The SANDbox: The Case For Michael Young's Jersey Retirement, Injury Updates, & More

Jared Sandler
June 17, 2019 - 1:18 pm
Michael Young

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Categories: 

The SANDbox

Vote for the Rangers to get to Cleveland for the All-Star Game right here

LEADING OFF

No Ranger will wear the numbers 7, 26, 29, 34, and 42 ever again. I hope that one day the number 10 gets added to that list.

Some organizations have a hard rule: Only Hall of Famers get jerseys retired. Perhaps that was once the Rangers’ criterion but they, understandably so, altered their philosophy to honor the late Johnny Oates, who died tragically from an aggressive brain tumor.

Michael Young did not receive enough votes in his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility to remain on the ballot. He won’t get inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But while his resume might not be worthy of Cooperstown in the eyes of those who make those decisions, I think his resume is very much worthy of placement wherever retired jerseys get honored at the new Globe Life Field.

First, let’s consider objective measurements from Young’s 13 years with the Rangers. Young was a seven-time All-Star. He won a Gold Glove and twice finished in the top 10 of the AL MVP vote. He won a batting title in 2005 and twice led the AL in hits. He reached 200 hits in each season from 2003 until 2007. His six 200-plus hit seasons rank T-11th…in MLB history. He was one three players ever with three straight seasons with at least 215 hits, joins Rogers Hornsby and George Sisler.

With Young, however, it isn’t just about the stats. He was the heartbeat of the Rangers pretty much from the time he stepped foot in the big league clubhouse. Young is probably the best team leader the Rangers have had in their franchise’s history.

Young might not have been the best player on either of the Rangers’ AL Pennant -winning teams, but he was still very good. He hit .284 with 21 HR and 91 RBI in 2010 and then hit .338 with 11 HR, 106 RBI, and a .854 OPS in 2011. Again, whether or not he was the best player on those teams, he was the leader of those teams and no one would dare dispute that. The respect he earned from his teammates and opponents was beyond impressive.

Young was selfless. He changed positions multiple times for the betterment of the team. When the Rangers got Soriano, he moved to shortstop. After Texas missed out on Cliff Lee but had the chance at signing Adrian Beltre, Young agreed to move positions again. Typically stars and leaders like Young don’t move for the new guy, but he understood the bigger picture and he made it work. Had Young never moved off of second or short, maybe he wins more than just one Gold Glove.

For me, as a young and always hopeful Rangers fan, Michael Young was always the guy I could count on and cheer for during some rough years in the mid-2000s. While A-Rod and Tex wanted out and Raffy got busted, Michael Young was always there, with a level of performance on the field and a manner of conducting himself off the field that would make you proud he was on your team. During the uncovering of those who used steroids, you just knew Michael went about things the right way.

And what about now? Michael still contributes to the organization as a valued and trusted member of the front office. His title of Special Assistant to the General Manager is vague, but as you might expect, his opinion is valued highly by Jon Daniels and his team.

Some have suggested that Michael and Jim Sundberg, who always wore the number 10, share the honor together. Jim Sundberg was a very good player and this isn’t about arguing against a player, so I’ll leave that debate for another forum. I will share, however, that I think it would be much easier to draw a line to keep this highly exclusive and include Young than it would be to draw that line so that it included Sundberg while maintaining that level of exclusivity.

I’m biased. Michael Young is my favorite Ranger of all-time. But I’m confident that my bias towards Young isn’t clouding my vision in saying that he’s one of the most important Rangers of all-time. His contributions as a player, as a teammate and a leader, as a member of the front office and his role during the best era of the franchise’s history, as well as what he meant and still means to the fans is why I hope the number 10 gets retired in his honor when the time is right.

(ST)RANGER THINGS

*Willie Calhoun (quad) is expected to return to the Rangers on Monday after completing a week’s worth of rehab split between Arizona and Nashville.

*Joey Gallo (oblique) is taking batting practice and wants to return before week’s end but it is more likely that he returns when the team hits the road next week.

