Don't expect me to hatch any trade ideas, as I might have done under similar circumstances in past situations.
Don't expect me to weigh in on yours if you email them to me.
Don't expect me to be objective about Michael Young. Ever.
Yes, I read the Ken Rosenthal report just a couple hours ago. And the beat reporters who have now all blogged and reported on it. I heard Jon Daniels and Ron Washington address the situation, confirming the gist of the Rosenthal story - that Michael Young has asked the club to explore trade possibilities for him after Daniels and Washington (with Nolan Ryan on the same page) approached him before the holidays about an immediate transition to third base - and a thousand thoughts rushed to mind, none of them clear, even though I (and probably Michael) knew this day would come, soon.
The idea, Daniels said, was that the organization intends to get as many of its championship-caliber players on the field at the same time - and moving Young to a position that would allow 20-year-old defensive whiz Elvis Andrus to settle in at shortstop would be the best way to achieve that - and based on where Andrus's development is, the belief is that he's either ready to do that now, or at least ready to be pushed.
Because here's the thing - this has to happen now, or a year from now. Unless Young or Andrus is traded.
This is from the Andrus feature in the 2009 Bound Edition:
While Andrus does many things well, it's unquestionable that to maximize his value, he needs to play shortstop. Every day. Moving Soriano to the outfield would have been possible to do during the season (cf., Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez, German Duran). Moving Michael Young to another infield position — whether it would also involve a position switch for Kinsler — is something that would need to happen in an off-season. Settling in at a new infield position involves too many different actions, too much nuance, to attempt to tackle with a series of hour-long pregame fungo sessions.
So is Andrus ready now? If so, do you approach Young this winter, fresh off his first Gold Glove, about a position switch? If not, you have to be prepared to wait a full year before breaking Andrus in . . . .
When the club felt Chris Davis was ready, he was here, in the middle of the season. But you can't ask Young to move in the middle of a season, and so unless the determination is that Andrus will play on the farm another full year, transitioning Young to third now makes sense. Even if Andrus proves in camp he isn't quite ready, I suppose the idea would be to roll with a short-term shortstop (the equivalent of Ben Broussard or Chris Shelton, though hopefully with better results) until whatever point in time Andrus, like Davis in 2008, tells the organization with his development that he's ready.
Alex Rodriguez was not quite 19 when he reached the big leagues. Jose Reyes debuted a day before he turned 20. Derek Jeter was a month short of his 21st birthday, Edgar Renteria three months short. Hanley Ramirez and Jimmy Rollins, each a few months short of turning 22. They were pushed by their clubs, and responded.
But this isn't about Andrus, of course. It's all but a consensus that he's going to play shortstop in the big leagues for a very long time, starting soon. The issue is what "soon" means, leading to the bigger issue, and that is how to handle the situation with the heart and soul of the franchise, when he's reluctant to change positions right now, when it's a move that, as of mid-December and also tonight, he clearly doesn't agree with.
Daniels in particular went on and on about Young's leadership and character, about how much respect he has for Young personally, on the field and in the clubhouse and in the community - and how a big part of the team's long-term commitment to him 22 months ago was his team-first approach and how, because it's Young, the team would not issue an ultimatum like the Nationals did to Alfonso Soriano three years ago (change positions or we'll suspend you).
What Daniels is counting on is that this gets resolved before spring training. That Young, drawing on some of that team-first attitude, buys into the plan.
But another way it could be resolved is by a trade. And while Daniels said Young has not "demanded" a trade, he acknowledged that Young asked the club to explore the possibility, that there is interest around the league - though no team has proposed an idea that Daniels says makes sense for the Rangers, and that he'll continue to look at trade options. Young, according to Rosenthal, has given Texas "a small list of teams for which he would waive his no-trade clause" - and would consider returning to second base if traded.
Still, Daniels says, the ideal resolution is for Young to play third base for the Texas Rangers in 2009. Willingly.
Because having an unhappy Michael Young in the room is not a good thing, not with the respect he commands, the example and the tone he sets, the impression he can make on a growing team with his attitude and leadership and actions and pride.
What worries me is that other teams may get enough of an impression that Texas is in a corner now that they'll offer less than fair value for him, possibly putting the Rangers in a position of choosing between an unattractive trade and an unhappy leader.
Solution: Get multiple teams involved, taking away the leverage that one team clearly more interested than everyone else thinks it has.
No, the better solution: Bygones. I desperately want Young and the Rangers to be on the same page here.
I'm done reading stories online tonight, done reading message boards, done thinking about where this thing is headed. This is one of those reports where, a minute after I hit "send," three things will instantly occur to me that I should have included. I'll wake up in six hours with another half a dozen thoughts I wish I'd had before finishing this report. But this cloud of mild shock that I feel right now is something I didn't want to dissipate before I wrote.
I get the chance to read to my son's class tomorrow morning, and that couldn't come at a better time for me.
I don't know how I'm going to feel if and when Michael Young, who is a role model to me and a hero to my kids, which makes us no different from thousands of others around here, is traded to another baseball team.
Don't expect me to sort that out ahead of time.
To join the free Newberg Report mailing list so you can get e-mail deliveries of every edition of the newsletter, daily minor league game recaps, and frequent Newberg Report News Flashes, go to www.newbergreport.com and click the "Mailing List" link on the top menu bar.
(c) Jamey Newberg
If you want to be removed from this list, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org