Results tagged ‘ Mike Napoli ’

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

Non-Fan Fest stuff

First and foremost, I have to acknowledge that Manny Ramirez is NOT going to be playing for the Rangers for the 2011 season! YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

The morning after I posted my anti-Manny blog, I got in the car to head out to Fan Fest. On my way out to Arlington, I heard that Manny had signed a one year deal with the Rays. It was a great way to start off the day!!

The blog I wrote yesterday about Fan Fest was already so long that I didn’t get to address this other stuff. So here are some other things I’ve been thinking about.

It was announced on Sunday that the Rangers reached a deal with Darren O’Day, so that’s one less arbitration candidate that the Rangers have to worry about. Now the only 2 arbitration-eligible players who have yet to sign are Josh Hamilton and Frank Francisco.

I hope they don’t pay Frankie Frank a lot of money. After his monumental crash early last season and the subsequently unimpressive remainder of 2010, I kinda wish Frankie would go away. Instead of spending money on him, we could put money towards a better use.

I’m not sure why they can’t reach a deal with Josh Hamilton, because he was the AL MVP last year. He only wants $12 million, just pay it!

From what I understand, the arbitration process comes up with a salary placed on what similar players are getting around the league. But there’s no one to compare Josh Hamilton to; he’s the best.

Major League Baseball recognized him as the Most Valuable Player in the entire American League in 2010. So I don’t think it would be out of the question to find the guy with the highest salary in the AL, then pay Josh more than that. Seriously.

Alex Rodriguez made $33 million dollars last year, but he wasn’t the MVP. Josh Hamilton was. Josh Hamilton is only asking for $12 million in 2011. Just pay it! It’s better than $34 million!

They were fine with offering Adrian Beltre a 6-year/$96 million deal, so why not Hamilton? Well they probably shouldn’t offer Hamilton a 6-year contract, because he’s pretty injury-prone.

But how about a 3-year deal where they pay him $12 mil for 2011, $13 mil for 2012, and $14 mil for 2013? And add in lots of incentives based on the number of games he plays, homer he hits, his batting average, etc.

Now it’s easy for me to give Hamilton someone else’s money. But I thought the Rangers weren’t supposed to be cash-strapped any more. I think the Rangers need to realize that they’re looking a gift horse in the mouth, put on their big boy pants and pay the man.

So, was I the only one who was sad to hear that Vernon Wells will be with the Angels next year? I mean, how did the Rangers miss out on that one?

Vernon Wells is a beast, and I would absolutely LOVE to have him in a Ranger uniform. I mean, he’s FROM here!!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, Vernon Wells was traded from the Toronto Blue Jays to the LA Angels for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera.

But maybe he wants a more active role that we would have available here in Texas. Wells is an outfielder, and the Rangers are pretty set in the outfield.

Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, David Murphy, and Julio Borbon are our 4 outfielders, not to mention Mitch Moreland (if he’s not at 1B) and Craig Gentry waiting at AAA.

For at least the next 3 years, Adrian Beltre will be our 3rd baseman and Michael Young will be the DH. So we can’t put Wells at DH.

Wells also has 4 years left on his contract for a hefty $86 million dollars. I think any team would be leery about taking on a paycheck that big.

I get all the reasons why, but it’s still upsetting. I like Vernon Wells.

It makes me feel better to know that Wells didn’t chose to go to the Angels, though. It wasn’t like he was a free agent; he was traded. He was happy with the Blue Jays. Yes, he waived his no-trade clause to accept the trade, but he didn’t go seek them out.

Ooh, hey! I just got an email from Jamey Newberg saying that the Blue Jays have traded Mike Napoli to us for Frank Francisco! Woo hoo!!!!!!!!!!!!

But wait, isn’t Mike Napoli a catcher? We already have Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor. I guess the Rangers’ recent lack of good catching taught them a lesson, and they don’t want that to happen again.

After having Salty spend so much time injured and Taylor Teagarden unable to step up, the Rangers were lucky that they were able to get Matt Treanor during Spring Training of 2010.

And then we had to go after Bengie Molina mid-season, and we traded Salty away. So I guess they want to make sure they don’t get caught in a lurch again.

Maybe Napoli can work as the other right-handed big bat the Rangers were hoping to add. So maybe he’ll DH on the days when Young is at 1B. Or something.

I don’t know how it’s all gonna work out, but I know that I like it. Way to go, JD!!!

Seriously, guys, how amazing is our GM?!? It’s all coming together, and I’m starting to really get pumped for the 2011 season!!

