By Caleb Slinkard
The Commerce Journal
The Texas Rangers have firmly wedged themselves in the conscious of Dallas-area sports fans, thanks to two straight World Series appearences and a steady stream of high profile free agent acquisitions and big name trades.
Following last season’s disappointing finish, the future of the Rangers has been up for debate. Clearly, the team is good, even great, but they haven’t been good enough to win a championship. Getting to that point will require a restructuring of the franchise, somthing Rangers GM Jon Daniels has proved he can do.
The two biggest changes in this offseason (other than the Rangers swinging and missing on signing ace Zach Grienke) so far have been the Michael Young trade to the Philadelphia Phillies and Josh Hamilton signing with the Los Angeles Angels. Most fans, from what I can tell via sportstalk radio and my Facebook feed, are frustrated with the loss of Hamilton and were glad to see Young go.
To begin with, the Rangers had no hope at signing Hamilton. He was ready to move on, and the Angels gave a monsterous five year, $125 million deal to a 32 year old player with a history of injuries and substance abuse problems. I’m thankful that Hamilton was as successful player as he was with Texas, but I think it was time to move on, and I’m glad the organization did. It will be rough to watch him play for a division rival, but I’m much happier with that than if I was watching him struggle through 115 games for us as a 37 year old making $25 million.
I am, however, upset that we traded Michael Young.
Yes, I understand he’s making $16 million this year. But we’re paying $10 million of that this year anyway, and he’s playing for another team.
Yes, I understand he had an awful year last year. He had one of the worst WAR (wins above replacement) of any regularly starting player last season.
But Young was such an important player for the Rangers. he was selfless. He moved positions to make way for Alex Rodgriguez, Alfonso Soriano and Elvis Andrus. Young was a good fielder who could play anywhere in the infield (other than catcher) and stuck with the Rangers when they were plain awful. He is the organization’s all-time leader in hits, and was a huge leader in the clubhouse. His presence, dependable fielding and clutch-hitting will be sorely missed.
He’s just a single season removed from batting .338 and recording 213 hits. Sure, he probably won’t reach those numbers again, but he could easily be useful filling in for Beltre, Andrus and whoever we have at designated hitter.
Instead, Young will finish out his career in Philadelphia after 7,399 at-bats in a Rangers uniform. And that’s just a shame.