|Kevin Youkilis on trade uncertainty: ‘It was not an easy time for me’||06.25.12 at 8:21 pm ET|
Former Red Sox corner infielder Kevin Youkilis joined his new team, the White Sox, in Minneapolis on Monday, one day after he’d been traded in exchange for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart. Youkilis talked to reporters on Monday about the difficulty of life on the trading block, his offensive struggles this year and his outlook on joining the White Sox.
Here are some highlights:
On whether he was expecting to be traded: “Yeah. I was informed by [Red Sox GM Ben Cherington] that things were getting talked about. Basically he said he’ll come back to me, tell me when it starts picking up. After the game the other day, he said, ‘It’s definitely picking up.’ I just didn’t know. There’s a few teams out there. It was not an easy time for me. It was tough for my family, trying to figure out where we’re going. But it’s a great thing to be in a great city in Chicago, a lot of great history, and I’m very fortunate to play for two baseball teams that have such a storied franchise.”
On his offensive struggles: “I think I started out really cold, and I hadn’t been playing up to my capabilities. It was very frustrating. I wasn’t very happy with how I was doing. I wasn’t playing good baseball. I was inconsistent. The playing time went back and forth. It wasn’t the way I was accustomed to playing. I’m excited just to come to Chicago, get out there and play and try to have as much fun as possible.”
On being dealt to the White Sox: “I heard a lot of Chicago fans saying stuff to me, like, ‘Come here to Chicago,’ and stuff like that. Other than that, I knew it was one of the teams that wanted me. I enjoyed the city when I was there. I’ve always enjoyed it. I think it’s a great city, and a great town. It’s driving distance from my parents in Cincinnati, so it’s a great fit.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Reaction from Chicago on acquistion of Kevin Youkilis||at 4:05 pm ET|
“He’s very excited to join our club and he’s got a little edge to him, which I like. I think he’s going to fit in just fine with our ball club.” — Ken Williams
Maybe a couple years ago it would’ve been a big move, but look, trading a minor-league pitcher and a bench player and paying almost nothing for it does not constitute a big move. This is more like buying a lottery ticket. [Ken] Williams is gambling that he will get lucky with an old guy who’s looking older still because of a bad back and having a bad year to match. Whatever Youkilis has done before does not seem to matter this year, especially this month. — Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenblooom
“He’s been a great player for a long time in Boston. If you play at that level, you can play anywhere.” – First basemen Paul Konerko
“It’s baseball. If you were the GM, if I was the GM, I’d make the same trade.” – Infielder Orlando Hudson
“Adding a nice piece there, and kind of giving that statement to our fans and to our team, ‘We’re in this thing to win it.’ ” – Pitcher Jake Peavy.
Young boy reacts to trade:
A young White Sox fan wasn’t so happy to see Kevin Youkilis come to town because Lillibridge happened to be his favorite player.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about Sunday’s trade of Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox, Clay Buchholz‘s trip to the 15-day DL with a gastrointestinal disorder, David Ortiz‘s role in the clubhouse and more.
Cherington told John Dennis and Dale Arnold, sitting in for the vacationing Gerry Callahan, that he felt Sunday’s dramatic day at Fenway played out well, thanks to a Sox win and an ovation for Youkilis.
‘It was a busy few days,’ Cherington said. ‘We were working hard to find a resolution and give our clubhouse and our manager a chance to get a little bit more stability back to our lineup and to find an opportunity for Kevin to get a fresh start.’
While Cherington said he had told Youkilis that the Red Sox were talking to teams about a trade a handful of times over the last two or three weeks, it was only in the last few days that they began to push for one in earnest.
‘We got to a point several days ago where we decided ‘you know what, this might be the best thing, if there is a trade that we could find, it may be the best thing for everyone,’’ Cherington said. ‘We’ve got so much respect for Kevin, certainly personally, I do. I was the farm director when we joined the organization and he plays his heart out every day he gets in a Red Sox uniform so I wanted to see him get an opportunity, but the reality is, Will Middlebrooks deserves to play and Bobby [Valentine]’s got to put Middlebrooks in the lineup. And it made for a tough situation and we tried to make the best of it and move Adrian [Gonzalez] around, and try to mix and match to get guys in there but it wasn’t ideal so we decided if there was a trade we could find that made sense we would pursue it and we’ve been working on that for several days and it just so happened that the White Sox one was the one we liked the best.’
