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December 11, 2008
  
Note to Mets: Deal for Delmon Young
by: Mike Newman on Dec 11, 2008 2:01 AM | Filed under: Articles

Delmon Young is proof-positive that prospect projection is a very strange science. I first saw Delmon Young play alongside Lastings Milledge at a Perfect Game showcase in Jupiter, Florida when both were considered the premiere athletes of their draft class, back in 2003. Young and Milledge were the talk of the complex, as both were considered elite athletes and can’t miss players.

In his time as a professional, Young has gone from the premier prospect in baseball to underachieving regular by the age of 22. With 1300+ major league at bats under his belt, many wait and wonder if Young will ever grow into the superstar he was assumed to become. Tampa Bay cut bait, and it seems the Twins are ready to deal Young after just one season. Could this be an opportunity for the Mets? Or is Young destined to never fulfill the Hall of Fame talent he was once believed to have?

Drafted number one overall in the 2003 first-year player draft, Young signed a five-year, $5.8 million major league contract. He debuted in the AFL after signing and posted a .417 batting average in a league devoted to the game’s top prospects and veteran minor leaguers. In 2004, he made his full-season debut. As the number three prospect in all of baseball, Young showed he was a man among boys with an obscene .322/.385/.538 line with 21 steals as an 18-year-old in the Sally League. As a 19-year-old between Double-A and Triple-A, his .315/.354/.527 totals with an additional 32 steals showed why he was once again considered a top-three prospect. In 2006, Young became the top prospect and was promptly suspended an International League record fifty games for tossing (or throwing) a bat at an umpire. When he did play, he posted a .316/.341/.474 line in Triple-A before a 126-at-bat stint with the Rays in which he batted .317/.336/.476, leading to huge expectations as a rookie in 2007.

In looking at his minor league career, his worsening walk rate by level should have raised more than a few questions concerning how quickly he would adjust to big league pitching. During the 2007-2008 seasons, those questions were answered; he posted almost identical numbers with the Rays and Twins. His career line currently stands at .292/.326/.413 after two-plus big-league seasons when most hitting prospects are just making their major league debuts.

(Click here to see the numbers other Mets notables were posting at age 22 and where Young stacks up.)

What does the future hold for Young? Some would say he’s already a bust and destined to underachieve for the rest of his career. As for me, I think baseball is suffering from a Delmon Young hangover, causing him to become a huge post-hype sleeper. What facilitates a Young break out? Increased maturity and improved plate discipline should do it. With five full seasons until his prime, he still has plenty of time to become the perennial All-Star and MVP candidate many envisioned.

From the Mets’ perspective, the first question would be how Young improves the Mets both in the present and future. The second question: what would it take to land a player of Young’s talent?

Defensively, Young best profiles as a right fielder since his career UZR is -0.4 over 163 games, making him about even money at the position. In comparison, Church is a better right fielder, and has comparable career line offensively, only at about seven years Young’s senior. Being similar players now, Young has all of the projection some Mets fans perceive Church to have.

As for what it would take to land Young, one needs to assess the Twins’ current needs and see where a match can be made. The Twins need significant upgrades for the left side of their infield, relief pitching help, and seek starting pitching depth for future deals. With Kunz, Niese, and even Daniel Murphy, the Mets could make something happen.

So far a handful of rumors have surfaced on the Young front, including Kevin Kouzmanoff of the Padres, Andy Sonnanstine/Edwin Jackson of the Rays (before the latter was moved on Wednesday). Meanwhile, the Giants, Rockies, and even the hated Philadelphia Phillies, filling the void left by Pat Burrell, have also expressed interest in Young.

A Daniel Murphy-Eddie Kunz offer would fill multiple needs for the Twins and give the Mets both a right fielder of the future, and the ability to sign an Adam Dunn with the intention of spending 2009 in left field with a move to first base once Fernando Martinez is ready for prime time.

A second option may be a package of Jon Niese and Eddie Kunz for Young. Kunz fills a need in the Twins’ pen and Niese provides the Twins the depth to package Glenn Perkins for infield help.

