Tagged: Philadelphia Phillies

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

Goodbye, Cliff Lee

Well folks, it’s over. Cliff Lee is not a Ranger or a Yankee, he’s a … Philly??

When I heard the news, I was as surprised as everyone else. Who would have thought that Cliff Lee would decide to go to the Phillies for less money and a shorter contract?

But it just goes back to what I’ve been saying since he entered free agency… no one knew where Cliff Lee would decide to go. Only Cliff and his family could make that decision, and they chose Philadelphia for their own reasons.

It obviously wasn’t because of money or length of contract, so it must have come down to a personal decision about where he and his family wanted to go.

I’m not mad at Cliff Lee. Why would I be? I mean sure, I wish Cliff was coming back to the Rangers. But just because he didn’t pick my team doesn’t mean that I hate him now.

But how about the Phillies starting rotation now? Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, AND Cliff Lee? Sheesh. It looks like the Phillies will be heading back to the fall classic in 2011.

At least he’s not going to New York. HA!!! TAKE THAT, YOU HEATHENS!!

So now I think the Rangers need to put all of their eggs in Zack Greinke’s basket. (Wait, that doesn’t sound right…)

Let me rephrase: They should do whatever is necessary to get Zack Greinke. If that means giving up Martin Perez or Tanner Scheppers, okay then. Just not both of them please!

Derek Holland? Fine. Jurickson Profar? Okay. Robbie Erlin? Sure. Leury Garcia? No problem.

Yes, it could come back to bite us later. The same could be said for any trade. But it’s not like we’re trading away all of our young talent for some has-been.

Grienke is still young, and he still has a lot of upside. And we NEED a top of the rotation starter!

CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis can’t carry us all year by themselves.

Recently, I’ve also heard that Matt Garza (Tampa Bay) could be a possible trade option. If we don’t get Zack Greinke, I would be perfectly happy with Garza!

So the same principle applies for Garza: I think the Rangers should do whatever they have to do to get one of them!

In other news, the Rangers were able to re-sign Matt Treanor for the 2011 season. That’s great, because he knows our pitching staff and he can help Torrealba get acclimated. And he’s dependable, so I feel confident with him as our back-up guy.

He’s also CJ’s preferred catcher. We don’t want to mess with CJ!

So now we’re just waiting for a front-line starter and a DH. There aren’t too many big names on the free agent market, so if the Rangers want somebody good, they have to be willing to trade some prospects.

I’ll let you know as soon as something happens!

Book signing, more trades, injuries, and ownership

My dad and I have decided that we’re going to Jamey Newberg’s book signing party on Thursday! We already pre-ordered the books, so they’ll be ready for us to pick up at the party. Rusty Greer, Ian Kinsler, Scott Feldman, Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, and Chris Davis will all be there to sign autographs. Yay!!

I have Rusty Greer & Derek Holland’s autographs already, but not the other 4 guys. Last year I almost got Tommy Hunter and Chris Davis’ autographs, but I couldn’t close the deal. Each player will sign up to 3 items per person, so I can get all of them to sign the book, baseballs, and Daddy’s glove. I hope it’s not too crowded. Anyway, moving on…

In another huge 3-team trade, Cliff Lee (formerly of the Philadelphia Phillies) is going to Seattle and Roy Halladay (formerly of the Seattle Mariners) is going to Toronto. The full details haven’t been released yet, but when you’re dealing with 2 high-quality starting pitchers like Halladay and Lee, the deal is sure to be enormous.

Great, that’s just what we need: for a team in our division to go into next year with Cliff Lee AND Chone Figgens.

John Lackey (formerly of the Angels) has been signed by the Boston Red Sox to a 5-year, $85 million dollar deal. That works out to $17 million per year. Yikes.

But don’t feel bad for the Angels yet. They may have lost John Lackey, but they signed DH/OF Hideki Matsui (formerly of the Yankees) to a one-year deal. Lovely.

