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Everyone knew it; it was all over ESPN, every recent baseball article, any analyst had the insight: Kevin Youkilis' time in a Red Sox uniform was drawing to a close. A guy who spent his entire 9-year career in Boston was shipped to the Chicago White Sox before the final out was recorded yesterday, but he made sure to leave a fitting mark on Fenway, recording an RBI triple in the 7th to drive the nail home on another Boston victory.
Youkilis came into the league in 2004, making a modest impact hitting .260 with 7 HRs and 35 RBIs in 208 ABs. Over the span of his career, Youk was a dangerous hitter; he could hit for average and power, but had one of the most impressive plate disciplines of any player in baseball. The man simply refused to have a bad at-bat.
As a Yankees fan, I hate Youk. Why? You could be up a run, two outs in the seventh and feeling good, only to have him step up to the plate. And it sucked, because you knew he would never go down without a fight, battling through pitches and eventually earning a walk or, at worst, a double. But as a baseball fanatic, I love him. He is the kind of hitter you want to be: patient, calculating, never satisfied. As a coach, I would show film of his at-bats to players knowing it would be the best look they would ever get at what it takes to be successful.
So after nine years, what do the Sox get in return from Chicago? To be honest, not very much. But it's what we all expected; Youk has been plagued by injuries the last few years, seemingly spending more time on the DL than on the field. His numbers have been down, especially in 2012 (.233/.315/.377). For Youk, Boston received utilityman Brent Lillibridge and Triple-A righty Zach Stewart. Entering his fifth season, Lillibridge is only hitting .175 this year with no homers and 2 RBIs. Stewart is 1-2 with an ERA of 6.00. On top of some mediocre prospects, Boston also agreed to pay $5.5 of the near $7 million remaining on Youk's contract. A hefty price to pay but unfortunately, it had to be done.
Youkilis was an integral piece of the Red Sox line-up for many years, contributing more than just stats to the clubhouse. His demeanor and heart shaped Boston's determination to win games and secure championships (two, in fact, since he joined in '04). We all wish him the best over in Chicago. Now, enjoy this highlight reel of his final plays as a member of the Red Sox and wipe that tear from your eye. This too shall pass, this too shall pass.
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