Awhile back, I wrote about the Mets copying the Tampa Bay Rays’ draft blueprint. Now, I’m advocating taking a page out of the Kenny Williams White Sox trade manual. He added linchpins in Carlos Quentin, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd for pennies on the dollar as post-hype players and built a division champion.

If the opportunity is there, take it! Keep Delmon Young from the Phillies, extend him for terms somewhere in between the 31 million Troy Tulowitzki received and the contract extension David Wright signed, and roll the dice. Young may yet prove to be a star and the steal of the 2008 hot stove league.


19 Responses to “Note to Mets: Deal for Delmon Young”

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  1. Comment posted by Future on December 11, 2008 at 2:43 am (#906449)

    No. Why would trade a young player like Murphy who has more success at the ML level for a player with more time in the big leagues and less success?

    I love Delmon Young, but why trade Murphy for him. It doesn’t make very much sense to me. We also need Niese as a back-up plan.

    We’re trading for a player we don’t need. We just don’t need him right now. The Phillies don’t really need him either, and preventing them from getting him doesn’t mean we need to throw the kitchen sink at the Twins.

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  3. Comment posted by Chris McCown on December 11, 2008 at 3:14 am (#906452)

    I like the general principles behind what you are espousing here, but Young has more baggage than the Wilpons would go for.

    I don’t see how Danks was post-hype, and Gavin Floyd had zero trade value. Quentin and Young are an interesting comparison, but Quentin always had minor league success (tore up AAA) and his poor season was due to injury.

    Basically I like the idea here, but between the Mets oversensitivity to bad PR and the fact that the Twins are probably going to want to not sell low on Young (especially with Garza and Bartlett being in everyone’s minds with the Rays), I don’t think this has a real chance of sticking.

  4. Comment posted by TheWiseMan on December 11, 2008 at 3:27 am (#906453)

    I would love to get my hands on Delmon Young, as I feel he still has plenty of projection and could still become a star. My only issue here is that I think you have lost the idea of what it meant to buy low. You got part of it right in that yes, Young’s value is probably lower now than ever, but the issue is that you are paying a high price in both trade ideas you have offered.

    I don’t think the Mets have any plans of trading Murphy at this time (despite what I have written in my journal, plug plug plug) and if they were to they could probably get better value for him than Young has at this point. One other thing we have learned is that the Mets will not trade Niese for Jesus at this point, as he has a ton of support from ownership. They want him given every chance to come out of spring training as our fifth starter this year.

    A Kunz for Young deal wouldn’t be terrible, especially considering we the recent additions of K-Rod, Putz and Green, although I agree the Twins would probably ask for more. I think they would probably want Nick Evans, but I feel the Mets don’t want to trade him just yet since they seem to like his bat and his supposed versatility. I would love to see if the Mets could talk them down to someone like Bowman who has had some injury problems and is too old for his level, but is known for being a good power bat and a great defender and is blocked by David Wright. I would deal Kunz and Bowman for Young, maybe even another mid level prospect, but not much more.

  5. Comment posted by WilmerWillArriveSoon on December 11, 2008 at 7:10 am (#906461)

    Hell, I’d trade Kunz, Bowman, and Evans for Delmon Young. The upside is enormous.

  6. Comment posted by TheWiseMan on December 11, 2008 at 7:49 am (#906469)

    Wilmer, I’m not saying what I personally would or wouldn’t do in my comment, just what I feel the Mets would do. I would not do either of the trades proposed by Mike in his article, just because I feel we could get him for cheaper, but moreover I doubt the Mets are willing to move Niese or Murphy at this time.

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  8. Comment posted by Mike Newman on December 11, 2008 at 9:01 am (#906512)

    Some strong posts for my not even having coffee yet. To clarify a few things..

