Cubs

Sox Drawer: Youkilis deal an absolute steal

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Sox Drawer: Youkilis deal an absolute steal

If someone would have told you on Opening Day that on June 24 the White Sox would acquire Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox for Brent Lillibridge, Zach Stewart and a big wad of cash, you would have probably questioned that persons mental health.

No offense to Lillibridge, Stewart and the 5.6 million the White Sox will receive to pay the rest of Youks salary in 2012, but on paper this is a steal, a heist, a downright burglary at Fenway Park.

If MLB isnt investigating this, somebody might want to contact the FBI.

The White Sox traded a utility man batting .175 and a pitcher just recently sent to the minors with a 6.00 ERA in return for a truck load of money plus a guy who is a Boston legend, a clubhouse leader and an actual, major-league third baseman, which until 4 p.m. Sunday the White Sox did not even possess.

The critics out there (I believe there are four of them -- not including the Tigers, Indians and Royals who I understand are calling a private investigator at this very moment), will point to Youkilis declining numbers the last three seasons and say that he doesnt have much left in the tank.

That might be correct, but have you seen the production the White Sox have been getting at third base? Collectively theyve batted .167, the worst offensive position in the majors. There are currently 19 National League pitchers with at least 20 at-bats who are hitting for a higher average. Just the mere presence of a living, breathing Kevin Youkilis in the lineup is a vast improvement.

Worst-case scenerio? The trade is a wash.

Best-case scenerio? He helps lead the White Sox to a division title, maybe more.

Youkilis, an All-Star as recently as last season, is having the worst year of his career. He missed 22 games with a lower-back strain. His average has dropped from .253 to .233 in June. He clashed with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine before rookie Will Middlebrooks stole his job at third base.

His stock could not have been any lower. So the White Sox pounced.

Hes an on-base percentage guy, another guy that is not afraid to get a big hit, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. We just thought at this time it was necessary to make the trade and necessary to do it sooner rather than later.

Youkilis will take over third base from Orlando Hudson who has batted just .170 since signing with the White Sox last month. What does Hudson think about the deal? Just a hunch, but I believe hes fine with it.

If I was a GM, Id make the same trade, Hudson said. Im not the best third baseman over there, plus Im not swinging the bat well, so definitely Id make the same trade.

So would Paul Konerko.

There is no way we are not a better team with Kevin Youkilis, Konerko told reporters. He is just too good of a player and has been through all the wars and is still relatively a young guy (hes 33). 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.

In past years, Williams traded for big-name stars like Ken Griffey, Jr. and Manny Ramirez while both were coasting towards the end of their careers. They didnt have any fire left, mainly fumes.

But judging by what Williams heard when he spoke to his new third baseman on the phone Sunday, Youkilis is apparently a man on a mission.

He has a little edge to him, which I like, Williams said.

Asked to elaborate, Williams answered, I cant tell you exactly what he said, but he wants to come in and he wants to prove some people wrong.

The White Sox are in Boston for a four-game series July 16-19. Youkilis will be there.

The playoffs begin the first weekend in October. Well see if the White Sox are there, too.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

Cubs Talk Podcast: Schwarber, Baez on night to remember at the Home Run Derby

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull spoke with Javier Baez and Kyle Schwarber after an electric and entertaining Home Run Derby in Washington D.C.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

Who Knew? Cubs at the All-Star Break

With a break in the action, let’s take a look at the season so far.

Today, I’ll focus on the first 57.4% of the Cubs’ 2018 season. Which is to say, the 93 games before the All-Star Break. Clearly more than “half.”

In all seasons with an All-Star Game (1933-present, minus 1945)

This is the fifth time the Cubs have had the National League’s best record at the All-Star Break.

Here is the entire list (note – 2016 is NOT on this list. They trailed the Giants by 3 games at the Break in 2016):

1937 44-25 +2.0
1969 61-37 +5.0
2001 51-35 +0.5
2008 57-38 +4.5
2018 55-38 +2.5

Which is incredible since:

• Anthony Rizzo has a wRC+ of 100, which is league average

(he was at 131 – 31% better than league average - through the All-Star break last season)

• Kris Bryant has missed 23 games and has only 10 home runs

• The Cubs as a team have 30 fewer Home Runs through 93 games than they did last season

(100 this season, 130 last season)

• The Cubs have had six pitchers make 8 or more starts this season and only one (Jon Lester – 2.58) has an ERA under 3.90

• Cubs pitching has an MLBhigh walk percentage of 11.0%

(Tyler Chatwood’s 9 starts with 5 or more walks is most in a season by a Cubs pitcher since Dick Drott’s 13 in 1957)

• Cubs have outscored their opponents by only one run in the first inning (5251)

This includes being outscored 18-13 in the first inning in Kyle Hendricks’ 19 starts

• Cubs are 57 against the Reds

(they were 27-11 against Cincinnati in 2016-17)

That being said, it's not so incredible since...

• The Cubs have scored at least 10 runs 15 times this season. No other team has done it more than 12 times.

• Jason Heyward has a wRC+ of 109 (he’s 9% better than league average)

This is notable because in 2016 he was at 71 (29% worse than league average) and 88 in 2017 (12% worse than league average).

• The Cubs have EIGHT qualified players with at least a .340 OnBase pct. (and Ian Happ, who is eight PA short of qualifying, is at .379)

The only qualified Cub with a SUB-.340 OBP is Javier Báez (.326 – a career-high). However…

• Javier Báez has 50 extrabase hits in 91 games. Last season he had 49 extra-base hits in 145 games.

Báez is the first player in Cubs history with 15 Doubles, 5 Triples, 15 HR and 15 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

Báez is the first player in MLB history with 18 Doubles, 6 Triples, 18 HR and 18 Stolen Bases before the All-Star Break**.

**seasons with an All-Star Game – 1933-present (minus 1945)