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Michael Young isn’t coming out of the lineup because of “intangibles”

Sep 4, 2012, 11:00 AM EST

Michael Young

Anthony Castrovince has a story up on MLB.com about Michael Young. The Michael Young who is hitting .267/.299/.350 for a team with World Series hopes but who is still an everyday player.

Why is he still an everyday player? Here’s Ron Washington:

“Intangibles,” Washington said. “He leads even when things are not right [for him personally]. That’s what leaders do. If you didn’t look at his numbers, you wouldn’t know Michael Young is struggling.”

Washington goes on to say that Young busts his butt and cheers on his teammates despite the lack of production. Which is something no one has ever denied about him. Indeed, after trafficking in just as much Michael Young hate as anyone out there, I recently made the effort to actually talk to a former teammate of his to get to the heart of the Young-love. To see what we on the outside were missing. And the player I spoke to went on at length about how much his teammates love and appreciate him and how they are all willing to overlook production blips in light of that.

But that’s his teammates. You would think, however, that the one guy who should not be putting all that much weight on the intangibles and the rah-rah is the team’s manager. He’s the one guy, it seems, who has to make the hard choices about who is actually productive and who is not. He should be the guy who plays bad cop when people who are not ultimately responsible for the team’s wins and losses like he is makes appeal to intangibles and chemistry.

And Ron Washington is not doing that.

 

 

  1. anotheryx - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    With everything going on with Red Sox, I’m more inclined to buy in on this “intangible” stuff.

    • manifunk - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:09 AM

      Yes clearly a team with huge rotation and bullpen problems, not to mention chronic injury issues, is doing poorly because of “intangibles”.

      Don’t let the media narrative machine fool you, this was a mediocre team in a good division with a lot of older players and question marks coming into the season.

    • gigab0t - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Couldn’t go 1 comment without mentioning the Red Sox

  2. lazlosother - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    In all fairness to Washington, Texas does have a 4 game lead, the best record in the AL, and the largest +run differential in all of MLB.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      Perhaps by replacing Young, they would have a 5 games lead and an even better record.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:23 AM

        Maybe you’re right.

        Who would you put in his place(s)?

        Could get complicated, as he plays multiple positions…

      • manifunk - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:27 AM

        Jurickson Profar or Michael Olt. Both are better now and will only get better in the future.

        There, problem solved.

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:31 AM

        He spends a vast majority of his time at DH and 1B. He has also “played” 30 games at 3B and 2B…written sarcastically because he is fuck-awful on defense.

        Who should he be replaced with? Well, pretty much anybody. Only two players in the majors with enough PAs to qualify for the batting title are posting a lower OPS+ than Young. Last year there were 3, and the year prior, there were 2.

        It’s not as though Young is some slick fielding shortstop. He’s a non-hitting DH, making him arguably the least valuable player in all of baseball in 2012.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM

        Okay, I’ll stand corrected, at least for this year.

        Do all of you think he’s got anything left?

        Or is this the end of the line?

  3. seeinred87 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    “If you ignore the fact that he’s struggling, you wouldn’t know Michael Young is struggling.”
    -Ron Washington

  4. ruehlmann - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    Wash is spot on. If you don’t look at the numbers, and you don’t look at the plays that involve him on offense or defense (like, close your eyes or where a sleep mask or whatever), and you hold your breath for as long as you can, and you take a shot of patron every time you DO have to take a breath, then YES, Mr. Fancy-Pants-Stat-Man, he’s having one of the great seasons in baseball history, so enough with your sabermetric, killjoy nonsense. Just let Michael Young work his magic already.

    • ruehlmann - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:19 AM

      *wear a sleep mask

      Curse you, Monday.

      • vendolius - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

        Strike two. It’s Tuesday.

      • ruehlmann - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        Curse you, bizarro holiday-week Tuesday

  5. beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:17 AM

    The Rangers won the AL Pennant in 2010.

    The Rangers won the AL Pennant in 2011.

    The Rangers currently have the best record in the AL in 2012.

