The developing debate at the hot corner
The Red Sox have an old-fashioned quarterback controversy developing here. Well, make that a third base controversy.
Will Middlebrooks, the prized prospect, is hitting the cover off the ball. Kevin Youkilis is on the disabled list, resting his ailing back.
So what happens when Youkilis comes back? The earliest Youk can play is next Monday at home against the Indians. Given that he had just started a walking program the other day, it sounds ambitious that he would return that soon.
In other words, Middlebrooks will get a chance to keep proving himself, like he did Monday night, when he put on a Tour De Force of power at Kauffman Stadium. He curled one around the RF foul pole. He smashed one off the wall in center. He clanged one off the LF foul pole. For those keeping score at home, Middlebrooks has nine RBIs in the last two games.
To take it a step further, Youkilis has nine RBIs in 64 at-bats. Middlebrooks has had 21 at-bats.
Can Youkilis revert back to the star he was before injuries started taking a toll on him in August of 2010? In his last 143 at-bats dating back to Aug. 1 of last season, Youkilis is hitting .203 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
But what happens when scouting reports start to develop on Middlebrooks? Does he then tail off or does he adjust quickly?
There is a lot to think about for the Red Sox. Youkilis obviously doesn’t have a lot of trade value at the moment, given his $12 million salary for this season. He is a free agent following the year, and the Red Sox hold a $13 million option on him with a $1 million buyout.
Could a situation develop where Youkilis is the veteran stuck on the bench, like Mike Lowell in 2010?
Or do the Red Sox deal Youkilis, in which case they will likely have to eat a lot of the salary.
This is yet another tough decision for Ben Cherington to be faced with in his first season as general manager.
Middlebrooks and the Red Sox are back out there tonight in an 8:05 p.m. ET contest at Kauffman Stadium.