Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has been a hot target of trade rumors all week, with a number of teams linked to him. The three apparent front runners for his services were the Dodgers, Indians, and White Sox, and this afternoon, rumors are swirling furiously that he's heading to Chicago. Youkilis's name plate has been removed from his locker at Fenway Park, and he was removed early from today's game against the Braves. Jon Heyman thinks that the deal is done, and many others believe the same thing.
But how good of a fit would Youkilis be on the South Side? Well quite frankly, there aren't many third basemen in the league who *wouldn't* be an improvement for the White Sox at third base. Chicago's third baseman have hit a pathetic .176/.250/.235 this year with just one home run, and have actually been worth -1.5 wins. That is beyond awful. Even Youkilis, who has been killed by injuries this year, was an improvement on those numbers. He's hit .233/.315/.377 with four homers, good for roughly a replacement level performance.
This isn't the same Kevin Youkilis that had three (and nearly five) straight four win seasons over the prime years of his career. But even a below-average Youkilis season is better than the peaks of the injured Brent Morel, the washed up Orlando Hudson, or the young, untested Eduardo Escobar. And the best case scenario is even better for the White Sox. Imagine if Youkilis, not needing to anchor the heart of the Red Sox order behind Adrian Gonzalez, started hitting like his old self at the bottom of Chicago's order. With a monster in Adam Dunn, the consistently great Paul Konerko, the rebounding Alex Rios, and the solid AJ Pierzynski hitting ahead of him, there won't be much pressure on Youkilis to be "the man" for the White Sox.
Acquiring Youkilis doesn't make the White Sox the World Series favorites in the American League. Hell, with the Tigers offense starting to heat up, they might not even be the favorite in the AL Central anymore. But one thing is for certain: with Youkilis starting at third base for the next three month, the White Sox just got a hell of a lot better, even if Youkilis isn't an MVP candidate anymore.
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