Ruben Amaro: Michael Young has what Phillies need

Posted: December 10, 2012

MICHAEL YOUNG has played more games than any player in the history of the Texas Rangers organization.

He holds several other club records and has called Arlington home ever since he was traded from Toronto as a minor leaguer 12 1/2 years ago. Young knows no major league existence other than one that starts and ends with wearing the red, white and blue of the Rangers.

But after approving a trade on Saturday, Young will step into a different shade of red in 2 months when he reports to Clearwater, Fla. Despite joining a new team in a new league, Young should meld right into the veteran-laden Phillies team.

"He has all the elements we're looking for," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "First of all, the makeup is extraordinary. He's the ultimate team player. He knows how to play baseball. He's a winning baseball player. He's had the opportunity to be in big games in the playoffs and he just fits real well."

In exchange for Young, the Phillies sent two righthanded relievers to Texas: Josh Lindblom, who arrived last July in the Shane Victorino trade, and Lisalverto Bonilla, a 22-year-old minor leaguer who had a 1.55 ERA in 31 games between Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading in 2012.

The Rangers are paying $10 million of the $16 million Young is owed in 2013; the Phils, meanwhile, agreed to pay $1.2 million to Young for him to waive a no-trade clause.

Young will be the Phillies' everyday third baseman; it's a position he hasn't played regularly since 2010. But apparently the Phils' brass believes the former Gold Glove winner (as shortstop in 2008) will be able to handle defensive chores again after being used as a designated hitter for most of the last two seasons.

If Young has limits defensively, the Phils can utilize slick-fielding rookie Freddy Galvis as a late-inning defensive replacement.

Amaro didn't return a phone message seeking comment. His comments on Young were distributed from the team through a pool reporter.

"He has a tremendous track record," Amaro said. "I know that last year was not his best year but after talking to the scouts and discussing it intently with the rest of our front office, we felt like this is an excellent person to bring to our club.

"The fact that he hits righthanded helps balance our lineup out a little bit as well. I just think all the elements he brings to the table for us are very, very positive."

Amaro alluded to 2012 not being Young's best year, which is somewhat concerning for a 36-year-old player. Young's batting average (.277), on-base percentage (.312), OPS (.682), home runs (8) and RBI (67) were all his lowest totals in 10 years.

But Young also is just a year removed from a 2011 season that saw him hit .338 with a .380 OBP and a career-high 106 RBI. Young finished third in the American League batting race and eighth in the AL MVP voting in 2011.

"I think that's just part of the process of being a major league player," Amaro said of Young's statistical drop-off in 2012. "You don't have a great year every year. He's had some years where he hit .280 and others where he hit .330. But at the same time, even when his numbers aren't extraordinary - and they were still pretty darn good last year, maybe better than anybody we had on our club - but the fact of the matter is he's a professional hitter."

Young wasn't available Sunday and the Phillies currently don't have an introductory press conference scheduled with the seven-time All-Star.

Whether Young bounces back or the 2012 season was a sign of Father Time catching up to his bat won't be known for a few months. What we do know is that the Phillies are taking somewhat of a low risk in hoping the former comes to fruition.

The Phils are paying Young close to what they paid Placido Polanco ($6.25 million) to play third base last season. Since Young is a free agent after the upcoming season, it's just a 1-year commitment.

Following the dollar further, the Phils added two starters to their everyday lineup last week (Young and centerfielder Ben Revere) who will cost less than $7 million combined in 2013. They paid Polanco and Victorino a combined $15.75 million to play those two positions last season.

Factor in the money the team saved when they decided to trade Hunter Pence last summer and Amaro and Co. are sitting on plenty of cash they can continue to infuse into the 2013 team.

"We're looking at a couple things," Amaro said. "Obviously, with the hole that was created by the move with Vance Worley to get Ben, we're looking at the possibility of getting a little bit of depth there."

But Amaro went on to say that void would more likely be filled internally or with a "low-risk, high-reward" type of pitcher. So once again, there is money to spend elsewhere.

"We're still looking into the bullpen and trying to add a veteran presence there as well," Amaro said. "And if we can do a little bit more for our outfield, we'll consider that as well."

If the Phils use either Darin Ruf or Domonic Brown in leftfield - or platoon them - they could funnel that money into rightfield. Among the free-agent outfielders still available are Josh Hamilton, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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