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Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Pro and Con: Is Wells worth the trouble?

David Wells won 19 games last season, but the hefty lefty's new book promises to create a few enemies in the Yankee locker room. Is he worth the trouble of keeping around? Rob Dibble and Jayson Stark weigh in.

Dibble: Get rid of Boomer
The Yankees need to do something about David Wells' recent disclosures -- there's just no place in the clubhouse for a guy who's writing books and talking behind his teammates' backs.

"Uh, did I say that?"

The Yankees were a championship team throughout the '90s in large part due to Joe Torre's "check your ego at the door" mentality. They stress that no one player is above the others. They don't even put names on the backs of their jerseys. By writing this book, however, Wells has set himself apart from the team. He didn't check his ego at the door.

George Steinbrenner takes a lot of pride in those winning traditions, both for the fans and to carry on the Yankee mystique. And now that David Wells has upset that system, there's no way he should be in pinstripes when the regular season starts.

On Monday, Wells warmed up in the bullpen alongside Roger Clemens, and the two didn't speak. Clemens has got to be steamin' mad about the book. Clemens is as intense as anyone else in the big leagues, and the last thing he wants is a party animal like Wells taking shots at him.

I'd be surprised if the six-time Cy Young winner ever talks to Wells again. That tells how seriously players on team are taking Wells' potshots in the book.

Brian Cashman is going to read the book and take a closer look into the situation, but Wells has already tarnished the Yankee name. And the bottom line is that championship teams can't let bad situations fester. Wells should be as good as gone.
-- Rob Dibble

Stark: He's worth the trouble
Fine him. Suspend him. Allow Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens to tattoo "Boomer is an idiot" on his chest.

But release David Wells? No.

Wells can still bring the heat.

Make Wells walk around outside Legends Field wearing a sandwich board that reads: "I misquoted myself." Give him a van, a mike and a loudspeaker, and have him drive around the parking lot announcing, "I have disgraced and embarrassed the New York Yankees, and I'll never do it again."

But release him? Come on. This is America, where free speech was still in the Bill of Rights last time we checked. And this is the Steinbrenner Yankees, where opening the gates of the zoo is a proud modern tradition. OK, maybe not proud exactly, but definitely a tradition.

But release him? What's the point? Wells' teammates didn't need a 423-page autobiography to know what they were dealing with. They've seen it in real life. They've lived it. They've watched it and heard it. Every day.

Whether Wells pitched that perfect game half-drunk, one-third drunk, 6.84 percent drunk or swigging vodkas between innings, does anybody think the Yankees needed a book to know he didn't always get his proper rest and sometimes forgot to practice ideal fitness habits? They knew it better than anybody -- and they brought him back, anyway.

The only reason you dump a player like this is if he has done something that rips an irreparable hole in your locker room. But Wells' teammates can be divided into three groups: A) a few pals, B) guys who are amused by him and C) guys who already were trying their best to avoid him at all times -- except once every five days.

So is there any evidence that since this book came out, the population of those groups has changed dramatically -- or that the damage he has done in his clubhouse will keep the Yankees from winning about 107 games? We haven't seen any.

Send him to the bullpen. Make him vacuum the stadium. Best of all, make him take a percentage of his book revenue and pay the Yankees' luxury-tax bill.

But release him? Dump the Boomer? Can't happen. Won't happen. Who would they replace him with in the rotation -- Jim Bouton?
-- Jayson Stark