Sunday, February 06, 2011

Rockies or Rangers - Who Needs Michael Young More?

The reports of the Rangers wanting to trade Michael Young refuse to die. Buster Olney seems to be at the epicenter of the rumors but Olney has never once mentioned the Rockies. But other writers have stated openly on Twitter that the Rockies are the team the Rangers have been talking to. And how does all this counter Nolan Ryan stating earlier that Michael Young will be the opening day DH for the Rangers? It all seems a bit puzzling, but perhaps it has all been created because Young no longer wants to play for the Rangers. But the question the Fan keeps asking himself is which team needs him more, the Rangers or the Rockies?

A second questions is when Michael Young became Mike Young? Okay, perhaps that question doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. But the Fan hates when people change the names players go by in mid-career. The Fan remembers giving up even mentioning Albert Belle after a while. Alright, enough about that topic. Let's get back to the topic at hand.

Why would the Rockies want Michael Young? The Rockies are obviously set at shortstop with Tulowitzki. But Tulo has found a way to get hurt here and there and it would be nice to have Young around in case that happens again (heaven forbid!). Young's other two positions are second and third. The Rockies have two guys in those positions coming off two disappointing years in a row. Clint Barmes plays second and Ian Stewart plays third. Stewart is just okay in the field and Barmes seems to be pretty darn good playing second. So adding Young at either place hurts little at third but a lot at second. But both of those Rockies have really struggled at the plate despite the deceiving power numbers that are inevitable at Coors Field. Steward ended up with a 0.9 bWAR last year and Barmes finished with a bWAR of 1.0 thanks largely to his fielding. Young has averaged a bWAR of 3.0 for his entire career, so he is a significant upgrade for the Rockies in either case.

But there is another possibility here. The Rockies outfield is pretty pathetic. The Rockies could slide Young into left and gain significantly. So the bottom line is that the Rockes could desperately use someone like Michael Young. The question is how much of that value they are willing to obtain and at what cost. Young is going to be making $16 million this year. That's a lot of coin for a guy who will be worth more in the $8 to $10 million range. Can the Rockies get the Rangers to eat $6 million of the deal? That would make the deal worthwhile for the Rockies.

What about the Rangers? This Fan loved their plan to have Young as the DH and also be able to play all over the field to spell others and create some good split match ups. If the Rangers trade their long time star, they will lose a lot of flexibility as well as lose a DH who will give them three wins above replacement. Those three wins are hard to replace with what's left on the market. Branyon is still out there, but he is a health risk and can't hit lefties. Plus, Branyon can only slide over to first base if needed. He wouldn't be a good bet to play anywhere else. So the bottom line here is that the Rangers are much better off with Young than without him. The only instance where it's better to trade him is if he'll hurt the team by pouting. But Young seems too much like a pro to let that happen once the season starts. The Fan would hesitate to ever think Young would be a distraction or a problem once the games begin.

On balance, the Rockies could use Young more than the Rangers can. Young improves the Rockies much more than hurts the Rangers if they lost him. All of that equation changes though on who is paying Young's salary and at what proportion. This writer can't imagine the Rangers would get much in return for Young with the money that is on the table in salary. Saying all that, the Rangers are better off keeping Young as another cog for another run at the AL West title.

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