Thursday, December 13, 2012

Youkilis could pull an Ichiro-like Yankees revival

I’m not crazy about the idea of Kevin Youkilis becoming a member of the New York Yankees, but I’m hoping I’m wrong about him, just as I was wrong about Ichiro Suzuki.

Reports indicate that the Yankees are close to finalizing deals with both Youkilis and Ichiro soon. I’m happy to welcome Ichiro back as he proved to be a valuable addition to the Yankees during the 2012 season. I’m a lot less excited about Youkilis playing third base for the Bronx Bombers.

My hesitation about Youkilis has nothing to do with him being a former member of the Boston Red Sox, although he will probably never earn my affection, just like Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon never won me over despite World Series championships. My issue with Youkilis is that I don’t think he’s a very good player anymore, certainly not worth the $12 million the Yankees threw in his direction. His batting average has slipped in recent years although he had a decent second half in 2012 after being traded to the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees were in a tight spot because they needed a third baseman for at least the first half of 2013, but didn’t want to make any multi-year offers to anyone due to their newfound austerity. They had to go with who they could afford and so they decided Youkilis was the best one-year option for them.  

But I’m willing to entertain the possibility of Youkilis becoming a new man in the Bronx and Ichiro is the only reason for that. I wasn’t crazy about the trade for Ichiro last season because I thought it was a typical, old-Yankees style move: trading for an aging veteran with tremendous name recognition who could no longer play up to his previously high standards. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. It turned out that all Ichiro needed was a change of scenery to rediscover his stroke and love for the game of baseball. He proved to be a terrific addition to the Yankees, both on the field and in the clubhouse.

Maybe Youkilis will win Yankee fans over, just like he won the hearts of Red Sox Nation, by pulling an Ichiro and reviving his career in pinstripes. I’m willing to give him that chance.

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