For a guy who has widely been regarded as the “face of the franchise” for so long, the Rangers sure have put Michael Young through a lot.
First, in 2004, coming off of a superb defensive year at 2B, the Rangers asked Young to move to SS in order to make room for Alfonso Soriano, who was a 2B equivalent of Roger Dorn. Young said no, then relented when Rangers’ brass ignored his bluff. He went on to make the AS team at 2B for five years in a row, and won a Gold Glove in 2008. I’m not sure how he did, but remember that Derek Jeter’s living room is full of Gold Gloves.
But that wasn’t good enough for the Rangers, so in 2009, they asked him to move to 3B to make room for the fielding wizardry of Elvis Andrus. (Side note, Andrus makes at least one play every game that is worth the price of admission. Kid is sick.) Young balked and asked for a trade over the winter. He then rescinded that request and agreed to move to 3B. He again made the All Star team, this time as a third basemen, in 2009 and had a tremendous year at the plate.
Now, only two years removed from that position swap, the Rangers have asked Young to move again, to DH, in order to make room for Adrian Beltre. It’s a tough call PR wise based on what Young has done and meant to the Rangers over the years, but it’s an easy call when you look at the numbers.
Thus, as a result, Young put himself on the trading block. He began with a list of 8 potential suitors, but by all accounts he’ll go anywhere with a decent chance to win and an open infield position.
So how about a swap for Carlos Guillen? The Rangers could use a left handed DH/utility guy/fourth outfielder, and their salaries are almost a wash. They are roughly the same age (Young is a year younger), and are entering the twilights of their respective careers. (I’m sure there would be some PsTBNL in there, but you get my drift.)
I gotta admit, I was at first intrigued by the possibility of Young playing 2B for the Tigers. It’s a big hole for us, and one that he could fill well. Michael Young was above league average defensively at 2B, and his Placido Polanco type bat (with a lot more pop), would do well in the two hole. From a salary perspective, Young is owed $16M, $16M and $16M, but when you consider that Carlos Guillen is going to get paid $13M in 2011, it’s easy to think that the Rangers could give some cash to fill the 2012 and 2013 voids. Moreover, Young has played in 155+ games in 8/9 seasons, with the low being 134 in 2009 (yes, that’s 155!). Guillen, on the other hand, has only played in 134+ games 3 times in his 7 years with the Tigers.
On the other hand, the deeper I dug, the less sense it made. Not because Guillen is the answer, but because Young is no longer a great player. His career OPS+ is 105 (Guillen’s is 111), and Young’s is only that high because of his tremendous 2005 and 2009 seasons. Without those years, he’s a career 99 as a regular. Moreover, his range factor relative to the league has been abysmal over the past two years (and was a serious source of concern following game 1 of the ALCS, and game 1 of the World Series). Finally, his 2011 salary would be easy for me to swallow based on Guillen’s, but 2012 and 2013 would be virtually impossible years for Young to perform up to salary expectations.
And, I’ll give you that I’m intrigued to see what Sizemore/Rhymes can do. Not that I saw much out of them last year, but they are young and cheap.
But I still feel for Michael Young. Across the phone lines and newsstands, no one is coming to his defense. Literally, no one. Well, except for this kid. For years and years he was lauded as the ultimate team player, and the consummate professional. His trade demands in 2009 struck a chord, and now it looks like his suspect defense and bloated salary have caught up to him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a nice player, but not $48M over 3 years nice.
Anyway, now it looks like there are no takers around the league. Despite strong interest from Colorado and some from the Angels, word around here is that Young will likely be with the Rangers through Spring Training. The way that some of this has played out in the media has been a sports editor’s dream. Check out the quotes from Michael Young here, and the management’s innuendos here. I mean, did Daniels basically say that trading Young would upgrade his team? It’s too bad. Young doesn’t want to be here. The Rangers don’t want him. Seems like someone out there could find a way to make this work. Though I don’t think Alfonso Soriano is the answer.
Pitchers and Catchers, three days.