The Rangers look like they’re in for a bumpy ride within the AL West this year.

No news on the Mike Lowell/Max Ramirez trade. Apparently it’s being held up because of all the injuries involved (i.e. Mike Lowell’s hip and thumb, Max Ramirez’s injured wrists).

After it appeared that Jim Crane had fallen out of the ownership race, he has suddenly emerged as the frontrunner. Around Thanksgiving, Crane, Gilbert, and Greenberg all submitted their original bids to buy the team.

Then they had a deadline of December 7th (last Monday) to submit bid modifications, which Gilbert and Greenberg did, but Crane didn’t. It was sort of assumed that Crane had taken himself out of the race. But then, last Thursday, Crane submitted his modifications 3 days late.

Crane’s proposal is rumored to be around $530 mil, and supposedly economics is what is driving this ownership deal. But Crane had a “handshake agreement” to buy the Astros in 2008 that fell through, and that makes Major League officials wary about him getting final approval to buy the Rangers.

Today is the deadline set by Comissioner Bud Selig for Tom Hicks to chose one bidder to go into final negotiations with. But Hicks has apparently been dragging his feet throughout this whole process, and he’s doing everything he can to try to find a way to keep the team. So he just might pick Crane to negotiate with, knowing that the deal might not go through, just to give himself more time to try to find a way to keep the Rangers. Who knows?

World Series, Rangers stuff, hockey

Well, the Phillies are facing an uphill battle for the remainder of the World Series. The Yankees are leading the seies 3-2. Which means that the Phillies will have to win both remaining games, in New York, in order to win the World Series. That’s going to be tough.

They pulled out a beautiful win last night! At one point the Phillies were winning 8-2 over those dirty Yanks, but they came back to within 8-6 before it was all said and done. Cliff Lee was the starter last night, of course. The Phils just can’t lose with Cliff on the mound. The only problem is that he can’t pitch every day. So the Phillies are going to have to find another way to win games 6 and 7.

Yesterday (Monday), the Rangers conducted individual 2-hour interviews of the 4 finalists for the batting coach position. The 4 guys going up for the job are Rusty Greer, Thad Bosley, Clint Hurdle, and Gerald Perry. Bosley, Hurdle, and Perry all have experience as a batting coach, and Greer is a Rangers legend. I love Rusty Greer, and I would love to see him get a job with the Rangers, but I don’t know if he’s the best man for the job. It’s probably not fair for the Rangers to just play favorites. But we should get some news on this front before the end of the week. Yay!

The Rangers re-signed Kevin Richardson to a minor league contract last week, after releasing him from their 40-man roster. He’s a good guy, and I hope he can see some major league action (if we can find a place for him).

Tomorrow (Wednesday), I’m going to my very first hockey game ever! I’ve heard that going to a game is way different from watching it on tv. But I’ll have to miss watching Game 6 of the World Series. Thank God for Tivo!!

Not much other news to report. But I’ll let you know when I hear something!

World Series Game 1, Random Rangers Thoughts

Last night was Game 1 of the World Series, and the Phillies won!! And they didn’t just barely skate in for the win; they completely dominated. Cliff Lee was the starting pitcher for the Phillies last night, and he pitched a complete game. CC Sabathia started for the Yankees, and he did a pretty good job, but he was nothing compared to Cliff Lee. The Phillies were leading 6-0 going into the bottom of the 9th, but the Yankees were able to score a single run, keeping them from getting shut out. The final score 6-1. It was awesome!

The Rangers met with CJ Wilson at the end of the 2009 season and talked to him about possibly going back to a starting role. Which is very interesting. I think CJ could be a good starter, but we have a lot of options for the starting rotation in 2010. As things stand, we’ve got Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman for sure, and the remaining 3 slots could be filled by: one of our other starters from 2009 (Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Brandon McCarthy, or Dustin Nippert), Guillermo Moscoso or Luis Mendoza (who were starters in AAA), or by Neftali Feliz (being groomed to be a starter). Ron Washington also apparently wants to acquire a veteran starter, and Ben Sheets’ name is being tossed around yet again.

