Dmitri Young: rested and ready. Well, sort of.

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Interesting story about Dmitri Young in the Washington Times.
Young, you’ll remember, was given one of baseball’s more, well,
unexpected contract extensions when Jim Bowden gave him $10 million for
2008 and 2009 a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, he only played 50
games last season and has been completely MIA so far in 2009 due to
back trouble and bereavement leave and general Dmitri Youngishness. He
wants to play, of course, but there’s no room in Washington unless Nick
Johnson is traded. Young wouldn’t mind being traded himself, but
there’s a slight problem with that:

There isn’t anyone interested in a 35-year-old singles-and-doubles
hitter who is a liability in the field and who has a history of trouble
with his back and with diabetes. And who is owed $5 million this season.

Yeah, that kind of stuff tends to get in the way. Still the most gobsmacking part of the story comes with this passage:

In his mind, though, he believes he could have been playing in the
majors months ago. Having shed 40 pounds from a 6-foot-2 frame that
once weighed in at 330 and having successfully controlled his diabetes
thanks to a strict diet, medicine and exercise regime, he said it has
been four years since he has felt this well.

That’s pretty amazing if true. And a little sad, because given his
contract situation, there’s no incentive for anyone to give Young a
second look at this point. But if he were made available for the league
minimum, wouldn’t it be worth it for some AL team to take a chance on
him? Yes, he’s provided many unintentional laughs over the years, but
he has also hit pretty damn well (he’s only two years removed from a
.320/.378/.491 season). If he were released by the Nats tomorrow and
could show that he’s reasonably healthy, couldn’t he be a Matt Stairs
figure? Couldn’t he be useful making a spot start here and there and
serving as a reasonably dangerous pinch hitter?

OK, maybe that’s a stretch. I’ve just always had a soft spot for
Dmitri. He’s got his problems, but the guy is funny and passionate and
smarter than he’s given credit for, and I’ll always hope that there’s a
place for a guy like that in the game.

Hell, bench coaches don’t do anything. Maybe that would be a good place for him . . .

Nationals Acquire Ryan Raburn From White Sox

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The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Ryan Raburn from the Chicago White Sox. Raburn had been playing at Triple-A Charlotte. He’ll be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse in the Nats organization. The Nationals will send cash or a player to be named later to the White Sox to complete the deal.

Raburn has yet to play in the majors this season. Last year he hit .220/.309/.404 with nine homers in 113 games for the Colorado Rockies. The year before that he hit an excellent .301/.393/.543 in part time play for the Indians. Over the course of his 11 year career the 36-year-old has hit .253/.317/.436, which breaks down to an OPS+ of exactly 100, which is league average. Primarily an outfielder, Raburn has played every position except shortstop and catcher in his career. He’s even pitched twice.

The Nats plans for him aren’t entirely clear, but depth it depth.

If the Tigers are sub-.500 at the end of June it’ll be fire sale time

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Jon Morosi reports that that the Detroit Tigers will make all veterans available via trade if they’re still under .500 by the end of June.

This was the position they entered the offseason with — everyone is available! — but they ended up gearing up for one more push with the core of veterans they currently employ. It was not a bad move, I don’t think. With the exception of the Indians, the AL Central is mostly down, or at least appeared to be over the winter, with the Royals in decline and the Twins and White Sox seemingly a few years away from contention. The Twins, however, have been fantastic and the Tigers have mostly underachieved.

So we’re back to this. Which veterans the Tigers can reasonably unload, however, is an open question. J.D. Martinez is in his walk year, so while tradable, he may not bring back a big return. Guys like Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera either have very large contracts or no-trade protection.

The end of June is still a while from now, of course, and while the Tigers are under .500, they’re only 4.5 games behind the Twins. But they had better turn it around or else it sounds like the front office is going to turn the page.