Make Or Break Year: Kevin Youkilis

The Red Sox are among baseball's most disappointing teams so far this season, due in part to injury. Closer Andrew Bailey, outfielders Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury, and starters John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are among the players the team has lost for a significant length of time already in 2012. Boston also lost Kevin Youkilis, an important right-handed bat in their lefty heavy lineup.

Uspw_6196732Youkilis, 33, is currently on the disabled list with a lower back strain. It's his fifth trip to the DL in the last four years, part of a laundry list of injuries that includes an oblique strain (2009), thumb surgery (2010), back tightness (2011), and a sports hernia (2011). Since the start of the 2010 season, Youkilis has played in just 240 of 352 possible games (68.2%).

Prior to being placed on the DL, Youkilis had a .219/.292/.344 batting line in 72 plate appearances. Dating back to last year's All-Star break, he's produced a .205/.307/.345 batting line in 231 plate appearances. His performance during his peak years – .308/.404/.560 from 2008-2010 – appears to be very much a thing of the past right now. A player with injury concerns and declining performance as he approaches his mid-30s usually isn't someone a team tries to keep around.

To make matters worse for Youkilis, the Red Sox have a ready-made third base replacement already in-house. Top prospect Will Middlebrooks has burst onto the scene with three homers and four doubles in his six games with Boston, continuing the hot streak that saw him hit nine homers in 24 games in Triple-A games before being recalled. Baseball America ranked Middlebrooks as the 51st best prospect in the game before the season, and the 23-year-old is doing his best to show the team he deserves to play the hot corner on the full-time basis.

The Red Sox owe Youkilis $12MM this season and hold a $13MM club option for his services next year ($1MM buyout). It's seems very unlikely that they'll exercise the option at this point, though the decision still isn't due for another seven months or so. A lot can change between now and then. Youkilis is in a difficult position as an injury-prone and declining player with a young hotshot rookie ready to take his job. If the Red Sox decline to bring him back in 2013, his stock as a free agent will be poor without a strong return from this latest back ailment.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

57 Responses to Make Or Break Year: Kevin Youkilis Leave a Reply

  1. How is it a “make or break” year for Youk? He might get traded, but he already made it.

    • 2 World Series. Gold Glover. All star. Not a Red Sox fans but yeah no kidding he has made it…

    • Lunchbox45 3 years ago

      Next week.. Make or break year, Roy Halladay 

    •  U-kill-us has already proven himself. The only “break” in his career is whether his body holds up.

  2. trade him to the phillies. 

    • Phillies_Aces35 3 years ago

       I don’t know if I’d trade Cole Hamels for him… (at least straight up) I mean, he was a great
      player but his performance and injury history recently would make it a
      steal for the Red Sox.

      • MaineSox 3 years ago

        No, likely not straight up, but I could see a trade centered around him making sense for both teams.  It would help that he has a cheap option for next year as well (while Hamels is only under contract until the end of this year).

        • LioneeR 3 years ago

          Cheap option?  13 million isn’t cheap even to the Red Sox and Phillies.

          • MaineSox 3 years ago

            For a guy who was on pace for 5+WAR for the fourth straight year before getting hurt last year it is very cheap.

            The WAR to $ conversion isn’t perfect by any means, but on average guys are getting about $5.5M per WAR, so to be worth that $13M option Youkilis would only have to be able to put up about 2.3 WAR, or just barely better than a league average player.  He can do that no problem.

  3. Yanksfan2010 3 years ago

    It would be strange to see him in another team uniform. He was a big part for the Red Sox winning to two World Series rings. I still think he could bounce back and show his good hitting play again.

  4. cookmeister 3 years ago

    How about a Youk for Ervin Santana type swap?  obviously would need to exchange some money and/or prospects to even it out but i could kind of see it happen.

