3B, SS, 2B, OF Young Can Fill A Lot Of Holes On Any Given Day

Michael Brian Young is a Major League Baseball infielder for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has been named to Major League Baseball All-Star Game seven times. In 2005, he was the American League batting champion.

Born: October 19, 1976 (age 36), Covina
Nationality: American
Salary: 16 million USD (2012)
TeamTexas Rangers (#10 / First baseman)

Phillies’ deal for Young finally official

Veteran infielder ticketed to fill ballclub’s hole at third base

By Paul Hagen / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t quick, but the long-simmering deal that made Rangers icon Michael Young the Phillies’ new third baseman finally became official on Sunday.

With that, after a cautious start to the offseason, the Phils addressed their two most pressing offseason needs within a matter of days. They had also been seeking a center fielder, and checked that off the list as the Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., were wrapping up on Thursday, with the deal that brought Ben Revere from the Twins for right-handers Vance Worley and Trevor May.

Young, 36, the Rangers’ all-time leader in games, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles and triples, had the right to veto any trade. However, staying in Texas would likely have meant a utility role and less playing time. With the Phillies, he’ll be penciled in as the everyday third baseman. Injuries to Placido Polanco meant the team had seven different players start at least one game at the hot corner in 2012: Polanco, Kevin Frandsen, Mike Fontenot, Ty Wigginton, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and Hector Luna.

He’s a seven-time All-Star, who didn’t have his best offensive season in 2012. Young played in 156 games for the Rangers last season, batting .277 with eight homers, 67 RBIs and a .682 OPS.

“Clearly, this brings a wonderful package to what we’re trying to do here in Philadelphia,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “One, he’s a very, very good ballplayer. He has a tremendous track record. He has all the elements we’re looking for.

“First of all, the make-up is extraordinary. He’s the ultimate team player. He knows how to play baseball. He’s a winning baseball player. He’s had the opportunity to be in big games in the playoffs, and he just fits real well. The fact that he hits right-handed helps balance our lineup out a little bit, as well. I just think all the elements he brings to the table for us are very, very positive.

“I think [having a down year is] just part of the process of being a Major League player. You don’t have a great year every year. But at the same time, even when his numbers aren’t extraordinary — and they were still pretty darn good last year, maybe better than anybody we had on our club — the fact of the matter is, he’s a professional hitter. Even when he’s not having productive hits, I know he’s the kind of guy who makes productive outs. So there’s a lot of pluses to this guy.”

“He made an adjustment in September and bounced back some [with a .361 batting average and .897 OPS in his last 20 games],” said Rangers general manager Jon Daniels. “We fully expect him to have a better offensive year than he did last year. He’ll be better in Philadelphia than he was last season. The opportunity for him to play third base in Philadelphia was more than we could promise here. As the Phillies pushed for Michael and we got comfortable with the return, we presented the option to Michael and his family for them to make the decision.”

The Phillies hope he can rebound, but are also trying to stabilize the third base — while giving Cody Asche, who played last season at Double-A Reading, more time to develop.

“This is a very tough situation,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He has always been my go-to guy in my six years here. He has always done a lot for me. He has been a leader for the organization on the field, in the clubhouse and in the community. He certainly will be missed.”

The Rangers received right-handed reliever Josh Lindblom and a Minor League pitcher, Lisalverto Bonilla in return. The guidelines of the trade were agreed to in Nashville, but it took days for Young to agree to waive his no-trade clause and for the Commissioner’s office to approve the money involved.

The Phillies will pay $5.5 million of the $16 million Young will make in the final year of his contract next season. In addition, the teams will split the additional $1.2 million that Young negotiated to accept the trade, in part to cover the difference in state income tax between Texas and Pennsylvania.

Lindblom 25, was acquired from the Dodgers along with Ethan Martin and a player to be named, which turned out to be Stefan Jarrin, for Shane Victorino at the Trade Deadline. He spent the remainder of the season with the Phillies, going 1-3 with a 4.63 ERA in 26 appearances.

Bonilla, 22, is an intriguing player. After being converted from starter to reliever, he pitched himself onto the Phillies’ radar this season. After starting the season at Class A Clearwater, he was promoted to Reading and was named to the Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star team. He was a combined 3-2 with a 1.55 ERA when he was picked for the Futures All-Star Game in Kansas City, and was ranked as the team’s No. 15 prospect by MLB.com.

