Thursday, June 11, 2009

What the Hell Happened to Delmon Young (Part 4 - The Future)

So what does the future hold for the Twins, their fans and Delmon Young?

Well, for Twins fans, it hopefully includes watching and/or taping the MLB Network (channel 733 in Mpls) today (Friday) at 2PM. That's when "We Are Young" the documentary about Delmon's and Dmitri's family airs. It was on a few months ago, but I completely missed it. I'm looking forward to seeing if it gives any insights. My DVR is set.

You might also want to check out this excellent article in the New York Times by ex-player Doug Glanville about the Young family. He completely relates to older brother Dmitri and gives some further insight on some of the dynamics. He also praises the documentary.

Beyond that? Prepare for a very slow hard road back for Young and the Twins. I listed the traps the Twins and Delmon find themselves in yesterday. And today we find an utter lack of quick solutions.

Solution 1: Send him to the minors
Yesterday we listed why we can't - that stupid contract - and I was asked in the comments just how sure I am that there are no options left. The answer is pretty damn sure. Seth Stohs and I talked about this ad nauseum over the offseason, and he had a source within the Twins confirm that Young had no options left.

That raises the question as to why the Twins had Young sign a 'split' contract during the offseason, which dictates different salaries for time in the majors versus time in the minors. And I still don't know the answer to that.

It was also suggested that the Twins find some way of finagling Young down to the minors, possibly using an DL move. That's a great solution, in a deus ex machina kind of way. But as I mentioned yesterday, it's also a very short term solution, and he needs more than a quick tune-up. There's no evidence he ever mastered Triple-A, and a short trip there isn't going to make much difference. And of course, all of those methods require a player's consent, and there's no indication that Young is open to returning to Triple-A. Especially, I suppose, given that split contract.

Solution 2: Trade him
And get what, exactly?

The Twins apparently went down this road this offseason and couldn't find any value. Since then, Young has performed worse, played less, and grown more expensive. So what exactly do you think you're going to get for him?

Solution 3: Move him to right field
It doesn't necessarily help his offensive development to play right field, but at least you don't need to factor in the atrocious defense when deciding how much he plays. But right now both Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are SIGNIFICANTLY more valuable than Young, though I suppose it would be fine starting Young over Kubel versus southpaws.

Could you trade one of them? Sure, but why the hell would you? We're not talking about a game or two dropoff, like we are when we compare him to the equally overmatched Carlos Gomez. You're giving away 200-300 points of OPS right now substituting Young for Cuddyer or Kubel. That's just nuts.

Solution 4: Play him everyday
This was my solution as little as a couple of weeks ago. The problem is that this too has been tried. He had 600+ plate appearances. None of them are going to do any good if he keeps clutching the "look pa, just arms" approach he has at the plate. If anything all those plate appearances seem to reinforce that his approach is valid. Which makes you want to...

Solution 5: Bench him
By going into the season with a crowded outfield, the Twins left themselves this option. So far the times to play Young are determined on the matchup or whether or not at-bats are being distributed fairly. That's noble, but I'd advocate more Skinnerian method. When Young starts getting serious about modifying his plate approach, you reward him with plate appearances. Until then, we'll play with 24 guys.

(And Nick, before you ask, no, this doesn't mean I'm advocating playing Gomez full time. He NEEDS instruction in Rochester. We are ruining this kid with our short-term fixation. I'm starting to get truly angry as I seem him flop around at the plate like a boated carp. His OBP this month is .259. It's become borderline cruel.

Bring up Morales to DH and move Kubel to LF. Or anything else, really. Talk about something that needs to be a priority. Untracking Gomez from becoming the most talented fourth outfielder in the league needs to be a priority.)


Is that a little harsh? Sure. Maybe even spiteful. But this is what I mean when I say fixing Young needs to be a priority. I don't particularly care if he provides much benefit for the next few months, or even early into next year. The focus needs to be in getting those quick wrists to put up a respectable corner-outfieldish 850 OPS late next year and grow from there.

And I have no problem waiting for that turnaround to happen. If it doesn't, he can spend the next 3.5 years getting a couple of hundred at-bats versus lefties. Gawd knows with fairly pathetic offensive totals arbitration won't make him expensive. And if he does turn things around, we'll figure out where to play him in the field, or whether it then makes sense to move someone else.