    Whatever it is they’re doing, it’s working. And I’m not trying to defend Michael Young here; there’s a joke I share with a few other Rangers fans where we say that a successful Michael Young at-bat is one that results in only 1 out. My nickname for him is “The Groundout King,” and when I watch games with my Dad, we try to predict which infielder he’ll hit the ball to.

    That being said, the chemistry on this team has been one of the defining aspects of their success, and there’s no question Ron Washington gets that. So yeah, our DH sucks at the plate. Last time I checked, we had a pretty good group of guys around him to pick up the slack.

    • manifunk - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:22 AM

      If he’s such a good leader, why can’t he lead from the bench and selflessly give up his spot for the better of the team? It seems to me that a great leader would be willing to advance the team’s interest above their own, especially when they are struggling.

      This just doesn’t make sense, even if you accept Washington’s argument.

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        I never used the word “leader.”

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:46 PM

        “I never used the word ‘leader’.”

        Ok, why can’t he contribute to “chemistry” (a word you did use) while sitting on the bench?

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        i don’t know, you’d have to ask the players and the manager that. surely there have been examples of unhappy veterans affecting the mood of a team at some point.

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 7:17 PM

        Sure. But those unhappy veterans have affected the play of other players how?

        For instance, I don’t recall the Reggie Jackson/Billy Martin-era Yankees having good “chemistry”, and they won the World Series.

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 9:46 PM

        I don’t know, and I don’t care. The Rangers are a successful team, and I’m enjoying it. I’ve already made it clear that if I had a say, Michael Young wouldn’t be in the starting lineup. All I can do is root for the team. So I do.

    • jayscarpa - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:24 AM

      I have to agree but with the caveat – what about the playoffs? Sure you can carry a guy over 162 games but after coming so close the last two years wouldn’t players/fans/manager just want give themselves the best shot at winning?

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:38 AM

        The playoffs are a different story, yeah. There are a lot of wobbly parts on the Rangers that I really worry about when it comes to October games (most of them are in the bullpen). Michael Young is one of them. We’ll just have to cross that bridge when we come to it, but I can tell you that as far as the fans I know go, we want to win and we trust Washington to set the pieces up to make that happen. He’s more than earned our trust up to this point.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      To sum up beefytrout’s argument:

      “My uncle shot heroin in his eyeball every morning and lived to be 96. Therefore, heroin is good for you”.

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        Actually, dumbass, that would be “therefore, heroin was good for him.”

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:07 PM

      “Last time I checked, we had a pretty good group of guys around him to pick up the slack.”

      But why should they have to pick up the slack? Yes, the Rangers are good with Young in the lineup–and they’d be *even better* without him in the lineup.

      Or are you claiming that benching him would cause that good group of guys around him to hit less well?

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:09 PM

        Just so there’s no confusion – if it were up to me, there is a lot I would change about the Rangers lineup. I would have Andrus hitting leadoff, Gentry hitting second, Murphy #5, Cruz #6, Kinsler #7, Moreland #8 and catcher #9 (regardless who’s behind the plate). Young wouldn’t be in the starting lineup at all. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to Ron Washington.

        If the Rangers were perpetually stuck in third place like they were for the better part of a decade, then yeah, it would probably piss me off that they keep running MY out there. Maybe that’s why it doesn’t piss Rangers fans off as much as the rest of you… we are still getting used to the Rangers being a force in the league. This is all new to us, and there was no prolonged buildup to this success. It came out of nowhere, and it’s been sustained, and we’re enjoying the ride.

        In other words: right now, there is no “things could be even better, if…” for us.

    • visnovsky - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Very nice.
      Troll oll oll oll oll, oll oll oll oll

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        Ah yes, the “troll” post… was Fark too crowded?

  6. plmathfoto - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    Probably not the best time to post this article the day after he hits a 2 run homer right after his teammate gets hit probably intentionally.

  7. sportfan23 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:20 AM

    You fucking hate Michael Young, eh?

    • heyblueyoustink - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      Because if Michael Young is destroyed, Skynet never becomes operational.

      See how that works? ;-)

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:35 AM

      Personally, I hate he can literally be the third worst hitter in baseball and still have people coming out of the woodwork to defend his place in the lineup every day.

