Monday, June 25, 2012
Clearing the bases: Youkilis traded
By David Schoenfield
First base: Goodbye, Youk. Kudos to White Sox general manager Kenny Williams for not waiting until late July to shore up his team's third-base problem. White Sox third basemen (mostly Brent Morel and Orlando Hudson) had combined to hit .167 with one home run, and they ranked last in the majors in home runs, batting average, OBP, slugging, RBIs and extra-base hits. So Kevin Youkilis doesn't have to be great -- even if he matches the .233/.315/.377 line he had with Boston, that's a big improvement. If he matches the .258/.373/.459 he put up in 2011, even better. Considering the White Sox will have to pay only $2 million of the remaining $7.8 million owed to Youkilis, it's a low-risk move by Williams that only cost him a back-of-the-staff pitcher in Zach Stewart and utility player Brent Lillibridge. Paul Konerko summed it up best: "There is no way we are not a better team with Kevin Youkilis. He is just too good of a player and has been through all the wars, and is still relatively a young guy. We just have to keep him on the field. If that is the case, it could be one of the bigger steals of the season."
Second base: Low-scoring duels. The White Sox and Brewers played two 1-0 games over the weekend, with both games going 10 innings. The Brewers won on Friday with Zack Greinke getting the win with nine scoreless innings, and the White Sox won on Sunday as rookie Jose Quintana tossed eight scoreless frames for the second straight start. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last time teams split 1-0 extra-inning games in the same series was 1975, when the Giants and Phillies did so. In those games, Giants starters Ed Halicki (10.2 innings) and John Montefusco (10 innings) both went the distance. Yes, I just wanted to mention John Montefusco.
Third base: Interleague play wraps up. The American League clobbered the National League in interleague play, going 142-110, a .563 winning percentage. Only five NL teams posted winning records -- the Nationals (10-8), Pirates (10-8), Cardinals (8-7), Diamondbacks (9-6) and, of course, the Padres (8-7). The contending team that suffered the most was the Marlins, who went 5-13 -- even though they didn't have to play the Yankees. They went 1-5 against both the Rays and Red Sox. The Marlins scored nine runs to beat the Blue Jays 9-0 on Sunday, breaking a stretch of 25 consecutive games scoring five runs or fewer, longest in MLB this season. Over those 25 games they went 8-17, hit .228 and averaged 3.0 runs per game. In his past 17 games, Hanley Ramirez is homerless while hitting just .200 with three RBIs.
Home plate: Tweet of the day. Aroldis Chapman gave up another game-winning home run, a two-run shot to Minnesota's Josh Willingham that gave the Twins a 4-3 victory. Joe Mauer's double off a 99-mph fastball preceeded Willingham's blast. It's Chapman's fourth loss in seven appearances.