Michael Young: the teflon All-Star

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Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: A big star is coming off a down year. Management brings in someone to take his place, and the big star freaks out about it. Talks to the media about how unhappy he is. Demands a trade. When the trade doesn’t happen, he makes a point to snub his general manager when camp starts.  That guy is no good, right?  We tend to pile on guys like that, don’t we?

Not if it’s Michael Young we don’t.

Over at FoxSportsSouthwest Jen Floyd Engel has a feature on Young who has apparently been forgiven for his behavior last spring.  And not just forgiven: he’s considered “a consummate professional” and that discord is now a part of his legend as King Intangibles. A man who, according to Engel anyway, should be seriously considered for the AL MVP.  Go for the analysis, stay for the gratuitous swipes at “Moneyballers” who just don’t understand Michael Young because he can’t be placed on a spread sheet.

The shots at the stat-set are amusing at this point. The early-season strife stuff, however, genuinely confuses me.  I can’t recall any player getting such a free pass on it like Young has. And he was getting it even before he put up his nice season, so it’s not like this is solely a case of good play absolving sins.  People were talking about Young as a “consummate professional” back in the first part of the season, mere weeks after he acted in ways that, however understandable, are not what is typically called professional.

Don’t get me wrong: Young is a fine player. He had a nice bounceback season.  It’s good that he turned his lemons into lemonade and didn’t let it affect his play. But I have to ask: when was the last time a guy demanded a trade because he stood to lose playing time to a superior player and was so quickly and easily forgiven for it?

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.