  8. heyblueyoustink - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    Sounds similar to why WuTang Kept Ugod around for so long.

  9. js20011041 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    Shouldn’t those intangibles still be present even if he’s not in the lineup? And if they aren’t, and he pouts because he isn’t playing, isn’t all this talk about intangibles just a bunch of shit?

    • 18thstreet - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      His tangibles are pretty terrible.

  10. raysfan1 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    I look wistfully at articles about players underproducing at the plate when they would be one of the better hitters on the Rays.

  11. Tim OShenko - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Okay, so he cheers on his teammates. That’s great. But you know, you don’t have to put the cheerleader in the starting lineup.

  12. ningenito78 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    I’m going to guess the former player you talked to was Frank Catalanato. Young wrote the forward to his book and I’m pretty sure Frank would have Young’s love child if he could.

  13. paperlions - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I love Michael Young, without his inability to play 1B, the Cardinals lose game 6 of the WS last year. He’s A-OK in my book….go get ‘em Cap’n Intangibles.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      You forgot about Nelson Cruz and his complete inability to play RF. What was that like as a Cardinal fan? I mean, off the bat and even when the ball was in the air, I thought the game and series was over.

      • paperlions - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM

        I honestly thought it was going to be a double off the wall, Freese hits with pretty good power the other way, and for Bush Stadium, off that bat, that looked like it could be off the wall.

    • annaalamode - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      I believe that Jeter has Captain Intagibles trademarked. His lawyers will be contacting you soon.

  14. temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    I realize Michael Young has always had stats that the sabermetric crowd point to with contempt.

    If he’s really at the end of the line, okay.

    If not, this is probably the one aspect of the game where Ron Washington is the strongest.

    For me, Ron Washington is a lot like Dusty Baker.

    Two players’ managers, who aren’t exactly known as tactical wizards.

    They have their teams firmly in division leads, but we’re all waiting to see how they manage in October.

    I’m aware of the perilous ground on which I’m treading.

    This is not an example of ill-conceived stereotyping.

    Neither of these guys are in the same league as Cito Gaston.

    It seems to me Michael Young takes way more abuse than he deserves.

    If he’s now a role player, he’s a hell of a lot better than most.

    I’m sure several contenders would love to have him.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Michael Young is a helluva lot worse than almost all players in baseball this season. That is kinda the crux of the argument. Fangraphs has his WAR at -1.5….BR -3.0. That is mind numbing bad.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:16 PM

        Okay, I’ll ask you, too.

        Is he toast?

        Or will he bounce back at some point in the future?

        Okay, who can say?…but everyone’s been ready to get rid of him for…forever.

        Maybe now it’s really time for him to go…

        ?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:22 PM

        He is done. First things first, he is a terrible defensive player no matter where he plays in the field. It is just embarrassing to watch him flop around out there at this point. Given that fact and it is a fact, he needs to be a DH. You need serious offensive production out of a DH. I seriously doubt that he can produce enough at the plate to justify his inclusion into the line-up. Rangers have him for another year though at 16 million so Washington needs to figure something out. Saying he has endless “intangibles” doesn’t really cut it at this point. If I’m a Ranger fan, I’d be pissed at the insistence that he play everyday given that numbers clearly dictate he should not.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:28 PM

        Sounds like RW has some of the same problems Bruce Bochy has had to deal with. $16M on the bench makes certain folks squirm, as in the organization, rather than the fans. It’s easy for us to play manager and GM, when we don’t have to give a crap about the money. Not so easy for them.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        The amount of money a player makes should have no bearing on the decisions of a manager.

      • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:11 PM

        I agree, but of course, that’s not always how it works. Much of the time, I get the feeling that front office people care too much about their own egos, and not enough about common sense. Heaven forbid they should look bad – as in waste ownership’s money. Looking bad to the fans – eh, whatever. And unfortunately, managers, to varying extents, have to listen to their bosses.

  15. rogbick - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    It’s all about loyalty. Back in 2010 when Washington was busted for cocaine use, Michael Young was one of the first to step up and defend his manager. Washington owes him in his own mind for keeping his own job.

