This is the most appropriate song I can conjure up in the wake of Michael Young's departure:
Just to recap yesterday: Michael Young was traded. Zack Greinke signed with the Dodgers. A completely unnecessary tragedy befell the Dallas Cowboys. Manny Pacquiao got his clock cleaned. Moving along ...
● Evan Grant talks about the Rangers' plans being complicated by their failure to sign Zack Greinke, and says that yesterday's Michael Young trade may have signaled the beginning of the salary dump era for the Rangers. Okay.
● Randy Galloway writes about the end of the Michael Young era, and says that yesterday's trade alleviated some pressure from Ron Washington, as Washington had himself been subjected to "heavy pressure" by some members of the front office who wanted Young benched by the time August rolled around:
In a way, this trade benefits Washington more than anyone else. An ongoing fight has been erased with those in the front office who want to step beyond their assigned jobs and also attempt to fill out the lineup card.
There were some ugly moments last season in this area, but Washington, from the standpoint of holding his clubhouse together, absolutely did the right thing. He continued to play Young, who was a clubhouse icon, beloved by his teammates.
I still have it in my mind that this was a necessary move because the front office didn't want to cross the point of no return with respect to dictating how Washington uses his players, and because Young was still going to be in line for full-time -- or very close to full-time -- playing time in 2013 without upper management stepping in and saying, "No, you're not going to do that." Which, again, I don't think they want to do.
From that standpoint, yes, the trade alleviated some tension ... but the question you have to ask yourself now is, is this finally over? Or is another situation going to develop down the line where Washington's fierce loyalty to a single player -- or unwarranted lack of trust for another player -- destroys on-field value to the team and, as a consequence, reduces the team's chances of reaching/succeeding in the post-season? I'd like to think that the answer to that question is 'no,' but the thought of it has been gnawing at the back of my mind for a while now. And while the organization seems loathe to lay down the law on the matter of Washington's lineup construction, you have to recognize that there's a limit to how much they can butt heads on this kind of stuff before it begins to undermine Washington's longer-term job security.
Everything is fine today, and everything should be fine into perpetuity ... until it isn't anymore.
● Gerry Fraley has a lengthy rundown of the Michael Young era which, among other things, talks about Young being at the epicenter of a pre-'02 organizational showdown between then-manager Jerry Narron and then-G.M. John Hart, with Hart campaigning for Frank Catalanotto as the club's starting second baseman, and Narron, in turn, vowing to roll with Young instead. Also:
Hart fired Narron after the 2002 season, replacing him with Buck Showalter. After the managerial change, Hart tried again to run off Young.
A proposed trade for second baseman Damion Easley fell through. In spring training, Showalter tested third baseman Hank Blalock at second. The situation became so frustrating to Young that he left training camp for a day to clear his head.
Alex Rodriguez responded with the most significant contribution of his three seasons with the Rangers. Rodriguez used his considerable influence with owner Tom Hicks to lobby for Young. Hart got the message.
“I’m the biggest Michael Young fan in the world,” Rodriguez said at the time. “I’ve been hard on him for two years, riding him. I consider him a great friend and a championship piece.”
I'm not sure that I would call A-Rod sticking up for Young the most "significant contribution of his three seasons," given that it ran parallel to A-Rod hitting 156 homers over 2001-03 and churning out 27.1 fWAR. That is a cool little story, though. WE NEED STORIES.
● Jeff Wilson has a story on the Michael Young trade and on the total collapse of the Zack Greinke-to-Texas aspirations, along with a note that Jurickson Profar "figures" to play second base in 2013, pushing Ian Kinsler to first base and Mitch Moreland to DH. I think that's the most confidence I've seen any Rangers beat writer exhibit in Kinsler moving to first base to accommodate Profar.
● A few days ago, David Schoenfield wrote a fairly lengthy piece on Zack Greinke and the reasons for the disparity between his bWAR (which characterizes him as a good, but not great mid-rotation type over the last few seasons) and his fWAR (which characterizes him as one of the best starting pitchers in baseball over that same duration), and attributed much of the disparity to his decline in performance with runners on base, which he shows to be the product of lacking fastball control/command.
I like Greinke, and I think he would have been a nice short- to intermediate-term addition to the Rangers, but I feel like there is a reasonable amount of doubt that he truly is an "ace" within the context of the entire league (maybe a reasonable approximation thereof), and I can't begrudge the Rangers for not going toe to toe with the Dodgers and their bottomless pockets at that sort of contract length/AAV.
I get that there is salary inflation born from the proliferation of monster TV contracts which is taking seemingly unreasonable dollar amounts and turning them into new free agency norms, and I get that you really can't function within the winter market if you're paralyzed by fear of overpayment ... but there's a fine line between overpaying and irresponsibly overpaying, and my gut feeling is that an identical contract doled out by the Rangers would have leaned a bit more towards the latter than it would have the former.
To reiterate in not so many words: I'm okay with the Rangers not going "all in" to sign Greinke. I'm okay with them passing here. But if you disagree, here's a poll where you can register your disgust.
● In this story from yesterday afternoon on the Rangers being "poised to win the off-season," MLB.com's Richard Justice says that Jon Daniels believes Justin Upton is soon to become one of the game's elite players, and makes a cryptic reference to Nelson Cruz possibly being one of the next pieces to go.
● You may have noticed yesterday that I expanded the content width of the site and "upgraded" the Disqus commenting platform utilized on front-page + Clubhouse posts to the latest version, which re-enabled live commenting. It's not a perfect switch (e.g. you have to click on the "Discussion" button in order to change the comment sorting order), but the content space had been feeling cramped for quite a while now, and this feels like a change for the better. Drop a comment if you have some vehement objection to the switch, or if it's not going over particularly well for your reading device of choice.