Signing Youk a potential boon to Yanks

Though it’s seemed like yeoman’s work at times, the Yankees have spent the offseason methodically checking off nearly all of the names on their Hot Stove wish list. With the notable exception of Russell Martin, the Yankees have landed nearly all of their principal targets, from Hiroki Kuroda through, reportedly, Ichiro Suzuki. By agreeing to terms with Kevin Youkilis yesterday, the Yankees even landed their first choice for an unexpected opening filling in for Alex Rodriguez while he recovers from hip surgery. The move may also prove to be just what the doctor ordered for the Yankees’ offense.

Yes, yes, I know that not everyone is fond of the move, and many of the complaints are fair. Youkilis isn’t actually that old at just 33 years old, but he’s fairly injury prone at this point in his career, and he had a down year in 2012 with some fairly nasty splits. That said, it’s important to remember that the Yankees didn’t enter the offseason anticipating a need for a third baseman, and that they weren’t necessarily looking for any more than an interim starter to keep the seat warm for A-Rod. Given the circumstances, it’s hard to argue that there were any clearly better alternatives on the market. Perhaps a platoon of Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez would have been better (and cheaper) in the best case scenario, but on the other hand using two players to fill a temporary hole could quickly lead to a roster crunch, especially when Alex returns. With Youkilis, the Yankees have someone who can handle the position every day, and could even remain in the A-lineup if and when A-Rod returns, with one o the other handling the DH duties.

Of course, the wild card here is Youkilis’ health and performance. On the former, I don’t know how optimistic you can really be. Youkilis has never played more than 147 games in his career, hasn’t played in 136 games since 2009, and played in 120 and 122 games in the past two years, respectively. Keeping him on the field will be a big challenge for the Yankees, but then that would have true of a player like Chavez too. On the production front, I’m somewhat more optimistic, if only because there is reason to think Youkilis is still better than his 2012 numbers. For one thing, he still mashed lefties and kept his peripherals pretty close to his career norm. For another, he’s only a year removed from an eminently respectable campaign in 2011 in which his hit .258/.373/.459, for a wRC+ 0f 126. If he gets close to that as an interim third baseman/designated hitter the Yankees will make out pretty well on this contract. Even in the worst case scenario, though, his 102 wRC+ from last year would hardly be a disaster from a replacement starter.

(And yes, that’s a picture of Youkilis crying to the umps after he was called out for interference after sliding a few feet out of the baseline to take out Derek Jeter on a double play, which is probably my favorite Youk-moment of all time. What, you thought I was going to stop hating the guy that easily?)

19 thoughts on “Signing Youk a potential boon to Yanks

  1. roadrider

    Between this and the potential (insane) 2-yr deal for Suzuki it's going to be tough for me to work up much enthusiasm for this team next season.

    • cLINT

      THIS TEAM IS HELD TOGETHER WITH BUBBLEGUM AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS. HARDLY A DANGER TO ANYONE… RAYS, JAYS, BIRDS HAVE EACH RETOOLED. SOX ALWAYS A CONCERN. YANKS ARE JUST ORDINARY THUS FAR.

      • getdownmoses

        Well Clint we're fielding almost the same 'ordinary' team we won the division with last year and none of those jokers (except the birds) even came close. For once the Sox are not a concern.

      • Erm, far be it from me to argue with all caps, but the Rays “re-tooled” by…trading away their co-ace.

        • Chris

          Couldn't agree more. The Rays made a dangerous move shipping out a stud on the mound. I don't see the O's repeating the magic. They won sooooo many 9th inning games that statistics are overwhelmingly against them doing that again. The Sox still have no pitching. They have 2 proven starters, Lackey and then mystery men. I'll take the Yanks with Phil Hughes as the #4 starter over any other AL East team at this point. Our defense will only be better with Gardner in the OF and even stronger with Ichiro (no offense to Ibanez, etc, but they weren't very good defenders).