As to whether trading Youkilis would help ease reported tensions in the clubhouse, Cherington said he didn’t know exactly what the media was referring to but said ‘I think it was hard, I think it created a challenge for Bobby, certainly. You have guys, you know, that should be playing and you have too many guys for the spots in the lineup. That’s just the reality. When you have guys that can play every day and are sitting on the bench, at least one every night that maybe you shouldn’t have.’
|What the Red Sox got for Youk: A look at Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge||06.24.12 at 7:08 pm ET|
Stewart, who has spent most of this season as a reliever for the White Sox, is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA with 16 strikeouts and just four walks through 30 innings pitched this year. Despite coming out of the bullpen in his first 17 appearances of the year, he made his only start of the season in his last appearance on June 18, lasting 5 2/3 innings and allowing six earned runs in a loss to the Cubs. He was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte on June 19.
Before coming to the White Sox, Stewart was with the Blue Jays, an organization for whom he was rated the top prospect by Baseball America in 2009. In his only three appearances with the Blue Jays of his career (all as a starting pitcher), Stewart went 0-3 with 10 strikeouts and a 4.86 ERA. The sinkerballer has permitted a somewhat alarming home run total (21 in 97 1/3 innings) in his big league career, something of a surprise given his excellent groundball rates.
Stewart’s best start of his career came on September 5th of his rookie season, when he had a perfect game through seven innings against the Twins before allowing a hit to Danny Valencia. Stewart finished the game having only allowed one hit and recording nine strikeouts in the win.
Stewart, who was drafted by the Reds in the third round of the 2008 draft, is now with his fourth organization. As a prospect for the Reds, Stewart was traded along with Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Roenicke to the Blue Jays for Scott Rolen. Four days short of two years later, Stewart was traded with Jason Frasor for Edwin Jackson and Mark Teahen. Read the rest of this entry »
|Kevin Youkilis on WAAF: Players ‘tired’ of redundant questions||06.22.12 at 8:30 pm ET|
Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis joined WAAF’s Hill-Man Morning Show on Friday to discuss David Ortiz‘s frustration with the media and the atmosphere in the clubhouse. Youkilis said redundant media questions are frustrating players and not everyone in the clubhouse is happy. To listen to the interview, visit the WAAF audio page.
“The guys totally get along well,” Youkilis said. “Are guys upset here and there? Yeah, that’s how it happens every year. You’re never happy. There’s always guys that are frustrated with some situation, whether it be an injury, whether it be not playing [or] whether it be things at home. Guys aren’t happy at times. If you’re not winning everything is magnified beyond. It’s the worst thing ever.”
Even though Youkilis’ name has become synonymous with trade rumors, the 33-year-old is trying to stay happy.
“To say I’m having the greatest time of my life [wouldn’t be true],” Youkilis said. “I want to play every day and I want to play and I’m the first one to say my performance this year has stunk. As a way I feel like I’m finding my way of hitting and I just have to keep grinding away.”
Youkilis said Ortiz’s outlash at the media surprised him, but Youkilis understands where the frustration comes from.
“It gets tough,” Youkilis said. “In baseball you’re getting questions every day. In football you’re getting question twice a week, but [in baseball] every day they’re coming to you and hounding you with something.
The infielder said he hasn’t faced media problems like Ortiz has because he stopped talking to the media.
“I just stopped talking because enough’s enough,” Youkilis said. “You get tired of it. You’re just like, ‘This is the same question and I have no answer for you. I’m done. If they’re just going to keep asking it over and over again I just have to stop.’ ”
Added Youkilis: “I tell the guys just don’t talk. [If] you don’t feel like talking that day [then] just don’t talk. There’s nothing in your contract that says you have to talk. Guys can use Twitter. They’re in the method now where you can voice your [grievances] out to the public. I don’t condone it but [it’s an option].”
Youkilis said some frustration stems from misconceptions athletes have about the media.
“The thing that the athletes don’t understand is [the media is] not on your side,” Youkilis said. “They’re not your friends. They’re not there to help you in your career. They’re there to tell the story, get your quotes and throw their opinion to the fans. “They’re not there to make you look better. When you have a good game they’re going to say great stuff about you and when you have a bad game they’re going to say bad stuff about you, and that’s just the nature of the beast.”
MLB Network analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon to discuss the Sox’ recent issues with the media and his dislike for anonymous sources. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“I can’t stand the unnamed source, the unknown source,” Millar said. “Put your name to it. [If] there’s a problem, like I said, with Player X and Player Z, put your name to it. You don’t like the skip, Bobby Valentine? Put your name to it.”
Millar said the media is tougher in Boston than elsewhere and becomes an issue when players don’t know how to handle the media well.
“You don’t have to be a great sound bite, that doesn’t have to be your personality,” Millar said. “Then what happens [with] the media in a place like this [is] it snowballs on you. It will dog-pile on you when times are tough. And that’s when you have a good personality or a clubhouse chemistry situation that sticks up for you and that’s when that becomes a valuable key in your club when you talk about clubhouse chemistry.”
