The marriage between the Texas Rangers and Michael Young is approaching its 10th anniversary, and overall it has been good. Young has become an All-Star with the Rangers, a Gold Glove winner, the franchise's de facto captain. He played in a World Series for the Rangers, caught a first pitch from a former president. If you walk into Texas airport shops, his No. 10 is the Rangers' jersey usually displayed with the most prominence.
He played second base for Texas until Alex Rodriguez was traded and then, at the Rangers' request, shifted to shortstop. In the winter after he won a Gold Glove for his play at shortstop, the Rangers moved him to third base to make room for Elvis Andrus. From the start of spring training in 2009, Young embraced the change, treating Andrus with respect and burying any personal feelings he might've had about the change.
The Rangers uprooted Young again this winter, signing Adrian Beltre, who is regarded as the best defensive third baseman in the game, and Young again publicly spoke about going along with the move, about being willing to play all over the diamond.
But something has changed in the relationship between the player and the team. Maybe the situation worsened after the Rangers engaged other teams in trade talks at the winter meetings before signing Beltre, or maybe it was the acquisition of Mike Napoli that pushed this over the edge. Maybe it was all the change that Young has been asked to do, over and over.
No matter the reason, the Rangers are again looking for a way to move Young.
It won't be easy, because his no-trade clause essentially limits Texas to dealing with about a quarter of MLB teams, and because Young, 34, will be earning $16 million a year for each of the next three seasons. Other teams would undoubtedly expect the Rangers to eat a lot of that money in any trade, or perhaps offset the contract by taking on other bad contracts. And Texas doesn't want to just give Young away, sources say, in the way that the Toronto Blue Jays dumped Vernon Wells. After all, Young has generated at least 174 hits in eight consecutive seasons. "The guy can flat-out rake," said one opposing executive on Friday.
The Colorado Rockies are interested, and Young would have a natural landing spot there, where he could be the everyday second baseman -- probably his best position at this stage of his career, in the eyes of advance scouts -- alongside shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
There are other places where Young would fit, theoretically. He'd be perfect for the Oakland Athletics, who have worked to find a more permanent solution at third base. But Young might not be on board with a deal to the A's and, in any event, the Rangers might not be all that thrilled about placing Young with a division rival.
Young would be an excellent fit for the young Blue Jays, who could play Young at third and shift Jose Bautista to the outfield, and count on Young to lead a very young team. But given a choice, few veterans prefer to play in Toronto, and perhaps Young wouldn't want to go there, either.
It's also possible that the Rangers won't find an acceptable deal. "A lot needs to happen," according to one source.
On paper, there is plenty of room for Young with the Rangers as a super utility player. He could get his usual 600 at-bats again. But something has changed in this long-standing marriage, and the Rangers are expected to continue to look for a way out before Young achieves his 10-5 rights in May, when he can block any trade.
Much potential, many pitfalls in Orioles lineup
In the end, the Baltimore Orioles wound up giving Vladimir Guerrero what his representative had asked for last week -- $8 million. Three weeks ago, Baltimore wasn't even really thinking about making a run at Guerrero, but as options disappeared for the veteran slugger, he became available. The Orioles talked internally and agreed that, yes, they could make it work, and yes, he would make them better. One person in the organization jotted out a potential lineup on Friday evening after the agreement was reached.
"It looks like a Yankees' lineup," he said.
With a lot of power, for sure. One possible version of the batting order that Buck Showalter could use:
1B Derrek Lee
DH Vladimir Guerrero
LF Luke Scott
CF Adam Jones
SS J.J. Hardy
There is excellent left-right balance in this lineup, there is the kind of depth that has become typical in AL East batting orders, there is lots of potential -- and a lot of potential pitfalls, as well. Roberts is 33 years old and recovering from back trouble that limited him to 59 games last season. Lee struggled against hard throwers last year, in a summer in which he turned 35. Guerrero's .919 OPS in the first half fell to .748 in the second half, and some rival executives wondered on Friday night whether Baltimore had overpaid for an aging player who had merely three good months.
The Orioles also have a chance to replace the Arizona Diamondbacks as the strikeout kings of baseball. The K numbers in 2010: Lee 134; Wieters 94, in 446 at-bats; Jones 119, with 23 walks; Scott 98; and, of course, Reynolds, who accumulated 104 homers and 638 strikeouts over the past three years. Reynolds has become, in some ways, the Babe Ruth of strikeouts, and there will be days when the Orioles will look helpless against good pitchers.
But many frustrated Orioles fans -- who have been waiting for more than a decade to be inspired -- are excited by this team, excited about how well it played after Buck Showalter took over as manager, excited about rising stars like Brian Matusz. Baltimore still may be four or five pitchers short of winning what appears to be -- again -- the toughest division in the majors. But the Orioles will at least be interesting and competitive, and that's a step in the right direction.
• Peter Schmuck is in favor of the deal, given that it's not his money.
Remember: Guerrero still has to pass a physical, which is never just a matter of course with the Orioles.
The New York Mets and Madoff
• Fred Wilpon's hold on the Mets is in jeopardy, writes Richard Sandomir.
• Madoff profits fueled the Mets' empire, writes Alison Leigh Cowan and Sandomir.
• A big question about the Mets is, who is running the store, writes George Vecsey.
• Wilpon needs to sell the Mets, writes Mike Vaccaro.
• The Mets' situation is uncertain, writes Neil Best.
• The lawyers for the Mets would seem to be set up for the perfect defense: We're the team that gave Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo $60 million -- and you think we should've been the ones who would sniff out the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?
More TrackMan data
More from TrackMan, the company that is contracted with some teams to provide radar-generated evaluations. TrackMan classified the tilt of breaking balls, in addition to the spin. Note that Justin Verlander generated more than 3,000 revolutions per minute on his breaking ball (2,450 is average).
The following is not a comprehensive list of all pitchers; this is from data taken in one particular park: