Confirmed: Michael Young wants out of Texas

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ESPN.com’s Buster Olney was definitely on to something when he wrote Saturday that “something has changed” in the relationship between the Rangers and Michael Young.  He wants a trade.  And the Rangers are going to try to meet that request.

A source familiar with the situation told Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports on Sunday afternoon that Texas will “attempt to trade” Young in the coming days because the infielder “has grown disillusioned with his diminished role on the team.”

The Rangers brought in Adrian Beltre on a massive free agent contract this offseason and will start him at third base in 2011.  When that deal was initially signed, it moved Young to the DH role.  But then the Rangers traded for Mike Napoli and Young took quick notice this weekend that his at-bats would probably be taking a hit this season.

So he wants out.  A change of scenery.

We’ll see how it goes.  Young is owed $48 million over the next three seasons, has never been great defensively, and finished with a pedestrian .774 OPS last season.  He also turned 34 years old in October.

The Rockies are known to have some interest, though recent reports are saying they want the Rangers to eat $20 million of Young’s remaining contract.  Brown hears that the Angels could be interested, but they probably won’t want to take on another bad deal.  Remember, Anaheim brought in $81 million worth of Vernon Wells just a couple of weeks ago.

Young should dominate headlines for much of this week — the last week without baseball until November.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”