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Buster Olney on M&M: ‘It’s headed down that path’ to trade Kevin Youkilis

05.16.12 at 2:29 pm ET
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Buster Olney

ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday afternoon for his weekly discussion about the latest happenings in the Red Sox clubhouse, which included his thoughts on the team potentially shopping Kevin Youkilis.

Youkilis, who will begin his rehab stint Wednesday night for Triple-A Pawtucket, was placed on the disabled list early this month with a back strain. In his absence, Will Middlebrooks has stepped in and has played exceptionally well, hitting .300 with four home runs and 14 RBIs. Olney said that the Sox will look at possible trade situations for Youkilis as he makes his return.

“I’ve talked with a number of executives at other teams this week, because this looks like it’s headed down that path,” Olney said. “Unless there’s an injury to a David Ortiz or to an Adrian Gonzalez, eventually you’re going to have a situation when the Red Sox, who are presumably going to want to find a way to keep Middlebrooks in the big leagues, they’re going to have to figure out what to do with Youkilis.”

Olney said that other general managers have told him that Youkilis is going to have to put about three productive and healthy weeks together in order for them to gauge his trade value.

“They think then, that’s when you can get a little something in return,” Olney said. “Not great, they’re not going to get a Grade A prospect, they’re probably not even going to get a Grade A-minus prospect because of the amount of money owed to him.

“But there’s clearly a lot of places where he could land. The Dodgers, I think are in an evaluation period now with their first baseman James Loney, because he’s gotten off to a terrible start. … I think the Chicago White Sox potentially are a fit for Youkilis as a third baseman, and potentially in his hometown of Cincinnati would be a great fit for him because they need a right-handed hitter who can play third base especially now that Scott Rolen’s career might be over.”

Olney also offered his thoughts on Josh Beckett, who has faced much criticism over the last week for going golfing two days before he missed a scheduled start due to injury. Beckett responded well from a poor pitching performance last week with a seven-inning, scoreless gem Tuesday afternoon.

“I thought [Beckett] said it perfectly the day after that start last week when he said he needs to be part of the solution,” Olney said. “He needs to be part of it because they need a pitcher like him, but he also needs to be part of it because the bottom line is, given his performances since the beginning of last September, he didn’t really have that much trade value anyway … and I know from talking with evaluators with other teams, they do have questions about how healthy he is.

“I’m sure some of those questions were at least partially answered by what they saw yesterday, because he was terrific. Everyone’s going to point out, and rightly so, that he was facing the Mariners, it wasn’t like he was facing the Texas Rangers, but he threw the ball great, and what a great sign for he and the Red Sox.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On the health of Clay Buchholz: “I haven’t heard from evaluators on that. I think they still have questions about his ability to keep the ball down in the strike zone, as we’ve talked about in the past, and whether or not he can do that consistently, and whether they’re going to see more from his two-seam fastball.”

On Adrian Gonzalez playing right field during interleague games: “It’s not ideal, but I’m sure one of the first things that Bobby [Valentine] would say to Gonzalez, and something that he’s dealt with in the past because of his shoulder issues, is to stay off the ground. Don’t be diving around all over the place. You saw last week Jayson Werth get knocked out pretty much for the rest of the year by breaking his wrist. I really don’t think it’s that big of an issue, and I think from a manager’s perspective, and actually as we prepare for Sunday Night Baseball, Terry Francona has told us stories about this, where they’ve talked about the situation with Ortiz. Terry’s position was, ‘Look, I have to play the guy. I can’t have that guy out of the lineup not only because he’s a good hitter, but because you can’t just have a situation where he basically gets nine days of vacation in the middle of the year, or a period of time when he’s not even on the field.’ ”

Read More: adrian gonzalez, buster olney, Josh Beckett, Kevin Youkilis Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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