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Sunday Mail: Farewell to Youk, a stick-tap for the resilient Bruins, and plenty more

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  December 22, 2013 12:55 PM

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Kevin Youkilis, first baseman/third baseman, Rakuten Golden Eagles?

Eh, it'll take no more getting us to than seeing him in that Yankees uniform, clean-shaven and pinstriped and probably even banned from sweating.

Youk the Yankee never looked right and didn't last long. He played just 28 games last season, putting up a .219/.305/.343 line with two homers and just eight walks in 118 plate appearances.

It was somewhat surprising that a team like the Rays didn't give him an incentive-laden one-year deal to see if he still had something.

Maybe the right offer never coming is confirmation that he's finished at 34, the serious injuries and relentless approach diminishing skills that weren't as naturally polished as most of his peers in the first place.

Or maybe he'll go over to Japan, rake, drive pitchers mad with his patience, stay reasonably healthy, gripe from time to time about such things as his sushi being undercooked, then come back stateside to a major league deal, just as Casey McGehee, the player he is replacing with the Golden Eagles, has done.

No matter how it plays out going forward for Youkilis, it does seem appropriate now to recall how excellent he was for the Red Sox in the not-so-distant past.

He got a late start on his MLB career -- I think one of Terry Francona's greatest mistakes as the Red Sox manager was not giving Youkilis, who had an OPS above 1.000 in Triple A, more than 95 plate appearances during Youkilis's age 26 season in 2005.

But during his peak, he was genuine star, putting up an OPS of .958 or better every year from 2008-10, finishing third in the AL MVP balloting in '08 and sixth the next year.

Durability never was his thing -- his career-high in games was 147 in 2006 -- and he missed at least 40 games a year each season since 2010.

Perhaps he'll prove his reliability again in Japan. Or perhaps this is it stateside for Youkilis, who departs knowing this: In Boston, those salutes of "Yooooooouk!!" were never to be confused with boos.


perkinskendrickfinn1220.JPGAside from the Kendrick Perkins trade, Danny Ainge has been a very good GM, and drafts better than most. Also his bringing in Brad Stevens is looking like a "next wave of NBA " kind of move -- I'm amazed how much he is getting out of this patchwork team, plus I think he enjoys making good deals almost as much for having [out-smarted] another team. He doesn't get enough credit, or takes too much flack.
-- Red's Ghost

Well, pretty much the only thing Perk is good for these days is shooing Joakim Noah out of the locker room. Not necessarily a useless skill to have, but I can't agree that was a bad trade. It hurt chemistry, yes. But he hasn't been the same player since the knee injury, and he's regressed mightily in the past two years. He may not even be in the league in two years. Green's not the wing defender they hoped he'd be when they made the deal, and the heart issue was obviously unforeseen, but anyone who takes issue with that deal probably hasn't paid a lot of attention to Perk since he left. As for your Ainge assessment -- well, I agree with that almost word for word. It's not just extraordinarily challenging to build an NBA contender these days, especially if you're not situated in a warm weather/low income tax city, but it's tough even to find the right complementary pieces for those teams. I appreciate his approach to doing that in the past -- Shaq and Sheed didn't really work out, but it was the right idea. And he does draft well when the pickings are slim in the draft. It's going to be fascinating to see how he builds this back up. He's already hired the right coach.

richardmauricefinn1220.jpgNo Shawn Thornton, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, Adam McQuaid, Dougie Hamilton, Loui Eriksson and the team has more or less held up. I'm impressed. Are you?
-- Morris Richard

Absolutely, and tremendous user name, by the way. It's a credit to the depth of their organization -- I don't think we expected the likes of Kevan Miller, David Warsofsky or Matt Fraser at this point of the season, or figured that Reilly Smith would be tied for second on the team in scoring. Much of the credit has to go to Tuukka Rask and the defense in front of him. The Bruins have allowed the second-fewest goals in the league (75), trailing only the Kings (71). And their goal differential is plus-25, seventh in the league, but second only to Pittsburgh (plus-44) in the Eastern Conference. If they can get reasonably healthy, I'm looking forward to a rematch with that team from Chicago in June.

Red Sox trade Ryan Dempster for a B-minus, non-40 man prospect. They re-sign Stephen Drew for two years. Will Middlebrooks is traded to the Marlins for one of their top 3/4 pitching prospects and another lower prospect. Plausible?
-- JR

Plausible? Sure. I actually think that's exactly what happens with Dempster (he'd be a fine Milwaukee Brewer) and Drew (though Scott Boras seems to be putting the full-court press on the Mets). I'd love to see Middlebrooks go to the Marlins as the fourth player in a Giancarlo Stanton megadeal, but Miami isn't inclined to deal him off this year. If they do trade him this offseason, I imagine it's for quality pitching depth.

jacksonbofinn1225.JPGYou can travel back in time to view a major sporting event of your choice. What would it be? I feel like I should choose one of the Olympics from years past, but recently have been leaning towards Babe Ruth's "the shot" game. I'll probably change my mind tomorrow and fall back on Bo Jackson's Brian Bosworth game. Or his Harold Reynolds "out at home plate" game.
-- BoKnowsBoston

You know, I thought about this and thought about this, and the list was pretty much never-ending: Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, 2004? Bird/Nique '88, or a half-dozen other Larry Legend games from his heyday? Ali/Liston in scenic Lewiston, Maine? Any Bobby Orr game at his absolute peak? Jesse Owens, 1936? Jackie Robinson, 1947?

But when I found the right choice, I knew it:

I remember that day vividly. I was 10 years old. The furnace had blown out in our house that morning, so it was freezing. I had a rec league basketball game that morning and remember arguing with mom to let me wear argyle socks. (Way more comfortable. Don't knock it 'til you try it.) And the US-Russia game didn't air live, so every DJ on the car radio was either updating what was happening or teasing that you absolutely had to watch the game on tape-delay later. Just one of those memories that sticks with you. Can't imagine how vivid it remains for those who were actually there.

And one from Twitter:

He's definitely Hall-worthy, especially if you realize that his total of 270 wins came in the era of five-man rotations and should absolutely be calibrated against pitchers from the '60s and '70s in particular. Jay Jaffe wrote a detailed look at Mussina's candidacy that's definitely worth the read (and makes a convincing case he belongs in Cooperstown). I do wonder if he'll get close to the support he deserves this year, and in the near future provided he remains on the ballot. There is already a backlog of deserving candidates and that's not going to get any better over the next few seasons. Hell, there are 14 players I'd seriously consider voting for this year -- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, Alan Trammell, Tim Raines, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Craig Biggio would get my vote, with Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Jeff Kent also getting a check mark if the ballot dropped the 10-player maximum. The further we get away from it, the more absurd it is that no one got elected on the writers' ballot last year.

Until the new year, the Mailbox is closed. Exit music, please:

In which David Bowie is the normal one. Love the droll line about John Lennon and Harry Nilsson being the "old" singers.

Peace on earth. Have a wonderful holiday season. Re-sign Stephen Drew.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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