Texas-sized Extension: Smart or Idiotic?
Posted by Jason A. Churchill on March 1, 2007
The Texas Rangers announced today that they have reached agreement on a contract extension with shortstop Michael Young. On the surface, it sounds like a smart deal.
He’s probably their best player when you consider what he does for them on the field and in the clubhouse, and he has very few weaknesses, if any at all. So why might this be another in a long line of irresponsible contracts given out over the past five months?
First, let’s reiterate the positives, in a little bit more detail.
Young is a very good ballplayer. He’s equally good against lefthanders and righties, runs well and is generally rated as an average to above-average defensive shortstop, though many argue that he’s a potential gold glover at his former position at second base.
He’s got a little pop, averaging around 60 extra-base hits per season since becoming a regular in 2001, and has improves his ability to make consistent contact with solid strikeout rates over the past three years. He consistently fans less than 100 times per season, including just 89 in 2005 and 96 last season.
Although he doesn’t steal many bases, he has just 46 in 64 career attempts, he is an extremely talented baserunner, taking smart risks and almost never making a mistake on the base paths. One big-league coach called him the next Paul Molitor on the bases.
Young is also a solid run producer, tallying 476 RBI in 905 career games including just under 300 over the past three seasons, as well as an offensive asset that posts very respectable on-base percentages, even if most of those numbers are gained with his batting average which sits at exactly .300 for his career.
All in all, Young is pretty much the heart and soul of the Texas Rangers right now.
Now, that sounds like a pretty damned good ballplayer, doesn’t it? Well, he is, and any team would be lucky to have him.
The Rangers have $18 million guaranteed to Young over the next two years BEFORE his new extension even kicks into gear. Ultimately, this contract is a seven-year pact worth $98 million.
If he was 25, this might be considered a super bargain in today’s market, but to me it looks like a Texas-sized reach.
Young turned 30 last October and his OPS took a hit in 2006, dropping 85 points from the previous season. While he’s still slugging near .460, I’m not sure that’s enough to warrant $14 million per year until he’s 37. And he might be starting a slow decline already.
While I’m not contending that this deal is worse than that of Carlos Lee or Alfonso Soriano, I’m finding it hard to find this to be a smart move by the Mariners’ rival – which I guess makes it a good move, at least in the long run, if you are a Mariners fan.
This may mean the end of the line for Hank Blalock with slugger Mark Teixeria due an enormous extension after this upcoming season.
I guess if Young was a plus defender and a little bit better at getting on base, I may not express any of these thoughts. But Young, as good as he is, is just a .350 OBP, slightly above-average defensive shortstop with very good leadership skills.
I can’t imagine Young playing shortstop for more than maybe four more years, and by that time he may not be hitting enough to even play second everyday. I guess in the end, Texas just felt he was a must-have, but I would have traded him for a pitcher or two, because that, and not offense or defense, is what Texas is missing, and has been missing for, like, ever.
When the time comes to extend an offer to Ichiro, the Seattle Mariners are probably going to hear the name Michael Young from agent Tony Attanasio. So, $16 million a year might be a dollar amount that is considered, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility, that four or five years is requested, too.
Just a thought.