Of Michael Young and nothing else
“The lights are going out all over Europe and I doubt we will see them go on again in our lifetime.”
Sir Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, on the eve of World War I.
The Rangers are 10 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training and nobody knows if Michael Young will be in Surprise. The Rangers all-time hits leader, six-time All-Star and “face of the franchise” apparently would prefer that not be the case
So much for a celebratory off-season for the American League champions. Fans have had ample opportunity to have their photo taking with the championship trophy but the possibility of ever seeing Young in a Rangers uniform is dwindling.
Or at least seeing him smiling in a Rangers uniform.
Maybe cooler heads will prevail but right now that is a dubious proposition at best.
All indications are that the Rangers and Young are “butting heads” again – as he described it two years ago, and this time there may not be a happy ending.
A month ago Young was expressing his willingness to be the Rangers designated hitter after they signed free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. That was a shock at the time but that was what he said publicly so that’s what was reported.
That appears no longer the case. Young likes playing defense and wants to go to a place where they will let him do just that. Colorado needs a second baseman, the Angels need a third baseman, well…there are a lot of teams that might be able to use a player as good as Young.
They probably don’t want to pay $16 million a year for the privilege though, or give up equal value in return. That’s why the Rangers are resistant to a deal, not to mention having no idea how to replace him in the lineup.
Two years ago Young demanded a trade when the Rangers asked him to switch to third. After a few days and nothing happening, Young publicly agreed to switch to third and it had a happy ending. Elvis Andrus took over at short, Young moved to third and the Rangers eventually ended up in the World Series.
But they lost.
Young didn’t immediately demand a trade this time. Now, apparently the reverse is true. What’s changed? Who knows…transparency has taken a holiday.
But the idea of him playing every day as a designated hitter seemed to erode when the Rangers pursued both Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. Then the Rangers acquired Mike Napoli, which seemed to set everybody off. However the idea of the Rangers being better off with Napoli at DH over Young seems a stretch. Napoli is a nice addition but hardly the answer at DH.
The Rangers don’t have an answer at DH if they trade Young, unless they got somebody in return. The Rangers are unlikely to be able to pull that off . Maybe they could sign Troy Glaus but the Rangers obviously would prefer Young “be happy in his work” and remain in Texas.
They thought that would be the case a month ago but one too many cards may have been played. Plus when agents get involved, all bets are off.
With all the rumors floating around, Young may have the perception that his role on the team is not as clearly defined as he once thought and there are teams out there who want him as a defensive player. That may be the genesis for him wanting to go elsewhere.
This is a familiar story often repeated throughout Rangers history. Star player, “face of the franchise”, hero to the fans ends up leaving town in a cloud of discord. The good guys always die in the end. Young isn’t out the door yet but a happy ending for one and all does not appear in sight. There is no road map for peace unless Nolan Ryan can figure out a way to mollify Young. He may be the one guy who can do just that.
Or the Rangers just wait until they get to Spring Training, where they will have ample opportunity to soothe Young and demonstrate their sincerity in getting him maximum playing time.
Or, as Robert Redford said in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “They could surrender to us but I wouldn’t count on it.”