Guess Kevin Youkilis has gotta buy new socks.
After nine years of playing for the Boston Red Sox, Youkilis was traded to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. His role as a key member of two Red Sox championship teams -- in 2004 and 2007 -- made him a Boston icon.
Kevin Youkilis -- nickname Youk -- had for weeks been at the center of ongoing speculation that he could be traded as both his performance and his relationship with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine faltered. And the rise of promising rookie Will Middlebrooks as a possible viable permanent replacement also put strain on the team's relationship with Youkilis, who was sitting on the bench repeatedly as Middlebrooks played his position.
There appeared to be little movement toward an official decision regarding the hometown favorite, as MLB.com reported Sunday morning that there were still a number of teams looking at him, including the White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates.
As of Saturday afternoon, Kevin Youkilis trade rumors were still just that, according to his comments as reported by MLB.com: I have no thoughts on anything ... I haven't been told anything. Until I'm told anything, I can't really respond.
Youkilis added: I'm a paid employee here. They make the decisions with that ... When you're a paid employee and the boss tells you to do something, you do it. Until they tell me something, I'm here to play with the Red Sox.
Richard Justice at MLB.com wrote Sunday that he considered the trade to be a big plus for the White Sox, which will see immediate positive results from the addition of Youk to the roster: Almost every scout who has watched Youkilis this season believes he still has plenty of baseball left. He's only 33 years old. That number may surprise you, because he has been on baseball's biggest stage so often, it feels like he has been around forever.
But Justice -- and White Sox fans -- do have some major concerns about Youkilis, as well: There obviously are some questions. He's a career .286 hitter, but has been a shadow of that the last two seasons. He's hitting .233 this season and has looked overmatched at times. The White Sox are taking something of a leap of faith that there's a lot more there.
But, beyond the doubts, the trade will likely help the White Sox battle their biggest current rivals, the surging Detroit Tigers: At a time when both the Tigers and White Sox need more offensive punch, the White Sox made the first move in acquiring Youkilis for a power arm (Zach Stewart) and a utility player (Brent Lillibridge), Justice wrote.
Kevin Youkilis had had a hard time with Bobby Valentine, most notably in a public spat with him in April. Most recently, he had been benched three games in a row, while Middlebrooks has been shining.
Youkilis addressed that situation during comments Saturday I went 2-for-3 my last time [playing]. But if you don't play, I don't know how much closer you can get. If you don't hit, don't play, you can't put up many stats. I raked in the cage, if you want to know that. I was hitting missiles all over the place, but you don't get credit for that.
Middlebrooks has been hot lately, notching three hits and swatting his ninth home run of the season against the Atlanta Braves Saturday, but MLB.com reported that Youkilis was back in the line-up Sunday, playing third base against the Braves on his last day in a Red Sox uniform. Middlebrooks was the designated hitter during the series closer, which by the end of the day had proven to be more than that. It was the end of an era. It was the Youk closer.