  16. ningenito78 - Sep 4, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Temporarilyexiled:

    Why

    Did

    You

    Post

    Like

    This?

    • temporarilyexiled - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:20 PM

      To

      annoy

      you.

      But I didn’t know specifically who I was going to bother. Mission accomplished. I’ll check myself.

      Maybe…

  17. DJ MC - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:10 PM

    All I can say about his leadership is that if he had his way–on two different occasions–he would be doing that leading from a different city.

  18. Andrew Chapman - Sep 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    Craig, lifelong Rangers fan here. Young is a ground ball machine this year and has been infuriating to watch. But I basically had to accept Wash’s decision to stick with Young this season even though Olt and now Profar are there. That’s what Castrovince is telling us to do.

    For all his faults, I will say I think the DH / Super Utility infielder experiment has worked with him. After getting Vladimir-ed in the 2010 World Series, the Rangers got away from the one-dimensional DH-type player. It has helped to rest the regulars on a team that has played a lot of extra games the last 2 years.

    It’ll be an interesting offseason with some personnel changes on the horizon. Olt and Profar may get a better chance in 2013, and with Young in his final year of his contract I could see him getting traded. Or not. For now, though, get used to seeing Young in there every day.

  19. pw38 - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    I will say that I do like MY but man they need to get Olt or Profar in his place, and fast. He has no business being in that line up with this team contending. His (lack of) fielding played a part in their game 6 last year I can promise that Olt (or even Moreland) wouldn’t have flubbed it like that. Ah well, at least we have intangibles going huh? *slaps forehead*

  20. Andrew Chapman - Sep 4, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    We can’t analyze this. It’s intangible.

  21. rempokesfan - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Face it, you’re a hater, Craig.

    Most of the folks who respond to your Michael Young hate are haters, too. Nothing can change a hater: not loyalty to a team, to a city, or dancing with the girl that brung ya. History, time-in-grade, statistics for or against won’t change a hater. Neither will “intangibles. ” The words spoken by his Manager and teammates mean nothing to haters, and certainly the written word is futile.

    Want evidence? Note that neither you nor a single responder today mentioned that in yesterday’s game, after Cruz was plunked and the benches and bullpens cleared, Young deposited the next pitch into the stands.

    Nope, the Rangers didn’t really need the runs and the dinger didn’t change the outcome of the game. He hadn’t been a big part of the story most of the day. He’d probably have gotten his ass kicked if the brouhaha had actually turned into a brawl.

    But, within the time-honored construct of the game, he sent the appropriate response to the “message” Cruz received in the left butt-cheek.

    Dumb luck or Intangibles? Right place at the right time? Doesn’t matter. Michael Young has earned his right to be there, and he proved it.

    Except to the haters.

    A REAL journalist would have at least to acknowledged the homer and MY’s contribution before running him down. Hater.

    • rempokesfan - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:03 PM

      …and a real writer would have edited the last sentence a tad more carefully. Mea cupla.

      • rempokesfan - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        culpa – man I hate this software!

    • manifunk - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:05 PM

      “Michael Young hit a homer That One Time which you ignored to mention, ergo, you are all haters”

      Nice, tight, logical argument there.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      Actually, I did acknowledge his homer in this morning’s recaps:

      “They hit five homers. One of them led to Nelson Cruz being plunked on the hiney, after which Michael Young hit another homer. That’s the best way to deal with that garbage, really.”

      That aside, you’re not actually citing that HR as evidence of Young’s leadership, are you? Are you honestly suggesting that he chose to homer there? And, by extension, he just chooses not to homer all the times he’s made outs this year?

      And even that aside, what in this post is wrong? Is Michael Young playing well this year? Nope. Is Ron Washington making decisions based on intangibles as opposed to production? Yep. Did I ignore the fact that his teammates love him and think that stuff is important? Nope. Can you point to anything actually demonstrable about Michael Young that, the beliefs of his teammates aside that help the Rangers win games? Nope.

