Delmon Young

Delmon Young: Detroit’s unlikely ALCS hero


If not for a Brennan Boesch thumb injury, Delmon Young may well have finished out the year as a soon-to-be non-tendered disappointment on an almost 100-loss Twins team.

And if not for a Magglio Ordonez injury, Young might still be sitting out the ALCS because of a strained oblique suffered last week against the Yankees.

But the stars aligned for Young, whether he deserved it or not, and he hit his fourth and fifth homers of the postseason in Thursday’s Game 5 win over the Rangers.

Young was much maligned in Minnesota and deservedly so. After his big breakthrough season in 2010, he spent the first 4 1/2 months of 2011 playing as if he didn’t much care, particularly not while stationed in left field. He hit just four homers and drove in 32 runs in 305 at-bats for the Twins. He cleared waivers in August, and the Tigers, needing an outfielder with Boesch hurt, took him off Minnesota’s hands for little in return.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland showed confidence in Young right away, installing him as the No. 3 hitter in front of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. He then homered in his very first at-bat for the team — against the Twins, no less — and he went on to hit seven more in 40 regular-season games.

Young faced a hurdle in the ALDS against the Yankees, injuring his oblique in Game 4 and sitting out Game 5. The Tigers disabled him for the ALCS in part for tactical reasons: they knew they could find a way to bring him back if they wanted to, whereas if he stayed on the roster and reinjured himself during the ALCS, he might have to be disabled for the World Series as well. Young went on to replace Ordonez on the roster after Game 1 against the Rangers. Still limited, he went 0-for-4 in Game 2, sat out Game 3 and then put together another 0-for in Game 4 prior to the Game 5 outburst. The second homer today even knocked in someone besides himself for the first time (he had four postseason RBI previously, all coming on solo shots).

The 26-year-old Young would seem to have a future in Detroit, regardless of what happens the rest of the month. He’ll probably make $6.5 million-$7 million next year in his final season of arbitration, or the Tigers could roll the dice and try signing him to a two- or three-year deal. It’d be a risky move with his often indifferent defense and his inconsistent offense, but he certainly possesses unrealized potential and now he someone who might be the key to unlocking it in Leyland.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.