Cliff Lee: What were the Rangers thinking?

(Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee is happy to be playing on the same team as Michael Young again, after the two reached the 2010 World Series with the Texas Rangers.

Cliff Lee is perplexed as to why Michael Young was available for the Phillies to acquire in a December trade.

"Great person, great teammate - I don't know anybody who wouldn't get along with him or wouldn't like him," Lee said on Monday. "He's the perfect teammate. . . . I enjoyed my time with him in Texas. He was the heart and soul of that team.

"I think they borderline took him for granted there."

The Rangers harbored concerns about Young's defensive play, promoting Elvis Andrus and acquiring Adrian Beltre to supplant him at shortstop and third base, respectively. As a result, Young was on and off the trade market during his last few years as with the Rangers.

"That baffled a lot of people around that organization," Lee said of the trade rumors. "He was the heart and soul of that team for a long time. I can't understand their thinking on a few of the moves they made with him. He's a really good player. I don't know why you wouldn't just let him do his thing.

"You never know their motives behind some of those things. You don't really have to understand it. They've got their reasons and their theories. They have a right to do whatever they want, really, as an organization. But in my opinion, you want guys like Michael Young around, and you want him to be happy. You want to let him go out there and do what he does.

"He never brings any problems to the scenario at all. I didn't personally understand it. But I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes."

When asked about Lee's comments later Monday, Young said: "I appreciate Cliff saying that. He's one of my favorite teammates and a good friend. That's what teammates do - pick each other up, have each other's backs. I would do the same for him. . . .

"As far as my time in Texas, I really do focus on the positive stuff. I had great teammates there. The fans were great to me for 12 years. I'll always appreciate that. But now it's in my rearview mirror. I have a new challenge in front of me. I couldn't be more excited to be part of this team, this group of guys."

Young produced below his career norms in 2010 and 2012 but led the majors in hits during the season in between, batting .338 with 11 home runs and 106 RBI. Young hit .248 in 34 postseason games with the Rangers, including trips to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.

The Rangers have reached the playoffs in each of the past three years, a team record.

"It all worked out the way they were doing it," Lee said. "They went to the World Series back to back years. It's hard to second-guess any of those decisions when you're in the World Series.

"I think it takes a special personality to handle it the way he did -- still go out on the field, give it 100 percent every time, not let that affect your play on the field. That's a credit to him as a person, a competitor and a baseball player."

Lee spent only half of one season with the Rangers, after arriving from the Seattle Mariners in a July 2010 trade. (He returned to Philadelphia, for whom he pitched in the '09 World Series, the following offseason as a free agent.) Though Lee played in Texas only three seasons ago, many of his former teammates - Young, Josh Hamilton, C.J. Wilson, Darren Oliver - aren't Rangers anymore.

"They've still got a pretty deep pool of players there," Lee said. "They've done a lot of things right over the past few years. I don't know how they acquired all of those players, whether it's the draft or trades, but whatever they've done has been pretty good. They've got something figured out.

"I've got to say that at the same time I'm saying it's hard to understand what they were doing with Michael Young. . . . You don't have to know everything that's going on behind the scenes. The fact of the matter is they've fielded a pretty good team."

After a one-year playoff hiatus, the Phillies are trying to do the same in 2013. And Lee believes Young will be "huge" for his new team. Young is slated to be Philadelphia's everyday third baseman, a job he hasn't performed on a regular basis since 2010.

Young's debut with the Phillies will mark the first time he has played in the majors for a team other than the Rangers.

"He's like Chase (Utley) in a lot of ways," Lee said. "He does everything the right way, plays hard, never takes a single second off during the game. He's positive. He's a great teammates and a leader. Definitely in Texas, he was the leader on the team. He was the guy.

"To have a personality or player like that on our team makes us that much better. I can't say enough about him. He was the heart and soul of the Rangers for a while, and they were a pretty good team."


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