Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Dear God No
Hey, did you hear Michael Young made his now-annual trade request? Of course you did, except this year: he's serious! Most folks with brains laughed off one of the more overpaid players in baseball foolishness, but most folks with brains don't write for TSN.ca. The good folks at TSN.ca actually advocate acquiring Young! I know! Let's open up a hot can of fisk on one of the more specious pieces you'll read today, or ever.
With the Michael Young situation in Texas looking like it's heading to a rather unpleasant ending, baseball fans North of the 49th parallel have to wonder if the one-time Toronto Blue Jays farm hand would make sense for the club in the 2011 season and beyond.
That conversation, if we must have it, is a short one. Michael Young isn't a very good baseball player anymore. He had a good year in 2009 thanks to in play average inflation but beyond that...no thanks. Next! Oh wait, this article continues..
For his career, the 34-year old Young is a .300 hitter, who posted five consecutive 200-hit seasons between the years 2003 and 2007 and led the American League with a .331 average in 2005. Last season, he hit .284 with 21 home runs.
Yup, that is true. He hits .300 and compiles singles. Woo. For his career, he is barely above league average offensively when you look beyond the holy grail of batting average. 105 wRC+ for his career. Not great, especially not for an aging player with frightening home/road splits. Which I shall address later.
To be clear, there are several hurdles that would need to be cleared up before a deal could happen. Firstly, Young has eight teams that the Rangers could deal the six-time All-Star game participant to without needing Young to approve of the deal first. Unfortunately for Blue Jays fans, Toronto is not one of those teams, meaning that Young would have to consent to any deal that would send him to the Blue Jays.
Too bad Jays fans don't get to approve this deal. How great would that be? A fandom-wide referendum on dumb, expensive, dream-crippling trades! We could start lobby groups! Think of the kickbacks! VOTE NO ON YOUNG! NO MORE PORK FAT TRADES! Seriously, this is what you call a "blessing in disguise."
The second major issue would be the fact that Young is owed $46 million over the next three seasons, which is a steep price for a player who would be 37-years old when his deal expired in three years.
Yes. That is a major issue, a minor one compared to the roster implications of bringing in a fire hydrant to play third base when younger, cheaper, better options languish in the minors.
Money aside for now, would the acquisition of Young make baseball sense for the Jays?
Nope. Yet look at the sheer volume of words below this sentence. My guess is the author doesn't agree.
There's a solid argument to be made that he could. The most pertinent point is that Young could fill the team's current hole at third base, which would allow the club to shift Jose Bautista back to his preferred position in right field. Travis Snider would then be slotted into left field, with the speedy Rajai Davis patrolling centre field.
That's the argument for acquiring any third basemen. It's also a ringing endorsement for punting on 2011 when you consider the "Rajai Davis in center field every day" part.
The infield would be offensively productive with Adam Lind and Aaron Hill on the right-side and Yunel Escobar and Young on the left.
The right side of the infield would indeed be offensively productive with Hill and Lind, provided they, um, produce offensively. The hypothetical left side of the infield features two league average offensive performers at best; one of whom is a superlative defender, the other being Michael Young.
Young's reputation as being a solid clubhouse presence would also be a plus for a largely young group of hitters. He can hit for average and power, and while his defense isn't great, he did capture a Gold Glove award in 2008 and perhaps some of his lack of range could be covered by Escobar.
Young's reputation as a solid clubhouse presence is COMPLETELY UNFOUNDED. The man is — as you go on to state yourself! — a very poor defender. So poor that his current team moved him from his position twice because of the damage he does there. AND HE PICKED UP HIS BALL AND HE WENT HOME. This valued clubhouse presence has now grumbled to the press about his job and barked about wanting out. Just because he's old doesn't mean he provides one iota of leadership.
As for his power and average, Michael Young is the proud owner of some of the most extreme home/road splits in baseball. Away from the Arlington Jetstream, Michael Young's offensive profile becomes eerily similar to slap hitting glovemen instead of a muy macho power hitter. His career wOBA at home is 50 points higher than his (below-average) road numbers. After 3000 plate appearances, that just doesn't happen.
Naysayers of the deal would point to the fact that Young's advanced age means that he does not fit into what the Jays are attempting to do. Maybe so, but if the club wants to seriously compete in the American League East in the next few seasons, they're going to need to get an established player or two. Simply put, the Jays could do a lot worse than Young.
Advanced age, high price tag, bad reputation, diminishing returns. Grand slam! They could do worse, sure. Let's consider the other side of this coin, even for just a second: what part of Alex Anthopoulos' track record suggests they couldn't do better?
Unfortunately, a good baseball move doesn't happen in a vacuum and other concerns always take precedent.
First off, the Jays would have to work out a deal with the Rangers, which could be difficult, Texas has already stated that they're not simply going to give the talented Young away. Along those lines is the money that Young is owed.
Is something wrong with my browser? Am I reading Bleacher Report or the most heavily-trafficked sports website in Canada?
It stands to reason that if any clubs that the Rangers speak to are willing to give up better prospects, Texas would more likely eat a substantial portion of Young's current contract than if the deal was simply a salary dump.
So if money is problem, the Jays should just overpay? That sounds great! Who doesn't love a bidding war over a bad investment?
With that said, if the Jays decide to make a move for Young, money shouldn't be a huge deterrent. In the last two-years alone, the club has saved around $145 million on their commitments to Alex Rios and Vernon Wells, not to mention the fact that they're not paying any pitcher close to the $20 million that they would have paid Roy Halladay had they been able to keep him.
I can only assume the Blue Jays offices and finance department looks like the final table of the World Series of Poker, huge stacks & piles of money everywhere. "Toss a couple bundles into a nondescript sack with a dollar sign on it Tony, we're going Young huntin!"
No one is saying that the Jays should take Young's entire contract; however if the Rangers picked up $15 million or so, it would work out to be around $10 million a season for a proven bat at the hot corner that would help put the club one step closer to their goal competing in the AL East.
Would he waive his no trade clause to come to Toronto? I have no idea, but it's interesting to consider at least.
Just like that. The Rangers agree to eat 8 figures of the insane contract extension they signed and the Jays could have an aging singles hitter without a position! Plan the parade!
Look, it isn't as though Michael Young is the worst player in baseball. He is simply overrated and overpriced, an aging guy with a distorted view of his own value and abilities. What part of that package suits a rebuilding team hoping to begin their assault on the division crown in 2012?
Getty Images photo of Michael Young, once again, coming up just short courtesy of Daylife.