Category Archives: Bobby Valentine

Youkilis, Middlebrooks and New England Royalty

Will MIddlebrooks has been off to a hot start – but what’s going to happen when Kevin Youkilis returns from the DL? Middlebrooks’ hot start will push The King of Walks to be the King of mashing the ball more.

LIVINGSTONE McGILLIGAN: Will Middlebrooks could be hitting .400 when Kevin Youkilis comes of the disabled list and I’m not sure that would be enough to keep him at third base for the Boston Red Sox.

Middlebrooks isn’t simply up against the incumbent at Fenway’s hot corner; he’s competing with a member of New England royalty.

Here’s a quick overview of New England Royalty:

1.       Any member of the Kennedy family.

2.       Tom Brady

3.       Red Sox players (LIVINGSTONE: Even Billy Buckner??)

4.       Larry Bird

5.       Any other Celtics

6.    Bill Belichick

7.       Patriot players

8.       Bobby Orr

9.    Bruins players

10.   Matt Damon (he was wicked smart) and Ben Affleck

Youkilis is elevated slightly above the average Red Sox player because he married Tom Brady’s sister. This essentially makes him an honorary Kennedy.

In addition to this, Youkilis has been one of the most consistent hitters in Major League Baseball for several years. However, injuries have limited him the past two season and 2011 was the first time he hit under .280 since 2007. Add to this the rocky start with manager Bobby Valentine – for the record, completely Bobby V’s fault – and Youkilis seems to be in decline.

Middlebrooks success since his call up has been a bright spot in an otherwise terrible start to the season for the Red Sox. Middlebrooks is hitting .409 with seven extra-base hits and nine RBIs in four games. According to boston.com, Middlebrooks is the first player since Enos Slaughter in 1938 to have at least one extra-base hit in each of his first five games in the majors. However, he’s not without some injury concerns of his own. Middlebrooks was taken out of Tuesday’s game in the second inning after feeling some tightness in his left hamstring. It’s the second time since his call up he’s been taken out of a game because of the issue.

Once Youkilis returns from the DL, Valentine will have to decide between the two. Given Youkilis history, it’s hard to imagine him not being reinserted into the lineup.

The only way this doesn’t happen is if Middlebrooks marries a Kennedy in the next week and helps the Celtics win a playoff game. The only way for Youk to top that is to announce he and Brady’s sister are having a boy and Belichik declares he’s going to trade up to get him in the first-round to be Tom’s eventual replacement.

Random Note:

A few weeks ago I wrote about how the Red Sox season had a chance to turn around because of the Ben Affleck Movie Release Date Theory. Essentially, any time Affleck has a movie released in October, the Sox win the World Series. Well the trailer for Argo is out with Affleck directing and starring. The movie is set for an October release. In Ben, Red Sox Nation trusts.

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Bobby Valentine calling out Youkilis makes no sense

 

Sox Manager Bobby Valentine called out Kevin Youkilis for not being into the games physically and emotionally - after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays. Say what?

McGILLIGAN: This better be some type of genius managerial strategy Bobby Valentine picked up in Japan because that’s the only way his Sunday night comments make sense.

Here’s what Valentine said on WHDH’s SportsXtra show regarding third baseman Kevin Youkilis:

“I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”

Kevin Youkilis struggled in the first two series of the season.

There weren’t many Boston Red Sox that didn’t. However, Youkilis hits in a coveted spot usually between Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz, so his value is high for a team expected to have one of the best offenses this year.

So when he turned it around in the past three games – all wins against the Tampa Bay Rays – things seemed to be swinging in the Red Sox favour.

Then came the out-of-nowhere criticisms of Youkilis by Valentine following a 6-4 win on Sunday.

In three-straight wins, Youkilis is hitting .400 with three RBI and six runs scored. Prior to the three wins he was 2-20 with six strikeouts and 10 men left on base for a club that went 1-5.

This is why Valentine’s comments make no sense. If you criticize a guy in the media, it usually occurs when he’s playing poorly and the team is struggling, not when things are going good.

Another oddity of the statement is Youkilis “not being emotionally into the game.” This is something no one has ever said about the Greek God of Walks (to be fair I referred to him as the Greek God of Walking Back to the Dugout during his early struggles).

The statement led to some interesting comments from Red Sox leader Dustin Pedroia.

“I don’t know what Bobby’s trying to do, but that’s not the way we do things here,” said Pedroia on MLB.com. “Maybe that stuff works in Japan.”

Youkilis said he was confused by Valentine’s comments and said it wasn’t how he saw it. For his part Valentine apologized to Youkilis and offered this explanation on MLB.com.

“I answered the question that, I think the question was, ‘It’s not Youk-like the way he’s playing.’ I think that was the question I answered,” Valentine said. “I should have explained that his swing isn’t what he wants it to be. The physical part of his swing is frustrating. Frustration leads to emotion. I haven’t seen him break as many helmets as I’ve seen on TV. It just seemed different.

“At the end of the thing, I said I don’t know what the reason is because I haven’t been here long enough. I don’t know why his swing isn’t exactly the way he wants it to be and why he wasn’t throwing as many helmets. I thought it was rather innocuous. Matter of fact, it seemed like they were trying to bang him and I started out by saying how good his at-bats were that day, his two walks.”

The key statement is “I haven’t been here long enough.” I won’t pretend to know the intricacies of major league managing, but if you haven’t been there long enough to form an opinion why make a statement.

This may amount to nothing in the end, but isn’t it too early for the manager to be apologizing for statements (non-Castro related) and team leaders having to step in and defend teammates. Perhaps this is a strategy Bobby V is employing that will have long term benefits and I will look back and call him a genius. Perhaps.

Here’s the thing, the Sox are winning. So if that continue this all goes away, if not we should prepare ourselves for the inundation of stories and call-in shows asking the question ‘Has Bobby V already lost the clubhouse?’

One thing is for sure, there’s not going to be a dull moment this season in Beantown.

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