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Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Wells and the Stick Michael principle

By Andrew Marchand

If you believe in mystique and aura, then you might think that Ponce de Leon is in charge of the water supply in the Bronx. It is only a week, but Vernon Wells looks reborn as a Yankee.

Wells has been a pleasant surprise, as Wally wrote in our First Pitch this morning. But we have seen this act before, most recently with Ichiro Suzuki's strong six weeks at the end of last season.

So, Is there something tangible that makes unproductive veterans in to solid players again when they put on the pinstripes?

"If you can't be excited about playing for the Yankees, then you don't have a pulse," a scout, with ties to New York said Wednesday morning. "It can work the other way, where guys have stage fright too."

But with veteran players, like the 34-year-old Wells, that is less likely. For Wells, it could be about escaping a bad situation. In Anaheim, with Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton and Peter Bourjous, Wells didn't figure to play that much. He came into Angels' camp with a bat that seemed to be quicker than in the past two years and the Yankees scouts noticed. That, along with the better personal circumstances of the Bronx, could be inspiring Wells.

"You have to realize, he was in the doldrums," the scout said, now talking specifically about Wells. "But it is like a prisoner freed from jail."

The Yankees' front office deserves credit, because they continue to live by the Stick Michael principle of relying on former stars on the way down. The theory states that if a guy was a star and loses something he is a better than a player who never was anything. In effect, 65 percent of the player that Wells once was is better than 100 percent of what Juan Rivera is now.

So far, so good, for the Yankees.

QUESTION: Do you believe older players are rejuvenated when they put on the pinstripes?