Kevin Youkilis might be the most talked about Red Sox player right now and things won’t slow down anytime soon given he will be ready to re-join the big club in a short time. Once he does the debate about what to do with Will Middlebrooks and/or Kevin Youkilis will kick into high gear, if it hasn’t already.
One possibility is to deal Youkilis and one potential landing spot is the Philadelphia Phillies.
David Murphy from Philly.com recently looked at the idea of the Phillies trying to acquire Youkilis, stating that his offensive production would give them some much needed run support from an otherwise anemic infield. One option that Murphy suggests to send to Boston is right-hander Joe Blanton.
Blanton is off to a nice start this season for Philly with a 4-3 record, 2.96 ERA, 1.068 WHIP, 6.5K/9 and a 1.3BB/9. Certainly impressive numbers and when you consider the Red Sox starting pitching woes, it’s easy to say Blanton would be a welcomed addition to the Red Sox.
But not so fast. There are a few things to consider.
When you compare salary, Youkilis is making $12M and Blanton $8.5M. Not a huge difference and likely not a deal breaker. Both players are eligible for free-agency after this year, considering Youkilis doesn’t have his team option picked up. This is something to consider when looking at Joe Blanton.
Do the Red Sox need a rent-a-pitcher for the next four months? Considering that both Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka are close to returning which will create a logjam in the rotation in itself, throwing Blanton into the mix further complicates things. Already the Sox are considering a six-man rotation with either Cook or Dice-K and one or the other heading to the bullpen.
There is still the uncertainty of Clay Buchholz and should he struggle after one fine outing then it may open the door for another in-house starter. Buchholz will get more than just one start to prove he’s still worthy of a starting job.
One option is to put Felix Doubront, Daniel Bard or both in the bullpen. But is demoting one of these starters for Joe Blanton really that much of an upgrade anyway? Sure Bard is having control problems but in three of his starts the offense has scored 3 runs or less. Both Bard and Doubront have shown great promise this season and appear to have their starting jobs locked down, barring a string of outings in which they serve up batting practice.
Yes, Youkilis is banged up and I realize that to get a decent return in a trade he needs some playing time to get his numbers up to a respectable level. Will Middlebrooks will be the victim of this and likely be headed back to triple-A, giving Youk the time he needs to re-establish his threatening presence at the plate.
But let’s say the club struggles to keep pace in the division by the July trading deadline, making a Youkilis deal an almost necessity. At that point if the season is all but lost, trading Youkilis for prospects makes a lot more sense than for a 31-year old pitcher who is eligible for free-agency at the end of the year.
If the club is in contention, which I fully expect them to be, Joe Blanton may not be the answer for a stretch run either. While he does have 10 starts in the postseason, a guy like Gavin Floyd, Matt Garza or even Cole Hamels, who would require more than Kevin Youkilis, is a better name to have to be able to trust on the mound late in the season.
That’s just me, what do you think? Should the Red Sox look at trading for Joe Blanton if and when Kevin Youkilis is made available?