Article By: Craig D'Alessandro
Its been the big topic in town since he showed up in Boston and started raking the ball; will Kevin Youkilis be Wally Pipp’d by Will Middlebrooks. (I’ll wait while you look up the significance of Wally Pipp on Wikipedia.)
If you listen to any of the shows that I have partaken in over the years, you know doubt have hear me singing of the praises of Middlebrooks, saying “look out for this kid in a couple years, he’s going to tear the cover off the ball” and look what happened this year, in the minors he did exactly that at Pawtucket, hitting .333, 9 home runs, 27 RBI’s and a OPS 1.057, obviously deserving of a shot to show his potential in the majors. The problem at the time was the Red Sox already had a franchise starter over at third and Kevin Youkilis, and when he was healthy, there was no way, knowing this organization the way I do, that they were going to start a kid down in AAA, regardless if he was the next big thing or not, over a long time starter, and yes, it’s a money thing.
But the stars seemed to align perfectly a few weeks ago when Youk’s back started to act up…again…and was placed on the 15 day DL. It was perfect, a star player goes down, and you bring up the hot prospect in the middle of his hot streak, and it ended up paying off immediately. There's no doubt that Will Middlebrooks started his major league career about as good as we would've liked to see. By adding him into the then-struggling Boston lineup, the Red Sox started to produce more runs and win more games. There in lies the problem though that we all do whether we like it or not, we see a star replacement come in over an injured player, and immediately question the future standing of the player he is replacing.
Think back to two years ago, when Daniel Nava was called up because the Red Sox were crippled with injuries all over the team, he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw in the majors, and everyone expected him to become the next Babe Ruth, and what happened? He cooled off tremendously and the starters got their jobs back, in fact, the last time he saw the majors is his current tour of duty, in which he is just as on fire as when he first came up.
And now look at our situation with Will Middlebrooks, his early surge allowed many to discuss the future of Kevin Youkilis in a Boston uniform and whether he'd have a job once he came off of the disabled list. I, for one, thought that trading away Youkilis was Boston's best option since Middlebrooks had been so hot.
The problem is I live in reality-ville and that is not a realistic achievement at this moment in time. The problem is Kevin Youkilis doesn't have ANY trade value at the moment, since he's been injured and didn't play well at all while he was healthy. The other problem is now Will Middlebrooks has cooled off mightily since his hot start and might need some time back in Triple-A Pawtucket.
Would it really be the worst thing if they optioned him back and allowed Youkilis to get some time?
Two weeks ago: Most fans would come after you with pitchforks and torches
Now: Probably the better idea.
In Middlebrooks' first 12 games of his career, he was hitting .300/.340/.640 with five doubles, four home runs and 14 RBI. Now, the bad thing is it seems as if he's starting to lose his touch and maybe his confidence at the plate, and other teams are starting to get a book on Middlebrooks and learn his approach to the plate. In his last six games, he's hitting under .200 and has struck out 12 times in 23 at-bats. That doesn't look good any way you try to put it.
The Red Sox are going to have to give Youkilis some time if they plan on dealing him before the trade deadline, which definitely is a possibility. Give him a couple weeks in order to reestablish his trade value and hopefully a decent deal lands on Ben Cherington's desk. Ideal trade scenarios would involve any of : The Diamondbacks, the Orioles, though I doubt that one, the Dodgers need a corner infeilder, the best fit as of right now, The Phillies, however, don’t rule out the possibility of a return to his hometown of Cincinnati .
This way, Boston can pickup some help, probably in the bullpen and they can still get the most out of their future third baseman.
Kevin Youkilis is currently doing rehab assignments in Triple-A Pawtucket, and a decision is going to have to be made rapidly.
What will Boston decide to do with the duo of Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks?
Thankfully, that’s not my decision to make.