Just back to social media after a 10-stitch wrist laceration from a scythe accident and week in the woods with the family. A lot for a “soxdetox” Pirates blogger to think about as the Pirates have been sharing headlines with the Red Sox for the past few days. The idea of Pittsburgh trading for a name like Youkilis is a story in and of itself. And the quotes surfacing about the dysfunction in Boston juxtaposed to the possible departure of one of the three remaining 2-ring Red Sox players is a stand-alone story, as well. But put ’em together and this baseball season continues to be one of the most interesting in a while. At least for me…
I think the rumors of a possible Youkilis-to-Pittsburgh trade are just wonderful. Sure, there are valid arguments to suggest that he won’t statistically produce any better than what the Pirates already have. And the hope that he’ll re-find his 2008 -2010 groove is a bit naive. But I still like it. I like the idea of having a sweaty, overweight grinder in the middle of the order making opposing pitchers throw the kitchen sink at him. I like the idea that, even if he makes more outs than he used to, there could be an angry, blue-collar, workaday ballplayer throwing his helmet and kicking Gatorade jugs in Pittsburgh. He’s a spark alright. He’s always been Boston’s version of that prick Paul O’Neill: the guy you only love when he’s on your team. And besides, Kevin Millar agrees with me.
The Pirates have a couple big things in their favor this year if they’re really trying to land Kevin Youkilis. First off, they’re 1 game out of first in the NL Central and right in the Wild Card mix. Yeah it’s early, but not that early. 70 games is 70 games. They have good reason to go out and add a piece. Landing a free agent to-be like Youkilis could very well add an early pick in next year’s draft. Secondly, getting someone (anyone) that could take Aaron Cook and/or Franklin Morales out of the rotation discussion would be attractive to the Red Sox.
But why, exactly, would Neal Huntington seriously consider adding Youk to a team that’s already in contention and showing signs of improved offense? Maybe there are reasons to believe Youkilis could hit a little over the next 3-4 months…
Remember when everyone in Boston wrote off Manny Ramirez (53 games, .396/.489/.743 to finish the year in LA after being traded) and Roger “Twilight of His Career” Clemens (4 more Cy Young awards)? OK, maybe Youk will need a regular schedule of HGH and a good lawyer to pull it off, but those problems won’t surface until after he’s signed somewhere else in December. Ha!
But wait. Are there any real reasons to believe that Kevin Youkilis could rebound from this prolonged funk? Well, there’s the change of scenery argument. After all, the scenery is pretty horrific right now… According to an unnamed player, guys are looking to leave Boston. By many accounts, the clubhouse is a mess. There is very real evidence that the ownership continues to be distracted by their other business ventures and generally disinterested in their baseball team. They show up for the photo-opps of Fenway’s 100th birthday party and a weekend series with the Cubs, but Henry & Co. have otherwise been absent from the daily goings-on of their last-place club. The front office may be look to shake things up simply to reset the culture of the team.
And then there’s Bobby Valentine. Man, oh man. Here’s his quote regarding the handling of the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors. His response to Youk’s claim that he was never told anything about playing/not playing/trade possibilities/etc.:
“I did (speak to him) yesterday, but not before the lineup was up but I’m not going there… I thought the question yesterday was whether he was spoken to before the game, before the lineup and I said, ‘Yes.’ I didn’t speak to him. I thought he was spoken to. If he wasn’t spoken to and he didn’t understand, I made a mistake. And you know, somehow in life, we all make mistakes but I thought he was spoken to.”
What?! Ridiculous. That’s the guy that the ownership fawned over and ultimately trumped the General Manager’s choice to manage their baseball team. This is what happens when those showy PR fireworks explode in your face.
And then there are the fans… They’re just not showing up anymore. And yes, that “Soxdetox” quoted right after the ownership’s delusional theories about weather is the very same blogger you’re reading right now. That’s right – quoted in the legitimate press. (Doesn’t take much to trigger my narcissism.)
OK. So a distracted ownership group, a circus clown manager, and pink hat fans make up a pretty thin argument to explain away Kevin Youkilis’s batting woes. But it’s very encouraging to hear his name as a potential June trade target for the Pirates. If this is what we’re hearing today, just imagine the fever at the trade deadline if Pittsburgh is still sniffing around the top of the standings. It’s nice to know that an 82-win season is still #2 (at best) on the priority list of the front office.