Big news today, of course, is that it sounds like an extension for Michael Young is close. T.R. Sullivan says that the deal is likely to be a 5 year extension for $15 million per year, starting in 2009.
This would be too much money per year for too many years, of course. But as I mentioned earlier this week, the Rangers have to give Young too much money per year for too many years if they want to lock him up. The last couple of years of the deal, Young is almost certainly going to be overpaid.
But I'm not inclined to beat the organization up over this, if they are indeed the numbers that are ultimately going to be in place on a Young extension. If Young stays healthy and can stay at shortstop, even if he's overpaid the last couple of years, he isn't likely to be a Chan Ho-type disaster. Young, of course, was given a blue light by Will Carroll this offseason, one of just a handful of players in baseball to be rated so highly on the health scale, and while there's always a risk of something happening as a player gets older, Michael Young is about as safe a bet as anyone in baseball to be healthy at age 37.
The bigger issue with whether Young can stay at shortstop. Up until last season, Young graded out as a bad defensive shortstop, but he showed marked improvement in 2006. Whether that improvement was real or a temporary aberration will go a long way in determining how valuable Young will be to this team over the next 7 seasons, since the value Young provides will be determined, in large part, by how long he can stay at shortstop.
While Young has been compared by some folks to Paul Molitor, Young isn't the hitter Molitor was, and his offensive value largely derives from the fact that he provides solid production from a key defensive position. Young as a left fielder or a DH would be an average, at best, player, so keeping him at shortstop -- or, possibly, second base or third base at the end of this deal -- is key to it paying off for the Rangers.
I also think there's something to be said for trying to keep Young here long-term. There's been a ton of turnover among the top players with the Rangers since Tom Hicks took over, and I think that contributes, to a certain extent, to the disconnect between the team and the fanbase as a whole. I think having Michael Young signed long-term has some p.r. value. At the end of the day, wins and losses are the most important thing to getting the fans to the ballpark and paying attention to the Rangers, but having someone like Young as "the face of the franchise" (to borrow the phrase that Tom Hicks has used repeatedly in this regard) should help repair some of the damage that has been done to the relationship between the organization and the fans.
In other news...Evan Grant also writes about how much different Ron Washington's camp is from the previous few Rangers managers, with quotes from players who are excited about the enthusiasm he brings.
Grant also reports that Jon Daniels met with Ian Kinsler's agent about a multi-year deal, and it is looking to me like something should happen on this front soon. I am a little curious about how the Rangers would handle it if a deal with Kinsler and a deal with Young got done at around the same time. Would the Rangers do a joint press conference, the way they did when Young and Hank Blalock signed their extensions a few years ago, and play up the angle of Young and Kinsler being their DP combo for the coming years? Or would protocol dictate that Young get his own press conference, with an announcement on Kinsler's deal delayed so as not to detract from the Young announcement?
Ken Rosenthal has a notes column up, that talks about the possibility of the BoSox pursuing Akinori Otsuka. Although Rosenthal says that the Rangers are going to want a steep price for Otsuka, if they were to part with him, Rosenthal mentions Otsuka for Jon Lester as a deal that would probably get Jon Daniels' attention. I think I'd make that trade, if I'm Daniels.
Rosenthal also says that there are a lot of outfielders that will likely be on the market this spring, including Kevin Mench, who seems to be trying to talk his way out of town in Milwaukee. That would be good news for the Rangers, if they decide that they current collection of outfield candidates isn't going to cut it.
Jan Hubbard has a Sammy Sosa update, in case you haven't heard enough about Sammy lately.
Dave Sessions discusses movies with C.J. Wilson in the S-T today.
And Jim Reeves Postcards from the Ledge column includes some stuff on Buddy Bell, Brandon McCarthy, and, yes, Sammy Sosa.