Texas acquiring Mike Napoli from the Blue Jays earlier this week restarted all the “will the Rangers trade Michael Young?” speculation that had died down since peaking last month, but while speaking at a minor-league event yesterday team president Nolan Ryan made it pretty clear that Young won’t be traded.
Ryan explained that Young “is going to be our designated hitter on Opening Day” and also noted that he expects about 80 percent of Young’s starts to come at DH, which is surprising given that the Rangers would presumably be better defensively with Napoli at DH and Young at first base on days when they’re in the lineup and Mitch Moreland isn’t.
Ryan stressed how valuable Young’s versatility will be for the Rangers, saying: “There’s no other team that has someone of that magnitude that can play that kind of role.” However, if 80 percent of his playing time is going to come at DH and they’re not going to use him at first base instead of the defensively challenged Napoli, the versatility would seemingly be mostly wasted.
Whatever the case it once again looks likely that Young (and the $48 million remaining on his contract) will begin the season in Texas and if he’s not traded before mid-May his 10-and-5 rights will give him the ability to veto any deals.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.
Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.
Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.
Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.