Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Middlebrooks or Youkilis?

Will Middlebrooks has been lighting it up in his MLB debut with the Red Sox. For perspective, note that he's had at least one extra-base hit in each of his first five major league games (two singles, four doubles, and three home runs) - and that's with just the one at-bat last night!.

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?


  1. Kevin Youkilis has appeared in 18 games for the Red Sox this year. He has hit 2 home runs and driven in 9 RBIs.

    Will Middlebrooks has appeared in 5 games for the Red Sox this year. He has hit 3 home runs and driven in 9 RBIs.

    Yes, Middlebrooks will cool down. But things will have to change drastically before Youkilis looks like the preferred choice for 3B.

    This is all complicated by the fact that Youkilis is in the fourth year of his contract. I find it hard to believe that the Sox would pick up the $13 million option for a fifth year. So, they have a choice between keeping him around for 2012 and letting him walk, or trade him now and try to get something of value.

    I'd love to see Youk stick around. But the Sox really don't need someone to occasionally cover 3B. While Middlebrooks does seem prone to injury, both Aviles and Punto can play that position. And over on 1B, Adrian Gonzalez has proven to be plenty durable.

    My guess is they trade him. One team that could sorely use him is the Washington Nationals. They have been dealing with a slew of injuries to their first basemen (Chris Marrero, Adam LaRoche) and third basemen (Ryan Zimmerman, Mark DeRosa).

  2. You make a good point about his contract. Combine the fact that there's no logic behind paying Youkilis $13 million next year with the current state of the team (losing and losing badly), I suspect they'll try to move him and see what they can get back. It's a shame, but c'est la vie - i'll just have to teach my kids to yell something other than "YOOOOOK!" when I ask them who's #20...