I come across a lot of interesting photos on my dashboard each day, and lately I’ve taken an interest into adding context to a lot of them.
Such as why Nelson Mandela is pictured above in a Detroit Pistons warm-up jacket?
The context: in 1990, the South African liberation leader arrived in Detroit as part of his U.S. tour, where he was celebrated by employees at the Ford River Rouge automobile plant as a hero for working people.
The rest of the day included functions with the mayor and other city leaders, and culminated with a rally at Tiger Stadium, where the sold out crowd paid tickets up to $10,000 to hear Mandela.
It’s definitely a lot easier to get the home crowd on your side when you’re representing the Bad Boy Pistons at the height of their popularity.
photo via up north trips
A few days ago, the Mets signed former Diamondback outfielder Chris Young to a 1 year $7.5M deal. While this may have Met fans in shambles already, because it’s not what they call a “big money” deal and or player, it shouldn’t, because that’s utterly silly to say before winter meetings begin. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and I are on the same page with this signing; this signing could potentially become one of the most underrated signings of this offseason (the Met fan in me can sense the bias, but it’s all fine and dandy), along with with the signing of ace Josh Johnson, now of the Padres, for 1 year $8M.
Of course, fans in the New York market are already overreacting to the name Chris Young. They’ll look at him as diminutive and puny based on his statistics from last year and the year before. Certainly, Young’s track record isn’t impressive by any means, aside from his best season in 2010, in which he belted 27 homers and drove in 91 RBI’s, but that doesn’t mean he won’t surprise you with decent play this upcoming season.
Young is now 30. He may not replace Juan Lagares’ speed facet at center field, who’s entering his second year due to age, but he still has the glove in him. With the Athletics last year, Young split his time between Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick, playing in 54 of his 107 games at his primary position in center field. If someone were to give him a bad evaluation as a corner outfielder, that would be unfair, because the bulk of his games were played at center field. Maybe it might be time for Young to switch up positions.
Come the regular season, when Terry Collins is looking at his lineup card, contemplating on where he should play Chris Young, he should look into playing Young in right field full time. Fellow Young in left field Eric Young Jr. injected pugnacious baserunning that the Mets heavily needed on offense with his Tim Raines-like speed, hence his league leading 46 stolen bases last season, proving to be a great find by GM Sandy Alderson, after he traded away Collin McHugh, a first round draft pick that never panned out, for Young. Young (CHRIS. TOO MANY YOUNGS!!!) will probably play there for a fair amount of next season, but putting him in right field sounds like a better idea.
Recently, there have been reports of Lucas Duda being on the trading block along with my favorite Met, Ike Davis. As much as I like Lucas Duda (he gave me a thumbs up in between an at-bat at a game once out in right field) I can’t see the Mets going forward with him. Replacing Duda with Young would be absolutely imperative. Although Young’s bat has been substandard for the past couple of seasons, Duda’s bat wasn’t any better. And besides, Duda is perhaps the most sluggish member of the Mets outfield in terms of speed, which wouldn’t compliment well with the young, budding speedy outfield the Mets have at the moment. For one thing, Duda’s dWAR was in the negatives at -2.1 as well as being a very inconsistent power hitter, batting a measly .223 last year with 15 homers and 33 RBI’s in 101 games. That doesn’t bode well.
The addition of Young will make the Mets’ outfield an even bigger powerhouse on the defensive end. Stat geeks, unite. In 2011, Young lead the league in defensive WAR with 2.6, as well as leading the league in total zone runs with 19. On the other hand, Juan Lagares can compliment Young on defense. He had a 3.6 defensive WAR, which was ranked 5th in the league last year, and saved 26 total runs. Both of those statistics are indicative of his lockdown defense. It was a huge revelation to see that Lagares wasn’t even nominated for a gold glove, despite his defensive wizardry out in center field. But at the end of the day, the gold glove is generally a popularity contest to begin with, exactly like the All-Star game. It’s no big deal.
Chris Young’s name isn’t an alluring name by any means. But if people are complaining so much about the move, see Marlon Byrd from last year. It was just another one of those “oh, I remember this guy… he was great five years ago…he sucks now…PED user…yadda yadda yadda.” No one really expected extreme production (.291/.336/.511/4.0 WAR), yet, any production from Byrd, ho-hum production if any, since he was literally on the free agent market for the longest time. It was a $700K gamble, and it ended up working out really well, even when they traded him to the Pirates (ugh…of course). The Young signing is one of the many-and-many-more-to-come Sandy Alderson hidden gem signings of this offseason. My note to you, Met fans: Picture Chris Young as the 2014 Marlon Byrd, but at approximately $7M more.