News broke over the weekend that Michael Young has become disgruntled with the Texas Rangers for reducing his role and shopping him via trade. Now it seems like Young and the Rangers are headed for a messy break-up and rumors are swirling that the six-time All-Star could end up on the arm of the LA Angels. Given their obvious need at third base, it seems like a match made in heaven. right? Well, um, yeah, maybe not so much.
All-Star or no, do the Angels really need to trade for another bad contract?
When one thinks of the Angels trading for Michael Young, the first thing that undoubtedly pops into one’s mind is a though akin to, “Wow! What a dumb move by the Rangers. I can’t believe they would trade away one of their best players and screw up their team chemistry in the process. How dumb are they?” Indeed, the Rangers do seem to be going out of their way this off-season to minimize Young’s role with the team and piss him off in the process. They gave his position to Adrian Beltre and even overpaid Beltre to make it happen. Then, after Young took the high road and accepted his new role as DH/superutility man, Texas went and traded for Mike Napoli to eat into a healthy chunk of Young’s already lessened playing time. I’d be pretty cheesed off if I were Young too, especially since he has been the face of the franchise for so long.
But as the Angels and their fans ponder acquiring Young, instead of wondering why the Rangers are so dumb, we should wonder why they seem to be so eager to part ways with such a good player?
Don’t hurt your brain thinking about that one, the answer really isn’t very hard to come up with. The answer is quite simple: Young just isn’t that good anymore. Sure, he’s a six-time All-Star and a former AL batting champ, but what has he done for us lately? In 2008, Young posted an OPS of .741 with a .284 batting average, his lowest such numbers in years. But in 2009, he rebounded in a big way via an .892 OPS and .322 average. Then in 2010, he just made matters even more confusing by seeing his average return to .284 again with his OPS slipping back down to .774. So much for being Mr. Consistency. Even in his down years, Young hasn’t been that bad, but as he heads into this season at the ripe old age of 34, there is little reason to believe that he’ll be returning to All-Star form again.
Now, surely the Halos would still be plenty happy to have an above average third baseman this season considering the alternatives, Izturis, Aybar and Wood, who range from average to holy-crap-this-guy-is-a-disaster. But, alas, baseball is always about more than personnel, it is about business and the Angels might want to think twice about getting into the Michael Young business. The Angels have defended themselves fiercely from the Vernon Wells backlash, but it is hard to believe that they haven’t learned their lesson about taking on bad contracts in the process. At $48 million over the next three years, Young’s contract isn’t nearly as soul-crushing as Wells’, but it definitely isn’t giving anyone the warm and fuzzies. With the finances now in the forefront of our minds, let’s not reconsider just how much of an upgrade, in monetary value, Young represents over the unholy trinity of Callaspo-Izturis-Wood. I’m no expert at translating stats to monetary figures, but I’d bet my first born child that Young isn’t $10+ million (I’m not assuming the full $16 million since Texas would likely kick in some cash) better than what the Angels currently have. And that doesn’t even account for the prospects the Angels would have to fork over to Texas to make the deal happen.
Even if you are from the school that believes that Arte Moreno can spend his money however he sees fit and that we fans shouldn’t worry about such things, Young still may not be as great as he seems at first blush. Many have suggested that he could be a solution for the Angels’ leadoff hitter problem, but Young has never been a strong on-base guy, having never drawn more than 58 free passes in a single season. Much like the Angel players being considered for the leadoff spot, Young would have to hit well over .300 to be able to push his OBP to the kind of levels expected of a quality tablesetter. Young also lacks the typical speed and basestealing ability that a Mike Scioscia lineup pretty much demands from their one-hole hitter. And from a defensive standpoint, Young has consistently rated as a substandard third baseman.
I know I am coming down pretty hard on Young, but it is for a good reason. I’m sure he still has some productive years left in him, but what concerns me about him is that he perfectly fits the profile of the kind of past-his-prime star that the Angels would trade for as some sort of last-ditch effort to salvage this off-season. The Angel front office would praise Young’s previous accolades and glow about his work ethic and leadership skills, but none of that would change the fact that the Halos would potentially be trading for yet another mid-thirties declining star who would clog up the payroll for the next few years. Sure, the Halos would be better in the present, but their future would be dealt another blow in the process. To me, it just isn’t worth it. Let some other club roll the dice on Young regaining All-Star form in his mid-thirties.