However, he injured his right thumb while involved in what was reported as “horseplay” the night before that game and didn’t pitch again in ’12. He’s currently 1-4 with a 6.92 ERA in 15 games for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League.

“Lindblom was one of the guys who was very important for us when we traded Shane Victorino,” Amaro said. “I think, just by virtue of the fact that we didn’t have an eighth-inning guy, we put him in a position to pitch in the eighth. He may very well do that very proficiently at some point, but he’s probably not ready to do that quite yet. He’s probably more comfortable in the sixth and seventh [innings]. That may be his bailiwick. That may change moving forward. But we had to put him in a position he probably, frankly, wasn’t ready for. He had a tough time of it at times. But he’s a very good pitcher.

Michael Young Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 27, 2012 in Arlington, Texas.

“As far as Bonilla goes, he has a tremendous arm. He’s still a little raw. Great [fastball-changeup] combination. He’s going to be a big league pitcher, and an effective one. There’s no question he’s going to be an effective big league pitcher. No question. Again, we feel like that’s one of the areas we’re dealing from a position of strength … so we felt like we were comfortable enough that to get this type of everyday player, this was the right thing for us.”

Now, Amaro will turn his attention to addressing other needs.

“Obviously, with the hole that was created by the move with Vance Worley to get Ben, we’re looking at the possibility of getting a little bit of depth there. [Tyler] Cloyd and [Jonathan] Pettibone will fight it out. Maybe Martin or somebody else will step up at some point. Or maybe even [Adam] Morgan.

“But we’ll probably look to add a low-risk, high-reward type of guy or somebody who’s come back from an injury or someone like that who can battle for that fifth spot. A lot of teams have had some success looking for that guy late in the season and finding that productive guy. So that’s one possibility. We’re still looking into the bullpen and trying add a veteran presence there, as well. And if we can do a little bit more for our outfield, we’ll consider that, as well.

“We’d love to add more home runs. But for me, again, it’s about production. If we can produce runs — and I know that Ben can and I know that Michael can — and we have to get production out of the middle of our lineup, the guys we’ve paid to produce those runs. If we can get complementary [contributions] from Ben and Michael and get the kind of production we expect out of Ryan [Howard] and Chase [Utley], I think we’re going to be fine.”

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Young will feel at home with Phillies

Veteran is joining a team filled with players who are all about winning

Richard JusticeBy Richard Justice

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is going to love Michael Young — and so will Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, etc. Young will fit nicely on a team that prides itself on playing the game right, on playing hard and on competing like crazy.

If that sounds like basic stuff, it is. At least it is for the good teams. And some teams do it better than others. When the Phillies were winning five straight National League East division championships between 2007 and 2011, they played with toughness and an edge.

Young plays that way, too. There are legitimate questions about how good he still is, about his power and defense and all the rest. But he did hit .277 and have 27 doubles in 2012 in his worst season in a decade. In terms of presence and being a good teammate, the Phillies simply couldn’t have found anyone better.

Young’s legacy with the Rangers should not be underestimated. First, he’s one of the most decent people you’ll never meet. It’s almost impossible to imagine anyone disliking Young.

He led the Rangers out of the Alex Rodriguez years — back to a clubhouse environment that was about 25 guys instead of one. He helped lead them back to winning, too, as Rangers general manager Jon Daniels began accumulating talent and doing his job better than almost anyone.

Along the way, Young became the face of the franchise and its most popular player. He was one of baseball’s best players for about seven years. Between 2004 and 2010, he averaged 18 home runs and 50 walks a season, while compiling an .819 OPS. He leaves the Rangers as a seven-time All-Star who twice finished in the Top 10 of American League Most Valuable Player balloting.

His numbers can’t be measured just in his play on the field. He was the leader of the Rangers, their spokesman and the guy who set a tone. When Yu Darvish joined the Rangers last offseason, some of us wondered how comfortable he’d be, given the cultural leap from Japan to Texas.

“He’ll be fine,” Young said. “Believe me, if you can’t get along with the guys in here, you’re the one with the problem.”

Young was a large reason for that environment. Third baseman Adrian Beltre probably took on more of a leadership mantle last season as Young’s play declined. But the Rangers probably don’t win back-to-back AL championships in 2010 and ’11 without Young’s contributions, both measured and otherwise.