That is what I mean when I say we're talking about a very slow hard road back. That's all the more reason to get started now.

-------------------------------

You know what is NOT going to be a very slow hard road? This weekend's trip to Wrigley. On the contrary, it's going to go way too fast.

To all of you Twins fans who are already there, you can rest assured that at 1:20 I will be eating my heart out of pure jealousy. I'm not ruling out tears. A sunny Friday afternoon game at Wrigley watching the Twins - this is what I think of when I think of heaven. Except the players are all dressed in glowing white robes. And nobody is throwing up on my feet.

The Voice of Reason and I will be flying in (way too) early on Saturday and we have tickets with two other friends for the bleachers on Saturday afternoon. We'll be playing in Wrigleyville following the game (and possibly before, depending on whether there is batting practice or not). If you bump in to me, feel free to do two things:
1) Buy TVOR a beer and
2) Promise me you won't talk to me about Delmon Young. I'm done with that subject for awhile.

Finally, if you haven't already, I'd encourage you to sign up for the Twins Geek Twitter. I'll admit I have been very inconsistent in updating it, but I'm really hoping to have a blow-by-blow account of the Chicago trip, and at the very least we'll update the various watering holes we are visiting.

I gotta say, I am really excited about turning Wrigleyville into Twins Territory. Let's do this right, people.

19 comments:

TT said...

Young hit .290 last year and he is hitting over .300 so far this month. You can say that is too small a sample. But he only has a 135 at bats the entire season and that seems to be enough to create great angst. If he is still struggling at the end of the year four days of discussion might be warranted. Frankly the whole thing is overblown at this point.

As for options. He gets four and he used three. I think you and Seth just got some bad info.

Anonymous said...

"We'll be playing in Wrigleyville following the game..."

So you'll be wearing a mesh tanktop and it turns out TVOR is a beard?

John said...

Frankly the whole thing is overblown at this point.

After 5 days of blogging, I couldn't agree more.

As for options. He gets four and he used three. I think you and Seth just got some bad info.

Awesome. Problem solved.

So you'll be wearing a mesh tanktop and it turns out TVOR is a beard?

Sorry, I'm missing the reference ... clue me in?

Josh's Thoughts said...

As for options. He gets four and he used three. I think you and Seth got some bad info.

No. Young signed a Major League contract with the Rays when they drafted him prior to the 2004 season and he doesn't qualify for the fourth option rule. This is his 6th year of professional baseball.

thrylos98 said...

Great series...

To answer your question about why the Twins had to sign him to a split contract the answer is that that is the kind of contract he signed with the Rays: A major/minor split contract that allowed him to be payed as a minor leaguer his first year there. He is out of options and arbitration-eligible after this season.

My solution has always be to move him to RF and start him every day with Gomez in CF and Span at RF. Cudduyer could be a PH/DH against RHP and occasional RF, but he will be better traded (even for a couple of A ball kids). Other than that spike on May, his career has been in a downward spiral since 2006. Young is a better RF than Cuddyer at this point as well.

SarahA said...

I am counting down the minutes until I leave for the game today: 128. First nice day in Chicago in about 2 weeks. Enjoy the rain tomorrow.

As a (non-native) Chicagoan, I can explain the cryptic and tasteless tanktop joke. Wrigleyville and Boystown are very close together. Maybe even overlapping. It's usually pretty obvious which part you're in, though.

Jack Ungerleider said...

As a public service for those in Comcast's St Paul zone: MLB Network is channel 272.

On the DY issue: The Geek was very persuasive as to why the Twins won't (and maybe shouldn't) trade Young. Do those people who are think he's dogging it think maybe he's try to force the issue?

If the Twins have no intention of trading him and will play him based on how he performs, (Gardy's "Go with the hot hand" philosophy) then maybe they should sit him down and tell him this. Its obvious that motivating the young man is difficult. Maybe some "quiet time" on the end of the bench will help.

Anonymous said...

Re Carlos: we all agree that using him as a late inning defensive replacement does nothing for his development.

What I don't get is the idea that playing him at Rochester, with the instruction he'd get there, would help his hitting any more than having him start in the majors, with the instruction he's getting now. Is it because minor league hitting coaches are better than Vavra? Is it because AAA pitching is easier to hit, and so it's a question of building confidence?

I wish John or someone else who favors sending Carlos down would do a thorough analysis of this.

David Wintheiser said...

If the Twins have no intention of trading him and will play him based on how he performs, (Gardy's "Go with the hot hand" philosophy) then maybe they should sit him down and tell him this. Its obvious that motivating the young man is difficult. Maybe some "quiet time" on the end of the bench will help.

Given TT's comment, and that Young is hitting .389/813 over the past 7 days, sitting on the bench shouldn't be necessary -- here's our '5 outfielders' over the past week:

Kubel - .286/1159 (18 PAs)
Young - .389/813 (19 PAs)
Gomez - .182/580 (13 PAs)
Span - .133/321 (16 PAs)
Cuddyer - .160/320 (25 PAs)

Young isn't doing so well over the past 14 days (.273/568), but he's still doing better than Gomez (.212/500) or Cuddyer (.133/267).

I think a lot of criticism is probably overblown -- if he keeps swinging the bat the way he has over the past week, the balls will start falling in and the power will return.

Anonymous said...

"Young is a better RF than Cuddyer at this point as well."

I have never been a Cuddyer fan, but even I think that is a ridiculous statement.

thrylos98 said...

"Young is a better RF than Cuddyer at this point as well."

I have never been a Cuddyer fan, but even I think that is a ridiculous statement.


but it's backed by facts:

UZR @RF
Cuddyer:
2006: -4.6, 2007: -4.5, 2008: -5.6, 2009: -0.1

Young: 2007: +2.8

TT said...

"he doesn't qualify for the fourth option rule. "

Why not? The rule seems to be that if you use your 3 options before 5 years in professional baseball (including the minor leagues), you get one more option year. Is there something else that disqualifies Young from that rule?

David Wintheiser said...

"he doesn't qualify for the fourth option rule. "

Why not? The rule seems to be that if you use your 3 options before 5 years in professional baseball (including the minor leagues), you get one more option year. Is there something else that disqualifies Young from that rule?


Not at all -- the thing that disqualifies Young from this rule is that he has more than 5 years of pro ball. It only takes 90 days on the Active List to count as a year of service for this rule (see http://www.insidethemajors.com/?p=451), and Young had 90 or more games in each season from 2004-2008, which constitutes 5 years of service for the purpose of this rule.

So no options for Young.

TT said...

David - Thanks. That link made it clear.

Anonymous said...

How about, the coaches tell him he doesn't get another at bat until he does it Vavra's way?

Anonymous said...

"Young is a better RF than Cuddyer at this point as well."

I have never been a Cuddyer fan, but even I think that is a ridiculous statement.

but it's backed by facts:

UZR @RF
Cuddyer:
2006: -4.6, 2007: -4.5, 2008: -5.6, 2009: -0.1

Young: 2007: +2.8




Sorry, I didn't realize you were talking strictly defense. Even so, you can't say that he is better in right field at this point and then use numbers from 2 years ago. And if you add in offense (which you will have to unless you are planning on DHing for your right fielder) it's not even close.

Tim said...

I don't think there's any reason the Twins couldn't just tell Young that if he wants to play baseball he's going to be doing it in Rochester. They just can't take him off the major league roster when they do it.

Anonymous said...

Tim, he'd have to clear waivers to play in Rochester, or consent to a D-Train like anxiety spell to send him there, neither of which are going to happen.

Shannon

Tim said...

No, he has to do those things to leave the 25-man roster. As long as he's on the 25-man roster, they can tell him to do whatever they want to, with the threat of simply benching him for the next three and a half years. There may be AAA roster rules that prevent him from playing there, but I'm quite sure they could send him to Arizona with a private coach for a month, or take him on a spritual journey to a Himalayan monastery, or make him file paperwork in the front office, as long as they keep him on the roster.

Obviously you have to think he's both pretty close to entirely useless and still worth not losing on waivers to try any of those things, but that seems to be a lot of people's opinion right now.