It’s a series that many Red Sox fans would have circled on their calendar the minute Kevin Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox. And it’s a four game series meaning we’ll get to see the former Red Sox third baseman for one extra game. Youkilis has been swinging the bat extremely well since the deal that sent him to the windy city, bringing on plenty of speculation as to whether or not he should have been traded away. But that was then and this was now and it’s time to move on. Youkilis has a new pair of sox in what is surely to be an emotional series for both him and his former teammates.
We hooked up with Matt the senior editor at Southside Showdown to help us get more familiar with the Red Sox opponents. Of course we asked him about Youkilis along with speculation surrounding the trade deadline and much more. Enjoy.
1. Let’s get this out of the way right away. The Youkilis trade. The white sox have to be giggling given what they gave up and how youk has reforms his swing. Tell us how exciting it’s been since youk was acquired?
Yeah there is definitely some giggling from the fans and Kenny Williams continues to carry his trademark smug smirk. I was under the impression that his production was just a matter of reps, since he hadn’t been able to play every day after his injury with the emergence of Middlebrooks. But I think it goes without saying that it’s been great having him on the team. The White Sox were awful with him at 3B, utilizing players that were collectively hitting under .200. As a bonus he spent his first stretch as a home player at U.S. Cellular Field passing out game winning hits like they were candy. Folks around here loved Brent Lillibridge, but the sad faces about his departure quickly disappeared with the way Youkilis has performed.
2. With John Danks out, will the sox acquire another starter? If so, who?
It’s very tough to answer this. For starters, it’s unclear when Danks may come back. Could be in a week, could be a month. KW has been mum, as usual, about his intentions on the matter, but there have been some rumors circulating about perhaps acquiring Ryan Dempster or even Cole Hamels. I think both are probably long shots, as the organization doesn’t have a ton to give up in return. Unfortunately the problem will probably continue to be addressed internally, with guys like Dylan Axelrod and other young guys in the system coming up for spot starts.
3. Only 3.5 games up on the surging Tigers, what moves do you feel the club needs to make before the trade deadline?
The bullpen situation has got to be addressed. Jesse Crain has missed a lot of time to injury and is on the DL right now. Every pitcher in the bullpen save for Matt Thornton is a rookie. That’s a funny little quirk maybe, the team that everyone said had the worst farm system in baseball fielding a bullpen of rookies while in first place but it’s not likely to keep them there. Upgrades there can be had more cheaply than starting help can so I see that as an ideal place for an addition to be made.
4. Who’s been the biggest surprise of the season? The biggest disappointment?
The biggest surprise is Alex Rios. An ridiculously patient person might tell you that they knew all along that Rios would come along and produce the way he has been this season but I’ve stopped encountering those people some time ago. There are a great many people, myself included, who have maintained that he had the skills to do this, but seeing it come to be is another thing entirely. He’s hitting .320 and is hitting ropes all over the field. The biggest disappointment would be Brent Morel. Injury saved us from having to watch him struggle through it all year (not to mention enabled the Youkilis trade) but in the time he played it was difficult to watch his struggles when it seemed at the end of 2011 that he had turned a corner.
5. Suddenly Paul Konerko is in a bit of a slump. Is this surprising or was his pace somewhat over his ceiling?
Toying with .400 was certainly above his ceiling but even with his slump he’s still maintaining an average over .320. In July he’s hitting in the mid .200s which isn’t where he usually sits but is hardly the type of slump where people start to worry. He’s had some wrists issues that have been holding him back but I fully expect him to bounce back and carry a .330 or so batting average into the postseason.