Results tagged ‘ Jim Thome ’

The Michael Young Debacle

As soon as the Rangers got Adrian Beltre a few weeks ago, rumors started flying about a Michael Young trade. I tried to ignore it.

MY said he’d be okay with becoming the Rangers’ full-time DH/super-utility infielder/1B split with Mitch Moreland.

And yet the Rangers continued to pursue Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero, all DH’s. Whispers continued to swirl about trading Michael. Still I tried to ignore it.

Then the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli, who played mostly 1st base for the Angels last year. And the whispers got ever louder.

So I decided to write one blog about 2 weeks ago discussing the potential impact of the Napoli trade, and I thought that would be all I would write about the subject. I hate to beat a dead horse.

But last week, several media outlets began saying the same thing: The Rangers are talking to other clubs about trading Young. And what did I do? You guessed it: I tried to ignore it.

Yesterday, Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels confirmed via conference call that Michael has asked to be traded. Last night, Young spoke out as well. I can’t ignore it any more.

As much as I want Michael Young to spend his entire career in a Rangers’ uniform, I understand where he’s coming from. I touched on the reasons why we should and why we shouldn’t trade Young in my last blog.

But it appears to be getting ugly now. Michael feels that the Rangers weren’t straightforward with him, and he’s mad.

From his standpoint, the Rangers told him that they didn’t want to trade him, yet their actions told a different story.

Over the past 10 years, Young has moved from 2nd base to shortstop to 3rd base, and now he’s just expected to quietly accept the role of DH. That’s a lot of moving around for the sake of the team.

From the Rangers’ standpoint, they saw an opportunity to upgrade at 3rd base, and they took it. They feel like Young was okay with everything, then changed his mind and asked for the trade.

Nobody knows the whole truth from both sides of the coin, but this is what I think happened:

The Rangers put all of their eggs in Cliff Lee’s basket, then they freaked when he decided to go to the Phillies.

They started scrambling around to find another big-name free agent to show everybody that the Rangers, the defending AL champions, didn’t just sit on their laurels during the offseason.

So they went after a great player… a great 3rd baseman, even though the Rangers already had Michael Young at 3rd base for the next 3 years.

I can understand what the Rangers were trying to do. Adrian Beltre is undoubtedly the superior defensive player at 3rd base. But was it worth it to disrupt the harmony of the team to add a better player?

True, Michael Young’s baseball skills have started to drop off in the last few years. He’s 34 and he’s been in the Bigs for 10 years. It happens.

But he isn’t well suited to the DH position. He has a career batting average of .300, but he’s not a power hitter. His defensive ability has dropped from “really good” to “average,” but that doesn’t mean that he shouldn’t play in the field anymore.

I mean, come on, it’s not like he’s Vladimir Guerrero or something.

Most importantly, Michael’s value to the team isn’t limited to what he does on the field. His biggest impact is in the clubhouse.

Everybody on the team looks to Michael as the team leader. They take their cues from him. When something happens, they tend to gauge their own reactions by Michael’s reaction, and he brings them all together.

When the pictures from Josh Hamilton’s drunken evening surfaced in 2009, Michael was there for Josh. When word leaked about Ron Washington’s failed drug test last year, Michael was the first to speak up and offer support.

There are some people that think the clubhouse atmosphere is the most important part of a ball club. That a group of guys with a mediocre talent level can excel simply by how well they work together as a team.

Others don’t give team chemistry any credit, insisting that each individual player’s performance is what matters, not whether or not they have fun together or hang out before/after games.

I fall somewhere in the middle, but I’m closer to the “team chemistry” camp than the “individual performance” camp. I think it matters how well everyone gets along, because baseball is all about unity.

For example, in football, it’s completely normal to see a running back do a celebratory end zone dance after scoring a touchdown. It’s actually expected. They strut around and angrily chest-bump each other as a display of their superiority.

