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Of Gloves and Contracts [UPDATE]

Yesterday afternoon, Michael Young got some vindication when he won the 2008 AL Gold Glove award for shortstop. This has been a bone of contention between Rangers fans and the uh “National media”, who always seemed to slag Young on defense. There were always these really strange sabre-metric things which showed Young at the bottom of the barrel defensively, that other guys are better shortstops if you apply these strange numbers and conditions (like what compass direction a digested twinkie is moving in your digestive system). But you just had to watch Young to know he was a good shortstop. If you’re one of these people who rely on strange numbers to prove anything, I think you’re missing the point. Use your eyes, not your head – Young is a great defensive shortstop. Now I don’t make a case that he’s the best ever, but he’s certainly up near the top of the game. I think by the time his career is over, he’ll have amassed a huge number of individual awards beyond the ones he already has. Will he have a ring to go with it? Hopefully. :)
His 2008 numbers were quite good. He had a .984 fielding percentage, which was second in the majors (behind only Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies). He lead all shortstops by being involved in 113 double plays (which is more of a team stat than an individual stat, really), and ranked second in assists and total chances. I think he’s pretty deserving, and yeah, I’m a Rangers fan, so I’m bound to say that. But show me someone in the AL who is better this past year. Unless you’re going to play the homer vote for your own team, you can’t, really.
The other thing I wanted to talk about is Hank Blalock. As I type this sentence at 12:46PM on Friday, the Rangers have not yet picked up Blalock’s option. Several local media outlets have said that it’s a foregone conclusion he will, so I’m writing this as if they already have. If for some reason they do not, I’ll have to re-edit this story later today. :) Anyway, with Blalock’s option picked up for 2009, he’s on the books for $6.2 Million. Apparently, the reason it hasn’t been picked up so far is the Rangers wanted to talk to him face to face, and tell him what they have planned. Which, according to several published reports is to trade him for pitching. If we kept him, it wouldn’t be awful, but would create a logjam. Blalock probably can’t effectively play third anymore, so he’d be either at first or at DH. Being at first puts a block on Chris Davis. Now Davis can go play third, but he’s better at first. I also personally have never liked the concept of a dedicated DH. I always felt that the DH should be an open position that someone who is hurt, or needs a day off can go bat, and not strain themselves too much on the field. I think Blalock will be moved somewhere in the offseason, Chris Davis will open at first.
That leaves a regular third base job open. The immediate thought would be Ramon Vazquez (they’d have to sign him for more than one year, and hand him third base to keep him), or Travis Metcalf. He can play third, but his long term bat is still a bit suspect, I think. We’ve been hearing the Rangers kick the tires of a few free agent third baseman, none of which really excites me. I’d rather take my chances with Metcalf, or resign Vazquez to play 3B.
As for Blalock, though, I always felt he’d be here for a long time, it’s a shame it appears he’s on his way out. Guess there will be no more Hank’s Homies. They’ve been gone as a regular game sight for awhile, but this would finish them off, I’m sure. That was quite fun when it was new.
Anyway, congratulations to Michael Young on his Gold Glove. Hopefully he wins some more hardware to go with that. Like one all of us can celebrate.
UPDATE @ 5PM Friday: Just noticed that Blalock’s option was officially picked up. No surprise there – I think the shock would have been if they did not. Of course, now the fun begins as to see what we do with him. I did find it funny that the Rangers official site used this headline on the site for this story. “Rangers bring back Blalock for 2009 campaign”. That’s not quite what they did. They picked up his option. Misleading headline there. :)

Comments

  1. I have to agree with you on MY. He may not, as I mentioned in another comment on other blogs, be able to outrun a Vlad Guererro bullet line drive up the middle, but he positions himself well so that, the majority of the time, he is in position to make the play.
    This is backed up by the fact that he was second in baseball in “chances” and second in baseball in fielding percentage. Like Cal Ripkin, Jr, before him, he knows the hitters; he knows his pitchers (even those who are still wiping the snot from their noses); and he knows his limitations. He doesn’t make mistakes and he compensates for a lot of his lack of range with his intelligence and his laser throws.
    There are very few SSs in baseball I’d trade MY for and I’m very happy the sTRangers have him.

  2. I’m not sold on MY as a Golden Glover. However, good for him. I just hope management doesn’t hinder the progress of Elvis.
    As for talking about 3B, I don’t understand why everyone assumes Crash Davis is set in stone at 1B. Smoak will be there by the end of the 09 season, if he isn’t, he will definately be the 1B in ’10. Speculating plans for this:
    1B-Smoak
    2B-Kinsler
    3B-MY
    SS-Elvis
    DH-Davis/Cruz/Gold
    LF-Murphy/Boggs/Mayberry
    CF-Borbon
    RF-Hamilton
    Util-Vallejo/Arias
    C-whoever we don’t trade/Teagarden

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