Feb 25, 2010, 7:08 PM EDT
When the Rangers moved Michael Young from shortstop to third base after his Gold Glove campaign in 2008, it was clear there was no going back. The Rangers knew Elvis Andrus had more range and they wanted Young to be able to settle into his new position, so they signed Omar Vizquel to serve as a backup and a mentor. Sure, they could have helped themselves offensively if they were willing to use Young as a backup shortstop, but that wouldn’t have been the right way to play it last year.
Perhaps it is now. Andrus showed last year that he’s ready to be an everyday player, and Young settled in nicely at third, playing every one of his 1166 innings in the field at the position. The Rangers wanted to go with a similar arrangement this year, even though Vizquel had little interest in staying, but the Khalil Greene experiment never even got off the ground. Now the Rangers are stuck in a situation in which there are no quality utilitymen available in free agency and no solid backup shortstops on the roster. They can go with the oft-injured Joaquin Arias, but shoulder problems have turned him into an iffy proposition on the left side of the infield. The light-hitting Ray Olmedo is also in camp. But the Rangers’ best utility option is clearly Esteban German, even if he’s played all of 36 innings at shortstops in part of eight major league seasons.
So, the Rangers should again ask Michael Young to think of the team. Young was more than a little hesitant to move to third last year — understandably so, especially in light of the Gold Glove — and he probably prefer not to have to worry about shifting between positions at this point in his career. But if Andrus goes down for any length of time, the Rangers would clearly be better off with Young at short and German at third than Young at third and Arias/Olmedo at short. German is a career .278/.358/.383 hitter, and he can handle both second and third. He’s also good enough to serve as a DH against lefties if Vladimir Guerrero gets hurt.
Of course, the whole point might be moot at the end of the spring. There will undoubtedly be a couple of veteran utilityman available for next to nothing, and the Rangers may well grab one of them if they don’t like what they see from Arias next month.
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