    To Future, Murphy is 5 months older than Murphy and currently has 1200+ less big league at bats. To see he has had more success at the big league level is VERY premature. Young, himself, had a .317 debut in the same number of at bats as a 20-year old. Murphy’s .313 debut was held up by an impossible to keep up .386 BABIP. It will regress back to a relative norm leaving Murphy’s max 2009 expectations somewhere around the minimum which can be expected from Delmon Young. Throwing Murphy/Kunz at the Twins would not be anywhere near the kitchen sink. Remember, Murphy is a tweener with a 2nd base bat and left field glove. He can be very valuable to some teams, but only to teams who can make up his lack of punch at a non-premium power position, or a team which had somewhere around 10 HR out of the 3b position as the Twins did. As for Kunz, he’s obviously not in the Mets closer plans so might as well use him to bring back something of value. The Twins won’t have Pat Neshek for all of the 2009 season and are in need of a couple of young pen arms.

    to Chris, Quentin, Danks, and Floyd all made appearances on many top 100 prospect lists before the Sox scooped them up on the cheap. Floyd was a former 4th overall selection, Danks 9th overall, and Quentin 29th in the first round. Danks was rushed, and struggled in his AA debut in 2005. He followed that up with very blah numbers in 2006 and the White Sox picked him up for what has turned out to be a song.

    To TheWiseMan, the idea of receiving a 4-time, top 3 overall prospect in the game at 22-years old with 1300+ at bats under his belt for a former 13th round pick who has been on the Mets radar for a single season and and former supplemental first round pick reliever is the definition of buying low. I like Murphy because you pretty much know what you are going to get, but his best is Young’s blah. Murphy is the best hitting prospect the Mets have developed in awhile, but it doesn’t make him an elite hitting prospect by any stretch of the imagination. If he was prospect eligible, he would rank #7 or lower on most teams top 10 lists. He fits in nicely with the Mets, but a guy whose plan is to be platooned with Fernando Tatis is not exactly ready to be a world beater.

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  10. Comment posted by Mike Newman on December 11, 2008 at 9:13 am (#906534)

    woops, grammar error…Murphy is 5 months older than Young

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  12. Comment posted by Dep on December 11, 2008 at 10:15 am (#906672)

    this is like a sign Barry Bonds analysis to me

    its solid, but its just not likely. we know omar/wilpons dont like the problem children

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  14. Comment posted by Peter H on December 11, 2008 at 11:35 am (#906838)

    I like this idea. Baseball Reference ranks Carl Yaztremski & Roberto Clemente as 2 of the top 10 comparable players to Delmon Young at age 22. I am concerned about Delmon’s plate discipline, though; he’s never shown good plate discipline at either the minor-league or major-league level.

  15. Comment posted by Joe A. on December 11, 2008 at 11:38 am (#906843)

    Murphy is a tweener with a 2nd base bat and left field glove.

    That pretty much sums up Murphy for me. Best case scenario, he will hit enough to be a serviceable 3B or LF.

    Selling high on Murphy and buying low on Young would be a great move, but Dep is probably right about the Mets staying away from players with baggage.

  16. Comment posted by littlefallsmets on December 11, 2008 at 12:06 pm (#906894)

    I’d take Young but… not for that price. The Mets don’t have much left to trade that is actually tradable is the problem.

    Most of what’s left is either not particularly attractive or not particularly touchable.

    The Mets were able to free up some ‘pen arms to toss out when they got Frankie but… unless the Mets stumble into another FA deal that creates depth that wasn’t there before, I don’t know what to trade exactly.

  17. Comment posted by Danny on December 11, 2008 at 1:36 pm (#907063)

    I was kind of feeling this article, but then you veered off and said this:

    If the opportunity is there, take it! Keep Delmon Young from the Phillies, extend him for terms somewhere in the neighborhood of what the Mets gave David Wright and roll the dice. Young may yet prove to be a star and the steal of the 2008 hot stove league.

    That is absolutely insane. David put up 2 years of GREAT offense before he got that deal. Young would have to hit for at least one season before I would try to lock him up in the Reyes/Wright/Longoria/Sizemore mode. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.

