Michael Young Would Bring Leadership to Phillies
Finding favorability in a reported trade with the Rangers that would send Michael Young to Philadelphia and Justin De Fratus to Texas requires only that Phillies fans engage in an activity they so often clamor for:
Forget the stats. Remember what’s real.
No, with Young, 36, there’s no powdering and lipsticking the numbers.
After a career-year in 2011 -- he hit .338/.380/.474, which are the only relevant figures for a one-time 20-home run-a-year guy this far past 30 years old -- Young regressed, hitting just .277/.339/.370 last season.
By comparison, Nate Schierholtz hit .273/.319/.379 in the twilight of 2012, before being non-tendered by the Phils and smothered by everyone else.
But, as this city so loves to remind the damned seamheads, stats aren't everything.
What is here? The grander context.
More than anything, trumping his right-handed plate approach or defensive versatility that includes second base, third, and, just in case, shortstop, Young conjures praise most Phillies can't.
"Young is not the kind of clubhouse leader the public rallies behind because the public doesn't see what he does through self-glorifying quotes and gesticulations. And everybody on the club appreciates that and follows that lead."
That was the way nationally renowned Rangers beat writer Evan Grant put it a year ago, putting up his dukes to critics bashing Young's numbers and forgetting his true value, how many of you will.
"The guy has contributed to the Rangers' season this year even if numbers say his offensive performance has been down significantly."
For a team completely devoid of leadership in a five-game flop in the 2011 NLDS following a franchise record 102-win regular season, Young will matter.
For one thoroughly parched for voices throughout a five-season regression from World Series grace in 2008 to a baseball-less October in 2012, Young will matter.
That's why they didn't bid higher than five years and $55 million for B.J. Upton and haven't seriously entertained Josh Hamilton.
That's among the top reasons, though, they swapped one proven Cy Young winner for another in the three-team merry-go-round for Roy Halladay.
Roy Halladay was heralded for his productivity, but the real praise -- and truest effect -- may have been his insatiable work ethic, one proven to be delightfully contagious.
“There's a reason he’s done so well in his career, and it comes from his incredible work ethic and his desire to win.”
Who said that? Cole Hamels. See?
Young can be that same guy in the dugout.
Think of Young as Juan Pierre, except that unlike Pierre, Young hits from the right side of the plate and so can have a deeper and broader footprint than could a guy who still managed to appear in 130 games. To inspire, you gotta play.
Considering the question marks -- not the least of them Chase Utley's reliability, Kevin Frandsen's sustainability, and, after a PED ban and back fracture ended what was still and up-and-down debut season, Freddy Galvis' ability – Young will get run this season, and not in a full-time role.
That's not what they need.
What they did? Like Pierre, a short-term arrangement. Young has but one more year remaining on his contract, for which, for record, the Rangers are paying half.
For one year and $8 million, the Phillies wouldn't have landed Kevin Youkilis, who's reportedly already been offered $12 million from the Yankees, one of many in a saturated buyers market for third basemen.
They wouldn’t have wanted to anyway. Not for a guy who's missed more games in three years (144) than Placido Polanco (142) -- who's 2013 option was for but $5 million, for about the same offensive flops -- and is coming off career worsts at the dish and in the field.
Even if the Phillies had landed Eric Chavez for the one year and $3 million that did the Diamondbacks, Chavez, 34, is an utter defensive compromise at the hot corner.
Young can still play. A year ago, he stuck a .966 fielding percentage that would've tied for sixth in the big leagues. As recently as 2010, the last time he played full-time there, he committed just 19 errors at third, best in the AL.
And he can still be what makes him him. Maybe more.
According to reports, the Rangers will try to shove him out the door with assurances that he, a pillar for Texas in its back-to-back World Series bids, and three-position player, won't have a place in a league with a designated hitter.
The "something to prove" factor? Love it.
For a third base market depleted for talent and replete with buyers, a stop-gap move like this was probably best -- for anyone.
For a team hurting so sorely for guidance that it shows so clearly, there wasn’t anyone better for the Phillies than Young.