Kevin Youkilis, who Boston fans affectionately call "The Youkeh," has always been one of the most underrated players in baseball. It isn't till recently that the general fan population has really started to understand what the majority of us knew all along: the importance of OBP.
Since 2007, Youkilis has posted OBP's of .390-.410. The power comes and goes, but the one consistent thing you could say about Youkilis every year was that he was going to hit around .300 and have a walk rate of about 13% which leaves him with an OBP around .400.
The problems then began. New Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine made a comment to the media about Youkilis's performance saying in his estimation wasn't "as physically or emotionally into the game." Now, bypassing the cluelessness of the comments made by Valentine, it became apparent only five days later that Youkilis was dealing with a quad contusion, and then on April 29 he went on the DL for lower back tightness.
Here's where the problem came for the Red Sox. When Youkilis went to the DL they called up third-base prospect Will Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks is a pretty good prospect with good hitting ability except he doesn't walk very much and strike outs at too high of a clip.
The problem is Middlebrooks came up and tore it up from April 29 till May 21, which is the duration that Youkilis was on the DL. During that span, Middlebrooks hit .297/.327/.581 with 16 RBIs. Suddenly the Red Sox had a supposed problem on their hands, as now they had this third base prospect who the Red Sox expect to be a part of their future that was tearing it up.
When Youkilis came back, there was no room; he was getting old and his defense at third base was becoming a problem. Rumblings were also that he was not very liked in the Boston clubhouse, but that was just speculation.
Let's focus on the actual trade scenario that sent Youkilis packing to the White Sox. The White Sox were in dire need of a third baseman, as Brent Morel was not getting it done. The team then attempted to sign Orlando Hudson, one of the worst position players in baseball at his age, to be their third baseman. That failed too.
They found a solution when the Red Sox began to shop Youkilis. The official trade was Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart for Youkilis. Essentially the Red Sox got absolutely nothing for Youkilis. Stewart is nothing more than a failed, tossed around prospect (back of the rotation guy at best) and a utility player that can't really play any of the positions that well. He also refuses to take a walk.
Ultimately, Youkilis ends up in Chicago and immediately is inserted into the second slot in the batting order and has begun to tear it up for Chicago. Boston has been getting terrible production out of Middlebrooks, whom actually had only been on base 15 times since the trade (heading into the weekend series between the ChiSox and BoSox). The White Sox got their man and the Red Sox rid themselves of a possible clubhouse problem and aging veteran. An alleged win-win for both teams, the White Sox hold the obvious edge coming out of the deal and have a great player when he is able to stay healthy.
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