It’s barely been a week and a half and already the Kevin Youkilis trade is paying big dividends for the Chicago White Sox. When Youkilis came over from the Boston Red Sox on June 25th, there were surely mixed emotions from White Sox fans. On one hand, Youkilis had been an All-Star just last year. But on the other, he had gotten off to a pretty dismal start for the season with his average being much lower than he’s shown throughout his career. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery, and that would fix him… and we’re seeing first hand just how true that is.
In ten games playing for the White Sox, the new third baseman is hitting .308 with 10 RBIs, and a couple clutch hits to boot. For some reason, I’m starting to think Brent Morel might go the way of Josh Fields if this keeps up.
With this trade happening so far before the deadline, Youkilis doesn’t feel like a “rental” at all. If he can keep up this play, the play that he displayed during the Red Sox championship runs, then why not keep him in the White Sox long term plans? Morel’s hitting this year had been dismal, and his defense certainly nothing spectacular. Surely a line-up next season with Youkilis at third and Morel playing in the utility role wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Plus, Youkilis has provided great motivation for the team.
It’s obvious that general manager Kenny Williams has hope for this team by bringing in Youkilis, and that will make any player have more confidence in themselves and as a team. The Sox are 7-3 in their last ten games and the hitting has gone up exponentially in that time frame. The hit parades against the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers just earlier this week make it obvious just how contagious hitting is, and just how contagious a good attitude can be.
The kind of swagger Youkilis brings to this team isn’t of someone who is haughty and self-indulgent. Even in his short time with the team, he’s shown the rest of the players he wants the same thing they want… a championship. And to do that, you have to do it as a unit, and Youkilis is quickly finding his niche with this team. He doesn’t have to be worried about someone taking his spot – Morel has no chance of getting back into the hot corner now. Finally, he can focus on being the best hitter and play-maker he can be. Having that walk-off homer Wednesday night gave credence to that.
As of Thursday morning, the Sox were two games up on the Cleveland Indians for first place. While this division is still up for grabs, the Sox seem to be playing with a great mentality. That mentality that they can make anything happen, especially since all the critics doubted them since last winter, myself included. Bringing Youkilis into the mix helps the Sox chances that much more. With any luck, the contagion of hitting and run creation will continue, and the spark Youkilis has brought to this team and offense will carry them through the summer and beyond.
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