Added Millar: “In Boston you have 37 different writers around you. It takes one bad thing and then it turns into a story. That’s just part of the business, and then it’s how you deal with it.”
The analyst said non-baseball questions can tire players and contribute to tension between players and the media, but it shouldn’t be an issue for the Red Sox moving forward.
“If the Red Sox are big boys and they do respect each other, this is nothing,” Millar said. “This is just like a little pebble on the road.”
Media issues aren’t the only problems the Red Sox are having, as the team needs to decide where infielder Kevin Youkilis belongs with the organization. Despite Youkilis’ sub-par performance this season and multiple trade rumors, Millar said he’d take the Red Sox veteran over rookie sensation Will Middlebrooks.
“If [Youkilis] is healthy I do want him in pressure situations over Will Middlebrooks. That’s my opinion,” Millar said. “Now, Will’s doing a great job right now, don’t get me wrong. But I’m telling you, [a] healthy Youkilis gives me the [important] type of at-bats, ninth inning against the Yankees in September, period.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Mike Aviles, Cody Ross and Daniel Nava are making David Ortiz really dangerous||06.21.12 at 12:18 am ET|
There’s no disputing the fact that David Ortiz is having another prodigious offensive year.
He’s leading the Red Sox offense.
But the most encouraging sign for the team might be found in those around him in the batting order and just how much they’re taking advantage of his production.
Mike Aviles homered Wednesday night, a three-run blast to left that gave the Red Sox the lead for good in the second inning.
One inning later, Cody Ross connected for a three-run double that put the Red Sox up, 6-2.
“I’ve watched a number of games on TV when I was in the other league and the Red Sox were on,” Ross said. “Especially last year, they led every category in baseball, offensively. It just looked like a lot of fun. Now I’m here and I’m part of it and getting to enjoy it and reap the rewards. Guys are just getting on base left and right, it seems like. We’re coming up with big hits, just Red Sox baseball.”
The Red Sox have scored 29 runs in their last three games, including a season-high 15 runs in Wednesday’s 15-5 romp over the Marlins.
“Everyone knows that we have a pretty good offense,” Aviles said. “We scuffled for a little bit but it seems everything is going back to the way we’ve been. Everything is clicking and we’re just getting everything on the same wavelength and it’s helping.
“I was just looking for a pitch I can drive. There were two outs and if Salty doesn’t hustle to second base on Youkilis’ ball, the inning is over. I want to say that because I know that’s going to be overlooked. Just because he ran hard gave me a chance to hit.”
Aviles brought up the old cliche about hitting in a lineup being contagious. With Ortiz heating up with three homers in three games, Aviles and the Red Sox want to spread the winning germ right now.
“Hitting is definitely contagious, and so is winning,” Aviles said. “Absolutely. Anytime you get a couple of wins together, you get that good confidence rolling, and that’s where we’re at now.”
What’s starting to happen is what’s been happening around Fenway every year since Ortiz became a full-time force in the lineup in the middle of 2003. Everyone is getting hot at the same time.
Daniel Nava had four hits Wednesday and raised his average to .333 in 34 games. That 102 at-bats. Not insignificant.
“He’s contributed since Day 1,” Ross said. “I was telling somebody the other day I still haven’t seen him give up an at-bat. And that’s one of the main reasons we’re playing well. He’s contributed and come up and done an outstanding job. He deserves a lot of credit.”
Even Kevin Youkilis got into the act, collecting a single and a double to raise his average to .225. Of course, on his double in the sixth, pinch-runner Will Middlebrooks came into the game. In his only at-bat in the eighth, he launched a laser of a two-run homer to left.
Middlebrooks had done a lot to blend in with the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Ortiz already. He’s got seven homers and 27 RBIs in 37 games, and by the way, he’s batting .303 in his first big-league experience.
“It’s fun but it’s a business, too,” Middlebrooks said of watching the offense up close. “When you’re here, winning is very important. In the minor leagues, it’s more individual development. You have guys like Pedey and Adrian and “Big Papi”, you want to blend in and you want to be able to help; just watching those guys go about their business and pick up little things they do.”
You got the feeling watching the Red Sox over the last two days at Fenway, they’re ready to break out like they do every summer in the last 10 seasons.
But this year’s Red Sox have a bit of ground to make up. The offensive display they put up on Wednesday showed – as a group – they’re ready for the challenge.
|Ryan Kalish: ‘I can smile about it now’||06.20.12 at 12:51 am ET|
Kalish – in his first game back at Fenway this season – got a good jump off the bat, ran to the spot like any good major league outfielder does, stuck out his glove and expected the ball to float right into the web.
The ball glanced off the tip of his glove and went to the wall for a three-base error and the Marlins were in business against Matt Albers and the Red Sox.