Pitchers and catchers report in: 22 days

Rangers in a 4-game skid

With last night’s shut-out loss (5-0), the Rangers have now lost 4 games in a row. They’re tired, and they don’t have anything to play for anymore. I don’t know if they can pull out of this funk before the end of the season.

Derek Holland
Derek Holland got the start last night, and he actually did a pretty impressive job. He pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up 8 hits (but no walks) and 4 earned runs. He seemed to be confident, and he definitely had his stuff, but he couldn’t get any run support. He had a perfect game going through the 3rd inning, then ran into a bit of trouble in the 4th inning. But he battled through it and came back out to take the mound in the 5th and 6th innings.

Last night was Derek’s last outing of his rookie year, and I feel bad for him because he didn’t get a win. He deserved a few more wins this season, but there were a couple of times throughout the season when he just couldn’t get the run support from our offense. He definitely pitched better in this outing than Kevin Millwood did in his last outing, when Millie got the win because of an 11-run inning by the Rangers’ offense last week. And what about poor Brandon McCarthy, who pitched 7 2/3 shut out innings last week before the bullpen gave away the game? {Sigh}
Julio Borbon
Five different Angels’ pitchers combined to hold the Rangers to just one hit over their 9 innings. The hit came from Julio Borbon, our lead-off hitter, in his very first at-bat. It looked like a good omen when Julio got that hit his first time up, but it turned out to be just a fluke. And Julio was quickly erased as he got caught trying to steal 2nd base. I don’t know what happened with that attempt, because he’s usually really good at stealing, but he was thrown out by Angels’ catcher Mike Napoli several feet away from the bag.

Ian Kinsler
The Angels’ pitchers combined to give up 5 (!) walks in last night’s game, but the Rangers couldn’t make anything happen. Ian Kinsler was walked 3 times, and Julio Borbon and Craig Gentry were each walked once. The only Angels’ pitcher not to give up a walk was the former Ranger Darren Oliver. I always liked him, and he’s still got great stuff, even though he’s about to turn 39 and he’s nearing the end of his career.
David Murphy
David Murphy made a great catch in the bottom of the 1st inning, when Chone Figgins hit a long fly ball to left field. The ball would have hit off the top of the wall for a home run if David had’t slammed into the wall with his arm outstretched to snag it. You could tell that it hurt, and he had to take a few moments to recover, but I don’t think he did any lasting damage. That catch reminded Tom Greive of earlier in the season, when Murphy hit the netting in front of the big screen in left field at the Ballpark in Arlington, and the camera got that amazing shot of him bouncing off the netting. I had forgotten about that! :)

Hank Blalock
Hank Blalock had to leave the game in the 4th inning with a mild concussion. Erick Aybar laid down a bunt, and in trying to tag the runner out, Blalock lunged for Aybar just as Derek Holland accidentally kicked/kneed Hank in the head while trying to get to 1st base to cover. Andruw Jones replaced Blalock at 1st base, with CD still out with the sore hammy.
Craig Gentry
Also in the 4th inning, Craig Gentry showed his amazing arm strength by throwing out Erick Aybar at third base after a sacrifice fly by Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad hit one deep to center field, and Gentry threw an accurate one-hopper to Michael Young at 3rd base, who laid down the tag with plenty of time to spare. Even the Angels’ announcers remarked about what an amazing throw it was!

Game Notes:

Marlon Byrd

*Marlon Byrd didn’t start last night’s game, but he said he is not finished for the year. He is definitely going to try to play again sometime in the next 4 games.
Chris David (my husband)
*Chris Davis was out of the starting lineup for the 2nd time in a row last night due to a sore hamstring, but he said that he hopes to be well enough to play in today’s game. Yay!! I was getting worried that maybe I had seen the last of CD this year, and I wasn’t ready for that yet! Plus, Andruw Jones scares me at 1st base. I know he won a bunch of Gold Gloves, but that was as a center fielder! Playing in the outfield is waaaay different from playing in the infield!

Kevin Millwood
Today’s pitching matchup: Kevin Millwood (12-10) against John Lackey (11-8). Like I said earlier, Millie’s last outing was a disappointment, but he was saved by the Rangers’ offense. His previous start before that was masterful, but that was after 10 days rest and lots of extra bullpen work. So I’m not too hopeful about Millwood’s start today. BUT… John Lackey has a big mouth, and I don’t think the Rangers like him too much. If they can fuel that anger into a productive game, they might be onto something. Lackey has also struggled in his last 2 starts, and he’s given up 10 earned runs in his last 11 innings. I think they have a good chance today. Please, they have to break this losing streak before the end of the season!
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