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Should Twins Be Interested in Michael Young?

Posted by: Seth Stohs Updated: February 8, 2011 - 2:47 AM

In 2001, Michael Young became the starting 2B for the Texas Rangers. For three seasons, he teamed with Alex Rodriguez to form the keystone combination for the team. In 2004, Rodriguez was gone and Young moved to shortstop and his career took off. He has hit over .300 six out of eight years including winning a batting title in 2005 with a .331 average. He has hit 14 or more home runs six of eight seasons. He has driven in 90 or more runs five of the last seven years.

Yesterday, Michael Young formally requested a trade from the Texas Rangers, the team that called him up in September of 2001, and the team for whom he has been a starter since 2002. When the Rangers signed free agent Adrian Beltre this offseason to be their starting 3B, there was no longer a position for Young to play. Sure, he could be the team's DH, but understandably the 34 year old does not want to be pigeon-holed as a DH quite yet in his career. Some may question Young's loyalty, but to be fair, that loyalty is a two-way street, and the Rangers showed their loyalty to Young with the acquisition of Beltre.

The Rangers signed a younger, better 3B. It is a business, and Young has requested a trade, and here we are.

Young has a limited no-trade clause in which he could name eight teams to which he would accept a trade. To some surprise, the MInnesota Twins are on Young's list. So immediately the question has to be asked, "Should the Twins consider acquiring Michael Young?"

Michael Young's lowest OPS since 2003 is .741. I think Twins fans should be thrilled if either Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Alexi Casilla reach that number in 2011. I'm not going to try to convince anyone that Nishioka or Casilla are better hitters. But I would also be remiss if I didn't point out that Young will be 34 years old in 2011 while Casilla and Nishioka will both be 26 years old (And Danny Valencia will be 25).

However, it is fair to point out that Michael Young has not played shortstop since 2008. Yes, he won the AL Gold Glove for shortstop that year, but he also posted a UZR of -4.6. In the five seasons in which he was the Rangers' starting shortstop, he accumulated a UZR of about -57. That has to account for something.

Young hasn't played 2B on a regular basis since 2003, and he posted a -4.3 UZR that season. Does that mean he would be a bad 2B today? I don't know, but the odds are that he wouldn't be real strong.

Although Young has hit .300 for his career, his On-Base Percentage is just .347, so he is not a big fan of the walk. His career Slugging Percentage is .448. The last two years, he has hit 22 and 21 home runs, but that is in a very hitter-friendly ballpark. The Ballpark in Arlington was seventh a year ago in home run rate while Target Field ranked 30th. Of course, Michael Young has also been a doubles-machine throughout his career and Target Field was very conducive to doubles.

So, let's factor all of that together and try to project what Michael Young would do for the Twins in 2011. Let's give him a .300 batting average. We can probably put his Isolated Discipline at about .050. I think if we factor in Target Field's affect, we can still be generous and give him a .140 Isolated Power. So, we are looking at a .300/.350/.440 line, good for a .790 OPS. My opinion is that may be optimistic, and if you want to drop his batting average to .280, his line is likely to be about .280/.330/.420, a .750 OPS. And, if you want to be an optimist (which I'm generally accused of) and give him a .320 batting average, then we have a line of .320/.370/.460, an OPS of .830.

So we have a probable range for Young's OPS from .750 to .830, although I would project it to be in the .770-.790 range. Again, just to reiterate, Nishioka and Casilla will most likely not approach an OPS like that.

However, and I have intentionally not brought up money to this point, is a .790 OPS with bad defense worth $16 million over each of the next three years, his 34, 35 and 36 year old seasons? At what price would those numbers make sense for the Yankees or Red Sox, much less the Twins? Would he be worth $8 million a season? Would Michael Young get a three year, $24 million contract right now if he were a free agent. I think that's about right. So, if the Rangers forked over $24 million to the Twins, would you want the Twins to acquire Young?

Would the Rangers be willing to pay $24 million of his remaining $48 million? They may have to if they want to trade him.

Then as a Twins fan, you have to ask yourself what you would be willing to give up in trade to acquire a 34 year old with an expected OPS of around .790 and bad defense who would be moving back to the middle infield where he hasn't played for two years? Would you give up Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson? Of course not. Would you give up a package of 3-4 third-tier prospects to move Alexi Casilla back to the bench? 

I would put the odds of the Twins acquiring Michael Young at somewhere between 0 and 1 percent, and that might be high. A look at the numbers, factoring in his age, the dollars remaining on his contract, the trade package likely required, and frankly, I think Young makes no sense for the Twins.

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