Joe Christensen’s Sunday Insider: Was giving Delmon Young away a mistake?

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2012 - 8:52 AM

Delmon Young was a frustrating player. But the Twins may have made a mistake by giving him away to Detroit.

hide

Will Delmon Young (left) blossom after leaving the Twins like Boston’s David Ortiz (right) did? The Twins lost patience with both, who had promising bats but frustrating starts in Minnesota.

Photo: Carlos Osorio, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The trade that sent Delmon Young from the Twins to the Tigers looked like a steal last fall. Now, Young seems bent on turning it into an even bigger coup for Detroit.

"He looks good, he's swinging good, he feels good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said near the end of spring training. "I think he's on a mission."

Although he has started the season hitting .250, Young batted .381 with six homers and 21 RBI during the exhibition schedule after returning to the Tigers on a one-year, $6.75 million deal. He's eligible for free agency at season's end and turns 27 in September.

"He just seems like an all-around better hitter, which is saying a lot because he was a very good hitter," said Tigers pitcher and reigning American League MVP Justin Verlander. "I think he might be one of the most overlooked pieces to this team. Hopefully that's not the case as the season goes on."

The Twins had big hopes for Young when they acquired him from Tampa Bay in the 2007 trade that sent Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza to the Rays. Most of Young's four-year stint in Minnesota was disappointing, except for 2010, when he batted .298 with 21 homers and 112 RBI.

Last year, Young battled injuries with the Twins. He had a strained toe in spring training and then had stints on the disabled list because of a strained oblique muscle and a sprained ankle.

By August, the Twins decided they would non-tender him at season's end rather than pay him another raise through arbitration. Instead of letting him go for nothing, they sent him to the Tigers for relievers Lester Oliveros (now in Class AA) and Cole Nelson (Class A).

Young's season literally changed overnight. On Aug. 13, he batted eighth for a Twins team that would finish 63-99. The next day, he was on the bus with the Twins -- heading to Detroit's Comerica Park -- when he learned he was switching uniforms. Leyland called to tell him he'd be batting third every day for the Tigers, in front of eventual batting champion Miguel Cabrera.

"He told me I didn't even have to look at the lineup card," Young said. "I was like, really? I appreciated that one, just knowing I could go out there and take a bad game with a good game and still be back out there."

In 84 games with the Twins, Young batted .266 with four homers and 32 RBI.

And in 49 games (including postseason) with the Tigers, he batted .267 with 13 homers and 38 RBI. Five of those home runs came in the postseason, and he was praised for trying to play through another oblique injury during the AL Championship Series loss to Texas.

Explaining his power surge, Young said Comerica Park suits him better than Target Field.

"You just know if you juice a ball to right field at Comerica, it's going to go [for a home run]," he said. "Righthanders aren't going to hit a ball over [that tall right-field wall at Target Field] a whole lot. You'd tattoo a ball and head back to the dugout shaking your head."

Young is batting fifth this year, right behind Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Young isn't the first Tiger they've stolen from a division rival. In 2010, they traded for Indians shortstop Jhonny Peralta and watched him become a first-time All-Star last year.

"They do a very good job with the guys that they've seen play a lot," Young said. "Maybe for us, it was just the rejuvenation you need, just to get a change of scenery."

  • related content

  • Central Intelligence: Hannahan refuses to let go of job with Indians

    Saturday April 7, 2012

    Lonnie Chisenhal might be Cleveland's third baseman of the future, but St. Paul native Jack Hannahan outplayed him again this spring to secure the starting job. Hannahan is a far...

  • Short hops: Marlins Park like a nightclub

    Saturday April 7, 2012

    My favorite review of the Miami Marlins new ballpark came from Peter Richmond in ESPN The Magazine, including this passage: "Even during play, the Clevelander nightclub beyond left field will...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
8:10 PM ET123456789RHE
Chicago WSoxJ. Danks (8-6)000
MinnesotaK. Correia (5-12)000
@theBallpark
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box

ADVERTISEMENT

St. Louis - J. Kelly 3:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:05 PM
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda
Arizona - W. Miley 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Washington - T. Roark 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - A. Simon
Boston - J. Lester 6:10 PM
Tampa Bay - D. Price
San Diego - J. Hahn 6:35 PM
Atlanta - A. Wood
Oakland - J. Hammel 7:05 PM
Texas - J. Williams
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler 7:10 PM
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo
Miami - B. Hand 7:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Chicago WSox - J. Danks 7:10 PM
Minnesota - K. Correia
Cleveland - J. Tomlin 7:10 PM
Kansas City - Y. Ventura
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 7:40 PM
Colorado - B. Anderson
Detroit - D. Smyly 9:05 PM
LA Angels - T. Skaggs
Baltimore - K. Gausman 9:10 PM
Seattle - F. Hernandez
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
Chivas USA 8:30 PM
Colorado
Calgary 26 FINAL
Edmonton 22
Winnipeg 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 7/26/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 7/26/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Tulsa 6:00 PM
Washington
Chicago 6:30 PM
Atlanta
San Antonio 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your outlook for the Twins' second half?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close