Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Should the DBacks Ditch Young?

When the Diamondbacks acquired Jason Kubel this offseason, the conventional wisdom concluded that Gerardo Parra was about to find his way out of Arizona. Well, that isn’t the case as the DBacks just locked up Parra for this season and have made clear that he isn’t leaving. This is a good decision on the part of Towers & Co. The outfield is still crowded, however, so someone should go. That someone just might be all-star Chris Young.

Young has made progress since becoming a full time starter in 2007. His strikeouts have slightly fallen while his walks have increased, leading to an OBP that has been trending upward since he was called up. In 2007, his OBP was .295 while his average over the last two years has been significantly better at .336. He’s still far from an on-base machine, but this shows his maturity at the plate. He’s a legit 30-30 guy and came close in 2010 when he went for 27 and 28. He’s a good fielder, too, posting above-average grades in centerfield. Last but not least, he’s signed through 2013 on a relatively team-friendly deal. So why should the Diamondbacks trade him? Gerardo Parra is too good to play off the bench, that’s why.

Parra is coming off his finest season as a pro and is starting to live up to his billing as a prospect. He won his first Gold Glove last year, albeit in LF, but he’s a fantastic defensive outfielder no matter where you stick him. He doesn’t quite have the pop that Young has but he hits for a higher average and has already showed significant maturity at the plate. His OBP last year was .357 in his age 24 season, showing that he has great strikezone judgment for such a young player. His on-base skills will be more valuable to the Diamondbacks from the leadoff spot than Young’s slugging. Arizona doesn’t need another slugger with a low average and relatively high strikeouts, they need a sparkplug for the offense and they already have one in the organization. To cap it off, Parra is about 6.5 million dollars cheaper this year and at least 7 million dollars cheaper in 2013. They could save $13+ million, net a decent prospect or two in return for a trade and probably improve their offense while also finding a place to play for their Gold Glove fielder. What’s not to like about that?

Simply put, Gerardo Parra is way too good to bring off the bench as a 4th outfielder. That’s a spot that can easily be given to a cheap journeyman or an up-and-comer. Parra’s performance has made Young expendable, which is a good thing for Arizona. The Nationals and others are in the market for centerfielders and if the DBacks aren’t currently shopping Young, they should be.

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