*Hunter Pence (groin) exited Sunday’s game after pursuing an eventual double off the bat of Jose Peraza. There’s been a lot of discussion about who will get sent down when Calhoun and Gallo come back and the prevailing answer typically is that It will all sort itself out. Unfortunately, that means someone else will go down and in this case it might be Pence. Thankfully the Rangers have great depth but unfortunately losing Pence is tough, especially as a right-handed bat.

*Nomar Mazara’s hamstring is worth monitoring, though the Rangers don’t believe it is anything serious. If his injury doesn’t require an IL stint and others remain healthy by the time Gallo returns, I’d imagine the Rangers would consider playing Gallo at first to help ease his body back into the mix. He’s unlikely a centerfielder long term just from a body preservation standpoint, though there’s no reason he can’t play a corner spot very well. While third base isn’t an option, I’d imagine first base still might be. It would be the most ideal way to preserve his body and allow him to focus on making that bat among the best in the league.

*Reports surfaced this week that the Rangers are pursuing trade talks as “buyers,” but that really shouldn’t be news. They still aren’t going to throw a lot of chips in the middle for a rental and they’ve always been open about pursuing pitching under control. Frankly, their record won’t change either. The Rangers view the trade deadline as an extension of free agency, essentially, so if they can add a pitcher for the next few years, they’ll attempt to do that whether they remain in a playoff race or not. What their record and their performance will impact is whether they try and add some bullpen help, which at the present time it seems that they are pursuing, or whether they try and sell guys as high-profile as Mike Minor or perhaps guys like Hunter Pence or Shawn Kelley.

*Want a reason why the Rangers are as good as they are that no one talks about? The Rangers’ baserunning has been a huge part of their offensive success this year. It isn’t just about base-stealing—a facet of the game in which they rank among the best in the league—but about baserunning, as a whole. The “Stats” section below has more on this, but the Rangers are constantly applying pressure on the bases. A member of an AL West coaching staff who asked to remain anonymous told me that the Rangers have as much of an impact on the bases as any team he can remember in the last few years and that even when they aren’t attempting to take an extra base, the sheer threat has a negative impact on opposing pitchers and the defense that plays behind them. So, when you consider why the Rangers have had the success they’ve had, don’t forget about the baserunning.

*For approximately $18 million this year, the Ranger have a combined 10.0 bWAR out of Jesse Chavez, Adrian Sampson, Ariel  Jurado, Chris Martin, Logan Forsythe, Hunter Pence, Danny Santana, and Asdrubal Cabrera. That's a pretty awesome job by the front office of finding production for a good price. That becomes 16.8 bWAR for approximately $37 million if you add in Mike Minor and Lance Lynn. Depending on who you ask, one win as measured by WAR costs anywhere from $8-12 million. The reality is, there is lots of nuance to properly valuate a win share and you can’t just paint with one broad stroke, but for the sake of this, we will. If we take the low end of the above estimate ($8 million), the Rangers have $80 million worth of production for $18 million. If you include Minor and Lynn, they have $134.4 million worth of production for just $37 million.

*How many of you would have guessed that at this point in the season Ariel Jurado and Adrian Sampson would have a combined 4.22 ERA for the Rangers? That’s better than the league average of 4.43 ERA. Both guys deserve credit, individually, but they are also prime examples of how data-driven development and the newly incorporated analytical processes can help players grow.

*The Rangers acquired RHP Jake Petricka from Milwaukee for a player to be named later or cash. Petricka has been assigned from San Antonio to Nashville. He’s on the 40 man roster. Petricka pitched in 6 games with the Brewers in April. He’s 10-12 with 16 saves in 228 MLB games.

*RHP David Carpenter was assigned outright to Triple-A Nashville. He was designated for assignment on June 8. The Rangers wanted to keep Carpenter and Carpenter wanted to remain with the Rangers. It’ll be interesting to see if/when he gets another shot.

