After the 2009 season, the Chicago Cubs endeavored to get rid of Milton Bradley long before the start of spring training because they understood how ugly it could get if he reported to their camp. Bradley had jousted with reporters in the last weeks of the 2009 season and become a distracting presence for his teammates, and so the idea of having Bradley be The Story day after day after day in spring training was simply unacceptable -- and they dumped him in a deal with the Seattle Mariners.
The Minnesota Twins felt a similar pressure to move Chuck Knoblauch on the eve of training camp in 1998; the Toronto Blue Jays, similarly, believed they had to trade Roger Clemens before pitchers and catchers reported in 1999. At a time when the manager and players are trying to focus and get ready for the season, nobody wants a player in camp whose unhappiness can become a major distraction.
So in this vein, Michael Young's professionalism is a problem for him.
He wants out. He wants the Texas Rangers to trade him. He's made that clear. He feels he has been deceived, and his anger has been deep. The Rangers tried to trade Young, as they initially pursued Adrian Beltre, and then after Beltre signed, Texas went after Jim Thome, promising at-bats to the veteran slugger. Whatever was said to Young, he feels wronged.
But to this point, Young's fury, and its potential for distraction, has not become a factor for the Rangers. Yes, they've spoken with a number of other teams about Young, and generally speaking, they are hearing the same kind of thing: Other clubs want the Rangers to eat about half -- or more -- of the $48 million owed to Young over the next three seasons, and on top of that, other teams are not interested in giving up the Grade-A player that Texas has been looking for. The Rangers are having great difficulty finding a suitable trade based on those terms.
And they are operating under the assumption that if they don't trade Young, he will come into camp, in spite of his unhappiness, and go about the business of preparing for the season, taking care to not cause problems for his teammates. Because of his history, they believe he won't stand in the middle of a crowd of reporters day after day and air his grievances. That's just not who he has been. Two winters ago, Young was unhappy with the Rangers' plan to shift him to third base and install Elvis Andrus at shortstop, but once spring training started, he was at Andrus' side, helping the youngster adapt.
In his desire to get out of Texas, Michael Young has been too good for his own good.
Bradley, by the way, is trying to put his recent problems behind him, as Geoff Baker writes.
• Arizona Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has been thrilled by what he has seen at the Diamondbacks' camp so far, including the team's sparkling new facilities. "I've never seen anything like it," Towers raved Friday evening. "Nothing comes close. Off the charts incredible, and that's certainly going to help."
He also loves the positive and professional vibe from Arizona's revamped staff, with coaches Don Baylor, Charles Nagy, Eric Young and others, and the attention to detail that the Diamondbacks have been addressing. The pitchers showed up in excellent condition, particularly Aaron Heilman, and there seems to be a sense of renewal for the Diamondbacks, Towers said, after their brutal 2010 season. And Towers has been talking about the unexpected success of the Padres last year: "If they can get better like that, why not us?" he asked.
Kirk Gibson is weighing lineup options, writes Nick Piecoro.
Yes. Given his history, can you imagine what position the Tigers would be in if, six weeks from now, Cabrera badly injured someone in an alcohol-related incident on the road -- and Cabrera hadn't gone through some additional counseling after Wednesday's arrest?
Jim Leyland seems entirely focused on baseball, without acknowledgment of the stunningly reckless nature of Cabrera's alleged crime -- driving with an open bottle of scotch.
Leyland's words, from this Detroit Free Press story: "I know for a fact, without getting into this situation, I know for a fact Miguel Cabrera is in the best shape of his life. He's stronger than he's ever been, and he's quicker than he's ever been. ... I think Miguel Cabrera is probably going to have the biggest year of his life."
Leyland also made this forecast about Cabrera: "He's going to be welcomed here with open arms by his teammates, and they're going to want to see him hit that [ball] over the right-center field fence with two men on, and he's going to do that."
It makes complete sense to me that Leyland and the Tigers would want to support Cabrera in any way he can, and get him the help he needs. It makes no sense that anyone would be talking about what he's going to do on the field when Cabrera is only a few hours out of that jail-issued blue top he wore for the mugshot.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. Ryan Howard is working on setting up closer to the plate. This makes sense, because opposing teams have basically been attacking him with soft stuff away. In this world of adjustments, the question now for pitchers is whether they'll get back to pitching Howard the way he was pitched early in his pro career -- with hard stuff, inside. Howard is a smart guy and he knows that by moving up on the plate, this is the implicit dare he's issuing for pitchers: See if you can throw it by me inside.
4. The mediator in the Mets' case has some experience, as Ken Belson writes.
5. Tim Teufel has been sued, in relation to the Madoff case. Wow. Just wow.
The battle for jobs
3. The Rangers are trying to figure out who will be their Nos. 3-4-5 starters, as Jeff Wilson writes. This could be Derek Holland's year, writes Gil LeBreton. The Rangers are keeping an eye on their top arms.
5. The future is now for a Toronto catcher, writes Tyler Kepner.
Dings and dents
4. Because of injuries, the A's are scrambling for a backup infielder, writes Susan Slusser.
• Stan Musial has had a busy week, writes Bernie Miklasz.
• There are only two Cubs who have not reported to camp, writes Paul n
• The Cleveland infield made a whole lot of errors last season, writes Paul Hoynes.
• Vanderbilt will be looking for its 20th win today against Auburn, as Mike Organ writes.
And today will be better than yesterday.