  2. Bill

    While this is not a powerhouse, dynastic group, it still has the ability to compete, contend and even win. The overall inflexibility of the offense in the last couple of years has been frustrating, because if the ball wasn't flying out of the ball park, this team had a hard time winning. A lot has to go right for this team to win, but isn't that the case anyway? The pitching staff has some age, but it also has some talented youth (Hughes, Phelps, Nova, Robertson, Chamberlain and hopefully Pineda). The lineup you have now has a little more speed (a healthy Gardner and a motivated Ichiro) and has added a tenacious presence in Youkilis. There's still considerable power with Teixeira, Cano and if Granderson stays and returns to form. Plus, Ichiro and Youkilis are probably good for 30 homers between them. Over the last couple of years, Cashman has cobbled together a decent bench, so that probably won't be a huge issue. No, this team won't win 114 games. But can this team win 92-95 games and win a division. Absolutely. After that it becomes the crapshoot it always is now. I'm starting to look forward to 2013, but with realistic expectations.

    • roadrider

      Plus, Ichiro and Youkilis are probably good for 30 homers between them.

      Put me down for the under on that one.

    • Sherm

      Yeah, Cashman has done a good job in light of the long-term spending restrictions. This team has enough talent to win 92-95 games. But it also has enough age to win 72-75. It will be an interesting season.

  3. getdownmoses

    Just imagine if Youk puts up his 2010 line:
    .307 / .411 / .564
    The main thing I like about this signing is that we needed another right handed batter. Oh and a one year deal, I like those.

  4. John

    Like this deal, but damn if won't be really strange seeing Youk in a Yankee uniform. Very, very strange.

  5. Chris

    The Youk signing makes sense if he can stay healthy. Odds are 50-50 but they were about 25-75 with Chavez and Keppinger wanted a multi-year deal (not to mention he is coming off a broken leg so let's see how that plays out). It is the best of a bad situation and the one year deal is the only way the team was going to go with AROD due back and $ issues for 2014.

  6. the ghost of george

    seeing youk in a yankee uniform won't be any different than clemens or damon…and think about how quickly yankee fans turned their hatred into applause when those guys performed after a very brief period of awkwardness…would love to see kevin drop a few pounds, show up to camp in ridiculous shape, and be driven all year to prove naysayers wrong that he is washed up…for $12 million, i will take that deal…and if he can regain that edge and bring a "football" mentality to the yankees, that will also help a lot…who doesn't yearn for the days when tino and paulie brought the FIGHT every day?

  7. a57se

    So now we are spending approximately 40 million dollars on our third basemen next season? I can't wait to see the production we get for that kind of money!

    • mcmastro

      YEAH! THEY SHOULD JUST PLAY WITHOUT A THIRD BASEMEN!

      that'll show 'em that we're really serious about this austerity thing!

      • basil

        But not without a catcher, since, as Casey once astutely pointed out, without a catcher, you get a lot of passed balls.

        • chris

          I am not so sure that the catcher issue is over. They do have 2 guys who can help on the defensive side, maybe not as strong as Martin, but adequate. I would be surprised if the Yankees don't make some move prior to opening day. There is always the possibility they make a trade that involves Granderson or another player for a catcher and who knows how far the market will continue to slide for A.J. now that the Sox have Napoli. If the Yanks could sign A.J. for a one year deal or a 2 year deal, they may go that route. I think the Martin thing was really about $ and years (more about years). Paying 8-9 million per for 3 years for a great defensive catcher who bats below 230 is not financially sound.

  8. DustyYF

    My issue is silly (but hey! This is sports, not oncology. I'm allowed to be silly): I think of Youkilis as a Red Sock and just do not want to root for him. Seriously, he's been THAT guy for the Sox that I just love to hate.

    Ugh…so yeah, I hope he starts the season 0 for 100, gets DFA'd and then replaced by some kid in the system. Or Eduardo Nunez. Anybody.

  9. Alex

    Couldnt there be a possibility of dealing Youk at the deadline, since ARod should be back by late June/early July… why not use him for a few months and then unload him for a prospect or perhaps a bullpen piece if needed

    • chris

      My thoughts exactly. If Youk is hitting, say over 250 with decent power, the Yanks could flip him for bullpen help or whatever need they may have at that point and use Nix/Nunez to relieve the infielders. That being said, Youk is also a pretty good 1b as well and right now we have no one to give Tex any time off and with Youk in the fold, he can spell Tex here and there in the first part of the season playing one of the youngsters at 3b and play a lot of time at DH, 3b, 1b in the 2nd half of the season.

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