If you trade Kevin Youkilis it might come back and bite you.
If you trade Kevin Youkilis you open yourself up to a lot of criticism.
Let me rephrase that, it will come back to bite you (looking at you, Red Sox brass). Will Middlebrooks has been everything the Red Sox wanted and more and all that sappy bahooey, but Middlebrooks is a rookie. Most rookies hit a wall. And, just a hypothetical thought here, what if that wall comes blaring into view at say the beginning of September? And so potential savior goes to potential goat in a matter of months. (That sounded better in my head, but we’ll go with it.) I’m not saying that the whole season falls on Middlebrooks, but if you look at that lineup, they need the offensive firepower. Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are great. But look at the rest of that lineup sans Middlebrooks and the previous three: Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Aviles, Jared Saltalamacchia and the now-injured Cody Ross. Not exactly death row there. This has 2010 Detroit Tigers written all over it. The big bat(s) protection gets hurt- Detroit: Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen. Boston: Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Youkilis- and as a result the big bat(s) intentional walk numbers swell, and they get pitched around to a point where it isn’t even funny. The moral of the story with the Tigers is that they never recovered and finished at .500.
The flipside is that if Middlebrooks hits a wall sooner, or doesn’t hit a wall at all (sorry, the rhyme was accidental) the offense is still lacking. And it’s not as if the pitching is the team’s calling card. Felix Doubront has been nice, but Daniel Bard really should be back in the bullpen, and Clay Buchholz has been horrendous. So if Youkilis is dealt, for say pitching, then you’ve got a potentially mondo-sized hole at third. If you’re following along at home you aren’t mistaken. The next third baseman in line, should Middlebrooks struggle and Youkilis be dealt, is Mike Avilies who is starting at shortstop. Either way you slice it, Nick Punto gets into the lineup regularly and that probably helps opposing managers gain sleep rather then lose it. (No offense to Punto, great defender, but not so great with the lumber.) To give you an idea, Punto hit one more homerun than I did for the champs last year. Which, after you count all the 500 foot bombs I hit, leaves Punto with one.
Ross’s injury makes it even more apparent. Don’t deal Youkilis. You (the Red Sox) need the offense. Not to mention the fact that he’s a proven commodity.