Dear Michael Young: It’s Time
Dear Mike (or FACE, as some call you),
I want you to know I’m a patient man. Now that my kids are grown, they’re starting to realize how patient I was considering some of the stuff they did growing up. So I want you to know that this isn’t some knee jerk reaction on my part.
You have been an important cog in the Texas Rangers offense for more than a decade. For a few years there, you and Ichiro were easily the best hitters in baseball. When the game has started you have always set the example as the hardest worker, the leader in the clubhouse and someone who puts his entire focus on helping the team win. Sure, there have been rough spots along the way. You’ve asked for a trade a couple of times when the front office asked you to move to a new position. Once the season started, though, you put all the acrimony aside and just focused on playing the game.
So now I’m writing you this letter at long last (and by the way, I’m cc’ing a copy to your manager Ron Washington) to say it’s time for you to do something else for the good of the team. It’s time for you to act like Cal Ripken and tell your manager to give you some time off.
I don’t know why but last night’s loss to the Yankees was the last straw. Sure, you can tell me the Rangers lost because Ryan Dempster pitched horribly in the third inning and you’d be right. You can tell me it didn’t help that both Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus managed to get themselves picked off, thus killing potential rallies and you’d be right again. You could tell me Michael Young is not the main reason Texas lost the game and you’d be right a third time.
But Michael, I have finally reached that point where I can’t deny what much of the SABR community has been screaming for months now. I can’t point to a single game where I would paint you as the main culprit behind a loss, but I can’t really say I can point to any win and paint you as the particular hero either. In other words, you’re really not doing much of anything one way or another.
Mike, you’ve played 35 games since July 1st and how many extra base hits do you have in that time? Six, that’s how many. Five doubles and one triple in 35 games. You only have 14 RBI in that time. You’ve only drawn six walks in that time and only 22 walks all year. You haven’t hit a home run since May 7th.
Even then, I might be able to forgive and keep defending you if you were hitting unlucky, with a lot of at ’em line drives and hard hit flies to the warning track that were caught. Instead, I’m getting a lot of what I saw last night. A lot and I mean A LOT of weak grounders.
Your manager is standing solidly behind you, Michael. He’s starting you when all around people are telling him, maybe even loudly, that his support of you is getting beyond stubborn. Sure, he finally acquiesced and dropped you to sixth in the order, but he’s still playing you night after night while you do next to nothing at the plate and in the field. By the way, I won’t even go into what people are saying about you defensively. That’s an entirely new letter. But that’s the thing, Mike. Everybody on the Rangers has gotten days off since the first of July. Everybody except you.
A season-long slump is a bad thing. I don’t know if your bat has slowed down that hundredth of a second or your reaction time to the pitch has slowed down. I don’t know if you’re hurting physically and not telling anyone. I don’t know and, at this point, I don’t care.
I just know that it’s time for you to do another thing to help the team you say you love. It’s time for you to tell your manager to at least give you a few days off, maybe even to volunteer to only play three days a week instead of seven. That was the slogan two years ago in the first World Series run and Mike, that should be your slogan today. It’s time.