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Red Sox rookie Will Middlebrooks smashes two more homers in win

May 8, 2012, 12:37 AM EDT

Will Middlebrooks AP

The Red Sox may not be very good, but they certainly are resilient.

Bouncing back from their second horrible loss of the season — a 17-inning game against the Orioles in which Chris Davis got the victory — the Red Sox lit up Jonathan Sanchez on their way to an 11-5 victory over the Royals on Monday.

Will Middlebrooks was the star. After hitting a grand slam for his first major league homer Sunday, he contributed three-run and two-run blasts tonight. He’s hit .381 with six extra-base hits in four games since taking over for the injured Kevin Youkilis at third base.

Middlebrooks has been something of a controversial prospect in the five years since the Red Sox gave him a big bonus as a fifth-round pick. Scouts were always fond of his power potential, and he produced better numbers at every stop as he climbed the ladder. However, statheads remained skeptical about him because of his poor plate discipline. He had a 114/26 K/BB ratio while hitting .285/.328/.506 last year. This season, he appeared to have made some progress in that area in Triple-A, amassing an 18/7 K/BB ratio while hitting .333/.380/.677 in 93 at-bats.

Middlebrooks has already fanned five times in his four games for Boston, but all of the power has made that very easy to ignore. He certainly looks the part of a guy with 25- or 30-homer ability. Tonight, he went opposite field with the first homer and then pulled the second high up off the foul pole. AL pitchers may find some flaws at some point, but I’m now a much bigger believer than I was a couple of months ago.

  1. bigleagues - May 8, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    As I stated a few days ago when he was first called up . . . the Will Middlebrooks Era is upon us.

    • wendell7 - May 8, 2012 at 6:45 AM

      The kid is a stud. Hopefully he can balance that K/BB ratio a bit and continue to mature at the major league level.

    • ras1tafari - May 8, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Kevin You-killus? Never heard of him.

      Middlebrooks looks so good its ridiculous. Reminds me of when Jacoby came up and lit the park on fire.

  2. randygnyc - May 8, 2012 at 12:51 AM

    I’m betting Youklis doesn’t ever play 3rd base again for the RS. Waiver wire.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 8, 2012 at 2:12 AM

      There’s something about Youk I’ve never really liked. Maybe it’s his over-the-top intensity. I wish they had sold high on him.

      • hittfamily - May 8, 2012 at 2:53 AM

        Anti semitism?

        JK. Anti assholism. Youk wont’ be put on the waiver wire, but he won’t serve as a backup either. He has plenty of value as a first base prospect or a DH, and occasional 1st baseman. I call him a prospect, as that is now what he has become. A big ole maybe. The Sox are likely already making calls and taking offers. They’d have to pick up a lot of salary. The West is full of holes at third and 1st. The Giants make a lot of sense to me. A team with playoff aspirations, with a temporary need at 3rd, and a longer, but still temporary need at 1st. They aren’t happy with Belt, and Huff should have been DFA’d already. James Loney is a failure. The Rockies have the worst 3rd baseman in the league.

        I think he is a Ranger though. The Sox need pitching. Starting and relieving. Ogando could do either, and Youk is an upgrade over Moreland. It’s usually tough for potentail playoff teams to make deals during the season, but I think this helps each enough to get the deal done. Youk helps the Rangers enough to part with a middle reliever. Ogando helps the Sox enough to part with a RH bat off the bench.

        The only thing I’m certain of is that Youk’s days as a regular starter on the Red Sox are over.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - May 8, 2012 at 3:17 AM

        Only problem with that is the Rangers have a ton of hitting already. I doubt they’d be willing to give up anyone significant from their pitching staff for a guy who is rapidly declining.

      • hittfamily - May 8, 2012 at 3:38 AM

        How significant is the guy 3rd in line for saves?

        Youklis is 33 years old, and is coming off a career worst 3.7 WAR season. He might bounce back to his regular 5 WAR self, or he may spend a lot of time on the DL. A middle reliever is a great piece to give up for a guy who can step into Beltre’s or Young’s roles if they get injured, or just straight up overtake Mitch Moreland. The Rangers are stacked offensively, but if oft injured Hamilton goes down, Napoli starts being LAA Napoli again, and Cruz continues to underperform, it isn’t that scary of a lineup. I think this is a chance the Rangers would be wise to take take, and find a new 7th inning option out of the pen.

      • beefytrout - May 8, 2012 at 9:42 AM

        Just stopping in to say that there is not an ice cube’s chance in hell the Rangers trade Ogando for Youkilis.

      • drewsylvania - May 8, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        I always liked Youk, but his antics were amusing when he could stay on the field and produce.

    • psuravens19 - May 8, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      I’m just glad the rest of baseball doesn’t have to hear Sox fans scream Yoooouuuk; when he comes to the plate.

