You’re never too old to start learning how to play first base. Delmon Young, shockingly only 28 years old, has never played a single inning at first base in his entire professional baseball career, but he has been working out at the position lately in order to make himself more attractive as a free agent, tweets Ken Rosenthal. At his current positions, corner outfielder and designated hitter, he is a remarkably poor defender or doesn’t hit enough to justify the position, respectively, so a move to first base somewhat mitigates each of the two downsides.
Young started the 2013 season with the Phillies when they signed him to an incentive-laden one-year contract. Aside from the performance incentives, the Phillies also paid him $100,000 every time he passed one of six weigh-ins, a method the team used to inspire him to cut his weight. As Rosenthal mentioned in his tweet, Young is down to 219 pounds. He was listed at 240 pounds. He posted a .699 OPS with the Phillies before they released him in mid-August. The Rays, the team which originally drafted him, picked him up for the stretch run. Young posted a .780 OPS in 70 trips to the plate for them.
It is a bit unfortunate for Young that he is choosing to move to first base now because the market has plenty of first base options available, both via free agency and via trade. James Loney, Corey Hart, Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay, and Kevin Youkilis are free agents. Meanwhile, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, Logan Morrison, Mitch Moreland, Adam Lind, and Justin Smoak are reportedly available via trade at the right price.
Based on his track record so far I don’t think Tim Tebow deserves to play in the major leagues on the merits. Not even close. But then again, I’m not the general manager of the New York Mets, so I don’t get a say in that.
Sandy Alderson is the general manager, so his say carries a lot of weight. To that end, here’s what he said yesterday:
Noting the Tebow experiment has “evolved” into something greater, general manger Sandy Alderson on Sunday said, “I think he will play in the major leagues.”
To be fair, Alderson is pretty up front about the merits of Tebow’s presumed advancement to the bigs at some point. He didn’t say that it’s because Tebow has played his way up. He said this:
“He is great for the team, he is great for baseball, he was phenomenal for minor league baseball last year. The notion that he should have been excluded from the game because he is not coming through the traditional sources, I think is crazy. This is entertainment, too. And he quietly entertains us . . . He benefits the Mets because of how he conducts himself. He’s a tremendous representative of the organization.”
I take issue with Alderson’s comment about people thinking he shouldn’t be in the game because of his background. Most people who have been critical of the Tebow experiment have been critical because there is no evidence that he’s a good enough baseball player to be given the opportunities he’s been given. I mean, he advanced to high-A last year despite struggling at low-A and he’s going to start at Double-A this year in all likelihood despite struggling in high-A. If he does make the bigs, it will likewise come despite struggles in Double-A and maybe Triple-A too.
That said: I don’t mind if they promote Tebow all the way up as long as they’re being honest about why they’re doing it and aren’t trying to get everyone on board with some cockamamie idea that Tebow belongs on the baseball merits. If they do put him in the majors it’ll be because he’s a draw and a good promotion and because people generally like him and he’s not hurting anyone and I can’t take issue with that.
That’s basically what Alderson is saying here and if that’s the case, great. I mean, not great, because Tebow in the bigs will likely also mean that the Mets aren’t playing meaningful games, but great in the sense of “fine.” Baseball is entertainment too. No sense in pretending it isn’t.