Michael Young is totally a baseball player people have heard of before, so there’s that. The Phillies picked up the long-time Texas Ranger in exchange for reliever Josh Lindblom and 22-year-old minor league reliever Lisalverto Bonilla. You guys think anyone calls him Lisa for short? The Rangers will be chipping in $1.2 million so Young because he was nice enough to let them trade him; now he’ll be able to pay those pesky state taxes!
There aren’t a lot of players as weird as Michael Young when it comes to his perceived ability, his actual ability, and how both of those things will proceed going forward. Young has the reputation of a star in many circles, but his on-field production has been wildly variable. Young certainly can’t play shortstop anymore, and it’s not like his defense at third base–the position he’ll play full-time for the Phillies–is anything to write home about either. Well, I guess it might be if you like writing home about things that are potently cringe-inducing. Who writes letters anymore? Get an email account, freak.
Young’s 2012 was a particularly terrible season, as per FanGraphs WAR he was actually the very worst player in all of baseball (-1.4 WAR!). Young’s defensive work continued to be just awful, and he hit a meager .277/.312/.370 at the plate despite his incredible home park advantage. The very season before his complete collapse, Young was still showing up at the plate, as he posted a .369 wOBA and a WAR figure of 3.7. That’s a solid season, one good enough to make up for his shortcomings. But Young is 36 now, and at any time his prolonged slump may nastily reveal itself as his new level of play from here on out.
As Dave Cameron pointed out on FanGraphs, it is certainly possible Young will bounce back and regain a bit of his old offensive ability. That may be the case, but I don’t find it particularly likely, and Young’s defensive woes are only going to make his failing bat that much more embarrassing if he doesn’t pick up the pace soon. Young makes a lot of money because the Rangers never quite got a handle on what he was really worth, and I think the best case scenario finds him settling in as a 2-3 WAR option over the next couple of seasons. Young is slated to make $16 million in 2013 before hitting free agency after what will be a make-or-break campaign.
As for the other two guys involved in this trade, Josh Lindblom is a spotty right-handed reliever who has shown the ability to miss bats in two ways: by striking them out (8.8 K/9 in his career) or avoiding them altogether (career 4.0 BB/9, 6.6 BB/9 in 2012). Before the start of the 2012 season, FanGraphs had Lisalverto Bonilla slotted as the 13th best prospect in the Philadelphia system. He has an above-average fastball, could yet develop into a starter, and struck out 12.5/9 during his first 33 innings as a Double-A pitcher. The Rangers have an interesting arm coming to them in Bonilla, but the deal was no doubt largely about getting Young into another uniform.