As the Sox clash with…the Sox, those of the cleaner variety will attempt to continue their winning ways on the road. An ace in the hole for this one is, of course, Kevin Youkilis, who will be looking to remind the team that discarded him exactly what it was they gave up on. One game in, it’s no longer a “preview,” but nonetheless, it would be nice to see how the other Sox think, no? I exchanged some questions with Derek Stykalo of BoSox Injection to find out where the collective Red Sox heads are at.
MA: It would be silly not to address it, so what’s the general feeling about the Kevin Youkilis trade? Aside from him being productive for the White Sox now, do you feel that the Red Sox got anything of value for him in return?
DS: At first fans were outraged with the deal and it didn’t help that Youk went to Chicago and starting mashing and Middlebrooks went in the DL. Now things have calmed down some with Middlebrooks regulating his form at the plate. Most fans didn’t expect a huge return for Youk given his struggles this year in Boston and there is reason to be excited about Stewart. It was a deal that had to made sooner than later and full mark to Cherington for having the stones to make it. Youk was a fan favorite and will be missed.
MA: Injuries have been out of control for Boston. How frustrating is it looking at a prospective roster in Spring Training and then never seeing all of those players on the field at the same time?
DS: Frustrating to say the least but I have to give Bobby Valentine a lot no credit for keeping this team in the thick of things. He’s been playing with half a deck all year and now with the regulars slowly getting healthy we should see what this team really is.
MA: The Yankees look to be running away with the division, holding on 9.5 game lead over the Red Sox right now. I doubt it has to be explained to Red Sox fans that there is plenty of time to make up a 9 game gap; do you still have your eye on winning the division?
DS: In all honesty the wild card is the focus. The Yankees won’t be caught for the division and given they’re battling injuries they’ll only get better.
MA: The media tends to present the Red Sox whole operation as total chaos right now, yet despite all the injuries the team sits a game over .500. How would you categorize the first half? Chaotic and full of failure or just not as successful as you’d hoped?
DS: As I said earlier the first half was a moderate success given the injuries but I do believe there is room for improvement namely the starters ie: Beckett and Lester. Those two are supposed to be the one two of the staff and rather they look like a four five combo.
MA: Is there really a clubhouse issue going on? Or is that just another way of trying to explain why the team hasn’t achieved the way it was expected to?
DS: I believe there is distinction in the clubhouse and it starts with Beckett who is followed by Lester and Buchholz. Now we hear certain players don’t like Valentine, and Pedroia won’t go to the mound. Some coaches don’t speak to Bobby so yes it is a mess. One that stems from the owners getting involved in spots they shouldn’t. They need to make some drastic changes right from the top down over the winter.
DS: Until he has surgery to repair his elbow he will struggle. He’s admitted he feels the pressure of his contract and the fans so I don’t think he can play in Boston, such a scrutinized market. His contract will be tough to move so it looks like we are stuck with him for a while.