Counterpoint: Delmon Young is an Answer to a Problem
By Editorial Staff
When I heard the Tigers acquired Delmon Young, my immediate reaction was that the Twins must not want the White Sox or Indians to win the AL Central. The Tigers outfield has slowly become a major concern. Brennan Boesch is dinged up, Andy Dirks is an up and down rookie who just hasn’t earned a full-time job yet and Austin Jackson‘s glove is the only reason to keep him in the line-up now–and those are the guys that I advocate KEEPING in the outfield depth chart.
Delmon Young makes sense simply because he is not Magglio Ordonez. Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland must have Boys 2 Men’s “So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” on replay in their minds whenever they see Maggs, because he’s overstayed his welcome in Detroit and I can’t help but think he’s still playing solely because of his legacy. Brandon Inge was worse for the Tigers, but Magglio was counted on to provide much, much more and he’s failed to deliver much of anything making him the biggest disappointment of the year. I love Ordonez’ place in Tiger history and what he has done for this team should never be overlooked. He has been the face that has turned around a fallen franchise, but he has fallen off the face of the Earth this season.
Delmon Young has something Magglio doesn’t have. An upside. Young is coming off of a tremendous 2010 and was dinged up early this season. He’s been better as of late and might just need a change of scenery. While his defense isn’t good, he’ll look like Austin Jackson compared to Magglio Ordonez, who has perfected the art of tip-toeing up to lazy fly balls and watching liners to wall fly over his head. There’s a reason that Young has more errors than Ordonez, he gets to more balls. With the shape Ordonez is in now, if a ball isn’t hit right to him, it’s dropping in. Young has something prove. He’s going to hit for this team with Miguel Cabrera behind him in the lineup and he’s going to help them down the stretch.
Chris Hannum has taken a negative spin on this move. He’ll ramble a lot about WAR, and Delmon Young’s horrendous stats which makes him technically a below average everyday player. I don’t adhere much to sabermetrics. I believe in logic. I know that the Tigers are better with a 25 year old former #1 pick who’s shown flashes and still has at least a decade of baseball in him than a 37 year old former MVP caliber (I did it again!) player with no power, no range in the field and an uncanny ability to ground into inning ending double plays. Miguel Cabrera has been leading off way too many innings. You want to know how many he led off today? Zero. Young was on base three times in his Tiger debut. Yes they lost, but it had nothing to do with Young who had a great running catch in the outfield. If anything, Tigers fans should love Delmon Young for his reaction to Jeremy Bonderman‘s retribution beaning late in 2009. He went after the guy who negligently started it…his own teammate Jose Mijares.
But, if Chris really wants to get into WAR…let’s talk about the last late-season acquisition that had any meaning to the Tigers. Sean Casey was acquired late in 2006 and became a vital bat in their lineup. In his 2 year career with the Tigers he had a WAR of 0.2, but when it mattered Casey was money. Casey batted .432 in 37 ABs in the 2006 post season with 2 HRs and 9 RBIs. I dare you to find a Tiger fan who would say that Casey wasn’t a vital cog for that 2006 team that made a run to the World Series or even that 2007 team that faded late. Despite his horrible WAR, Casey was no doubt a key acquisition for the Tigers and Delmon Young will be the same way.
Ultimately, if the Tigers fail to make the playoffs it’s not going to be because of Delmon Young. It’s going to be because of an underachieving starting rotation, with the obvious exception of Justin Verlander. Young in the lineup will make Brennan Boesch better in the #2 spot when he comes back and Cabrera will make Young better. You’re going to see a lot of scores like tonights 9-6 loss when anyone except Verlander is pitching, but at least they have the ammunition to be in those slugfests. Two through nine in the Tigers lineup are now adept, whether or not Jim Leyland puts that lineup together is the biggest question.
More than anything, though, what this move shows is that Dave Dombrowski truly is desperate to win the AL Central this season. No longer held down by an expiring contract, Dombrowski still went out and upgraded his team with a proven major league hitter who has a lot to prove.