As Sarah wrote a little bit earlier, today’s move to trade Michael Young is sure to be met like most other polarizing situations: You’re either leaning strongly on one side of the fence or the other. It’s debatable, and remains to be seen, as to just how effective Michael Young will be jumping from one of baseball’s standard-bearing franchises such as the Rangers, over to a different league to play with the Phillies. From the Rangers’ perspective, this is both a victory from an on-field talent standpoint, as well as from the business end. Even still, even knowing the likelihood of this transaction finalizing, I expected myself to be a lot happier than I feel at this exact moment.
Over the last several years, I’ve been far from ambivalent in my opinion of Young. I’ve always felt he was sensationally overrated through the media both locally and nationally, and had a hard time digesting his complaints when he was asked to move off shortstop to make way for Elvis Andrus, off third base for Adrian Beltre, and when he openly demanded a trade that offseason. It just never sat right in my stomach.
However, with all that said, it would be wrong of me to bash his contributions. Yes, he was a highly over hyperbolized single’s hitter for the majority of his career. Yes, even despite his erroneous Gold Glove in 2008, he was a below-average to terrible defender at nearly every infield slot he occupied. And yes, he’s been given more credit than he probably deserves for being a clubhouse leader, for possessing intangibles, for being gritty. My stance on Young is and has always been — like with every player — what is black and white, what we can quantify.
Contrary to all that, I can’t bring myself to throwing a Michael Young is finally gone! party for myself. It doesn’t feel apropos in this exact moment. The conception of my love for the Texas Rangers began in the late 1990’s when I was a little boy, but I didn’t grow fully invested in the franchise on a game-to-game basis until the early-ought years, when Michael Young’s career really grew legs. From 2001-2009 I never got to see my team make it to the playoffs, and unless I’m mistaken, we only finished as high as 2nd place one time. It can be argued that, even despite the Hank Blalock‘s and Mark Teixeira‘s and Alfonso Soriano‘s, Young was the most consistent asset the Rangers possessed during that time span. I, personally, was in my prime years as a baseball fan, in adoration of a losing franchise, and Michael Young was one of the lone bright spots. From that perspective, I have nothing but love for the man.
What I can’t deny is that this move does, in fact, make the Rangers a better, more flexible team moving forward. We are shedding ourselves of a defensive liability, an obligation to give him his 120-130 starts in 2013, and replacing that with younger, higher-ceiling at bats. And, as the objective data shows, Michael Young was baseball’s worst player in 2012, generating an abysmal sub-replacement level -1.4 fWAR.
Intrinsically, this is an exceptional move by Jon Daniels, ridding the franchise of its least effective regular, and saving about $6M while he was at it. That money could be spent to help ascertain Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, or perhaps Justin Upton.
Today’s loss is a win for the Texas Rangers, but I haven’t gotten over that twinge of melancholy that’s still nested within me.