No, no this isn’t about who wears a nice vest on their night out. With Opening Day less than 24 hours away, I think it’s time to talk about 2011 vesting options! Vesting options are incentives that are written into a player’s contract and if he accomplishes the task, the option vests and extra money is awarded. For example, Magglio Ordonez‘s injury last year hurt a little more for him as he lost out on a $15MM payday for not reaching a certain number of at-bats.

So what’s in store for this season as vesting options are concerned? Well, I’m going to predict that Mark Buehrle won’t be pitching in anything else but a White Sox uniform. Why is that? He has an option that if he’s trading at any point in the 2011 season, he gets an extra year at $15MM added to the end of his current contract, which ends at the end of this year.

Here’s one that is already over. Cards pitcher Adam Wainwright has a $9MM option for this season as long as he does not finish 2011 on the disabled list. Considering he’s out for the year, you can scratch this one off the list of possibilities.

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has a “set your sights incredibly high” option that could kick in this year. Ramirez will get an extra $16MM if he’s named MVP of the league or league championship series in the playoffs. It will also kick in should he be traded this season. The latter has a better chance of happening, but both are long shots.

Then you have the “this actually may happen” category leading off with Mets reliever Francisco Rodriguez. He will see a $17.5MM payday if he records 55 game finished this season AND the doctors deem him healthy at the end of the season. Are the Mets doctors looking at him for this test…?

“I’m in perfect health doctors.” – K-Rod
“Uh, we’ll be the judge of that and looks like your arm is fatigued. Guess you’re not 100 percent healthy after all. NO SOUP FOR YOU!”

Hopefully he’ll seek a second opinion. As for the games finished, K-Rod has recorded more than 55 GF five times in his career so he has a chance at this one.

And last but not least, the ol’ number of plate appearances to lock in a vesting option. This one always struck me as strange because if the team really wanted to limit your PA toward the end of the year, they could easily do it by giving the player more days off, pinch-hitting for them late in games. I could see teams do this if they were out of the pennant race late in the season, and there’s nothing a player could do about it. At any rate, here are two of these types in 2011:

Bobby Abreu‘s $9MM option vests if he reaches 433 PA this season. Abreu hasn’t had fewer than 590 PA since his rookie year, so barring a major injury Abreu will be getting this option. And why shouldn’t the Angels just keep spending money? Maybe Vernon Wells could donate the $9 mil to Abreu with his current salary.

And last up is Dodgers infielder Rafael Furcal, who will make about $10MM in 2011, but can trigger an insane $12MM option should he stay healthy to reach 600 PA. Of course, he’s only done this once in the past three years thanks to injuries. At age 33 with his recent rash of injuries, I just don’t see this one happening.


Last month the Blue Jays dealt Vernon Wells to the Angels for catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. Looking at it strictly on paper in terms of talent, the deal looks great for the Angels, but it’s Wells ridiculous contract that is the key.

Wells is in the middle of a 7-year, $126 million contract that will pay him more than $26 million this season and $20+ million until 2014. Meanwhile in return the Jays get a serviceable offensive catcher in Napoli and a 31-year-old former prospect that really never lived up to expectations (only posted a WAR above 2 once in 10 major league seasons). Obviously, this is a straight salary dump for Toronto.

When the Jays signed Wells to the seven-year deal in 2007, he was 27 years old, in his prime and they had Roy Halladay to give them a chance to contend. Things have changed drastically in four years after the Jays struggled to keep up with the big boys of the AL East. Halladay was traded for prospects after the ’09 season and with Wells getting up their in age and the team giving the young prospects a chance to play, the Jays were ready to dump Wells.

The surprising thing is that they found a suitor to take his contract on. Insert the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of Orange County of California. Here’s a team that tried and failed to sign Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre this offseason, losing Beltre to a division rival in the Rangers. The Angels obviously took some heat publicly for not signing either free agent and had some extra money to spend, but $23M? They could have spent less than that and still gave more money to Beltre than Texas did.

