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Thursday, September 11, 2008

The looming albatross: Michael Young’s contract

$80 million well spent!

Michael Young is arguably the worst defensive shortstop in baseball right now.  He’s already the third worst shorstop in MLB by Zone Rating, and it’s abundantly clear that he’s won’t suddenly become any better at making plays on balls in his fielding zone.  Clearly, his defense does not create that $16 million of value. 

And, quite frankly, this club—which ranks 29th in among MLB clubs in Defensive Efficiency—can’t afford to keep subjecting it’s pitchers to a shortstop with range that makes one vaguely wistful for the Kevin Elster era.

The Ghost of Pete Incaviglia Posted: September 11, 2008 at 09:07 PM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rangers

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: September 12, 2008 at 01:39 AM (#2938634)
... but they needed to salary-dump Alex Rodriguez
   2. Keith Law Posted: September 12, 2008 at 01:40 AM (#2938638)
Wasn't he second-worst among regulars in the first Fielding Bible? I mean, this isn't exactly a surprise.
   3. OCD SS Posted: September 12, 2008 at 01:55 AM (#2938685)
It's a surprise if you spent the last 4-7 years with your fingers in your ears yelling "I CAN'T HEAR YOU! MY SHORTSTOP'S RANGE IS EXCELLENT! AND HIS ABILITY TO GO BACK ON POP UPS IS THE BEST IN THE GAME!" and otherwise ignoring anything anyone said that disagreed with what you wanted to hear...
   4. Nineto Lezcano has a blank space, baby (CW) Posted: September 12, 2008 at 01:58 AM (#2938697)
It's the same problem the Yankees are looking at with Jeter. You can put up with that level of defense so long as they continue to hit. Once they stop hitting (or I should say, stop hitting as well) their defensive weaknesses become exposed.

But... once they stop hitting as well, it becomes much harder to find a position to move Jeter or Young to. I don't think the situation is quite as bad as described in the article - both Jeter and Young are players I would expect to bounce back next year, at least as far as their hitting goes. (I could be wrong, though - decline phases are very tricky to nail appropriately.) But it's hard to imagine either of them as an impact bat at left or first, and probably a bit late in their careers to move them to center field or third base.
   5. PASTE Transcends Almost All Generations (Zeth) Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:07 AM (#2938727)
Well, in Jeter's case, every position he could possibly move to is blocked except maybe center field. The Yankees have pretty much already let it be known Jeter is going to play shortstop until he hangs 'em up. Young... yeah, I don't know what the Rangers can do there.
   6. ColonelTom Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:25 AM (#2938755)
Third base. If he can recover from the batting-average dip this year, he's still a solid hitter for now. That said, the power he showed in his age 27-28 seasons is history, and he's looking like your prototypical PECOTA bell-curve career path. FWIW:

Young's PECOTA for 2008: .286/.340/.422
Young's real stats for 2008: .281/.333/.402

PECOTA predicts a slight OBP spike next year, but other than that, it's a long, slow fade of power with a similar decline in defense at SS over the next several seasons. It's going to be ugly by the last year of that contract.
   7. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:48 AM (#2938792)
Would Young to second/Kinsler to third be a possibility?
   8. The Ghost of Pete Incaviglia Posted: September 12, 2008 at 03:15 AM (#2938853)
Both Adam Morris and Joey Matschulat have also chimed in with some good stuff on Young, and neither seem particularly impressed.

Young's over 6 runs below average (according to Dial) and 10 plays below average (according to plus/minus) defensively. Awful.
   9. Poisonous Moose Posted: September 12, 2008 at 03:38 AM (#2938914)
Has Young ever had a good defensive rep? I can remember thinking of him as a brutal defender as far back as 03.
   10. DCA Posted: September 12, 2008 at 03:41 AM (#2938918)
I remember once thinking he was pretty good at 2B.

Also, 6 runs or 10 plays below average over essentially a full season is bad, but it's not awful (which I interpret as "superlatively bad")
   11. jwb Posted: September 12, 2008 at 04:26 AM (#2938950)
On the bright side, the Rangers have five years to solve this puzzle.
   12. sptaylor Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:27 PM (#2939130)
Shock: I can't remember Young ever having been thought of as better than average at SS, but he was considered a pretty solid fielder at 2B. If you recall, the Rangers wanted Soriano to move to SS and leave Young at 2B, until Soriano refused to move and Young volunteered.
   13. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:33 PM (#2939136)
If you recall, the Rangers wanted Soriano to move to SS and leave Young at 2B, until Soriano refused to move and Young volunteered.
Really? Their plan was to take a lousy defensive 2B and move him to SS? I don't remember that, which doesn't mean it didn't happen.
   14. Cooperstown Schtick Posted: September 12, 2008 at 02:43 PM (#2939143)
Really? Their plan was to take a lousy defensive 2B and move him to SS? I don't remember that, which doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Soriano had come up as a shortstop and was moved for Jeter, so he was the more natural guy to get moved to short. Unfortunately for the Rangers, Soriano's strong aversion to change, later evidenced in his kicking and screaming while being dragged into left field, won the day. Either way, the Rangers were facing some tough times defensively at short, and Young proved to be the more flexible teammate.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: September 13, 2008 at 03:25 AM (#2939996)
The man has Julio Franco on his comps list, so I'm not counting him out yet -- he has a chance to be on the next good Rangers team in 2023.
   16. dirk Posted: September 13, 2008 at 04:16 AM (#2940014)
#15. I laughed.
   17. The Ghost is in Permanent Prayer and Penance Posted: September 13, 2008 at 04:49 AM (#2940022)
Anybody on that list with a contract beyond 2010 will probably seem to be an albatross eventually. The question is whether the team will/did get enough value out of the player before the decline years set in. For Young it doesn't look like a good deal.
   18. Oriole Tragic is totally awesome in the postseason Posted: September 13, 2008 at 04:59 AM (#2940028)
#17:

Miguel Cabrera will only be 30-32 years old at the end of his contract in 2013. I think his *next* contract could be an albatross, but not this one.

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