Thursday, May 19, 2011

Delmon Young: Necessary Evil

As the Minnesota Twins have dealt with the death of a franchise icon and strung together a couple of wins on the road out west, there has been quite the interesting undertone to the road trip.

On Monday, after a 5-2 loss in Seattle, reports began surfacing of a screaming match in the team's clubhouse. There were apparently no members of the media present ... either that, or none of them are talking about what they saw.

Tuesday, manager Ron Gardenhire revealed that the commotion was the result of a veteran player upset with one or more younger players. As you may know, the Twins aren't exactly old, so you can probably narrow that down to a guy like Michael Cuddyer or Justin Morneau. Gardenhire wants his vets to take more of a vocal role in the clubhouse, largely because it means he doesn't have to deal with all the little petty BS that is bound to come up over a 162-game season.

The names of the players involved did not end up getting revealed, though KFAN's Paul Allen may have gotten us closer to some answers. In the first hour of his radio show Thursday, Allen mentioned that it was his understanding -- via sources -- that Delmon Young was one of the players taking a verbal beatdown of sorts.

Young struck out ten times over four games after returning to the lineup, and he was glued to the bench for two straight games until the tenth inning of Wednesday's win in Oakland, when he pinch-hit and rapped a base hit to start the winning rally. Making matters worse, his effort in left field was questioned multiple times since his return.

At just .203/.247/.243 this year, Young is a shell so far of the player who drove in 112 runs and posted a career-high OPS of .826 last year. He'll never be the kind to draw a lot of walks (28 in 613 plate appearances last year), but he makes good contact, is a home-run threat, and also hit 46 doubles last year.

The problem with Young is twofold. For starters, he is a butcher defensively. He makes Jason Kubel look like gold-glove material, and that's just not good enough when he isn't hitting the ball. The other problem is that he appears aloof and uncaring at times. That's not to say he doesn't care -- how the hell would I know? -- but instead is simply a note that he looks that way. When a guy who looks like he doesn't care gets his ass chewed in the clubhouse, it adds to the perception, fair or not.

The other problem with Young is that the Twins simply can't move him right now. Even if he's hitting, his value is much greater on this team than it is on virtually any other. He's a right-handed stick who can hit the ball far. The Twins have virtually none of those, because their best power guys -- Morneau, Jim Thome, and Kubel -- are left-handed, and so is their best hitter (Joe Mauer, when healthy ... whenever that is).

Cuddyer is the Twins' only other power threat from the right side, and he simply isn't a consistent enough threat.

Young can't be moved unless the Twins have been hiding a right-handed power hitter somewhere.

And if they've been doing that, they've got other problems besides Young's alleged aloofness ... or his defensive blunders.

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