    • But where would Youk fit into that lineup? Like defensively. They already have to play Trumbo in 4 different positions to get him ABs

      • Tko11 3 years ago

        The Angels really need to trade Trumbo or trade Morales to get Trumbo a spot to play because he is a pretty good hitter. Just off the top of my head, the Phillies might be interested in Morales? He can play first until Howard comes back and then the outfield. That would give them some much needed offense….

    • Tko11 3 years ago

      Good luck trying to trade an 0-6 pitcher with a crazy era. Although he does get no run support…Youk is worth more.

      • Ben_Cherington 3 years ago

        Santana would be our number three, and santana is worth more

        • Tko11 3 years ago

          Thats cause our pitching sucks lol but thats really irrelevant. Santana worth more than Youk? He is terrible, he gave up 12 homeruns this year already!!! 

          • PhillyT 3 years ago

            so he had 4 bad starts to start the year so what?

          • Tko11 3 years ago

            Hes had 1-2 good years…hes a number 4 pitcher or a 3 in a bad rotation. Honestly Id rather have Johan Santana than Ervin. 

          • PhillyT 3 years ago

            I think everyone would rather have Johan over Ervin…..

          • RFsnapple 3 years ago

             But that does not come by trading Youkilis.

          • Ben_Cherington 3 years ago

            he would fit right in!

          • Ben_Cherington 3 years ago

            yeah that was kind of my point.  Hell, he might be our ace

      • cookmeister 3 years ago

        an ERA of 5 isnt crazy, and his run support thus far has been worst in the league (before his last start he had 5 starts with 0 runs).  not saying it would happen, but i thought it would be a somewhat interesting swap

        • Tko11 3 years ago

          It is crazy…I mean its a small sample so far but it has been really ugly. The run support is not that important because he hasnt pitched well anyway. This trade would depend on the prospects…

  5. 04Forever 3 years ago

    People once said this about David Ortiz… that panned out. Youk has earned the right to ‘a few’ second chances.

    • notsureifsrs 3 years ago

      ortiz is very much an exception to the rule. having said that, there’s reason to believe youkilis could sustain a high level of offensive output if he were only a DH like ortiz

  6. Metsfan4ever 3 years ago

    Youk is getting old the Redsoxs have to get something out of this guy otherwise they don’t have a playoff shot

  7. Reds would probably take a shot at him.  Rolen likely to retire after this season.

  8. Maybe Billy Beane would still like a shot at his “Greek God of Walks”

  9. Oilcanoworms 3 years ago

    Too bad Youk and Middlebrooks can’t pitch because that is what the Sox need desperately.

    • MaineSox 3 years ago

      Some people saw Middlebrooks as a pitching prospect.  Not that that is worth anything at this point.

  10. start_wearing_purple 3 years ago

    Yeah it’s kinda become a Youk or Ortiz scenario for the future. Middlebrooks seems to be ready to take over third permanently, AGon is entrenched at first.

    Even with Youk’s recent issues he still will have a decent trade value, especially if teams are thinking of him as a first baseman. I’d hate to see him out of a Red Sox uniform, but it seems inevitable at this point.

  11. Tko11 3 years ago

    I really want Middebrooks to play third the rest of the year, hes been the only bright spot thus far for the Sox. 

  12. MaineSox 3 years ago

    Pretty much this.  Before this season (and even until a couple weeks ago really) I was convinced that Youkilis’ option would be picked up and he would be a DH/1B/3B for them next year and they would let Ortiz go.  But it’s really looking like Ortiz is still too valuable to let walk, and with Middlebrooks essentially ready now they aren’t going to let him rot away in AAA next year, so it looks like Youkilis is going to be the odd man out (and the poor start to this year, and another injury is making it look even more that way).

  13. Slu 3 years ago

    Youk’s contract means he has next to no trade value unless a significant amount of money is added to a deal.

  14. MaineSox 3 years ago

    Why?  The remainder of his $12M this year, and a $13M option (with a $1M buyout) for next year would be cheap for even a diminishing Youkilis.

