Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thoughts On The Kevin Youkilis Trade


As you've no doubt heard by now the White Sox sent Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge to the Boston Red Sox for Kevin Youkilis. The trade did not come as a surprise, as I first mentioned the idea of the Sox going after Youkilis back at the end of May.

So how do I feel about this deal?

Well, on Saturday I got into it with some fans on Twitter about the idea of trading Matt Thornton to get Youkilis. It was a trade idea that would make the White Sox worse, not better, and you generally make trades to improve your team.

I hope now that fans see what the Sox actually had to give up for him, they understand this a bit better.

Now, I didn't think the Sox would give up a player from the Major League roster to get Youkilis. I was thinking it would be a mid-tier prospect or two. As it stands, I'm much happier with the Sox giving up Stewart and Lillibridge for him.

Zach Stewart came in the Edwin Jackson trade and he really never did anything to impress me. Last we saw him he was giving up bombs to the Cubs before being sent down to Charlotte.

He won't be missed.

Then there's Lillibridge who was fantastic for the Sox in 2011. He did just about everything and played incredibly well while doing so. Unfortunately, save for his spectacular catch in Saturday's game, that wasn't the case this season.

Lillibridge had struck out 26 times in 70 plate appearances (37% of the time) and had only one extra-base hit on the year. It's never a good thing when your OBP is higher than your slugging percentage, particularly when your OBP is .232.

While versatile, he's not really needed now that Youkilis is here. Jordan Danks fills the fourth outfielder role, and Eduardo Escobar can play outfield if he's absolutely needed. The only thing Lillibridge could do that Escobar and Orlando Hudson couldn't do is play first base. Now that Youkilis is here, the Sox still have three guys that can play first between Youk, Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

So, in short, the White Sox gave up nothing of any real value to them and got a player in return who might help out quite a bit.

Now, on to Youkilis himself.

For your own sakes, I suggest you don't expect Youkilis to come to Chicago and be the guy who gets on base nearly 40% of the time and rips doubles all over the field. That Kevin Youkilis doesn't exist anymore.

Instead we're getting a Youkilis who scouts say has lost quite a bit of bat speed, is not as solid a defender as he used to be, and has had a hard time staying healthy. Really, the only thing Youkilis has going for him with the White Sox is that he doesn't have to do a whole lot to be an improvement over Brent Morel and Orlando Hudson at third base.

If he hits .210 he's an improvement. So there's not a lot of pressure.

The best case scenario for the Sox is that Youkilis stays healthy and feels rejuvenated to be out of Boston, where it's been obvious he wasn't happy under Bobby Valentine. He finds that old stroke and patience and gives the Sox some production at third base that could help keep this team on top of the division.

The worst case scenario is that he gets hurt or he continues to struggle mightily and gives the Sox no improvement at third. If that does end up to be the case, the good news is the Sox don't really lose anything because of it from a baseball standpoint.

Again, they gave up nothing of value to land Youkilis. So all this trade can really do is improve the Sox or leave them exactly where they are.

So whether you wanted Youkilis here or not, this isn't the kind of trade you can be angered by if you look at it logically.

Now Kenny just needs to go out and find an arm. And he still has prospects to move to get them.

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