Boston Red Sox: Big Decisions on Kevin Youkilis & Dice-K on the Horizon

Buddy MunsonContributor IMay 16, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 27:  Kevin Youkilis #20 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after striking out in the third inning against the Chicago White Sox in the third inning on April 27, 2012 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
David Banks/Getty Images

Most folks knew 2012 could be a tumultuous season for the Red Sox, but this has been ridiculous!  From injuries to key players, to the ineffectiveness from starters and their replacements.  A much more mellow—almost Zen-like—attitude from Bobby Valentine to now "Golfgate." We at least say it's been entertaining or frustrating, depending on your view. 

Going into a series with the also depleted Tampa Rays, the Red Sox are riding a five-game winning streak with five straight quality starts from the much maligned starting rotation. Everything has been clicking along harmoniously. That may be about to change.

Daisuke Matsuzaka is two rehab starts at Triple-A from rejoining the big club and Kevin Youkilis is starting a rehab assignment, working his way back from a lower back ailment. Question now is, what do the Red Sox do?  Thus far, Clay Buchholz has been the worst starter in the rotation. He had one of his better outings last time in Cleveland and he is on the mound tonight against the Rays. If the starters continue on the roll they've been on, who's going to the bullpen? 

Bobby Valentine was quoted earlier saying (via Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston), "Right now, I don't think he's (Dice-K's) all that close to pitching in the Major Leagues." What's interesting is that by the Collective Bargaining agreement, you have 30 days from the time you start rehabbing in minor league games to join the big league club. That date runs out on May 22nd. If he and the team doesn't think he is ready, I'm not sure what that would mean.  Stay tuned!

Kevin Youkilis is in the same boat when he is ready to come back if Will Middlebrooks is still playing at a high level. The Red Sox are most likely going to have to swallow a bitter pill and option Middlebrooks back to Triple A no matter how well he's playing. If Youkilis can show he's healthy and still productive over the next six to eight weeks, the Red Sox may be able to get a decent haul from another team. 

BOSTON, MA - MAY 10:  Daisuke Matsuzaka #18 of the Boston Red Sox, who has been injured, throws in the outfield before a game with the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park May 10, 2012  in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Depending on where they are with injuries and standings, the Red Sox could be buyers and sellers at the deadline. Along with Dice-K and Youkilis, Kelly Shoppach and Mike Aviles could be traded.  This would open the door for Middlebrooks, Ryan Lavarnway and Jose Iglesias (who is improving with the bat and currently has a slash line of .262/.322/.315 in Triple A). With new blood on the roster, maybe it will give the team a much needed kick in the pants so they can run off a long winning streak. 

The Red Sox are going to be an interesting team to watch in the next several weeks to see if they continue with the old guard or if youth will start to seize the day. 

Random thoughts on the Brett Lawrie suspension—this was a situation of where two wrongs don't make a right. 

Both the umpire and Lawrie made BAD decisions.

First off, there are more umpires today that think they need to inject themselves into the games. That is not their job. It is to enforce the rulebook and call balls and strikes. The so-called, unwritten rule of "showing up" an umpire by starting to walk to first base before the umpire makes a call is silly. Even Enrico Palazzo could have got those two pitches called correctly. 

Brett Lawrie's handling of himself after these two horrible calls left a lot to be desired as well.  He's got to have more self control in those kinds of situations. He's an intense young player, much like Dustin Pedroia, but needs to tone it down a notch or two.  Otherwise, he is going to have more and longer suspensions than this.