TORONTO — Vernon Wells is doing his best to tune out the bigger picture playing out for his Toronto Blue Jays these days, with ace Roy Halladay on the trade block, the possibility of another payroll cut looming, and no permanent leadership found yet for the executive offices.
The centre-fielder is the longest tenured position player on the team, and with five seasons remaining on his US$126-million, seven-year contract after this one, is likely to retain that status for a while, giving him a vested interest in how the next week plays out.
But Wells believes the best thing he and his teammates can do at this uncertain time is focus on the field, find some consistency and give management a reason to believe and perhaps invest in the current group.
After all, the other stuff is out of their control anyway.
“We’re not concerned about what the payroll is going to be, because there’s people and presence in this room that have the ability to win,” Wells said before Wednesday’s game with the Cleveland Indians.
“Going into spring training there was talk of 2010 and from a players’ standpoint you want to win now, you’re not looking at the future. That being said, with the young guys in here, and over the last couple of years young guys have been able to get needed experience, let’s go out and do our jobs and give ourselves and the front-office an opportunity to upgrade instead of cutting things back.”
It may be too late for that, as a strong start to the 2009 season has given way to the morass of mediocrity the Blue Jays have found themselves in the past few seasons.
They’ve had some good teams, but none good enough to get over the hump and reach the post-season. Dealing Halladay would mean the Blue Jays are closing the current competitive window built by J.P. Ricciardi and looking to regroup for 2011 or 2012.
“Obviously, it would be a major change if it happens and I think everyone in this clubhouse knows the business side of the game,” said Wells. “If something were to happen, I think the organization would take a slight blow but what you get in return for him future-wise will further help this organization down the line.”
That line of thinking helps Wells understand why his bosses are considering the option, but he isn’t convinced that would lead to a better way of skinning the cat.
“From a front-office standpoint, when you’re looking at the future of our ball club and having a chance to get three, four guys who can play at this level and contribute for Roy, than it’s something you have to take a look at,” said Wells. “It’s not something you necessarily have to do, because with Doc in this rotation, we can win just as many games.
“It’s just a matter of what direction you want to go.”
A Halladay trade would likely bring further changes, with veterans like Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro, Lyle Overbay, Scott Downs and Jason Frasor possibilities to follow him out the door.