Viewer Mail 2.8.2011

Before anything else, I was linked on an SB Nation Rangers fan forum after yesterday’s comedic(?) suggestion that the Rangers put the hard sell on the Pirates in trying to get Andrew McCutchen for Michael Young.

You can find the forum here.

I get a “Simpsons nuclear meltdown panic” type vibe from the Pirates that if someone calls with an immediate take it or leave it offer, team president Frank Coonelly and GM Neal Huntington start running around and bumping into things and one another, flailing their arms and screaming “OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod!!!”, reacting as if they don’t know what to do and freak because the phone rang, they answered it and an unknown voice made a demand with an implied threat that—if they don’t follow through and acquiesce to the terms—dire consequences will result.

If there’s a team that exemplifies “dire consequences”, it’s the Pirates.

Now to the mail.

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Albert Pujols and the Cardinals:

The Cardinals won’t wither and die without Pujols – as you point out, they’ll have money freed up to spend elsewhere – but what sort of message does not signing him send to their fan base? How do you not do everything you can to keep the city’s most beloved player, not to mention arguably the best player in the game?

I tend to believe that the Mid-Western fans would be more willing to take the side of the organization and see Pujols as unreasonable and greedy if he’s asking for a salary that is so out of the realm of reality for a upper-middle class payroll team like the Cardinals to pay and still field a competitive club around him.

There’s a difference between doing everything and doing everything within reason. If Pujols is looking for an Alex Rodriguez contract from the Cardinals and wants to be paid an average of nearly $30 million annually until he’s 41-years-old (contingent on the belief that he’s really 31 now), then I don’t see how he stays.

Any and all players reach the threshold of perception when the fans and media are fed information to which they react. We saw it with the odd backlash against Derek Jeter with the leaks—true or not—that he wanted 6-years and $150 million from the Yankees.

Was that accurate? Did it matter? No one knows what Pujols really wants because he’s not talking about it; all he’s said is that he’s not negotiating during the season; the thought that he wants to be paid commensurately with his status has come from transient sources of indefinable origin.

The Cardinals have to frame it right and make sure that Tony La Russa keeps his mouth shut and doesn’t support either side to win the PR war.

It’s brutal Machiavellian hardball, but it’s the way it has to be. The organization can’t be held hostage no matter how great the player is.

Jeff at Red State Blue State writes RE Pujols:

It will be a very, very sad day in the ‘Lou if he doesn’t come back but the more I think about what he wants and deserves, the more the rational being in me realizes how possibly crippling such a contract could be for the future. I dunno. Hope it works out.

My initial reaction is that he won’t leave; that they’ll get it worked out; but if he’s intent on getting paid, how can he possibly achieve that with the Cardinals?

I’ll say sanity will prevail with the caveat that this is baseball and the truth is he would be able to get more money somewhere else. But will he reach that magical plateau that’s being thrown around “more than A-Rod”?

The Angels could pay more than the Cardinals, but not to that degree; the Yankees could but have a first baseman in Mark Teixeira and Pujols will not want to DH; the Red Sox are in the same situation with Adrian Gonzalez. The Tigers? The Cubs? If the Mets and Dodgers ownership situations are settled with a deep-pocketed, go-for-it Steinbrenner-type, they’re both possibilities.

The problem a player this great has is that he’s limited in where he can get that giant contract; in a weird way, it relegates him to those few teams and he still might not get what he would deserve—realistically and in a perfect world—in comparison to what lesser players are getting.

Joe writes RE Michael Young and Ichiro Suzuki:

Ichiro is clearly better than Young.  Ichiro is a very good defensive RF, and a decent enough CF if needed. Young is sub-par defensively at any position he plays in the infield.  Young also has a park that boosts all his numbers.  He is not bad.  Been slightly above-average to above-average the last 4 years.  But Ichiro has been legitimately good. The problem with pointing out their similar OBP’s, is that Ichiro’s is better, meaning they aren’t all that similar. And that Young plays in a park that boosts his a tad.

Young’s numbers in that home park is not to be dismissed; you’re right, he’s a good player who would be diminished in another venue, but I don’t believe he’d be totally compromised a la a player who took advantage of the light air in Colorado in the mid-1990s.

The defensive metrics are dependent on the pitchers and whether they’re ground ball or fly ball heavy; whom he has at his flanks and how much range they have. Young’s lack of range could be mitigated and accepted as long as he hits. He’s versatile and can physically play the positions making most of the defensive stops he can reach adequately. There’s an overemphasis on defense these days. Get me someone who can hit and I’ll find a place for him to play.

Regarding Ichiro, my whole issue with him is the overt selfishness in his style of play that has been repeated here ad nauseam; he’s interested in accumulating hits and the vast majority of those hits are singles. He gets on base, steals bases and sets the table for hitters who don’t drive him in.

He appears more concerned with his aesthetic than the team. Ichiro has been good, but as good as he’s been it’s been wasted because the teams he’s played for have been limited and he’s gone after a number of hits rather than adjusting to help the team by hitting for more pop.