But in baseball, you don’t often see a player running around showing off how amazing he is. His teammates congratulate him, but when he’s interviewed after the game, he will almost always say something like “I couldn’t have done it without my team.”

We have seen Michael “take one for the team” over and over again in the past 10 years, and he’s finally had enough.

Both sides are frustrated, and I don’t think this is something that can be fixed easily.

The best situation for Young at this point is a trade. If the Rangers can trade Michael to another team where he can be an everyday player both offensively and defensively, the Rangers have a much better chance of mending fences with him.

Then the Rangers need to apologize to Michael (publically would bwe nice, but privately would work too). They need to tell him that they’re sorry if they misled him in any way or didn’t give him the whole truth, and that they wish him nothing but the best in all of his future endeavors.

They should stress that they’ve loved having him the last 10 years and that he has been an invaluable asset to the Texas Rangers. They should emphasize how truly sorry they are that a deal couldn’t be worked out to keep Michael with the Rangers. And they should be sincere!

But I don’t think the Rangers will be able to trade Young without assuming responsibility to a big chunk of his salary. He is owed $48 million over the next 3 years, and it’s not likely that new team will want to pay that.

If they can trade Young, it will be catastrophic for the Rangers’ clubhouse. Not to mention the fact that we won’t have a DH.

They have to at least try to trade him, because Michael isn’t be happy with the role he’s been handed, and that will only cause more problems down the road.

After May of this year, Young will be a 10 and 5 player (at least 10 years in the Bigs, at least 5 years with the same team), so the Rangers won’t be able to trade him. If they’re going to do it, they need to do it now.

I don’t foresee a miracle where Michael is suddenly okay with his new role, or where the Rangers suddenly find a full-time infield position for him here. So I guess they’ll have to trade him. But it’s not gonna be pretty.

Pitchers and catchers report in: 8 days

More on the Napoli trade

Since my post yesterday, I’ve learned a bit more about the Mike Napoli trade.

While I was quite enthusiastic to bid farewell to Frank Francisco, the always-astute Joey Matschulat over at BBTiA wonders here about the affect this trade will have on the bullpen.

I neglected to mention yesterday that trading away Francisco most likely means that Neftali Feliz will remain the Rangers’ closer, as opposed to switching to the rotation. I’m fine with this, but there quite a lot of fans who disagree with me on this point.

I’ve also learned that last year Napoli started 70 games for the Angels at 1B. This was mostly due to need, since Kendry Morales broke his ankle in that freak celebration accident.

That just means that Napoli is even more versatile than I thought. Not only can he catch and DH, but he can also play solid 1st base.

It also brings up the question of whether or not we actually need Michael Young.

There has been a lot of speculation that a Michael Young trade is imminent, and the reasons are definitely persuasive enough to make me stop and think.

Ken Rosenthal brought up the facts here that:
1) Michael Young is under contract for the next 3 years at a staggering $16 million/year
2) With Adrian Beltre at 3rd base for the next 5-6 years, Young has been relegated to a role as a super-utility man/DH, a role he’s too young for
3) After the deal with Beltre, they announced Young would DH, but then continued to pursue Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Vladdy, and finally traded for Napoli
4) With Napoli capable of playing 1B/DH, Young’s role is further threatened
5) In May, Young will achieve full veto power of any trade due to the 10/5 rule (10 years in the majors, at least 5 years with one team)
6) The Colorado Rockies were interested in Young at the Winter Meetings to be their 2nd baseman

So if those are the reasons why we should trade Michael Young, then what are the reasons why we shouldn’t?
1) Face of the franchise
2) MY has said in the past that he wants to stay in Texas

But #2 may not apply any more considering his current role. He may decide that he’d rather go somewhere else to get the opportunity to play full-time offense and defense.

Michael Young said here that he doesn’t see himself as a DH, and he considers this a temporary move. But if he thinks that way, he must be thinking about another team, because Beltre is here to stay.

Okay, maybe Michael is seeing himself at another infield position. Let’s look at those options.

