Michael Young, also known as the Face Of The Franchise when he played for the Texas Rangers, is back with the organization in an official capacity, given the ambiguous title of "Special Assistant to the GM". Since it's Michael Young, and since it's with the Rangers, the general consensus is -- or is going to be -- that Young's responsibilities are going to seriously impact the franchise, because of course. It's Michael Young, guys.
Yesterday morning, the great Jamey Newberg sent out a newsletter detailing the supposed significance of adding Young to the front office fold, and although it's (obviously) well-written and informative (like any of Newberg's articles over the last decade-plus), it certainly isn't exempt from cringe-worthy statements, such as:
"And the thing is, Michael Young would have never taken this job if the punch list was headlined by ribbon cuttings and radio voiceovers and Q&A’s... Otherwise, he wouldn’t have agreed to be in this at all."
That's probably true, but let's not pretend Mikey Baseball was a stranger to the microphone when he was in Texas. Reporters have always appreciated his presence, if for nothing else that he helped in delivering them something to write about. Revisionist history rarely allows us to travel back even as far as five years ago to make sense of what no one wants to acknowledge as truth, but let's not forgot it was Michael Young, our fearless leader, who cried to the media once the Rangers moved him off shortstop for the more defensively capable Elvis Andrus in 2009, and again before the 2011 season when Texas moved him off 3rd base in favor of the future Hall-of-Famer Adrian Beltre. That offseason, Young even demanded a trade, because that's what any real leader would do.
I know you are probably reading this and wondering what my point is. I think that's a completely fair thing to ask yourself. No, I don't dislike Michael Young. This isn't a conversation about WAR or how a well-known Dallas journalist once gave him a first place vote on his MVP ballot or how I have some twisted vendetta against a good-but-not-great former Ranger. In the end I'm taking a very simplistic worldview about Michael's return to Texas: If it's good for my favorite team, it's good enough for me. If you are going to absorb anything from this, please let it be that.
However, this is a blog and I simply don't have it in me to regurgitate the same information DFW writers are paid to regurgitate, and I'm not going to sit here and perpetuate the same speak softly and carry a big stick persona that Michael Young cultivated during his career with the Rangers. Because I never really saw him as that guy. To me, he was a solid player who was given an extraordinary amount of credit for being a fairly ordinary, above-average big league regular. You can denounce me for even considering such blasphemy in order to humanize the infallible, but I don't have to investigate too strongly to support my stance. Neither on FanGraphs nor Baseball Reference nor things Young has himself said in the past. It's all there for you to see for yourself, but when it comes to him, specifically, most people would rather not look.
I've already seen the comparisons made, so I'm not going to act like I was the first person to come up with the idea, that this front office addition appears much like the Rangers are filling the void Nolan Ryan left... when he left. They are adding a former player, a like mind who can be respected both by the on-field product and the media that still weighs their contributions as if they mean something much larger than they are in actuality. I don't have to suspend disbelief to envision a scenario where Texas are a good baseball team in 2015, and somewhere along the way we're going to see articles written about the impact of Michael Young being a driving force towards the club's resurrection. And that's fine. People are going to love that shit. I mean, people loved it when it was Nolan, so why wouldn't they if it's Michael Young?
Personally, I'd rather keep it simple. Yes, in a weird way I think it's pretty cool that Young is back with the organization, that whatever bridges were burned in the past between he and Jon Daniels have been mended. But I'm also practical, in spite of how contrarian this article is going to come off. Young's greatest contribution to the Texas Rangers is that he is back, that he will be able to interact with some of his former teammates and have influence on the guys coming up from the farm. I don't discount that as invaluable; I just don't want to spew out the same garbage we've all heard before, notably with Nolan, that he's going to change the whole mindset of the team, that they'll start to understand the "right way" to play -- whatever that means -- or that he will be an indispensable figure in the moves the front office makes.
Michael Young is not that guy.