Kevin Youkilis could be a ‘steal’ for White Sox
BY TONI GINNETTI email@example.com June 24, 2012 10:26PM
Kevin Youkilis breaks his bat on a single Sunday. He also tripled in his final game with the Red Sox. | Michael Dwyer~AP
2003: In Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball, Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane referred to Kevin Youkilis as the “Greek God of Walks.”
2006: In his first season as a full-time player with the Red Sox, Youkilis hit .279 with 13 home runs, 72 RBI and a career-high 91 walks, seventh-most in the American League.
2007: Youkilis didn’t figure prominently in the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series winner, but he was an integral part of the ’07 champs. He hit .288 and earned a Gold Glove at first base.
2008: He finished third in AL MVP voting after career highs in batting average (.312), home runs (29) and RBI (115).
2009: In January, Youkilis signed a four-year, $41.13 million deal with a team option for 2013. He also was hit by a pitch a career-high 16 times. One of them resulted in a five-game suspension after he charged the Tigers’ Rick Porcello.
2011: After being moved to first base with the arrival of Mike Lowell in 2006, Youkilis was back at third with the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez.
YOUKILIS THIS SEASON
Updated: July 26, 2012 6:23AM
The White Sox might look back on their acquisition of Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis on Sunday ‘‘as a real steal’’ if the 33-year-old helps re-ignite the offense and solidifies the corner defense.
That was team captain Paul Konerko’s view as the White Sox assessed the news of the trade that sent utility player Brent Lillibridge and pitcher Zach Stewart to the Red Sox for the three-time All-Star after a rousing 1-0, 10-inning victory against the Milwaukee Brewers.
‘‘Anyone who’s played in Boston or New York and gone through it, their whole season is in a fishbowl. That can only help us here,’’ Konerko said. ‘‘Any pitcher will tell you he’s one of the toughest at-bats in the American League. It could be a real steal when you look back on it.’’
For now, Sox general manager Ken Williams’ aim is to anchor third base after the loss of Brent Morel to back problems and to add punch to an offense that has sputtered in June.
‘‘I commend the spirit and the job Orlando Hudson has done for us up to this point,’’ Williams said of the second baseman he acquired as a stopgap after Morel’s injury. ‘‘Very simply, we needed to fill the position.
‘‘As far as adding some stability and the offense Kevin can provide, we felt it was necessary and necessary to do it sooner than later. The deal made sense from a talent standpoint and financial standpoint.’’
The Red Sox are picking up more than $5.6 million of an estimated $7 million remaining on Youkilis’ 2012 contract.
The nine-year veteran, who was an integral part of the Red Sox’ 2007 World Series champions, told Williams he was ‘‘very excited to join the team.
‘‘I think he’ll bring a little edge to our team,’’ Williams said. ‘‘I think he wants to prove some people wrong.’’
Youkilis’ playing time had declined this season as the Red Sox turned to rookie Will Middlebrooks at third base. Youkilis is hitting .233 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 42 games. He spent 15 days on the disabled list in May with lower-back spasms.
‘‘We were given a good bill of health,’’ Williams said. ‘‘He [said he] hasn’t felt this good physically in a long time.’’
Youkilis is a career .286 hitter with 133 home runs and 563 RBI. He won a Gold Glove in 2007 as a first baseman, and he was an All-Star in 2008, 2009 and 2011.
‘‘You have to give up good players to get good ones,’’ manager Robin Ventura said of dealing Lillibridge, 28, and Stewart, 25, who was sent to Class AAA Charlotte last week. ‘‘As much as we hate seeing Lilli go because he does a lot for us, you have to do that. Youk is a professional. He’s done it.’’
Hudson will become a utility player.
‘‘It’s baseball,’’ Hudson said. ‘‘If I was a GM, I’d make the same trade. I’m not the best third baseman over there. Plus, I’m not swinging the bat well [.170].’’
The deal was announced moments after the White Sox scored the winning run, moving them back into first place in the American League Central, a half-game ahead of the Cleveland Indians.
The victory went to reliever Brian Bruney (1-0), but the pitching star was rookie left-hander Jose Quintana. He extended his scoreless-innings streak to 16, holding the Brewers to six hits in eight innings.
‘‘There’s no doubt he’s shown himself to be a major-league pitcher, but we have to assess our entire situation,’’ Williams said of needs the team might yet have.
‘‘I think at this point in time, we owe it to our fans and the men in that clubhouse to try to be the best team we could possibly be. I lean on the coaching staff and Robin quite a bit in terms of the makeup of the club. We’ll cross those bridges [on more moves] when we get there.’’