Anthony Castrovince has a story up on MLB.com about Michael Young. The Michael Young who is hitting .267/.299/.350 for a team with World Series hopes but who is still an everyday player.
Why is he still an everyday player? Here’s Ron Washington:
“Intangibles,” Washington said. “He leads even when things are not right [for him personally]. That’s what leaders do. If you didn’t look at his numbers, you wouldn’t know Michael Young is struggling.”
Washington goes on to say that Young busts his butt and cheers on his teammates despite the lack of production. Which is something no one has ever denied about him. Indeed, after trafficking in just as much Michael Young hate as anyone out there, I recently made the effort to actually talk to a former teammate of his to get to the heart of the Young-love. To see what we on the outside were missing. And the player I spoke to went on at length about how much his teammates love and appreciate him and how they are all willing to overlook production blips in light of that.
But that’s his teammates. You would think, however, that the one guy who should not be putting all that much weight on the intangibles and the rah-rah is the team’s manager. He’s the one guy, it seems, who has to make the hard choices about who is actually productive and who is not. He should be the guy who plays bad cop when people who are not ultimately responsible for the team’s wins and losses like he is makes appeal to intangibles and chemistry.
And Ron Washington is not doing that.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.