Daniels had toyed with trading him twice before. Young had a tough time swallowing those discussions, and also the moves from second base to third to first. He always did what the Rangers believed was best for the team, but he didn’t always agree. He twice asked to be traded, but rescinded both demands and apologized to teammates for being a distraction.

When fans would criticize his defense, Young would say, “Well, I would have liked to have spent my entire career at one position, but those aren’t my decisions.”

Because Young was the face of the franchise, because his power declined dramatically the last two seasons — from 21 home runs in 2010 to 11 and eight the last two years — Young became the No. 1 target of criticism from fans on talk radio and blogs in Dallas-Fort Worth.

It’s always odd to see fans turn on some of the guys who’ve performed the best and attempted to do everything correctly. But Young never lashed out. If he was angry — and he surely was — he never showed it.

He has agreed to be traded to the Phillies, as Daniels is attempting a dramatic reshaping of the Rangers. Part of that reshaping is moving second baseman Ian Kinsler to first and inserting highly-regarded rookie Jurickson Profar at second.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have an opening at third base. It’s a no-risk move, since the Rangers are paying most of Young’s salary. Knowing how prideful Young is, there won’t be many more motivated players next season.

He’ll love Philadelphia because the ballpark will be filled and the clubhouse has a bunch of guys — Howard, Rollins, Cole Hamels, Chase Utley — who are accustomed to winning and know how to win.

That’s what Young has always been about, too. He had a terrific 13-year run with the Rangers. Regardless of what he does in this next chapter of his career, he’ll always be a Texas Ranger, one of its most popular and productive players ever. Here’s to another great season or two or three from one of the really good guys.

Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MICHAEL YOUNG STATS SUMMARY

G AB R H TB 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG  
SEASON 156 611 79 169 226 27 3 8 67 33 70 2 2 .277 .312 .370
MLB Totals 1823 7399 1085 2230 3286 415 55 177 984 532 1152 89 30 .301 .347 .444
Minors Totals 524 2015 330 597 906 132 21 45 325 222 367 83 30 .296 .367 .450

Awards and Honors

MLB PLAYERS CHOICE MAN OF THE YEAR
2008: Texas (AL)
2011: Texas (AL)
ALL-STAR
2004: Texas (AL)
2005: Texas (AL)
2006: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2008: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
2011: Texas (AL)
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
6/16/2002: Texas (AL)
8/24/2009: Texas (AL)
6/27/2011: Texas (AL)
RANGERS HEART AND HUSTLE AWARD
2006: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
2010: Texas (AL)
RANGERS MVP
2004: Texas (AL)
2005: Texas (AL)
2007: Texas (AL)
2009: Texas (AL)
RAWLINGS GOLD GLOVE
2008: Texas (AL)
RANGERS HAROLD MCKINNEY GOOD GUY AWARD
2003: Texas (AL)
RANGERS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
2001: Texas (AL)

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Oswalt to Rangers?

Oswalt would join already deep Texas stable

With or without righty, Rangers loaded with rotation candidates

By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com

ARLINGTON — The Rangers have had their meeting with free-agent pitcher Roy Oswalt. There is no word yet if Texas will actually sign him, as a source said the situation remains ongoing and unresolved.

If the Rangers sign Oswalt, they would be adding a proven, experienced Major League pitcher to their 40-man roster. They would be a signing a two-time 20-game winner who was clearly a No. 1 starter in his prime.

Roy Oswalt

They would also have unprecedented starting-pitching depth. There were years in the Rangers’ history when they would have gladly settled for a rotation consisting of the sixth-through the 10th-best starters on their current roster. There are teams in the Major Leagues right now that would be thrilled to have that for their current rotation.

That is, assuming the Rangers actually sign Oswalt, which is not yet the case and may not come to pass. If it does, a case could be made that the Rangers would have at least 10 pitchers who could be considered legitimate candidates for a Major League rotation.

Here is at look at those 10:

Colby Lewis

Colby Lewis

Credentials:He is a durable right-hander who is 26-23 in 64 starts and 401 1/3 innings over the past two years. He is 4-1 with a 2.34 ERA in eight playoff starts.

Concerns:He doesn’t throw as hard as the other starters and relies on pinpoint control and location. He has allowed 56 home runs over the past two years, tied for the fourth most in the Majors.

