Michael Young Is Posting Some Silly Numbers in 2013

Michael Young Is Posting Some Silly Numbers in 2013

Let me preface this by admitting up front that I liked the addition of Michael Young to the Phillies during this offseason. The club had a hole at third base that the front office was able to fill temporarily with a seven-time All Star for the low-price of two minor-league relievers, while the Rangers are paying all but $6 million of his salary no less.

Young leads the team with a .392 on-base percentage – good for 12th in the National League – and he’s been better than advertised at the hot corner at well. But damn, has he hit into a ton of double plays, or what?

After Young grounded into his league-leading 11th GIDP on Sunday, Gary Matthews remarked during the Phillies telecast that the 14-year veteran has had his share of them in 2013. That’s not entirely accurate, Sarge. He’s hit into several players’ shares of double plays so far this season. Erik Kratz and Ben Revere are second in the clubhouse with five apiece, or one less than Young between the two of them.

The single-season record is 36, set by Hall of Fame Red Sox slugger Jim Rice in 1984. Young has 11 through 44 games, putting him on pace to shatter Rice’s mark by five with 41.

Of course, grounding into the occasional routine double play is nothing new to the 36 year old. He finished in the top 10 in the AL five times since 2005, including as high as second in ’06 and ’12, the latter of which was among Young’s worst seasons in the big leagues. That said, he’s nearly halfway to his career high of 27 already barely a quarter of the way through the current campaign.

Part of the problem has been Young’s waning power. His penchant for making contact has led to a solid .294 batting average, but with just nine extra base hits – including a lone home run – he’s posting a .385 slugging percentage that ranks 56th out of 77 qualifiers in the NL.

Given the information, it might be time if not long overdue for Charlie Manuel to reevaluate where Young bats in the order, which has been in the two-through-five spots up to this point. It’s not so much his lack of power that’s the issue, although yeah, but how many potential rallies must be laid to rest before Jay-Z’s Heart of the City drops to track six or seven on the Citizens Bank Park set list?

Or maybe Young should hit number two more often, where he’s only made three starts this season. From there he could sacrifice Jimmy Rollins, allowing Chase Utley and in particular Ryan Howard to get more chances with runners on. Manuel has avoided stacking the two lefties back-to-back, but it’s another option at least until Young begins driving the ball a bit more.

With the 27th-ranked offense in Major League Baseball, the Phillies have to figure out ways to get more consistent production at the plate. When you have a player in the middle of your lineup getting doubled up once every four games, that’s the kind of thing that is sapping offensive potential.

Young has gotten a little better of late. Prior to Sunday, he had made 10 straight appearances without a GIDP, his longest such stretch in ’13. However, it reared its ugly head again in the sixth inning while the Fightins were struggling once again to light up the scoreboard. One batter later, Utley singled to left, which likely would have been enough to plate the speedy Revere had he been moved to second.

Would sacrificing Young have been the right move? The third baseman himself has discussed the benefits of bunting runners over in the past, as recently as the past two weeks actually in a story at MLB.com.

"At the end of the day, the game is played by guys with heartbeats," Phillies third baseman Michael Young said. "And a sacrifice bunt puts pressure on the defense and the pitcher. Maybe it's not always the right move, but I have a problem with saying it's never the right move. There are no absolutes in this game. If you're playing against a team that's struggling and you put a runner in scoring position late in the game, they're going to feel it a little more."

Obviously he means situationally, but I would describe Young’s historic GIDP rate as a situation of sorts. And while I honestly don’t believe he is destined to keep the current pace over the full 162, it’s not some minor detail the Phillies should continue to overlook, either.

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard and Tommy Joseph both start

Tonight's lineup: Ryan Howard and Tommy Joseph both start

Wednesday's matchup against floundering White Sox righty James Shields is a rare opportunity for Phillies manager Pete Mackanin to have both Ryan Howard and Tommy Joseph in the same lineup (see game notes). In an American League ballpark against a right-handed starter, Howard (DH) will bat cleanup and Joseph (1B) will hit sixth.

Howard, who is hitting .378 with five homers and 13 RBIs in August, sat out Tuesday's 9-1 loss (see game recap). The Phillies managed only five hits, as White Sox lefty Carlos Rodon stymied the team's offense.

Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera also return to the lineup. Herrera has four hits in six career at-bats against Shields. Overall, the Phillies have a .297 batting average against the veteran Sox starter. 

With Herrera and Hernandez back at the top of the order, Aaron Altherr moves down from second to seventh. Out of Altherr's 95 at-bats this season, only four have come from the seventh spot. Here is the full lineup:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Odubel Herrera, CF
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, DH
5. Cameron Rupp, C
6. Tommy Joseph, 1B
7. Aaron Altherr, LF
8. Freddy Galvis, SS
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

NFL Notes: Chargers withdraw offer to 1st-round pick Joey Bosa

NFL Notes: Chargers withdraw offer to 1st-round pick Joey Bosa

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Chargers have withdrawn their contract offer to first-round draft pick Joey Bosa and will restructure a new deal that takes into account his absence from the team.

