Youkilis changes his Sox
Kevin Youkilis has long embodied the very essence of the Boston Red Sox. An underdog, a fighter; these are the things that spring to mind when you hear his name. As of yesterday, he is a member of the BoSox no longer, having been traded to Chicago and the AL Central-leading White Sox.
His tenure in Beantown ended in storybook fashion: a triple, followed by a curtain call and a standing ovation from the Fenway faithful. In the seventh inning manager Bobby Valentine was informed of the trade, and that marked the last inning for Youkilis. He was dealt to the ChiSox in exchange for utility-man Brent Lillibridge and pitcher Zach Stewart.
It didn’t have to end this way.
It was well-known that Youkilis did not always see eye to eye with Valentine. Then again, who does? Things have gone from bad to worse since the former ESPN analyst took over as manager. Instead of calming the egos in the Sox locker room, he has just become yet another. He has alienate his players, the fan-base and countless others. Benching Youkilis for three straight games was the final straw. The nine-year veteran let it be known he was unhappy and now he is gone. David Ortiz is left as the only player remaining from the 2004 World Series Champions.
Yes Will Middlebrooks is probably better at this point, and deserves to be the starter. That being said, one can’t overlook the versatility of Youkilis and also his intangibles. If he were to see a little more time at first and as the designated hitter to go along with being the back up at third, he would probably have continued to be a good soldier. His presence will be missed in the locker room, even by the man that replaced him.
“It was truly an honor playing with and learning from Youk… He’s the definition of a professional. Played the game right,” said Middlebrooks, who credited Youk with teaching him to play the game the way it should be.
In this trade, the Sox gain a savvy playoff veteran who can start immediately at third. Brent Morel has been hampered by injuries all season. Not only is Youkilis a good fielder, but also a power bad to add to the middle of their lineup. His versatility could also prove useful.
“There is no way we are not a better team with Kevin Youkilis,” White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. “He is just too good of a player and has been through all the wars and is still relatively a young guy. We just have to keep him on the field. If that is the case, it could be one of the bigger steals of the season.”
As to where this leaves the Red Sox. Lillibridge is versatile, but is only hitting .175 this season. His OBP is only .232 is lower than Youkilis’s batting average (.233). It is hard to call him a project at 28, but he is still unproven. Stewart is a little younger (25), but is also ineffective in the big leagues. His ERA is 6.oo, and he has struggled with command.
These players hardly seem like fair compensation. Now the BoSox are left with a hole. Not only on their roster, but in their locker room and the very heart of the city. Youkilis is one of the few that last season wasn’t accused of selfishness. He always gave his all and tried to do what’s best for the team. He refused to give in (even when the temptation of chicken and beer was strong). That mentality is what made the Red Sox able to break their curse. That mentality is something the current club is missing.
Boston is currently only a game from the cellar in the uber-competitive AL East. Now, they will be forced to make the treacherous climb without the savvy vet. A Yankee killer. Someone they surely could have used. Perhaps yet another curse is looming. After all, the last one also began with an ill-advised trade.
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