Apr 11, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Boston Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis (20) reacts after striking out in the 9th inning as Toronto Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia (9) makes the putout at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Red Sox 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

If Kevin Youkilis Continues to Struggle, What Options Do The Red Sox Have?

One of the things overshadowed by the Rangers pasting of the Red Sox last night was Kevin Youkilis‘ 0-4, 4K performance. The struggles from Youk have been concerning from the outset but the further we tread into the season, the more you have to worry about his situation and what options the Red Sox have at third base if this continues.

Through 9 games played, Youk has hit .176 in 34 at-bats but more concerning is his .237 OBP and 35.3 SO % and just 8.8 BB %–compared to 19.3 and 13.2 in 2011–according to Baseball Reference. Known for his excellent on-base skills, this signals that something isn’t right with him to start the season but what can be done about it?

We’re still early in the season and there’s plenty of time to turn things around, but can the Red Sox afford to wait around for him to come out of the slump that started this spring and has carried into the season?

I’m not opposed to giving him more time but at some point you have to draw the line and see if you can get production elsewhere. With the American League as strong in ’12 as its ever been, there’s no room for players under the Mendoza line.

Kevin Youkilis has earned the opportunity to work out his struggles so I’m not saying something needs to happen now but at some point it may be unavoidable–especially with Will Middlebrooks kicking the door down at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Middlebrooks is hitting .333 (16-48) with 3HR, 3 doubles, 11 RBI, and a walk through 12 games.

The Red Sox are known for giving their prospects adequate time to develop–see Ryan Lavarnway–so it may be early to expect a call-up for the number one prospect in the farm, but he’s an option.

Another option is a trade but is it likely this early in the season?

When the speculation came out that the Red Sox may try to bring Coco Crisp back, I added my speculation that Billy Beane might want the “Greek God of Walks” and maybe something could be worked out with the A’s. It’s since come out the Sox are scouting Scott Podsednik so it doesn’t seem likely that this will happen.

Adding to the complexity of the situation is the recently formed rift between Youkilis and Bobby V along with the revelation that there may be a situation regarding Josh Beckett accusing Youk of being a source for the Bob Hohler story in October.

With so many different elements to the situation, it’s hard to speculate with any amount of certainty what will happen with Kevin Youkilis as the season progresses. Apparently the ordeal with Valentine has been settled but does anyone really think it’s over? And if Youkilis continues to underperform–at a position known for its offensive output–do the Red Sox have a choice but to take action?


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Tags: Baseball Reference Ben Cherington Bobby Valentine Kevin Youkilis Red Sox Spring Training Strikeout Will Middlebrooks

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