      • Andrew Chapman - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        To your last question, the only thing I think we can reasonably say is that Wash truly feels he puts the best team possible on the field when Young is in there. And based on this year alone, he’s crazy for thinking that. But right or wrong, he’s basing it off of Young’s previous years as a career .300 hitter. It would be different if they were out of the race but for a team trying to win every single ballgame, I suppose I can’t fault Wash for not messing with the lineup too much. Even though he’ll go 0-4 tonight with a GIDP, 2 groundouts, and a strikeout.

      • rempokesfan - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:40 PM

        Sorry, Craig, I only read the items posted here on HBT, didn’t see the “recaps.” You write recaps?

        The reason I like baseball is the same reason I like trilogy novels, full-length movies, and long-running serials on TV. I like to see the long story develop.

        Baseball’s season is long, and the stories take a long time to develop. The players each bring their own long-developing stories to this season, and to all the seasons before and after. Kirk Gibson, George Brett, Ken Caminiti, and Nolan Ryan (with or without Robin Ventura) all have parts of their stories still playing out in this season. Isn’t that why we ALL like baseball?

        But sportswriters these days seem to think it’s their job – much like movie critics – to shutter our view and control the camera angles to predetermine which parts of the story or stage or ball field readers or viewers will see. It seems writers and critics often want to reveal or influence the ending before the real story has played out.

        Okay, maybe it’s not just “these days.” Writers have always had the bully pulpit, but the advent of the Internet forum – even with balky software and no spell-check – allows an immediacy of interchange not possible in the old days of “Letters to the Editor.” And an immediacy of effect.

        By narrowing the focus to one player or manager at one moment or even one season in his career, writers in the public forum can alter the story and shape the perceived value of the player and his contribution.

        Will Hardball Talk help Bobby Valentine get fired? Why doesn’t the same online community trust Ron Washington’s gut?

        Does the story lose something when the view is restricted? The television cameras last week showed Ron Gardenhire throw his hat in the dugout and run down to speak to his pitcher immediately after Mauer got hit. At the top of the next inning, why were the commentators surprised when the ump threw him and Diamond out of the game without warning? Maybe the ump saw what the cameras saw?

        Your “recap” doesn’t tell the story of yesterday’s game any better than Sportscenter’s highlights told the story last night by omitting mention of Soto’s homer. The story is bigger than that.

        You began this piece by questioning Michael Young’s value beyond the obvious – as you have several others. You said you asked his teammates and his manager. The fact that you post in an open forum seems to support the idea that you might be open to an objective answer to your question. But, you refute responses that don’t fit your stated hypothesis.

        Did Michael Young hit that homer on purpose? Don’t know. Maybe he was just mad, or really charged up, or just lucky. Absent evidence, I am as free to believe that he hit it on purpose as you are to believe it was an accident.

        But, the bigger story – the REAL story – contains the fact that he DID hit the homer, in that place in the lineup, and in that moment of the game. Sportscenter didn’t acknowledge the fact that Soto’s homer started the scoring – even before this team’s Ken Caminiti hit his. (With any luck, Hamilton’s career – and life – will not end so tragically.) The bigger story features Geo’s homer, too.

        My issue with you and the other haters is that you apparently watch the games with an eye for the highlights or stats alone. By selecting which moments you will acknowledge in your posts and which you’ll bury or fail to analyze or mention at all, you alter the view for your readers. And, you alter the lasting images of the men who play the games.

        Your post, as it appears here on HBT the day after Young’s purposeful or lucky contribution to this game, is biased, both in content and timing. And it elicits biased responses – mine included.

        Yes, I get it, you’re paid to elicit responses and your job description includes necessary bias. Your response to me, suggesting that in order to properly condemn your bias I must first recognize the fuller body of your work, your “recaps,” seems to assert your claim to the bigger picture of your value while denying Michael Young the same wide-frame view.

        In fact, I can point to things that demonstrate Michael’s value to the Rangers. But I choose NOT to discount the beliefs of his teammates, or his manager or his fans. The beauty of the game, or so it seems to me, is that in the sport in which there are statistics to measure everything, the stats still can’t tell the whole story.