Outlook:Lewis is scheduled to be the Rangers’ Opening Day starter. He can be a free agent after the season.

Derek Holland

Credentials:He had a breakthrough season in 2011, going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 32 starts. He was 2-0 with a 3.38 ERA in the postseason. The Rangers see him as a pitcher who can dominate with his stuff.

Concerns:He has a tendency to be erratic, but that disappeared in the second half of last season, when he went 9-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 14 starts.

Outlook:The Rangers thought highly enough of Holland this winter to discuss a long-term contract with him even though he is not yet eligible for arbitration. The deal did not get done, but the Rangers still think highly of him. They will not be taking him out of the rotation.

Yu Darvish

Credentials:He was a superstar in Japan and appears to be the best pitcher from that country to make the jump to the United States. He is 25 years old, stands 6-foot-5 and the reports say he has dominating stuff.

Concerns:He has never pitched in the Major Leagues and will have a number of adjustments to make. Most notable will be handling the Texas heat.

Outlook:The Rangers did not invest $111 million in him so that he could pitch out of the bullpen.

Matt Harrison

Credentials:He was 14-9 with a 3.39 ERA that ranked as the 15th lowest in the American League last season. He had a WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) of 1.28. It was the fourth-best WHIP on the staff but also the seventh-best by a qualifying Rangers pitcher since the beginning of the 1994 season.

Concerns:He did not pitch particularly well during the World Series last year. He has probably had more physical issues during his career, especially with his shoulder, than any returning starter on the staff.

Outlook:He would likely be the pitcher who would face the biggest threat from Oswalt.

Alexi Ogando

English: Alexi Ogando, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Credentials:He was an AL All-Star in 2011 in only his second season in the Majors. He ended up 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA.

Concerns:He was 4-5 with a 4.48 ERA in the second half, which suggested opponents caught up with his lack of Major League-caliber secondary pitches.

Outlook:He is likely headed back to the bullpen to make room for Darvish even if the Rangers don’t sign Oswalt.

Neftali Feliz

Credentials:He pitched well as a starting pitcher in the Minors until moving to the bullpen at the Major League level. He was one of the best closers in the game the past two years.

Concerns:He needs to sharpen his secondary pitches and adjust to the increased work load as a starter. He also needs to be more economical with his pitches as a starter.

Outlook:The Rangers are committed to shifting him to the rotation.

Roy Oswalt

Credentials:He is 159-93 with a 3.21 ERA in 329 Major League games, including 326 starts. He won 20 games in both 2004 and ’05. He is 5-2 with a 3.73 ERA in 13 postseason appearances.

Concerns:He is 34 and has a history of back issues. He was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies last year.

Outlook:He wants to be a starter, and his agent is making that clear. If the Rangers sign him, it wouldn’t be because they want him in the bullpen.

Scott Feldman

English: Scott Feldman pitching on April 9, 2009

Credentials:He was the Rangers’ Pitcher of the Year in 2009, when he went 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA and was their Opening Day starter in 2010.

Concerns:He has spent the past two years recovering from surgery on his right knee.

Outlook:There are clubs that would love to have him in their rotation but most likely he will be a middle/long reliever again for the Rangers. He pitched well in that role in the playoffs.

Michael Kirkman

English: Michael Kirkman, Texas Rangers pitcher.

Credentials:Don’t forget this guy was the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year in 2010 and was a legitimate candidate for the rotation last spring. If he had pitched better in March, he might have beaten out Ogando for a spot in the rotation after Tommy Hunter went down with an injury.

Concerns:He got out of whack last season and did not pitch well, either at the Major League level or Triple-A Round Rock, where his ERA went from 3.09 in 2010 to 5.05.

Outlook:His best chance to make the club will be as a left-handed reliever.

Martin Perez

Credentials:He is ranked 29th on MLB.com’s list of Top 100 prospects and doesn’t turn 21 until April.

Concerns:He was 4-4 with a 6.43 ERA in 10 starts at Triple-A last season. He seems to take time in adjusting to a higher level and better competition.

Outlook: There were so many years when the Rangers would have killed for a pitching prospect of this magnitude and he would have been the biggest story of Spring Training. Now his best shot is making the team as a reliever but he might be better off starting the season back in Triple-A.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.