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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Kevin Youkilis Trade Was Best For Red Sox, Right?

BOSTON, MA - JULY 06:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of t...
Kevin Youkilis was an all-time great in Boston, but his trade was best for the Red Sox.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
A week ago, I thought we were all on the same page when it came to the Red Sox dealing Kevin Youkilis. It seemed the overwhelming majority of fans realized that the deal was best for Boston, even if the return wasn't what it may have been at a different juncture.

After receiving feedback via Twitter, Facebook and hearing the reaction from fans last night when Will Middlebrooks misplayed a grounder, I'm not so sure everyone understands what this deal meant for the Sox, so here I'll lay out my opinion for you to kick around.

The first thing I'll say is, the Fenway Faithful should be ashamed of the reaction they gave the Sox new full-time third baseman last night against the Jays. I understand some are bitter about Youkilis being traded, but coming off the AL PoW award, Middlebrooks should be afforded a bit of leniency.

Now that that's out of the way, I intend to look at a few things regarding this deal such as the return received by Boston. Whether it was a fair haul for a player of Youk's caliber and how it impacts the Red Sox going forward.

With that, here's what the Sox were given for 3x All-Star, 2x World Series winner and Gold Glove winner.

Brent Lillibridge- 28 years old, super-utility, .215/.283/.358 career, solid defender, right-handed bat off the bench with better defensive ability than Darnell McDonald and can also play all four infield positions.

Zach Stewart- 25 years old, 2008 third round draft choice, 2010 Blue Jays top prospect prior to season, 3-8 with a 5.92 ERA in 97 1/3 career innings.

Red Sox will pay approximately 4.5 of the remaining $6.5 million on Youkilis' contract.

So, there you have it. Those are the details of the trade. Now I'm gonna quickly bust down all the reasons Boston benefits from this deal, and contrary to what many believe, there are plenty of them.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 13:  Will Middlebrooks #64 of...
Will Middlebrooks made it clear when Youk went on the DL that he was ready to take over as the full time third baseman at Fenway.  (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
First, Bobby Valentine now has a player in Lillibridge that is versatile, can hit a little bit and contributes solid defense from several positions. Also, if the need arose for an extra pitcher on the roster, Valentine would feel comfortable with Lillibridge as the infielder off the bench and as an extra outfielder.

Having the ability to maneuver his roster with more freedom is invaluable for a manager and Lillibridge is just the type of guy that can give a team that freedom. Having him is just a bonus though, this is where the real value of the trade comes in.

I feel like I'm stating the obvious here, because I've said it so often, but it seems still people still don't understand, Will Middlebrooks is now the Red Sox every day third baseman.

Isn't this what we all wanted when the 24 year old burst onto the scene this season? His time is now and the Red Sox are a better team when his bat is in the lineup everyday as opposed to every other. With Youkilis on the roster, it was a challenge for the skipper every day.

Now that Youk's departed to Chicago, Valentine can play his best cards at first, third and in right field instead of shuffling the deck and coming up with a joker (Adrian Gonzalez in right) on a given night.

The other part of the deal that I haven't detailed in full is Zach Stewart. As I mentioned earlier, the righty is a former top prospect who--to this point--has not panned out in the major leagues. Still, he's just 25 years old and still has time to prove he can contribute.

Aren't we seeing right now with Franklin Morales what can happen when you scratch lottery tickets? Sometimes you hit big, other times you hit nothing, but if you don't scratch them, you never know.

Now, listen, I understand that Ben Cherington is paying a lot of salary in this deal, and that's why fans expected a larger return, but what did we expect, realistically, to get in return for our 33 year old injury prone third baseman? If you ask me, the return that I pointed out was plenty to make this deal a win for the Red Sox.

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