Is there a rift between Rangers, Young?

Williams: Rift between Rangers, Young?

What's the problem with Michael Young and the Texas Rangers' front office? That's the million-dollar question. From the outside looking in, you wonder if there's a conflict of personalities somewhere.

I can't possibly see the conflict being between Young and team president and co-owner Nolan Ryan, due to the fact that Ryan is an old-school baseball guy. And old-school baseball people want players who show up ready to play the game the right way every day. Young does those things at a very high level.

The signing of free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre is a direct slap to the face of Young, who was the everyday third baseman on a team that reached the World Series last year. And it is not the first time the Rangers have asked Young to switch positions. Young began his career with the Rangers as a second baseman and moved to shortstop when the Rangers traded Alex Rodriquez to the Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano.

Then the Rangers had a hotshot rookie shortstop, Elvis Andrus, they wanted to bring up, so they asked Young to move to third base, which he did for the good of the team. After two years at third base, the Rangers go out and sign Beltre, who is widely considered one of the best third basemen in the game.

How Young's 2010 stacks up
Category Career average 2010 season
Games played 150 157
At bats 616 656
Runs scored 92 99
Hits 185 186
Doubles 35 36
Triples 5 3
Home runs 16 21
RB's 81 91
Stolen bases 8 4
Walks 45 50
Strikeouts 100 115
Batting average .300 .284
OBP .347 .330
Slugging% .448 .444
OPS .795 .774
Total bases 276 291

Why? Certainly not because Young's production has slipped; just look at the numbers.

Clearly, Young is not on the decline. If there's one knock on his game, it's the 19 errors he committed in 2010, the second season at third base for the six-time All-Star. Young's consistency over a 10-year period is amazing, yet he is being replaced by a player who is an absolute model of inconsistency. Beltre is a good player; he's had two great seasons in his 13-year career -- both in the final year of a contract.

That brings me back to my original question.

Why?

I have two theories on this: Either the Rangers signed Beltre to block the Angels from getting him, or there is a serious personality conflict. Either way, Young has every right to be upset and feel disrespected.

Perhaps the better solution would have been making Young the first baseman and having Mitch Moreland and Mike Napoli platoon at designated hitter. The Rangers are a better team, offensively and defensively, if Young is on the field every day.

If Young stays with the Rangers, they are my pick to win the AL West again. If the Rangers trade him, Oakland will be my pick.

I am a huge believer in the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach. Young is a leader in the clubhouse and on the field. He is the Derek Jeter of the Texas Rangers. Those types of players don't just fall out of trees.

Mitch Williams is a studio analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.