Losing Face

The more things stay the same, the more they change.

Two consecutive World Series appearances. Three consecutive playoff appearances. Unparalleled success. Brought about by constant change.

The 2011 World Series Rangers were minus Vlad Guerrero, Bengie Molina, Tommy Hunter, Cliff Lee and Frank Francisco from the 2010 World Series Rangers.

The 2012 Wild Card Rangers didn’t have Yorvit Torrealba, CJ Wilson, Endy Chavez, Colby Lewis (injury) and Neftali Feliz (injury) from the 2011 World Series squad.

And thus far, the 2013 Rangers are guaranteed to be without Mike Napoli and Koji Uehara from the 2012 Wild Card team.

English: Michael Young, third baseman

Michael Young (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now comes word that there’s a possibility they will also be without Michael Young. Strong rumors have Young going to the Phillies in exchange for a relief pitcher and a prospect provided he waives his 10-5 no trade rights to allow the move.

To Young fans, he has long been known as the Face of the Texas Rangers franchise. To his detractors, he is derisively nicknamed, alternately, “Face” and “Leadership”.

Young had a 2012 not to remember, sinking to new lows in batting average, losing much of his extra base power. The SABR folks will tell you he had one of the worst WAR’s in the last 22 years. On the other hand, to a man his teammates talk about the value of Young’s leadership in the clubhouse. Manager Ron Washington says Young basically runs the clubhouse for the team.

From a pure statistics standpoint, losing Young might not hurt the club substantially. The question is, will that team cohesiveness remain the same if and when he’s gone?

I’m ambivalent about the possibility of Young leaving. I get that his best years are behind him and that he’s a defensive liability, while at the same time suspecting 2012 was the same kind of anomaly Derek Jeter had a couple years ago before coming back with a vengeance.

I also am not one to discount the idea of leadership in a clubhouse. A team, like a business, is composed of lots of disparate elements. Management provides the vision and department heads implement it. Beyond that, we all know work organizations that just seem to run smoother because of a worker bee who sets a tone that others just seem to follow. I’m willing to bet Michael Young is one of those people.

At this writing, there’s no guarantee Josh Hamilton will return to the Rangers. The odds are against Mike Adams returning as well. Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz won’t be able to help until the back half of 2013 at best. If none of the Rangers free agents return AND Young is traded, the question becomes: Do the Rangers have the offensive horses to win WITHOUT Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli and Michael Young, even if they manage to score Justin Upton from the Diamondbacks?

The past two seasons, Texas has succeeded largely because the parts they lost from the previous year were mostly complementary pieces, replaced by better alternatives (Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Napoli, Adams, Uehara). In 2013, there are going to be key pieces replaced and only time will tell if those pieces are better, worse or about the same as those they replaced.

Diehard fan I might be, but I don’t think Greinke and Upton would be enough to offset the loss of Hamilton, Young and Napoli. Two of the three, maybe. But not all three.

2 Comments

Based on the fact that after 2 days he still hasn’t waived his no-trade clause I’m inclined to think that he is going to stay with the Rangers, even in a diminished capacity, and retire at the conclusion of next season. I am torn about this, because while his productivity has dropped, he is still one of my favorite Rangers ever. I also don’t like the idea of paying 10 million for him to play somewhere else. And while he may not ever make Cooperstown I do think he will go into the Rangers HOF.

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