Trade rumors and the internet are a funny thing. Not funny “ha ha” so much as funny “hmm, that peculiar.” Case in point, Kevin Youkilis of the Boston Red Sox and the Angels. This is, apparently, a rumor floating around. And I say “floating” because it has no apparent destination or any real origin, I just know that I have seen it discussed. The most substance that I can find relating to this rumor is that Jon Heyman casually mentioned the Angels as a possible trade destination for Youkilis last week. And I say “casually mentioned” because he simply stated that the Angels “make some sense” as a team who might have interest in Youkilis.
Well, in these modern times, all that a rumor needs to get circulating is a national reporter tossing out an idea, even if that reporter is Jon Heyman.
Now, I see why Heyman views the Angels as a potential match. They have the obvious need for an upgrade at third base and, as we all learned this last off-season, the Angels are the new Yankees and can thus afford any player that tickles Arte Moreno’s fancy, or so the narrative goes. This is all a very long way of explaining why it is that I have to address this rumor even though I think it is likely full of crap, but address it I shall because the only thing that bothers me more than a baseless rumor is a baseless rumor that really doesn’t make much baseball sense (i.e. my numerous rants on the Bourjos-for-Nationals relief pitcher X rumors).
I can’t deny at all that the Angels should be looking long and hard for a more permanent solution to their need at third base than the Maicerto Callazturis combination they have been relying the last few seasons. The problem is that Youkilis is not that solution on two different levels. First and foremost, he is 33 years old and only under contract for the rest of this season with a $13 million club option, with a $1 million buyout, for 2013. Even if the option gets picked up, that makes Youkilis a stopgap at best. The other more glaring problem is that Youkilis is not actually a real third baseman anymore. With negative UZRs at the hard corner every year since 2009 (though to be fair, he barely played there in 2010) Youkilis has been a substandard defensive third baseman and his defense has fallen off even further as his body has deteriorated. In 2011 he was greatly impeded by a bad hip and a sports hernia. This season, he has already been to the disabled list thanks to a back problem. For a guy who was never terribly athletic to begin with, this bodes quite poorly for his ability to handle third base on an everyday basis. This is one of the major reasons the Red Sox allowed rookie Will Middlebrooks to take over at third and force Youkilis to first base, with Adrian Gonzalez shifting to right field.
By all rights, Youkilis should never see an inning of work at third base again. One could argue that he shouldn’t even be in the field if he really wants his body to hold up for a few more seasons. So why would the Angels want any part of that? Last time I checked they had more than their fair share of 1B/DH cluttering up the roster.
The answer to that rhetorical question is supposedly because Youkilis can hit, or so say the proponents of this imaginary trade scenario. Except the problem is that Youkilis really can’t hit anymore. Again, due to his health problems, Youk is a shell of what he used to be. In the second half of the 2011 season, his injury issues limited him to a slash line of .199/.314/.346 over 159 plate appearances. Matters haven’t improved much in 2012 with his numbers at .219/.303/.352. Now, the optimist would suggest that Youkilis is worth the gamble because he could be productive if he gets healthy. However, the pessimist (that would be me) would counter with the argument that Youkilis will not be able to get healthy if he is going to be playing third base everyday. And if he doesn’t get healthy that would leave the Angels with an overpaid, again DH-type with dwindling power numbers whose only real asset is an ability to get on base. Hmm, does that sound familiar to anyone? Yeah, it is no wonder that the Dodgers are considered the most probable landing spot for Youkilis. He and Bobby Abreu can live together forever in perfect pitch-taking, single-slapping harmony.
As if trading for Youkilis wasn’t already enough of a bad idea, it only gets worse when you consider what it would actually cost to get Youkilis. Even with his poor numbers and large salary, the Red Sox aren’t going to give him away for nothing. In fact, he is almost certain to be overpriced for the very same reason that some fans actually hope the Angels acquire him… brand name recognition. Thanks to his prime days with Boston, Youkilis is something of a household name. If you want a brand name product, you’ve got to pay brand name prices, even if the product is a lemon.
So, as you can see, as far as this particular baseless trade rumor goes. I’ll take a pass.