The Chargers' statement Wednesday said they believe "Joey will be unable to contribute for the full 16-game season without the adequate time on the practice field, in the classroom, and in preseason games." They characterized their previous offers to the Ohio state defensive end as fair and structurally consistent with the contracts of every other Chargers player."

Bosa is the only first-rounder who has not signed with his team.

Negotiations stalled over when Bosa's $17 million bonus would be distributed and offset language in the contract.

San Diego said it offered an initial signing bonus payment larger than any draftee received in the last two drafts, and more money in 2016 than anyone draftee except Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (see full story).

Giants: Owner Mara 'comfortable' with Brown suspension
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A visibly shaken Giants owner John Mara said Wednesday he was fine with the NFL's suspension of placekicker Josh Brown for one game, despite allegations Brown abused his ex-wife as many as 20 times prior to the Giants signing Brown to a two-year extension last spring.

The 37-year-old Brown was arrested in May 2015, when he allegedly grabbed his ex-wife Molly by the throat and held her down with his knee in their Woodinville, Washington home. Brown was charged with fourth-degree domestic assault. Five days later, the King County prosecutor's office dropped the charges because of insufficient evidence. Brown's ex-wife reportedly dropped the charges.

After the NFL hit Brown with a one-game suspension instead of the six games mandated by the league's new personal conduct policy, Molly Brown told media she was physically accosted at least 20 times, including once when she was pregnant in 2009.

Vikings: Bridgewater expects to play Sunday 
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater says he'll play this weekend in the first game at the team's new stadium.

Bridgewater was coy after practice Wednesday about his shoulder injury, but he said "of course" when asked if he's expecting to take the field Sunday for the opener at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings host San Diego, and the third exhibition contest is typically when the starters play the longest in the preseason.

Last week at Seattle, Bridgewater was a surprise scratch from the lineup. Coach Mike Zimmer has refused to discuss his condition.

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Wednesday he didn't see any limitations with Bridgewater the day before.

Panthers: Rivera expects Short to get long-term deal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Coach Ron Rivera says defensive tackle Kawann Short is "too important a player" for the Panthers not to sign him to a long-term contract.

Short has one year remaining on his rookie deal. He's outperformed his current contract, recording 11 sacks last season while being named NFC Player of the Month twice.

Rivera said Wednesday that "somewhere along the line, those are good guys, they'll figure it out. I believe they will. ... (Short) likes where he is. We'll see where it all unfolds."

Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has a policy of not discussing contract negotiations in the media.

Gettleman also does not negotiate contracts once the regular season begins, so the Panthers essentially have two weeks to strike a deal.

Short said last month he has no plans to holdout.

Lane Johnson declares he's done taking supplements

Lane Johnson declares he's done taking supplements

No more supplements, Lane Johnson says. Those days are over.
 
Johnson, who faces a 10-game NFL suspension after a second positive test for a banned substance, said Wednesday he’s finished taking anything that could possibly put him at risk for a career-threatening third suspension.
 
Johnson claims the amino acid he ordered online and took was approved by the NFL but was tainted with a banned substance that didn't appear on the label, the so-called peptide found in Johnson’s sample.
 
Johnson also said he is planning to take legal action against the company that provided him with the amino acid.
 
“Going after them,” he said. “I have people on it to get it done.”

Johnson declined to identify the company that supplied him with the supplement.

Johnson was suspended for four games in 2014. A third suspension would result in a two-year ban.
 
“Seriously, I don’t want to have to go through this again,” Johnson said at his locker after practice Wednesday. “Unless something changes, the policy, I don’t trust anything.
 
“I can’t risk it. If it happens again, I miss two years and I’m just not going to risk that happening. I’m not taking any chances.

"Food and water. That's all I'm going to put in my system. Food and water. No supplements, no powders, nothing."
 
Johnson has been practicing with the second team and playing in the preseason games while he awaits his fate.

Johnson was the fourth pick in the 2013 draft, the Eagles' highest-drafted player since Donovan McNabb was the second pick in 1999.
 
Once Johnson’s B sample comes back — presumably positive, since Johnson has admitted taking the supplement — Johnson said he plans to appeal the suspension. But he said he doesn’t expect it to be reduced.
 
“Even if you prove it (was tainted), there’s nothing you can do,” he said.
 
It would be unusual for an NFL offensive lineman to not use any supplements at all.
 
“Look in everybody’s locker,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s got ‘em. But you just don’t know what’s really in them.”
 
Players say supplements help them not only to build strength and muscle but also in their recovery following games.
 
Johnson insists he can get by without them.
 
“You’ve got cold tubs, you’ve got different stuff you can do, foam rolling, soft tissue stuff,” he said. “There’s only limited (benefits) with that stuff. I think I’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, he waits.

“It’s like waiting for an execution date,” he said. “It’s been living hell the past month.”