9:15 PM CDT, June 24, 2012
That's one way to describe the White Sox's trade for Kevin Youkilis.
That's another way.
By filling their biggest hole with one of the most respected third basemen in baseball, the White Sox may have just bargained their way into the playoffs.
Sure, it's not as simple as that. The Tigers and even the Indians will have a run in them at some point. But even with their third basemen batting a combined .167 (23 points lower than the Nationals' pitchers), the White Sox were the deepest, most balanced team in their division, and over 162 games that counts for a lot.
Youkilis isn't having a good year. He's been in a funk since spring training, when he realized that manager Bobby Valentine and GM Ben Cherington saw top prospect Will Middlebrooks as big-league ready, not a year away. His back makes him a health risk.
But all that said, adding him without subtracting key parts — for tomorrow, as well as for today — makes this the best trade Ken Williams has made since he added Freddy Garcia from the Mariners in 2004.
Because there was no way for Youkilis and Middlebrooks to coexist at Fenway Park, I've been pushing for the White Sox to do this deal for a month, when Middlebrooks established himself while Youkilis was on the disabled list. The Sox are getting a run-producer who grinds out at-bats, and they had to give up only guys who added depth, not someone like Matt Thornton or a prospect like Tyler Saladino or Charles Leesman.
Oh, and the Red Sox were so motivated to clear the decks that they are sending along a reported $5.5 million, which leaves the White Sox paying only about $2 million of Youkilis' $12 million salary.
Youkilis, who is hitting .233 with four homers in 42 games, is leaving Boston with a chip on his shoulder — "he wants to prove some people wrong,'' Williams said — and coming to a team where he will be one of the boys. He joined Jake Peavy and Adam Dunn on Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and will have plenty in common with guys like Paul Konerko, A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios.
"Every report you ever hear, he's a good teammate,'' White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "He plays hard. He's a pro. We have a room full of guys like that, so I think he'll fit in just fine."
Youkilis works at-bats the same way Konerko does. He goes to the plate with a plan of attack and adjusts from pitch to pitch, the way the best hitters do. His bat speed might have slowed since he helped the Red Sox win two World Series, but he's smart enough to adjust.
Now that Julio Franco is retired, there's no hitter I like watching more than Youkilis. He's got his unique style of hitting, splitting his hands a foot apart — maybe even 18 inches — as the pitcher goes into his windup and then bringing them together as the pitch is thrown. You wouldn't teach your Little Leaguer to hit that way, but it works for Youkilis.
With Youkilis on board, Orlando Hudson can move into the utility role that he's suited for (although he's not going to like it much). I'd send Eduardo Escobar to Triple A so he can play every day and continue his development, although his game-winning hit on Sunday suggests he's handling the bench role just fine.
There's nothing not to like about this trade. Williams didn't overpay to get Youkilis, and Jerry Reinsdorf signed off on the extra payroll.
Will Reinsdorf pay up again in a month, this time for more pitching? Don't rule it out. But Williams is going to have trouble finding a deal that was this one-sided.
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