  15. notsureifsrs 3 years ago


  16. MaineSox 3 years ago

    Middlebrooks is going to cool off at some point, and likely go through a slump or two, so I’d still put my money on Youkilis being more valuable for the remainder of the season.  The only reason I would trade Youkilis is because Middlebrooks is ready (or ready enough), and assuming they could get something to fill an area of need the potential drop off from Youkilis to Middlebrooks would be worth it (and more than offset by adding, say, a starting pitcher).

  17. johnsilver 3 years ago

     They really could afford to let both go if they chose and use Lavarnway as the DH, even keep Youk as the DH and P/T 3b/1b if they don’t move him this year and pick up his option and let Ortiz go. They do have other options going into next year.

    Do think (like you) they will be looking to move Youk if they can get something out of him, but only something significant that will help the future of the team. Hamels would of course still be in the top% in the new CBA and they could get a pick out of, but many other potential players out there (veterans close to walking) would be like giving away his option year for nothing.

  18. Tko11 3 years ago

    Ugghh this team is making me depressed already lol. The whole Beckett thing and then today he gets lit up for 7 runs in 2 innings… Middlebrooks at least provides something to watch besides Ortiz who has been amazing so far. I really cannot believe the pitching has been so bad. If they can trade Youk for a decent starter that would be great. Youk for Vance Worley maybe? Obviously this is only if Philly deems they can still contend. 

  19. MaineSox 3 years ago

    I honestly think they still see Lavarnway as a catcher, and he’s doing everything he can to prove them right so far.

    I don’t really think they will be actively looking to trade anyone away unless they are still very out of contention at the deadline, but if they are in contention at that point they may still be willing to listen to offers on certain guys if it makes them better (like a trade centered around Youkilis for a starting pitcher like Hamels).

    As a Red Sox fan I’d obviously hate to see them out of contention again this year, but as a pure baseball fan (and a fan of following prospects) it would be kinda fun to see how they handle it if they are still out of it.  Do they have a “fire-sale?” and if so how far does it go?  Obviously there would be some guys who are untouchable regardless of how far out of it they are (Pedroia, Lester, and Gonzalez), guys who are basically untradeable (Crawford mostly), and guys whose value would likely be too low to make sense to move (Buchholz), but there are tons of guys who could be traded for various amounts of talent in return: Youkilis, Saltalamacchia, Aviles, Ellsbury, Beckett, Ross, Doubront

  20. MaineSox 3 years ago

    I think it would make more sense to package someone (or a couple someones) with Youkilis to get more of a top of the rotation type starter.  Maybe even someone out of the current rotation since they would need a place to put said pitcher anyway.

  21. Tko11 3 years ago

    No one will want anyone out of our current rotation unless its Bard or Lester. 

  22. johnsilver 3 years ago

    Trading pieces who may not fit into a playoff team next season (and can be replaced), or players who will be lost for nothing after the season is one thing, but trading key players is a no-no that only perennial losers do. Haywood Sullivan was the last loon GM for Boston to try that tactic on a large scale when he shipped off most of the core late 70’s Sox team.. Lynn, Burleson, Hobson etc.. He really only got Carney Lansford (and the wild Mark Clear) in return and finally got himself ran out of town.

    The present Sox should not go about moving controllable core elements again. I could see short term commitment people like Ells if the deal provided a massive haul, but with his injury? Highly unlikely. Salty? Move him.. Catching, even league average is mighty hard to come by and the Sox are not going to commit long term after 2013, not with Lavarnway almost ready. Avilles? They find a buyer? Move him also. Let Iglesias have his chance.

    Yes.. I can allow a year of rebuilding.. Even 2.. Used to be 1 of those “never raise the flag” people, but you watch them over and over, see the ebb and flow of teams and you have to realize the teams just cannot win every year, nor continue to throw away good prospects/players after bad people (bedard) in hopes of trying to patch an injured team that had some holes to begin with even heading into the season into a passable team that at BEST was headed for an early exit early on in the playoffs more than likely..