*Ronald Guzman changed agents and will now be represented by Scott Boras. Per Evan Grant (DMN), Guzman said he intends to spend significant time this off-season at the Boras Sports Institute, a dedicated training facility for Boras clients.

STRATEGY NOTE OF THE WEEK

While joining the GBag Nation on Wednesday, Jeff Cavanaugh asked me a great question about whether Asdrubal Cabrera is the perfect replacement for Adrian Beltre. Jeff was not suggesting that Cabrera’s ability is on par with Beltre’s or anything, though, offensively, Cabrera has been solid. Cabrera is replacing a legend. That’s never easy. But, I think Jeff’s suggestion makes a lot of sense. Instead of asking a young player trying to establish himself and prove himself to replace a legend, they picked a veteran who is very comfortable with who he is as a player and not trying to necessarily prove he belongs or he is worthy. It also probably helps, as Jeff insinuated, that Cabrera went to Spring Training with a Big League camp with a fair amount of Venezuelans—Elvis, Rougie, Tocci, Mendez.

Growing up, I remember Ryan Minor, regarded highly as a prospect, being the guy to replace Cal. I’m not sure whether that shadow impacted his development or not, but Minor never lived up to whatever projections existed for him as a prospect. I’m not saying it can’t work the other way. Didi Gregorius had two years of experience but was far from established when he replaced Jeter. He wasn’t very good in his first year with the Yankees—and, again, who knows how much the Jeter shadow impacted him, if at all—but he’s been pretty good since.

None of these things are ever definitive one way or the way, but I agree with the impetus of Jeff’s question that it is better to replace a legend with a veteran comfortable in his skin than a young player—no matter the potential—trying to find his identity.

MAILBAG

@RockCreekBoots3: From all the young talent we have, who do you think will be offered extensions?

The Rangers have already offered Maz an extension, if you believe reports from Spring Training 2018. I anticipate they’ve had similar conversations with Gallo and my guess is they’d pursue extensions with both of those guys. I don’t get the sense either will sign an extension. Gallo is a tough one because he’s a Boras client and Boras clients as good as Gallo—at least, if he can keep up his 2019 production—typically hit free agency.

@King_Zurita: Could the Rangers be looking into acquiring another catcher?

I don’t think so for this season, but I wouldn’t say it is out of the question. Jeff Mathis is under contract through 2020. The Rangers value what he brings defensively and his work with the pitchers, but perhaps they’d utilize him in a smaller role next year. The real answer to that question largely depends on their evaluation of Isiah Kiner-Falefa after this year. If they’re happy with his progress, perhaps they roll out this tandem again next year. However, if they aren’t, maybe they consider other possibilities.

@AplinckTX: Who is the projected 5th starter? Will it be a minor league callup?

My guess is it will be Joe Palumbo. With no IL move involving Drew Smyly (or anyone else), Palumbo wasn’t eligible to pitch Friday since he hadn’t been down the requisite 10 days a player must spend after getting optioned. Once that is up, I imagine he’ll be back in the rotation.

MOMENT OF THE WEEK

Delino S. DeShields and his father Delino L. DeShields shared the field this weekend, made even more special because of Father’s Day on Sunday.

Last weekend marked the 1st time that Rangers OF Delino D. DeShields and his father, Reds 1B coach Delino L. DeShields have been on the same field for a regular season Major League game. Research indicates at least 2 previous occasions on which a Rangers' player has been across the diamond from his father in a regular season game. Bump Wills faced his father, Mariners manager Maury Wills during 2 series in September, 1980. Todd Stottlemyre and his father, NYY pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre were on the same field in a pair of series in August 1998 and again during the 3-game 1998 ALDS in which the Yankees swept the Rangers.

ANECDOTE OF THE WEEK

David Laurila of Fangraphs shared a great story about Matt Hicks:

KT’S “HOLY WOW” GREAT PLAY OF THE WEEK

Hunter Pence hit his very first career inside-the-park home run when he did it at Fenway Park last week.

