Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reflections on the Delmon Young trade

I planned to post a well thought out, analytical post on the trade. I succeeded. The second half of this post, a reflection Young's tenure and treatment in Minnesota was not as successful. Prepare yourself for some extremely foul language.
First and foremost, it is obvious (and may have been stated already) that the Tigers claimed Young on waivers. This is the only reason Young was sent to Detroit, of all teams. Secondly, despite some claims, it seems as though the Twins may have had some interest in keeping Young next year. If not, if they had intended on non-tendering him, why not just let the Tigers make the claim? Instead, they nabbed two players for him, albeit mediocre minor league relievers. For the Twins, this makes next season's outfield situation a bit clearer. Span and Revere will likely play left and center, while, if the Twins are able to sign Kubel and Cuddyer, I suspect a rotation of Kubel, Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau will rotate through right field, first base and the DH spot. The Twins will probably finish 5th in the AL Central next year.
On an even more depressing level, the Twins have no turned Matt Garza AND Jason Bartlett into Jim Hoey and Lester Olivares, (as well as 2 other minor leaguers (Brendan Harris was moved to the Orioles with JJ Hardy, so that's why Hoey is included)). Fun fact: Lester Olivares is Spanish for Jim Hoey. I was a staunch supporter for the past few years, but I now have to say that Bill Smith is nothing if not terrible as a GM. Bad manager, bad management. Thank goodness for Terry Ryan leading up to this disastrous season. And next disastrous season.Which I have no doubt but that it will be unless there is a drastic, dramatic change within the organization.
Now for the part that children should probably refrain from reading.
I am extraordinarily troubled by the Delmon Young era in Minnesota. There are reasons from A) the inability for Ron Gardenhire to develop a right handed hitter, even one with immense potential (Michael Cuddyer is the ONLY exception) to B) how Young was completely and unabashedly hated in the Twin Cities, from bloggers like Nick Nelson to dumbfuck columnists like Jim Souhan. Even the Star Tribune decided to editorialize a little bit on his departure.
Through his career, Young had two really bleak stretches. When the Twins acquired him, he only had one year of Major League experience. 2008 could have easily been written off as a sophomore slump, were it anyone else, like, say Danny Valencia (this year, OPS+ 86, Young in '08 100), but in fact, Young had IMPROVED from his time in Tampa, and besides, Young is a big, scary, unsmiling black man with tattoos on his forearms.
In 2009, Young had his toughest stretch to date. Not in baseball, but in life. His mother passed away, and between visiting her during her dying days and then the certain emotional torment of a young man losing his mother, he struggled through the first two months of the season. Of course, instead of attributing his struggles to the psychological torment, he was branded a failure already. Despite limited playing time in June and July, he managed to rack up a batting average of .300 with 11 HR to finish the season.
2010 was really his only uninterrupted season. He was traded before '08, his mother passed away in the middle of '09 and this year, he was saddled for the first time with injuries. Young showed that he was improving in 2010. Without being disturbed in his seasonal arc, he overcame his typical slow start and ended up playing his way into a top 10 finish in MVP voting.
This year, he had another slow start, but this time he pulled an oblique, and was sent to the DL early. Still, despite what people might say, he came back extremely strong. Since that first injury, he has hit .306 with 13 doubles and 4 home runs. Hell, his OPS this month is .986.
But I am the only person you will here give Young the benefit of the doubt on anything. No, you have Souhan talking about how lazy he is. You have Nelson complaining about that one time he misplayed a ball in the field. You have Dave Schwartz suggesting that there has never been a good part of the Delmon Young experience. Why the fuck am I the only one who will ever stand up for him?
I never heard any problems with Young in the clubhouse. I never heard anyone from the Twins organization speak ill of his work ethic. And the Twins team is one, to their credit that will suss out lazy players. Why would the Twins put up with him for 4 goddamned years if he was lazy, or a bad presence in the clubhouse? I mean, they traded Garza for that reason. Kevin Slowey has been in Rochester for that reason. There is no tangible evidence that he has wrought problems in the Twins clubhouse. The only real evidence of his attitude is that he through a fucking bat one fucking time when he was a fucking teenager. If I was held accountable for everything I did when I was a teenager all the way through my 20s, I would be in rough fucking shape.
Why did Delmon NEVER get a pass? He was a better player than Cuddyer at the same age. He's a better player now than Danny Valencia. He's a much better overall player (right now) than Ben Revere. Is it all about his salary? Or is it something more sinister? I suspect something of a blend of the two, but I will leave it to your own interpretation.
Part of the reason I have always been on Young's bandwagon is the vitriol he received from others (the opposite reason -- undeserved praise -- is why I was so hard on guys like Nick Punto). But you won, you unrelenting shitbags. Your complete lack of patience and understanding won out. If there is any solace for me, it's that now, when Delmon Young strings together healthy, uninterrupted seasons and becomes the player he can be, you dumbasses will only hate him more. If anyone beats the Twins, I hope it's him. I hope it's the guy that everyone doubted.

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