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  19. Comment posted by Chris McCown on December 11, 2008 at 2:58 pm (#907263)

    Danks was rushed, and struggled in his AA debut in 2005. He followed that up with very blah numbers in 2006 and the White Sox picked him up for what has turned out to be a song.

    See, but Brandon McCarthy at the time was a similar, if not more advanced, prospect than Danks. He was the White Sox #3 prospect in the 2004 BA list and was highly regarded after putting up a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts for the 05 White Sox before getting sent to the bullpen. And even despite Danks struggles, he was the Rangers #1 prospect according to BA that offseason. If anything, I think it was the Rangers buying low and overpaying for the opportunity to do so.

  20. Comment posted by Dave in Spain on December 11, 2008 at 3:16 pm (#907298)

    I would think that Murphy and Kunz would be too little to get Young. A .292 avg is nothing to sneeze at. Murphy will be a smart, average player, but not a star. Kunz hasn´t shown anything yet. If you added Dillon Gee or Sean Green, then you might be in the neighborhood….

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  22. Comment posted by Mike Newman on December 11, 2008 at 3:37 pm (#907331)

    Danny,

    I knew this question would come up. Actually, shame on me from not using Cot’s Baseball Contracts from jump. The site I used to reference Wright’s contract was for 6 years, 42 million and not the 6 years, 55 million he actually received. What I should have said is somewhere inbetweeen the 6/31 Tulowitzki received and the 6/55 Wright received. If I was nailed down to a number, I would say 6/42 like I had read Wright received.

    Young would deserve somewhere in this neighborhood as he’s through his first contract and has more service time than a guy like Tulo did when he signed his 6 year deal.

    Good catch, and my mistake for not double and triple checking my contract info.

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  24. Comment posted by Mike Newman on December 11, 2008 at 3:52 pm (#907353)

    Chris,

    McCarthy was considered a decent pitcher at the time with some projection. However, he was a guy who regressed with the White Sox to where he was relegated to mop up duty with a 4.68 ERA/1.30 WHIP and declining K numbers. On top of that, he was a former 17th round (assuming D/F) and a righty to boot.

    Danks was younger, had a better prospect ranking, was a higher former pick, and had significantly more projection at the time of the deal. You are right in that he cost the Sox more at the time than did Quentin or Floyd, but Danks was still a buy low considering McCarthy had lost a lot of steam.

  25. Comment posted by Chaucer 2.0 in Westchester on December 11, 2008 at 5:04 pm (#907451)

    This is nuts. I’d trade Daniel Murphy for someone, I’m sure, but not Young, not even straight up.

  26. Comment posted by mgoblue1 on December 11, 2008 at 7:38 pm (#907541)

    I completely agree with your logic Mike but there is no chance that the Wilpon’s would ever ok a trade like this especially after their dealings with milledge.

    good idea, will never happen though

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  28. Comment posted by Mike Newman on December 12, 2008 at 8:12 am (#907757)

    If they have spent even a moment considering Jose Guillen who has more baggage, does it mean they are willing to soften their stance in order to win? Church didn’t exactly have the best rep when the Mets dealt for him either. It’s great the Mets have character standards and I view it as a huge plus. However, with Young being 22, and knowing what I was doing at 22, aren’t most 22-year olds going to have a little difficulty adjusting to the pressure of being a professional athlete. I know it’s great to say a guy like Murphy seems like a good character guy, but he’s from a small college and played in relative anonymity until the 2008 season.

    Young has been considered the second coming since his senior year in high school. The pressure he is/was under to live up to his expectations must be staggering. If it’s a character issue that’s one thing, if it’s a maturity issue, The Mets should make a move and help him grow. Young is not Elijah Dukes and doesn’t have an arrest record.

    Milledge was bashed for celebrating a home run at what, 20? I think back to when I was in college and hit a game winning grand slam in the 9th at 22. If that was a “$%)@ Yeah” moment for me, what’s it like for a kid who can’t even have a beer yet? Not getting a guy like Young when he’s available is taking their mistake with Milledge and compounding it.

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