He couldn’t possibly be thinking of taking over for Elvis. Just 2 years ago, before Elvis was proven to be Major League-ready, the Rangers asked Michael to give up his role as shortstop, so they’re not likely to switch back now. Especially since Elvis has shown that he is far superior defensively.

Did Young see himself as a first baseman? That’s a position that has suffered since the loss of Mark Tiexiera. But with Mitch Moreland just coming up and the recent acquisition Napoli, that’s pretty much out as a permanent position for MY.

I could see him at 2nd base, but Kinsler is signed through 2012 (with an option for 2013). Plus, Kinsler and Young are good friends, so I can’t really see Young expecting to push Kinsler out.

So Michael must be envisioning himself with another team, right? Who knows.

Although it seems that Colorado would be a good fit for a trade, MLBtraderumors.com says here that the Rockies are financially tapped out.

The fans would throw a fit. Young has spent 10 years (his entire career) as a Ranger. Even though the Rangers have gained a lot more fans after their World Series trip last year, I don’t know if they’d be willing to risk all the fans they’d lose if they traded Young.

There’s also the “clubhouse factor” to consider, as Richard Durrett of RSPN Dallas points out here. Michael is the unquestioned team captain, even if he doesn’t have a “C” on his uniform. Could the Rangers handle the 2011 player turnover without Young as a buffer?

These are some definitely some points that merit discussion. But I’m 99% sure that if the Rangers do plan to trade Young, they will be very upfront about it and will include him in the discussions.

I can’t imagine them blindsiding him with a trade. The respect him too much for that.

Pitchers and catchers report in: 21 days

Just Say No

A few days ago, I started hearing rumblings about the Rangers and Manny Ramirez. Uh oh…

Last year, the same rumors began to circulate after Manny was put on waivers in late August. I prayed fervently that Manny would stay away. And he went to the Chicago White Sox, so the Rangers escaped unscathed.

I can only wait and hope the same thing happens again this year.

With the signing of Adrian Beltre, something like this was bound to happen. With Michael Young moving to DH/1B, Vladdy was practically guaranteed not to re-sign with the Rangers. Vladdy wants to play every day, and that’s not gonna happen on the Rangers in the near future.

So the Rangers are looking for a big right-handed bat to come off the bench late in games. (They want him to be right-handed because Mitch Moreland is a lefty, and Moreland would be riding the bench if Michael Young was in the game at 1B.)

Jim Thome was a possibility, but he’s a lefty. And he also decided to re-sign with the Twins for 2011, so he’s no longer an option.

There aren’t too many veteran righties left on the market at this point. It’s pretty much down to Vladdy and Manny. And we already know that Vladdy wants a more active role.

{Sigh}

I’m not saying that I won’t root for the Rangers if Manny is playing here, or even that I won’t root for him when he’s up to bat, but I’d rather have someone else.

I used to like Manny. I remember when the Red Sox has their heyday in the early 2000’s (culminating with their World Series win in 2004), and I loved to watch Manny alongside Johnny Damon and Big Papi.

But soon after, I started hearing lots of negative things about Manny. He publicly discussed his displeasure with the BoSox and requested a trade. It was suggested that he was not a team player.

Then during a game in 2008, Manny was shown slapping teammate Kevin Youkilis during a spat in the dugout. He had another altercation with the Red Sox’s traveling secretary, with Ramirez allegedly pushing him to the ground.

He also stopped hustling on the field, and Red Sox fans assumed it was because of his desire to be traded. But it may have had something to do with sore knees. Who knows?

Manny spent most of the next 3 years with the Dodgers, which just caused me to like him even less. I hate the Dodgers. They’re my least favorite NL team, and their my 2nd most hated team in all of baseball (behind the Yankees, of course).

During the 2009 season, Manny was suspended for 50 games because he voilated a drug test. He tested positive for HCG, which is a female pregnancy hormone thought to help reset an athlete’s body after a steroid cycle.

