FORT WORTH, Texas -- Michael Young? Gone?
Did Young's departure become imminent this past week due to a surprising trade?
So, hold it on the Super Bowl. News and views in that area just went backburner, at least locally.
The Texas Rangers made a trade on Tuesday that is best described as a midlevel kind of baseball deal.
Yet, for the moment, that trumps the Super Bowl gala coming to town, or even the Stock Show.
Why talk crazy like that?
Because of immediate priorities, my man.
The Rangers are our only local pro team currently capable of reaching a Super Bowl event in their own sport.
The Mavericks? They've slipped back to long-shot status of late. The Stars? Sensational season based on expectations, but still very much a Stanley Cup long shot. The Cowboys? Don't get me started on Jerry again.
Making the World Series last fall totally flipped the long-standing perception for the Rangers, particularly since it was happening in the midst of a Cowboys dog-butted collapse.
The Rangers are our hot news item, despite a Hot Stove League of mixed results due to no front-line rotation guy being added.
And while obtaining catcher-first baseman-DH Mike Napoli this week for pitcher Frankie Francisco wasn't a put it in 3-inch-headline event, it's the next shoe falling in Arlington that has led to much local and national speculation.
First off, I loved the Napoli deal. A right-handed power bat for use where ever adds to the batting-order balance. While seeing very limited time at catcher (his defensive questions there are why the Rangers will keep two others at the position), Napoli is a platoon strength at DH and first base.
Losing Frankie may hurt, but let's all admit (I was surprised to be hearing, via e-mail, some Frankie love after the deal was announced) that consistency wasn't his calling card.
But quickly after the Napoli deal, the speculation blowup, locally and nationally, centered squarely on the future of Mr. Young, and what happens next involving him.
For example, my friend Kenny Rosenthal of Fox Sports and MLB TV went strong in his national column and on national TV with this: "Young no longer fits with the Rangers. He knows it. The Rangers know it."
Kenny is too plugged in to be ignored.
But does Mike Young still "fit" with the Rangers?
If he is still with the Rangers this season, yes, and hell yes.
Young, as he was promised after moving off third base last month, will be in the lineup every day, either at DH, at first base, second base, some at third for Adrian Beltre rest, and even some at short, since the goal is to give Elvis Andrus more rest.
Ron Washington has the lineup card, and when he fills it out, Young's name will be on it. Washington is as loyal to Young as his teammates are. It's not blind loyalty, either.
Although Young never had one of his usual 2-3-week stretches last season where his bat carried the team, he still ended up with 21 homers and 91 RBI.
The major knock on Young, of course, was range at third. And that knock has been eliminated with Beltre.
Washington will be figuring out how to use Napoli and the short-term fate of young Mitch Moreland much more than what to do with Young.
And when you factor in the injuries that will happen, "all of this will sort out," as one Rangers voice said.
Michael Young "fits." If he's still here.
But will Young, at age 34, with a contract of $16 million a season for the next three years, now become a trade candidate?
Sure, and he already was. It's like with anyone else in the game when it comes to age, money and position, you are or will be a trade candidate.
There is interest in Young from other teams. The money limits his value, so how much of the money would the Rangers be willing to eat in any deal? And, as always, what kind of player would be offered in return?
One theory kicking around is that Young, who has said strongly he doesn't want to leave the only major league team he's ever known, may now be ready to ask for a trade. And the Rosenthal column may be his way, or his agent's way, of getting that message out.
(Young, by the way, didn't return a Wednesday phone call).
If Young had wanted to be traded, or the Rangers wanted to trade him, that would have already happened at the winter meetings in early December. There were offers on the table.
Again, the acquisition of Napoli does not impact the current status of Young, and only serves as a fall-back plan in case anything changes.
Bottom line, No. 2:
If Young is here for the start of the 2011 season, he's in the lineup daily, and the Rangers will be happy to have him. The manager will be more concerned with where and how to use Napoli and/or Moreland.
But could Young be traded? You bet.
I just disagree that the Napoli acquisition signals that it's imminent, even if it's imminent, or that it will happen at all.
Now, back to the Steelers and Packers.