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Kevin Youkilis Needs to Have a Bounce-Back Year for the Boston Red Sox

TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 10:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox hits during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Centre June 10, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images
Christopher BenvieCorrespondent IIJanuary 10, 2012

The Greek God of Walks may very well find himself the Greek God of Being Traded if he doesn't come back strong in 2012.

Was Kevin Youkilis to blame for the September collapse in Boston?  No.  You can't really blame him considering he only played in 10 games that month.

Some people have called Youkilis a cancer in the clubhouse.  In fact, on September 30, 2011, ESPN Boston's Jackie McMullen wrote an excellent article on the Red Sox and called Youk on the carpet, stating that:

Kevin Youkilis has always been a hot button. On occasion, his intensity and his honesty were his biggest assets, but not this season. The injured Youkilis showed up every day the way he wanted Ellsbury to, but he turned so sour and cynical that his carping and insistence on inserting himself into other people's affairs turned him into a detriment.

McMullen was referring to the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury has a bright future in baseball, but keeps to himself because Youk's locker is only a couple down from his own.

So, Youkilis has a bad attitude?  Is that anything we didn't already know in Boston?  However, we've loved his fire and vitriol all of these years...so what's changed?

Kevin Youkilis is becoming J.D. Drew.

I don't mean statistically.  I mean physically.  Are you aware that in 2010 and 2011 combined, the oft-criticized "soft" Drew played in 220 games?

Only one player on the starting lineup has missed so much time over the past two seasons:  Kevin Youkilis with 222.

Now, before you come at me with the "Jacoby Ellsbury" argument, I am talking about consecutive seasons.  I am not making the numbers work in my favor.  Youk missed 42 games or 25 percent of the season in 2011 while missing 60 games and 37 percent of the season in 2010.

With Drew gone, Youkilis is about to be labeled soft.

For comparison's sake, in 2010 Drew played in 139 games, missing 23 games, or 16 percent of the season.  In 2011, Drew played in 81 games, missing 81 games, 50 percent of the season.

What the Red Sox need to see from Youkilis is 140 games (minimum) manning third base.  His defense does not have to be Gold Glove-caliber, but he needs to be solid.  

On top of that, the man needs to come back strong at the plate.  I have no doubts that he can put up a .390 OBP.  What I would like to see is a .300 or better batting average with a slugging percentage in the mid-.400s.

It may be unrealistic to think that Youk will drive in 100 runs with 30 long bombs.  However, would it be asking too much for 85 RBI on the heels of 25 home runs?

I love Youk.  He's been a favorite player of mine for the past eight years.  I would love to see him come back strong in 2012, or else, it may be time to cut ties with the Greek God.

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