Kevin Youkilis to don pinstripes, but will it work out in NY?
It’s always a difficult moment for Red Sox fans when a beloved player (past or present) jumps ship to join the Yankees. It’s not an unprecedented move; former hub favorites Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon both were pinstripes. Next in line, pending a physical, will be Kevin Youkilis.
In fact, Youkilis will be the eighth member of the 2004 World Series Champion Sox team to go on to play for the rival Yankees (joining Damon, Mark Bellhorn, Derek Lowe, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mike Myers, Alan Embree and Ramiro Mendoza).
But Youkilis joining the Yankees is heart-breaking because for many years, Youkilis was at the epicenter of the Boston/New York rivalry. He was a born-and-bred Red Sox, drafted by Boston in the eighth round of the 2001 draft before rising up in the farm system to debut with the big club in 2004. Youkilis played in 72 games that season and appeared in every postseason game that year to help the Sox reverse the 86-year World Series “curse”.
Youkilis has a reputation as a gritty, hard-nosed player who isn’t afraid to get dirty and sweats more than any pro baseball player in the league. He has a trademark goatee that he will have to shave off as a member of the Yankees.
The Greek God of Walks, Youkilis always finds a way to get on base, even if that means putting himself in harm’s way. Last season, he led the league in getting hit by a pitch. He has often been the target of Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain, and the enmity between the two has produced its share of on-field brawls. There’s no telling what that relationship will be like when the pair share a locker room.
But as much as this signing might hurt the hearts of Sox fans across the nation, it seems like the Yankees might be signing a bust. Youkilis, who will turn 34 during Spring Training, has seen his numbers decline over the past two seasons. His batting average dropped from .258 in 2011 to .235 in 2012. He has not been in the best shape, leading Bobby Valentine to question his commitment in 2012, and is injury prone.
In 2012 alone, he suffered from knee problems, an injured left arm, a sprained left ankle, lower back problems and a quadriceps issue. The main reason the Yankees are signing Youkilis is as a replacement for Alex Rodriguez, who is expected to miss half the season while he recovers from hip surgery.
Still, Youkilis is a player the Yankees think is worth $12 million per year. For perspective, Dustin Pedroia will make $10 million in 2013 with the Red Sox.
If Youkilis passes his physical, shaves off his goatee and dons the pinstripes next season, it will surely be painful for Red Sox fans, but in the end, this deal could prove just as painful for Yankees fans.