Youkilis To Tribe Is A Good Fit
Mike B. | On 28, Oct 2011
The Indians have made trades with the Red Sox in the past. Usually, the Tribe finds themselves trading a player in their prime for young players and the promise of development and the future, such was the case a couple years ago when Victor Martinez was dealt for Justin Masterson and Nick Hagadone.
What if this year, the shoe was on the other foot and the Indians dealt for a player from a big market team?
Fresh off their second straight season out of the playoffs, and a colossal September meltdown, the Boston Red Sox saw architect of the 2004 and 2007 World Series teams, Theo Epstein, leave for the Chicago Cubs this week. New general manager Ben Cherington is left to retool a team with several long term, eight figure contracts. The team has had to answer questions regarding players not getting along with one another, drinking in the clubhouse and according to David Ortiz, “too much drama.” Changes are surely to take place this winter in Boston. A shake up is on the horizon.
In recent days rumors have begun to circulate that Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury no longer see eye to eye and the team has begun to split into one of the two camps. Ellsbury just had his first 30 home run, 30 stolen base season and is four and a half years younger. Ellsbury is just entering his prime and a player any retooling project will be built around. If either is leaving Beantown, it’s Youkilis. Rumors have already circulated that he could soon be on the trading block.
Youkilis, an Ohio native, is coming off his worst year as a full time player, hitting only .258, with 17 home runs and 80 runs batted in. After the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez last winter, Youkilis was moved from his customary first base over to third. The extra wear and tear of the hot corner could have led to an injury riddled season for Youkilis. While the Red Sox swooned in September, a sports hernia and left hip bursitis kept him sidelined.
If the Red Sox were willing to part ways with Youkilis, several teams would be interested, but he is signed for 2012 at $12 million, with a team option for 2013 at $13 million. That’s the exact time frame the Tribe has established their window to compete. The Tribe could move Youkilis back to his comfort zone at first base, relieve some of the stress of the hot corner and hope he rebounds from his subpar season.
Nicknamed the, “Greek God of Walks,” years ago by Billy Beane, Youkilis has always been a high on base percentage player. He would fill the Indians two biggest needs, a right handed, middle of the order bat and a first baseman, while still creating the flexibility to allow Carlos Santana to occasionally play first as well. Youkilis could always play third base against a tough lefty to give Lonnie Chisenhall a break.
Putting Youkilis in the middle of the Indian lineup, along with other high OBP players, Santana and Travis Hafner, could be the birth of a potent offense. An offense that has excellent plate awareness and full of power can be an offense to give any pitcher fits. Putting a healthy Youkilis, hitting .300, with 25 home runs and 100 runs batted in, in the middle of the order could be the catalyst.
Despite his poor season, the asking price could still be high. Several teams would be interested if Boston became serious about moving the slugger. The Red Sox are in need of starting pitching and might be interested in someone like Fausto Carmona. It might be easy to make that move at face value, but moving Carmona would leave the Tribe starting rotation thin heading into next year. It would be tough to believe Jeanmar Gomez, Zach McAllister or David Huff could be the centerpiece of any trade of this stature.
Another possibility could be to try and offer Chisenhall to the Red Sox. If Boston moved Youkilis, a young developing third baseman could ignite some trade interest. Boston could be willing to let him develop for a year while they try to alleviate themselves of some poor contracts. That, of course, would open a hole at third base the Tribe would probably have to fill via free agency.
Regardless of asking price, if the Red Sox are willing to consider moving Youkilis, the Indians would have to make a serious inquiry. He fits the team’s needs in too many ways. And in this “all-in” two year window, there is no turning back now.
Besides, it might be nice to be on the other end of one of these trades.
Photo: NY Daily News