Move to South Side could be potent spark for Youkilis rebound to come

Publish date:

The Red Sox are going to regret this. Kevin Youkilis for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart is the kind of offer that would get laughed at in fantasy.

"I'll give you two players I just picked up off waivers for your one star."

You've gotten those offers before. The Red Sox fell for it ... and paid Youkilis' contract.

"With the way [Will] Middlebrooks has been playing, Middlebrooks needs to be in the lineup," Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told The Sports Xchange. "Once we came to that conclusion, we talked about it and decided that if there was a trade that made sense for us and for Kevin and everyone involved that we would pursue that."

This is one that won't make sense later, though. The Red Sox didn't even get a starting pitcher they could slot in their DL-hit rotation. Had they dealt Youkilis in the winter, even in the spring, they could have. What a miscalculation of value and an organizational mistake.

Sure, Middlebrooks is the Red Sox's future at the position and Youkilis will head to free agency after his 2013 option is bought out, but the best of Youkilis this year is still yet to come. The streaking Middlebrooks has yet to show his worst.

Youkilis doesn't look like a star with .233 average through 146 at-bats, but Youk is headed to a great hitter's park that provides a change of scenery that will ignite him. Certainly, he will be motivated to show manager Bobby Valentine and the Red Sox what they will be missing. Middlebrooks' .326 with nine homers, 34 RBI and 23 runs in 144 at-bats is the kind of production you expected out of Youkilis. It might be the production you will get out of him on Chicago's South Side.

In fact, expect Youkilis to outproduce the streaking Middlebrooks here on out. Don't be surprised if the numbers flip-flop through the next 150 at-bats.

It is tough to see now, but all streaking young hitters eventually struggle, particularly ones with the strikeout-to-walk rate (38-8) Middlebrooks boasts. Youkilis, the anti-Middlebrooks in the strikeout-to-walk realm, remains an underrated commodity in fantasy. Now is a good time to buy.

Try to find a pair of fantasy nothings off your bench to deal for him, like the White Sox did.

The calendar is heading to July by the end of the week and two June call-ups appear set to finally arrive. Trevor Bauer might be joining the Diamondbacks' rotation Thursday in place of Joe Saunders (shoulder), while first baseman Anthony Rizzo is rumored to be arriving for the Cubs midweek.

To add to the fantasy talent pool, Chase Utley (knees) is due to be back in the Phillies' lineup Wednesday. He is a viable starter in all leagues immediately, even if he is a shell of his former self.

3B Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox -- It was a week for the rookies. While Angels outfielder Mike Trout stayed hot and stole five bases, Diamondbacks lefty Wade Miley led all pitchers. But the week goes to Middlebrooks, who made Youkilis expendable with a 10-for-16 (.625) with three homers and 10 RBI. Middlebrooks led all batters in scoring, despite just 16 at-bats, and he earned full-time duty at the expense of Youkilis.

RP Aroldis Chapman, Reds -- What a difference a month makes? After earning the closer's role with arguably the six most dominant weeks of being a setup man, Chapman now might be a candidate to hand the job back to Sean Marshall, who hasn't allowed a run in two weeks. Chapman took a 0.00 ERA into June, but he has been abused to the tune of a 7.71 ERA this month. He has racked up four losses and blown three saves, including his past two chances. Dusty Baker isn't ready to go back to Marshall, but the question has to be raised by forward-looking fantasy owners. "Before, everybody was crying for Chapman," Baker told The Sports Xchange. "Now, they're crying for somebody else. It's easy to say get somebody else, but who knows if you're going to find somebody better. He used to be the darling."

Most added

1. SP Dillon Gee, Mets -- A two-start week will get you added in a lot of leagues, but so will seven consecutive quality starts. Gee isn't a must-have, but he has proven steady at least.

2. SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- It took five starts in the majors, but Jurrjens finally looks viable again. It should take a string of more quality starts before we trust him in fantasy, though.

3. SP Jake Westbrook, Cardinals -- Like Gee, another two-start pitcher going in with a string of quality starts. He has a chance to be useful in mixed leagues in spurts.

4. 3B Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox -- There is no way he can sustain this kind of elite production, but he is at least worth owning and starting in all leagues for as long as this lasts.

5. SP Chris Archer, Rays -- He took a loss, but that was one impressive debut. He has a chance to stick around and be a winner for fantasy owners for a few weeks until the All-Star break.

Most dropped

1. SP Brandon Beachy, Braves -- Well, he sure wasn't looking like a disappointment, but Tommy John surgery clinches that now. Yet another warning on the perils of trusting young pitching.

2. SP Jerome Williams, Angels -- He lost his past three starts and needed a DL stint. You won't be missing much, really. He is a marginal option best left for deeper leagues, once healthy.

3. SP Felipe Paulino, Royals -- He goes from Royals ace to Tommy John surgery. That is now four Royals requiring that procedure this year. It might be time to evaluate their throwing programs.

4. 1B Mitch Moreland, Rangers -- Save for a big May (.324-5-14-14), he hasn't been fantasy-worthy at the deep first base position.

5. SP Aaron Harang, Dodgers -- Ah, the danger of streaming two-start pitchers. Harang should have dominated the A's, instead he walked eight of them. Eight walks in one start is tough to do. Sometimes you're just better off starting your safe one-start pitchers.

Most traded: Buy, sell or hold

1. SP Tim Lincecum, Giants -- He was in danger of losing his rotation spot, particularly with his awful first inning Friday, but he rebounded and might be ready to be useful again. We might have seen his rock bottom and there is no place to go but up. BUY

2. SP Cliff Lee, Phillies -- His winless stretch wasn't his own doing until now. This is good news, because a monster ace is as available as ever. The Phillies are getting Chase Utley back Wednesday and Ryan Howard in July, so expect a revival all around. BUY

3. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- He is getting hot and the permanent move back to first base should help stabilize him. Expect him to take off. BUY

4. SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners -- He kicked his slump with a pair of great outings. Consider them convenient for you to find a buyer. King Felix's hype and name carries more weight than his actual production. SELL

5. OF Justin Upton, Diamondbacks -- Perhaps that benching was exactly what he needed. He has scorched of late, going 8-for-15 with nine RBI and five runs in his past four games. He might not be easy to trade for now. HOLD

Eric Mack writes fantasy for If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).