Commentary

Michael Young should reconsider stance

Opportunity exists for disgruntled Ranger to improve his trade value, help all concerned

Updated: February 9, 2011, 4:14 PM ET
By Jim Reeves | ESPNDallas.com

Having already shot emotionally from the hip on the Michael Young debacle earlier this week, it occurs to me on an icy midweek afternoon that a more studied approach might be in order, both for myself and for Young, so I have some fresh advice for the Texas Rangers' unhappy de facto team captain.

He should thoughtfully rescind his trade demand and take a closer look at the opportunity he has here in Texas. No, not the money, though that's no insignificant detail. The fact is, Young is going to get his money no matter what. It's not about that.

[+] EnlargeMichael Young
AP Photo/Mike FuentesOn second thought, Michael Young has the opportunity to show he's more than a DH by remaining with the Rangers -- for now.
I happen to agree with Young that he has, at the least, been shown some disrespect in how this has been handled and maybe even been misled, or as he has put it, seen the truth "manipulated."

Young has been vague about his charges, perhaps because he doesn't want to air dirty laundry. That stance may be admirable but it's not particularly fair to general manager Jon Daniels, who should be provided the opportunity to defend himself against specific charges in a case like this.

Because of Young's vagueness regarding how the Rangers have been less than truthful, we are left to speculate on just what he's talking about. Here's my take:

Having initially agreed to accept a "demotion" from playing the field every day to being the regular DH and sometimes-utility player, Young then learned that the Rangers were continuing to have trade discussions with other teams about him. On top of that, they were also seriously courting Jim Thome and Lance Berkman. The addition of either would have chewed up plenty of at-bats at DH and first base versus right-handed pitching. In fact, had the Rangers signed Thome -- and that was very close to happening -- my guess is that Young would have been traded.

When both Thome and Berkman spurned the Rangers' offers, they traded for Mike Napoli, another DH-first base type player, instead. Napoli should be no real threat to Young, but this was a cumulative situation, one insult too many, and that's when Young, who has put the team ahead of self on numerous occasions over the years, decided he'd had enough, that he deserves better.

He does, but he also needs to grasp the reality of the situation. Young still considers himself a solid defensive player; the numbers indicate that's just not true, at least not at third base or shortstop. Once upon a time, before he voluntarily moved to shortstop to fill a gaping hole and to make room for Alfonso Soriano, he was an above-average second baseman, but who knows now?

Young contends that he hasn't given any thought to his next contract, when his current deal expires in three years and that this isn't about that. I think he's being honest there. He'll make $48 million over the next three years. Why would he be worried about his next deal?

But as a proud man, what he doesn't like is the idea that he might be thought of as nothing more than a DH. So here's my suggestion: He should go out and prove that idea wrong, and where better to do that than right here, where history tells us he should be able to get plenty of playing time in the field at a variety of positions?

As ESPN insider Matt Meyers points out in his column, Josh Hamilton has averaged just 111 games played the last two seasons. Nelson Cruz checks in at 118. Ian Kinsler has managed an average of only 124. All three have proved to be brittle players.

Throw into the mix the likelihood that manager Ron Washington will probably sit young first baseman Mitch Moreland against the tougher left-handers in the league and that shortstop Elvis Andrus hasn't exactly set the AL on fire with his bat, either, and there should be plenty of playing time for Young. That would be especially true if he took it upon himself to add an outfielder's glove to his equipment list this spring, and spent a few days out there as well. He's an athlete; he could do it.

Young has the opportunity, if he seizes it, to actually increase his value in other teams' eyes, not decrease it. Doing so would make it far easier for the Rangers to trade him before 2012, if that's what would still make everyone happy.

I do believe that the relationship is probably permanently fractured. Coming on the heels of the spat two years ago about moving Young from short to third after he'd just won a Gold Glove (yes, it was the right move, but Young's feelings were hurt over how it was handled), I'm not sure this can be repaired.

A word about Daniels and Nolan Ryan here: They have a mandate from the fans to do what they believe is right for the team. I have no problem with the Rangers' exploring trade possibilities where Young is concerned, though I happen to believe that his departure would leave a huge leadership void on the Rangers, one that no current player is equipped to fill.

The problem, apparently, comes in a communication failure between Young and the club, or in what Young is being told and what is actually happening. That, at least, is what Young has intimated. And that shouldn't happen with a player of his stature on this team and in this community.

OK, so toes have been stepped on; feelings are hurt; change may be required. But take the emotion out of it now. The smart move for Young would be to rescind the trade demand. He says he wants to win; he knows he can do that here.

He can privately let the Rangers know he still wants out while actually improving his trade value by showing his versatility in 2011 and taking the pressure off the front office at the same time.

It's called making the best of a bad situation, and what's wrong with that?

Jim Reeves, a former columnist with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is a regular contributor to ESPNDallas.com.

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