In the wee hours of Saturday night, In fact, only one hour before the end of August, which makes him eligible for post season play, the Phillies traded Michael Young to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Minor League left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen who is 3-4 with a 2.55 ERA at Double-A Chattanooga.
Now this was no great surprise. There were many who wondered why the move wasn’t made sooner once it was clear the Phillies were out of contention.
There are also many who may be surprised (and you know who you are, JD!) by Young’s stats with the Phillies this season. Young, who will turn 37 in October, played in 126 games, second only to Jimmy Rollins (135.) His .276 batting average led all Phillies starters who played in at least 100 games. He led the team in hits with 129 and was second in doubles with 24 behind only J-Roll who had 27.
Yes he also hit into more than his fair share of double plays, particularly early in the season, and he struggled a bit at third base since he was largely used as a DH in his last several years with his former team, the Texas Rangers.
But overall, I think it’s fair to say that Young’s performance was definitely above average on a below average team. And I, as a fan of the game, was glad to have a chance to see this potential Hall of Famer play for my team.
It couldn’t have been an easy transition for a guy who had spent his entire career with the Rangers, who was really the face of that franchise and probably thought he’d end his career there, to be traded this past offseason. But that’s just how baseball works these days.
And Young handled it all with the professionalism and class that has always been his trademark. He played hard, he played smart, he never gave up an at-bat and even at 36, he did his homework. Some said he displayed a Chase Utley– like intensity about playing the game right and that speaks for itself.
He would hit anywhere in the line-up without complaint and even provided some depth at first base when Ryan Howard went down. It certainly wasn’t the season Young was hoping for but he was a positive presence on and off the field from his first day to his last.
In fact he leaves the Phillies while in the midst of a torrid hitting streak going 4-5 Friday night, including driving in the winning run in the ninth, and he followed that with a 3 hit game on Saturday. It was his fifth multi-hit game in his last six games.
Young grew up a Dodgers fan living only a half hour from the stadium so I guess you could say it’s a home-coming of sorts. He joins a team who has all but wrapped up a play-off spot so perhaps he will get one more run at that ring which is one of the few things that has eluded him in a stellar career. Young is a seven-time All-Star; he’s a .300 career hitter with 2,356 hits and six 200-hit seasons.
While Young will most likely be a utility player and a bat off the bench for the Dodgers, he could be much more than that in their clubhouse. The Dodgers have a couple of talented young players struggling a bit with their maturity (yes, Puig, I mean you!) and they can’t help but learn from the way that Young, who will be 37 in October, still plays the game.
So, yes, we hardly knew ye, Michael, but I, for one, enjoyed the acquaintance and wish you well in your quest for that elusive World Series ring.