As I alluded to the other day, I’m absolutely terrified of the prospect of Ned Colletti going after Michael Young before the trading deadline. And why shouldn’t I be? He’s exactly the type of player we’ve seen this front office go after so many times before — “gritty,” a “good clubhouse presence,” and… not that good.
Young was for many years a valuable part of the Texas infield, being worth 2-4 wins every season between 2003-2011 other than 2005, when he was worth 4.4 WAR in what was his career year. The fact that he hit for a high average — .301 career mark — along with some pop — four years with 20+ homers — obscured the fact that he was generally a below-average fielder, but make no mistake: Young was a very good player for a long time, and he more than held his own in an incredibly talented 2003 Texas infield that featured Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, & Hank Blalock, none older than 27 at the time.
Of course, his reputation as a good teammate didn’t stop him from having a few public spats with Rangers management, notably when they asked him to move from shortstop to third base in 2009 to make room for Elvis Andrus, then from third base to 1B/DH in 2011 when Adrian Beltre arrived. Despite the fact that each were superior players, especially on defense, Young requested a trade twice. It didn’t happen until after a miserable 2012 when general manager Jon Daniels could no longer stomach Ron Washington playing a 35-year-old with a .277/.312/.370 line every day, and traded him to Philadelphia. (When he did, Mike Schmidt compared Young to Derek Jeter, and said that he’s “two or three years from being a first ballot Hall of Famer.” Uh, sure, Mike.)
Young has bounced back a bit with the Phillies, hitting .288/.344/.414, though that’s a nearly identical line as Juan Uribe has to go with inarguably worse defense. You could make a pretty good argument that the Dodgers are not better off with Young at third base every day than they are with Uribe, though the potential of Uribe getting some bench time that is currently going to Skip Schumaker or Nick Punto must be taken into account.
Anyway, that’s not really the point here. It will be no surprise if Colletti wants Young, and it will be even less of a surprise that I would hate it. The question is what Young might cost, because in a round-about way, the Dodgers have already traded for him once.
Last July, the Dodgers sent reliever Josh Lindblom and pitching prospect Ethan Martin to Philadelphia for Shane Victorino. After the season, the Phillies sent Lindblom and a mid-level pitching prospect to Texas for Young.
We know all about Lindlom, since he spent parts of two seasons with the Dodgers and had been in the organization since 2008. He’s a useful but hardly elite pitcher with some talent but continuing trouble with the longball, and he’s struggled in Texas as they’ve inexplicably attempted to convert him back into a starter. Basically, the kind of guy who is nice to have, but who you don’t miss at all once he’s gone.
If that’s what Young was worth to the Phillies for a full year of his services, then what is he worth to the Dodgers now that he’s a half year older and closer to free agency? You could argue that it’s less than Lindblom, which would really cut down the pool. That seems to make even Chris Withrow or Stephen Fife or Matt Magill too much, though I’m guessing that’s not how this exercise is going to go.
Of course, we all hope that if a deal with Philadelphia happens, it’s part of something larger for Cliff Lee or Chase Utley, which would make identifying the value for Young alone difficult. Maybe that’s what will happen; maybe it will be nothing at all.
Or maybe, just maybe, Colletti will identify Young as the upgrade this team has to have, as though adding a “good clubhouse guy” to a clubhouse that doesn’t seem to be a problem — and no, Young is not going to be the guy who talks sense into Yasiel Puig, so stop — will be more valuable than giving playing time to a declining poor fielder, and give up more than Young was already traded for months ago. No, that could never happen… right?