Good bye, Youk.
It’s a sorrowful day for Red Sox Nation, although if you read the media accounts you could be forgiven if you thought the Sox had actually won the lottery when they traded Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox yesterday. I beg to differ.
Leave it to the Red Sox front office to trade a player one year removed from the All-Star squad to a team they may be vying with for a playoff berth. And did they save money in this deal? A whopping $1 million (which may be a lot to me, but is shoe scrapings to the Red Sox). Did they get some good young prospects? Nope. Just an oft-traded pitching bust, and a marginal utility player.
And why did they make this trade? Because it was easier than actually talking with Youk about a new, reduced roll with the team: super pinch-hitter, reliable and capable back up at first and third base, and credible DH against tough left-handed pitchers.
Would he have liked this roll? No. But if nothing else, Youk has demonstrated an admirable willingness to put the team’s interests ahead of his own. He rode the bus back and forth to Pawtuckett several times early in his career. He played third, then moved to first when that served the team. He played the outfield when it was in the best interests of the team to put David Ortiz at first. He moved back to third base to make way for Adrian Gonzalez. Somehow I think he would have managed to transition to a new roll if someone in the organization had said to him, “Youk, we need you on this team, and here is what we need you to do.” But by accounts that didn’t happen. What did happen is his new manager publicly questions his work ethic and commitment.
Kevin Youkilis is the epitome of everything you want in a professional athlete. He is an intense, hard-worker who put everything into being better than anyone ever projected he’d be. In my view he will always be one of the ten greatest Red Sox.
This whole episode, from start to finish, is one more reason I’m sceptical that Ben Cherington has what it takes to really be a successful GM. The right outcome here was to keep the All Star on your roster, or at least get something of actual value in return. Instead Cherington took the expedient route out of this problem, trading Youk to a playoff rival for a virtual box of balls. I guess we should be grateful he didn’t include Daniel Bard and the promise of a year’s worth of free washes for Kenny Williams‘ car.
Anyway, I wish the best to Kevin. I suspect he’s going to make even the dopes in the Red Sox front office regret this move before the end of the season.