In a way, it’s sort of reminiscent of when the Dodgers got Jim Thome at the waiver deadline in 2009 — a move that happened exactly four years ago tonight. Granted, we’re talking about two completely different players. Thome was purely a designated hitter at that point in his career, and it seemed strange that the National League Dodgers wanted him, even though they got him from the Chicago White Sox for a minor league infielder named Justin Fuller, who played one more season before hanging it up.
Michael Young, even though he has played most of his career in the American League, is a classic N.L. player, a guy who can play first base, third base and maybe even his original position of shortstop, where he once won a Gold Glove. He is a guy who, as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said, can be mixed and matched into the lineup or into games off the bench. He could be an everyday starter, but the Dodgers don’t need him for that. But like Thome, they got him for, basically, not a lot — a left-hander from Pasadena and UCLA named Rob Rasmussen who originally was a second-round draft pick of the Marlins and was in his first season with the Dodgers, going a combined 3-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 24 starts and four relief appearances at Triple-A Albuquerque and Double-A Chattanooga.
And really, the Dodgers picked up Young for much the same reason they picked up Thome back in 2009 — he’s a veteran who has been through the wars, has considerable postseason experience and, presumably, has a lot of wisdom to impart.
And if he gets a key hit somewhere along the way, well, that’s OK too.
“When you get to this time of year, sometimes one swing of the bat or one at-bat can help you win a game,” Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti had said on Friday, before any of us even knew he was talking to the Phillies about Young.
Meanwhile, assuming he’s accepting of his role — and you can be absolutely certain his role was presented to him before he agreed to waive his no-trade rights — it’s a good deal for Young, as well. He’s essentially coming home, having grown up in Covina and attended Bishop Amat High School in La Puente. He’s said to have been a Dodgers fan as a kid. And after 14 years in the big leagues, he’s still hungry for his first World Series ring — the kind of hunger that can only come from having come so tantalizingly close, as his Texas Rangers team did two years ago when they took a 3-2 lead into Game Six and two-run leads into both the bottom of the ninth and the bottom of the 10th before letting it slip away, and then losing a lopsided Game 7 to the St. Louis Cardinals.
It isn’t going to cost the Dodgers a lot of money, at least not by the stratospheric standards of what they now consider to be “a lot of money.” And it absolutely didn’t cost them much in terms of players. And given that Mattingly made it clear, with Colletti sitting next to him at the front of the interview room, that he sees Young as a guy to fill in for other guys, we can be reasonably assured the move won’t mess with team chemistry.
So, I guess, why not?