“Just missed it,” Kalish said, while breaking into a grin that a kid gives to a parent when he’s been caught doing something wrong. “Obviously, I can smile about it now but at the time, I wasn’t. I just dropped it. There’s no excuse for that and it won’t happen again.”
This was quite the bumpy night for Kalish filled with plenty of turbulence.
In the fifth, he misjudged a two-out fly ball off the bat of Logan Morrison that landed close to the base of the wall in left-center. That apparent miscue allowed the Marlins to tie the game, 5-5.
“We talked about it,” Kalish said. “With two outs, I probably should have tried to go to the wall first. If there were no outs, I could’ve played it different. I haven’t been in this park in a while. I’m going to make an adjustment.”
Then in the sixth he struck out for the second out with an important insurance run standing just 90 feet away at third, in the person of Daniel Nava. He appeared so disheartened that he forgot to run to first after swinging at the pitch in the dirt. The throw was made to first and Nava had to hold.
Kalish said the previous blunders had nothing to do with “The Drop” in the seventh.
“That wasn’t really in my head, especially with that play,” Kalish said. “It was just one of those things, you drop a ball. I really can’t remember ever dropping a ball like that in my life. It’s funny it happened in the big leagues.”
“He’s such a good outfielder,” Ross said. “This place can get the best of you. I’ve had my troubles out there as well. I just told him that. I said, ‘Listen, man, we’ve all done it, we’ve all dropped fly balls. I dropped one this year already. I’ve misplayed a few balls. It happens. Shake it off. You’re a great outfielder and we’re going to get out of this right here.’ The bullpen came in and did a great job of not letting them get that run in right there.”
Ironically and appropriately, it was Morrison flying out to Kalish to end the inning without a run scoring.
“I had a ton of support from the guys, Cody especially, having so much experience,” Kalish said. “When they made that pitching change right after, he just kind of talked to me and calmed me down. That really helped me out, got my confidence back.”
And his calming words?
“He had done it himself,” Kalish said of Ross’ conversation with him. “He’s done it before in his career.”
|Opinion: It’s time to trade Kevin Youkilis||06.14.12 at 8:01 am ET|
“If I get traded, I get traded.”
– Kevin Youkilis, June 11
Spoiler alert: Kevin Youkilis is going to be traded.
It’s over. He’s been a terrific player for a majority of his career in Boston — back-to-back top six MVP finishes in 2008-09, a career .388 on-base percentage, a .500/.576/.929 line in the ALCS win over Cleveland in 2007, you know all the greatest hits — but it’s time for Youkilis to go.
And I’m not sure why it hasn’t happened already.
Walk me through a couple of things here: Kevin Youkilis is batting .219 with a slugging percentage of .352. He’s 33 years old, has been on the DL in each of the last four seasons and had his least productive year in 2011. It’s screamingly obvious that this is a guy very much on the back nine (and that might even be optimistic) as a player of any relevance.
Kevin Youkilis, it would seem, can play three positions. One is, of course, third base. Right now he is (at best) the second-best option at third base for this team. We’ve seen enough to know that Middlebrooks is already a significantly better player than Youkilis at this stage of his career. As lousy a season as Adrian Gonzalez is having, his numbers are still better than the ones put up by Youkilis. And David Ortiz — who sat on the bench Tuesday night as Youkilis played first and batted third in the lineup — is the best DH in baseball. Ortiz, who hit his 15th homer of the season on Wednesday, has an OPS of .977 this season, fifth in the American League. Youkilis has an OPS of .655.
|Why landing the next Will Middlebrooks meant a senior circuit in the draft||06.05.12 at 7:44 pm ET|
Between 2008 and 2011, how many college seniors did the Red Sox select in the first 10 rounds of the draft? That would be zero. The team hadn’t taken a college senior that high in the draft since 2007, when the team took right-handers Chris Province (fourth round) and Adam Mills (eighth round).
So how to explain the fact that the Red Sox used their fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth and 10th round selections on college seniors? The answer lies entirely in the draft rules in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Based on where it was making its draft picks, every team was given a draft bonus pool for the first 10 rounds of the draft. The Sox had a pool of $6.884 million for their 12 picks in the first 10 rounds of the draft. If the team goes over that budget by 0-5 percent, it will be penalized at a rate of 75 percent. Any teams that exceed their draft bonus pool will not only pay a tax but also have to forfeit a draft pick.
No one wants to forfeit a draft pick. But the effect of the new draconian penalties on such spending behavior in this year’s draft is to curb the use of a strategy often employed by the Sox in recent years, chiefly spending well beyond slot-recommended bonuses to acquire as much impact talent as possible.
So what does that have to do with the seniors? Read the rest of this entry »
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