It is amazing to me that it has been less than 60 hours since the Michael Young trade demand story broke. It seems like we've been talking about this for a week.
Ken Rosenthal, who originally broke the story, follows up on it this morning, and has a take that is similar to what is being said nationally, and dissimilar from what the local papers are saying:
Rangers shortstop Michael Young drew criticism from both inside and outside the industry for requesting a trade after the team asked him to move to third base. But as usual, these things aren't as simple as they appear.
Many believe that Young is acting selfishly by defying the wishes of a team that signed him to a five-year, $80 million contract; club officials never hid from Young that they eventually expected him to change positions.
But Young, an eight-year veteran, bristles at the notion of losing his job to Elvis Andrus, who has yet to play above Class AA. As one general manager said, what if Andrus hits .150 in April and the Rangers send him to Class AAA? Would Young move back to short, and then back to third once Andrus returned?
Young probably fails to see how Andrus would make the Rangers a better team. He also signed long-term under the premise that the Rangers would increase their overall spending, something that has not occurred.
Another question: What is the Rangers' rush with Andrus? The Brewers are not moving or trading J.J. Hardy — albeit a better defender than Young — to clear a spot for their top shortstop prospect, Alcides Escobar. Before doing anything, they want to make sure Escobar is ready.
A trade of Young remains highly unlikely; he is owed $59 million in salary over the next five years and $9.24 million in deferred payments beginning in 2016. One Rangers official said the chances of Young being the team's Opening Day third baseman are at least 90 percent.
Young's only recourse would be to refuse to report to spring training, a move that would result in an even bigger blow to his reputation. The Rangers, meanwhile, are not interested in one possible compromise — a move of Young to second and Ian Kinsler to left field.
Young's only problem at short — his limited range — also would be an issue at second. Kinsler, the Rangers believe, is making progress at second and would not be as good as Young at third. Young has a stronger arm than Kinsler and better hands.
The last paragraph is key, and reiterates what I've been saying for a while...Young isn't likely to be any better at second than at shortstop, because of his limited range, and it neutralizes his arm, which is his best defensive tool right now.
I think that the difference nationally -- where Young is, as Rosenthal acknowledges, catching flak -- and locally, where the media seems almost entirely on either Young's side, or of the belief that even if Young is wrong, the team must kowtow to him anyway, reflects the way Young is viewed by those who cover him regularly. He's respected, he's seen as the ultimate team guy, and he's viewed as someone who has been better at his job than Jon Daniels and Ron Washington are at theirs.
If this were Billy Beane or Theo Epstein here in Texas asking Young to move -- or even Doug Melvin, who is still deified by the local sports press -- I suspect the condemnation coming down from on high would be a lot more muted, or even non-existent.
One exception to this drumbeat is Gil LeBreton, who is the one S-T columnist who has consistently veered away from the S-T company line the past few years when it comes to the Rangers (and who seems to take a swipe at a couple of his S-T colleagues in his column), who points out how ridiculous the demand appears:
Two years ago Young signed a five-year, $80-million contract extension. The Rangers intend to pay him every penny.
His starting job in the Rangers infield is not being taken away from him. On the contrary, a move from shortstop to third base likely will entrench Young even more.
Yet, he wants to be traded, he told reporters Sunday night.
He’s a shortstop, not a third baseman, Young said he told general manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington. He says that he was told that he was being moved to third base, rather than asked to do so.
"That was a fine line that I thought had been crossed," Young said.
A line between what, exactly? Being paid or being paid? Being a starting player for a major league team or being a starting player?
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The reactions of the public have spanned both polar extremes, as is often the case with the Rangers. The anti-Tom Hicks, anti-Daniels, anti-Washington, anti-everything-at-the-ballpark faction sees it as the latest in a long line of franchise fiascos. When, they wonder, is owner Hicks going to spend some money and get some pitching in here?
These complainers are best answered by the wise man who once said, "To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant."
There is an intriguing building job taking place in Arlington, and it’s not just Jerry Jones’ football stadium.
At the other extreme, Rangers fans who’ve been tracking the franchise’s rise know the rationality of Young being moved to third base.
Young Andrus is only 20 years old. A year away? Perhaps. But let the countdown clock begin.
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Shortstop to third base is not an uncommon move. Tony Fernandez, a three-time Gold Glove winner and a better shortstop than Young, made the switch at age 32.
Yes, Young did win his first Gold Glove last season. And Rafael Palmeiro won one in 1999 when he played only 28 games at first base.
There are columns of Bill James statistics that suggest that Young is weak when moving to his left. Even the Budweiser-addled fan in right field must have noticed that the Rangers lead the majors in hits allowed up the middle.
Kevin Sherrington has a column today that is more sympathetic to Young, although he also relates an anecdote about how a few years back he was talked out of writing a column suggesting Mark Teixeira move to right field to make room for Adrian Gonzalez. The person who talked him out of writing the column? Michael Young, who said that Teixeira had worked hard at first base and shouldn't have to switch positions.
Jeff Wilson runs down a list of possible free agent acquisitions the Rangers could make. However, the list consists of Ben Sheets and...some guys who you aren't going to be real fired up about.