White Sox Get a Steal at Third with Youkilis

Welcome to the South Side Kevin Youkilis! The White Sox made some moves over the weekend to fill their devastating void at third base and ended up nabbing a stud from the Boston Red Sox – it feels like we literally burglarized Fenway Park.

Let’s take ourselves back to April of this year when no one expected the Sox to do anything with their old dogs and struggling bats. Who would have guessed that on June 24 the White Sox would have acquired Kevin Youkilis from the Red Sox for Brent Lillibridge, Zach Stewart, a big wad of cash ($5.6 million to pay the rest of Youkilis’ contract for 2012) and be a contender to take the AL Central division? Oh yea, no one did.

The White Sox traded a utility man batting .175 and a pitcher who was recently sent to the minors in return for a bucket load of money plus a guy who is a Boston legend  and an actual major-league third baseman. WINNING!

Youkilis will take over third base from Orlando Hudson who hasn’t been doing much of anything since he signed with the White Sox last month (he’s generally a second baseman). Like Paul Konerko said, “There is no way we are not a better team with Kevin Youkilis. He is just too good of a player and has been through all the wars and is still relatively a young guy (he’s 33). We just have to keep him on the field. If that is the case, it could be one of the bigger steals of the season.”

Some critics have mentioned that White Sox GM Kenny Williams has made trades for big names in the past, but it has been when they didn’t have any fire left. Although Youkilis isn’t having his best year, Williams believes he’s a “man on a mission” after speaking with him on the phone. I give Kenny props. The Sox don’t have anything to lose, even if the trade is a wash, they’re not any worse off than they were June 23rd.

I am excited to see what Youkilis can bring to the table, but definitely sad to see Lillibridge go. He was such a versatile player, but any sane person would have made the same trade.

Chicago Baseball is Around the Corner

Well wouldn’t ya know, baseball is back, the sport has been off for a solid 4 months. Baseball fans are probably itching for a stadium hotdog, cold beer, peanuts and to sing the lyrics of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”  Do not fret, as of Friday, the Cactus League (click for schedule) will have started it’s 2012 spring training season. Fans will be able to tune into Cubs and White Sox games on TV or take a little vacation if you can scrape up the dinero.  What a rough life professional baseball players have, in the midst of the winter when most of us are itching to escape the cold, Cubs and White Sox players get to head down to Spring Training in Arizona- real tough guys.

If you want to get away and find your Chicago White Sox, head down to Camelback Ranch in Glendale. The Sox are hoping to prepare for a solid recovery season, gain some confidence that had been long lost last season, and find a way to compete in a division that recently got even more competitive with many off season trades (example one: Prince Fielder to the Tigers). Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Gordon Beckham all under performed last season, and Sox management is hoping they get back into the groove. Jake Peavy expressed this weekend that he feels his healthiest since joining the White Sox, his shoulder is “amazing” and he is hoping to perform at an elite level again.

Focus has been placed on 22-year-old lefty Chris Sale, who is being added to the starting pitching rotation. He has come out firing, extremely impressing his teammates early on in spring training. He is hoping to pitch 200 innings as a starter this season. Known for looking much like a string-bean, Sale is looking more manly according to A.J. Pierzynski, “Chris Sale looks good, looks like he put on a pound or two.”

With ex-manager Ozzie Guillen happily in Miami and the security of a four-year, $10 million contract, any and all scrutiny of the team will be fully placed on White Sox general manager Ken Williams. Kenny will be starting his 12th season as the Sox GM, but after not advancing to the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, he knows this season will directly effect his future with the Sox. He told Comcast Sportsnet, “It’s professional sports. If you do not win, and it has been three years since we’ve gone to the playoffs, if you don’t win, changes are made. I have gone into this situation knowing that. I can accept it if ultimately that’s the call. And we can go out the next day, he can call me up and we’ll go out for a steak and a cigar. It will be all good.”

The Cubs are over in Mesa, hoping that their move of snatching Theo Epstein as President of Baseball Operations will break their World Series curse (I’m not holding my breathe just yet, I’m going to give him a few years to get things right).

First order of business was to settle the Theo Epstein compensation issue with the Red Sox, I like to think of it as a consolation prize for the Sox. The Red Sox acquired right-hander Chris Carpenter — not the Cardinals’ former Cy Young Award winner — and a player to be named in exchange for a player to be named. Seems like quite a few ?? to me.

The Cubs are currently a team without many big names, and their only well known player is Alfonso Soriano, who to most people has seemed like an overpaid, 36-year-old unreliable outfielder, with no-trade rights and $54 million guaranteed through 2014. As the veteran on the Cubs, Epstein is looking to Soriano to be a leader this season. “The past couple years we had a nice group, but some people (weren’t) giving 100 percent,” Soriano told CSN. “Now this group is kind of young. They’re hungry to play and we’re ready to compete.” As a role model for the younger players, he should begin by not dropping any fly balls in left field this season.

Both teams are going to have a challenging season, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that both the Sox and Cubs can make it to the post-season this year. It might be a long shot.

Chicago’s Own McDreamy

Hellooo Handsome! The new Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations has made his way to our city – sweet home Chicago. Cubbie fans prepare to officially welcome Theo Epstein at a scheduled Wrigley news conference Tuesday – reports ESPN Chicago.

The city has been buzzing since rumors of Epstein joining the Cubs began a few months ago. Some are saying it was the worst-kept secret in baseball, but nonetheless, Epstein officially resigned from his position as the Boston Red Sox general manger this past Friday “effective immediately” and is moving on to an even bigger challenge “The Loveable Losers”.

Is he too good to be true? Married or not, he is one attractive Yale-educated World Series mastermind. Coming to Chicago puts quite a bit of weight on Epstein’s shoulders, as Northsiders are ever hopeful for a similar situation as in Boston. Epstein broke the Curse of the Bambino in 2004 after the Red Sox went 86 years without a World Series title. The Red Sox went on to win two World Series pennants (the second in 2007) under the wing of Epstein. Chicago proposes more of a challenge as the Cubs have not won the World Series in 103 years – Curse of the Billy Goat going strong since 1908.

Finalization of Epstein’s compensation with Boston has not completely been resolved, but the leading commissioner Bud Selig placed a deadline of November 1st on the situation during Game 4 of the World Series stating “Hopefully they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. Somehow, the commissioner has enough things of controversy (to deal with)” reports CSNNE.com. If they don’t get things done, Bud will.

Epstein has quite a bit of work to do upon his arrival in Chicago. There is still an impending question mark as to who the Cubs will hire as a general manager? Are we keeping Mike Quade, or looking elsewhere? West coast elsewhere…to San Diego’s Jed Hoyer? At least we know Epstein is a genuine man, taking out a full-page ad in last Sunday’s Boston Globe thanking the Red Sox and the city of Boston for their time together. I don’t want to go and say something as drastic as Cubs fans being deprived of a title are desperate for a World Series, but I think it’s safe to say fans are “dreaming” of a World Series. Hopefully Epstein can make some smart front office decisions, the Cubs can see a winning season and possibly a postseason run.

First stop for Epstein in his new city of Chicago…Girl and the Goat? He can learn some excellent recipes for cooking goat!