White Sox

Hoge’s White Sox Mailbag: Is There A Downside To Youkilis Deal?

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Kevin Youkilis. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Kevin Youkilis. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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By Adam Hoge-

(CBS) The White Sox made an important move Sunday, adding third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Naturally, there is plenty of buzz about the deal in this week’s mailbag. As always, questions are left unedited:

Is there any downside to this Youkilis deal? – Rob, LaGrange

It’s hard to find one, but if I had to get picky, the depth in the outfield took a hit with this trade. Jordan Danks is now the only true outfielder on the bench, although it’s possible Eduardo Escobar — who played one game in left field this season — will see some more playing time out there.

Orlando Hudson now takes over the Kosuke Fukudome role as the limited veteran bench player. I can’t help but wonder if he finishes the year with the White Sox. He’ll basically be limited to backing up Gordon Beckham at second base because Escobar is the better option to back up third and short. But Escobar can play second too and Beckham rarely sits as it is. Hudson has value as a switch hitter who can still run a little bit, but if he struggles as a pinch hitter, he might not last the rest of the season on the South Side.

While the outfield depth takes a minor hit, the move opens up more playing time for both Escobar and Danks, both of whom are considered mid-level prospects. They aren’t necessarily guys you need to play every single day, but you do want them playing more than they have so far.

So there, even the one downside of the deal has an upside.

Does this mean the Sox are once again all-in? – Denise, Chicago

Another upside to this deal is that it occurred early enough that the White Sox still have a month to decide if they are buyers or sellers.

I think everyone in the organization believes the White Sox can win the division this season and they should. But if the team has an awful month and the Tigers take off, they can still trade Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and heck, even Kevin Youkilis.

But in true Kenny Williams fashion, this deal confirms that the White Sox are going for it this year — as they should. Williams deserves a lot of credit for making this deal happen. He doesn’t have a lot to work with in terms of money and he was able to add the best third baseman on the market and make it work within the restraints he has. If the White Sox buyout Youkilis in the offseason, this move will end up costing them just $3.5 million, a bargain for the dire situation the team was in at third base.

How do White Sox third basemen compare to National League pitchers in batting average?

This question actually came from a caller during my Sunday night show with Joe Ostrowski and while I found the answer, I completely forgot to get back to it before the show was over.

The answer is that National League pitchers are batting .131 on the year with a .331 OPS. White Sox third basemen  are hitting .168 with a .467 OPS — not quite as bad, but still pretty bad.

should the Sox switch Dunn and PK in the order? – @ChiSoxFanDan

I asked Dunn about this back in May and he said it doesn’t really matter to him if he bats third or fourth. He also said it’s nice having Konerko batting behind him, adding that only Ken Griffey Jr. compares in terms of talent he’s had behind him in the order.

And that’s the reasoning for Dunn batting third. After his horrible season last year, the White Sox wanted to give him some protection. Will they change that now that he appears to be back on track? He’s in a little bit of a slump right now so maybe it’s the right time for a move, but I’m not sure they want to fix something that’s not necessarily broke.

The addition of Youkilis makes this interesting though. You usually want your best hitter batting third, so if Youkilis can perform well enough to give Dunn protection, the best combination might be Konerko-Dunn-Youkilis at 3-4-5.

We’ll find out shortly what the lineup is, but my guess is that Youkilis starts lower. He could be a good No. 2 hitter, but Gordon Beckham has been better in that spot (.265 BA/.315 OBP/.414 SLG/.729 OPS with seven home runs and 25 RBI in 44 games) than Youkilis has been overall (.233 BA/.315 OBP/.377 SLG/.692 OPS with four home runs and 14 RBI in 42 games). Plus, I think the White Sox view Beckham has their longterm No. 2 hitter as he continues to slowly develop.

If Youkilis bats fifth, then that would bump Rios to seventh and he’s been pretty good this year. My guess is Youkilis starts seventh in the order. Some have suggested that A.J. Pierzynski might sit against Francisco Liriano tonight, but he’s actually 5-for-17 (.294) against Liriano in his career. If he does sit, Youkilis would likely hit at least sixth.

who do the sox have a better chance to get Dempster or Greinke??? Or what other starter??? – @rkohler27

Honestly, at this point, I would be shocked to see the White Sox go after either pitcher. Kenny Williams doesn’t have much to give up and now he has even less with Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge sent to Boston. I don’t think the White Sox can afford to give up young pitching talent (guys like Simon Castro and Nestor Molina who they acquired in the offseason) and they certainly can’t add a lot of salary.

Williams got creative to get Youkilis and it was sort of a perfect storm in that the Red Sox needed to get rid of him badly and were willing to pay a big portion of his salary without getting a whole lot in return.

At this point, it’s probably time to accept that Jose Quintana is for real, meaning the White Sox have three really good starters. So can the White Sox get by with Gavin Floyd, Dylan Axelrod and the currently DL’d John Danks and Philip Humber as their No. 4 and 5 starters? I think they are going to try. Remember, you only need four starters in the playoffs.

Average MPH of winning Nascar car this weekend vs. Adam Dunn strikeouts for the year ? – @2guysmic

What’s NASCAR?

Submit your mailbag questions by tweeting them to @AdamHogeCBS or e-mailing them to ahoge(at)cbs.com.

adam hoge 2012 small1 Hoges White Sox Mailbag: Is There A Downside To Youkilis Deal?

Adam Hoge

Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.

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