        “That’ll look like a line drive in tomorrow’s box score” cracks me up every time! That there’s no standard way of delineating a blooper that falls in short left, just behind the third baseman, from a hard-hit line drive past a diving Michael Young is still one of the great mysteries of the Great Game.

        To the faithful, there’s wonder and mystery in the bigger story – and in the intangibles (see also Kirk Gibson or Willis Reed long before Michael Jordan and his flu shot!) For haters, there are only statistics.

        Let’s see how the longer story of this season plays out before we throw the youngsters into the fray full-time and chase Michael Young to the bench or the golf course.

      • rempokesfan - Sep 7, 2012 at 3:43 AM

        hmmm… a day later, Michael homers in game the Rangers go on to win by a single run. Should we give that one back because he hit it accidently?

        Tonight, to quote AP Sports:

        “KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Michael Young’s is able to handle his lower-than-usual stats this season because the numbers he cares most about are wins.

        Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff triple in the 10th inning and scored on Young’s single to lift the Texas Rangers over the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Thursday night.”

        Homer or single, a win’s a win in my book.

        (…and the contracted “Young’s” followed by the redundant “is?” Cut and pasted directly from http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/48936618/ns/sports-baseball/)

  22. Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    A little while back there was a post here on how all the Marlins hated Hanley Ramirez but were happy to put up with him as long as he was producing. But now we hear that the Rangers players are all willing to look past Michael Young’s terrible play because they like him.

    So I guess your teammates will be fine with you if you’re at least one of (a) good and (b) a nice guy, and only hate you if you’re neither?

    • manifunk - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:18 PM

      you forgot (c) white

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:24 PM

        True. But Michael Young has lots of non-white teammates. So I’m not sure that angle really explains his teammates giving him a pass, does it?

      • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        Except, of course, that Michael Young is 1/2 hispanic (his mother is Mexican).

  23. jonrox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Miguel Cairo is still playing every other game for the Reds (mostly at first base!), and he’s Mendoza-ing. As a Cincinnati fan, I’d love to have Michael Young as my token old utility guy

    • mazblast - Sep 6, 2012 at 6:35 PM

      From the days of Neifi Perez to now with Wilson Valdez and Miguel Cairo, Dusty has shown that unlike most managers, he prefers talentless Hispanic guys as his futility players instead of talentless white guys.

      Not that I think Young is talentless, either. He may be near the end of the line, or he may be having a bad year, but his track record is a darned good one.

  24. Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

    Let’s broaden this. Aren’t there plenty of examples, historically, of well-liked veterans who just aren’t performing any more getting benched in favor of better players without it screwing up team chemistry or (far more importantly) the team’s on-field performance?

    I’m not saying it’d be easy for Ron Washington to bench the guy; far from it. And maybe you don’t even flat out bench him, at least to start, maybe you ease into it by giving some other guy a couple of starts/week. But it’s Ron Washington’s job to get the most out of the team, and I just don’t get how you do that by playing a guy who’s a near-automatic out and a poor fielder when you have better players available.

    • beefytrout - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

      I find it impressive that all of a sudden there are tons of baseball fans out there rooting for the success of the Texas Rangers.

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        I don’t root for or against the Rangers. I’m just a curious bystander here. I just find it interesting that a guy could play so badly for so long and yet still have a starting job despite the team having better options, and that his play wouldn’t cause any concern among those you’d think would be most concerned–his teammates and his manager.

    • rempokesfan - Sep 4, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      You’ve almost got a point, here.

      That’s EXACTLY what the plan was for this season! But, guys get hurt, guys need days off, and other guys experience declines, permanent or temporary, in production. There’s a role on the team for the player who is the second best at every infield position.

      Baseball’s version of tribal knowledge says you don’t play your first string shortstop at second when your starting second baseman needs a rest – and vice versa. The starters are always left to start or rest – they don’t fill in. That’s what the bench players are for – and those guys are always the second best at some position.

      (The outfield has a different, but no less questionable rotation.)

      “Better players available?” Really? “Better” is easy, “available” not so much.

