Many fans are understandably smitten, and want the Sox to trade Yook and had 3B to Middlebrooks. I sympathize with this view: Youkilis has looked old and slow this year, and I fear that his body will no longer enable him to play at the elite level that we're used to seeing him play. But it remains to be seen if Middlebrooks can keep up this torrid pace. Remember last year when Reddick was smashing the cover off of the ball and how quickly he cooled off? Even if Middlebrooks doesn't stop hitting, it's too soon to give up on Youkilis. After all, at his best, Youkilis is an excellent batter with fantastic plate discipline. Here's hoping that the "walking program" that he's started will get him back to normal!
Seriously, though - the Sox have a dilemma: how to keep Middlebrooks bat in the lineup? Some are suggesting that Middlebrooks play in the outfield, but as Peter Abraham writes: "Middlebrooks was a third baseman in high school and has played only third base professionally. Could he play the outfield? ... Generally speaking, Valentine said third baseman do not make good corner outfielders." So that's probably not a good idea. Youkilis himself certainly did not look good when the Sox tried him in left.
The best suggestion i've seen comes from Nick Carfado:
Here's what I would do with Youkilis: Can the Red Sox convince him to be their Michael Young? He could play some third, first, left field and DH. Maybe even some second base. With his bad back, I don't know if this is feasible, but it would be the best use of the talent.The question mark is his durability, but in a perfect world, this makes the most sense. Keep Middlebrooks excellent bat in the lineup on a daily basis (at least while he's hot), and have Youkilis as your utility guy, resting him and his bad back when you don't need him. The bonus with this plan: we'd be saved from watching the horrorshow that is Nick Punto at the plate.
What do you think?