Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Our first full year of our very own God

Bill Mueller had knee surgery last week, but is expected to be back to play on opening day. According to Francona the surgery will be a "nonfactor once the season starts." Forgive me if I'm not convinced here, but Mueller is 34 years old and he's missed time over the last several years because of this knee, including six weeks last year. Is this something that should have Sox fans shaking? Nah. Even if Mueller isn't available on opening day, we have a God to take his place.

Enter Kevin Youkilis, Greek God of Walks. We got a good look at Youkilis last year and I think we're all looking forward to seeing him over the course of a full year. Between the time off that Mueller will very likely have throughout the year and the work that he is likely to get in at first base (depending on how the experiment goes in spring training), Youkilis is likely to get a lot of at bats this year. How will he do? I'm sure he'll do just fine.

Last year Youkilis burst onto the scene with a .318/.446/.477 line in 44 May at bats before settling in with a .286/.351/.443 line playing full time in June. His season went downhill from there as the league adjusted to him, but still, a .367 OBA isn't too bad. He'll adjust to the majors this year and will be able to maintain early summer numbers. His RC27 (runs created over 27 outs) was 5.82, a bit low for the hot corner, but when you compare that to Mueller's 5.91 it doesn't look that bad. And while Mueller's age and injuries will likely contribute to a decline, Youkilis is only getting started. His four year minor league totals of .297/.442/.423 don't really promise for much power, but his style fits in perfectly with the Red Sox philosophy and he doesn't have to hit it a ton to start bouncing doubles off the Monster. Well, what about defense? According to David Pinto's DER Youkilis was the second best defensive third baseman last year.

Kevin Youkilis, our first home grown talent that will contribute since his polar opposite Shea Hillenbrand, will do just fine this year. And I'm looking forward to seeing it.

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