When Chris Young was signed it didn’t seem like a big deal to me. When I first heard the news I thought Sandy was getting a jump on outfield depth, perhaps signing Young to spot many of our guys. Later in the day the terms came out and I started to wonder: Has Young been signed to play every day? Eventually news leaked out that Young was promised 500 at bats. And by now it is also obvious that a large percentage of our total offseason spending budget was used on Chris. The good news is that at least Young is not a career minor leaguer. This is not Collin Cowgill or Andrew Brown being pawned off on us. The 25-man roster was improved by this move. But with our many needs and maddeningly restricted budget, was this a move we can afford?
With the passage of each day, I like it less and less. But carry on.
The biggest thing that bugs me about the signing is the sneaking suspicion that Young was brought in to play center. More and more the owners financial distress seems permanent. Last year Juan Lagares was magnificent in the field and slightly unacceptable at the plate. Lagares makes the minimum. If we ever want to win isn’t this the type of guy we have to play?
You know that’s my feeling. We wrote about it a while back. Chris Young is a one-year Met. If he plays well, we can’t afford to sign him. Somebody out there in the Metsblogosphere — Ed Leyro, are you reading this? — probably has an entertaining list of all the name players who were with the Mets for only one season. Chris Young will be one of those guys. The memory of whom will maybe, one day, earn you $100 on “Beer Money” in the year 2036 (yes, SNY will still be airing it).
Meanwhile, Juan Lagares came in and played Gold Glove caliber defense for the Mets — a team, not for nothing, that is built around pitching. And, yes, it’s undeniable, he did not hit well enough. But he’s young, supposedly has a great work ethic. Lagares went down to the Dominican League, hit .341, and won their ROY award (ahead of Marcell Ozuna). He doesn’t have to hit much to become a real asset to this team. A controllable, affordable asset. Yet the feeling I get is this guy is starting the season with two strikes against him. I mean, Sandy tried to sign Bobby Abreu. So forget the one-year rental of Chris Young for a minute. Sandy was presumably willing to sit Lagares if he could get anything out of Bobby Freaking Abreu. This is how we’re building toward the future?
Bottom line, if the “promise” is true (and if I was Chris Young I would have done some research on Sandy Alderson’s record of dishonesty) Young will play. I’m not expecting him to be awesome. I do think he can hit .230 with a little pop, and play good defense. I’m thinking Scott Hairston with a better glove.
I remember when he first came up. Back in early 2007, I read about the bright future of the Arizona Diamondbacks in Baseball Prospectus. They were especially high on Chris Young, a hugely-hyped prospect at the time. It’s a funny read now, because the talented new guys were Conor Jackson (the original “Valley Fever” patient), Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Miquel Montero, and Chris Young.
Chris was ranked #23 in Baseball America’s 2006 Rankings (really worth the click, a fascinating scroll), #11 in BA’s 2007 Rankings (behind Tim Lincecum, ahead of Andrew McCutcheon). Heading into 2007, BP wrote:
Young’s season began when he fell during spring workouts and broke his hand, and ended when he slipped while avoiding a ground ball and was ruled out at second on a reversed call that ended the Diamondback’s season. Young managed to stand firm in between those spills, however, as his place on most prospect lists (whether scout-based or stat-based) will attest. He does a convincing Mike Cameron impression in just about every phase of the game, and approximated PECOTA’s enthusiastic projection. Among a talented group of prospects, Young is the one with the most potential to bust out and have a truly outstanding career.
We are standing here today, seven years later, hoping the Mets can catch some of that potential in a bottle. For one year. Chris Young can hit for power and he’s always walked at a pretty high rate. In 8 major league seasons, he’s hit above .250 once, in 2010, his career year. The thing with Young, who has never had an OPS reach .800, he’s valuable as a center fielder, but less so in the corners. He’s only 30, it’s not over for Chris, and it’s conceivable that he outproduces Curtis Granderson this year — and we won’t be able to afford him next. But the Mets paid $7.5 million for that slim chance.
I keep thinking that Chris Young could be Sandy’s genius signing for the season. I like the Cameron comp, btw, and think it’s reasonable to hope that Young could replicate Cameron’s 2004 season with the Mets (.231/.319/.479). But then I wonder, where does it get us? Another hole to fill in 2015? We trade for the next Dilson Herrera/Vic Black? Is that the plan? We’re accumulating trade chips?
Trade chips? Stop, you are killing me. The next time Sandy Alderson trades a prospect will be the first time.
No, I meant trading Young, trading Colon. I actually think that was the plan with Francisco. He’s trying to catch another Byrd?
Sure, at least part of the idea with Young is he could be moved if we get the crappy combination of Young being good as the team stumbles again. Transient rosters come with the territory of this tiny New York market.
But there is the positive view. Colon is awesome and Young does well. It helps make the team be good. It really could happen. And this is why I don’t want to kill Sandy on these, or any other moves. I’m happy he did this much. At his age, it’s remarkable, actually.
The combination of cheap owners and a slow-moving, unimaginative front office allows no room for error. Chris Young needs to do well for the Mets to be competitive.
If he doesn’t produce, well, I’m guessing those future “Beer Money” contestants are going to have no chance.