Dear Ron Washington,
We need to have a little chat. Yes, your Texas Rangers are doing quite well, leading the AL West comfortably over the revamped Los Angeles Angels. But as always, there's room for improvement. The Rangers are far from perfect, and I don't think anybody would make the claim that they are.
Many have speculated that the Rangers will target a pitcher at the trading deadline, somebody like Zack Greinke or Cole Hamels, provided they are made available by the Brewers and Phillies. I don't think anybody would be opposed to adding a pitcher of their caliber, but there's a much, much easier (and cheaper) fix to make.
You see, the Rangers have one of the worst designated hitters in the American League. Michael Young is not a starting caliber designated hitter. Michael Young is not a starting caliber third baseman, shortstop, second baseman, or first baseman either. Michael Young, at this stage in his career, is a barely decent bench bat. He's certainly not a good utility player -- his fielding is much too poor.
Let's take a look at the current crop of American League designated hitters, shall we? Among qualified designated hitters, Michael Young has the second-worst WAR in the American League at -0.5. Only Delmon Young has been less valuable at -0.6.
Delmon, though, has hit better than Michael at least. Michael Young ranks last among American League designated hitters with a .285 wOBA. Michael Young's .352 slugging percentage also ranks last among qualified designated hitters in the American League.
Some of the names ahead of him aren't terribly inspiring -- Ryan Doumit, Seth Smith, the ghost of Justin Morneau. Even former Ranger Chris Davis has been a better designated hitter this year.
I understand, Young has been a franchise icon -- whatever. He can be an icon still, but on the bench. There's absolutely no reason that Young should be taking at bats away from anybody on the Rangers at this point. There's no reason Young should be starting at first base during interleague play over Mitch Moreland, who is superior offensively and defensively.
I know, Young won't be happy about being benched. He might even request a trade. He's done it before, and if he loses playing time, he might well do it again. And so what if he does. Nobody has to trade Young. In fact, it's probably pointless to trade him, since the Rangers would have to pick up a portion of the tab for any team to take him, but even that might be beneficial to the Rangers, just to have him off the team and being his unproductive self for somebody else.
There could be plenty of options come deadline time. Jim Thome may very well be available for not a whole lot. Kevin Youkilis has been shopped everywhere by the Red Sox, and it's possible that he could turn his season around. Ryan Doumit may be available, and as aforementioned, he's been more valuable than Young this year. Carlos Lee will probably be available.
Admittedly, none of these are awesome options, but that's the point -- they're still better than Young, and probably wouldn't cost much to acquire.
If the Rangers are going to have an optimal team come October as they try to win a third straight pennant, they'll bench Michael Young and find a better designated hitter around the trading deadline. Sure, it'd be awesome to grab somebody like Greinke, and stick him at the top of a playoff rotation -- but it'd also be very, very costly, and there's no guarantee Greinke stays after his contract expires.
Texas' pitching should be fine. We've seen flashes of brilliance from Yu Darvish. Colby Lewis is very good. We don't know what we'll see out of Roy Oswalt yet. Matt Harrison is fine. Derek Holland, well, he's a space cadet.
Point is, there's not a need in the rotation. There is, however, an obvious and glaring need to replace Young in Texas' lineup, and the cost shouldn't be prohibitive. The only downside is dealing with a whiny Michael Young.