The Dodgers have acquired 3B Michael Young from the Phillies, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. While this was a bit of a joke for a while because of Ned Colletti‘s affinity for these types of players, I never thought it would actually come true.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) September 1, 2013
Young has a 0.0 fWAR this year and a -1.1 bWAR. He is not a quality baseball player anymore. He’s just not.
Young’s bat is decent, as he has a .272/.333/.389/.722 line this year, which is good for a 99 OPS+. This is not exactly a down year for him anymore, considering he hit .277/.312/.370/.682 in 2012. But it gets ugly when the focus turns to his defense, where he has a -17 DRS at 3B and -3 DRS at 1B, -10.5 UZR at 3B and -0.8 UZR at 1B, and is -10.1 total in FRAA. That’s basically how it has been for him all his career. Watch him play, or watch the Twitter feeds of bloggers for teams he has played for, and he’s always been a GIF factory because of his defense, so he doesn’t pass the eye test either. He’s just bad.
The obvious comparison here is starting 3B Juan Uribe, who has a 2.8 fWAR and a 2.3 rWAR. Without going into details, he’s an above-average regular, while Young is a below replacement level player. I have to hope that Uribe’s job is nowhere near in danger.
A different possibility is that he can be a pinch-hit guy in September, which is fine in theory, but I doubt they acquired him to leave him off the postseason roster or let him do a Jim Thome I-can-only-hit-now act, which is what worries me.
— Dodgers PR (@DodgersPR) September 1, 2013
The acquisition of a role player during a World Series run like this is nothing to get heated about in reality, but because it’s Young, he carries a narrative with him (like Yasiel Puig does), and everything is magnified as a story (he once got an MVP vote for being nice). Thus, the amount of care regarding this deal has been ratcheted up even though the most likely scenario is that it doesn’t affect much of anything.
Anyway, I put Rob Rasmussen in the same boat as Miguel Sulbaran in that they both have potential MLB futures, but they’re both nothing to get broken up about. That said, it wasn’t necessarily the prospect or the cash that I was ever worried about.
If Don Mattingly employs him as a pinch-hitter off the bench against lefties during September, then he’ll be an upgrade to the team. He can hit better than most guys the Dodgers have off the bench, he just can’t do anything else. Of course, the problem is that the chances he’s actually deployed that way is about zero. Thus, the worry is that the negative WAR overall player will end up hurting just as much as he helps. This becomes especially true if he takes time away from Uribe at third, time away from Scott Van Slyke in the pinch-hitting role, or a playoff roster spot from Van Slyke.
Look, I hear the cases being made for him. But any warm body is depth, anybody can potentially get hits in a small sample (Marlon Anderson, Ronnie Belliard), and the Dodgers have plenty of chemistry with or without him, so like with everything else, you play the odds. Thus, with two consecutive seasons of posting below replacement level value, and with a reputation that demands playing time, it takes some deal of mental gymnastics, unrealistic playing time scenarios, and platitudes about intangibles to actually be optimistic about this, which says more than I ever could.
Hopefully it works out, and it would be great if the team catches lightning in a bottle, I just wouldn’t bet on it.