You know, "Michael Young Trade Watch" is neither as catchy nor as fun as "Ben Sheets Signing Watch."
From T.R. Sullivan's latest comprehensive update on the still-developing impasse between the Texas Rangers and shortstop Michael Young:
"I still believe there is a likelihood that we can come together on this and put it behind us," [general manager Jon] Daniels said Monday morning. "We want to have further discussions with Mike and talk to him about it. We're all preparing for Michael to be an integral part of our team going forward. That's how we're preparing and that's my expectations."
[...] "Obviously, Michael took issue with the word choice that I used, but I also wanted to put it honestly," Daniels said. "Clearly this was the direction we felt we needed to go. Rather than sugarcoat it, I thought it was the best course of action to be honest and lay it out the way we wanted it to happen.
"I completely understand his sentiments, but I don't agree with the term that we're tearing his job away from him. If anything, we're asking him to take on a more prominent role. Not necessarily moving from short to third -- you can argue that either way. We're asking him not only to play third base but also help a 20-year-old shortstop who could benefit from his experience and knowledge of the game. That's a big reason why we think it will work."
The reality of the matter is that there is blame to be assigned to all parties involved in this hardball melodrama, but Daniels, to his credit, is not exacerbating an already precarious situation with his public commentary (such as the famously short-tempered J.P. Ricciardi might have done under similar circumstances).
It is quite curious that Young cites the Rangers' negligence to present him with the choice of either moving to third base or staying put at shortstop as his primary source of agitation. Might this entire imbroglio have been averted if Daniels and company had presented their proposal from a more sympathetic angle, or perhaps approached Young with a greater degree of sensitivity in mind?
Perception is a powerful thing, after all, and while Daniels clearly doesn't believe that the front office's "request" amounted to an ultimatum, Young certainly did, and that, in turn, insinuates a breakdown somewhere in the communication process, or perhaps even a lack of foresight that he might possibly react in such a hostile manner to the idea of switching positions again.
Meanwhile, Richard Durrett of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas believes 20-year-old shortstop Elvis Andrus is "ready" for the majors, with Scott Coolbaugh (Double-A Frisco's hitting coach in 2008) and Scott Servais (Rangers director of player development) heaping praise upon his continuously improving all-around game. Manager Ron Washington would apparently employ him in the nine-hole if he made the Opening Day roster.
Again, understand that if the Rangers are truly committed to giving Andrus an extended big league audition in 2009 (and actually follow through on that proposition), it's going to be exceedingly rough going at times; it's a foregone conclusion that he's going to struggle (though to what excent is the real question), and how quickly he makes the proper adjustments will dictate how many plate appearances he amasses as a Ranger this coming season. From a pure value standpoint, however, don't expect total production (hitting + fielding + baserunning) beyond that of what a replacement-level shortstop would provide.
Thanks to Richard Durrett for clearing up some of the misconceptions surrounding Young's lucrative five-year contract extension, which actually comprises $59 million in salary (and which I've reproduced here in chart form to make it more graphically appealing):
A total of $9.24 million is reportedly deferred: $870,000 in 2009 and 2010 and $2.5 million in 2011-2013, payable beginning in 2016. That's still an awfully difficult contract to move, however -- ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested on Monday morning that Texas would have to subsidize a substantial portion of his contract to facilitate a trade, arguably the worst conceivable outcome of this entire fiasco. League-wide interest in Young's services is certain to remain cool, and the number of teams that Young would waive his no-trade clause to join can apparently be counted on a single hand, and it is for those reasons that I still expect Young will be a Ranger in 2009.
There is, by the way, a new poll on the right sidebar asking the very straightforward question of "Will the Texas Rangers trade Michael Young?" Thus far, the overriding consensus is no, but we'll see how that holds up.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Among the more salient points made by Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris earlier today was the assertion that trading Young could have significant negative implications in terms of available talent on the free-agent market wanting to come to Texas, given that Young is universally respected across the game and given that he has evidently received broad support from both former and current ballplayers for his discordant reaction; is it not possible, however, that some damage has already been inflicted as far as free agents' perceptions of the Rangers as an organization? ... So much public turmoil surrounding the team can't be productive in terms of inducing season-ticket sales ... If Andrus does make the Opening Day roster, it's certainly possible that he might log a few weeks of playing time at Triple-A Oklahoma City at some point down the line so as to prohibit him from reaching a full year of major league service time in 2009 (and thus preserving an extra year of club control) ... Surely Ian Kinsler wouldn't abdicate his throne at second base to preserve Young's status as a middle infielder, would he?
The Dallas Morning News's beat coverage of the Texas Rangers is officially no more. Effective February 1st, the Dallas Morning News will share its Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars beat coverage with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Star-Telegram will, in turn, supplement the News with Texas Rangers beat coverage; both newspapers will continue to cover the Dallas Cowboys independently.
Rickey Henderson (94.8%) and Jim Rice (76.4%) have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bert Blyleven (62.7%) and Tim Raines (22.6%) embarrassingly remain on the periphery.