BOSTON, MA: Adrian Gonzalez #28 of the Boston Red Sox and Matt Wieters #32 of the Baltimore Orioles watch a two-run double by Gonzalez during the first inning of the game at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
We've discussed that there are teams interested in acquiring Kevin Youkilis, and reasons why the Red Sox should be ready to move on to Will Middlebrooks as the full-time third baseman in Boston, but until Wednesday, no one had heard much about what Youk thinks of the situation. After an interview with the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman, we have a pretty good idea, and it doesn't take much reading between the lines to get there:
"Yeah, if you get traded, you have to go play baseball, you've got a contract and stuff like that, you're playing the game," said Youkilis on whether he would be OK hearing he got traded. "I don't know the right way to put it - if I get traded, I get traded. Nothing you can do. I wouldn't be the first or the last person here in this room to be traded."
Silverman then mentions that Youkilis brought up Nomar Garciaparra's being dealt in 2004, an interesting choice given Nomar was noted to be unhappy in the clubhouse at that stage of his career. Youkilis went on to say:
"Am I happy here this year?" Youkilis said, repeating the question. "I mean, did it start out well this year? It hasn't been fun. So what are you going to do? You've got a game, you've got your teammates, you've got to play. That's all you can do."
Not to get all armchair sports psychologist here, but that was an awful lot of words to imply an answer of "no." It's hard to blame Youkilis for that, though, if he is unhappy at the moment. He's not hitting well, has a new manager for the first time in his career -- one who criticized Youkilis in the media and reportedly has wanted Will Middlebrooks at third since the spring -- and is once again dealing with injuries. A positive demeanor will only last so long in this scenario, even with the most cheery, and Youk's never seemed the sunny sort.
A change of scenery might do Youkilis a world of good, especially if his new digs are located in the lesser National League. With luck, inquiring trade partners will feel the same way.
Adrian Gonzalez has had problems at the plate this year. He posted a 701 OPS through May 6 until finally speaking up about it and telling everyone that the numbers would come. While he's been better since, it's not by much -- his .257/.299/.441 line over his last 35 games is worrisome.
Separating this from his second half of 2011, in which it was clear something was off with his swing that was likely no longer bothering him when he put up a .318/.455/.523 line in September, makes sense. Gonzalez has spent most of 2012 digging holes for himself in each plate appearance, and that's why he's struggling to hit for power or draw walks at the moment. ESPN.com's Jeremy Lundblad detailed just how deep those holes are earlier on Wednesday.
In bullet form:
- Gonzalez is swinging at more first pitches than in the past, and unlike in 2011, isn't seeing those fall for hits. It resembles pressing more than whacking the first good offering a pitcher happens to throw.
- He should be in control of plate appearances when the pitcher has fallen behind and issued three balls, but instead, Gonzalez, "looks lost, appearing to be torn between drawing walks and breaking out of his season-long slump."
- He's chasing far too many pitches out of the zone, and while that's him keep up his typical success going the other way, it's done absolutely nothing for him in terms of reducing his swings-and-misses, or in making solid contact.
- Pitchers are starting to react to this, giving him more stuff outside on the road, where the Green Monster can't hurt them, and pitching him inside and up more often at home.
Much of Gonzalez's struggles remind me of the early-2009 version of David Ortiz, at least in terms of how he's letting pitchers dictate the at-bats. Instead of only swinging at the stuff he can do something with outside, he's going after nearly everything, and he hasn't been able to square up on the pitches inside that he normally would crush. This has resulted in less success up the middle and when the ball is pulled. Ortiz recovered from these early struggles after two months and tore the league up the rest of the way. Gonzalez hasn't taken that step yet, but he's capable of slowing things down and taking control against pitchers once more. Will he be do just that is another question, though.
This is a few days old, but it escaped me until recently. Scott Lauber:
McDonald was set to be designated before Scott Podsednik? Yes, Pods is hitting since his call-up, but this doesn't change his inherent Scott Podsednikness. McDonald is under team control for a few more years, and while he's nothing amazing in stints in center, neither is Podsednik, who has mostly been in left during his career in spite of his speed for a reason.
Here's hoping that Boston figured they could slip McDonald through and retain him were they to designate him. While Boston's outfield is apt to be more crowded in the coming months, injuries happen, as the first two-and-a-half months of the season have reminded, mostly recently with Daniel Nava receiving a cortisone shot and missing a few games. In that situation, McDonald is likely a more useful piece than Podsednik.