The Other Mike in The Bleacher Seats writes RE Young and Ichiro:

What confuses me is that several people ‘in the know’ seem to think that Young will be traded to the Rockies, the Rangers will pay $15MM-20MM of his salary, and will get Jose Lopez and only Jose Lopez. Then, sometime during Spring Training they will release Jose Lopez and have nothing to show for the whole deal.

It makes little sense to me and accomplishes nothing beyond making Young happy — and make no mistake, he is the one who wants to be moved.

Right now the Rangers need need two things and possibly a third thing:
More starting pitching – Zambrano wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he can behave himself.
1B/DH type to replace Young – You mentioned Helton, not a bad idea.
Maybe a CF who can hit – If Borbon struggles again Hamilton might be in CF, which is a terrifying proposition.

Helton would actually be a great fit in Texas, but I don’t know if the Rockies would be willing to swap one face for another.

I’m not sure of the mechanics of the deal either; Lopez has some pop, but the purpose of giving Young to the Rockies for Lopez and kicking in a substantial amount of cash needs to be explained to me as well.

There are two financially/personnel related reasons to trade Young: one, to get his salary off the team in which case you tell the interested club they can give a Lopez and must take Young’s whole contract; and two, the Rangers pick up some of the salary and get multiple players including decent-to-good prospects in the deal.

Apart from that, why pay him to leave?

Another Joe writes RE Young and Ichiro:

“His on base percentage is relatively low in comparison to his batting average, but it actually is amazingly similar to…Ichiro Suzuki‘s!”

That’s just wrong.

Young – .347
Ichiro – .376

The difference in OBP between Young and Ichiro is the same as the difference between Young and Miguel Cairo.

You misinterpreted what I said.

I meant that while Ichiro’s career batting average, as you pointed out, is .331 with a .376 OBP; Young’s is .300 with a .347 OBP—the difference is almost identical.

I wasn’t comparing the individual players on base percentage; I was saying that Ichiro’s OBP is .45 higher than his average; Young’s is .47.

Neither is worth getting into a twist over.

Looking at the top-tier hitters in baseball, you see that they have at least an .80-100 point difference between their average and their OBP.

Young isn’t as overrated as some say; Ichiro isn’t as “great” as he’s perceived; and I’d rather have Young because he does something Ichiro doesnt: hit the ball out of the park.

I’m comparing two flawed players and it’s a matter of context with both.

John Seal writes RE Young:

I’m baffled as to why the Rangers would want to let Young go, but that’s probably because (and I’m relying here on memories, and not stats, which I can’t find anywhere online to prove my point) he hits well at the Coliseum. As opposed to Adrian Beltre…who (again relying on memories, NOT stats) never seemed to do much, and (defensive reputation aside) seemed to boot the ball with some regularity.

So, net win for the A’s here, if the Rangers do dump Young. And come to think of it, we could use a third baseman with a good stick…

I think it has more to do with dumping salary and that Young privately first, and now publicly, asked to be traded. He’s had enough of being jerked all over the place from second to short to third and now to DH.

He does hit pretty well in Oakland (.284 average; .327 OBP; 9 homers; 20 doubles in 395 plate appearances). I forgot to mention the A’s in yesterday’s posting, but they were looking at Young too; presumably he’d play third; he’s a better hitter than Kevin Kouzmanoff, but Kouzmanoff is a far better fielder.

Beltre’s numbers are strikingly similar to Young’s in Oakland. He batted .273 with a .325 OBP; 6 homers and 14 doubles in 234 plate appearances. I’m beginning to look at the performances in ballparks as a visitor with something of a jaundiced eye—at least with the hitters; before last year, Beltre was atrocious in Boston (.179 in 67 plate appearances); last season as a home player, he was great.

Beltre’s defense is far better than Young’s.

I can’t see the Rangers trading him in the division to either the Angels or A’s—their direct competitors; but if the Mariners want Young…

The list of teams to whom Young can be traded according to his contract is listed on MLB Trade Rumors and includes the Cardinals, Yankees, Twins, Astros, Rockies, Dodgers, Angels and Padres.

Gabriel writes RE Young:

I have always liked Michael Young as a player and person. The Angels and the Dodgers look like the best fits for him, but I doubt he will get traded to either team. Maybe the Astros are a good fit for a trade, they need a bat and someone to play good infield, and the Rangers could use Carlos Lee.

Lee is owed $37 million, Young $48 million and presumably the Astros could shift Bill Hall to left field. Lee is a more dangerous hitter than Young, but this isn’t a bad idea.

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  1. #1 by Jane Heller on February 8, 2011 - 3:51 pm

    Let me amend….If Pujols is asking for a ridiculous contract, then the Cardinals would be right to let him walk. That said, I don’t know what’s “ridiculous” anymore. He should certainly get Ryan Howard money.

  2. #2 by Jeff on February 8, 2011 - 5:40 pm

    Been thinking about the Pujols sitch a lot (obviously). I have formulated my own thoughts and will post them later today…

    In the meantime, what’s the ETA on the PoNY 2011 Baseball Guide? AND… if you’re looking for a great title to another book you could write, I found it at the top of this post:

    “Dire Consequences: The Pittsburgh Pirates, 1993-2011″

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