spring training.
"You can tell he's comfortable, you can tell he's settled in good here around the club," Pettitte said. "He's just a great guy in the clubhouse. And he's a great player, ya know?"
Great is an overused word in almost every context and, certainly, Wells is no longer a great player. But so far, he looks like a very good player, and it may be hard to sit him down when Curtis Granderson returns as expected in the first week of May.
"I think he's got a lot of good baseball left in him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Wells.
I agree. How about you?
QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you feel about the Vernon Wells deal now? And, has your opinion changed from the day the deal was announced? Let us know in the comments section.
UP NOW: Blogs on the Yankees' suddenly explosive offense, and why one of the best pitchers in baseball may have helped them become that; on Andy Pettitte, who no longer looks like a guy in the late stages of his career, and on the one that got away (ahem) from Carlos Carrasco.
ON DECK: Clubhouse opens at 3:35 p.m. for Wednesday's 7:05 start. Ivan Nova (0-1, 7.71) vs. TBA for the Indians, who were forced to use their scheduled Wednesday night starter, Brett Myers, in emergency relief on Tuesday when Carrasco got ejected. I'll be there when the clubhouse opens and I'll have the lineup as soon as Girardi posts it, followed by blogs from the pregame clubhouse. Stop in often, and as always, thanks for reading.