Later in the 2009 season, it was released that Manny had also failed a drug test in 2003.

The Dodgers put him on waivers in late August, and on August 30 of 2010, Manny was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. His performance for them was decidedly lackluster during his 24 games. Now he’s a free agent, and the threat of Manny looms on the horizon.

TR Sullivan reported today that the Rangers, Angels, and Rays are all in the mix for Manny. MLBtraderumors.com agrees, they report that the Rays are also discussing a deal with Johnny Damon. So if the Rays get Damon, does that mean they’ll quit pursuing Manny? {Gulp}

Manny is reportedly very focused on baseball, and he’s had some amazing stats. But if he’s been taking steroids for at least the last 7 years, his accomplishments are greatly diminished.

With all of the stunts he’s pulled in the last decade, I’d just rather not have him in Texas. Period.

In other news, John Rhadigan has been named to replace Josh Lewin as the play-by-play announcer on television. I think I like this, but I won’t be able to give a definitive diagnosis until after I hear him call a few games.

You know who I would love to see calling games on tv? Steve Busby. I love when they bring him in to talk pitching. But he probably would need to be the color guy as opposed to the play-by-play guy.

I love Tom Grieve; he’s a very nice guy and he’s Mr. Ranger. But I would prefer Busby over Greive any day. Can’t you just imagine Buzz and Rhads together?

Well of course you can, because you’ve seen them do pre- and post-game shows together. It would be awesome, I’m telling you.

Maybe some day.

This weekend is the first 2-day Rangers’ Fan Fest, and I’m excited/nervous. It’s at the Arlington Convention Center this year, which is definitely different from having it at the Ballpark. But last year it didn’t get above freezing all day at Fan Fest, and spending most of the day outside was not easy.

So at least we won’t be cold this year. But I’m dreading all the running back and forth. I’ve seen the layout, and it looks like I’m going to be running around or standing in line all day tomorrow. All by myself, because I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Great.

A crushed pelvis + arthritis + a long time on my feet = lots of pain for Katie. And since it’s a 2-day thing, if I get up on Sunday morning incredibly sore and beat up, I’m screwed. But it’s a new experience, so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I’ll bring my cane.

I just need to remember that if I don’t get somebody’s autograph, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll get it later. I shouldn’t push myself too hard, but just try to have fun! Woo hoo!!!

Oh, I just remembered that I hadn’t told you about the autographs I got last weekend. The Rangers Winter Caravan made a stop at the Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco (I LOVE that place!), and there were a lot of guys signing autographs.

For myself: David Murphy, Dave Anderson, Steve Buechele, and Mitch Moreland
For my step-dad Larry: Derek Holland (smeared everywhere unfortunately) and Chuck Greenberg
For my dad: Steve Buechele, Tommy Hunter, and Mitch Moreland

My step-sister Faith went with me, and we had a BLAST! So hopefully this weekend will be more of the same!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 26 days

2011 shaping up

I hope that all of you had a fantastic holiday season! I got some great baseball stuff for Christmas!

My Aunt Paula got me a dozen clear plastic baseball cubes so that I can display some more of my autographed baseballs, and my dad got me 2 more, so I was super excited about that. I still need at least another dozen, but it’s a great start! And I’m planning to keep getting autographs, so I hope my family keeps ‘em coming!

But the best thing was that my dad got me one of the Michael Young bats that was designed when he became the franchise hits leader this season! They only made 2010 bats, and mine came with a certificate stating that it was number 109!!

My dad said he got it several months ago, so it has just been sitting at his house waiting for Christmas!

My mom and step-dad also got me a framed picture that says “Texas Rangers,” but each letter of “Rangers” has a different picture. The first one is the famous Nolan Ryan picture with the bloody jersey after Robin Ventura charged the mound, and all of the other pictures are from the 2010 season, including Josh Hamilton, Vladdy, Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Neftali Feliz, etc.

