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 The good folks at 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 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.


  1. I like TSN's logic. We trade away one bad contract and get a ton of free money. Now what to do with that money...

    Lets trade for a bad contract, which will put them in the same situation as they were in to begin with, giving them no $$ to re-sign Bautista and/or make a push for a big name free agent in 2011. SMH.

  2. I'm shocked at the clamouring among Jays fans for a Young trade. A friend of mine who's generally a pretty smart guy recently emailed me trying to make the case for a trade. My response was not dissimilar to this post.


  3. all this michael young talk has reminded how weird it is that the jays didn't hang on to emaus or sign a guy like andy laroche or felipe lopez. none of those guys are great options but they don't cost much and allow bautista to stay in right.

  4. Offseason times often see people get excited for silly things, just so they have something to look forward to/talk about.
    You would think people paid to write about baseball would be above this. Apparently not.

  5. I wonder if all the support for a hypothetical Young-to-Toronto trade would be even half this loud if not for the fact that Young was "the one that got away." I think Jays fans - including myself, probably - have always tended to overrate the guy because he could have been ours. But at this point, trading anyone for Michael Young would be almost as stupid as trading Michael Young for Esteban Loaiza.

    I have to say, at first when I heard of Young's availability I thought of the Scott Rolen trade a few years ago. He was old and broken down, and look at how awesome he turned out... GBOAT! But a few minutes of Fangraphs player page reading set me straight. Fortunately, AA is a smart guy, so at least there's nothing to worry about.

  6. I am all for a trade for young IF it is Young + 25mil for Rivera.

    I don't see that happening.

  7. Why do people malign shortstops who produce league average offensive numbers as though they're not above average for their position?

  8. This is what happens in a city of Leaf fans, they don't know any better since acquiring Young is a typical Leaf type of acquisition and they don't know what a good management move would be.

  9. Why do people malign shortstops who produce league average offensive numbers as though they're not above average for their position?

    Because it become a bit of a problem when they're 34, owed $15 mil/year, and can't actually play shortstop anymore

  10. I wouldn't mind getting Young. He could be a core building block going forward.

    This is ten years ago, right?

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  12. i wouldn't be surprised to see MacDonald and E5 get some games at 3B, with McCoy backing up the middle infield positions. it just doesn't make a lot of sense to keep Bautista at 3B if there are league average defensive replacements on the team.

    as Drew says, if you're playing Rajai Davis everyday in CF then you've said a lot about how you expect the season to unfold. i would say the same is true if you've promised E5 everyday at-bats.

    the one tiny point the TSN article makes, albeit obliquely, is that you can't assume you'll be able to fill all your positional needs in one off-season when you're ready to go for it. This might mean signing or acquiring someone expensive before you're ready to take your shot. i just don't think Young is that guy.

  13. I hope my comments don't come across as maligning Yunel Escobar. I'm more than happy with a league average contribution from the Swagger King.

  14. Yea, don't get why anyone would want this guy. Maybe because he....tries hard?

  15. Michael Young would provide a grit not seen since David Eckstein.

  16. I'm still waiting for Steve Simmons piece on this matter. he'll probably accuse the TSN idiot for plagiarism!


    Hey, I like that Young for Rivera deal! Then flip him to Anaheim, lol.

  17. I think that the only satisfaction of seeing Young in a Blue Jay uniform, would be the irony of his juuuust missing out on being a teammate of his good friend and soul mate, Vernon Wells. And I know they are good friends and soul mates, because, at least once during every Texas/Toronto series, the TV people find it necessary to tell me what good friends they are.

  18. I think your criticism on young's clubhouse presence is a little heavy. Sure it is difficult for us fans to make these assertions because we are not in the clubhouse. I think however young's actions over the course of his career indicate that he is at least somewhat of a team player. He switched position's three times? twice after he was already a perennial all star. This at least shows two things; he recognizes his limitations and is willing to sacrifice some personal glorification for the benefit of the team [aka he is a team player]. After posted career high numbers as a 2b, young switch to ss upon request. I can think of a ton of players that wouldn't have done this [ I can also think of countless players in the league who would also have done this but thats besides the point]. I'm not saying young is exceptional or a club-house leader, I just think that his willingness to switch positions shows that he is more interest in winning a world series than entering the hof.

  19. I think you're giving Young an awful lot of credit for things he did because his employer told him to.

  20. While I have no particular issue with Young at all, I am in full agreement with the majority that he does not fit here.

  21. Waahhhh waahhhhh...mainstream media writer gets more hits on a Jays story in a day than I do in a's not fair. I want his job...
    cry me a rive.

  22. Good call Jay. That's got to be it. I wouldn't exactly call the forgotten ends of the "mainstream media."

  23. Fun fact: if you rearrange the letters in "Jay B", it spells "Daan De Kerpel".


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