    Retool and get ready with the Lavarnway/Middlebrooks and maybe see if Iglesias.. Call up Wilson, let him get his feet wet, same with JC Linares and Lin, see if they can do anything and cease this OF shuffle of dumpster diving retreads.

  23. MaineSox 3 years ago

    If Doubront keeps showing promise, and having decent success, I could see him being a relatively valuable piece (particularly once you factor in the years of control).

  24. chico65 3 years ago

    Egads, we need pitching badly. If we find someone who can perform, the last thing we want to do is trade them away…especially a young starter with years of control left. That’s what we want to be acquiring, not moving out.

  25. Tko11 3 years ago

    Your last point actually works both ways…they spent so much money assembling that rotation which is now ageing that adding to the offense for another run at the championship would seem like a good idea…

  26. MaineSox 3 years ago

    Those days aren’t “long gone,” he was playing at a 5+ WAR pace last year before he got hurt.

    And he wasn’t really a 5 WAR guy he just overachieved for four straight years?  Right…

  27. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    “he greatly overachieved based on his talent”

    what does that even mean

  28. MaineSox 3 years ago

    I would only let someone go out of the rotation if it is in a trade for a better starting pitcher.  I wouldn’t trade Doubront for an outfielder, but as part of a trade for a Hamels, Greinke, Garza type pitcher I would.

  29. MaineSox 3 years ago

    Right, obviously you don’t trade Pedroia (even though he would easily bring the most value back), and you don’t trade Gonzalez or Lester (and you couldn’t get anything for Crawford so you don’t trade him either).  But the guys who are coming to the end of their contracts anyway, the guys who have replacements already in the system, and the guys who wouldn’t be all that helpful once the team got rolling again could all go.

    That, to me, could mean Beckett, Youkilis, Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Doubront, Buchholz if he pitches well enough to have value between now and the deadline, and any of Aviles, Ross, Sweeney, and/or Shoppach that you can get something even somewhat useful for.  And with some of those guys (mostly Beckett, and maybe Youkilis) you offer to pay a bunch of the contract if it means you get better players in return.

  30. MaineSox 3 years ago

    He overachieved because he’s so talented, obviously…

  31. notsureifsrs 3 years ago

    he was overtalented back then, guys

  32. johnsilver 3 years ago

     We may have a slight difference here then on retooling.

    2 ways to go about it. 1st is full blown, where the team is blown apart and other is gradual, 2-4 people (key) at a time.

    Not so sure they would/even should go about paying parts of salaries to unload even more players. If they can send off just say.. Salty, Maybe Youk later, possibly Ells and a SP.. Why go out and pay part of the contracts for a beckett and move him just for the sake of it?

    If the move too many at the same time, it gives them no chance at competing next year and the NE media just won’t stand for that. The team has to be capable of a tad better than .500 ball at the least. Inject 2-4 of the guys they have already, possibly someone they acquire in a move also, then they would have CC and Bailey back next year to see if they are a tad over .500, or a bottom end PO team..

    I understand what you meant also by Pedroia being the most valuable via trade. In another year-2, could have a better gauge on exactly where Coyle will stand in the system. Wouldn’t it be something if Coyle turned out to a replica?

  33. MaineSox 3 years ago

    I’m not actually say that they should do any of this, simply that as a baseball fan and a fan of following prospects I would find it interesting to see how they handle the situation if they were to end up doing it.

    But if they are going to trade away a few guys they should really go all the way and trade off anyone they can get something of value for (besides the guys I mentioned who wouldn’t be traded).  If you trade a few now, a few in the off season, and a few next year etc. you aren’t going to get the same value for them, and you are just going to delay the time when the retooling is complete (which would just extend the pain of dealing with the Boston fans/media).

    Also, if you’re a team who can afford to spend the kind of money that they Red Sox spend, and you are going to go through the process anyway, you really should eat a bunch of money if it means you get better players in return.  The whole point would be to get talent for future seasons, and limiting that talent just to save money now would be a bad baseball move.

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