Boston Red Sox Trade Ideas: Is Kevin Youkilis's Time Running Short?

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIApril 22, 2012

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 18:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox connects for a home against the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park April 18, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Was Bobby Valentine that far from the truth?

Earlier last week, Valentine was caught in an interview referring to Kevin Youkilis as not "emotionally or physically" prepared for the season. To further exasperate the situation, Dustin Pedroia piped up in the defense of his teammate—something very telling on its own, but that's a different story.

The Boston Red Sox manager later apologized to Youk and tried his best to clarify his comments.

As I asked above, was he really that far off in them?

Since 2007, Youk has been a fan favorite. It's not hard to see why. From 2007-10, the Sox corner man hit .303/.400/.530 with 91 home runs and 354 RBI.

He also played stellar defense in that time, posting a 21.4 UZR at first, while netting himself a Gold Glove.

However, it may be time the Red Sox prepare to part ways.

Youkilis has always had a big personality. If anyone wears his heart on his sleeve, it's this guy. That's why we Red Sox fans love him so much.

That doesn't mean that this has always been a good thing. In 2010, in an attempt to be a team leader, Youkilis called out fellow teammate Jacoby Ellsbury for not rehabbing in Boston with the team.

There've been on-the-field conflicts with opposing players—such as Joba Chamberlain—and teammates—such as Manny Ramirez.

Personality aside, the other side of the coin is actual performance.

The move from first to third—due to acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez—has taken his injury issues to a brand new level. Youk has always been fragile, but his time at third in the last two seasons has seen him play a mere 222 games over the last two seasons.

With so much of 2011 spent on the DL, Youkilis never found his grove. He ended the season batting .258/.373/.459, with 17 home runs—the second year in a row he failed to hit 20.

Elsewhere, a 23-year old named Will MIddlebrooks has been tearing things up.

The Sox' top prospect spent 2011 making a name for himself, and so far his 2012 bat seems possessed. In his 16 AAA games, Middlebrooks is hitting .379/.406/.742 with seven home runs, 22 RBI and two stolen bases.

Youkilis is an amazing player, when healthy. Unfortunately, it seems as long as he is at the hot corner, the two will never go hand-in-hand.

With Middlebrooks proving himself at Pawtucket, it seems just a matter of time before Youkilis is on the trade block. The Sox are desperate for starting pitching, and teams in need of a veteran first baseman or DH could jump at the chance to land Youkilis.

Nothing will happen until Youk rebuilds some trade value. The 33-year old is currently hitting .190/.271/.310 with one home run and 4.67 K/BB ratio—compared to his career mark of 1.46.

If he starts to show signs of a turnaround, a trade seems incredibly probable. Potential suitors could include the Rays, Tigers, Dodgers and Indians.