A great team needs a great leader–particularly a team rich in young talent. The Texas Rangers had the perfect guy to fill that role for the last several seasons in Michael Young, but the the ball club will need to find a way to move on without their former all-star infielder as Young, who had been in Arlington since 2000, is now with the Philadelphia Phillies. There is no doubt that, despite some up and downs on the field, the long-time face of the franchise will be missed, particularly for what he brought to the locker room.
With several major off-season moves and misses, the Rangers find themselves trying to establish a new identity, and therefore are certainly in need of someone to step up and lead this team back to the top of the American League. Do they have anyone that can take Young’s place in that role?
The most obvious choice would be second baseman Ian Kinsler. Having been with the Rangers since 2006, he seems to be the perfect one to step up and fill the leadership void; last season, along with Young, we saw glimpses of Kinsler’s ability to do just that.
But Kinsler isn’t alone. This team is full of veterans that bring their own experiences and strengths to the team: Lance Berkman, though it’s just his first year with the Rangers, will have a lot to offer some of the younger sluggers on the roster. Returning closer Joe Nathan, though one of the oldest pitchers currently in the game, still has a lot to teach a young pitching staff looking to break out this season. Additionally, veterans Adrian Beltre, David Murphy, and newly acquired catcher A.J. Pierzynski–in addition to Kinsler–all have what it takes to help shape this team and lead some of the younger talent.
Yes, Michael Young, as the former emotional leader of this team, will no doubt be incredibly hard to replace in the locker room. Fortunately for the Texas Rangers, there are several players who will be more than able to step up and work together to lead the team as they try to get things turned back around this season.