Rusty Greer confirmed that he recently interviewed with the Texas Rangers to take over Rudy Jaramillo’s former job as batting coach. Although Rusty doesn’t have any MLB coaching experience, he was a beloved player for the Rangers who spent his entire career here and who was adored by the fans. He has been coaching baseball at the collegiate level for Texas Weslyan. Evan Grant wrote a rousing article campaigning for Greer to share the job with current Oklahoma City batting coach Scott Coolbaugh, but Joey Matschulat with the website Baseball Time in Arlington (bbtia.com) reports that Scott Coolbaugh isn’t even interviewing for the job. Interesting.

18-year-old Japanese pitching phenom Yusei Kikuchi decided last week that he was going into the Japanese Draft and that he would not take part in American MLB. The Rangers had sent Derek Holland over to Japan in hopes of luring Kikuchi to the Rangers, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Originally published October 29, 2009 

Ugh… Yankees going to the World Series

Well, even though I despise the Yankees, I’m glad that we finally know which two teams are going to the World Series. The playoffs have taken absolutely FOR-EV-ER!! Seriously, they need to do something about that. If the World Series goes all 7 games, then we’ll be playing the last 3 games in November. That’s just ridiculous.

The problem is that they’re taking too many days off. I understand that at this point in the season, these guys have been playing practically every day for the last 8 months (including Spring Training), and they want to give them some extra rest. But come on man, this is getting insane. I mean, I love baseball, but even I’m getting sick of it. It’s just too drawn out. And what’s with the 4-minute commercial breaks between half innings? ARG!!

Maybe I’m just jealous because my Rangers aren’t in it. I can guarantee you that if it were my boys in blue (and red), I’d be hanging on to every last second. {Sigh} Next year, the Rangers will make it to the ALDS. They won’t go all the way, but they might even make it to the ALCS. We’ll see. For now, GO PHILLIES!

A quick sprinkling of information

*The Phillies won the NLCS last night, and they are going to the World Series

*Tonight is Game 5 of the ALCS, and the Yankees are up 3 games to 1 over the Angels. If the Yankees win any 1 of the remaining 3 games in the series, they will be going to the World Series. The Angels would have to win tonight’s game as well as the remaining 2 games in New York to advance. It’s not looking too good for the Halos. 😦

*Derek Holland went to Japan earlier this week to talk to Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old pitching phenom. Kikuchi has to decide by October 29 if he wants to go into the Japanese draft (to play for a professional Japanese baseball team) or into the American draft.

*New ownership: Originally the consensus was that a deal wouldn’t be brokered until at least January 2010. But now the timetable has apparently been pushed up, because it’s looking like a deal could be finalized by the end of 2009. Jim Crane and Chuck Greenberg (2 of the 3 frontrunners to buy the Rangers) have both individually visited the ballpark and had a meeting with Nolan Ryan, Jon Daniels, and Tom Hicks this week, so Dennis Gilbert is sure to follow.

*Jason Grilli and Kevin Richardson have been outrighted to AAA Oklahoma City. They both have already cleared waivers. The Rangers expect Jason Grilli to decline the assignment and become a free agent and go somewhere else, while Kevin Richardson could possibly re-sign a minor league contract with the Rangers. This adds 2 more open spots of the 40-man roster, along with the assumed vacancies left by Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock, who are not expected to re-sign with the Rangers, and Eddie Guardado, who might retire.

*Jarrod Saltalamacchia might play in the Dominican Winter League, in order to rehab after his surgery.

*The Surprise Rafters are tied for the lead in the AFL West (which consists of a grand total of 3 teams), with a win-loss record of 5-3.

Originally published October 22, 2009