Phillies Should Consider Kevin Youkilis to Solve Third Base Concerns
Shortly after the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in the playoffs, Charlie Manuel said the Phillies need to upgrade at 3rd base.
Despite making just the second All-Star appearance of his fourteen year career, incumbent Placido Polanco suffered through an injury plagued season which saw him appear in just 122 games.
After hearing Manuel’s comment, my mind immediately turned to Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
And the more I think about it, the more it makes sense, considering the injury to Ryan Howard, and the ability of Youkilis to play first base as well as third. A gold glove winner at first, last year “Youk” led all American League third basemen in fielding percentage at .967.
Certainly a team like the Phillies can afford this.
Now some of you may ask why the Sox would be willing to part with a guy like Youkilis, who was a member of both their 2004 and 2007 World Championship teams.
First off, he himself mentioned in a late-year interview that he wants to move closer to his Cincinnati home, where his parents live, and that he would like to play in the National League.
Moreover, the Sox have one of the better third base prospects in the game with Will Middlebrooks, who Baseball America recently named as the top infield prospect in the Double A Eastern League and is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Middlebrooks isn’t quite ready for a full time role in Boston, but with a decent first half at Triple A Pawtucket could find himself playing a similar role to what Jed Lowrie did during his rookie year, playing everyday as a fill-in for the injured Mike Lowell.
Also, while management sided with him years ago in a feud he had with former teammate Manny Ramirez, his intensity may have gotten the better of him when he criticized Jacoby Ellsbury last season during his unwillingness to remain with the team while he recovered from his rib injury.
And after coming off a tremendous year, and displaying a tremendous work ethic even in September, the new regime of the Sox may want Ellsbury to be more vocal. Ridding the clubhouse of Youkilis may make it easier for Ellsbury to emerge as a leader in what should be a season of huge personal changes to their club. Because of these factors, Boston will not hold out for a king’s ransom, perhaps a major league player and/or one or two interesting prospects.
In other words, not an elite return for what you’d expect.
Kevin Youkilis became a household name for many baseball fans in 2003 when Moneyball author Michael Lewis called him the “Greek God of Walks.” And he will go down as one the heroes of their championships. But he himself acknowledged that his days with Boston are numbered, and that he hopes to play someday for the Reds, the team he rooted for as a child.
I hope so too, although the penultimate chapter should include a stint in Philadelphia, which at the very least gets him 310 miles closer.