    • bigleagues - May 8, 2012 at 11:08 AM

      Youk is in worse shape physically than Mike Lowell was. It’s been downplayed but he needs a new hip and his back is a mess (likely from being knocked out of balance by the hip).

      It was fairly obvious from his play in April that he was having difficulty getting to balls to his left.

      It’s gonna come down to who makes the team better in the field and in the lineup, and at the moment I don’t think there is any doubt who that is.

      I don’t think Youk has much trade value with the existing injuries and the likelihood of the Sox picking up his option are fading with each act of awe that Middlebrooks performs.

      Of course, things could change for Middlebrooks when he faces SP’s for the second time. We’ll see, but everything the scouts and observers were saying about his evolution as a player of the last 12 months seems to be dead on.

  3. btwicey - May 8, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    I think Middlebrooks will be basically what Adam jones is . Good pop good ave and decent steals with a poor k rate. Heck of a baller tho

  4. randygnyc - May 8, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    The rangers aren’t giving up, nor will any other team, ogando or any other major league level player for youklis. He’ll come back when healthy but won’t have a position to showcase his recovery. No one is going to consider youklis as anything more than an emergency replacement. They’ll be lucky to get a bat girl in return. Which is why I suggested the waiver wire. We’re talking his back here. It’s not like a hamstring that will get better. Backs always get worse. Bad baseball body.

  5. Jack Marshall - May 8, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    Right. And when Wade Boggs started hitting, the Red Sox immediately got rid of Carney Lansford.

    Youkilis is still a valuable player; his injury in 2010 was bad luck; his injury last year was just an injury. He was hitting when he was healthy. The Red Sox will send Middlebrooks back to the minors before they will trade Youk at low tide….that is almost certainly what will happen. There’s no point in having him sit on the bench. But Youk is the regular for 2012, and the commenters assuming otherwise couldn’t be more wrong. Watch.

  6. aceshigh11 - May 8, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Kevin who?

    I love the way Youkilis plays, but his intense personality obviously causes problems in the clubhouse, and his inability to stay healthy or be productive only makes him more of a liability.

    Trade him while he still has SOME value. Middlebrooks is the future. Time to blow up this dysfunctional team.

  7. nolasoxfan2012 - May 8, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Even with his injury history, he has serious (prospect) value. He had an .833 OPS last year and three straight years of .950+ OPS before that. If he can get back on the field and put up some decent numbers in late Maya and June, someone will bite. Olney already reported a week ago that a bunch of teams are interested. The NL West would be the logical landing spot. The Dodgers in particular come to mind. The Sox will have to eat most of the salary, but I’m betting they would if it nets them a couple of solid pitching prospects. My guess is that Youkilis will continue in his rehab right up until Middlebrooks hits a rookie wall; then Middlebrooks will get sent down for a month while Youk is showcased.

  8. plummer2512 - May 8, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    It’s going to be hard to send him down but at the same time I don’t see them keeping him and Youkilis when Youk gets healthy. Yes a trade is possible but this early in the season? Not to mention what will they get for him? Remember he’s been injured the last couple of years (actually since the move to 3B) and a bad back is a BIG red flag.

    I think, they’ll send Middlebrooks back down to the minors when Youk’s healthy and maybe quietly shop him around. If not, Youk is out next year (I believe he’s in the last year of his contract) and Middlebrooks starts at 3B next year.

    I’m on the fence. While I’d love to see Middlebrooks stick around, Youk has been a fixture for years and was so productive during that time. It’ll be a little sad to see him leave but man I like what I see out of Willy Middle…

  9. randall351 - May 8, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Having a good day at the plate against the Royals isn’t something I would get too excited about, we’re talking about one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball.

    • wendell7 - May 8, 2012 at 10:56 AM

      Maybe you missed him punishing the ball in the series against Baltimore?

  10. drewsylvania - May 8, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    They appear to be resilient in a “we’re not going to lose 15 games in a row” sort of way.

  11. drewsylvania - May 8, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    It really is time to blow up the team. Too many malcontents. There’s a lot of money tied up in malcontent contracts that can’t be moved (looking at you, Crawford and Lackey). But they can, and probably should, trade Youk, Beckett, and Buchholz. Showcase Youk and Buchholz (if possible) to get the most back for them. Was going to suggest bringing up Lavarnway, but he is inexplicably hitting for zero power at AAA.

    Whether they make any of these moves or not, they should NEVER carry 13 pitchers. They should have the extra bench player instead of having guys sit for three or four days at a time.

    • mcsnide - May 8, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      Dude, if you want to get something for Buchholz, showcasing him is the last thing you want to do. He’s untradeable due to his contract (they still owe him something like $30 mil over the next four years) and the other small consideration that, you know, he sucks.

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