I think those were all of my baseball-related Christmas gifts, but a few days ago I purchased my 2011 20-game Mini Plan! Woo-hoo!!!

I know I haven’t blogged since Cliff Lee decided to go to the Phillies, so some of you may think that it caused me to go into a massive depression and I couldn’t bear to write about baseball.

The truth is that I just got busy. It’s easy to put baseball on the back burner when it’s not baseball season. And the longer I wait, the more stuff happens and I get farther and farther behind. So bear with me, okay?

Alright, in the last month (after Cliff Lee left), Zack Greinke was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and Matt Garza was traded to the Chicago Cubs. Uh oh. That means all the good pitchers are gone, right?

Wrong. (Hopefully)

After the Greinke trade but before the Garza trade, the Rangers signed Brandon Webb. When I first heard the name, I knew it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t remember why.

As it turns out, Webb won the Cy Young while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006. But he hasn’t played in a Major League game in the past 2 years because he’s been recovering/rehabbing from a shoulder injury/surgery.

I have a good feeling about Brandon Webb, and his surgery was performed by Rangers’ team doctor Dr. Keith Meister, so THAT’S gotta be good. But Brandon Webb could be to 2011 what Rich Harden was to 2010. Who knows, right?

The Rangers also signed lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes, and I knew his name was familiar as well. He is 41 years old! But he made it to the All-Star team for the first time last year as the representative from the Cincinnati Reds.

He has been in the Major Leagues since 1991, and his age doesn’t seem to be adversely affecting him. He missed all of the 2007 season due to Tommy John surgery, but in the last 3 years since the surgery he’s had a 2.32 ERA and an opponent’s batting average of .204. Not too shabby!

He’s also a native Texan, which is always nice.

But the Rangers’ biggest aquisition this off-season is at what was previously considered a very stable position: 3rd base.

Michael Young is the face of the Texas Rangers, having spent all of his time in the majors on this team and even holding the franchise record for hits. He is signed through 2013. But since his move to 3rd base 2 years ago, his defensive ability seems to have taken a hit.

It had been suggested by numerous blogs (maybe even mine, but I don’t remember) that Young might be better used as a DH. And that is exactly what MY offered to do when Adrian Beltre became available as an option for the Texas Rangers.

Beltre accepted a 6-year $96 million dollar deal from the Texas Rangers, and he will be our 3rd baseman of the future. I’ve always liked Adrian Beltre, but since he’s 31 years old, I’m not too comfortable with giving him such a long contract.

But Beltre has won 2 Gold Gloves at 3rd base and is obviously defensively superior to Michael Young. No offense, Mikey, but the Rangers now have the strongest left side in all of baseball with Beltre at 3rd and Elvis Andrus at shortstop.

The only thing that makes me sad about adding Beltre? No more Vladdy. Michael Young has become the DH of the near future, so there’s no longer an open spot for Vladdy.

I know his performance took a sharp downward turn midway through last season, but I just love Vladdy. His personality seemed to fit perfectly in the Rangers’ clubhouse, and his quick smile is so contagious. I’ll miss you, Big Bad Vlad.

Now the Rangers are rumored to be courting Jim Thome to take turns at DH with Michael Young. Since MY can play all 4 infield positions, I’m sure the Rangers can work out a schedule where Young spends half his time at DH and the other half giving the other guys in the infield a break.

Jim Thome seems to make more sense for the Rangers at DH than Vlad for 2011, especially in light of this article by BBTiA a few weeks ago. It predicts that Thome will probably expect 350-400 plate appearances in 2011, whereas Vlad would probably expect somewhere around 600 or so.

Thome is also generally regarded as a good clubhouse guy, so that’s promising. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

The Rangers’ Winter Caravan has kicked off, and I’m planning to attend 2 of the appearances to gather some more autographs to my collection.

Then on January 22-23, the Rangers will be hosting their first 2-day Fan Fest, and I can’t wait to see what that entails! Some good stuff coming up!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 34 days
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.