Move Michael Young down?


Time to shake things up

Taylor By Jean Jacques-Taylor

Michael Young's job as the No. 5 hitter in the Rangers' lineup is to produce runs -- and it doesn't really matter whether he's driving them in or scoring them.

In the past month, he hasn't done it. And that's among the reasons the Rangers' offense has been so inconsistent.

It's time for manager Ron Washington to move Young down a spot or two in the batting order until he finds his groove.

Young won't like it, which is understandable. But the Rangers are trying to win the AL West -- nobody wants to take the wild-card route into the playoffs this year -- and until he starts hitting with power the offense is going to struggle.

A designated hitter making $16 million can't be a singles hitter.

No one expects Young to hit a bunch of homers because he's never been that kind of player. But he has only 15 extra-base hits this season.

Here's some perspective: Ian Kinsler has 21 doubles.

Since May 1, Young has produced 28 runs -- runs scored plus RBIs -- ranking last among the Rangers' everyday players. David Murphy, a platoon player against right-handed pitchers, has produced 26 runs in the same span in 60 fewer at-bats than Young.

As for the rest of the regulars, Josh Hamilton has produced a team-high 56 runs since May 1. Nelson Cruz (49), Elvis Andrus (42), Adrian Beltre (40), Kinsler (40) and Mike Napoli (34) show you just how much Young is lagging behind the others.

Even Mitch Moreland, who plays only against right-handed starters, has produced 31 runs.

Part of the reason Young has been one of baseball's best hitters for a decade is his unshakable confidence. Talking to Young about a slump is like talking to a brick wall.

He doesn't acknowledge slumps. Or even believe in them.

Besides, Young isn't in a slump.

He's hitting .303 in June and .283 for the season. The problem is Young has five RBIs in the Rangers' past 32 games.

He hasn't had a multiple-RBI game since driving in three against Baltimore on May 7, which is also the last time he homered.

The Angels are gaining ground quickly. Moving Young down in the lineup isn't a panic move.

It's the sensible thing to do until he starts producing runs again.

Leave Michael Young alone

Durrett By Richard Durrett

Every Monday morning quarterback and armchair manager loves to tinker. We do it with our fantasy teams and we clamor for front offices and coaching staffs of our hometown teams to do the same.

But the Texas Rangers must resist the temptation right now.

Manager Ron Washington should let his lineup ride. It's a lineup that helped bring back-to-back American League championships to Texas and one that was pounding the ball earlier this season. It's too deep a lineup to stay in a team-wide slump for very much longer. And it's why Michael Young should be left alone.

It's not that Young isn't hitting. Sure, he isn't batting .400 like he did the first two weeks of the season, but that was a pace no one could keep up. Even the past three weeks, while the club has struggled offensively, Young is still batting over .300. What he's not doing is driving in runs.

Young has just 24 RBIs from the 5-hole. That's the lowest total of any of the regulars on the club. But if you move Young down in the lineup, as my colleague Jean-Jacques Taylor suggests, who do you move up? Nelson Cruz?

He's hitting .261 and, while he has more power, he doesn't make contact at nearly the clip that Young does. Mike Napoli? He's batting .253 and he gives the lower part of the order a nice threat where he is right now.

Young isn't producing like a 5-hitter should. But he's got a tremendous track record of consistency. At this point, you don't mess with it. Trust that Young will start to drive in more runs in the heart of that lineup.

And if things don't improve for another few weeks?

Then you consider making some tweaks to the lineup to see if it gets guys going. But my tweak wouldn't be moving Young down, but rather moving him to the No. 2 spot. That's where he's been for most of his career and where he's most comfortable. He makes contact and gets runners over. He's still getting on base with regularity, which would give Josh Hamilton and the heart of the order RBI opportunities. He doesn't have the speed of Elvis Andrus, but Andrus could move toward the bottom of the lineup and give the club more speed there.

That's only if things don't get better. And maybe the San Francisco series is a sign things are improving for the offense.

Bottom line: Trust in Young's history and leave him alone. He'll start to produce.