      Beltre won’t stay healthy all season, and certainly won’t be healthy when you really need him if he plays every day. Kinsler seems to respond with better play after he’s benched for an error or two or for a growing predilection for pop-up outs. Elvis – not nearly as much as when he first came over – seems to get lazy once in a while and needs a reminder to play hard and smart by grabbing some pine for a day or two. Did Moreland look like the same first baseman at the beginning of the season that we saw late in yesterday’s game? In May we thought we’d need another first baseman now and again. With Napoli out, who covers the “second best” spot?

      How do you bench the guy who fills in pretty damned well at all of these spots? Folks really ought to be recognizing how hard it is to be “good enough” at every position in the infield instead of condemning the player. Most guys are lucky if they’re good enough to have ONE other place to play. Is there another player on this team or any other, with the possible exception of Jeter (who only plays shortstop,) who’s come through with a clutch hit, even on 1-fer nights for so long?

      What other name would you write down if YOUR job depended on how you fill out the Lineup Card?

      Baseball tribal knowledge also says the youngsters have to earn their way onto the field, then be used sparingly until they both deserve and can handle more time. Only then can they be trusted in the everyday lineup. Doesn’t apply every time, but it’s still baseball’s way. Profar and Olt may be fueled by adrenaline and expectation or by the real thing. We don’t yet know, and only time will tell. You really want those guys in the lineup every day in a pennant race?

      Washington believes that the game tells him what the game needs. Old school, to be sure, but neither unprecedented, nor unreasonable. He thinks Young can still contribute. And when he doesn’t think so anymore, he’ll bench him. When Michael gets tired of sitting down, he’ll retire.

      That really is “the way baseball go.”

      • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        All fair enough. If you think the Rangers would be likely to play worse with Young on the bench, then I don’t necessarily agree but I can respect that opinion.

        I guess I just think there’s more of a distinction between “the way baseball go” and the way baseball could or should go. Yes, when Washington doesn’t think Young can contribute anymore, he’ll bench him–but that’s not really the question. The question is what Washington *should* do, not what he *does* do. You can’t just completely shut down questions about how guys *should* do their jobs by describing how they actually do their jobs. Managers aren’t infallible. And it’s not as if there’s only one way to manage a team. Joe Maddon, for instance, has trusted very inexperienced players in key roles in Sept. and Oct. (David Price, Matt Moore…), not just penciled in veterans because they’re veterans.

        You say that trust has to be earned. I agree. But don’t veterans have to keep earning it? Isn’t it possible that a manager might make a mistake by trusting veterans for longer than he should? For instance, everybody seems to have forgotten that the Angels didn’t start playing Mike Trout regularly until almost a month into the season; I think we can all agree that that was a mistake.

        Maybe I’m misunderstanding you here, and if so, my bad. It just seems like you’re kind of taking for granted that Washington is doing the right thing here, and more broadly that the “old school” thing to do is always the right thing to do.

  25. artisan3m - Sep 4, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    As “miserable” as some say MYoung is, he has started 65 games in the field and committed only 5 errors. That compares with 14 for Andrus and 15 for Kinsler who have started twice as many games. Its not easy being an “occasional” infielder. Even though his bat has cooled this season, his OBP is still 300 and that ain’t too shabby in any lineup. Young has given eleven productive years to the Rangers and is a tremendous clubhouse leader. A sub-par year at the plate happens to every player eventually. Its just taken a lot longer for Young than most others. I truly admire Washington’s continued faith in his veteran.

    • Jeremy Fox - Sep 4, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      “his OBP is still 300 and that ain’t too shabby in any lineup”

      American League average OBP as of right now: 320

      So by “ain’t too shabby” you mean “only somewhat below average”?

      And just for greater completeness:

      Michael Young SLG: 350
      American League average SLG: 412

      Michael Young OPS: 649
      American League average OPS: 732

      Those averages are for all hitters; DH’s would average significantly higher.

      Since you admire Washington’s faith in his veteran, please tell me: how badly would Young have to play, for how long, before you’d sit him, given who else is on the roster? Do all Young’s years of service entitle him to start forever, no matter how badly he hits?

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