Posts Tagged ‘Trades’

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Let’s Make a Trade

January 14, 2009

Michael Young is upset, according to his comments to the Dallas Morning News:

“I’m not playing third base, I’m pretty adamant about my stance.”

The sabermetric blogosphere (including this analysis by Dave Cameron at the always excellent FanGraphs) has been supplying the masses with analysis of Young’s reliance on contact, his poor defensive performance as measured by modern metrics, and his bloated, foolish 5-year, $80 million contract extention. Young is being dramatically overpaid: his contract is that of a franchise cornerstone, and Rangers management must have thought he was that kind of player when they made the offer, or they must have thought the market was about to be subject to rapid inflation. While I agree with most of the sabermetrically-grounded analysis I’ve read about Young’s shortcomings with both his plate discipline and his defense (outside of the double play, at which he is very good), we seem to be ignoring a fundamental aspect of the standoff between Young and Texas: Young is not under contract to be a shortstop, he is under contract to play baseball.

For their $16 million per year, the Rangers are entitled to Michael Young’s services as a baseball player. Young is under an obligation to assist the Rangers in whatever role they request within reason. If the Rangers were to ask Young to pitch, that might be unreasonable, as he’s not prepared for such activity, and could injure himself and jeopardize his career. Asking a player to shift from shortstop to third base to make room for a very talented young fielder is not unreasonable. It is not the Rangers job to make Young happy, although they may want to do so to maximize his performance. It is, however, Young’s job to play when and where the Rangers ask him to play.

In general, I’m not going to wail about player salaries here. Major League Baseball is an incredibly profitable buisness, and the players are the reason for the success. They deserve to be paid a large share of revenues. I’m not mad Michael Young is earning $80 million from 2009-2013. What irks me is when players who are under contract refuse or threaten not to provide their services (such as in Young’s case) or take out their dissatisfaction with the team by playing below their best (Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield). These players are forgetting that they signed contracts to play baseball, and as long as they are cashing pay checks, they have an obligation to do whatever they can to help their team win. Whether this means changing positions, or moving from the rotation to the bullpen, or playing in a platoon role, a contract is a contract.

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