Let’s look at Wells to see if he’s worth that kind of money. His best seasons were 2003 and 2006, the latter when he hit 32 home runs and a slash line of .303/.357/.542. Following the 2006 season, he slumped the next three years producing a three-year slash line of .265/.317/.426. Which was right after he signed the long-term deal. Did he get complacent? That’s definitely a possibility.

At any rate, Wells rebounded last year with 31 homers, his highest since ’06, and a slash line of .273/.331/.515. But he’ll be 32 this summer, and he’s already shown signs of diminishing skills so I’m not sure what the Angels can expect from him the next couple of years. But I do not see how the Angels will get $23 million dollars worth out of him this year. Wells is one of the top five paid players in all of baseball, but he’s not one of the top five players out there.

The bottom line is the Angels panicked and searched for a deal that could bring in a name. They lost out on Crawford and Beltre while seeing Adrian Gonzalez go to Boston and Cliff Lee to Philadelphia, and they suddenly didn’t have anything to show for this offseason so they looked for a quick desperate deal. Did their team get better on the field? Yes, but at what cost and for how long?

On the other hand, the Jays will miss Wells production from 2010 but with the $75+ million they saved over the next four years, they can better spend the money to keep prospects like Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, Kyle Drabek among others around. Then again they could just dump that money into Jose Bautista for the next five years and pray last year wasn’t a fluke, but that’s another topic for another day.

Three weeks into the season and things are starting to pick up—some teams are starting to distance themselves from the pack at the top and at the bottom and Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.82) is still a monster on the mound.

Let’s start off talking about rainouts! If you haven’t noticed many postponed games before this weekend well that’s because there weren’t any until Friday night’s rainout between Colorado and Florida. That’s the longest we’ve gone into a season with no postponements since 1985. That year the first rainout didn’t occur until May 20, the 43rd day of the season, whoa. Of course, as soon as ESPN ran a story regarding the lack of rainouts, a game that night was PPD. ESPN screwing things up again!

There was an interesting decision/play in the Yankees-Angels game yesterday afternoon. With the Yankees trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning and two men on base, Joe Girardi decided to intentionally walk Kendry Morales, but changed his mind after one pitch and decided to go after him. With the count 3-0, Morales got the green light and promptly smoked a three-run homer to sink New York. Whoops. You can second guess all you want and obviously Girardi did that after the game, but they’ll with it. Though I’m not sure I can recall the last time I saw a team go for the IBB and then switch and pitch to him in the middle of the at-bat. Also to throw him a strike a 3-0 probably wasn’t a stellar decision either.

It’s getting real close to that time of the year when you can bury the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a decent 7-5 start, the Pirates have dropped six straight including being swept by the Astros as they fall into last place of the NL Central. How bad has it been? Well they were humiliated by the Brewers 20-0 at home this week and they have been outscored in their 11 losses by a total of 102-23. That’s pathetic. Is there an end in sight? Well the Bucs travel to Milwaukee next for a three-game series with the Brewers, who pretty much own the Bucs in the past five years. Oh and did I mention that the Pirates have lost 21 straight in Milwaukee. This is brutal.

Most of my preseason predictions are looking decent at this point in the early season. The Rays have been on fire and off to the best start (14-5) in their history, Phillies and Cardinals are rolling, Red Sox are struggling, but I immediately am regretting my decision to put the Twins (13-6) in second after Joe Nathan was lost to injury. It’s still early, but the Twins sure look like a solid team. The loss of Nathan has not hurt them one bit as Jon Rauch has picked up the ninth inning duties and hasn’t looked back. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are probably one of the toughest two guys you will face in the middle of any lineup and the guys like Span, Kubel and their young pitching staff are doing all the little things to win.

How about the top of the leader board in home runs—Paul Konerko is on top with eight bombs, but the comeback seasons of Jose Guillen and Vernon Wells are next tied with seven homers. The Jays needed Wells to bounce back from a couple disappointing seasons, but I don’t even think they thought he would be doing this well. The question is—can he keep this up?