The Chicago White Sox are stuck between a Youk and a hard place heading into the offseason. The current situation at third base will need to be addressed, whether it be by Kenny Williams or a new GM.
The White Sox can choose to bring back the veteran third baseman, seek a replacement via free agency or turn to within their organization for a solution. There doesn't seem to be a safe play in any of those options.
Let's start with Youkilis, who was obtained for Zach Stewart and Brent Lillibridge back in late July. Highly motivated coming off of some troubles with Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, Youkilis stepped into the White Sox lineup and provided a boost to a team that was battling for the AL Central lead.
From June 25 to July 16, Youk hit .323 and knocked in 15 runs in 17 games. From there he cooled off, though he did finish the season in Chicago with 15 homers and 46 RBI in 80 games to go with his .236 average.
Youkilis did post a .346 on-base percentage, which was third behind Paul Konerko and Alejandro De Aza among the every day starters. That number, however, was only slightly better that his career low of .336 from a season ago.
It is evident that the 33-year old Youkilis may not be able to approach the lofty highs he posted in his salad days in Boston. He is not worth the $13 million option the White Sox could pick up if they so chose.
There is no way the team should retain Youkilis at that price. After buying out the option for $1 million, the White Sox could, and probably will, attempt to re-sign Youkilis for a number more fitting his current worth.
The White Sox could go shopping this winter for a player to play the hot corner. However, as Williams has discovered over the last few seasons, shelling out big bucks for a player doesn't guarantee production.
Of course, there's always Brent Morel. You remember Morel, don't you? The reason Williams had to go out and nab Youkilis in the first place?
Morel hit .177 through mid-May before hitting the disabled list with a bad back. Say what you will about Youk's season in Chicago, but his numbers dwarfed those of Morel and Orlando Hudson, who was first brought in to replace Morel.
Morel went on to hit .199 in 41 minor-league games when he returned later in the summer. Even when the White Sox had the option of returning him to the big-league roster, they chose not to. Morel hasn't shown that he can hit consistently in parts of two seasons with the White Sox. What he has shown is a potentially chronic back problem.
Knowing all this, does a Youkilis who puts up a .240, 15-homer, 60-RBI season at a price tag of, say, $6 million to $8 million a year appeal to you? That could very well be Chicago's best option heading into 2013.
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