AWESOME NON-BASEBALL TWEET OF THE WEEK

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“To play good teams, to play great teams, to go toe-to-toe with some of the best pitchers in the game, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge I want our guys to accept. Bring it on.” -Chris Woodward after the Rangers beat the Red Sox, 4-3 (11), in the opener of their 4-game series from Fenway.

“The fact that we keep just pressuring teams in the late innings -- regardless of how the beginning or the first seven innings or the first six innings went -- we just have really good character in that ballclub. I’m proud of our guys because they just keep on fighting.” -Chris Woodward on the team’s late-inning resiliency. Check out the “Stats of the Week” for more on this

“It’s just another dream come true. It’s cliche, but everybody dreams about pitching in the big leagues and to also get your first major league win. To get it out of the way. Hopefully, there’s many more to come.” -Brett Martin on his first MLB win on Friday night

“I was swinging at too many balls. I don’t want to swing at bad pitches. Right now, I’m aggressive, but I’m being aggressive with my pitch. Because of that I’m feeling better at the plate.” -Rougie on his strong play at the plate of late

STATS OF THE WEEK

*The Rangers have 3 stolen bases of home this year, most in MLB. Tampa Bay has 2 and Seattle, Toronto, and KC each have 1. No one else has any. Elvis (2) is the only player in MLB with multiple steals of home. Rougie has the other for the Rangers.

*The Rangers have been an outstanding baserunning team. Check out some of the measurements.

*Elvis now has stolen home six times in his career, the most in Rangers franchise history. He’s the only player to steal home multiple times in a season and he’s done it twice: 2011 and 2019. The steal of home was differentiated in 1974. The only player with more steals of home than Elvis Andrus (6) since then is Paul Molitor (11).

*The Rangers lead MLB in runs/game in the 1st inning (0.82) and are tied-first in MLB in runs/game in the 9th inning (0.76)

*The Rangers averaged 1.5 HR/g before Joey Gallo hit the IL. Since? Just 0.67 HR/g.

*According to BaseballSavant.com’s “Outfield Jump Leaderboard,” which measures outfielders’ jumps, routes, and acceleration, Shin-Soo Choo’s routes have been among the best in baseball. He’s measured to cover an extra 1.1 feet better than league average relative to the most direct route over the first 3 seconds. That’s second in MLB to Andrew Benintendi (1.3). He’s played more consistently in the OF this year than in recent years and he’s done a solid job. He’s nowhere near a Gold Glove candidate by any means, but he appears far from a liability based on the eye test and data such as the above. See the “Around the MLB” section for more on these measurements.

AROUND THE LEAGUE

*What the Yankees have done in spite of injury issues is impressive. They’ve used the IL 20 times already this year after using it just 20 times total all of last year. They’re neck-in-neck for the AL East lead without Judge and Stanton. It appears those guys will be back soon and now Edwin Encarnacion added to the mix? The AL home run leader? Wow. What a lineup. Encarnacion, by the way, has the longest active streak of consecutive seasons with 30+ HR at seven.

*Shohei Ohtani, who became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle when he accomplished it Thursday night, is reportedly close to throwing off a mound as a part of his rehab from Tommy John. He won’t pitch in 2019 but will do so in 2020 and figures to be a big part of LAA’s staff. Ohtani is hitting this year, however, and hitting well. So far this year, Ohtani is slashing .278/.351/.489 (.840). The Ohtani experience is barely older than a year but he’s absolutely shown he can excel at the plate and on the mound and I’m thrilled because hopefully that encourages more to try do both. Whether it is in the capacity that Ohtani is attempting to do so—middle of the order bat and top of the rotation pitcher—or a balance on a more minor scale, it is a fun and new element to the current game.

*Jameson Taillon accurately describes the possible domino effect of an ejection. In some cases, guys uninvolved lose money because they get sent down as a result of eating innings and rendering themselves expendable. These decisions don’t just have consequences in a vacuum so when ejections are undeserved, it’s more than just unfortunate..

*This is crazy. According to my pal @kazuto_yamazaki on twitter, Chris Sale has 25 career starts where he collected 10+ Ks, issued 1-or-fewer BBs, and did not get the win. He surpassed Randy Johnson for the most such starts in MLB history when that took place Monday against the Rangers.

*Not the Astros need any help, but Yordan Alvarez is butting in and providing it. The 21-year old Cuban was tearing up Triple-A to the tune of a .343 BA and a 1.184 OPS—pretty good, right?—and his first week hasn’t disappointed, either. He’s a very capable bat who will help the already-dangerous Astros lineup now and could one day be a reason why they’d feel comfortable letting one of their already-established stars walk for a big free agent contract. Alvarez became the fourth player in major league history to hit four home runs in his first five games. He joined Trevor Story, who hit six for Colorado in 2016, Yasiel Puig (Dodgers, 2013) and Mike Jacobs (Mets, 2005).

*The Rangers acquired Jordan Romano as a Rule 5 acquisition this off-season and had him for pretty much the entirety of Spring Training. They determined they didn’t want to keep him and sent him back to the Blue Jays. Romano was called up by the Blue Jays last week and made his MLB debut. He’s made two appearances and pitched two perfect innings. I enjoyed getting to know Jordan, a Canadian, who told some great pond hockey stories when he was growing up.

*Mike Petriello and the folks who make the wondrous baseball statistical site, BaseballSavant.com, a reality have come up with another gem: Outfielder jump leaderboard. We now have data to measure the jump, the route, and the acceleration, of an outfielder. Check it out.

MINOR LEAGUES

*RHP Demarcus is another in a long line of promising relief prospects in the Rangers system. Be sure to catch my conversation with him in the A/V Department section. He’s been dominant this year. After starting with Hi-A Down East, he got the bump the Double-A Frisco and has continued to show encouraging signs. At Double-A, Evans has a 3.00 ERA over 9.0 IP with 14 K and 5 BB. Our conversation below gives insight into his year, what’s next for him in terms of development, and more.

*Matt Bush is pitching well and appears to be healthy. Chris Woodward shared with the G-Bag Nation Bush’s chances of helping the Rangers in the near future.

*Emmanuel Clase worked on back-to-back nights last week. Even though he only faced two batters on the back end, the fact they used him in that situation is a clear sign they’re strongly considering a promotion, either to Triple-A or the Bigs. Clase’s bump to Frisco was a little rougher at first but he’s gone 8 straight scoreless with 9 K and 0 BB so it seems like he’s figuring it out…

*Some people believe Bubba Thompson is the organization’s best position player prospect. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to back that up since he’s been out since April 16th with a hamate bone injury. He was activated on Thursday. Hopefully he can make up for lost time and utilize this year as one for development.

*Over JP Martinez’s last 14 games, he’s slashing .304/.407/.587 (994). After a really poor start, Martinez is making the types of adjustments and demonstrating the types of production to justify his consideration as one of the top prospects in the Rangers’ system.

*The Rangers signed Andy Ibanez in July of 2015 for $1.6 million. He didn’t progress as rapidly as some might have hoped, but he’s putting together a nice season for Triple-A Nashville slashing .301/.378/.472 (.850). He’s 26-years old and isn’t great anywhere defensively, but is capable of playing 2B or 3B.

*Short-season Spokane opened their season on Friday. Here’s their roster to begin the season:

A/V DEPARTMENT

*Here’s my conversation with Rangers minor league reliever, Demarcus Evans.

*Chris Woodward shared his thoughts with the G-Bag Nation on his first ever ejection as a player or coach at the professional level.

*Rangers GM Jon Daniels talked about the unique story of Pete Fairbanks

*Speaking of Pete Fairbanks, he joined Ben and Skin on Tuesday. Get to know him: