Michael Young AP

Two distinct takes on the Michael Young situation

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First we have Evan Grant’s take in the Dallas Morning News.*  Grant writes — in a very, very long open letter — that both Young and the Rangers are at fault, both sides have acted somewhat poorly, though understandably so and that each side must swallow its pride and carry on for the greater good of the Texas Rangers:

As I type this, it’s not too late to rescue this, I think. Everybody must accept some blame. The Rangers for the poor manner in which they’ve communicated with a player from whom they have asked so much. Young must accept blame for being overly-sensitive on the matter and lashing back publicly at the organization.

They must sit down, explain their positions, yell at one another and ultimately each accept some blame. That’s what happens in successful marriages, all of which face tests and challenges along the way. This has been the most successful marriage in Rangers history. It would be a shame if it broke up over poor communication.

Then, in contrast, we have Mike Hindman at Baseball Time in Arlington who is NOT having it. For a second.  After saying that Young “has lost his f*****g mind” and that he’s a “nut job,” Hindman writes:

Now that the chickens have come home to roost and some of us wonder how Michael Young became such a narcissistic jackass, we can look back at that moment and see that the Rangers encouraged Young’s delusions by treating a pretty good player as if he were a superstar for no good reason.  This seems to have taught Young that he was entitled to things because he was “Michael Young, Face of the Franchise” rather than for what he actually did on the field.

The local megia — who already liked this very clean-cut, hard-working, immensely likable young man a whole lot — immediately seized on this theme and wildly over-mythologized Young’s “sacrifice.”  It was easy for the beats and columnists to fall in love with Young after having to deal with jackwagons like Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira.  Young, by comparison, was humble and accountable and accessible.  And so the folks in the press box created a narrative of Young bordering on beatification (Patron Saint of Sports Sacrifice), and then they kept doing it, and doing it and doing it some more.

Boom.  And then Hindman goes on to note that two Hall of Famers and one future Hall of Famer — George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski and Ichiro — moved positions and changed roles without anything approaching this kind of sturm and drang, and that that ought to tell us something.

I can’t say that I’ve followed Young’s career terribly closely, but I gotta tell ya: Hindman’s assessment of all of this seems a lot more plausible than Grant’s.  Mostly because Grant leaves the media’s role out of it, and given how much of this has played out in the media — dating back to Young’s initial move off second base — that is a pretty key oversight.

People start to believe their own press clippings, and I’m sure Michael Young is not immune to that.  And like Hindman, I tend to agree that he’s overplaying the victim card a bit too much here.

*Hurm. The post disappeared after I first read it. What is now linked is the cached version.  Did the Morning News take it down?  I dunno.  But let me know if the cached version disappears too.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.