Youkils, who spent eight-and-a-half seasons in Boston, was an institution both on and off the Fenway diamond, but his lack of production, injury problems and the emergence of rookie Will Middlebrooks made the veteran expendable. Although the Sox got very little in return, they have managed to free themselves of a potential distraction as they attempt to rebound from their rough start and climb back into the AL East race.
Spurred in part by Middlebrooks, the Sox have begun to see positive results on the field. They have won eight of their last 10 games, and over the course of that streak the Sox offense has averaged 6.0 runs per game.
The pitching has started to round into form as well, as the resurgent Clay Buchholz and returning Daisuke Matsuzaka have restored a modicum of stability to the volatile Sox rotation. The bullpen has been outstanding as well, and has in fact been one of MLB's best since late April.
With everything starting to come together on the field, the Sox are proving that talk of blowing up the entire roster may have been premature. The injection of energy that players like Middlebrooks, Ryan Kalish and Cody Ross have provided has helped the Sox finally look like a contender in the crowded AL pennant race.
With the end of June approaching, GM Ben Cherington must now look to tweak the roster a bit more in order to help the Sox continue their upward climb. Here are five moves he should make to shore up the Sox roster as they enter the stretch run: