Prepare yourself for some heartbreak, baseball fans. You now have two seasons to steel your emotions for the retirement of Vernon Wells. Please try to hold back the tears.
Yes, according to Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, Vernon Wells plans on retiring after the 2014 season when his albatross of a contract expires. The stated reason behind this decision is to spend more time with his kids:
It'll be time to invest more in their lives. I've gone through this for long enough. My thoughts right now as a family is to be done after two years, enjoy them, get to be there for them in those years where they're going to need their dad every day, not just every now and then.
That's an admirable and noble reason to retire and you certainly can't fault him for it. However one simply can't ignore the fact that Wells was probably going to have to retire after 2014 anyway seeing how he has been one of the least productive players in all of baseball the last two seasons. The Angels reportedly shopped him all off-season, looking to give him away basically for free but could not find a taker. Imagine what kind of market there will be for him headed into his age 36 season?
As easy of a target as Wells has become in recent years, you do have to respect the way he has handled his shockingly deep and quick decline. He hasn't blamed anyone else. He hasn't lashed out at the fans, even those that boo him at his own stadium. He hasn't pitched a fit over being shifted into a bench role. All he's done is work hard in the off-season to try and fix his swing all while playing the role of a loyal, if not blindly optimistic soldier. If only all former star players could handle their fall from grace so elegantly.
Let's hope he carries that same level-headedness into his post-retirement endeavors because he doesn't plan on going to far away from the game. In fact, he could become the owner of a minor league team near you. It turns out that Vernon's plan is to first buy a minor league franchise, learn the ropes and then parlay that experience into owning an MLB franchise:
It's definitely something we're interested in doing once we're both done playing," Wells said. "It's fun, man. Instead of playing fantasy GM, you're actually putting together your own team and learning what it takes to pretty much make money in an organization, especially in the Minor Leagues. Because sometimes you're only going to get 500, 600 people in a game, but you have to figure out ways to get fans in the stands. That's part of the business.
Wells says he wants to model himself after Angels owner Arte Moreno, who I'm sure is glad to share his knowledge. I'd go so far as to bet that his first lesson is to not trade for Vernon Wells. Moreno learned that lesson the hard way.